Friday, November 30, 2012

November Wrap Up

The month is drawing to a close, & it's that time again. Time to look at my goals for the month & measure progress. :-)

Original November goal post can be found here.

  1. Lose 3 lbs. I'm currently at 145, so I'd like to close down the month at 142. This will definitely be a challenge with our vacation & Thanksgiving. - Yeah, no. Total fail. I gained two pounds, & I'm at 147. The vacation combined with Thanksgiving killed me.
  2. Continue to track all of my eating in My Fitness Pal. - I think I missed one day while on vacation, but otherwise, pretty good.
  3. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 6 strength, & 6 stretching (pilates or yoga) workouts. - I would likely have come close on the cardio, but I've been sick all week. I'm currently at 752, with one workout to go. I did complete 6 strength workouts, but only 1 stretch workout (pilates.)
  4. Stick to our Hawaii vacation budget. - Yes!!
  5. Stick to our monthly budget for November. - Still waiting for a few final payments to trickle in, but I think we  might do this!
  6. Have one date night with M. (This is currently scheduled for our vacation). - Yes, we had a fabulous lunch date in Hawaii.
  7. Clean my closet + our coat closet. - Nope. It was crazy at work, & we were out of town for more than 10 days.
  8. Meal plan every week in November. - Yes!
  9. Plan our 2013 calendar. - Yes!
  10. Finish our 2013 budget planning. - Well, I did this, but things changed. ;-) Still working on the revisions.
  11. Research flooring for basement. - That project is on hold, due to the sudden budget challenges this week.
  12. Take care of emissions testing & car renewal tags. - Done!
  13. Get together with 2 friends. - Done!
  14. Revisit plan for charitable contributions in 2013. We have money automatically deducted from our paychecks each month, but we'd like to up our yearly total & review the charities to make sure we don't want to shift things around. - Still in progress. I'm revising all of the monthly numbers, so I need to include this in the final plans.
All in all, for a month where I switched jobs, we went on a week long vacation, & then spent a long weekend out of town, & closed out the month with a house full of sick people, I'd say this was about as good as could be expected. Onward & upward for December! :-)

How did your November goals turn out? Any big wins?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Update

I'm happy to report that I'm (almost) done with my holiday shopping, & I'm under budget!

I've purchased every gift (save for the old home movies I'm converting to DVDs for my grandmother - those I've shipped off to the company & I'm awaiting a quote), as well as ordered our holiday cards.

Here's the spending breakout for the holidays:

Total Budget = $1,000

Spent so far = $643.91

Remaining to spend:
  • Grandma's gift (split with sister) - estimate = $25
  • Food for holiday parties - $100
  • Holiday bonus for cleaning lady - $50

Total estimated spend = $818.91

As was the earlier plan, any savings from our original budget will be donated to the local food pantry.

How is your holiday shopping going? Are you done?

Here's a picture of my boys in front of a Christmas tree in Hawaii. You can't see it from this picture, but the tree is right on the beach, with palm trees & the ocean in the background. Too cute. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One giant step back

I'm having a heck of a day, & trying to stay positive. I have a monster cold, and last night, we got some terrible financial news.

Backing up a bit, I've been working super hard trimming our 2013 expenses, & focusing on using my bonus that I saved from September to cover our income variances. Short back story - our monthly spending is higher than our fixed monthly income, but my bonus (that I get one time/year) makes up the difference. The key, of course, is to get a year ahead, save the bonus, & use it to offset the cash flow difference each month. For the first time ever, I didn't get all excited & use my bonus to pay off debt (well, I did do some of that, but kept enough in reserve). I kept enough for our taxes, (always more than $10K), and enough to offset our monthly overage for one year. I have been SO excited about this, & feeling so responsible about our pre-planning.

Last night, we got a letter from M's previous employer. M works in sales, & his pay structure is complicated. When he left his employer in April (& switched to another company), he received verbal confirmation from his manager that he would owe under $1K in a repayment of a previous bonus payout, based on the status of those accounts. Well, that person was wildly wrong. Like, way wrong. They've since been fired, & we owe $16K. Due in two weeks.

