Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July Goals Check In

The month is over (well, we have a few hours left, so make the most of it! :-)), so I'll check in on the goals I set, and the progress I made this month.


  • Keep dining out to $150   $300 - Yes, we were at $180. 
  • Devote an extra $150 of our grocery budget to dining out, as the kids will be out of town, and we are much more likely to have a few extra date nights. - We ended up mostly eating at home, but still managed to go over our grocery bill. Drat. 
  • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I've found a hummus recipe for a spicy hummus that we really like from Trader Joes. Haven't tried it yet, but excited to see if we can replace another store bought item with a homemade alternative. I already make plain hummus at home. 
  • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - Crushed it! Made $405. I sold: a sofa, a portable a/c unit, the boys legos & some clothes the kids have grown out of. 
  • Stay on budget for our adult weekend - Yes, done! This was helped by the fact that all of our food & beverages (minus gratuity) was comp'd. 

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - Yes. 
  • Have a date night with my husband - Multiple date nights, and a long weekend together. 
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Yes, this month we were talking about insurance. 
  • Survive road trip with the kids, on the way home from our vacation - Oh, my. We survived, but due to a wildfire, the trip was ~6 hours longer than expected, which was pretty miserable. The kids, however, were fabulous. 

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - With my half marathon training & relay training, I only finished 15/21 workouts. 
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - closer to 4 servings. 
  • Lose 3 pounds - No, and I've gained back a couple of pounds I lost earlier in the year. Now that the vacations are over, it's time to kick it into high gear!
  • Start training plan for half marathon, and run at least 8 times - Finishing the month with 7 runs. Almost! So happy I'm making progress. 
  • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. A friend had to drop out last minute, as she's taking her daughter to college, so I'm adding an extra leg & need to be really well trained. - Likewise, almost. Finished the month with 3 pace walks. 
  • Work from home 2 days - Done!
  • Fill one of my open roles - Yes, I closed two open roles!
  • Set a new end date, and have "the" conversation with my manager :-) - We had the conversation! More details here. The short story is that I'm planning now on a sabbatical & going part time, if we can find a role that's a good fit. . 


  • Make one new recipe - I haven't tried a new recipe this month, but do have a new hummus recipe lined up. 
  • Spend time with a friend - Yes! Had a friend over for a barbecue. 
  • Volunteer at least 1x - No, I haven't found any options that fit my schedule. 
  • Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it - Ordered it, but didn't pick it up. Must renew order. 

All in all, I'm reasonably happy with our progress for the month. We were on vacation at various intervals, so it wasn't my most consistent month. What about you? How did you do for your July goals? Any big wins?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Budget Sunday

We had a lovely time last night having friends over to swim & then hosted a barbecue. It was great, but I should have planned a few things better. We had way too much food (one person had a last minute conflict), & M asked for last minute drink additions. Because I had to buy at the local grocery store, they were more than twice what I'd pay if I'd planned ahead. C'est la vie. :-) It was a great afternoon/evening.

I'm feeling a bit tired today, so will wait until I've woken up a bit more before deciding on my workout, but here's what I have planned for the rest of the day:

  1. Run (or yoga). The good news is that it's much cooler today, so I can run in the afternoon, time permitting.
  2. Return a shirt I bought to wear to a party (but didn't) to the Gap. 
  3. Sort out Nick's bike pooling to school stuff. It's the first year his group will be biking to/from the middle school, so we are working out safest routes, and the route determines who else will join up.
  4. Call my parents
  5. Make chicken curry
  6. Sort our carpool schedule for next week's camp
  7. Clean the grout in our shower
  8. Make a tomato sauce from leftover tomato from last night + tomatoes I froze right before we left on vacation
  9. And, budget stuff. So much budget stuff!
    1. Recap where we are with our budget for 2018, with the year over 50% complete. Make adjustment as needed
    2. Start thinking about 2019 travel plans, as that will impact our budget
    3. Likewise, start thinking about 2019 house plans, as that will be the biggest budget buster
    4. Getting a firm budget in place will be critical if I take a sabbatical, and/or go to part time, so I really need to get this kicked off.
  10. List one item on eBay. I haven't done eBay in a while, but have something to sell this week. 

What about you? What's on your agenda for today? Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cloudy Saturday

I'm so happy that the weather is a bit cooler today. We haven't needed to run our air conditioning, and we're approaching the break even between solar production & energy consumption, which is fabulous. We installed solar primarily because we knew we wanted to install air conditioning, and the cost of power here is incredible.

