Sunday, October 28, 2018

Getting all of the things done

Well, I never really get everything done, but I have had a productive day so far.

Nick had a friend over, so I got up early & made waffles for breakfast for the hungry trio. After that, it was all of the chores. So. many. chores. But, I feel good with the progress today:

  • Cleaned both showers (this was Sam, as he's trying to earn money to buy himself a new jacket. . . since he's lost multiple jackets at school this year). :-(
  • Vacuumed
  • Mopped
  • Cleaned the kitchen
  • Washed all of the bedding (including bonus air mattress set), made all beds
  • 3 loads of other laundry
  • Ran the dishwasher three times, because I was busy in the kitchen
  • Made 3 dozen muffins
  • And, 3 dozen burritos for the freezer
  • I also made guacamole for dinner tonight
  • M & I finalized the menu plan for our Hawaii trip. You know, like the name of the blog. :-)
  • I sorted three different soccer carpools, our nanny schedule, and my work schedule for the week
And, now I'm resting. I need to work out, but I'm pretty tried after all of that fun. 

My big takeaway after trying to squeeze the burritos & muffins into the freezer is that. . . I really need to have an "eat down the freezer" challenge in November! The freezers are packed! What about you? How was your weekend? Any frugal wins on your side?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Menu plan, and a quiet Saturday

We have no kid activities this weekend, so I'm looking forward to being productive today. I did get a haircut this morning, and feel so much lighter! They cut six inches off of my hair, & I like the new length. It will be much faster & easier for me. M wasn't super excited (he prefers long hair), but since he's not the one who has to do all of the work, his vote was slightly discounted. ;-)

I'd like to make a few freezer items this week, particularly for the kids. We have a variety of tastes & preferences around the table, and they are making menu planning & dinner time a bit frustrating. I'll plan to have a few dinners everyone likes, a few healthier/more adult dinners, and then on nights where someone doesn't like the preferred dinner, they can grab something from the freezer (for example, homemade burritos, etc). That's the plan. I need to get ahead, so we can stock the freezer with options.

For the menu this week, I'm thinking of the following:
Friday - we had a sausage ravioli with red sauce, chicken & parmesan cheese, plus bread on the side
Saturday - calzones. Each person can customize based on taste/preference
Sunday - chicken fiesta rice
Monday - leftover ravioli
Tuesday - leftover calzones
Wednesday - leftover chicken fiesta rice
Thursday - tacos
Friday - I'm thinking of making chicken curry

In terms of being productive today, here's what I'm planning:

  1. Errands - Costco & produce stand
  2. Clean showers
  3. Clean bathrooms
  4. Clean kitchen
  5. Vacuum house
  6. Laundry
  7. Make the menu
  8. Work out
  9. Sweep the patio
  10. Clean my closet (bonus round, if time)
  11. Finish our Hawaii planning
  12. Find a freezer burrito recipe
  13. Call our insurance company for umbrella insurance
  14. Drop the car off to be serviced
  15. Get a hair cut
  16. Get cash for the nanny

That should get me all the way through the day, for sure. What about you? What's on your menu this week? Are you have a productive weekend, fun weekend, relaxing, crazy? What's happening? 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Frugal Friday

Nothing super exciting to report this week, but it always feels good to recap our standard stuff.

  1. Meal planned, and ate at home/packed for all meals. (Minus free work lunches.)
  2. Drove electric car for all of my commuting & charged for free at work.
  3. Still ripening a large bag of tomatoes on our window sill, in a bag with a banana. 
  4. Adjusted my bonus percentages for next year to max out my 401K before I leave, and also adjusted my HSA to do the max withdrawal while I'm working. 
  5. Made enough food for the week to have enough to freezer for future weeks.

I'm working on a revised food/menu plan based on the kid pickiness issue, so will have more to share after we try out our system this weekend. In other news, I'm getting a hair cut! Not frugal, but I'm going much shorter (six inches off), so I figure I should get some professional help. :-)

Happy Friday! What frugal things have you been up to?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An anniversary cake

M & I celebrated our wedding anniversary last night (13 years!) & the kids really wanted to make us a cake. They were quite ambitious, and made the cake & frosting from scratch.

