Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vacation - a recap, with photos!

Let me start this by saying that we had the *best* vacation. For the first time in 15 years, I actually stopped checking email for the entire duration. I'm so impressed with myself, & it made a huge difference! When I'm out but checking email, it's very hard to disconnect & not let work stress impact me. Lesson learned! I'm back checking tonight, in preparation for my day tomorrow. Honestly, really kind of dreading going back.

Last week, the boys had all of their end of the year activities, and the last day of school! Immediately after that, we headed to the beach to celebrate the milestone. The weather was fabulous - lots of ice cream on the beach, playing in the sand, & bike rides to town.

Love, love, love the Oregon coast.

After that, the boys were off to Disneyland with my parents, & M & I enjoyed Las Vegas. We had the most fabulous & relaxing time ever! And, I even won a little bit of money! Our room was incredible, the food was crazy good, & because I'm all about dressing up in Las Vegas, lots of fashion selfies. :-)

Me, upon arrival. :-)

Our gorgeous room!

I won! Note that these are pennies, so while $660 is nothing to sneeze at, we won't be retiring or anything. ;-)

These were definitely powerful!
I even tried sushi! 

Getting ready for dinner!
The room had a sun deck, which we thoroughly enjoyed!

Ready for our dinner at my favorite restaurant in the world - SW!
And, now I'm off to prepare for summer camp, and (duh duh duh) work tomorrow. Fond memories of our vacations, for sure!

Menu Plan

We are just returning from a fabulous vacation (more on that soon, with pictures!) but the first order of business is getting a menu planned so we stop eating out! I've gained a couple of pounds (the food was amazing!), and eating out is not treat for the wallet.

We have a short week, with the Fourth of July, and we're heading to the beach on Wednesday. Lots of easy meals and entertaining with the family.

Sunday - leftover burgers & corn (freezer)
Monday - chicken pasta
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Something quick before we drive to the beach. Leftovers, probably.
Thursday - at the beach with my parents for the 4th of July. Barbecued burgers, asparagus, watermelon, & goat cheese crostini for an appetizer.
Friday - Grilled chicken + a veggie cous cous salad.
Saturday - Southwestern quinoa salad with chicken
Sunday - Homemade pizza

What are you up to this Sunday? Is it hot where you're at? How are you staying cool? It's supposed to get up to 100 in Seattle, but the beach will be a cool 75 or so next week. Perfect!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Building the emergency fund and weekend plans

We've had a couple of very big expenses over the last month or so - first, my car was hit while parked, & the extremely rude person didn't leave a note. So, $1600 for repair bills. The second expense is ripping out some carpeting at our vacation house & replacing it with a wood laminate. I can't imagine who thought it would be a good idea to put carpeting at the entry to a house at the beach. Sand, sand, and more sand. I am not a carpet person anyway, but it's really in rough shape. So, the carpet removal was a planned expenditure - and then the car was damaged.

The carpet removal/laminate work is supposed to come in just under $2,000. *fingers crossed*. I've been working to rebuild our emergency fund after we paid the big expenses. (and, technically, the carpet work hasn't started, so we've only paid half.) As of today's payday, I was able to replenish the emergency fund a bit, and we're back to $10,000, which is my minimal amount for comfort. My ultimate goal is to have this account at $30,000 by the end of the summer, in anticipation of potential work changes.

How will I get to $30,000, you ask? That's a question I've also been asking myself. ;-) And, how did I come up with $30,000? Well, we own two homes, and M works for a small company. Having a big safety net is the only way I feel comfortable making a change, and I also need to have my 401K loan paid off by that time (currently at $42,000).

In terms of getting to $30,000 by the end of the summer & paying off my 401K loan, here's my plan:
  • Standard monthly 401K loan payments between now & the end of the summer - $3,000.
  • Stock award vesting at the end of August. Current value = $42,000.
  • Estimated bonus (post-tax) = $10,000
  • Current emergency fund balance = $10,000
  • Payout on vacation days = $5,000
This puts me within $2,000 of my goal. Barring any other unexpected expenses, of course. And, those always show up when you need them the least, don't they. ;-) I'm hopeful that my bonus might be a little higher, but don't want to plan on that. I'm still trying to figure out the other $2,000. More on that later.

