Monday, September 16, 2019

Does it ever feel like Monday

Today, particularly, it feels so much like a Monday with my return to work & the office. We had M's cousins over last night, which was fantastic, but went later than normal on a "weekday". I also have a pile of dishes to attend to. 

We had a great time last night. M & I tag teamed on dinner (I made a caprese salad, green salad, & handled easy appetizers - bread, hummus & veggies). M made salmon & rice. Nick made the kids pasta, and made the pesto a few days before. Our guests brought an amazing chocolate cake. We had lots of laughs, and the kids play Magic together, which was super cute.

We ended up accomplishing everything on our to do list for the weekend, minus the hanging of the drape, so considering it a pretty big win. I'm off to hustle to get ready for work, and to get a mammogram this morning. Always a treat. ;-) 

Hope you all have a fantastic Monday!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A new recipe, and to do list updates

I was productive yesterday, and got quite a few things done. But, as always, plenty remains for today. ;-)

We are hosting M's cousin's family for dinner tonight, and there are quite a few food sensitivities. We opted to host vs eat out due to the food sensitivities, as well as cost. We are having two different entrees (salmon for the adults, & a pasta bar for the kids). Hosting 8 people isn't cheap, but will certainly be less than eating out. 

In the kitchen yesterday, I made: 
  • Hummus
  • Pesto (actually, Nick made a batch for us, and a batch to share with our sweet neighbor across the street)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Tortilla chips (from tortillas, baked in the oven). SO good.
  • Warm taco slaw - highly recommend this recipe. We loved it!
Soccer ended up with one tie and a loss, so fingers crossed for a win for the third game today. :-) 

Here's what's still on the to do list:

  • Workout - x2 - One to go, finished one yesterday.
  • Pack gym bag for next week - still need to do this. 
  • Put together nanny schedule - Done
  • Finalize 3 carpools  - I'm done with my part, but waiting for a couple of families to finish signing up
  • Prep carnitas - need to do this. M got back from Costco too late for me to handle this before leaving for soccer yesterday.
  • Make coleslaw mix & make taco slaw for dinner - done
  • Take Nick to a morning game, and then both boys to the afternoon game - done
  • Vacuum - opted to wait to clean, as I had a bunch of cooking to do
  • Clean the kitchen - opted to wait to clean, as I had a bunch of cooking to do
  • Dust - must happen today
  • Bathroom - must happen today
  • Review eBay listings & adjust as needed - done
  • Hang new drapes (this is a maybe, depending on M's availability) - maybe today
  • Costco, the grocery store, Trader Joes & the produce stand - done
  • Have the boys call my parents
  • Take Nick to soccer (about 30 minutes away). Will use warm up for my workout
  • M to take Sam to meet a friend for skating
  • Guests over for dinner

I think that will be everything! What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Menu plan and weekend things

I'm still getting back into the groove of life after spending Monday-Thursday in Boulder for work. Boulder was lovely, but it's hard to be away from the kids & routine. I always come back to a ton of chores & catch up, despite M's best effort.

We both have very busy weeks next week, as it's my first week in the office & I have three late APAC meetings. It's also perf season at work, so both of us have an amplified work load. The kids also have plenty of activities (cross country meet, two volleyball games & soccer practice), which requires lots of carpooling & schedule coordination.

I know next week will be particularly challenging for me (my first week of fully being in the office, commuting, etc), so by planning my menu ahead of time, hopefully I can at least answer the question of "what's for dinner tonight".

Menu for the week ahead:

Friday - I made spaghetti sauce out of a very discounted lb of Italian seasoned turkey. I combined it with onions & mini peppers, added a small container of homemade tomato sauce & then filled it out with a marinara sauce we had in the pantry. The adults had the sauce with zoodles. The kids had it with regular pasta.
Saturday - taco slaw (and, make ahead crockpot carnitas for the week)
Sunday - salmon, bread & caprese salad (adults). Kids will be having a pasta bar. We're having M's cousins/kids over for dinner.
Monday - carnitas
Tuesday - salmon & caprese salad
Wednesday - leftover taco slaw
Thursday - carnitas salad

What will you be up to this weekend? The kids have three soccer games (one for Sam, three for Nick, but they will attend Sam's together). We are also hosting M's family tomorrow night for dinner. It should be a nice weekend, but plenty to do.

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish this weekend:

  • Workout - x2
  • Pack gym bag for next week
  • Put together nanny schedule 
  • Finalize 3 carpools 
  • Prep carnitas
  • Make coleslaw mix & make taco slaw for dinner
  • Take Nick to a morning game, and then both boys to the afternoon game
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Dust
  • Bathroom
  • Review eBay listings & adjust as needed
  • Hang new drapes (this is a maybe, depending on M's availability)
  • Costco, the grocery store, Trader Joes & the produce stand
What about you? Any good recipes on the menu this week? Anything you are trying to accomplish?


Friday, September 13, 2019

Frugal Friday


I was in Boulder for training for the week, so I didn't spend any personal money. Here are a few wins we had.


Saving on things we buy:

  • I went through Swagbucks & found the least expensive used book option for a book Nick needed


Earning money:

  • Earned another $15 for the focus group I'm in. 
  • Sold another item on eBay
  • Used cash back credit card for work trip & filled out prompt reimbursement. I'll get a small amount back for using my credit card. 


Avoiding purchasing/spending:

  • Avoided eating out last weekend, despite the kids begging for In & Out after soccer.
  • Made my own protein bars, vs buying something. 

What about you? Any frugal wins this week?

Monday, September 9, 2019

Weekly Spending

I don't do this regularly, but thought it might be interesting to share my weekly spending - both for you, and for me to be more aware of our spending. I won't track fixed bills (mortgage, utilities, etc) but food, travel, etc.

Monday

  • It was a 3 day weekend in the US, so the kids were out of school. Nick was asked to go bowling with a friend. They've paid a few times & accepted no money, so I sent him with $20 to buy treats to share for everyone. He also made them cookies. - $20


Tuesday

  • My parents are going to stay with us for a week in November. M & I are thinking of taking a long weekend, and the boys are out of school. I paid for their flights using frequent flier miles, and the tax was $22.40. -  $22.40
  • We have a cell phone holder for the car that allows you to see the navigation while driving. I have really liked it, and often take the kids to activities where I need navigation. It broke, & our repairs failed, so we ordered a new one. Amazon, - $18.99.


Wednesday - no spend day. We were all working, & the kids had after school activities to keep them busy.

Thursday - no spend day. We were all working, & the kids had after school activities to keep them busy.

Friday - no spend day. We carpooled for soccer practice, and then had dinner & a cocktail at home. M & I sat on the patio while the kids played together. It was a nice way to close out the work week.


Saturday -

  • $8.42 - ingredients for pico de gallo + 2 bunches of radishes, green onions & a large head of cauliflower at the produce stand.
  • Costco, groceries for the week - $84.36
  • Costco gas - $42.92
  • M & Nick got haircuts - $20
  • Medicine at Rite Aid - $.16 (I guess insurance covers the rest, which is fantastic)
  • A book for Nick's Spanish class (I used swagbucks + ordered a used copy) - $6.99


Sunday -
  • $4.35 - produce stand again, because I used too many tomatoes in the pico de gallo, & M also wanted more limes. 12 limes + 3 lbs of tomatoes.
  • Gave Nick $20, as a friend invited him to a rock climbing session. That was the fee + he had to buy a chalk bag? No idea. They were going to go out for lunch, but I convinced them to come home instead & I whipped together a quick lunch for him before soccer.
  • Trader Joes for yogurt for a chicken marinade - $3.99
Total spend for the week = $252.58. Overall, I feel good about the week. We had several no spend days, spent zero on eating out, and mostly stuck to essentials. How about you? Did you track your spending for the week? How did you do?

Friday, September 6, 2019

Frugal Friday (the time I got a paycheck, but it was for $0)

The back to work addition of Frugal Fridays. Here's how we did!

Saving on things we buy:

  • Found 3 lbs of marked down ground turkey for $.99/lb. I try to mix it in with a pound of ground beef when doubling recipes. 
  • Picked up a package of 10 KCups (try to avoid, but my parents like them when they visit) for free on the Friday Freebie at my grocery store. 


