Saturday, April 27, 2019

Menu Plan & Soccer

The boys are both in a tournament this weekend, and the tournaments are in separate locations. So far, we are guaranteed six games, with the potential for eight, depending on how things go. It's not going to be a terribly productive weekend, so I'm focused on fitting in a few quick items between games.

One of my goals for this morning was to create a menu plan, so we can go into the week with prepped food. Here's what we're planning to have.

  • Friday - the boys ate at the party for their soccer club, but they were out of food by the time we arrived. We discussed picking something up, but instead, I used the last of the carnitas for a carnitas salad for M, and I had a cheeseburger out of the freezer. Done & done. Plus, I saved the carnitas from the trash.
  • Saturday - time permitting, I'll brown the taco meat between games, & we can have tacos tonight. (Ground beef & tortillas from the freezer)
  • Sunday - chicken kebabs + rice. M is cooking.
  • Monday - leftover tacos
  • Tuesday - leftover chicken
  • Wednesday - any remaining leftovers
  • Thursday - enchiladas (freezer) + chicken for M
  • Friday - the kids will have pizza 
What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this week? What's on your menu?

Friday, April 26, 2019

Frugal Friday

I was in training for the majority of the week & not at home in the evenings, but we did have a few frugal wins:

  • I track all unexpected money, & divide it between our unfunded goals (mortgage pay down & kids college). I had a stock refund from work (I get stock grants, but sometimes the tax piece results in fractional sales that are added to my paycheck and are always a nice surprise). I almost forgot to do anything with the money, and it would have gone into our regular account. We try to manage our money well, but I find that it "disappears" if we don't have a plan for it. After noticing the money, I diverted $85 into our mortgage, and $150/each for the boys college funds.) 
  • I planned meals for when I was out of town, & left M & the boys with a menu & easy to heat options
  • I had to take an Uber to the training I was attending, as I had a flat tire. (Not frugal, btw) I was able to buy Uber cash for 5% off, so one small savings.
  • I also bought a Home Depot gift card for $12 off of the purchase price via Raise (a gift card reseller) & used eBates, to earn just a bit more back off of that. We have a few expensive house projects planned, so the Home Depot gift cards always come in handy. 
  • We went out for dinner yesterday, as I got home late from training. We did go somewhere where we had a gift card, so our out of pocket spending was minimal.
That's it for us. I'm hoping next week will be even more frugal! What about you? Any big frugal wins?

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Menu planning

It will be a reasonably quite weekend, as we have no sports due to Easter & spring break. I need to drop my parents off at the airport, get in a work out today & hopefully swing in to a shop to return a few things I bought online. (Running shoes)

I'll be in training a few days this week, but here's what I'm thinking about in terms of meals:

Friday - we ordered Persian food & ate at home
Saturday - leftover Persian food
Sunday - M is making chicken kabobs & we will eat it with the leftover rice
Monday - taco salads
Tuesday - leftover chicken kabobs
Wednesday - spaghetti w/meatballs
Thursday -any remaining leftovers
Friday - TBD

Our grocery list is reasonable this week. We need a few types of produce, chicken breasts, milk for the kids, etc. I'm guessing that, if M sticks to the list, our groceries will be about $75. What about you? What are you serving this week? 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Frugal Friday

It's been a better work week this week, both because my parents are in town & able to help out with the kids & cooking, and also because a lot of my peers are on spring break, so it's quieter than usual. Either way, I'll take a productive work week!

Here's what we've been up to, in terms of frugal wins this week (and, after reading, Costco factors in quite a bit, somehow :-)):