I'm not going to pretend like I didn't have a good cry last night. I know we're blessed, I know that we can do this, & I know that we have plenty of budget messiness & "exuberance" (i.e. overspending) that needs to be cleaned up. I'm trying to keep in mind that we never really had that money. But, it's a pretty crushing blow.

I wrote the check this morning, & sent it off. I need it out of my sight. So, all of my money that I saved (plus some money we were saving for a remodel)? It's gone. In one fell swoop. We also need to restate & refile our 2011 taxes. Oh joy. Doesn't that sound like a great time? We'll likely get back $2k maybe on that, since our income is going down. But, I'm sure that will take some time.

In in the interim, I need to figure out how to cut $1,000 out of our monthly expenses. Immediately.

Because I hate depressing posts, here's a fun picture we used for our holiday cards three years ago. Look at those cute boys!

If you have any fun or positive news, please share it!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday night chit chat

Thanks to Carla for hosting the Sunday night chit chat!

Here's a picture of me + M (my husband) in Hawaii on our date lunch last week. SUCH fantastic memories. And yes, I'm very pink from the sun. . . and, perhaps a few mai tais. ;-)

What are you....
  • Reading? - Catching up on some email, as it's my first day back in two weeks tomorrow. Yikes!
  • Watching? - The kids are watching Berenstain Bears, so that's what's on tonight.
  • Listening to? - Nothing now, but the boys have been listening to Gagnam Style quite a bit. :-)
  • Cooking/Baking? - I made a double batch of chicken taquitos (for quick weekend lunches) + oven baked chicken risotto for dinner tonight. It's one of my easiest & favorite recipes.
  • Happy you accomplished this week? - I tackled a monster to do list today. We got home from the beach last night, so this morning I took care of a ton of lingering items. 8 loads of laundry, ran 6 miles (I'm training for a 12K in a few weeks), wrapped gifts, unpacked, cooked, went to Costco . . . I'm exhausted!
  • Looking forward to next week? - My first real day in my new office, lunch with a friend, coffee with another friend, & dinner with a couple of other friends. It's a very social (and rare!) week.
  • Thankful for today? - For the energy to have a great run, & husband who makes time for me to be able to do it.
  • What is the #1 item on your Christmas wishlist?! - M & I aren't exchanging gifts this year, & none of the adults exchange gifts in my family, but I did buy myself one thing. . . a Groupon for a two month trial at a Pilates/Yoga/Barre studio. I'm so excited to try it out!

How about you? How was your Sunday?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six Things Saturday

Taking inspiration from Carla today. :-)

1) We are all missing this place very much!  Especially the sunshine & warm weather.

2) I'm so close to wrapping up my holiday shopping! I still have to buy something for: my grandmother's husband, my aunt, & try to have my grandmother's home movies (8MM, I think?) converted to DVD. I also have to pick up a couple of stocking gifts for my nephew. Those purchases plus a few additional last-minute budget items (food contributions to the party, bonus for our cleaning lady, etc) should come to approximately $300. I've spent just under $600 so far, so if I can buy all of the additional items/food for what I anticipate, I'll be under $1000 for the holidays. I will be so, so, so very pleased with this!

3) Thanksgiving was so much fun. I feel so lucky to have a family that gets along & enjoys spending time together. My grandmother passed away this summer, & we missed her very much on Thursday.

4) This is more personal than I normally share, but why not? :-) That Hawaii vacation made me feel so close to M. We have a great relationship & I consider myself to be very happy & lucky, but just getting a chance to experience all that relaxing time together as a family was truly special.

5) I'm starting my new job (same company, different team/role) on Monday & I'm a little bit nervous!

6) I'm excited for December. My parents are coming up to visit next weekend, my sister & I are taking the boys (my 2 + her 2) to Great Wolf Lodge, the following weekend is my nephew's birthday, & then it's Christmas. Lots to do, but lots of fun time with the family.