Earning money:

  • Sold three items on eBay, and went through my listings & made adjustments to try & get more sold
  • Continued completing tasks for the focus group I'm apart of. I'm close to another $15 payout
  • Tracked down $6 of missing rewards from my grocery account. I noticed that when I redeemed an award, it deducted $7 instead of $1. I debated on the energy of emailing customer service, but sucked it up & emailed them. They are crediting my account. 
  • Filed an appeal with USPS for my insurance claim. They paid me for 1/3 of the item's value, despite having proof of the value & showing all of the details about the claim. Sigh.
  • Contacted HR at work to get my HSA adjusted post leave to ensure I hit the yearly maximum. It doesn't allow me to do it in the tool, and doesn't automatically correct, so required some tracking to make it happen. Done!


Avoiding purchasing/spending:

  • Received a replacement Jansport backpack, when mine started to disintegrate. I was hopeful they could repair it, but since they couldn't, they mailed me a new one for free. It's a $45 backpack, & I hope to keep it forever!
  • I had a crazy day yesterday (gym before work, 9-5 meeting, back home to make dinner for everyone, M to pick up Nick at volleyball, then I left & picked up Sam's soccer carpool). It allowed very little time for anything, and I strongly considered picking up leftovers. Instead, I hustled home after my meeting, made a salad & prepped the leftovers, fed myself & then left again. It wasn't my favorite day, but if I'm back to work & earning money, I don't want to waste it on meals out due to scheduling.

In the spirit of sharing, we've had some food waste this week, which always makes me sad. The adjustment of being back to work for lunches has meant that I need to rejigger food portions of leftovers. Hopefully I can rectify this for next week & get back on track.

In "earning money" news, it was definitely hard to go back to work. I checked out my paycheck so I could at least use that as motivation. I did, in fact, get a paycheck, but it was for $0. I didn't know that they would "catch up" all of my contributions that were paused while I was out on leave, so the catch up of things like long term disability, after tax 401k contributions, plus my additional tax withholdings (I do  percentage + an additional flat amount in every paycheck for both state & federal), etc meant that my deductions sucked up my entire check. And, I think that even with a full paycheck next cycle, my paycheck will be pretty small. Ah, well. At least I added to my 401K & HSA this month, right? :-) 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September Goals

September will be all about getting back into the swing of working (& work travel) again. I'm heading to Boulder next week, and then Tokyo at the end of the month. Here's what I'm hoping to get done in September.

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Made $500 in side hustle
  • Sell ten items
  • Use up 10 freezer items
  • Use up 5 irregular pantry items
  • Go back to work, & into the swing of two full time working parents
  • Complete one business trip
  • Build plan for moving to part time role
  • Finish our refi & shift investments over to a better interest yielding account
2) Family - spend more time together as a family!
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids
  • Off of the computer by 8:00 each evening
  • Have a date night with M
  • Continue with Sam's plan, meet with school. Meet with counselor.
  • Choose 2 deep cleaning house projects
  • Finish remaining projects at the beach house (fridge repair, fire pit volcanic rock, wood storage, Costco for fridge compensation)
  • Finalize house projects & budget/schedule for work. Drapes, second round of doors, budget & plan for trim.
3) Fitness/health - lose 4 lbs
  • Run 12 times
  • Stay on track with my calories & fitness while traveling
  • Track calories (1400/day) & eat 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day
  • Work out 30 times
  • Meditate 10 times
4) Personal/creative
  • Do two social things
  • Volunteer, or find an option that will fit with my schedule
  • Journal 15 times
  • Read one non-fiction book

That's it for me! What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in September?



Monday, September 2, 2019

August goals - how did I do?

It was a lovely month, but I definitely felt the "end of summer" pressure to get everything done, as my sabbatical was coming to a fast close. . . particularly because I cut a week off at the request of my manager.

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget - we did okay this month, although not great. We were under on child care (thanks to my sabbatical) & over on groceries. It was a pretty close month, however, with just $15 over. We were also over on dining out, but I covered half of a dinner out with a large group for my dad's birthday, and bought discounted gift cards that we will use for future dining out. When calculating all of the categories, we were over by $215. 
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - I don't think we did much for this one. 
  • Make $500 in side hustle - I made $670. It would have been over $1,000 if I hadn't had two expensive eBay snafus. Sigh 
  • Sell ten items - I sold 18 items, which is huge for me!
  • Use up 10 freezer items - I used up 11 items. 
  • Use up 5 irregular pantry items (you know, the things that linger & aren't a part of your normal menu) - I did this, although a few things were also just tossed, as they were expired, stale, etc. 
2) Family - spend more time together as a family:


  • Do one fun activity with the boys - I took Sam skating, & Nick rock climbing. 
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening - I did "okay" with this, but find when I don't have a great book to read, I'm more tempted to get back on the computer. (I rarely watch TV).
  • Have two dates with M - Yes! One at the house, and one out for a friend's birthday, followed by dinner.
  • Continue with Sam's plans (meet with the school, set up additional tutors)
    • Met with doctor
    • Researched insurance benefits
    • Had a call with the school counselor
    • Set up first therapy appointment
  • Deep clean the entire house - I actually still have a few things on my wish list. It's silly to do all of the deep cleaning before our doors are finished, as the door installation makes a huge mess. 
  • Finish remaining projects at the beach house (fire pit, contractor work) - the fire pit is done, the doors were installed this week, but the fridge repair was pushed out until next week. 
  • Finish house projects - drapes, second chandeliers, doors, trim - we finished the chandeliers, but 1/2 the doors are still on back order. We also need to order the drapes. Hopefully today!
3) Fitness/health - lose 4 lbs - sigh. I don't think so. 
  • Run 12 times - I ran 1x. It was super hot in August, so getting outside was challenging. 
  • Track calories (1400/day) & 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day - I was at 1630, which explains the lack of weight progress. 
  • Work out 35 times - I worked out 24 times. 
  • Meditate 10 times - I meditated 4 times. 
  • Complete relay at or below pace time - I finished, but struggled on my second leg as I wasn't feeling good. It was my personal worst for that particular relay leg, which is 8 miles. I did it at 3:00 am, which certainly didn't help. 
4) Personal/creative
  • Do four social things - had lunch with a friend, went to a brunch with another friend, and did two workouts with a friend. 
  • Look for a flexible volunteer option - tried to find a slot for volunteering at back to school day, but it didn't work with some driving I was already scheduled to do
  • Journal 18 times - I journaled 10 times. 
  • Read one non-fiction book - nope
  • Tackle six projects from my sabbatical list:
    • Family photo books complete - the rest are digital, and M has been working 80 hours weeks. I need him to access the digital photos. 
    • Wash all windows - done
    • Stain table - nope
    • Declutter the rest of the house - everything but the kitchen
    • Power wash the patio - nope
    • Continue yard work (front & back) - yes, although not done
    • Figure out what to do with fence posts - requires M, so not done
    • Get quote for fridge damage & submit to delivery company - decided to skip, as we are still waiting to have the fridge repaired.
    • Order glasses - yes
    • Get a hair cut - yes
    • Find geometry tutor for Sam - so far, we haven't needed this. 

While I would have liked to have seen a few more greens on the list, I did get a few other things done that were on my sabbatical list. I got in three more workouts at the studio I bought the monthly pass for, I got a massage, got all of the paperwork done for our refi, moved investments to qualify for the additional refi rate drop, etc. Let's hope I can get a lot done in September!

What about you? How did you do with your August goals?

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Menu plan + great grocery store deal


I'm trying to get ahead of the menu planning this week, as I'll be back to work next week. Here's what we're planning on having this week:


Friday - pizza (Keto friendly for the adults, pepperoni for the kids) + salad
Saturday - date night. The kids will be with a sitter, and they will likely have quesadillas.
Sunday - taco casserole (new recipe)
Monday - M is making burgers, and I'll make coleslaw
Tuesday - leftover taco casserole
Wednesday - leftover burgers & I'll whip up a fresh batch of coleslaw
Thursday - carnitas (freezer)

I had a great grocery store trip yesterday, and combined rewards + the Friday freebie + marked down meat & the last of a gift card for an awesome stop. They had 1 lb packages of ground turkey marked down to $.99/lb. I bought three. The Friday Freebie was a package of 10 KCups ($7.99 regularly). I had $2.00 in rewards, and used a gift card to cover the $.97 remaining. What a deal!