  • My amazing parents are in town, and we pay for their flights & give them spending money & it's still cheaper than putting two kids in camp. And, the kids most definitely prefer this method.
  • Rather than ordering takeout on Sunday when we got home later than expected from Napa, we stopped in at Costco and bought dinner ingredients. We ended up with steak, salad & bread. Steak for six is never cheap, but it's made multiple dinners, and was 1/4 of the price of eating out. We also saved some in the freezer.
  • M & I almost bought a bunch of wine at a winery, but found it at Costco for less than half of the price. Win! 
  • We received our Costco executive member rebate of $373, which we will be using to offset the cost of groceries this week. And then some, hopefully.
  • We've struggled to get Nick into reading (he can read, of course, but doesn't enjoy it). His reading speed was becoming an issue, given his lack of reading at home, so we made a dedicated effort over the last few weeks to create additional reading time, with rewards. As a result, he's constantly reading. Win! I picked up a few additional books off of the work freebie table, to hopefully keep him going.
  • Speaking of reading, my sister shares all of her scifi books with Sam, and my parents dutifully bring them back & forth in their suitcases, so Sam & my sis can share their love of the same series. In other reading related news, my mom & I also exchanged books this time, and I was able to share some of my freebie work books with my dad. I additionally gave a great book that I finally finished (Daring Greatly) with a coworker, who wanted to read it. Frugal reading for the win!
  • We opted not to buy the kids Easter gifts this year. They are getting old for that, and my parents are doing an Easter egg hung (candy & money in eggs) this afternoon, so the boys will get their Easter fun in. Instead, we'll make a nice dinner on Sunday, and open up one of our new bottles of wine.
  • Oh, & in honor of Sluggy, I found a penny on the ground in a conference room at work. :-) 

What about you? Any big or small frugal wins to report? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Frugal Friday

What a week! We have finally rolled out our reorg communications at work, which requires communication & meetings across 200 people in four time zones. I'm so happy it's done. Even though I'm not excited about the change itself, at some point, you just want it to be wrapped up. I've attended 40+ hours of meetings on the topic alone, & I'm well past the point of being exhausted by the topic & the surrounding drama.

In fun news, we're heading to Napa today for an adult only weekend, & I'm so looking forward to time relaxing & having fun with M!

Here are a few frugal wins for the week:
  • Made a tortellini salad with carrots & cucumber to take to a potluck. I bought the tortellini, but used up other ingredients on hand
  • Cleaned the house before my parents arrived. You may say this isn't frugal (and, I agree), but it's rare where I live, and can sometimes be tricky to find time for between sports, etc. Especially when M is traveling.
  • Doubled a recipe for chicken sliders, so we can cook once & eat several meals. 
  • Picked up M at the airport vs having him take an Uber, saving about $20. 
  • M won a little bit at his tournament, which covered the cost of his flight.

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Practicing good self care

The last few months at work have been really challenging, with a reorg that changes my manager, and changes a lot for many other team members. There's been a swirl of negative energy & drama that makes it hard to come to work & feel positive, on even the best day. As such, I've been working hard to practice good self care.

Here are some examples of things I've done lately, to help me stay as positive as possible, during a time of a lot of drama:

  • Lots of sleep. Getting plenty of sleep is a critical component of staying healthy with lupus, and is even more important when it's also a stressful time for me. I try hard to get a minimum of 8 hours a night, but am not afraid of bumping that up to nine hours, when time permits & I feel I need it. 
  • Working out. I try to work out regularly anyway to manage my stress level (as well as for health reasons). During times of stress, I find that working out & eating well are the first that usually go, as I make excuses to treat myself. I've been better this time, mostly because I have a half marathon I'm training for. Today, for example, is one of our big reorg announcement days, & I got up extra early & ran 4 miles on the treadmill ahead of the start of my day.
  • Eating well. I've been working for years on cleaning up my diet, and reducing sugar and carbs. Because of M's eating changes, it's been timely lately based on our meal plans, etc. I've also noticed a small difference in my weight, based on reducing carbs. Not eating sugar is a clear win from an energy perspective, as well as just overall calories. I've done much better over the past month or so on staying on track than I normally do during stressful times.
  • Journaling. It was one of my 2019 goals to journal regularly, and to recap things I'm grateful for. I like the few minutes out of the day, & enjoy looking back at how I was feeling. 
  • Meditating. I've been pretty inconsistent with this one, but always find it helpful when I make the time. 
  • Planning ahead. Nothing is worse during a crazy stressful week than coming home to an empty fridge and no planned dinner. Thinking ahead to my week & planning my workouts, my menu, etc all make it so much easier to stay on track & reduce stress. 