What are your six things this Saturday? Hope you're having a fabulous weekend.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hawaii Trip - a budget recap

As promised, here's the more detailed breakout of our budget & actual expenses. For context, we flew from Bellingham (Washington) direct to Maui on Alaska Airlines. Alaska added the direct flights over the summer, & I snapped up a great deal on the flights as part of their introductory promo. Bellingham is about 90 minutes from our house, but the ticket were almost half the price of flying into & out of Seattle.

We stayed six nights at the Westin Maui Ka'anapli Villas, & rented a two bedroom villa. We easily could have done the one bedroom deluxe room & skipped the second room, so lesson learned for next time.

We went over in some categories (as you can see below), like food. We knew that food on the island would be expensive, but it was more than we expected. Also, we didn't budget nearly enough for drinks & food at the airport/on the plane. I brought snacks, but I'm a huge water drinker & had to buy drinks once we got through security.

We also cancelled our one activity (snorkel trip) before we left, as we weren't entirely sure if the boys would enjoy it for as much as it cost (about $350). We bought snorkel gear at Costco so we can use it again, & then sent the boys to a half day activity/camp at the hotel while the adults went to lunch & happy hour. Very fun time. :-)

There were also about $150/night taxes & fees tacked on to the room rate that I didn't calculate, which is why we were over budget on the hotel. Yikes!

The miscellaneous charges are for postcards & tshirts for the kids. :-) Our hotel package came with a $200 resort credit, & I redeemed Starpoints for an additional $500 off the bill. All told, our budget was $7654, and we ended up spending $7608.

We definitely, definitely want to plan another trip, & I have lots of ideas on ways to cut down on the cost, like renting a smaller room, skipping the kids club, & trimming back the food budget. More to come as we plan for an adventure next year!

Hawaii family trip Paid Budget
Flights 1500 1500
Hotel 5164.98 4554
Car 299.73 300
Misc 23.74
Food 1068.68 800
Activities 251.46 500
Total 8308.59 7654
Minus resort credit & starpoints 7608.59


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Menu Plan - November wrap up

Our schedule is still a little outside the norm, as we're back from Hawaii & heading to the beach after Thanksgiving with the family. However, it makes me feel crazy & out of sorts not to have some semblance of a meal plan for the days ahead, so here's what I'm thinking:

  • Today - traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt & uncle's house.
  • Friday - Oven baked chicken risotto . I'm hoping we have grilled chicken at the beach.
  • Saturday - grilled hamburgers & hot dogs
  • Sunday - Spaghetti with meatballs (sauce from the freezer)
  • Monday - Chicken marsala casserole
  • Tuesday - Tacos (meat from the freezer)
  • Wednesday - Baked salmon with roasted carrots & rice
  • Thursday - Leftovers
  • Friday - Homemade goat cheese, chicken, & pesto pizza
Wishing you & your family a fabulous holiday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Island style

We're back from Hawaii, & had the absolute best time ever. We had a hard time getting the boys on the plane to go home. :-)

And, we came in just under budget. I'll have a more detailed budget post soon with all the details.

For now, here are a few pictures of the trip!

From our first day, we saw several double rainbows. It's kind of hard to make out in the picture, but there were two!

We were walking back from breakfast our first day, and the boys couldn't avoid the beach. They were transfixed by the blue sky & warm water, & waded right in!

Our fabulous hotel (and, more on this in a detailed post later!) Westin Maui Villas:

View from the pool at our hotel. That's the ocean in the background. We could easily go back & forth from the pool to the ocean in a 30 second walk.

The boys spent pretty much all of their time going back & forth between the ocean, the pool, & the hot tub. With, brief ventures to the bath tub to rinse off ALL of that sand. :-)
In short, it was a perfect vacation, & we're already trying to figure out how to budget for a trip next year.
Wishing you & your family a fabulous Thanksgiving (if you're in the US) tomorrow, and more later on the trip!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas lists - a kid's take

We've been asking our kids to think about what they want for Christmas, & my youngest (N) made a list a few days ago. He's five, as perspective.

He divided his list into categories, & drew pictures!