As for today, Nick has a soccer scrimmage, & I'll pick up a friend to help another mom out with logistics. After that, Nick will be swimming with a buddy & Michael & I are heading to a 40th birthday party. A sitter will be coming over. We haven't needed our "nanny/driver for activities" at all, due to my sabbatical, so we'll have her cover our date night tonight, giving her some money. She is fantastic & so flexible, so I like to help out & try to ensure we give her hours when possible.

I am hoping to go for a run while Nick is at soccer, and get a few scheduling things sorted out for next week.

And with that, I'm off to work on the grocery list for the week. What about you? What's on your menu for the week? Anything new or any special grocery deals?

Friday, August 30, 2019

Frugal Friday

This week when by so quickly. I can't believe it's already the weekend! I'm looking forward to the long weekend together before I have to head back to work.

Saving on things we buy:

  • Found frozen cheese pizzas at Costco for $4.99 for a four pack. There are a medium sized pizza, and we keep them in the freezer for emergency dinners. What an incredible deal!
  • The kids occasionally go to Sweet Tomatoes (a casual salad bar restaurant) while I'm traveling. I buy gift cards at a discount to keep on hand for these times. We were out of gift cards, so I bought $110 worth of gift cards for $100, and will earn a bit more back on Rakuten.



Earning money:

  • Found $.02 on the ground at the relay I attended this weekend
  • Cashed out points on a customer panel I'm participating in, and transferred $15 to Paypal. I also completed a few additional tasks. I don't have enough to cash out yet, but I've earned another $10 or so. 
  • Listed a few more items on eBay, and listed four items for my sister. I'll give her any money I earn. I'm trying to help her kick start her own side hustle
  • Cashed out $50 in Swagbucks for an Amazon gift card. 
  • Filed a claim for missing eBay item. Since I'm out the money on an item that was lost, fingers crossed that this gets quickly approved & paid out.


Avoiding purchases/spending:

  • Packed water bottles & snacks for the airport. Packing enough snacks for a hungry 13 year old was a challenge, but we managed ;-) 
  • We made sandwiches vs buying at Subway for our relay team. 
  • Didn't buy any relay swag this year. I have a cute hoodie I wear all the time from a few years ago, so I'll just stick with that for now. 
  • M brought home leftovers from a work event, and that fed the kids for a couple of lunches
  • Had two free lunches at work, as I met a friend & was on campus for another errand
  • We once again ate all of our leftovers for the week, which is always an accomplishment!
What frugal wins did you have this week?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Menu Plan Monday

Our team finished the big relay this year, and placed quite highly (3rd in our division). We did great, and Sam was amazing. It was quite an adventure for him to stay up late, sleep in the van, do his leg at midnight in the dark. He was incredibly fast, and didn't get passed once. He was very excited.

We are both sore & tired today, and I'm trying to get the house unpacked & my chores done before they shut off the power. The power company is doing some work in our neighborhood, and the power is supposed to be off for most of the day.

I'm late to the party with my menu plan, and I didn't cook over the weekend due to being out of town. So, here's what I'm thinking about for the weekly menu:


  • Sunday - we had frozen lasagna
  • Monday - egg roll in a bowl
  • Tuesday - leftover lasagna
  • Wednesday - leftover egg roll in a bowl
  • Thursday - tacos. Sam has been asking for tacos for several weeks now
  • Friday - homemade pizza for the boys, Keto pizza for the adults
  • Saturday - date night. The boys will have tacos
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Frugal Friday

It's been an expensive week, with two eBay issues (one my fault, and I should earn most of the money back by relisting. The second, not my fault & will require a claim with the post office.) I tried to still pull out a few frugal wins.

Saving on things we buy

  • Submitted vision coverage reimbursement for the two pair of glasses I ordered


Earning money

  • Nick found a dime in the change machine while we were doing automatic check out at the grocery store. I've (sadly) never though to look there, but I will now.
  • Found $.20 on the ground on my run (2 nickels & 1 dime)
  • I adjusted my sabbatical to end a few days early. I will at least get one paid holiday out of it (so, get paid for 5 days, work 4).
  • I had to transfer some of our savings to our new bank in order to qualify for an additional rate reduction. I noticed that there was a new client offer that would generate $600 for an investment transfer of our size. Filled out an application for both myself & M, and should be receiving that in 60 days. That's in addition to the rate reduction we received from making the transfer.


Avoiding purchasing/spending

  • We've done a good job of managing leftovers this week, which is always a relief. Used a grocery store freebie (cottage cheese) & a $.99 lb of ground turkey to make a delicious keto friendly lasagna. Yum!
  • Had an inexpensive date night. We'd originally asked if our nanny was available to babysit on Saturday night. She was out of town. A sitter would be $50, plus the cost of eating out. Instead, a friend offered to take the boys to an event they wanted to attend. Cost was $30 for their admission. We made a Keto pizza at home, and each had a cocktail. We probably saved close to $100 between the price of dinner out & the $20 difference on an activity vs a sitter. Win!
  • Finished all of the leftovers in the fridge before Sam & I left for Portland. M isn't great about using them up, so they often go to waste when I'm gone.
What frugal wins did you have this week?

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Backup plans & refi updates

Sam is still not feeling well, & I'm starting to panic about the relay. If he's unable to join, it will be so disappointing for him & everyone else. He came home from school yesterday & slept the rest of the day. Fingers crossed that he turns the corner today! We have worked out backup plans (who will cover his legs) & have a few other ideas that we might put in place if he can't make it. But, here's hoping he feels better quickly - both for the relay & also because he's just so miserably sick. Poor kid.

We received news that we have conditional loan approval on our refi, and our appraisal came through at a really high number, which was the final piece. We are getting an additional drop on the interest rate by transferring investments to Bank of America, so I'm in the process of waiting for all of that verification to be completed & for the transfers to go through. We're in the home stretch! I'm thrilled, because a refi is so much work & it's really nice to know what a difference this will make in our loan & interest. It gives us a much better shot at our aggressive goal of having the house paid off before Nick heads off to college.

What else is happening today?

  • I took the kids to school, and will pick up. This is unusual, as they normally bike. I thought I would save Sam the energy, so he can focus on his school work, & getting better. 
  • We're having leftovers for dinner, which I love. Easy peasy. We're having leftover burger patties in a feta/tomato/cream gravy. They were fantastic.
  • I vacuumed & handled a few inside chores
  • I filled the yard waste, and our bonus bin, as pickup day is tomorrow. I could fill that yard waste up every day of my sabbatical, with all of the leaves & debris from our property. It's a never ending battle.
  • I'll go to the library & pick up a few new books for my airport time over the weekend.
  • I also need to put together a schedule for M for the days I'll be gone. Nick's soccer schedule, weekend tournament details, etc.
  • If I don't hear back from USPS, I need to chase what's happening with my missing package.

I'm also hoping for a little break to read by the pool, now that the weather has cooled off. What about you? What are you up to on this Tuesday?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Two weeks to go & eBay frustrations

With two weeks to go until I return to work, I wanted to create a revised goal list for my sabbatical. Here it is:


  1. Get in three more workouts at the studio I bought the one month new joiner pass for. It was $99 for the month, so every workout makes me feel like I've reduced the per class cost. :-)
  2. Get together with friends 2x.
  3. Deal with our fridge at our vacation home (repair person + Costco discount)
  4. Order drapes for our dining room
  5. Sell or donate light fixture that we've had sitting around for two weeks
  6. Finish front yard project
  7. Decide what to do with remaining back yard project
  8. Get all funds transferred, & finish refi
  9. Deep clean the house
  10. Finish my relay
  11. Get back to 1/2 marathon training
  12. Clean inside windows & spot clean outside windows where there are streaks
  13. Decide whether we're getting Sam a geometry tutor. If so, line one up.
  14. Get vacation house doors installed.
  15. Set up photo shoot for the family
  16. Photobooks. These are TBD based on M's availability to pull digital copies. He's been working 80 hour weeks, so this is probably not going to happen.
  17. Refinish side table.
  18. Get one more massage
  19. Meet M for another lunch
  20. Figure out wood storage option for vacation house
I think I can get most of that done. I'll be out of town Thursday-Sunday this week, which will put quite a crimp on my time schedule. 