And, on to the weekend! This is the second weekend in a row that M is out of town, & quite frankly, I'm already exhausted. He came home late on Sunday & left Wednesday morning. He's gone until Sunday again. Yikes. Here's what's on the list of things to accomplish this weekend:

  1. Make homemade zbars.
  2. Make carrot muffins
  3. Make banana bread
  4. Return a bathing suit at the mall that didn't work out.
  5. Get all Father's Day/birthday stuff for M sorted out.
  6. Call my dad for Father's Day!
  7. Karate lessons
  8. Swimming lessons
  9. Get in two workouts
  10. Work in the yard (oh my, is there a lot to do!)
  11. Figure out menu for the next couple of weeks, & ensure we don't buy too much produce, as we'll all be out of town Monday-Friday of the last week in June.
  12. Get in one yoga & one pilates workout.
  13. Having friends over for dinner on Saturday
I think that will be plenty! What are you up to this weekend? How are you doing with your emergency fund? Is it fully funded? If not, what are your plans for beefing it up?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Weekly Spending Roundup

Tracking my weekly spending helps us stay on track, & find areas for improvement. Which, sometimes we need. ;-)

  • Monday:
    • Costco - $42.69 for household stuff (cannot for the life of me remember what it was)
    • Costco - $58.64 for groceries
    • Safeway - $85.72 for gas
  • Tuesday
    • $3.57 - postage
    • $23 - hair cut for M
    • $15.40 - M met a friend for beer after work
    • $11.83 - gas
  • Wednesday
    • $12.57 - I bought lunch at Panera. Shame!
    • $3.57 - postage
    • $1528.62 - car repairs. When I went to the beach with my grandmother, I parked outside her house, & some terrible person hit my car & left without leaving a note. My deductible is $1,000, so the risk of having our insurance go up for $500 wasn't really worth it. I'm so angry & bitter about this expense.
  • Thursday
    • $131.37 - Victoria's Secret. I ordered another size of my bikini bottom, but free shipping is only if you spend $100 or more. I ordered a few other things & will return anything I don't want/like, which will probably be all of it.
    • $17.57 - postage
  • Friday
    • $18.50 - I bought myself a lunch and smoothie. Again, completely unnecessary. Planning would  solve these splurges.
    • $8.95 - Wendy's for the kids. I know, more eating out.
  • Saturday
    • $15 - time at the gym for the kids so I could work out.
    • $8.64 - groceries
    • $30 - the boys worked in the yard for three hours each to earn an allowance, and used their money on Pok√©mon cards. ;-)
  • Sunday
    • $15 - time at the gym for the kids so I could work out.
    • $95.32 - groceries at Costco.
    • $20.23 - eBay fees
Total spent last week = $2146.39. HOLY SMOKES! Our goal is $250/week, so this is 10x higher than it should be.

Wow. A very splurge-y, spendy week, on top of the car repairs. This is why I track the spending - so I can figure out where all of our money is going, & come up with alternatives & better ways to use our funds. I worked this weekend to cook & prep lunch foods, and don't plan to eat out at all this week, unless M is in town this weekend. His birthday is on Saturday, & Father's Day is Sunday. But, one off dining out is totally unneeded. My goal is to save, save, save, so I can quit my job & find something more flexible (and, will also pay less), so I need to be focusing on the big picture.

Also, eating out is not good for the waist line! The scale was up about a pound today, so no big shock on what's causing that.

How did you do with your weekly spending? Are you on track?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I accomplished a lot this weekend, & I'm so happy I have healthy (and easy) options already prepared for my lunches. I've been falling into the bad habit of buying lunch (at our cafeteria, which is not as expensive as a restaurant, but still unnecessary) a few times per week, so I spent the weekend getting myself ready for the week ahead. I made power bars, carrot muffins, & ham/lentil soup.

