Saturday, September 30, 2017

All of the Jet Lag, & Belated Frugal Friday

I was traveling for work this week, & had zero out of pocket expenses. But, I did bring home all of the jet lag. Took a red eye on the way to London, and flew economy. I've flown business a few times, and absolutely cannot sleep in economy. Had two meetings with San Francisco while I was there, which meant staying up until 1:00 in the morning. I slept for hours last night, but it cannot touch the jet lag. So very tired! Here's hoping I'm feeling better by tomorrow. Here's what I accomplished:

  • Pre-prepped a bunch of food before I left, so they can avoid eating out the majority of the time
  • Avoided buying any food at the soccer tournament. I think we were the only parents to do this. Considering we were there for 6+ hours for two days in a row, it was a huge savings to pack our own food. (We had to eat it in the car).
  • Provided feedback on a product that we buy (cheese from our favorite semi-local dairy) that had issues. The wrapper hadn't properly sealed, and the cheese had significant molding months in advance of the "use by" date. Sent email & pictures & received a coupon for the full replacement, plus another coupon for a slightly smaller size as well. 
  • Filled out all of the last paperwork for the Audi recall (diesel engine fiasco), & received the $1500 final settlement.
  • Called & sorted out our trash service. When we moved, I changed our service address. The company has struggled so terribly with the billing since then. I magically have one account (as expected) when I log in to pay my bill. It shows our correct address. And, a huge credit balance. However, I keep getting late notices & threats to shut off our service. It took 45 minutes of effort yesterday, but did finally get them to sort, merge, & apply all of my payments to the correct address. Hurrah. 
  • I made homemade rolls that were a huge hit. Kids loved them. Will try for more this week.
  • Didn't get any souvenirs for the kids on my trip. (I usually just pick up a local treat of some sort). One of my employees bought a few bags of chocolate as a thank you for covering a late night meeting for her. 

And, I obviously have a ton to get done now that I'm back. Here's what I need to accomplish:
  • Two soccer games
  • Plan schedule for tomorrow
  • Pick up bibs for 5K race
  • Make a menu plan & Costco list
  • Go to Costco
  • And the produce stand
  • Make muffins
  • And homemade rolls
  • Get some exercise
  • Return my library books
  • Use the cheese coupons (above) to earn free grocery reward points, before the end of the month
  • Sort the budget & bills
I'll also make it my goal to stay up until 8 pm tonight. ;-) What about you? Any big frugal wins?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Busy, busy

I took the boys to four games yesterday (they won all of them, so that's a sign there will likely be two each this afternoon), as well as tried to get a few things done before I leave for my trip.

I managed to squeeze in a yoga workout, made lentil soup, homemade rolls & chocolate chip cookies. And, shredded & froze all of the parmesan cheese so M can quickly assemble dinners. I then walked to an evening event (a painting party) & enjoyed chatting & painting - while drinking wine, of course ;-)

I was up early this morning to wash the *very* fragrant soccer uniforms from yesterday. Here's what else is on my list:

  • Pack lunches for the field. I'm not a fan of this "park". They charge admissions & don't allow any food. Which means they want you to buy their unhealthy & ridiculously expensive concessions. We'll "tailgate" instead. 
  • Sort dinner for this evening. I won't be here, but have defrosted a lasagna for M & the kids.
  • Finish my last minute packing
  • Take both boys to their first games of the day. There is a 15 minute gap between them, so should work out well, logistics wise.
  • If either of the boys make it to the finals, I'll need to call M to head to the field so I can leave, get home, & take an Uber to the airport. 
  • I'm also going to try & eat something before I head to the airport, because, as we all know, airplane food is tragic.
That's it for me. I'm not a fan of the Sunday evening flights, but . . . what can you do? Let's hope it's on time & a painless flight.

