Saturday, January 27, 2018

A gorgeous day

It's brisk & sunny in northern California this morning. I love days like this, and definitely need to carve out time to get outside, as I have a long plane ride tomorrow. I always feel like a slug sitting on a plane, eating & watching movies. There are no good "healthy" options when sitting for that long.

I need to get a bunch of stuff done before tomorrow morning, so here's what's on my to do list for today:

  • Go for a run
  • Deal with our car insurance (an ongoing saga. I'm on my 6th phone call)
  • Go to the grocery store for a free bread offer + parchment paper
  • Go to Costco for our weekly groceries
  • Produce stand
  • Make a menu for M & the kids while I'm gone
  • Dinner - naan pizzas
  • Finish packing
  • Clean the kitchen & bathrooms
  • Vacuum the house
  • Drop off a book at the library
  • Do the laundry
If I get all of that done, I'll be thrilled! :-) What about you? What are you up to this Saturday? And, how is the weather where you are? Will you get a chance to be outside today? I've noticed my energy level is low, and I'm hoping the sun will help. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Frugal Friday

It's been a pretty standard week around here. Nothing too exciting, but we've been plugging along. Here are some of the frugal wins for the week:

  • No meals out. I made a yummy chicken curry over the weekend, and M grilled chicken as well. Between those two meals, we ate leftovers all week. The kids packed lunches, & the adults ate (free) lunch at work.
  • I sold a $20 item that I had given up on.
  • I contacted a company about a package of boneless/skinless chicken that was full of bones. Which, of course I didn't know until I'd started pounding the chicken, resulting in bone shards everywhere. They are fully refunding the cost. A few years ago, I would have just tossed it & considered it a loss.
  • Finally received our $700 Costco gift card (car purchase, from the Costco Exec card), so we will be putting that towards our groceries for the month
  • Made another $10 or so selling stuff on eBay.
  • Put all "extra" money towards our unfunded 2018 stretch goals. Those include the kids college accounts, and paying extra on our vacation mortgage. So far, this totals $1783 for the year. Super excited I'm tracking the "extra" money & ensuring it goes straight to a goal. Sources of extra money so far this year include:
    • eBay/sales - $230
    • An extra stock disbursement I wasn't expecting - $1053
    • The amount of our grocery budget I won't need due to the Costco gift card - $500 (I'm earmarking $200 for stocking up & perhaps a nice steak or something)

Those are our frugal wins for the week. I'll also be listing a bunch of stuff on eBay today, & packing for my trip to Tokyo on Sunday. What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Weekly spending recap (1/15-1/21/18)

I used to frequently do spending recaps, but got out of the habit awhile back. I thought it might be helpful to get back into it. Here's what we spent over the past week:


  • Booked both boys bowling parties - $448. Note that this is unusual for us, & a sort of double party from this year & last year. It is also our gift to them. It's bowling, pizza & cake for 6 kids. Crazy expensive (two parties).

Tuesday - No spend day

Wednesday - No spend day

Thursday  - No spend day

Friday - 
 No spend day


  • $86.98 - Costco (stocking up on our regular stuff)
  • $3.98 - Trader Joes (got a couple of ingredients for a curry recipe)
  • $8.93 - Produce stand (standard stuff - cauliflower, radishes, mini cucumbers, & wheat lavosh bread)
  • $20 - picked up a modem for my sister. She has been renting for $11/month & plans to have her own to save tons of money. She recently took care of a very nasty chore for me, so this is my gift.

Sunday -  No spend day

And, made $56.86 with eBay sales this week. I'll consider five no spend days a huge win!

Total spend for the week = $511.03. I'll take it! What about you? How did you do with your weekly spending? 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Simple Sunday

I accomplished everything on my to do list for yesterday (minus the bonus muffin task), and am looking forward to a mellow day today. Particularly because M is making dinner. I'm off the hook. :-) The chicken curry I made yesterday was great. I need to up the spices a bit, but I think that's because I added extra potatoes & chicken, which impacted the spice level. Overall, it was a winner.

Here's what's on my to do list for today:

  1. M is taking the boys to early soccer practice this morning, so I can go for a run. 
  2. Wash all of the sheets/bedding
  3. Hand wash a pair of workout pants
  4. Continue to prep a few items I'm going to list on eBay in a week or so.
  5. Chop fruit for the week for the boys breakfasts
  6. Send email to our nanny with the schedule for the week
  7. Update my work schedule for the week (I always do this on Sundays, so I can go into the week ahead prepped & ready to go. 
  8. Time permitting, I may start working on my Dream Bio. 