-Lego train set

-Sleeveless tank tops
-Basketball shorts (he's the hottest person I've ever met, & sweats constantly, so he loves wearing this stuff)

-Lacrosse (I'm assuming he wants the "stick", or whatever it's called. Our neighbor plays.)
-A soccer net
-The game Sorry
-Beads (for making crafts)

-A desk (for doing homework)
-A garbage can for his room
-A giant chair

M & I were dying when he showed us the list. S, who is 6, had just one lonely item on his list. . . Legos. :-) Obviously, N thinks big. And no, he won't be getting anywhere near that much.

I love looking at the holidays from their perspective.

And, for a little look back, here are some outtakes from my failed adventure of getting Christmas card pictures one night, 5ish years ago. Good times. ;-)

Any fun gift requests from your kids? 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Off to the islands

The long awaited day has finally arrived! We've been packing & organizing, everyone in our family is shivering with excitement & ready to fly to Maui today. Yeah for 80 degree weather!!!

Our main goals are to have a fabulous time, make some great memories, & stick to our budget!! :-) I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Passive Income

As M & I look to the future and our 10, 15, & 20 year plans, we're considering how we can start to generate passive income in place of working full-time "career" jobs.

One option we're considering is creating a portfolio of investment properties. Money is currently cheap, we have stable jobs & outstanding credit, & could cash flow months without renters (assuming we sell our vacation property).

From the small amount of research I've done, I'm creating a series of steps/decisions to think about.

  1. Choose a market
  2. Determine the amount of investment
  3. Run various cash flow scenarios
  4. Select a property
  5. Decide if we want to use a property management company
  6. Rent property
I'm sure there's substantially more for us to think about, but we're somewhere between the 1st & 2nd steps right now. Our goal would be to have our initial investment (the down payment) paid off in 5 years, and then have the property be cash flow positive after that with some sort of base amount that's still TBD.

Do you own rental property, or have other ways to generate passive income? I'd love to hear more!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Happy Sunday. Thanks to Carla for hosting the Sunday Night Chit Chat.

In honor of our trip to Hawaii this week, here are a few pictures of the boys at a luau (for school) a few years back.

  • Reading - I'm currently reading . . . nothing, but I'm extremely excited to get on the plane & start reading my two new books & magazines! I did, however read a People magazine while getting a pedicure yesterday. I know, fine literature. :-)
  • Watching - I'm helping N with his homework, so just watching him make shapes & patterns.
  • Cooking/Baking - We're having tacos tonight, & leftover spaghetti & meatballs tomorrow. No cooking, really. Just trying to clean out the fridge before we leave.
  • Happy you accomplished this week? - Except for the very last minute things, we're packed! And, I ran 5 miles today for the first time in A LONG time. It made me feel awesome. Except, I'm starving!! I also transitioned all of my work at my old job, & I'm officially fully started at my new job on Monday. SO happy about that.
  • Looking forward to next week? - I'm thinking, a six day trip to Hawaii? :-)
  • Thankful for today? - for all of the laughter in my house.
  • Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they?
  • - Yes! I love to run & exercise, bake, and really, I do love to read. It's clear from these posts that I'm not doing enough of it! :-)
  • Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Holiday Progress

    After years of spending (way) too much on the holidays, & having a house full of stuff no one really used, several years ago we trimmed way back. My immediate family agreed not to exchange gifts (we'd previously been doing name draws) for the adults. There are, of course, some people (like my lovely grandmother) who refuses to stop purchasing gifts for her kids & grand kids, even though we're all fully grown.

    Each year, I closely track how much we spend, create a detailed list & budget for the following year with notes & explanations of what worked & didn't work as well. If you'd asked me for my "budget" (in the loosest sense of the term) six or so years back, I would have put it at $3,500. I managed to cut it back to $2,500 from there, and for the last few years, we've spent $1,500. This includes everything - food, decorations, the tree, postage, holiday cards, gifts, etc.