I've had plenty of falls off of the wagon, but feel that these steps are going a long way to reduce stress. And, most importantly this time, I know I have my sabbatical coming up, which helps tremendously. I know there will be a break ahead, if I can just make it through this. What about you? How do you practice self care? Anything you'd add to the list?

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Menu plan

I had to do the Costco run this morning, so got organized & came up with a menu plan. My parents are joining us on Thursday, and staying through the boys spring break. Michael & I are spending the weekend in Napa as well. Hurrah for an overnight date night. I have an absolutely crazy work week (we are doing a re-org, and I have people in four time zones that need communication/meetings.) Planning ahead for weeks like this is critical.

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

Friday - I had four teen boys after a soccer game, so we went to In & Out
Saturday - tacos. I made 3-4 dinners worth, so I'll freeze the extra.
Sunday - at a potluck. I'm bringing a tortellini salad with plenty  of fresh vegetables.
Monday - slow cooker buffalo chicken
Tuesday - carnitas
Wednesday - leftover slow cooker buffalo chicken
Thursday - my parents arrive - tacos with homemade guacamole
Friday - M & I will be eating out in Napa!

I'm off to get kids to soccer game 2 of 5 this weekend. I still need to get the house cleaned & ready & go for a run. If I accomplish that, it will be a huge win!

What about you? What are you up to this week? What's on your menu?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Frugal Friday

The weeks are flying by, and I can't believe it's April! Here are a few frugal things from our week:

  • Used a small gift card balance to offset lunch at Subway last weekend. And, finally got rid of a gift card I've been carrying around for a long time
  • Booked a two night freebie in Las Vegas, so I can go with my mom over my sabbatical.
  • Used a bunch of elderly veggies, two freezer containers of tomato sauce, an open jar of marinara sauce, & another $.50 lb of ground turkey to make a very frugal meat sauce to serve over pasta (kids) & cauliflower rice (adults)
  • Rather than buying a coleslaw veggie mix for eggroll in a bowl, I used the food processor & included a TON of veggies that needed to be used up. This meant that the eggroll recipe has stretched much more than usual
  • I was home unexpectedly with a sick kid this week, and cobbled together lunch for both of us out of fridge/freezer supplies

So, almost everything had to do with food! :-) What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sabbatical + summer plans, finalized

Well, mostly finalized, because I will have plenty of activities that come up while I'm at home: lunches with friends, projects, etc.

I have, however, completed all of my travel plans for the summer. Now I can move on to the booking!

Here's what I'm planning for each month, outside of my plans around the house & with the boys.

May (my sabbatical starts mid-month):

  • My sister & I are running a half marathon in Santa Cruz
  • I'm taking my mom to Las Vegas. One of my "goals" for my sabbatical was to be able to take advantage of the mid week slot tournaments I'm invited to, but can never join. I just got the invite today, we're both available, & it's booked!

  • We're heading to my parents for a weekend in mid-June, and the boys & I will participate in a big mountain biking event
  • After the biking event, M & I will head to the beach house for a few days to get projects done there
  • I'm going to Hawaii with my sister & BFF
  • Post-Hawaii, we'll have relaxing time on the Oregon coast with the boys. 

  • 4th of July family vacation on the Oregon coast
  • M will drive us back from the 4th of July. Let's hope there are no forest fires this year!
  • Mid-month, the boys are going to sleep away camp. M & I are planning to get projects done around the house, lounging by the pool, & capping the time with a trip to Las Vegas

  • Mom/daughter trip to the beach
  • Hood to Coast relay, with Sam joining our team this year!
  • I'm slated to head back to work right after Labor Day

While this only captures the travel plans, I'm so looking forward to more time in general with my family. . . the boys, M, my parents, my sister, & some time alone for reflection as well. I've always thought of how much I'd love a summer unencumbered by work commitments, and it looks like I will finally have it! If you had a week/month/summer free of any commitments, how would you spend it?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

April Goals

I love having a challenging set of goals for the month. It keeps me motivated & focused. Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish in April!