What is one thing you will accomplish today that will save you time during the week? It won't save me time, but by prepping food for M, it will ensure that he & the boys can eat quickly, & hopefully limit eating out. ;-) 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tournament time

Nick's had a soccer tournament scheduled for this weekend for several months. It wasn't looking too hectic, as Sam's calendar was free of games. Until earlier this week when he was invited to play with a team one division up. So, now both boys have a full tournament schedule this weekend. They are guaranteed three games each (two today, one tomorrow), and if either team does well, there will be a fourth game on Sunday. 

I like watching both boys play soccer, but this is a lot, even for me. ;-) I'm leaving for London tomorrow evening, so here's what else needs to happen this weekend:

  • Soccer. Lots & lots of soccer
  • I'm attending a girls painting/wine party this evening. It's something I won at the school auction, and is led by one of my friends. Looking forward to this, as I hardly ever get a chance to see her. 
  • Work out, x2. I'm on a bit of a roll & want to keep up the positive momentum before my trip
  • Pack
  • Make a Costco list
  • Go to Costco
  • And the produce stand
  • Return library books
  • Shred parmesan cheese for the freezer
  • M is going to try to fix our car. One of the windows won't roll all the way up. 
  • Finish all of the laundry before I head out
  • Time permitting, make an extra batch of muffins for the freezer
I also just found out from our team manager that the tournament facility has an entry fee. Not impressed. All of the fields around here are free, and with that many games, and our schedule, it looks like we'll be paying a minimum of $20+ for entry fees. Not frugal at all!

What about you? What's on your weekend agenda? 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Frugal Friday

Here's what we've been up to this week:

  • Used up some broccoli that was about to go bad in Broccoli & Cheese soup over the weekend. Yum!
  • Ran out of time to make homemade rolls on Sunday, but dug out some bread from the freezer rather than buying anything
  • Noted that I hadn't received my mileage credit (compensation for a flight changes over the holidays) & called Alaska Airlines again. Received $150 (both) for the adults, & finally got the 5,000 miles (both) for the kids. 
  • Submitted an HSA expense for my parking at my doctor's appt ($12).
  • Finally noticed that an old HSA (M's employer from about 5 years ago) has been charging $1.50/month for paper statements, and is charging $4.99/month now that they are not sponsored by the employer. Fixed the $1.50/month paper statement. Will add the HSA rollover to our current accounts to my to do list, because there are multiple forms required. M's current HSA will also give you a $25 bonus for moving funds from another account, so that will be a huge win.
  • Went through my standard weekly exercise of entering our flight information & price matching, & ended up with a $52 credit for future travel! Woohoo!
  • Used up a Groupon for an Italian restaurant that was about to expire. Even with the Groupon, still too expensive, so won't buy it again. Did use leftovers for additional meals this week.
What about you? Any big wins this week? 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Gift card inventory

I try to take inventory of our gift cards throughout the year, to ensure we're treating them like cash. I also have received several gift cards to non-restaurants as gifts, and winnings in the school auction.

Here's what we have available:


  • $40 Groupon to a local Italian restaurant. Expiring soon. Need to use this week.
  • $25 Subway gift card
  • $51.60 Sweet Tomatoes gift card
  • $60.62 Starbucks card
  • $15 at a local spa. Leftover from a massage M got me for my birthday when we first moved here, 3+ years ago. I'd like to use it, but that will require an investment of additional money. Maybe could give it away? Or, alternatively, book a birthday massage & use this to defray a small amount of the cost.
  • $500 at another local spa. Work gift. I have no idea why I haven't booked something yet, but I will! :-)

  • 2 movie passes
  • 12 paint ball tickets, won at the school auction.
  • 1 month of free art class, won at the school auction.

  • $50 Visa gift card. Can be used as cash. Will apply to my Christmas funds.
  • $100 Target gift card. Will apply to my Christmas funds.

Inventorying the gift cards will ensure we use them up before the expire, and turn to the cards before using our own funds. What about you? Do you track gift cards like cash? Any gift cards you are hoping to use up?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Soccer & Soup - Sunday

Two more soccer games complete today (Nick's team won again, and Sam's team had another loss, although much closer than yesterday). I was on the soccer field & then out & about for the majority of the day. But, I did manage to get in a quick run in the morning, do all of the laundry, talk to my parents, & help the boys organize their closets.

