Monday, April 12, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

 This is the plan in only the loosest sense of the word, as my parents are in town & will help out with cooking:

  • Friday - we went out to dinner & the food was amazing. Unsure what the rest of the crew did.
  • Saturday - we were out again, and the food was good, but I didn't love the restaurant. The fam had delivery pizza, to kick off the boys spring break
  • Sunday - made a bunch of taco meat, & pico de gallo/guac. We started off with chips & guac & then moved on to tacos. It was a lovely meal, and we hung out by the pool ahead of dinner.
  • Monday - my dad is making lasagna, and we have salad. Nick made a loaf of French bread to have with it. 
  • Tuesday - likely leftover tacos, as we'll need to eat between activities.
  • Wednesday - M is making burgers, which we will have with corn & salad
  • Thursday - unclear, but my dad may make chicken
  • Friday - it's going to be a busy day, as I have to take my parents to the airport, Sam has a soccer game, & a few other things. It might be a freezer meal, or leftover lasagna.
And, a few of my favorite pictures from Sonoma, including the lilac bush (? is that right?) right outside of our hotel. The smell was heavenly. 



A perfect picnic spot, and quite COVID friendly ;-) 








Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sonoma Saturday

 My parents arrived on Thursday, Nick had his first day of in person school on Friday, and then we headed to Sonoma. (The kids stayed with my fabulous parents.)

We had a lovely lunch yesterday, went to a tasting room & sat in the sun, and just chatted. We talked on the drive from our house to Sonoma, at lunch, and at the tasting room. Alone time has been so precious this last year, so even the time to just catch up has been such a gift.

We chilled for a bit in our room, walked around & then had dinner. We definitely aren't used to eating that much in a day, so I'll remember that for today. Dinner was so delicious, & we've been lucky enough to be able to eat outside for both lunch & dinner. 

I'm going to try & get photos to share today. We're heading to my favorite winery in a few hours. It's escaped the wild fires not once, but twice, and both have been very close calls. You can buy the wine locally, but my favorite type isn't sold in stores, so I'll hope to pick some up while we're there & support the winery.

It's very strange to be masked up in a hotel, but we are so appreciative of being able to be out & about a bit, even with the restrictions. 

My parents report that Nick had a great first day of school, and then went on a long bike ride with my dad, while Sam finished up his day. A lovely day all around for everyone.

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful weekend plan, regardless of where you may be!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Frugal Friday

 It was a relatively quiet frugal week. Here's what we were up to. 


Saving on things we buy

  • Bought Sam lunch after a soccer game, and used a $2 reward at Subway
  • Used $7 of rewards for the grocery store to buy berries & a few other Easter items. Also picked up the Friday Freebie (Vitamin Water), which one of the kids must have enjoyed before it even got home. 
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch & saved $.20 on the purchase above via iBotta.

Earning money

  • Ebay & other sales
    • Two makeup samples
    • Two books
    • Our old gaming system
    • A box of books & an old iPod to Decluttr (it's an app)
  • Redeemed 2200 Swagbucks for a $25 Amazon gift card

Avoiding spending

  • I couldn't find a spring form baking pan over the weekend, so borrowed one from a neighbor to make a cheesecake for Easter

Eating what we have

  • Used grilled chicken (freezer) to make a few quick dinners
  • Added bananas from the freezer to muffins to make M gluten free muffins, that also had no sugar. I personally am not a fan, but he's enjoying them
  • I needed to thin radishes that were planted too close together, and a few of them were big enough to use on a salad. Also, picked one lonely cherry tomato off of a plant that's still hanging on from last season. 

For others

  • Continued volunteer work
  • Did some research on Medicare scams, as unfortunately, my disabled aunt was caught up in a scam. I'm trying to help my mom sort out best way to move forward in a really challenging situation.

That's all for us. What about you? What frugal wins did you have this week? 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

April Goals

 I'm a little behind this month, but better late than never. Here are my goals for the month of April! There's a big one in the Financial bucket, and I'll provide more context in an upcoming post, but, we're planning to sell our vacation house.