Here's what we're having for dinner this week!
  • Monday - Leftover spaghetti and meatballs
  • Tuesday - Chicken pesto pasta
  • Wednesday - Tacos (meat from the freezer)
  • Thursday - Leftover chicken pesto pasta
  • Friday - Risotto of some sort, unless the weather is nice, & then we'll grill.
  • Saturday - Homemade pizza
  • Sunday - It's Father's Day, so I need to check with M to see what he'd like.
I'm trying to frame each day in June as a day to focus on my monthly goals - here's what I'm going to do today that will help me reach those monthly goals:

  1. Finish off the last of the carrot puree by making muffins for the freezer.
  2. Reach out to a work contact on a potential opportunity.
  3. Complete a cardio, strength, & stretching workout after work.
  4. Start updating my LinkedIn profile. Likely won't finish today, but I can kick it off.
  5. Work on itinerary for vacation in two weeks.
What are you up to today? What do you hope to accomplish?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I can't believe it's already Sunday!

Where has this weekend gone? :-) We've have been very busy bees over the past few days. A friend slept over yesterday (and M is still in Las Vegas, so I handled the three crazy boys myself. Quite a feat. ;-)) Here's what else we did:

  • Cleaned the yard (not entirely, but made quite a bit of progress) as M's Father's Day gift. We'll finish the rest next weekend.
  • Karate lessons
  • A long & great workout for me (yesterday)
  • Baked three dozen carrot muffins. Still need to finish up the rest of the carrot puree from the freezer
  • Made homemade cheese pizza for dinner last night. Three boys can eat A LOT!
  • Baked bread for the week.
  • Just put the ingredients in the crockpot for ham & lentil soup. I had to use up some carrots & celery that were about to be tossed, as well as some ham from the freezer. This will be my lunch for the next week or so.
  • Washed all of the sheets.
  • Swimming lessons.
  • Another long workout for me (today)
  • Costco
  • Packed for my vacation, since I'll be out of town or solo both weekends between now & then.
  • Packed for the boys trip, ditto above.
  • Listed two new items on eBay.
  • Found three more items for donation from the kids rooms.

I think that's pretty much it. I desperately need to do yoga today. I put it off yesterday, as my sleepover bonus kid had a nightmare & I was up at 3:30 with him, & couldn't go back to sleep.

I'm exhausted! :-) I'm hoping to relax & do some reading this afternoon, & can't wait to see M when he finally arrives back.

What about you? What have you been up to this weekend?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Happy Tuesday!

Just over two weeks until I'm on vacation! I'm so excited for the time off. The first few days we'll be at the beach with the boys, & then they will head to Disneyland with my parents while we head to Las Vegas. Life is good. :-)

Thought I would share this picture M took this morning. My new dress I bought at Ross. ;-)
The picture is a little hard to see, but it's slimming, & I love the cut. Today was a sunny day, so I decided to break it in. Please excuse the bad hair - I was in a bit of a rush this morning. :-)
In work/lifestyle shift news, I have a few things I'm strongly considering, and while I'm not going to share too many details, I do feel like there are some great options open to me, which is a huge relief. My work stress isn't going away, so I need to come up with alternate ideas to manage my stress. More on that in the next few weeks/months as things solidify.
How is your Tuesday? Do you like Ross (or stores like that?) I typically don't go there, but the one on the Oregon coast is the perfect browse location, so my sister & I always visit when we're there & find lots of gems. :-)

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Goals

I can't believe we're already here, but it's time to set some goals for June! It's going to be a crazy month. . . M's birthday, Father's Day, we're taking the kids to the beach as soon as school is out, my parents are taking the boys to Disneyland, and we're off to Las Vegas. I can't describe how excited I am to have (just over) a week off of work. I really need it, & love having a vacation with M on the books to look forward to. It's so rare for us to get time alone together - so a four day vacation is a huge treat!

Here are my goals for the month:

1) Pay cash for our vacations & take nothing out of our regular savings (I have a special vacation savings) to cover.
2) Stay within our grocery budget of $500.
3) Research 10 job options, including 2 networking contacts.
4) Update LinkedIn profile.
5) Make all reservations for girls trip in July (my sister's 40th birthday trip).
6) Read 4 books. Reading helps me relax, which I know I need more of. ;-)
7) Fitness goals:
  • 1000 minutes
  • 15 strength workouts
  • 10 stretching workouts
8) Add $500 to our savings account.
9) Earn $500 for my girls trip. This is a huge stretch goal, as I've already made close to $2500 on eBay, and have limits on selling multiples of my higher ticket items at one time.
10) Come up with something for a family that is really struggling. One of my son's friends mother is losing her battle with cancer, and they have brought in hospice. She has twin seven year olds, and a ten year old. My heart is breaking & I want to help, but also don't want to burden or inconvenience them. :-(
11) Turn the following freezer items into "something" :-):
  • Ham
  • Carrot puree

I think that's more than enough. How about you? What's on your agenda this month?