I also made soup for dinner, to use up some questionable looking broccoli. I made this broccoli & cheese soup (similar to Panera's soup), and the only change was that I pureed the entire batch in my Vitamix before adding the cheese. It was delicious! I served it with bread & salad, to round out the meal.

The weather has cooled off perfectly here, and I'm enjoying the peace & quiet while Michael has the boys out of the house. :-)

If you like broccoli & cheese soup, give it a try!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Grocery store score

After a very early soccer morning (3-1 victory for Nick), & a less victorious game (1-7) for Sam (and Nick, who was subbing), I took the boys & a bonus friend to lunch at In & Out. Nick was in at goalie against the best team in our league (a year up for him) & did an amazing job staying focused, even though the other team put up so many amazing shots. He had some great blocks, and stayed positive despite the challenging game.

As a special treat, I took the boys & their friend to lunch, where they each proceeded to eat two cheeseburgers, fries & a milkshake. We started with one burger each, and they were all still quite hungry & polished off a second burger each in no time. Luckily, it only came to $30. Oh, how I wish I could still eat two burgers, fries & a milkshake. ;-)

Once soccer was done for the day, I dropped Nick & bonus friend off for a sleepover, and went into the local grocery store for hamburger buns. Hamburgers are actually on the menu for tonight (although, I doubt anyone will be in the mood, and we will likely swap things around), and while Michael & I prefer them without a bun, the boys both enjoy them with a slice of cheese on a bun. I always walk through the clearance aisle, and the clerk was just stocking the shelves. Huge scores!

Here's what we got (and, I should have been reviewing the register as things were rung up, as you can see, but was distracted by the bagger, who dropped a bunch of stuff on the floor & we were trying to pick it up).

  • Organic pizza sauce - this actually rang up incorrectly & was supposed to be $.57. It rang up at $3.59 & will need to go back for a price correction
  • Shredded parmesan cheese with garlic - $.57
  • Pesto - rang up correctly, but charged me for 3 & I got 2. But, $.57/each! I'll get a price adjustment next time I'm there.
  • Natural jam sweetened with honey (vs sugar) - $.57 x3
  • Mac & cheese (the Star Wars edition) - $.27 x10!
  • 32 oz jars of organic pasta sauce - $.57 x3
  • Organic pasta sauce (smaller size) - $.57x4
  • Power Ade (not part of the clearance, but for my soccer player who gets migraines. I let him bring Power Ade if he's playing two games in a day). - $.59 (a steal) + $.10 bottle deposit x3
  • Cookies (a splurge for soccer game treats tomorrow). I've divided up the package, so each kid will get to share 1/2 with friends after the game - $.57
  • Cheez Its (a rare snack for Sam to bring in his lunch) - $.57
  • And, hamburger buns ;-) - $1.75

Total spent = $19.23. And, after the credits I'll receive, it' will really be around $16! Super excited to stock the pantry for that price.

Woohoo! Any big grocery store wins on your end? I closed out the afternoon with a trip to the produce stand for corn (3 ears for $1), radishes ($.59/bunch), mini cucumbers (Nick's favorite - expensive & just under my max price at $1.99/lb), and wheat lavosh bread ($2.99).

Soccer Saturday + a Menu Plan

Soccer season is back in full swing! We have the early game today (8:00 am, 7:30 field arrival!), as well as an 11 am game. Ahh, well, at least we'll be all wrapped up by lunch time. Bright side!

I need to get in a couple of runs this weekend, and perhaps yoga, time permitting. M & I also need to talk about the house projects & come up with our wish list & a minimum viable list. Adulting is often hard. :-)

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

  • Friday (yesterday) - oven baked chicken risotto, with homemade chicken broth, M's grilled chicken, fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes from the garden. Yum. 
  • Saturday - M will grill either burgers or kebabs, with potatoes. 
  • Sunday - we have a Groupon for a local Italian place that is close to expiring, so we will go there for dinner. 
  • Monday - leftover risotto
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers/kebabs
  • Wednesday - is it too much to hope that the meal out will yield leftovers? If so, I have a lasagna in the freezer
  • Thursday - ground beef tacos, or taco bowls. 