1) Financial:
  • Stick to the budget
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis.
  • Make $300 in side hustle money

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • One fun activity with the kids
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each night
  • Have two dates with M 
  • Continue meal prepping, so each meal can serve at least three of us. 

3) Fitness/health - lose 2 lbs
  • Run 12 times, while getting rid of knee/ankle pain
  • Track calories (1400/day) + 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day
  • Work out 33 times
  • Meditate 10 times
4) Work/Career - improve work life balance
  • Keep better perspective at work & focus on making it to my sabbatical.
  • Work from home 2x
  • Have one lunch/month to expand my network
5) Personal/creative
  • Do something social at least once/month
  • Volunteer once/month
  • Journal 15 times
  • Finish one non-fiction book
  • Figure out what to do with an ugly/unused space in our yard
  • Finish planning my sabbatical!
    What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in April?

    Monday, April 1, 2019

    March Goals Recap

    Even though there were a few crazy work weeks in there, March was generally a really good month for me. I needed that positive momentum after February!

    1) Financial:

    • Stick to the budget - sadly, no. We had an extra weekend in there, and had a few date nights that pushed out our eating out budget + groceries. 
    • Every month come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis - we signed up for a toll service that came with a $5 discount, & is up to 20% off for every toll. Not very exciting, but an easy win now that we are signed up. 
    • Make $300 in sidehustle - I made $371!
    • Finish/file our taxes - the numbers weren't pretty, but this is done!
    2) Family - spend more time together as a family
    • Do one fun activity/month with the kids. Likely skiing in March - no skiing in March, but a LOT of soccer. I'm counting this, as we spent a lot of time together on the fields. 
    • Get off the computer by 7:45 each evening - I did okay at this, but can always do better. It's such a waste of time, & I don't get much out of it - it's just a habit of scrolling screens. Reading is relaxing & I did a reasonable job of swapping in reading instead of computer time. 
    • Have two dates with M per month - Yes! 
    • Have two meals/week that a minimum of three people in the family can eat. (Lots of food allergy issues going on) - This worked really well & made dinners so much easier. I meal prepped & planned for things that M could eat, so Sam, M & I would typically eat the same dinners. Nick is always an outlier, as he's so picky. :-) 

    3) Fitness - lose 2 lbs - I lost 2.1 lbs, but could have lost more if I'd been able to stick to the plan the last week or so!
    • Run 12 times - I ran 10/12 times, but took last week off due to some knee/ankle pain. 
    • Track calories & eat five servings of fruit & vegetables/day - my calories were a little higher than I'd hoped (1516/day), but I achieved 5.5 servings of fruit & veggies/day! My next step is to make vs buying bagged salad, which has been my crutch this month. 
    • Work out 33 times (2 additional/bonus workouts to make up for February) - I hit 28 for March, given taking last week off due to knee/ankle pain. 
    • Meditate 10 times - I only meditated 3 times, & I could have really used the tool during the past few wild weeks at work. 

    4) Work/career - improve my work life balance
    • Reduce stress until my sabbatical - It's been a challenging few weeks, with my manager swapping roles. I'll have a new boss, we're planning a re-org, and this was already going to be a crazy insane couple of weeks in March. As a result, I did take time to break up the work day, get advice from people & just take a break, but it was intense. 
    • Nail a large presentation (I'm not a fan of public speaking) - Didn't end up happening, but I did lead a career panel for 100 people, so I feel good about this. 
    • Have one lunch/month to expand my network - I had two, and enjoyed the time breaking out of the norm. 

    5) Personal/creative - spend more time on myself/creative pursuits

    • Do something social at least once per month - I did a couple of walks during soccer warm ups, plus met a friend for lunch. 
    • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month - I'm now arriving early before soccer games to help set up. 
    • Journal 10 times - I found that I enjoy journaling, & completed 12/10 this month. 
    • Make a 2018 photo book - no,  & I'll likely move this out to my sabbatical. 
    • Read one non-fiction book - I'm half way through "Daring Greatly" by Brenee Brown. It's a great book, but I usually read right before I fall asleep, and this book requires more introspection than a standard read, so it's taking me a little longer. 

    How did you do with your March goals for the month? Any big wins to celebrate?