I was so happy with my eBay progress, & the lack of drama with all of my sales. I should have never had that thought, as I've had two issues crop up with the two most expensive items I've sold. The first issue is mostly my fault. I had a ring I was selling. I had it sized when I first bought it, but must have listed the ring size pre-sizing for my finger. It therefore doesn't fit the buyer. My fault, so I'm providing a refund. I'm frustrated with myself, mostly because it was an expensive mistake, but it's such a hassle (for myself & the buyer, I'm sure). I can relist it & should make most of the money back, but the fees & double postage will eat into quite a bit of the profit. An expensive mistake.

I've also had a terrible experience with USPS scheduled pickup. With the first pickup, the day of pickup came & went & no one picked up the package. In the evening, the postal worker rang our doorbell & asked where the package was. I explained it was there until recently. He said another postal worker picked it up earlier in the day. Sounds strange, but okay. I received a pickup confirmation, so thought nothing of it. Except, the item has never arrived, & the tracking number was never updated to show it ever made it to the post office. This is an expensive item, & I had insurance on it. I had two other items I'd scheduled pick up for. Neither of them got picked up, but I received email confirmation from the post office that they were picked up. I had to schedule yet another pick up, and that time, left a very detailed note that they were missing the pick ups. So, I have zero confidence that USPS is picking up and/or that the confirmation of pick ups mean anything. I've filed a claim with USPS over the first one, but we'll see what happens. So frustrating. 

Sam is also not feeling well, and we have our big relay this weekend. I'm nervous that he won't be able to join, or won't be feeling 100%. He *never* gets sick. My sister & I worked out a backup plan, in case he's unable to attend, but it means several other people adding additional legs. In addition to a lot of wasted money (flight, registration, a few items of clothing he needed, etc). Fingers crossed that he's feeling well enough to participate. 

How is your Monday going? 



Sunday, August 18, 2019

Menu planning & other miscellany

I did our menu planning earlier than usual this week, as I went to Costco on Friday to avoid crowds. That was a generally successful strategy.

Here's what we're eating and/or plan to eat:

  • Friday - the kids had pepperoni pizza, M & I had a Keto friendly pizza I found at Costco. We paired that with a cocktail & sat by the pool, as the kids attended an event. Date night!
  • Saturday - I made a super yummy Keto lasagna. I thought this was fantastic, and we will definitely make it again. It also used up things lingering around (a Friday freebie of a tiny cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, shredded mozzarella, an open jar of pasta sauce, and a lb of Italian seasoned ground turkey I bought for $.99.) Sadly, I discovered too late that this only serves 4. Otherwise, I would have doubled the recipe.
  • Sunday - Keto burgers with cabbage
  • Monday - leftover lasagna
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - hot dogs & coleslaw. We've enjoyed this coleslaw recipe
  • Thursday - Sam & I will be heading to Portland to join my family for a relay, so we'll be eating out to celebrate my dad's birthday. I'm guessing M & Nick will have either hot dogs or go to a local salad bar.
  • Friday - Nick is attending a rock climbing event with a friend, & dinner will be served. M will likely make a steak for himself. Sam & I will be eating whatever we can find at a roadside stand on the back roads of the Oregon coast. I think last year I had a baked potato, and it tasted like heaven after my first leg of the relay was complete. 
On the agenda today:
  • A workout
  • Packing for Sam for the relay. He wasn't feeling well yesterday, so we need to tackle this today.
  • Mailing an eBay package
  • I hopefully have someone coming over to buy a light fixture that I've had listed on Nextdoor forever. I finally have someone who wants it. Let's hope they don't flake.
  • Washing the windows. I'd really like to get this done
  • Carpooling for next week + the rest of the soccer season. A few emails to send & coordination to get together
  • I need to work on an email to my parents about some work we're having done at our vacation house & they are supervising, so they know what to expect.
  • Have the boys call my parents
  • Make my goals list for the last two weeks of my sabbatical
What's on your menu this week? Have you tried any good recipes recently?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday stuff & thinking through sabbatical return

M & I had a lovely & unexpected date night yesterday & it was so nice to get an opportunity to chat & laugh together. I also got a hair cut yesterday & cut about six inches off, & love it. It's now a shoulder length bob. Let's hope it will be easy to maintain.

Today will be soccer, working out, & getting ready for our trip next week. In a two day relay, there are a lot of logistics & gear (in a tiny space), so I need to ensure Sam & I both have everything we need for the trip.

I've continued a consistent drip of eBay sales, so I've been prepping & listing, photographing & tracking down USPS (which has failed two pick up two packages in a row - despite the confirmations that the items have been picked up.)

Sabbatical stuff:
Yesterday I received a message from my manager, asking if I was open to the idea of returning to work two days ahead of the end of my sabbatical. There is an important planning summit, and it would be useful for me to be there. The days are Thursday & Friday, 9/5 & 9/6. My company also has a paid holiday on 9/2. I've been stressing a bit over returning to work without any warm up time (and, returning to work in general, but that's an entirely different post). Because there's a company holiday I would be eligible for if I have my last day be the Friday before, and I'd have the opportunity to read all of my emails & have a catch up lunch with my manager before the planning summit, I will likely cut a week off of my sabbatical. (Four days, actually, because of the company holiday.) I haven't fully committed yet, but I can't imagine walking into a very senior level planning meeting without having read a single email for three months. Additionally, every day that I'm working during this year is another bonus eligible day. Because of the size of my bonus, it adds up to a reasonably significant amount of bonus money, in addition to my salary.

I would greatly prefer not to return to this job after my sabbatical ends, due to the international travel & APAC late night calls, but there are quite a few compounding factors. I'm up for promotion this cycle, and need to finish this performance period on the same team. I've also (loosely) committed to staying in role for a bit after the promotion (assuming it happens) & then would plan to leave the company and/or find a more flexible role. Mentally I've committed to staying for a year, although I may not be able to handle that. With Sam's new health challenges, international traveling will be very difficult on our family. I'm very aware of that, and need to be upfront with my manager about what's possible.

I'm planning to do a sabbatical recap post soon, for myself if no one else. It's been a wild ride the last few months & I'm so grateful for the time with my family!

What about you? What's your plan for the weekend? Any fun happenings?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Frugal Friday

The big news is that I've hit the $1,000 selling mark on eBay for the past 60 days. I'm so excited, because I'm making money (particularly while not getting paid) & getting junk we don't need out of the house. Win/win! I've made $1250 in 60 days!!

Saving on things we buy:

  • Bought gift cards for stores we use for kids clothing shopping. Earned a $40 gift card to our local grocery store. I love these offers, and keep the store gift cards in my wallet. When the boys need something, the gift cards are there & ready. I did the same with a Rite Aid offer, and earned $30 in store credit
  • Used a 30% off Rite Aid coupon, and rewards to pick up back to school snacks & a few supplies for the kids. 
  • I also bought Uber gift cards, earning $10 in credit. We use Uber in place of airport parking, as it's cheaper. If we don't use it for personal travel, I use it for work travel (hopefully not too much of that in the future) & get reimbursed. 
  • Saved $1 by digging around & finding a granola bar coupon I knew I had somewhere in my purse while buying back to school snacks. Sure enough, I did. Likewise, bought the boys ice cream bars & picked up two boxes, so I could use a $1 off coupon. With the weather so hot & the boys having friends over, we'll go through this in no time


Earning money:

  • Sold an expensive Tumi bag M received as a prize. Earned $185 on eBay. Woohoo!!! Split the money between college funds & mortgage pay down. 
  • Found a dime outside of Rite Aid
  • Listed a bunch of new things on eBay, & sold a few other items. I sold 6 items on eBay yesterday alone. The sales are hot right now, for whatever reason.
  • Participated in a consumer focus survey (invited via Swagbucks). Earned & redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card. It was actually a $37 focus group, so I will wait for the next discounted Amazon offer to roll around before redeeming the rest.