What about you? How are you doing with your menu plan? Are you adding fall recipes back into the mix? 

I'd also love to prep some lentil soup for the freezer. LOVE lentil soup! So easy & healthy. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Frugal Friday

Yet another crazy week of work & activities! We mostly stayed on course with our menu & kept the shopping to an absolute minimum. Overall, it was a pretty inexpensive week!

Here's the list of frugal wins for the week:

  • Called about our Christmas flights. They were moved three hours later, and there are no better options to rebook. Accepted the rebook, but asked about compensation. Received 2500 miles (x4, for all of us) that we will use towards our mileage challenge in 2018!
  • Received $1.97 in credit card rewards thanks to noticing a Subway cashback deal. I'd enrolled right before leaving for my relay, and bought lunch there during the event. Every dollar counts, in this case. ;-) 
  • Made dinner ever night this week, despite a lot of chaos with M traveling for work
  • Didn't go to Costco this week, as we normally do. M is obsessed with having a full fridge. I took advantage of our stockpile in the fridge, and bought a few thing at the grocery store for $13. Total savings of ~$100. Woohoo! :-) 

And, here's what we ate this week, as compared to the menu plan. We ate 3 of 4 planned meals, with tomato soup subbing for fried rice. We also mixed up the ordering, which is typical for us. 
  • Monday - Plan was Spaghetti & meatballs.  We really ate another quick freezer meal, as M was out of town. We had the rest of the panko chicken, mini tacos, pizza bites & to health it up a bit. . . cucumbers & tomatoes from the garden. Plus fruit salad.
  • Tuesday - Plan was beef tacos with build your own toppings: cheese, tomatoes, salsa, onion & this is what we ate
  • Wednesday - Plan was eating down our "pool party" stash. Likely pizza rolls, mini tacos & some sort of protein. (Chicken, most likely). Instead we had tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches for two of us, with Nick eating a leftover taco. 
  • Thursday - Plan was fried rice, using any leftovers, + edamame. Instead, we ate the spaghetti & meatballs with fresh tomatoes from the garden & Parmesan cheese. 
  • Friday - Chicken risotto - still the plan
  • Saturday - Grilled burgers & potatoes - still the plan
  • Sunday - Kale & chicken salad + caprese - still the plan. I have a package of mozzarella cheese that I really need to use up. 

What about you? Any big frugal wins for the week?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Back from our quick trip

What a whirlwind of a weekend! We flew to Portland on Friday after work, and had hoped to arrive at 8 pm. In the Uber on the way to the airport, we received news that our flight was delayed. We ended up being two hours late, which meant a couple of very sleepy boys.

Actually, we were 1:55 late. Which is ironic, given that the airline has to provide you with compensation if you are 2+ hours late. ;-)

We all woke up early on Saturday, and my sister, aunt & cousin prepped all of the food for the wedding. We worked for about 5 hours, and then headed over to the wedding location to set everything up. Note: this was a very small, low budget wedding, as my parents were "hosting" for my aunt. She's in her early 60s, but mentally disabled, so definitely doesn't have the budget to pay. We all pulled together as a family, & celebrated. My husband was the DJ, the kids passed out food, we all prepped drinks, decorated, & made all of the food. I was exhausted by the end of the wedding! My aunt, however, was extremely thrilled & so happy throughout the course of the event.

We flew home late yesterday afternoon, unpacked & whipped up a quick dinner out of freezer options (baked chicken & gyozas + salad).

Our attempts to be frugal mostly paid off. I brought food for myself, M & Nick for dinner at the airport on Friday before our flight. Sam opted for a burger & fries, but due to the delay, was starving & asked for a fruit & cheese tray on the flight. The flight attendant also handed out free drinks (an apology for the delay), so I took advantage & had a glass of champagne. ;-) Win some/lose some.