    I'm very pleased, because my goal has been to get the budget below $1,000, & I think this will be the year that I'm finally successful! :-)

    Here's how each line item breaks out:

    • M - $100
    • S (oldest, he's six) - $150
    • N (he's 5) - $150
    • Nephew 1 (he's 10) - $30
    • Nephew 2 (he's 8) - $30
    • H1 (friend of the family, she's 12) - $30
    • H2 (friend of the family, she's 9) - $30
    • Grandmother - $25
    • Grandmother's husband  $20
    • Aunt (one of my aunts really struggles financially, so we always buy her a gift card for the grocery store) - $25
    • Tip for cleaning lady - $50
    • Sandwich trays that we bring to our festivities - $100
    • Christmas cards - $20
    • Stocking items for the four boys (mine + my nephews) - $120
    • Stocking items for M - $50

    Total = $930, so quite a bit of wiggle room in case I go over in any one category. M & I are also talking about not getting each other anything & instead replacing the flooring in our basement. (I know, we're very romantic), so that money would come out of our home improvement budget. Our big vacation together in less than a week is definitely gift enough.

    Here's what I have so far:
    • A Nerf gun set for each nephew - $22.50, so will pick up something small to go with it.
    • Infinity scarves for H1 & H2 - $20.80
    • A necklace for H1 - free when I purchased another gift at American Eagle a while back
    • An origami book/craft set for S - $16.50
    • A bead craft set for N - $9.70
    • A Beyblade stadium & set for S (from Santa) - $36
    • A sleeveless shirt & basketball shorts for N (he's obsessed with wearing these) for his stocking - $11

    So, that's how things net out. Any money leftover will be used to increase our food pantry donation. Win/win!

    We're focusing this year on simplifying the holidays as much as possible. We're very lucky & live about five minutes away from a fantastic Christmas parade that runs every night between Thanksgiving & December 23rd. We take the boys as often as possible, & the magic of the drummers & lights & snowfall (from a machine) is our favorite part of the holiday. We also try to catch the Christmas boat festival, & spend time decorating our tree, making cookies, & enjoying Christmas Eve & Day with my family. I *love* the holidays.

    What about you? Have you started thinking about your budget? Are you like some overachievers, & almost done? ;-)

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    If at first you don't succeed

    I wanted to report my progress/status on my fitness goals I talked about yesterday. I'm happy to report that I was able to stay within my calories goals (calculated via My Fitness Pal, based on my activity level). Yesterday wasn't a workout day, so I only had 1450 calories for the day. I ended with using 1395. Days like yesterday remind me why I like working out! I obviously enjoy the other good parts (looking toned, the way my clothes fit, the endorphins!), but the getting extra calories for the day? Major bonus! :-)

    I'm planning on running today, and it's Friday, so I know I'll be having a glass of wine with M at "happy hour" (at home). Yeah for Friday!

    Today's post is about something that's been on my to do list *forever*. Well, for the last 5 months or so. Way back in April, I attempted to transfer 25,000 points from Starwood to my Alaska Airlines account. I was planning on using the miles to buy a ticket to Las Vegas for my mom's birthday trip. But, the miles never showed. I called a few times, & they told me to wait longer for them to transfer. Eventually, I forgot about it.

    Over the last few weeks, I realized how silly it was to just "let" the 25,000 points go. The points were shown in Starwood as deducted, but yet never available via Alaska. So, they disappeared into Internet space, I suppose.

    I spent over an hour last week on the phone with Starwood, who then directed me to Alaska. They were "investigating." Today, I spoke with Starwood again, & I'm relatively confident that my points are going to show up on Alaska's site in the next few days. My persistence paid off! It would have been so easy to chalk it up to a learning lesson, but a free flight is worth $400, or so, & my time is surely worth that, right? :-)

    We have a fun weekend in store. I'm watching a friend's son tonight, so we'll have a full house at dinner. I have to get everyone packed & do any last minute errand running this weekend. And, get a pedicure (I'm going to be wearing sandals again!), work out, and do all of the normal weekend prep. I also have to figure out what to do with any food we're leaving behind - freezing fruit, etc.

    What do you have lined up for the weekend? Any fun plans?

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

    Thinking about fitness

    As we approach the holidays & my jeans start to feel a little tighter, I've been thinking a lot about my fitness, & how do be more successful at eating well and losing the last 10-15 pounds.