Financial:

  • Stick to the budget
  • Make $400 in side hustle
  • No clothing purchases for myself
  • Finish plan for house pay down to 75%
  • Come up with plan, timing, etc for selling our vacation house
  • Finalize timing for house project here
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening
  • One date with M (it's actually a weekend away in April!)
  • Make a video or send photos to M's parents
  • Finalize summer plans
  • Enjoy my parents visit
Fitness/health:
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Run 10 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet, & average 1390 calories (per day) in PAril
  • Complete 1400 minutes of cardio & daily strength & posture challenges
  • Meditate 15 times
  • Intermittent fasting, 3x/week
  • When I'm tempted to snack, due a 3 minute meditation or take a walk around the block

 Personal/creative

  • Practice Spanish at least 20 days
  • Do something social with friends
  • Continue daily check ins of volunteer job
  • Write & journal regularly
  • No swearing
  • Do something crafty
  • Achieve 400 "points" on my daily checklist
  • Continue looking for opportunities to help others


That's it from my side. What about you? What goals are you setting for April?

 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

March Goals Recap

March was the month where the boys activities picked up quite a bit & we adjusted a a busier life again. There have been a lot of adjustments, as sports conflicted (school soccer & club soccer are typically intentionally during opposite seasons, but due to COVID, are happening simultaneously). It's all good, and this is a brief period of time, but it's busy, busy, busy!

Our big win for the month was finally getting our mortgage to the 1/2 way point. 

Here's how I did on my goals for March:

Financial:

  • Stick to the budget - Yes! We did well on both dining out & groceries this month. I'm very happy about this, as it's been tough to bring our grocery budget back under control during COVID. 
  • Make $400 in side hustle - I ended at $386, which I'm happy with
  • No clothing purchases for myself - I bought two very needed new bras, and two new dresses. After losing weight, i replaced a few & donated a couple of others. 
  • Pay down our mortgage to the half way point - YES!! Done! I'm now working on the next milestone of 75%.
  • Plan & budget or the next house project - we know we're going to add shelving in the garage, but haven't gotten further than that.
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids - so, so many soccer games. We need a family game night soon
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening - mostly, minus reading
  • One "date" with M - yes, we went to lunch & a wine tasting during our bonus vacation day
  • Make a video for M's parents, or send photos - sent pictures
  • Finalize summer plans - about 1/2 way there, thanks to some unexpected changes (more on this in April goals post)

Fitness/health

  • Lose 3 lbs - I lost 2 
  • Run 10 times - yes, 10 exactly
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet - I struggled more with this in March & need to figure out better strategies to dealing with stress that don't involve eating the kids Easter candy
  • Complete 1,300 minutes of cardio, & daily strength & posture challenges - 1,375 of cardio, & I'd give myself an 85% success rate on the strength & posture
  • Meditate 15 times - 13/15
  • Intermittent fasting, 3x/week - missed one, but otherwise all good

Personal/creative

  • Practice Spanish at least 20 days - yes
  • Do something social with friends - yes, I did a few hikes & an outdoor meet up with a few other friends, plus a virtual happy hour
  • Daily check ins & support of volunteer job - yes
  • Write & journal regularly. Try fiction writing for at least 30 minutes - yes
  • Shoot for no swearing for the month - I've had a couple of curse worth days, but otherwise yes
  • Crafty - finish two more hats for the homeless - no progress
  • Achieve a total of 400 "points" on my daily checklists - I came close, with 395
  • Continue to look for opportunities to help others daily - yes, & I liked the renewed focus. I donated to a charity a neighbor was gathering items for, made a few financial donations, signed another charity up to receive a corporate match, and helped someone find a vaccine. 
  • Find a new date for our girls trip - yes

 

That's it for me! How did you do with your March goals? Are you happy with your progress?


Monday, April 5, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

We loved the tacos el pastor recipe last week, and the pot roast was a modest success. I'd say that none of us our big pot roast fans, so I wouldn't blame it on the recipe. 

It's another busy week ahead, with my parents arriving on Thursday. M & I are planning to head to Napa on Friday for a weekend getaway, and I'm quite excited about that.