I also treated to Starbucks in the morning on Saturday, but used a gift card purchased a while back. As for Sunday, we had breakfast with my family, but got lunch at the airport. It was too chaotic at my parents house to prep food. Once again, we attempted to share things, but Sam ate the entire burger. Michael & I were left with a side salad & fries. Oh, to be a (very active) 11 year old boy. I remembered to throw together a few snacks (grapes & zucchini bread), so we filled in with those until we could get home.

All in all, it was a super expensive weekend (we paid A LOT for the flights, & M entertained the kids at the movies during the day on Saturday, to keep them out of our hair), but one of those family memories that are hard to pass up. We will trim back in other areas, in order to offset the additional expenses.

And now, for a "no planning" week ahead:

Monday - Spaghetti & meatballs
Tuesday - Beef tacos with build your own toppings: cheese, tomatoes, salsa, onion
Wednesday - Eating down our "pool party" stash. Likely pizza rolls, mini tacos & some sort of protein. (Chicken, most likely).
Thursday - Fried rice, using any leftovers, + edamame
Friday - Chicken risotto
Saturday - Grilled burgers & potatoes
Sunday - Kale & chicken salad + caprese

How was your weekend? 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Frugal Friday

What a week it's been. I've been working until midnight every night dealing with a crisis in Japan, and then getting up again at 6 to be at the office to keep working through options. It's been very . . . unfun. I'm hoping we've found a solution. Fingers crossed. Sometimes technology is very painful. We're flying to Portland this evening to attend my aunt's wedding. Should be really fun, although a very quick trip!

Here are some of the frugal wins for the week:

  • Transferred our tax savings (Federal & State from profit of our rental house sale) to a higher yield savings account. Will likely make an extra couple hundred dollars in interest vs the account I previously had.
  • Avoided going out for ice cream on Sunday night, and had watermelon at home instead. Even though it was 90+ in our house. We sat outside, as it was just started to cool off, and dipped our feet in the pool.
  • Ate lunches at home on our long weekend
  • Returned the moleskin I bought at Rite Aid (for Nick's giant blister). All of their products have a "try & buy" warranty. I bought it & was unable to remove the sticky backing on any of the sheets, so took it back for a full refund.
  • Converted hotel points to airline miles, generating 100,000 miles (enough for 2-3 round trip flights)
  • Redeemed remaining points for a $100 Target gift card, that I will use towards Christmas gifts.
  • Used $48.04 of airline credit from a price match to offset some of the cost for my parents trip here in October. They are coming to stay with the kids while we go to Hawaii for our anniversary. 
  • Noticed that Comcast was charging me for a modem rental. We had it picked up way back in April (a story for another day). That means, months worth of $10/month charges. I called & am getting all of those charges reversed, as well as a reduction of $10/month in ongoing charges. First of all, such a scam. Second of all, what a huge savings based on just correctly monitoring my bill. 
  • Changed our ski week trip to Tahoe for a unit with a bigger kitchen (but mostly because we had to switch days & the days we wanted weren't available), and it was actually cheaper. Woohoo! Saved about $100. 
  • Price matched another flight & saved $10 (will receive credit for the airline for a future purchase).
  • Made dinner every night this week, despite the chaos.
  • Packed a dinner for myself & M to eat at the airport. The kids will grab a burger when we get there.

That's it for us! What about you? Any frugal wins for the week? 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Using miles & travel goals

As part of my 2018 planning, I'm evaluating our travel plans for the year, building a budget, & determining our priorities as a family. We've roughed out our list of destinations & timing, which leaves us with the budget review.

When we decided to move to California, we prioritized spending time with family & friends in Washington. We knew this would represent a significant portion of our travel budget, but it's important for us to maintain our connections & ensure the boys get to spend a lot of time with our relatives. (The majority of my family lives close to each other, making it easy to see multiple people in one trip.)