Avoiding purchases/spending:

  • I met a friend for lunch last week. I provided some coaching & guidance on a tricky work situation, and she bought me an unexpected lunch as a thank you. I took home leftovers, as the meal was huge. 
  • We were all craving Mexican food on Saturday, & came really close to going out for dinner. Likely it would have been $80+ for the four of us, even at a moderately priced place. Instead, went to Trader Joes & spent $17 on groceries. Not totally frugal (could have made do with the leftovers in the fridge), but we made excellent carnitas nachos. I quickly defrosted carnitas from the freezer, and added the purchased chips, sour cream, pico de gallo & guacamole. Yum! Everyone was thrilled. 
  • To mail the bag mentioned above, I could not find a box big enough to hold it. At the kids soccer game, I noticed a box sitting by the garbage bin. I decided to take it home & see if it worked. If not, I'd planned to recycle it. It was the perfect fit. Saved something from the garbage, and avoided the cost of a new box!
  • Picked a few more things out of the garden. It's been a rough year with the squirrels, so we haven't had much success. We did manage to get a tomato, strawberry, and plenty of basil this week.
  • Made lunch from things around the house. I started with salad as a base, and would add things like, a scoop of the leftover guacamole from nachos, leftover chicken from the boys lunches, etc. Every day was different, and they were all good.
  • Repurposed a couple of Amazon shipping envelopes for eBay sales.
  • Arranged for a free USPS pickup for a few eBay sales, saving a trip to the post office



What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Last day of summer

Well, not from a seasonal perspective, but the boys go back to school tomorrow, so it's the last day of their summer anyway.

I had a doctor's appointment for Sam yesterday, an ophthalmologist appointment today, and a an appointment with a rheumatologist tomorrow. So much fun. ;-) I know taking care of my health is important, but it does feel like it sucks up a large portion of time right now. Ah, well. Let's do it.

I mentioned this on Sam's blog, but I really need to get back to minimal carbs/sugar. I felt better, and I was losing weight consistently. Since I've gone back to eating carbs, I feel bloated & I've definitely gained weight. I feel gross. Time to clean up my eating again.

I've been doing well on accomplishing my daily tasks, although I didn't work out yesterday. I'm battling a head cold, and just didn't have the energy.

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


  • Make a batch of coleslaw
  • Ophthalmologist appointment
  • Laundry
  • Have the boys prep their lunch & outfits for tomorrow
  • Wash two windows (ooh, this is optimistic. We shall see!)
  • Sweep the patio
  • An indoor workout
  • Email again about M's ski pass
  • Go through my closet & the boys closet/drawers for items to clean out & donate
What about you? What's on your to do list for today?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday Happenings

I'm hoping it's going to cool off a bit this week, but the weather forecast says otherwise. The heat makes it difficult to get in my workout, and/or do any yard work. But, grateful that we have AC for the days we need it. And, grateful that we have solar as well. The two offset each other reasonably well. We put the AC in at the same time we installed solar, knowing that our house was both a great candidate for solar, and that the energy savings from solar would help to power the AC. So far, so good.

The boys are home with me until Thursday, and then it's back to school. I can't believe Sam is starting his last year of middle school! I forgot to mention that he met up with a girl he met at camp on Sunday, and they went roller skating together. It was adorable. She was very sweet & four inches taller than Sam. :-) Being in a roller skating rink with the 80s music blaring reminded me of my middle school days! Sam made me promise not to "embarrass him". I think I did reasonably well. ;-)

I listed a few new items on eBay yesterday, and sold three things. I'm thrilled! Just when I think I've cleaned out anything & everything that we could possibly sell.... I go a bit deeper & find something new. Yesterday's big score was a Victoria's Secret bikini. As much as I'd like to pretend I will wear it again... probably not going to happen. Before I had lupus & was consistently running 30 miles/week, my weight was *cough* in a different place. The bikini sold overnight. Probably should have priced it higher!

I'll continue to clean out the house & see what else we might have that we can get rid of. I also requested a bag from ThredUp, to see if we can get rid of some of the boys clothes that are in great condition. We've had no success via other forums, so it will be good to check out an alternative.

Here's what else is happening in our world today:


  • Mail & package three eBay sales
  • Appraiser coming over at 10 am, as part of our refi
  • Working out - need a cool option
  • Taking Sam to a doctor's appointment
  • Taking the boys to back to school night
  • Taking Sam + carpool buddies to soccer practice
  • Start gathering ThredUp items
  • Return 3 library books that are due today
  • Run to the produce stand. I went yesterday, and forgot one of the items I went for. Oops.
What about you? What's happening for you on this Tuesday?

Menu plan for the week

I'm a bit behind this week, but still need to get a menu plan together. Soccer is back in full swing, and the boys are heading back to school, so things are getting a bit more hectic.

Here's what's on the menu for the week. As usual, we try to cook enough for leftovers with each meal.

  • Saturday - we had carnitas nachos
  • Sunday - M made kebabs & rice
  • Monday - A bit of a grab bag. Taco quesadillas for Nick, leftover carnitas for Sam, chicken ranch casserole for the adults
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - any remaining leftovers. If none, spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - grilled chicken & veggies
  • Friday - pizza for the kids, steak for the adults
What about you? What are you serving this week?

Monday, August 12, 2019

It's Monday & a few things to do

The weekend flew by (obstacle mud race for the kids, soccer, soccer, & a skating meet up for Sam), and now it's suddenly Monday.

Despite wearing plenty of sunblock, I got burned at the double header soccer match yesterday. There was no shade, and the spectators were on blacktop, which just radiates heat. It's supposed to be really hot all week here, so I need to figure out how to get the last of my relay training in, while staying out of the sun... that means early mornings for sure.

School starts on Thursday, so this is the last hurrah for the boys before the first day back!

Here's what's on my agenda this morning:


  1. Arrange for a package pickup for an eBay sale. 
  2. Take Sam with me on a pace walk
  3. Clean the house. Nick had a sleepover yesterday, and three teen boys are messy
  4. Do a bit of work/work. My manager called me. It's something only I can do, & I'll adjust my days accordingly.
  5. Drive kids to soccer practice
  6. Figure out what's for dinner & a menu plan for the week. We have plenty of groceries, so mainly just need to match things up.
  7. Laundry
  8. Package up a uniform Nick borrowed for a tournament, & get that returned to a coach
  9. Make a prioritized list of house projects
  10. Figure out which investments we're shifting over to qualify for our new refi (we need to transfer some investments to the bank providing the loan)

I think that will do it! What about you? What's on your list for this Monday?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Frugal Friday

The big news is that we just locked in a rate for a refinance of our house - a savings we estimate to be around $54,000, if we stick to our current payoff schedule. I'm trying to remind myself of this, as I deal with all of the paperwork fun of a refi. :-)


Saving on things we buy:
  • I used a gift card to buy a drink at the airport on my flight out on Friday, as well as for a sandwich/drink at the airport on Monday.
  • I used a discounted Uber gift card for my flight home on Monday
  • I was able to find new swim trunks for Sam for next summer for $5 at Costco. His old ones are both getting to be too small, and also are filthy from adventure camp. 
  • I used the self checkout line (always a mistake) & a $.50 coupon didn't come off. I stood in line at customer service & got the money back.
  • I bought two pounds of ground turkey & a pound of spicy sausage for $.99/each. 

Earning money:

  • I earned $54 on ebates/Rakuten & put the money (Paypal transfer) straight into our mortgage. 
  • Sold a few things on eBay, one of which was a $340 item. Woohoo!!!!!!
  • Tweaked listings & posted a few new things on Nextdoor & eBay. Sold a ceiling fan for $30 on Nextdoor within a few hours of posting.


Avoiding purchases/spending:

  • M was able to take me to the airport on Friday, saving $25 or so
  • For the most part, we ate at home (vacation house) for my mother/daughter trip. We did go to a wine bar for a beer 1x, and to a local pub for a beer another day. Total spent on food for three days was under $60 for my portion. My sister brought groceries. 
  • Arranged for carpools to share driving/nanny expenses this week. I actually will use our nanny a few times, as the kids are at two separate camps, and have two different soccer locations at quite a distance from each other. But, still reducing much of the cost by carpooling where possible.
  • My flight was delayed on Monday, but I scrambled around in the fridge & made a quick dinner of spaghetti & (frozen) meatballs. Crisis averted, everyone ate, and no money was spent on eating out. 
  • Picked a few tomatoes from the garden.
  • I had to go to the office to print & scan a few forms for our refi, and took advantage of the free lunch. (I have access to all of the facilities while I'm out, but choose not to go in because... it makes me feel like I'm at work.) :-)
  • Took advantage of already paid for workout class, and did a double class on Wednesday (first cardio/barre, then rolling out + yoga). 
  • Our math tutor unexpectedly had to cancel. While I would have paid the money to ensure Sam is learning well, we came up with a good workaround using some online resources, and saved $40. (We will continue to do in person tutoring other weeks.)
  • Sam's camp group was having a potluck on the beach yesterday, and he needed to bring plenty to share. We had pizza rolls, 8 individual size servings of Doritos, and an unopened package of cookies in the pantry. The kids didn't want the cookies or Doritos, and I've been trying to wrap up the pizza roll package forever. Win/win!
What about you? Any frugal wins for the week for you?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Always an adventure

I spent the weekend on the Oregon coast with my mom & sister, and we had a great time. We also managed to keep it pretty frugal. We had a beer 2x out, but the rest of the meals were eaten with groceries we brought. Overall, the cost was very reasonable, & we had a great time. We delivered the bricks for the fire pit, and two chairs that needed to be assembled. A few others arrived yesterday, just in time to assemble the fire pit & chairs. Although we ended up having to return 2 of the 6 Adirondacks we bought, as they didn't match. Bummer. We now have a usable fire pit & chairs, so that's progress. I'll have to keep my eye out for Costco to restock this particular chair next summer.