The cake had some structural issues ;-), but the flavor of the cake was incredible. The frosting didn't quite get there, and we had so many laughs last night.

I was trying to make a fun Persian dish, and M stepped in to help me, and it turned out incredibly well. We also had champagne, and just laughed in the kitchen, listening to music. Probably one of my favorite anniversaries ever.

In other news, I've been productive so far today, trying to get ahead of future meals & prep:

  • Set aside enough of the chicken rice pilaf for one dinner tomorrow, and froze the rest. It also made two lunches this week, so 3 dinners + 2 single serve lunches = 11-12 servings. Yum!
  • I shredded a brick of romano cheese, and froze in individual baggies. Cheaper & better than buying pre-shredded
  • I used the remaining ground beef from last night's recipe to prep taco meat. I ran out of taco seasoning, so improvised with my own recipe. All of that is now in the freezer for future meals.
  • I also set aside enough lubia polo (that's the Persian dish from last night) for at least 1-2 future dinners, and froze the rest.
  • I cleaned the freezer & tossed a few things that had seen better days
  • I also set out everything for dinner tonight, as timing will be tight & Sam & I will be cooking together. (That takes more time than when I'm on my own.) Pre-shredded cheese, etc. 
  • I went through the boys drawers & closets & found a bunch of stuff to donate
  • I arranged all of the carpools for the week, and managed my own work calendar to accommodate 

Feeling good about our progress today. Here's what's still left to do:
  • Mop
  • Some sort of strength training
  • Another load of laundry (after soccer)
  • Take Nick to soccer
  • Sweep the pool area
  • List a few things for sale on my neighborhood alias (stretch goal) 
  • Have the boys call my parents
  • Figure out how to do a video call with M's parents

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Tales from the grocery store + a menu plan

I used to a do a semi-regular series on our grocery shopping, as well as our menu. I've been very frustrated by our menus lately (three of us are not too picky, one child is very picky, but everyone likes different things.) The overlapping circle of things we all like is. . . pretty much tacos & pizza. ;-)

Today's grocery receipt reflects a bit of that, as well as the fact that we are now running out of food earlier & earlier in the week. (I cook on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays & then we eat leftovers during the work week.) In earlier days, we could make it until Thursday without resorting to freezer options, but some weeks we are out by Tuesday! This is more likely when I've been out of town. Note that we typically don't but much in the way of prepared food, but decided to stock up to give ourselves a bit more flexibility.

So, without further ado, here's what we bought at Costco:

  • 5 dozen eggs - $14.49
  • Pears - $6.59
  • Milk - $5.19
  • Potatoes - $9.99 (I don't remember potatoes being this expensive before?!)
  • Breaded chicken tenderloins - $6.99
  • Potstickers - $6.99
  • 4 pack of bacon - $11.49
  • Empanadas - $7.59
  • Grapes - $7.99
  • Sausage ravioli - $8.89
  • Clementines - $6.99
  • Ground beef - $18.30
  • Chicken breasts - $21.71
  • Bananas (had to get organic, as the non-organic were very ripe) - $1.99
  • Honeydew - $2.89
  • Cucumber (3 pack) - $4.99
  • Strawberries - $4.99
  • Pineapple - $2.99
  • Apples - $8.99
Total = $160.04 - about $35 more than I like for a weekly shop, but we were out of both chicken & ground beef, & the bacon was for a recipe.

Here's our menu plan for the week:
  • Saturday - I'm making a Persian dish - lubia polo (using ground beef. We have everything else at home)
  • Sunday - We're trying a new recipe - buffalo chicken bake. I'll report back if it's any good. (using bacon, chicken & potatoes)
  • Monday - Leftover chicken rice pilaf (made on Friday)
  • Tuesday - Leftover lubia polo
  • Wednesday - Leftover buffalo chicken bake
  • Thursday - If no leftovers remain, we'll be having the sausage ravioli
  • Friday - TBD. Haven't gotten that far yet, and I have a late meeting on Friday, so it might be something convenient

What about you? What are you cooking this week, and what is your average weekly shopping budget?