Here's what's on the menu for the week:

  • Friday - salmon & wings (M), leftover egg roll in a bowl with wings for others
  • Saturday - grilled chicken & tortellini
  • Sunday - kebabs & rice
  • Monday - leftover chicken & tortellini
  • Tuesday - tacos
  • Wednesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Thursday - my parents arrive. We will likely do takeout, as it's a crazy day of driving & meetings, & sports & airport pickup
  • Friday - M & I will be eating out! I have outdoor reservations for us for both Friday & Saturday. My parents will probably do takeout with the boys

What about you? What's on your menu plan for the week?



Sunday, April 4, 2021

Embrace the moment

Today I'm remembering all of those Easters with tiny boys, eagerly anticipating the Easter Bunny, & hunting for eggs. 





And, normally, I might be sad about the early morning soccer game, followed by math tutoring & tennis, but instead, I'm embracing it. Parenting teens. Life with a 14 & 15 year old. We still did an Easter egg hunt, but I really need to up my hiding game for next year. 

The morning started like this:

And, after soccer, we did squeeze in an egg hunt between activities. I'm embracing these moments, because they are fleeting with teenagers. 

I'm off to plant more seeds in our planter box, because spring is a time of hope, even for those of us with a black thumb!

Happy Easter, to everyone who celebrates. 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Frugal Friday

Another busy week, complete. It's been pretty fun to see the boys resume sports & activities & get ready for "back to school", but it's added a lot of overhead to my day. Some of it is adjusting to my "pre-COVID" life, and another part is that going back to school looks quite different right now, with many adjusted schedules & ramp back weeks, so a lot to catch up on & understand.

Here are our frugal wins for the week. 


Saving on things we buy

  • Used grocery store rewards to cover the cost of 5 lbs of ground beef, which I divided up for the freezer. Got a $.10 iBotta credit for any grocery purchase
  • Used a "one free item" coupon at our local Chick Fil A. I also bought two lunches, and made sure to scan my reward card for future discounts. 
  • Saved $3.75 with iBotta on Easter purchases
  • I submitted email on a product concern & received a $10 debit card back. I activated it & tried to use it at Amazon, & no dice. Spent the time to track down the issue with the debit card bank, got it resolved, and bought a $10 Amazon gift card with it, so I wouldn't forget to use it before it expired. Immediately applied it to my Amazon account. 
  • Tracked down $11.32 in missing Rakuten credit

Earning money

  • My sales have picked up a bit. Here's what I sold last week:
    • A Bodum tea press, that my husband had for 20+ years and never uses (doesn't drink tea any more). I found this in the back of the kitchen cabinet in our remodel, and set it aside. Five months later, it sold. Patience for the win.
    • A crystal creamer & sugar set. I've decided I'm not that type of entertainer, so listed these on FB marketplace (too heavy to ship, given the price) & again, they sold at least 8 weeks after I'd listed them.
    • A Christmas ornament
    • A work out shirt that's too big for M
    • A medal from a race. I'm not a medal keeper, and am always surprised when these sell
    • A suit that no longer fits M
    • Another tea insert (Teavana). I'm lazy & prefer bagged tea vs loose leaf
    • A tshirt Nick didn't like
    • 3 pieces of crystal (FB marketplace). To the same buyer who bought the cream & sugar set. 
  • Received a $25 refund for an old calling plan I'd forgotten I had. 
  • Cashed out $20.50 from iBotta

Avoiding spending

  • I picked up a bike mechanic book for Nick off of the local Buy Nothing group. He's thrilled
  • Used a Target gift card to pick up Easter items. We'll do a small egg hunt for the boys in our yard, as per our tradition. I picked up candy to put in the eggs. I also picked up the items I need to make a Basque (crustless) cheesecake for dessert.

Eating what we have

  • Shredded the cabbage I found on a great sale before St. Patrick's Day. Added shredded carrots to make my own coleslaw mix for Egg Roll in a Bowl, and a Keto friendly coleslaw
  • Noticed a few leftover protein bars in our pantry, with an upcoming expiration date. Had one for a quick breakfast ahead of a soccer drop off. 
  • Used an (almost last) Italian chicken sausage with a salad for lunch. One left in the freezer.
  • I was able to use cilantro from the garden for a recipe this week. Cilantro is one of the spices we use the most, so it's great that our plant has really taken off.
  • Picked oranges to juice for Easter mimosas.