On to other adventures.

Doors:
We ordered 20 new doors for our house, and have been waiting for Lowes to get them in. We waited six weeks, and yesterday was the big day where the installation would begin. Except, over half of the doors were the incorrect size, and one was broken. I loathe home projects. The house is a mess, the work is half done, and... no idea when we'll get the other doors. M & I will both be at work when the new doors are finally ready, which should be super fun. The guy who placed the order at Lowes did not, of course, return our calls.

Refi:
In super exciting news, we were able to lock in an amazing rate for our mortgage (2.875% vs our current 3.625%). Given the size of our mortgage, this is a huge savings. I would not have agreed to handle all of the paperwork if I was working full time, as sizable time investment. So, I'll just consider this one of my financial sabbatical wins - particularly since my leave is unpaid. At least I'm offsetting some of that. In fact, the amount we will save on the loan more than covers my unpaid leave. Oh, and our printer broke yesterday, because . . . of course!

While we're not done with the paperwork (I need to go to the office & use a printer/scanner), by today, we should have everything sent to underwriting. So, that's a good first milestone. I'll keep reminding myself of how much we're saving, when I'm annoyed by all of the paperwork demands.

Sam:
I've alluded to this here & there, but last week we got a formal diagnosis for Sam. He has ADHD. While this isn't a surprise, he's always done really well in school until he hit middle school, so the grades challenge became very real. He's starting 8th grade next week, so it's critical we help him now, when the grades matter. We also want to ensure he is confident about himself & his own skills & abilities. He & Nick are wildly different people, and they have both observed Sam's weaknesses, and it's starting to create tension & impacting Sam's confidence.

Now that we have a formal diagnosis, we can work with the school, as well as get Sam the help he needs. I'm so extremely grateful for my sabbatical for the time & space to handle this, as it's been an enormous time commitment (and, emotionally quite taxing) this summer. We have many steps ahead (therapists, doctor visits, school counselor meetings, etc), but I feel we're on the right track & can move forward now.


Adventures in my life aside, here's what's on the list for the rest of today:

  1. Laundry. The boys graciously leave this for me when I'm traveling. ;-)
  2. Mail an eBay sale
  3. I'm going to a workout class
  4. Scan paperwork for refi
  5. Print Home Depot gift cards at the office
  6. Print & scan a form for Nick to sub in a soccer tournament this weekend
  7. Pick up Nick + carpool kids at Nick's camp
  8. Take Nick + soccer carpool kid to practice
  9. Pick up Sam from his camp (now that Sam is a teen, most camps don't span both age groups)
  10. Water the plants
  11. Do a little yard work
  12. Track down M's ski pass. His photo upload failed, and I've tried to get a hold of someone who can help me correct this. 
  13. Call Home Depot about our (new) leaky fridge
  14. Call Lowes (again) about the doors cluster
  15. Consider listing two light fixtures on eBay local pickup, now that our new chandeliers are installed

What about you? Any adventures lately?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Menu Plan Monday

As usual, our goal is to reduce our freezer & pantry inventory & minimize food waste. I typically cook once/eat twice, but I was out of town this weekend, so I'll need to be more creative.


  • Monday - I have an afternoon flight, so keeping it simple with taco salads (taco meat from the freezer)
  • Tuesday - Planning to make a new Keto friendly chicken alfredo recipe. I will sub broccoli for the asparagus, both because I already have broccoli, & because I think it goes better with a chicken alfredo. This recipe will use up rotisserie chicken from the freezer
  • Wednesday - taco leftovers
  • Thursday - leftover chicken alfredo
  • Friday - we've promised the kids that we will take them to a game night they enjoy. That will mean a quick dinner (likely burgers from the freezer). 
  • Saturday - we are supposed to be going to dinner with friends. 
  • Sunday - tbd, based on what everyone feels like. I'm thinking M may grill chicken. I'll serve with a caprese salad. The caprese will use up fresh mozzarella & tomatoes from the garden.
What about you? What's on the menu for the week? 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

August goals

It's the final countdown to my sabbatical, so I have a lot of goals for the month & big dreams for what I can accomplish. :-)

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Make $500 in side hustle
  • Sell ten items
  • Use up 10 freezer items
  • Use up 5 irregular pantry items (you know, the things that linger & aren't a part of your normal menu)
2) Family - spend more time together as a family:


  • Do one fun activity with the boys
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening
  • Have two dates with M
  • Continue with Sam's plans (meet with the school, set up additional tutors)
  • Deep clean the entire house
  • Finish remaining projects at the beach house (fire pit, contractor work)
  • Finish house projects - drapes, second chandeliers, doors, trim
3) Fitness/health - lose 4 lbs
  • Run 12 times
  • Track calories (1400/day) & 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day
  • Work out 35 times
  • Meditate 10 times
  • Complete relay at or below pace time
4) Personal/creative
  • Do four social things
  • Look for a flexible volunteer option
  • Journal 18 times
  • Read one non-fiction book
  • Tackle six projects from my sabbatical list:
    • Family photo books complete
    • Wash all windows
    • Stain table
    • Declutter the rest of teh house
    • Power wash the patio
    • Continue yard work (front & back)
    • Figure out what to do with fence posts
    • Get quote for fridge damage & submit to delivery company
    • Order glasses
    • Get a hair cut
    • Find geometry tutor for Sam
And with that, let the goal completion begin! What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in August? Do you have people going back to school this month? My kids go back on the 15th, so about half of the month will be the last of summer, and the rest will be kicking off back to school. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Frugal Friday

And, with that, it's Friday! A few frugal things we've been up to this week:

Saving on things we buy:

  • Found more discounted sausage for $.99/package, so bought two for breakfast for Sam & M. They love it, & it's significantly cheaper than bacon when on markdown. 
  • Bought two packages of snack bars for the boys camp lunches for $1/box. I don't typically buy those type of treats (too much sugar), but they are playing soccer 6 hours/day this week, so I figured they would burn it off. :-) 
  • Remembered that I had a Walgreens account attached to my Fitbit, so installed the app & saw that I had a $20 reward!
  • Bought a hard seltzer 12 pack for $13.99, and filled out a rebate to earn $12 back. Walgreens makes things so difficult (out of the product at two stores, rebate doesn't print, etc), but finally got it to work.
  • I bought a $99 all inclusive fitness pass at a local studio I've been wanting to try. This has been great over my sabbatical, as my schedule is much more flexible. The classes are normally $25!!! I've already been 6 times, and plan to go another 6-8 times. That will make the classes a reasonable value, and will keep me in shape when the weather is too hot to be outside. It's also a good challenge for me, and I've been enjoying the social element. 


Earning money:

  • Sold a few things on eBay 
  • Filled out surveys on Swagbucks, and got invited to participate in a multi week community, that pays reasonably well
  • Completed Bing tasks, to earn towards another gift card
  • Updated all listings, changed prices, reviewed offers, etc.