Friday, October 19, 2018

My seven year blog anniversary

I can't believe I've been blogging for seven years! Things have changed so much in our lives, both financially, & otherwise.

A few big things along the way:

  • When I started this blog, our kids were 4 & 5. They are middle schoolers now! It's crazy to see the progress
  • We were living in Seattle, and now are in northern California
  • We bought a house in California, and leveraged the sale of our Washington house to create a flex fund that will make up the difference when I either quit or go part-time. Yeah for having options!
  • I was diagnosed with lupus .. . it's changed my life, my priorities, & my focus on energy management so very much
  • We've taken our net worth from $670k to $3.6M. More details on that in a separate post, if there's interest
The older I get, the happier I am with my life. I feel so lucky to have a husband I enjoy spending time with, healthy/happy kids, my own family (sister, Mom & Dad) that I get along well with, and more than everything else . . . despite some challenging odds, I'm healthy. I feel incredibly lucky about all of that.

We've made good financial decisions, had a bunch of luck thrown in there, and worked hard. We continue to ask ourselves whether something is a "need" or a "want", and try to in source where possible. We've optimized our financial lives fairly well at the moment (minus our housing costs, those are insane) & are comfortable with the tradeoffs to keep the kids here until they graduate.

And, I'm so excited about the future. The future of a flexible career, the next stage with the kids, and the future of what we will do as we have the time to travel more . . . I've always been worried about growing old, and I wish I could go back & tell my younger self how amazing it is. Yes, I'm not as skinny as I was, and my hair is definitely coming in gray, and the wrinkles. . . oh, the wrinkles! But, I wouldn't trade this phase for any other phase.

Thanks for being along for the ride, & I'd love to hear from any of you about things you want me to blog about. Always happy to share!

Frugal Friday

Because I was out of town over the weekend, it was a bit crazier this week than I'd want it to be. Here are some of the frugal wins we had:

  • Rather than takeout on Monday, after a long cross country meet for the kids, I stopped by Trader Joes & picked up a few frozen entrees. It wasn't as cheap as making my own meal, but less than takeout. ($10 for two dinners worth)
  • My mom & dad insisted on giving me money for something that was totally unnecessary (I loaned them money for a few weeks while they were waiting for an estate to close & they wanted to pay me interest - & way too much at that). I used the money to cover a brunch on Sunday for everyone as a way to pay it forward. 
  • I used a Starbucks freebie for a drink at the airport before my flight home
  • Despite my temptation to order a snack on the plane, I remembered my half marathon goodie bag contained a small snack, & dug that out instead. 
  • M & the kids picked me up at the airport, vs taking an Uber
  • And, I received a bonus for a large project that I delivered at work ($650, after taxes). I donated $350, so two organizations could also receive the match from my employer, and then I'm putting the other $300 into the boys college accounts. 
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week? Looking forward to being home this weekend, and having the opportunity to plan out our menus for the week ahead! I always feel more ready to tackle life when I have a menu plan, and prepped food in the fridge. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

I ran a half marathon, & other events

I'm back from a fabulous weekend with my sister & best friend. We spent a couple of nights at the Oregon coast (so much laughing) & then headed to Vancouver on Saturday for our 1/2 marathon. We ran yesterday, and it was such a great experience.

The weather for the race was absolutely perfect, and the course was gorgeous. Highly recommend, as it ran along the Vancouver (WA, not Canada) waterfront. I also ran the entire race with my sister/friend, and we really helped to motivate each other. I knew I would fade in the last three miles, but the first ten actually felt pretty good. All of my training has been on hills, so the flat course was fabulous. We were about at the pace we expected, and actually had a porta potty stop, plus several water breaks. I also stopped to take Advil at mile 9. My knee/ankle started aching pretty badly, and miles 12 & 13 were brutal. My knee is feeling a little better today, & I will definitely avoid anything too intense until I'm recovered.