For others

  • Continued volunteer job
  • Listed & gave away a few things on the local Buy Nothing group
What about you? Please share your frugal wins or things for others this week.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

With a busy schedule & lots of competing activities, having a meal plan is a gift I give myself right now. Here's what we have planned for the week ahead:

  • Friday - I kept things light with a few cheese & crackers, after a lunch out. M had a taco salad, and the kids had cheese pizza & salad.  
  • Saturday - Egg roll in a bowl
  • Sunday -  Tacos el pastor (new recipe, in the crockpot)
  • Monday - salsa chicken (freezer) over rice or cauliflower rice
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - Mississippi Pot Roast (new recipe, in the crockpot)
  • Thursday - leftover egg roll in a bowl 
  • Friday - leftover pot roast + cauliflower rice
That's it from our side. What about you? What do you have cooking this week?


Saturday, March 27, 2021

A long weekend Saturday

Yesterday was such a nice day. M & I both got in a run in the morning, and then went to a wine tasting, and had lunch together. The weather was lovely, & it was so great to just have some time to talk & catch each other up on work, life & how things are going. Those conversations can be hard to have both because we're really busy & because COVID means there are always others around & listening. :-) 

We came home & picked up Sam for his soccer game. They lost 0-2, but it was a fun match to watch. We made dinner & relaxed together.

Gratuitous plant picture. I love the color & number of blooms on this rhododendron in our yard. It's definitely having it's moment this week.


So with that, what's happening today? Plenty to do, as usual:

  • The boys have a soccer scrimmage
  • I'm planning to run
  • I have some yard work/gardening to take care of
  • I'm making eggroll in a bowl for dinner. Yum.
  • I'm going to do some travel planning for our Hawaii trip
  • I have some banking chores to take care of
  • Laundry
  • Wash all of the bedding
  • Sit in the sun & read my book
  • Make the menu plan & grocery list
  • Pick up our weekly groceries
  • Shred cabbage & carrots for dinner & future coleslaw
That's it for us. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, March 26, 2021

Frugal Friday

It was a really, really busy work week (standard for this time of the year), but we did have a few frugal wins to report.  


Saving on things we buy

  • Took advantage of the Friday Freebie (a loaf of French bread) on the way back from soccer practice. I also picked up a can of tuna (using another coupon) & made tuna sandwiches for lunch. I didn't notice that Nick snuck a tub of chocolate sauce into the cart until I got home. And, it was pricey. Sigh, the risk of shopping with teenagers. I also uploaded my receipt to Fetch, & earned some points.
  • M bought whisky at Costco, and when I was uploading my receipt to Fetch, it had an unexpected bonus offer tied to it. Win/win.

Earning money

  • eBay sales finally picked up this week. I sold:
    • Three samples from a Birchbox
    • Shin guard sleeves x2 (sold the day I listed them). The boys prefer to put the shin guard directly under the socks, without sleeves. I recently had to buy new shin guards, & they come in a set with sleeves. I remembered I'd sold these in the past, so put these aside for resale. Also, the extra set of shin guards saves me from having to do the laundry daily. These guys are teenagers, and sweaty, so all soccer clothes/gear needs to be in duplicate, as they are playing 5x/week.
    • A men's undershirt my husband bought & didn't like
    • A dress that I rarely wear
    • An outgrown soccer goalie jersey
    • A book from the free pile
    • A pair of pants that don't fit since I've lost a bit of weight
  • Earned $25 on Swagbucks


Avoiding spending

  • We'd actually planned to do a date night on Saturday, but both kids were unexpectedly out of the house at the same time. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been alone together (without kids) since COVID began. We opted to cancel our date, and have a nice dinner at home alone. We had things already at the house (champagne, appetizers, etc) & it was zero out of pocket for a lovely date together.
  • Tuesday was not a great work day. I found myself out at lunch to drop something off at FedEx, and was very tempted to pick up something to eat. Managed to convince myself to go home & find something from the freezer. 