Avoiding purchases/spending:

  • Saved $80 (&, $40 for a friend) by driving to pick up the boys from camp. Normally, they ride the bus, but since I was off this year, I had the option of picking them up. The road is incredibly windy & freaks me out, and I contemplated numerous times having them take the bus. Sucked it up, practiced deep breathing, & made it work!
  • Took out the last frozen pizza crust (it was part of a 3 crust pre made kit & sauce my husband picked up on a whim back in January or something). Everyone far preferred a homemade crust, but I picked up a nicer package of pepperoni to add, so the boys ate it. It's now out of the freezer!
  • Found a self addressed stamped envelope buried in our card drawer. Used it to mail in my Walgreens rebate (above). Win!
  • Continue to eat items from the freezer for dinner, make the most of leftovers, & watch our grocery bill!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

July Goals Recap

July was a great month. We spent the 4th of July on the Oregon coast with my parents, M & I had a long weekend in Las Vegas, and the kids went to sleepaway camp. Everyone had a great time. We also hosted a few pool parties, met friends for dinner, & I took care of a few lingering health care chores.

Here's how I did against my goals for the month:

1) Financial:

  • Stick to the budget - For the first month in a LONG time, we were under on groceries! We hosted family at our vacation house, but brought many leftovers home with us. I did a good job integrating those items into the menu, but the biggest wins were when the boys were at camp. M & I were on vacation part of the time, but also tried to eat up leftovers & things around the house. M is not a fan of a skimpy fridge (it freaks him out), so this was a big victory all around. We were also under on childcare (zero spent), but were over on gas (driving back from Oregon), & dining out (had an expensive meal out with friends). 
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - for this one, it's a longer term project, but I'm investigating how to change our yard to make it a) easier to maintain and b) much less water consuming. There are rebates and other options available, but our yard has upward of 100 plants in it (previous owners) & is really high maintenance, so we need to give this one some thought & invest the time to plan. 
  • Make $500 in side hustle - I made $333. I have a few bigger ticket eBay items listed that haven't sold, but am happy with the $333. That represents 11 individual sales, so not a small amount of work. I also applied $618 over payment onto our mortgage, which makes me happy. 
  • Sell 5 items - I sold 11 items. 
  • Use up 5 freezer items from our house, & 5 from our vacation house. I crushed this, although more came out of our own house than our vacation house:
    • 1/4 of a pizza (vh)
    • salami (vh)
    • Taco meat
    • 2 bananas
    • Carnitas
    • Carnitas sauce
    • Tri tip
    • 3 packages of sausage
    • Taquitos
    • Chicken chowder
    • 3 lonely kebabs
    • Last of a pizza kit (crust + sauce)
    • Chicken taco soup
    • A huge bag of bananas (maybe 10?)

2) Family - spend more time together as a family

  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids - hosted two pool parties, and went kite flying on the beach
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening. Did okay on this one.
  • Have two dates with M, plus figure out our trip when the boys are at camp - Yes! Went to dinner with friends, met for lunch 2x, & went to Las Vegas so M could play in a tournament. 
  • Continue meal prepping - yes
  • Plan & book our holidays - yes, & was able to use a discount code before it expired.
  • Get a plan together for Sam next year. - We have a second tutoring session & a doctor's appointment where we expect to chat about a formal plan. 
  • Deep clean the entire house - waiting on the doors to get installed, as I know they will generate a ton of dust.
  • Complete two projects at the beach house - replaced our patio set, got a new fridge, ordered a fire pit. Other renovations are ongoing with a contractor. 
  • Finalize house projects & budget/schedule for work at our house - ordered & hung a new chandelier. Still need to deal with drapes, install the second chandelier, doors are being installed next week, and order trim. 
3) Fitness/health - yikes.
  • Run 12 times - I ran 4 times. It's been really hot here, so I've struggled to get into a running groove. 
  • Track calories (1400/day) - Nope. Lots of vacation days put me at 1714. :-( 
  • Work out 35 times - 29 workouts
  • Meditate 10 times - 8 meditations
4) Personal/creative
  • Do something social - met friends for dinner, had lunch with another friend, met a friend for a hike, joined a workout place with a friend & went several times. 
  • Volunteer a minimum of 1x - haven't found anything flexible yet.
  • Journal 15 times - I journaled 17 times. 
  • Read one non-fiction book - nope
  • Tackle (& complete) four projects from my sabbatical list: - YES!
    • 2006 photo book
    • Wedding photo book
    • Sorted long lost reward from Bing
    • Dealt with a gift card that I wasn't able to use, and had to be home to sign for. 
    • Called about homeowners insurance
    • Renegotiated car insurance
    • Met with my primary care physician
    • Had an eye exam
    • Set up appts for: skin care check, ophthalmologist, & rhuematologist


How do I feel about July? There were a lot of great wins on there, & while I feel like I worked out pretty hard, I also apparently ate too well. ;-) Must get back into reduced carbs & sugar, so I can see more progress on the scale. 
I'm looking forward to August, but also nervous about my looming return to work. It feels like a last hurrah for me to get things done. What about you? How do you feel about your July goals? Any big wins? 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

This week's happenings

July absolutely flew by. I can't believe today is the 31st! Onward & upwards, I suppose. The boys are at soccer camp this week, and by the time they are home, they've played about 6.5 hours of soccer & are ravenous beasts. I've been trying to keep easy snacks at the ready for them. They are learning a lot & enjoying the drills.

I've also been continuing my yard work projects, and just getting a lot of house stuff done:

  • Setting up door installation for our house
  • Calling so many times about installation for storm door at our vacation house. This has been quite a process, as we need someone to be there for the installation. I need to call again today, as the day the delivery people are available, my parents are not. Getting anything done at our vacation house is a lesson in patience. It's a very small town & not that easy to get to, so most companies are there about 1x/month. If you miss the window, you're out of luck until next month.
  • Setting up medical appointments. I went to my primary care doctor yesterday, and finally got my rheumatology referral. I set that up, plus an appointment with a dermatologist to have a skin cancer screen. I did all of my labwork, and need to set up a mammogram appointment. 
  • Tomorrow, I'll attend an appointment for Sam.
  • I've also been selling on eBay, updating my listings, revising offers, the usual.
  • I also completed a few items on my proposed promotion for work (after my sabbatical), so am hopeful that most of that work is off of my list.
I'm heading to the Oregon coast this weekend to see my mom & sister. This is a once every few years trip that we take with my mom, as her Mother's Day/birthday gift. She loves it. We'll also be delivering a fire pit (unloading all of the bricks, & getting it set up), & hopefully training for our relay in a few weeks. 

What about you? What have you been up to this week? Any big wins, or things you've checked off your list?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday + early menu planning

It's supposed to be quite warm here today (90+), so I'm planning to get my chores done early, and then hopefully we can all get in the pool. Let the floatie inflation begin!

I'm heading to a workout class this morning with a friend, and need to clean the house. We need a few groceries, and I need to make a menu for the week ahead. . . now featuring hungry teenagers. When I picked the boys up from camp yesterday, they were ravenous. Sam attended a teen adventure camp, and hiked 35 miles carrying a 40 pound bag. With a wasp stinger in his hand, as they couldn't get it out until they got to base camp. His counselor said he was incredibly hard core, never complained, & has a super high pain threshold. Sam is joining my family this year on our relay, and I think he'll fit in just fine. :-)

Menu plan for the week ahead:
  • Friday - the adults had salmon + caprese salad, the kids had pepperoni pizza. I was thrilled to get a pizza crust out of the freezer. It had been there forever!
  • Saturday - keto friendly chicken curry + cauliflower rice. If the kids don't like that, pasta & meatballs
  • Sunday - some sort of bacon ranch mystery chicken dish I defrosted from the freezer?
  • Monday - leftover curry
  • Tuesday - leftover mystery dish
  • Wednesday - steak salad
  • Thursday - tacos
  • Friday - I'll be out of town with my sister & mom (we're having carnitas from the freezer), but M will probably take the kids out to Sweet Tomatoes (with a gift card)
What's on your menu for the week ahead?

Friday, July 26, 2019

Frugal Friday

In addition to the normal things this week (cleaning the house, making meals, doing our own yard/pool maintenance), here are our other frugal wins for the week:

Saving on things we buy:

  • I bought two Uber gift cards at Rite Aid, earning $10 in bonus cash for a future purchase
  • I also used a $5 Rite Aid bonus cash from a previous transaction towards deodorant that I needed to pick up
  • Filed for a reimbursement of my eye exam, as I had to pay out of pocket
  • We received a gift card for Christmas from M's manager, but despite several calls & tries to the company, the gift card wouldn't work & I was always asked to call back. Finally got it to go through today, so we will get a few bottles of wine delivered. I'm glad to check that off the list!