After the race, we had brunch, and my mom joined us, which was lovely. More laughs, planning our next race, and lots of just general happiness that we'd completed our race. It was the first half for my sister & friend, and my 5th, and first 1/2 in four years. I remember why I love running, and definitely want to run another one, with more consistent training. I've never had knee/ankle pain, so I know this is due to pushing too hard with not enough of a base this cycle of training. I'm committed to being more ready on the next go round!

The boys don't have school today, so I'll catch up on all of the work I missed, and get a few "life" things done as well. Nick is running at our county cross country event this afternoon, so there will be more running today!

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend. This weekend was a great reminder for me that setting challenging goals can be inspiring, and can push you to new limits. My sister/friend had always resisted running, and it wasn't until we all agreed to run this race that my sister started running at all. My friend had never run more than 5 miles. They are so hooked on running, & I couldn't be happier that we set a goal & accomplished it together. Woohoo!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Enjoying Saturday

It's a lovely day today, & I've already been on a two hour hike with a friend. Combining a workout & catching up once a great kickoff to the day.

The boys should be home from running errands soon, and then I'll take Nick to a soccer game, and Sam will have another game this afternoon. Other than that, we need to clean the house, go to the produce stand & grocery store, and that's it.

I also need to make a menu plan for the week, so here's what we're thinking of. And, we've been running out of food mid week, as the kids are both playing two sports right now, so everyone is quite hungry! I need to figure out more backup options.

Friday - I made chicken risotto
Saturday - I'm making beef tacos, with enough meat to freeze (hopefully)
Sunday - Sam & I will try a new recipe - Sesame Chicken with rice
Monday - Leftover risotto
Tuesday - leftover tacos
Wednesday - leftover sesame chicken
Thursday - I'll be out of town, so the boys will likely eat out
Friday - Boys will eat burgers from the freezer

What are you up to this Saturday? The weather is supposed to be nice again all week, but I'm feeling the urge to bundle up, make soup & bake. . . it feels like fall!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Frugal Friday

Another week with mostly standard frugality in place. It's the little things!

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

  • Drove our electric car for commutes & charged for free at work
  • Ate at home for all dinners. (Kids have packed lunches, and adults eat for free at work)
  • Adjusted the pricing on an eBay item, and have multiple bids. This is an item I received for free at work, so all upside.
  • Reviewed our Q1-Q3 spending for 2018, and started to work through our proposed changes for 2019. 
  • Picked more tomatoes to ripen inside (with a banana, in a sealed bag)
  • Continued to make creative use out of our freezer options. For this week, we've eaten the following lingering freezer items:
    • Taquitos
    • Butternut squash (turned into soup)
    • Baguette bread (turned into crostini)
    • Grilled hot dogs
  • I also made hummus at home, using garden jalapenos

That's it from our side. What about you? Any big frugal wins? Are you reviewing your 2018 spending, and adjusting your 2019 budget? 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Goals for October

I'm looking forward to a few fun things in October, combined with a girls weekend! The girls weekend will culminate in a half marathon. . . . Ahh, the things I'll do to have brunch with my girl friends! :-)


  • Stay on track with our food budget, including both eating out & groceries. 
  • 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.
  • Continue working on our 2019 budget, 2019 vacation plans, & income projections - this is critical as I try to narrow down work options. Decide on 2019 remodeling plans (if any)
  • Determine if we it makes sense to max our HSA & a Mega backdoor Roth, with our tax liability

  • Have one family evening together: cooking dinner, board games, etc
  • Have a date night with my husband, & plan our anniversary
  • Continue financial help (knowledge, not money) with sister & friend
  • Take the kids to Great America before the passes expire. This is a maybe, based on soccer schedules & other commitments. 
  • Plan our trip to Hawaii

  • Complete another full round of 21 Day Fix
  • Eat 5.5 servings a day of fruit & veggies
  • Lose 3 pounds
  • Run 8 times & finish a half marathon
  • Avoid dairy, as part of my efforts to solve my stomach issues

  • Work from home 2 days
  • Work on my my "homework" from my coach


  • Plan sabbatical!
  • Make one new recipe
  • Spend time with a friend
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Finish homework books for Sam & keep working on our homework routine

That's what's on our list for October! What about you? Any big goals you're working on?