    In general, I'm a pretty healthy person. I try to eat well (try, of course, being the operative word) & I get quite a bit of exercise. However, I also eat for reasons other than fueling my body. I eat when I'm stressed, & I eat when I'm bored. The occasional celebration meal I have no problem with, as I think food shared with family is a fun and fabulous event. But, this is more like eating bags of chips after the kids are in bed. This simply undermines my efforts to lose weight, & erases all of the time spent at the gym & running.

    I'm going to try something new between now & the end of 2012. I'm going to commit to staying within my calorie goals every day (with a few exceptions, noted below) & I'm going to commit to some specific work outs.

    • Eat within my calorie goals (and, the goals vary based on how much exercise I get - I track using My Fitness Pal), every day between now & 12/31, with the exception of:
      • Thanksgiving
      • Christmas
    • Work out 5 days/week, and:
      • Work out every day in Hawaii
      • Work out every day I'm (weekends, vacation days, etc)
    Rather than focusing on losing a specific number of pounds, I'm going to focus on the things within my control - things that I know I can do, that will make me healthier. I will also be tracking my progress right here on my blog, for accountability. :-)

    How about you? How do you handle your fitness?

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Kicking around 2013 goals

    So excited to start planning our 2013 goals & budget. I love this kind of stuff. :-)

    Like last year, I stuck to 12 goals, as I had more than 20 in previous years, & it got ridiculously hard to track. I want to follow a similar model this year, & bump it up to 13. I always try to make my goals both specific & measurable, because I like being able to track my progress (or, in some cases, non-progress :-)).

    I'm definitely not locked on these, but here's what I'm thinking:

    1. Lose 10 pounds, bringing my weight to 135.
    2. Track my food/exercise every day in My Fitness Pal.
    3. Complete 12,000 minutes of cardio.
    4. Complete 100 strength workouts.
    5. Complete 100 stretching workouts.
    6. Run 10 races. I have a few in mind, but basically want to challenge myself to really maintain my running endurance throughout the year.
    7. Reach 50% of our boys college fund savings.
    8. Pay $50,000 of principal on our mortgages.
    9. Have 1 date night per month with M.
    10. Get together with two friends per month.
    11. Track our spending, stick to our budget, & continue the monthly reports.
    12. Review our charitable contributions, & increase our yearly giving by 10%.
    13. Organize one room in our house per month.
    Have you started thinking of your 2013 goals? How do you create them? Do you carryover goals between years? I try to carryover anything that is working (date nights, etc) & increase things like my fitness goals.

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Weekend Roundup

    We had a great weekend at my house. My parents & grandmother came up for a visit & stayed overnight on Saturday. My grandmother is getting too old to travel on her own, so it was great for her to be able to come up with my parents.

    We kicked off Saturday by attending my younger son's soccer game. He had a great game, & my family loved watching the energy only 5 year olds can bring to the field. Minimal skill, lots of energy. :-) Here is N with his medal at the final game of the season. We even avoided getting rained on!

    After soccer, my grandmother really wanted to have lunch at the restaurant in Nordstrom, so we headed to the mall. Little did we know that it was the Half Yearly Sale, so the mall (and Nordstrom) was packed. It was a 90 minute wait for a table, so we started looking for any other option. It was over an hour past N's lunch time, & my grandmother was getting *very* hungry. The only available restaurant without over an hour's wait was Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. For those of you who have never been there, it's . . . a very nice restaurant. We don't bring our kids to nice restaurants, ever. But, we were desperate. It was a bad sign when the kids menu consisted of: salmon, steak, or a grilled chicken breast. Nice restaurants tend to also be very . . .. slow, & this place lived up to that. However, N was amazing & lasted over 90 minutes at a "fancy" lunch, coloring pictures, & eating his grilled chicken, fries, & drinking chocolate milk. He was an angel. Yeah! S was at home with M, since he had a different soccer game schedule, & rumor has it they got a hot dog from Costco for lunch, which is much more our typical speed with the kids. :-)

    I did spend more than expected on lunch, as I treated & had planned to use my Nordstrom notes to cover the cost of lunch. That obviously didn't work. My mom, however, paid for N's soccer trophy (I didn't have cash) & bought me a super cute top. Yeah for Moms. :-)

    It was so much fun to have my parents in town, & see my dad teaching the boys how to throw a football (he was a coach for years). We also played Kinect Dance Central, & all of the family got in on the action. Even Grandma. It was hilarious to see all of the generations rocking out!