Earning money:

  • I found $9 in Las Vegas in leftover slot machines. I suppose people are too lazy to take their vouchers another foot or so to the machine to cash them in? I also found $.25 or so on the ground & in various change machines. I turned the money into an Amazon gift card via CoinStar (one of the free redemption options)
  • Sold two items on eBay
  • I haven't been able to redeem anything on Bing/Microsoft rewards forever. Finally tracked down customer service, after multiple emails, and redeemed for an Amazon gift card.
  • Filled out the Equifax data breach compensation form, which means M & I will likely both get $125. 

Avoiding purchases/spending:

  • Returned a lip treatment that I didn't like, and got a credit back to my card
  • M & I got back later than expected on Sunday (flight delay), & we were tempted to go out to eat. Instead, I defrosted a few things from the freezer (kebab for M, sausage for me), put together a couple of salads, and we had that outside on the patio with a nice glass of wine. It was lovely. 
  • We've been able to eat a few tomatoes from the garden - they are delicious!!
  • Used an Amazon mailing package from a camp purchase to mail an eBay sale. 
  • Used a grocery store gift card to pick up a few things we needed
  • Returned a dress that I noticed was almost sheer in the right light
  • Sent my Jansport backpack in for repairs. I've had the backpack since college, so it's more likely it will be replaced (they have a lifetime warranty), but I'll give repairs a shot. I did pay for the shipping of the backpack there. 
  • Used a $2 reward + a gift card to treat myself to lunch at Panera one day, when I was out & about
  • Took advantage of a work promotion on a photo book. It required some effort & a bit of driving, but will save $20 on my next photo book. Woohoo! Perfect timing.
  • Went to the library & picked up a big bunch of new books to read

What about you? How did save money this week?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

One more day

until the kids are back from camp! Honestly, I've missed them so much. It's been lovely to have the time with M, but I miss all of the hilarity & jokes. I do not miss the bickering (which is a relatively new thing at our house), so I'm hoping the time apart will have done them some good as well.

I did quite a bit off of my to do  list yesterday, but the 2006 photo book is still haunting me. Here's what I have for today:


  • Yard work (sabbatical goal of filling up the yard waste bin each week)
  • Costco. M is insisting for the kids, even though we could cobble it together on Saturday am, and hit Costco that afternoon
  • Barre class with a friend
  • Sort out payment options for nephew's birthday
  • Call my mom
  • Sweep the garage
  • Work on my sanding project
  • Meditate
  • Sweep, skim & water in the back yard
  • And, the infamous 2006 photo book
We're grilling salmon tonight, & having that with caprese salad. And, likely wine. :-) 

What about you? What's on your to do list for today?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Health stuff

While I'd like to be spending my time off from work relaxing & being productive, I've also been trying to get a few health issues taken care of. I went for an eye exam on Monday, which has led to a bunch of other follow on appointments. Unfortunately, the pressure in my eyes was quite high, which can be a problem with lupus. The optometrist told me that I needed to get in to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. When I went to set up that appointment, it turns out that the ophthalmologist wants me to also see my rheumatologist. My rheumatologist recently retired, so I need to find a new one in my network (a change I've been planning to make, but just haven't done yet). Of course, to find a new rheumatologist, I need to get a referral from my primary care doctor.... who is out through the end of the year. It was like a game of dominoes. :-)

I now have a check in with another primary care doctor, who can then give me a referral to a new rheumatologist. And, have an upcoming opthamologist appointment. While I'd prefer to spend my time doing more fun things, it will be nice to have all of this sorted before I head back to work. I also am bringing Sam to doctor's appointments. Once we have a formal diagnosis & more details, I'll share that as well. Long story short, that's also been a tremendous amount of work. I feel grateful to have the time this summer to get all of this done.

What's on the agenda for today?

  • Going for a run
  • Meeting a friend for lunch
  • Must finish the 2006 photo book
  • Vacuum
  • Yard work
  • If the weather cools off, I'll make banana muffins. Our freezer is packed with bananas (we need to buy fewer for sure, now that M & I don't eat bananas), & I'd like to get them out. 
  • Calling about a gift card
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Menu Plan Monday

M & I are back from a lovely long weekend together. We went to Las Vegas (M was in a tournament) & were spoiled by fabulous meals & plenty of fun. I did manage to go to the gym one time, but it certainly wasn't enough to burn off all of the great food, so I need to work on getting back on track with my fitness & eating this week. Back to salads!

Here's what we'll be having for the week ahead.

Sunday - kebabs (freezer) & caprese salad
Monday - salmon & coleslaw
Tuesday - steak + caprese salad
Wednesday - leftover salmon & coleslaw
Thursday - leftover steak + caprese salad
Friday - pizza (kids), meatballs with zoodles (adults), watermelon
Saturday - tbd, we'll let the kids decide.

The kids come back from camp on Friday & I'm so excited to see them.

I have a sizable to do list today, so here goes:


  1. Make menu plan
  2. Grocery errands (Costco, produce stand, Trader Joes)
  3. See if I can squeeze in an eye exam today
  4. Work out
  5. Mail a few eBay listings
  6. Drop off book donations at the library, pick up more books
  7. Catch up on our budget
  8. Return a dress at TJMaxx
  9. Time permitting, work on photo books or sanding project
That's it from my side. What about you? What's on your menu for the week? Any easy, keto friendly recipes for warm weather?

Friday, July 19, 2019

Frugal Friday

It's Friday, & I have a lot to share this week. Some weeks, I do almost nothing that make me feel frugal. Other weeks, I have a bunch!

I have quite a few things to share this week, so tried to group:

Saving on things we buy:

  • Picked up the Friday freebie at Lucky (sparkling flavored water - the kids will love it)
  • While I was there, I spotted packages of turkey sausages (12 oz) for $.99 on markdown. Sam loves sausage, so I thought these would make a good breakfast option. I bought two. I came back for more the next day (they were a huge hit), but other shoppers had scored all of the remaining packages.
  • Did a gift card deal (also at Lucky). Bought $300 of gift cards (Uber, Delta for upcoming travel) & earned a $60 Lucky gift card. Free groceries!
  • The boys current favorite snack (mini naan bread) was on sale for $.97 in a huge pack at Costco. We bought two for the freezer, as they reheat well.
  • When we discovered a great coleslaw recipe that we wanted to remake, priced out the ingredients to make the coleslaw mix myself (cabbage has varied quite a bit in price in our area) & found it was significantly cheaper to make on my own. Made coleslaw mix, with enough ingredients for 3-4 more batches. Around $5 cheaper than buying pre cut.
  • Used a $5/$25 promo on Monday, which I can normally not take advantage of due to my schedule. Stocked up on a few pantry staples


    Earning money:
    • Finally sold our telescope for $40
    • Sold three items on eBay, and relisted another that didn't sell
    • Listed six new items on eBay, 1 in our neighborhood Facebook swap, and 2 on Nextdoor


      Avoiding purchases/spending:
      • Nick made homemade brownies (no mix, & they were one of the best brownies I've tasted) & I cut up a watermelon we brought back from Oregon. He took these to share with friends at a swimming event, vs buying snacks to bring or having food delivered/purchased. 
      • Ate through much of the food we brought back from the Oregon coast, which was satisfying, cost effective & made me feel good about reducing waste. I didn't use a few pieces of corn in time, unfortunately, but the rest was incorporated into various meals & snacks
      • Drove our electric car to drop off the kids at camp - about two hours round trip of driving
      • Typically when the kids are at camp, we take the opportunity to go out & have date nights. We will be doing that on vacation, but decided on Sunday to avoid our normal winery stop & dinner out. Instead, we came home, M grilled a few things, I made coleslaw & we ate at home with a few glasses of wine. It was lovely. So lovely, in fact, that we repeated it on Monday & Tuesday. This saved us quite a bit, but also used up food we already had. Win/win!
      • I returned two things I bought for camp, as we were able to make do with things we already had. When I was doing the returns (Rite Aid & Target), I just did the returns & successfully bought...nothing!
      • Ate chicken chowder for lunch. I'd unearthed this from the freezer, and was able to mark something off of my goals list (my ongoing challenge to get items out of the freezer) & avoided buying or wasting food.