Looking forward to a relatively unstructured day ahead. What about you? Any big plans for today?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The calm before the storm

It's a relatively quiet weekend, and I'm so excited about it. :-) I head to Tokyo next Sunday, so a quiet weekend ahead of that is just what the doctor ordered! I did get paged by work at 1:00 am yesterday, but had my phone turned to silent. Let's hope the weekend settles down a bit on the work front, and then all will be well.

Here's what's on the agenda for today:

  1. Work out. I've worked out EVERY day of January so far, and have almost completed a full round of the 21 Day Fix. I can definitely tell a difference in my strength & training.
  2. Clean the entire house. 
  3. Make a menu plan
  4. Go to Costco
  5. And the produce stand
  6. Check the grocery store for clearance items 
  7. Mail an eBay package
  8. Photograph some other eBay items. I won't list them until next Friday, to ensure they don't sell while I'm traveling
  9. Laundry. So, much, laundry.
  10. Time permitting, I'll make muffins. 

And, here's the menu for the week:

Sunday - M will grill chicken & we'll serve it with potatoes
Monday - Leftover chicken curry
Tuesday - Leftover chicken & potatoes
Wednesday - Chicken baguettte (freezer)
Thursday - Use up the remaining grilled chicken for chicken taocs
Friday - Naan pizzas

What about you? What are you up to this weekend? What are you making this week? 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Frugal Friday

This is one of those Frugal Fridays where there's not much to report. But, here's what we accomplished this week:

  • I sold a few more items on eBay. Everything I'm selling is relatively low end (making $5-10/item), but is getting stuff out of the house. My goal for the year is to make $1K, and I'm at $57 so far. Slow & steady!
  • I cancelled a yearly service we have for our vacation house. I negotiated to an on demand service in its place. If we ended up needing it at the rate we used it last year, it will save us approximately $450. 
  • I used our electric car for all commuting, and charged it for free at work. 
  • I finally figured out what's causing our library fines, and came up with a solution. (Short story - the kids accounts weren't sending emails or notifications, so I was unaware they had overdue items. And, I couldn't previously log into their accounts to proactively check.) This was an expensive mistake. By the time I realized it, we owed $60. :-( To put this into context, we checked out over 300 items last year. So, we get a lot of use out of the library, but I thought I should confess to my frugal fail as well. :-)
  • No shopping/spending of any kind this week. 
  • Tracked down my missing 50,000 Hyatt points, and everything is now sorted. We're hoping that M can use these points for the weekend portion of his trip to Singapore, while he's spending time with his mom.
That's it for us! Other than the $.01 I found in a conference room at work. Big money! What about you? Any frugal wins (or fails) this week? 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Independence & Food Prep

Now that the boys are almost 11 & 12 (wow!), we are working on getting them to be more independent with their food prep & assistance with meals. They've been helping with dinner here & there (making salad, making pasta, etc), but either M or I have been making their breakfast & lunch. I've been wanting to get them more involved for a while, but M is a little bit more . . . specific about what they eat for each meal. We've now reached a good place, where we're all in agreement that the boys are old enough to really plan & prep their own meals.

I spent quite a bit of time with them this weekend, shopping & buying things that would be relatively easy to prepare, helping them make a menu plan, and prepping food (muffins, cranberry bread, mini frittatas, sandwich bread, etc). We also talked a lot about nutrition, looked up protein & calorie requirements for their ages, & I think we've all learned a lot.

Our grocery bill was higher than normal this week, thanks to all of the easier prep food, but I think it's worth it in the long term. We'll be able to eventually replace some of the top favorites with more homemade options, and it's one of my goals over time to also give them a budget to work with. We're not quite there yet. :-) Our picky eater has also started to realize how challenging it is to plan meals, which is a great revelation!

Today's breakfast was: protein/berry smoothies, pineapple & 1/2 a bagel with cream cheese.

Sam's lunch: tortilla soup + empanadas, & fruit, & a treat
Nick's lunch: leftover mac & cheese + fruit, veggies & a treat

I wish they made square thermoses! The round ones are fine for liquids, but not as easy for other food (taquitos, a grilled sandwich, etc). I've searched Amazon, and the only ones they make have terrible reviews. Does anyone have a recommendation?

I know this is a state of transition, so I'm trying to dedicate an extra 10-15 minutes each morning to help the boys get everything sorted, as well as to be patient that they may not get it right all the time. But, it's a good investment of time in the long term.

What about you? At what age did your kids make their own breakfast & lunch? We'll stick to family dinners, as I'm prepping one thing for everyone. Please share any easy meal options as well!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

It's a long weekend - let's get a few things done

I love having that extra day. It spreads out the chores, and gives me a chance to fill the freezer, do a few more random tasks, and makes house cleaning seem less like a drag, as it's spread out across more days. :-)

I made my first roasted chicken yesterday (they were out of turkey breasts at the store) & it was delicious! They were on sale for $.88/lb at Safeway, so I may go get another one today & try it in the crockpot this time.