Eating what we have

  • I was uninspired for dinner last Friday, so I defrosted a couple of containers of curry, and one Keto chili. I made a salad & wings (appetizer) to go with it, and we were done, and the freezer was a bit more cleaned out.
  • Made progress on the turkey meatballs from the freezer. No one is a huge fan of the taste/texture, but I cooked them with pesto, which helped the flavor. 
  • Rescued some very sad potatoes, to have mashed potatoes on Sunday
  • In a similar vein, used some Blue Apron leftover brussel sprouts for Sunday's dinner
  • Picked a yard orange (just in time produce usage) for orange cranberry muffins I made. Bonus, used up cranberries from the freezer & yogurt lingering in the fridge
  • Cut up the last of a container of strawberries. They were hitting the wrinkled phase, so added them to the bag of smoothie fruit. 
  • Added orange juice to Nick's preferred apple juice for smoothies
  • Used the last of a bag of tater tots to heat up with chicken for a quick dinner for Sam between practices

For others:

  • Continued my volunteer job
  • Put together a bag of toiletry donations for a charity & dropped them off with a neighbor
  • Dropped off steak leftovers for our neighbor (she uses them for her dog)

That's it from our side. What about you? Any frugal wins or things for others to share?

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Laundry, all the laundry

With the kids back in sports, our laundry volume is back with a vengeance. M & I also work out every day, and sweaty clothes can't (shouldn't) be re-worn the next day. Teen boys also are some sweaty creatures, so there is a LOT of laundry happening at my house.

Volume aside, I thought I'd share how I do laundry, as it's intended to preserve the life of our clothes, and also save money. I wash all of our clothes, as normal, but on the "casual" setting (42 minutes, I think), using an eco friendly temperature. If the clothes are particularly grungy, I increase the water temperature.

Once the washing load is complete, I separate into two piles - dryer, and drying rack. Our drying rack is quite large, and was previously in our spare bedroom. M uses the spare bedroom as his office, and having a laundry rack in the background is... a no go. ;-) So, we now have the drying rack in our second shower. A little background - the shower is handicap accessible & really unpleasant to use (it's open air, basically), so we don't use it as a shower. We have plans to remodel it. But, for now, it's serving a great purpose as the clothes drying area. It's especially great, as the area has a floor to ceiling window (yes, in the shower?!), so it gets a lot of sun & the clothes dry quickly.

Items we line dry:

  • All of my undergarments
  • The boys athletic shorts
  • Any "dri fit" or athletic style tshirts
  • The boys jogger pants
  • All workout gear (pants, sports bras, tank tops, etc)
  • My tshirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc.
  • Pretty much everything else, minus what's on the "items we machine dry" list, below
Items we machine dry:
  • Towels
  • Socks
  • Jeans
I don't like the feel of line dried towels (too crunchy) & feel similarly about socks & jeans. Oh, and we don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets of any kind. 

We've had tremendous luck extending the life of all of our line dried clothes. My undergarments typically last for years (most have lasted for a decade+). The kids outgrow their clothes before they fall apart. Our workout gear has a really long shelf life.

This is a daily/weekly frugal activity for us, so I thought I'd share. It does require a bit of space for the foldable clothing rack, but is otherwise something that can be done almost anywhere. I will add that, when we've tried this at the Oregon coast, the damp/chilly weather means it can be difficult to get the clothes dried. We struggled with this on our last trip, when the dryer was broken. We used a combination of the drying rack and in room heating & it got the job done, but the humidity made it more challenging.

What about you? How often do you do a load of laundry? Any tips to share? 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Menu plan Monday

 As our schedule gets crazier, it's important for me to get back to menu planning. It saves me time, reduces stress & food waste. 

Here's our plan for the week:


  • Friday - we had freezer items. Chicken curry (x2), Keto chili (x1), and Nick had chicken & pasta. For an appetizer, we had wings
  • Saturday - M & I were going to go out to eat, but we ended up making coconut shrimp & drinking champagne while playing cards. (Kids were both at activities). I made pasta & meatballs for everyone, when they got home. 
  • Sunday - steak, brussel sprouts, & roasted potatoes
  • Monday - gyro meat + naan & salads
  • Tuesday - tacos
  • Wednesday - gyro meat, naan & salads - take 2
  • Thursday - tacos - take 2
  • Friday - kebabs (freezer) & "healthy" noodles
Bonus picture. Our neighbor has rosemary bushes growing as hedges in her yard. They are huge & lovely, and...edible! They inspired us to grow rosemary in a pot, and we used it for our grilled steak yesterday. Yum.




What about you? What's on your menu for the week?