As always, we are happy it's the weekend. :-) Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish today:

  1. Make a menu
  2. Go to Costco, the produce stand, & the grocery store
  3. Work out
  4. Take Nick for a practice ride to his middle school. There is no bus service, we are 3 miles away, and it's on busy road. There are bike lanes, but he doesn't have much experience road biking
  5. Return overdue books to the library
  6. Sell our train table
  7. Clean the house
  8. We are having friends over at 4:00 for a barbecue & were supposed to swim. But, probably too cloudy for that today. 
Here's our menu for the week ahead:
  • Friday - I made naan bread pizzas. Adults had pesto & fresh mozzarella, kids had red sauce, cheddar & meatballs
  • Saturday - M is grilling burgers & corn, I'll make a nectarine/mozzarella/basil salad that tastes like summer. For dessert, I'm thinking of ice cream or perhaps strawberry shortcake
  • Sunday - Chicken curry
  • Monday - The plan was for leftover pizzas, but the troops ate too many, so I may have to whip up more
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - leftover curry
  • Thursday - any remaining leftover items, or tacos
  • Friday - TBD
That's it for us today. What are you up to? What's on your menu this week?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Frugal Friday

I'm so happy it's Friday! I was expecting this week to a bit more relaxed than the last few weeks, but it was still pretty crazy. Here are a few frugal things we accomplished.

  • Ate all meals at work (free) or at home. Packed lunches for the kids. This required a real combination of items last night, but we made it work.
  • Sold our portable air conditioning unit for $230 on my work swap site. Now that we have an a/c unit installed, it was good to get this out of the house.
  • The boys are attending soccer camp this week, and it's a lot of soccer & quite hot. They wanted Gatorade to add to their water bottles, so we bought the powdered kind. Much, much, much cheaper, & allows you to control the ratio of Gatorade. I paid with the last of a gift card + loose changes from my purse.
  • Charged our electric car for free at work.
  • We also sold our sofa over the weekend ($75).
  • Applied the $305 (sofa + a/c unit) directly to our vacation house mortgage.

That's it from our side. Slow & steady progress! How about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Monday, July 23, 2018

2018 Goal Check In

With the year 1/2 way done, I thought I'd check in & see how I'm doing on my 2018 goals. You might remember that my big goals this year are to run a half marathon, quit my job/find something flexible, & lose 20 lbs. I'm definitely making progress on the first two. The last one remains quite a struggle for me. :-)

1) Financial:
  • Build/follow a 2018 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2018 "post-job budget", after. - we have a budget, & we're roughly sticking to it. We've added a few line items (air conditioning, etc) hat have increased our overall budget, but generally on track. 
  • Save another $125K before I quit - I'm at $61K. We've done about $30K of home projects, and owed more in taxes than expected for the sale of our Seattle house. Both impacted our savings quite a bit. 
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - I get this about every other month. 
  • Model out a 3, 5 & 10 year financial plan - I've thought about this, but haven't made much progress. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. - This is happening!
  • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. - I am doing this reasonably well, but not perfectly. 
  • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) - we are averaging one per month. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 135. 
    • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan, & run a half marathon. - I'm on my second week of a training plan, so this is coming together!
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - I'm behind on this one. 
    • Get back to more actively tracking my calories, at least until I start to see a consistent weight drop - I do this regularly. 
    • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio - on track, with 5,880 minutes. 
    • Complete 100 strength workouts. - on track, with 63 workouts. 
    • Complete 75 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. - definitely behind. I'm at 27. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress (until I leave) - It's still hard, but I've made some big strides here. Knowing the end is in sight has been really helpful for my perspective. 
    • Determine an end date for my job. Tentatively scheduled for end of June. And then, quit my job. Really. Do. This. - I have had the conversation with my manager, and now we are in the planning phase!!!!!

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Learn how to cut my own hair - Nope
      • Learn how to make yogurt - Yes!
      • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month. - While I haven't achieved once/month & have actually spent less time on small interactions (walking, meeting friends for lunches), I've done a few get togethers over longer weekends, etc. I did a girls trip in April & July. I also have a few friend lunches scheduled over the upcoming months, but this is an area where I can do better. 
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - I've been pretty sporadic on this one, and need to find a flexible volunteering role. 
      • Complete a Dream Bio (stolen from Frugalwoods) - I started this, but haven't finished. 

      How are you doing with your goals, with the year just a smidge over half way over? Anything you want to focus on for the second half of the year?