    We had a mellow day today, with laundry & catching up. I washed all of the sheets, got in a great workout, cleaned some junk out of the freezer & pantries, & threw away (recycled, actually) a bunch of grad school materials I discovered in our spare room. Yeah for decluttering! I also made spaghetti tonight for dinner, & it turned out great. I used up a bunch of vegetables that were about to pass their prime - a red pepper, celery, onion, & carrots.

    I'm still figuring out a menu for the week ahead, as we (again) have a crazy schedule. Here's what I'm thinking. And, after reviewing this, I swear that we normally don't eat this much pasta. We're trying to clean up the pantry & fridge before we head out on vacation.

    • Sunday - spaghetti bolognese with salad
    • Monday - chicken pesto pasta with pine nuts & parmesan (us + my best friend, who is staying with us) + goat cheese crostini & pomegranate martinis to start
    • Tuesday - Leftover Chicken Pastina (from our dinner on Saturday)
    • Wednesday - M's at a conference, so I'll have spaghetti & roasted butternut squash
    • Thursday -  M's at a conference, so I'm thinking I'll be having a chicken pesto panini with squash & salad
    • Friday - we're watching a friend's child, & M's going to be in Portland, so I'll be alone with the kids. I'm thinking spaghetti & meatballs.
    • Saturday - Chicken marsala casserole + greek salad
    • Sunday - Leftover marsala casserole
    • Monday - Eating any leftover, & freezing remaining food. If we have nothing left, I'll make a chicken caesar salad.
    • Tuesday-Monday - on vacation in Hawaii!!!!!!!!!

    Phew! It was a fun but busy weekend. How about you? Did you have an enjoyable & productive weekend?

    Saturday, November 3, 2012

    2012 Goal Check

    I can't believe there are only 2 months left. Time to focus & prioritize!

    Here's where I stand with my 2012 goals.

    1. Achieve and maintain my goal weight of 130 lbs. I have 20 lbs to go, as I'm starting at 150.
    2. Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio. My goal was 4500 for 2011, and I crushed this goal in 2012 (ended with 8700 minutes). I want to go big with this goal. :-) - Already achieved! I'm currently at 10,555, with two months to go!!
    3. Run a 1/2 marathon. I was fully trained for my first 1/2 marathon before I broke my foot in May. I'm starting from scratch, but want to get back to it. - I ran: a 5K, a 15K, a road half marathon, a trail half marathon, & Hood To Coast. Boom! Yes!
    4. Spend less than $500 on clothing for myself and less than $500 for shoes/clothes for the kids. I shop for entertainment, and it's totally unnecessary. - Yeah, no. I spent more than this on running shoes, I think. Total for the year so far for me = $1672.59 & $1149.14 on the kids. WOW. First time adding this up. It's clear that I need to more accurately budget in 2013, & rein in the spending. The boys need new shoes, clothes, sports gear, etc more often than I anticipated. For my own spending, I need to rebudget for 2013 as well based on what's reasonable.
    5. Complete 100 strength training workouts. - Currently at 71. REALLY need to amp this up to close at 100.
    6. Give up artificial sugar. (Mostly, the Splenda in my coffee & tea.) This will be TOUGH for me. :-) - Yes, gave up Splenda in my coffee & tea. I wasn't perfect (had a few Vitamin Waters after long runs, etc), but I consider this a victory. It's out of my daily diet.
    7. Reach 50% of our goal for the boys college tuition GET accounts, for both kids. This will take about $12,000. - We're at 43%, & I don't anticipate getting much closer before the end of the year. We are prioritizing paying off our second mortgage over this goal, so we can afford a remodel.
    8. Track all spending, stick to our budget, and complete monthly spending reports. - Well, we've been tracking our spending. We've certainly spent more than planned, but still within our income. More on this as I have time to crunch all of the numbers. :-)
    9. Pay off $50,000 on our vacation house mortgage and $100,000 on our primary residence mortgage. - Hmm, I know we're not there, but don't know how much we've paid off this year. Need to check.
    10. Have one date night per month with M. - Yes! We've been doing this!
    11. Get together with two friends/month, and plan a minimum of one girls only vacation this year. - Yes! Lots of girl time has been had. Love this goal. :-)
    12. Meet with an attorney & get our life insurance, wills, guardianship, trusts, etc squared away. This is a MUST do this year.- No. I NEED to get this done. :-(