Our travel budget for the 2018 is $7000. This represents a variety of trips, but just one potential hotel stay. The biggest category of this budget is for airfare, car rentals, etc. (Note: a few trips haven't been fully planned, so these are placeholder numbers, although the full sum needs to come in at or under $7000.)

Our full flight budget for the year is $3,900, and would take around 390,000 miles to cover in total. (Note that this is an estimate. Some flights require more miles, so I'd like to be flexible on which parts of our travel we can book via points so we can get the best value). Given that airfare is such a big component of our traveling, I'd love to find a way to get at least half of our flights covered via miles. My stretch goal would be all of the flights covered via miles, but I think that will be challenging! I haven't been very efficient at maximizing these opportunities in the past, and want to focus on this. Here are the ways I'm thinking about accruing these miles:

  • 36,000 - We have a credit card through the airline, & I'm guessing this is how much we'll accrue
  • 30,000 - companion fare via our credit card
  • 90,000 - existing miles balance 
  • 50,000 - points transfer from a hotel loyalty program (primarily accrued via work travel) 
  • 90,000 - miles from my other three travelers. These are harder to use, as I have to book the reservation under one child, for example, which is a hassle if we're traveling in groups. But, let's optimistically go with this. 
  • 30,000 - points accrued from other hotel transfers. This is optimistic, although I do have quite a bit of travel planned for Q4. 

If we were able to utilize miles to offset the majority of our 2018 travel, it would allow us to either a) take additional trips or b) reduce our costs! We're leaning towards b, with the understanding that some trips naturally go over, and we may want to increase our budget around a major milestone (15th anniversary, etc). 

What about you? Do you use miles or points to offset your travel budget? Any tips to share? 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Long weekends are wonderful & 2018 travel plans

Although I'm not able to do everything on my to do list (the heat!), having an extra day has been fabulous.

To beat the heat, I did more planning chores than normal this weekend. One of my plans was to budget & prioritize our planned 2018 travel. The boys have voted on skiing in Tahoe this year over our planned 2018 Thanksgiving trip to Hawaii. While not exactly the same cost, skiing in Tahoe is extremely expensive. Here's what we're thinking of so far for travel in 2018:

  • January - no planned trips
  • February - skiing in Tahoe over "ski week". We are planning to stay for 3 nights in a condo with a small kitchen. Expenses will be: the condo, lift tickets, food for meals we don't make, etc.
  • March - no planned trips
  • April - girls trip at the beach, with my sister & bestie. I'll need to buy my flight, but the rest of the expenses are negligible, as we'll be staying at our beach house
  • May - I've promised my mom a girls trip, as a gift for her birthday & Mother's Day. Not sure exactly when we'll go, so earmarked for May. Would prefer no back to back trips, but we'll see. Again, cost should be pretty minimal, and my flight will technically fall under the gift category.
  • June - We'd like to take the kids to Yosemite. Not sure if we will, and/or if it will be in June, but putting it here for now. 
  • July - we'll be doing our annual family trip to the beach house. So, airfare for four, car rental, plus more food than normal
  • August - I'll be doing my relay, so airfare for one. 
  • September - no planned trips 
  • October - M & I may do a long weekend together, if my parents are up for coming to our house. Potentially Sonoma.
  • November - no planned trips
  • December - we'll all go to Portland for the holidays, and will need to rent a car for our visit. Round trip airfare for 4 is pricey, so I will try to use miles again.

After listing it all out, I was able to see that airfare will be by far the biggest expense in 2018. I took a look at all of my travel rewards (mostly accrued from work trips) & matched up the hotels to see if anything would work for our trips. We actually don't have many hotel trips planned in 2018, and some of my miles are expiring. So, I opted to transfer points for 100,000 miles to our preferred local airline. I'll use these miles to reduce much of our travel spending. We also have a credit card with our preferred local airline, and I'm hoping to use miles for our Christmas 2018 trip as well. By listing it all out, I'm able to determine whether the number of trips & total planned expenses are reasonable, and adjust as needed. I'm also able to best utilize our travel rewards, which is a nice benefit.