      Sunday, July 22, 2018

      Finally found blog comments & a quick update

      Oh, Blogger. . . For about the past six weeks, all of my comments have been directed to spam. I've been posting sporadically lately, so wasn't shocked that no one was commenting, but I eventually got suspicious & had a ton of comments sitting in the unpublished spam folder. No idea why they were all marked as spam. Hopefully they are all back & I've sorted it, so I can do a better job of reading & replying! It was nice to catch up with everyone via comments. :-)

      The house is in WAY better condition today, after I spent a huge chunk of my day yesterday cleaning. I also feel so much better, now that the house is coming along. Here's what's on the list for today:

      • 5 mile run or pace walk, depending on whether I eat breakfast
      • Pick up a book I have on hold at the library
      • Mop the entire house. We have no carpeting, so the full house needs to be mopped 
      • Continue to look for surfaces around the house that are coated in a layer of dust. Clean.
      • List in room air conditioner for sale
      • Package shoes for return
      • Plan work week + family week
      • Plan 1/2 marathon training schedule for next week
      • Talk to our neighbors about their tree. Really dreading this one. They have a giant fir tree that is about 75% over our property. We wouldn't mind at all, but the area of our property is where our pool is at. We've had to replace the filter 3 times in 18 months, and we spend at least 90 minutes a day on top of the maintenance (sweeping, cleaning) to keep the needles out of the pool. They've indicated interest in getting rid of the tree as well, and we will offer to split the cost, but it's still an uncomfortable conversation.
      • Have the kids call my parents & catch up
      • Ensure Nick writes thank you cards for gifts he received
      • Deal with all of the ski stuff that came out of duffel bags (bags were used for camp) & then shoved into the back of the closet
      • Take the kids to a swimming party

      That's it from our side! What about you? Have you ever had to have an uncomfortable neighbor conversation? What are you up to today?

      Saturday, July 21, 2018

      I had "the conversation" with work

      For those of you who have been long time readers, I've been planning to quit my job & find something much more flexible for years. In fact, before we moved to California & I stumbled into this job, I'd planned to quit my job of 15 years, take some time off & find something flexible.

      So, I finally did it. I had a conversation with my manager that I was planning to leave the company. I was very honest with her, as she's been incredibly supportive of me & my career. I wanted to give her a long lead time, as filling positions like mine can take a year. We had a very good conversation, and I feel so relieved to have had it. She offered to try & create a part-time role that fits my interests, and we both agreed to think about what that could look like. We also discussed end dates for me doing this role in my current capacity. My feedback was that I'd strongly prefer September, but think it's unrealistic given that my main people manager left a few weeks ago. We discussed January as a very end date, with some flexibility between now & then in order for me to stay that long.

      It feels both surreal & so amazing to be honest with her & get feedback. She understands that I'm not interested in a big giant career, with international travel & a team of 30 right now. I shared that my job took so much of my energy & time, that I don't have enough time for myself or my family, & I want to change that. That's not who she is (she's a hard core career person), but we both respect each other a great deal & I feel so happy that I don't have to avoid conversations about our performance reviews, or career, or my pending promotion, etc.

      In other news, my real life continues. We had air conditioning installed, and it's amazing. Our house gets very hot (sometimes 90+ if we've had a series of hot days). The A/C guys finished yesterday & my house is an utter disaster. To compound that, the kids rolled back from 12 days summer camp yesterday, couldn't enter the main part of the house (because of the construction) & dumped everything in our laundry room. . . I have a lot to do today. ;-)

      Here's the list!

      1. Revise menu for the week based on what we have around
      2. Go to the produce stand & the grocery store
      3. Go for a 4-5 mile run
      4. Sweep
      5. Mop
      6. Dust (there is SO much dust in our house right now due to the construction)
      7. Deal with the mail
      8. Figure out how to exchange a pair of shoes I ordered
      9. Clean the bathrooms that 5 guys used for two weeks, wearing dirty work boots. It's a little. . . dirty
      10. Donate books
      11. Clean the kitchen
      12. Laundry (like, 5 loads)
      13. Wash the sleeping bags & hang them outside to dry
      14. Have kids put away all camp items
      15. Deal with our sofa sale
      16. Read my book by the pool for 20 minutes? ;-)

      Okay, and with that, here's what I'm thinking for #1:
      • Saturday - hot dogs, corn & salad
      • Sunday - kebabs & rice
      • Monday - leftover pizza (kids) + curry (freezer leftovers) for the adults
      • Tuesday - leftover hot dogs
      • Wednesday - leftover kebabs & rice
      • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or spaghetti & meatballs
      • Friday - tacos
      What about you? Any big news? What are you eating this weekend?