While I'm at it, I'm trying to plan a fun & easy menu for the week, as M leaves for his cousin's 50th birthday party, & I'm handling a sleepover (solo) on Saturday. Here's what I think we're doing:

  • Monday - leftover hamburgers & corn
  • Tuesday - Fiesta chicken casserole (freezer)
  • Wednesday - Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - M is out of town, we'll be having leftovers.
  • Friday - M is out of town. We may have friends over, in which case I'll make something easy & vegetarian
  • Saturday - M is still out of town, & it's sleepover night. Homemade pizza & homemade ice cream! :-)
  • Sunday - If the weather is good, we'll throw something on the barbecue. If not, something from the freezer, since I'll have been on my own with the kiddos all weekend by myself.
Any yummy menu items this week? Recipes to share?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

May goals recap

The last six weeks or so have been pretty crazy for me, with doctors appointments, and dealing with a lot of stress, etc. So, I'm not too wound up about my goals. I still want to focus my time, money, & energy on the right things, but I'm also trying to teach my extremely Type A self how to relax a bit. ;-) It's a journey, that's for sure.

I didn't set goals until mid-month, but here's how I did.

  1. Make an appointment with an eye doctor. (This is a requirement before I've been on my medication for more than a month, due to side effects.) - Yes!
  2. Get together with at least two friends. I can feel myself "closing off" a bit as I deal with stress, and I need my friends now, more than ever. - Yes! Lots of friends get togethers, & I can feel my mood improving. I feel so blessed to have such an awesome variety of friends.
  3. Work my network. I have 15 years of experience, and a lot of fantastic contacts. My best chance of landing a flexible role that pays well is through my network. - Sort of. Had dinner with a friend (not expecting it to be networking related) & it may end up being that. Also set up a few lunches for next month.
  4. Find one budget category to cut this month. - Well, we cut our cleaning lady back to 2x/month (instead of weekly) but that was mostly planned & agreed upon.
  5. Decide on next ten items for eBay, and take all photos. - I did 8, which I'm fine with. :-)
  6. Figure out what to do with the odds & ends in my freezer, & then actually do something with it. I'm looking at you:
    1. carrots (already pureed). Maybe muffins? - Yes, made some fabulous carrot muffins!
    2. bits & pieces of homemade bread. Bread crumbs or just for the ducks? :-) - Most of it's gone, but haven't given the rest to the ducks. ;-0
    3. A small chunk of ham. Lentil soup?  - It hasn't felt like soup weather, so the ham still remains. Mocking me, in the freezer. :-)
    4. Mango. Smoothies or mango sorbet - Nope, still planning on making smoothies.
  7. Complete 800 minutes of cardio, 15 strength workouts, & 5 stretching workouts. - I did 927 minutes of cardio, 13 strength (a personal high!) & 2 stretching workouts.
  8. Plan vacation in June with M. - Yes! We're going to Las Vegas together. I'm was invited to play in a slot tournament, & it just sounded fun. ;-)
  9. Plan/make reservations for girls trip in July. - I kicked off an email to the girls, but we haven't made any final decisions yet.
  10. Celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday, and Mother's Day with my mom this weekend, and stay calm. Keep the budget under control. - The trip went well & the budget was pretty much as expected!
  11. Have 8 No Spend Days. - Yes, we had 10 no spend days!
All in all, I'm pleased with how I did in May. Lots of opportunities in June, and in July, my focus will turn into serious job hunting for September.

Fun weekend so far. We went to a parade yesterday to see my best friend's daughters dance, and then had lunch & relaxed with them. Today I got up & made breakfast, then pizza dough, a loaf of bread for sandwiches, & 3 dozen cranberry muffins. (M's favorite). The freezer is now stocked with muffins again, and we will be having pizza for dinner. I took the boys to swimming, picked up M's birthday gift, and went for a very slow 4 mile run - with some walking breaks. It felt amazing to run in the sunshine, but I am trying hard to listen to my body & take it easy. We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

How did you do with your May goals? Are you having a fun & fabulous weekend?