Sam had a friend over to swim yesterday, and Nick remains at his camping/fishing trip. The pictures have been super cute.  

Otherwise, we've continued to make the most of our leftovers.
  • For lunch yesterday, I had the final piece of quiche (crust removed, as it was soggy) inside of 1/2 a pita pocket (freezer), with a tomato from the garden. I also had 1/2 a pear & the last of my delish cold brew latte popsicles from Trader Joes.
  • M had a sandwich made with a variety of cold cuts in the fridge, and the remainder of a leftover salad from dinner out on Saturday.
  • For today's lunch, I'm having the remainder of pizza that we made on Friday, and M will have another sandwich with a few other "spare parts" in the fridge. 

How do you plan your yearly travel? Do you handle it more spontaneously, or do you have your travel ideas planned out in advance as well? 

Weekly menu plan

Here's what we're planning on making & eating this week:

  • Sunday - grilled fish + roasted potatoes or rice (haven't decided yet)
  • Monday - grilled chicken + roasted potatoes or rice (whichever we didn't have on Sunday)
  • Tuesday - leftover grilled fish +side dish
  • Wednesday - leftover grilled chicken + side dish
  • Thursday - Eat up any leftovers still in the fridge
  • Friday - Traveling. We will eat something at the airport. The boys love Smashburger. I'm hoping I'll be able to make sandwiches for M & I to eat & bring with us, but will be dependent on my work schedule. 
  • Saturday - at my aunt's wedding.  
  • Sunday - likely heating up freezer pizza or something, as we are getting home late from the airport. 

I'd also like to prep ground beef for tacos, but I need the kitchen to cool off before I can do that. I typically make multiple meals worth, and then freeze for a quick & easy dinner.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

It's too hot, and gone fishing

Oh, the heat in the bay area! We don't have air conditioning, and our house has stayed at 90+ for the past two days. Inside. Even at night. :-( It's pretty miserable. We do have one in room air conditioning unit, and have it set up in our spare bedroom. M is less bothered by the heat than I am, so I've been staying in the spare room with the kids. It's much cooler, but I'm not super used to sharing a bed with the boys, and they are very "active" during the night. ;-)

I was up at 3:30 and have just decided to stay awake at this point.

I'm feeling a little sad that I wasn't able to accomplish much/any of my to do list yesterday (cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc). But, we definitely made the best of it. . . drinking margaritas by the pool while the boys were off with friends.

My youngest is off on a camping trip to the Russian River with friends. Apparently, they went fishing. So, so cute. Mine is the one in the orange shirt.

It looks like the weather may be cooling down a bit today, and another ten degrees by Monday. Thank goodness! For today, maybe we will head to Half Moon Bay & enjoy the cooler temperatures. 

Other than that, we've been doing a reasonably good job of eating things from the freezer & fridge. Yesterday as the exception. We were supposed to grill fish & M just couldn't hack the heat. We went out (both boys were with friends), so free bonus date night! (Well, the sitter part was free.) We had a lovely dinner out & enjoyed the unplanned date in a cool restaurant. 

Random things we've eaten this week:
  • Baked a quiche for dinner. This was one of two quiches my dad made when he was here. We ate one, and froze the second. I was happy to clear up some freezer space & to have a quick & easy dinner. Ham & cheese quiche with fresh garden tomatoes. 
  • One serving of chicken enchiladas (freezer). Same as above. Leftover from a dinner my dad cooked when he was here. I ate this for lunch on Friday, as I was working from home.
  • Leftover kebabs transformed into a lunch sandwich for M, using spicy hummus, garden tomatoes & a ciabatta roll. On the panini maker.
  • Leftover quiche (minus crust, which was a bit soggy), stuffed into 1/2 a toasted pita with garden tomatoes for my lunch yesterday. Yum. Served with a pear & a post lunch popsicle. ;-) 

I'm also hoping to get a few organizing & planning tasks done on the computer today. I'll likely work from our (much cooler) spare bedroom.