    How about you? How are you doing on your 2012 goals, with only a few months to go? Can you believe 2013 is almost here? Are you planning out what you want to get done next year?

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    November Goals

      Only two months left until the end of the year! Time to get serious about keeping my weight in check. :-)

      Here's what I'd like to accomplish in November. We have two vacations currently planned, so it's going to be a quick month. ;-) We're going to Hawaii, & going to the Oregon coast after Thanksgiving. Yeah for time off! After the wild & crazy October, I'm ready for some relaxation time with the family.

    1. Lose 3 lbs. I'm currently at 145, so I'd like to close down the month at 142. This will definitely be a challenge with our vacation & Thanksgiving.
    2. Continue to track all of my eating in My Fitness Pal.
    3. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 6 strength, & 6 stretching (pilates or yoga) workouts.
    4. Stick to our Hawaii vacation budget.
    5. Stick to our monthly budget for November.
    6. Have one date night with M. (This is currently scheduled for our vacation).
    7. Clean my closet + our coat closet.
    8. Meal plan every week in November.
    9. Plan our 2013 calendar.
    10. Finish our 2013 budget planning.
    11. Research flooring for basement.
    12. Take care of emissions testing & car renewal tags.
    13. Get together with 2 friends.
    14. Revisit plan for charitable contributions in 2013. We have money automatically deducted from our paychecks each month, but we'd like to up our yearly total & review the charities to make sure we don't want to shift things around.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Wrapping up October

    My thoughts & prayers are with everyone impacted by Sandy. Seeing the magnitude of damage is absolutely horrifying.

    I can't believe October is wrapped up. Wow, this month flew by. I wasn't expecting to work record breaking hours, so I wasn't nearly as productive on some of this as I'd hoped, but I did manage to accomplish a few things. Here's how I did.

    1. Lose 3 lbs. I'm currently at 144.8, so I'd like to close down the month at 141.8 - Fail. I ended the month at 145.
    2. Continue to track all of my eating in My Fitness Pal. - Yes! I managed. Some days weren't pretty, but I did it anyway. :-)
    3. Avoid snacks at work. One of my coworkers has about 20-25 bowls of candy, nuts, bars, & treats out every day. I realized I was spending a ton of my calories on those candies, & I've decided to avoid the work snacks until January. I'm hoping that helps me break the habit entirely. - Did this every day except for yesterday (Halloween). Mostly a victory?
    4. Complete 1000 minutes of cardio, 6 strength, & 6 stretching (pilates or yoga) workouts. - Well, I completed 771 minutes of cardio, 7 strength, & 0 stretching workouts. This was definitely a goal impacted by all of my late nights.
    5. Save $1500 for Christmas. - Done!
    6. Stick to our monthly budget for October. - Shockingly, I was within $5 of my original estimates. WOW! We were over in some categories & under in others, but I consider this a huge win, & major progress for us.
    7. Continue my job search, & send my resume out to 3 positions, and do at least 3 informationals. - Well, I'll consider this one done. I start my new role next week!
    8. Have one date night with M. - Done! We went out to dinner for our anniversary.
    9. Clean my closet + our coat closet. - Nope.
    10. Research the Portland/Vancouver real estate market. - Nope.
    11. Meal plan every week in October. - Yes!
    12. Plan our holiday/vacation plans & ensure that we have child care when school is out. - Yes, I have a plan for the holidays & child care coverage when school is closed.
    I'm still thinking about my goals for November. How did you do with your October goals? Any big victories?