Here's a quick snapshot of what I got done yesterday.

  • Run 3 miles. I really, really need to do this. At this point, it's a mental block to start running again.
  • Make a menu
  • And, a corresponding shopping list
  • Clean the fridge & microwave
  • Find somewhere to store our patio furniture cushions, now that they are all laundered & ready to be put away for the season
  • Laundry + sheets
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Make 4 dozen muffins for the freezer
  • Go to Costco, the produce stand, & the grocery store
  • Drop off books at the library

You'll see that I put off the house cleaning. ;-) Here's what's on the list for today!

  • Clean the fridge & microwave
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Make 4 dozen muffins for the freezer (I made two dozen yesterday)
  • Drop off books at the library
  • Take the boys to futsal practice
  • Take Nick to his futsal game
  • Pick up another chicken at Safeway
  • Yoga
  • Work with M on the house projects list
  • If time, complete my Dream Bio (Frugalwoods) 
  • Make dinner (Fiesta Chicken)
  • Make crockpot chicken
  • And, a loaf of bread (time permitting - this may be pushing it)

That's it from my side! What about you? And, talk to me about muffins? I'm looking for new recipes. What's your favorite muffin recipe? Our current favorite is Fresh Cranberry

Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's solar day!

I'm super excited, as we're having solar panels installed on our roof today. The power company part will take place in a few weeks, and then we will be all sorted. We've done the math & with existing power prices (assumes no increase), the project will have paid for itself in about six years. We're comfortable with that investment, & feel good about generating our own power - in our minds, the tradeoff is worth the upfront investment. More on the cost savings as we get off the ground & start getting real numbers!

Other than that, it's a pretty typical Saturday. We're still in the off season for fall/spring soccer, so no soccer games today! Here's what's on the agenda:

  • Run 3 miles. I really, really need to do this. At this point, it's a mental block to start running again.
  • Make a menu
  • And, a corresponding shopping list
  • Clean the fridge & microwave
  • Find somewhere to store our patio furniture cushions, now that they are all laundered & ready to be put away for the season
  • Laundry + sheets
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Make 4 dozen muffins for the freezer
  • Go to Costco, the produce stand, & the grocery store
  • Drop off books at the library
If I get all of that done, I'll consider today a success!

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

  • Friday - I defrosted a chicken pilaf for the adults. The kids had hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls
  • Saturday - chicken fajita rice + fresh guacamole
  • Sunday - turkey + stuffing + cranberry sauce
  • Monday - turkey soup + homemade rolls
  • Tuesday - leftover chicken fajita rice
  • Wednesday - leftover turkey + sides
  • Thursday - leftover soup + homemade rolls
  • Friday - Most likely, risotto, with any leftover fridge ingredients. If I'm feeling lazy, naan pizzas
What about you? What are you making this weekend & the week ahead?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Frugal Friday

Oh, January! I wasn't quite ready to get fully back into the swing of work, but January didn't wait for me to get prepared. Here goes!

  • A friend had two free tickets to a physics show, so she took my boys last weekend. They loved it!
  • I used Rite Aid points to pick up Pledge for dusting, as we were out
  • I used a grocery store gift card to buy clearanced tea bags ($.57) & a pumpkin muffin mix ($.97). 
  • Used our free local newspaper to clean the mirrors, vs paper towels.
  • Sold 4 items on eBay. Made just under $6, but happy to have them out of the house.
  • Booked flights for 3 for free, using frequent flier points + credit I had in my airline "wallet"
  • Registered for a free ski pass for Nick. A local ski area is giving away weekend passes for 5th graders. It's an amazing deal, and we were already planning on going there over ski break. However, caveat is that they currently have zero snow. :-(
  • Made all dinners at home. Packed lunches for the kids. M & I ate at work (free)
  • Picked up books off of the freebie table at work. I love taking these on work trips. After reading them, I can remove them & leave them for others while flying, reducing the weight of my carry on. 
  • Arranged to work remotely for a few days in June. This will allow me to combine two trips to Portland, and cut out the need for one flight. 

I hope you had a frugal week! What's the best frugal win you had over the past week or so?