  • Planning our 2018 travel budget & calendar
  • Finalizing the remainder of my 2017 work travel. Looks like: London, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo. A little worried about the current political environment & visiting Seoul/Tokyo right now. 
  • Chatting through remodeling/update plans with M & determining ordering, budget, etc. 
  • Make a menu plan for the week
  • Review my existing travel rewards (points programs) & update my tracker so I can determine whether there are options to use any points during 2018, understand upcoming expiration dates, etc. 

That's it for us! What about you? Is it hot where you are? How are you staying cool? If not, what are you up to this long weekend?  

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Goals for September

A new fresh month, and a few new goals to consider in September!

1) Financial - 
  • Meet with a financial planner
  • Finalize investments & budget from post rental house sale
  • Plan our 2018 budget
  • Plan our 2018 travel plans
  • Finalize list of house projects for our "new" house
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option
  • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. If nothing sells, donate & get rid of the clutter.

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Cook one meal with each kid, so they can start helping with the cooking.
  • Have a family game night. 
  • Get the kids involved in prioritizing our 2018 travel.
  • More decluttering & organizing in our new house (would like to get the boys closet shelving installed, so they can put away/organize all of their games & toys)

    Fitness/health - Lose 4 pounds in September
    • Stay on track on my business trip to London (complete at least 3 workouts)
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
    • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio
    • Complete 6 strength workouts.
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts
    • Find another event to train for, now that my relay is over

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress 
    • Work from home 2x this month.
    • Brainstorm how I would spend my time if I wasn't working. Really think creatively about what this would mean, what the challenges would be, etc.

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Try a new recipe using my new crockpot
      • Do something social at least once per month.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

      That's it for me! What about you? Any big new goals for September? Or, small but manageable goals? Sometimes those are the most fun. :-) 

      Friday, September 1, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      This is a combination of two week's worth, as I didn't post last Friday. Here are the frugal things we've been up to!

      • Got a refund of $1072 for our home mortgage (rental property sale), & tucked that away for some upcoming home projects
      • Picked up a Subway gift card (that generated a Rite Aid reward) earlier in the summer to use for lunch at my relay.
      • Bought Starbucks gift card (same thing - grocery store reward) a few weeks ago to use for breakfast at my relay
      • Pre-made breakfasts & lunches for my older son, to avoid him buying anything on the days he has to leave early for sports. 
      • Made chicken broth from bones (that were leftovers from a meal out, so at least I got a few uses out of them ;-)) & leftover vegetable scraps.
      • Re-purposed my sticky granola bars (not good for lunch boxes) into protein balls for after work outs.  
      • Made dinner at home all week, even though I hadn't really prepped anything. Scrambled together a few things (pesto I made a week or so ago), freezer meatballs, & various bits & bobs from the fridge. 
      • Started tracking my interest from my fund. I'm hoping this will motivate me to do a better job diversifying my investments & balancing my accounts. I made $56.94 in August. (I'm tracking real gains, not any stock changes in my investment accounts). I'll shoot for more each month!
      • Traded a friend for beach house usage on Labor Day to do all of the laundry & sheets & cleaning, saving me $90. I would have let her use the house anyway, & she's my bestie so she would have taken care of the cleaning had I asked, but it worked out great for this weekend. :-)
      • Turned in our Audi as part of our settlement with Volkswagen (emissions class action lawsuit). Although, we bought a new one the same day, so not sure how much I'd count this as "frugal". We would have liked to drive the previous for 15+ years, but the recall happened. We also attempted to buy a used one. Due to the lawsuit & turn ins, it was very challenging. It was $700 cheaper to buy a new car, so we went down that path. It was also $1500 cheaper to use financing. We are required to use the financing for 3 months, which will cost us $99 in total. After that, we will pay it off for a savings of $1401. I hate car buying, so I'm very happy the process is over. 

      Frugal fails:
      • Threw away about 1/4 cup of edamame that was in the back of the fridge. I didn't notice it before I left last weekend, & it was bad when I came back.

      That's it for me! Any big frugal wins or fails on your side?