      Friday, July 20, 2018

      Frugal Friday

      It wasn't much of a frugal week, but here are a few things that happened:

      • Avoided buying groceries until yesterday. The kids have been at summer camp, and I had an overnight work event on Wednesday, so we were able to keep costs down.
      • Drove the electric car to our work event. It was so nice not to have to pay for gas. Also, Pescadero is so beautiful! Will definitely be back with M & the kids some time.
      • Semi related to the first point, but I drank my coffee without milk (just powdered creamer) all week. I didn't want to make a special trip just for milk. I now really appreciate the milk in my coffee that much more. 
      • Received a credit for a meal on our vacation last weekend.
      • Found a buyer for our old sofa
      That's pretty much it for us! Looking forward to getting back to our routine this weekend. It's been chaos here with two full weeks of construction, the kids out of town, a vacation, an overnight work event for me, and just generally a wild & crazy packed schedule. I'm looking forward to some down time & getting back into a routine. 

      What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

      Wednesday, July 18, 2018

      Menu planning

      The kids are finally back from sleepaway camp on Friday, and we will return to our regular schedule. I can't wait! We've missed them so much, and have enjoyed seeing photos up on the camp web site. Today I'm headed off to a one day/overnight work event, and then will be back tomorrow evening. I need to make a Costco list, so we can restock the fridge after two weeks of not really grocery shopping. The fridge is basically bare.

      I thought I should also make a menu for the week ahead, so here's what I'm thinking:

      • Friday - homemade naan pizzas
      • Saturday - kebabs & rice
      • Sunday -  hot dogs, corn & watermelon. No idea how, but we have something like 6 packages of hot dogs in the freezer ;-) 
      • Monday - leftover pizza
      • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
      • Wednesday - leftover hot dogs
      • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or spaghetti & meatballs
      • Friday - tacos
      That's it for us. I'll be back with a summer (to date) recap soon, and a check in on yearly goals, budget, etc. How is your summer going? Any fun summer recipes to recommend? 

      Saturday, July 7, 2018

      The very long road home

      We drove from the Oregon coast back to San Francisco on Thursday, and the drive was made quite a bit longer than expected by a wildfire that shut down the major interstate (I-5), as well as many of the alternative routes. We were planning to be home by 10 pm, but got home instead at 3:00 am. :-( The fire looked terrible, so sending good thoughts for all of those impacted, & the firefighters on the front lines.

      I struggled to be productive yesterday, after our late arrival. I had to be up early for a work call on Friday, and then went to the grocery store, as the fridge had absolutely no perishables. Just a few leftover condiments. After a trip to the grocery store, I worked & tried to catch up on three weeks of email. I'm not there yet, shall we say. I also caught up on laundry, & packed the kids for summer camp. We all went to bed early & are feeling much better today.

      I am not a fan of coming home to a messy house, so there's quite a bit of work to do today to set everything to rights again. Here's what's on the list for today:

      1. Go for a run
      2. Yoga or pilates
      3. Return library books
      4. Take the kids to Target. They were incredible on the road trip, and I promised that they could use some of their money at Target if they behaved. They definitely exceeded our expectations, especially when the drive took a few crazy turns.
      5. Clean all bathrooms
      6. Vacuum/mop the house
      7. Sweep the patio - it will probably take 3-4 runs through. We need to deal with a neighbor tree situation at some point. 
      8. Clean the kitchen
      9. Catch up on our budget
      10. Find a good half marathon training plan. I'm not in love with any of the ones I've seen so far.
      That's about it for me. What about you? How are you planning to spend your Saturday? 

      Tuesday, July 3, 2018

      A few frugal things

      We've been on vacation for several weeks, so there's often not much frugal to report. But, we have had a few wins.

      • We our rebuilding our own deck, vs paying $12k for someone else to do it. Our vacation house is on the coast (a few blocks off of the ocean) & there is more maintenance required than on an inland property. There is still cost associated with doing it on our own (we drove a car here to bring supplies, have to buy all of the materials/a few tools we didn't previously own, etc), but the savings should be around $10K. 
      • I used our Home Depot gift cards I bought with a special offer (I received $90 in Starbucks gift cards for buying $300 in Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store a month or so back) to pay for some of the deck supplies.
      • I used a Starbucks gift card (see above) to treat my sister/friend a few times on our girls trip. 
      • I bought the boys new shoes at the Nike outlet in Oregon. Our kids have three pair of shoes at any given time: running shoes, slides/flip flops, & soccer cleats. The running shoes wear out quickly. We bought 3 pair for each, in additional sizes. This is how we've handled shoe purchases in prior years, and it's worked out well. By making the purchase in Oregon, we also avoided sales tax, which was a nice additional bonus.
      • I've made use of fridge leftovers from our girls trip (we had nachos) & turned most ingredients into two dinners of tacos. 
      • Other than our water park adventure with the kids, most activities have been inexpensive or free. It's hard to find time to do much else anyway with the deck project! Oh, and we've been watching lots of World Cup soccer!