Monday, January 8, 2018

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what we're eating this week:

  • Friday - unexpected meal out, thanks to a kids schedule change. :-( I'm usually ALL over this, so I was disappointed in this expense. Did at least manage to get the kids fed before their activity.
  • Saturday - planned for date night. We haven't had a meal out alone since Hawaii, so ironic we had two in a weekend! Kids will eat mac & cheese, or something easy
  • Sunday - beef kebabs, rice, & yogurt sauce
  • Monday - ground beef tacos (made ahead over the weekend) + guacamole
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover tacos
  • Thursday - chicken pesto tortellini (chicken from freezer, pesto & tortellini from fridge)
  • Friday - chicken risotto - bumped from last Friday
As usual, we do most of our cooking on the weekends (this weekend is unusual, due to our evening(s) out), & then serve leftovers during the work week. When that fails, we pull in freezer meals or quick options. We serve all of our dinners with salad.

What about you? What are you planning to make this week? 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A sunny Saturday

After a few cloudy & rainy days, it's sunny again here. Woohoo! M is working in the yard, and I'm cleaning the house. I'm hoping to walk/run to the produce stand to get some fresh veggies. Here's what else we're up to today:

  • Drop the kids off with a friend at a physics show. Bonus - she had free tickets, & offered them to the boys. 
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • And, the kitchen
  • Mop & vacuum
  • Drop off library books
  • Make a menu
  • Go to Costco
  • Pay our car insurance bill
  • Run a load of laundry
  • Wash the patio furniture covers
  • Go to the produce stand
  • Work out
  • And, by far the most fun - date night with M! 
That's pretty much it. I still need to sort out our menu & get a bunch of chores done, but I had a really productive day yesterday, which always feels good. 

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today? How is the weather? Any of you in the polar vortex? Stay warm!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Frugal Friday

Another Friday, and a few more frugal wins! I'm very happy that we're at the end of the week. I needed a short week to come back to, after the relaxing time off. The first week back to work is always hard.

Here's what we've been up to this week. A mix of the basics, and a few bigger wins.

  • Made lunch for everyone before we left for the airport
  • Packed or froze all remaining grocery leftovers before we left the coast
  • Limited running the dishwasher to one load/day, 2x this week. This is an ongoing process, as not all of us our aligned on this strategy. :-) 
  • No soccer during the week means I only did two loads of laundry, vs my typical four loads. I line dried everything but towels & socks. 
  • All meals made at home (save for free lunches at work). No meals out.
  • Used up green tomatoes (from our garden) I've been ripening for over a month. They were finally ready to eat. 
  • Sold a hoodie that was at the beach house (but never worn & now outgrown) for $6 on our local Facebook swap
  • Bought my flight for my girls trip to Las Vegas in April for $11, and Southwest points. I earned the Southwest points through business travel. I wasn't sure if the itinerary would ever work out to make this happen, so super happy I was able to book it!
That's it from our side. What about you? Any big frugal wins? 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

It's back to reality

We flew back from the coast last night, and the boys are off to school this morning. M is off to work, but I planned for an extra vacation day today for myself. So very happy about that decision! :-)

I need to catch up on chores, go grocery shopping, & get a menu together for the week. We have almost nothing in the house, which is an unusual situation for us. Time to get cracking on a menu!

Here's what I'm thinking for the week:
  • Tuesday - Spaghetti & meatballs
  • Wednesday - Chicken pesto pasta
  • Thursday - Tacos
  • Friday - Homemade pizza
  • Saturday - M & I are going to dinner, so I'll make the boys something quick before we leave.
  • Sunday - Asian chicken salad + homemade rolls
And, on the to do list for today:
  1. Work out! A must do
  2. Make a Costco list
  3. Costco & the produce stand
  4. I'm meeting M for lunch
  5. Laundry
  6. Finish unpacking
  7. Pay bills
  8. Sort our schedule for the week
  9. Figure out dates for a work trip M needs to take
  10. Drop off overdue books at the library (yikes!)
That's it for me. What about you? Are you back to work/school this week? Are you ready for 2018??

Monday, January 1, 2018

January Goals

I'm super excited for January. A fresh new year, and fresh new goals! My big priorities for 2018 are: losing 20 pounds, running a half marathon, & quitting my job. Nothing to see here. :-)


  • Finalize all 2018 budget trackers
  • Stick to 2018 budget
  • Model out savings plan for the year
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Assuming one car is back from the shop, sell our sedan
  • If we sell the sedan, call around for new car insurance. 


  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
  • Have a date night with M, and potentially a date lunch!
  • My extended family has asked for tips & tricks on travel hacking, so send a family newsletter with helpful details.
  • Complete a full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Run at least 6 times
  • Work from home 3 days
  • Continue working through my checklist on setting an end date


  • Try a yogurt recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Book a spa/birthday treat, using my gift card
  • Complete a Dream Bio (stolen from Frugalwoods)
What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in January, and 2018?