      That's about it from my side. We'll drive home on Thursday - our first time tackling a drive of that distance with the kids. Fingers crossed! What about you? Have you had any frugal wins lately? 

      Monday, July 2, 2018

      July Goals

      Happy July, everyone! We are at our vacation house on the Oregon coast, and will drive back on Thursday. We've never driven it, but needed our car for various house projects this time. Wish us luck on the drive with the kids. :-) We expect it to take ~14 hours. Fingers crossed.

      Here are my goals for July:


      • Keep dining out to $150   $300
      • Devote an extra $150 of our grocery budget to dining out, as the kids will be out of town, and we are much more likely to have a few extra date nights. 
      • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
      • Earn another $200 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage.
      • Stay on budget for our adult weekend

      • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
      • Have a date night with my husband
      • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend
      • Survive road trip with the kids, on the way home from our vacation

      • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
      • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
      • Lose 3 pounds
      • Start training plan for half marathon, and run at least 8 times
      • Complete 4 pace walks for my relay. A friend had to drop out last minute, as she's taking her daughter to college, so I'm adding an extra leg & need to be really well trained. 
      • Work from home 2 days
      • Fill one of my open roles
      • Set a new end date, and have "the" conversation with my manager :-) 


      • Make one new recipe
      • Spend time with a friend
      • Volunteer at least 1x
      • Order the book "Now What" from the library & complete it

      That's it for us! What are you hoping to accomplish in July? 

      Sunday, July 1, 2018

      June Goals Recap

      June was a wild month. The kids were out of town for the entire second half of the month, as was I. I had a training retreat, and we're currently on vacation at the Oregon coast. It's been fabulous! Not as relaxing as usual, as we are rebuilding our deck. :-)

      Here's how I did on my June goals:


      • Keep dining out to $150 - Yes, we were at $104. Keep in mind that there was other eating out, but mostly captured in the "travel" budget. I need to do a recap of our yearly budget categories, as we are way over on some!
      • Create detailed June food plan, given crazy schedule. - We did this. I stayed within $7 of my food budget, and we would have been under, but we treated our deck helpers (my dad & uncle) to crab cakes. Fresh crab is amazing, but pricey!
      • Come up with one way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I didn't really come up with anything. 
      • Earn another $100 in sidehustle money. Split this between college money for the kids, & an extra payment on our vacation house mortgage. - I couldn't list things on eBay this month, as I was in & out too much. But, we made $40 selling some old trading cards the boys had stopped playing with. 

      • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc - We've had lots of family time together on vacation. 
      • Have a date night with my husband - Yes! We went to dinner one night while the kids were with my parents. 
      • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend - Yes, we came up with multiple good options on our girls trip. 
      • Plan road trip for after the 4th of July. - It's going to be a long drive, but I'm mostly prepped!
      • Decide on long weekend with M in July - We are going to Las Vegas in July, when the boys are in summer camp. Hence blowing our vacation budget. ;-) 

      • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix - I did 16 of 21 days, which I'm happy with, given my travel schedule. 
      • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies - I finished with 3.5, which is lower than usual. I had a few days where I ate almost none, particularly when I was recovering from the flu. Only basic carbs. 
      • Lose 3 pounds - I lost 1.5 pounds - I'll take it!
      • Run at least 8 times - I ran 6 times. 
      • Go on 4 bike rides (I'm doing a family biking event in June) - no, but I did finish the biking event successfully! :-) 
      • Work from home 3 days - Yes
      • Prep & attend work training trip - Yes


      • Make one new recipe - Yes, I made a General Tso's crockpot chicken. It needs some doctoring for our next round. 
      • Spend time with a friend - Yes! We had a fabulous girls weekend. 
      • Volunteer at least 1x - Yes, I volunteered 2x at school 
      • Finish voting research & mail my ballot! - Yes, I definitely spent more time than usual & got it mailed in time. 

      All in all, I'm pleased with what I accomplished, given the month of craziness. What about you? Did you set any goals for the month? How did you do?