Friday, May 24, 2019

Frugal Friday

After a very non frugal weekend (two rounds of food delivery, more than we normally do in a year + a lunch out), we are back on track.

Here's what we accomplished this week:

  • Drove the electric car to Santa Cruz, saving on gas mileage
  • Charged the car for free at work (M)
  • Ate delivery leftovers for dinner two nights in a row
  • Finally returned an Amazon order to the UPS store, because I had an opportunity to get there during the week
  • Likewise, returned a few things to the store for M that didn't fit 
  • Called about a $25 incorrect charge on my credit card, which got dropped
  • Picked strawberries (3) & zucchini (1) off our plants, before the squirrels could get to them
  • Made my own protein balls for breakfast
  • Emailed Raise about a bad gift card transaction, & got them to apply a $10 credit to my account for a future purchase
  • Used $10 in Rite Aid rewards for things we needed around the house. Plus, treated myself to fruit flavored herbal teas - my favorite. The weather here has been unseasonably cool, so I've been enjoying the tea. 
  • Shared a gifted bottle of wine with my sister & friend while they were in town
That's it for us - it wasn't the most frugal weekend at all, with guests in town, but we had a fabulous weekend & rolled with the punches. It was nice to have a few splurges. 

What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

House of cards

When I'm working, I always feel like life is a house of cards, where one small issue (kids getting sick, rain causing kid bike commute issues, schedule changes, chores not getting done) has the potential to create mass havoc. Mostly because, it does. Our lives are super tightly organized & optimized, in order to survive. If things go sideways, even small things, it causes a lot of stress, as there's minimal wiggle room.

One of my first observations of my sabbatical is that the house of cards feeling has diminished a bit. It rained yesterday, which means the kids needed rides to/from school, and one kid couldn't bike to soccer practice (it was moved). Normally, that would cause a bunch of chaos. Instead, I shifted my plans & everything came together rather easily. In fact, I helped another mom who was in a pinch.

It's a very small feeling of change, but has been very interesting to observe. I'm also less stressed in the evenings generally (that's when my APAC team comes online, and also when I'm hail mary trying to shove a bunch of chores into a narrow time window). I'm reading more instead of being on the computer, which is also a welcome break.

I'm going to try & blog more, but also just generally observe how it feels to be less busy. I'll share as I go!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Menu plan, and the sabbatical

So far, the sabbatical has been far more errand/chores that have stacked up & are urgent. For whatever reason, I was expecting more relaxing. More the fool I am, because my own to do list indicates that I have a huge backlog of things that must get done. I'm hoping that once I get over the hump of tackling a bunch of that stuff, I'll have more time to decompress a bit.

We're late with the menu plan, but here's what we're planning for the week:

  • Monday - we had leftover Persian food (kebabs)
  • Tuesday - leftover Chinese (notice a trend - we had delivery this weekend)
  • Wednesday - chicken taco soup
  • Thursday - eat any remaining leftovers. I'm unclear on how much food I'll be eating at lunch (no free work lunches), so if there are remaining leftovers, we'll eat that for dinner
  • Friday - I have some sort of a chicken dish in the freezer. Totally mysterious as to what it is, but it will be defrosted. I'll likely make the kids homemade pizza
  • Saturday - I'm thinking tacos
I'm heading to Las Vegas with my mom on Sunday, so I'll need to plan ahead so M & the kids have easy meal options.

One thing is clear, I'm all out of sorts with my schedule, and need to get into a rhythm of what works best for me now that I don't have to leave really early for work & juggle all of our family priorities around work priorities. 

Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish today:

  1. Work out, 2x
  2. Have a call with my son's math teacher about recommendations for next year
  3. Go to the UPS store for an Amazon return
  4. Another return for shirts that were too big for my husband
  5. Go to the bank 
  6. Pick up the kids after school, plus bonus kid (his mom has helped me so many times, so it feels fantastic to be able to help her)
  7. Vacuum
  8. Clean the kitchen
  9. Text a friend for a lunch or hike option
  10. Work on my promotion pack for the office. My only lingering last work project, and can be done on my own time.
If I get all of that done, I'll feel great! What about you? What's on your menu for the week? And, how do you shift your schedule, when things change in your life?

Monday, May 20, 2019

I ran a half marathon, and it rained. A lot

My sister & friend flew in on Friday night, and we had a lot of laughs over the weekend. We took the boys to a soccer game on Saturday morning, and then drove to the packet pickup for our race in Santa Cruz. It was crazy raining.

The rain, the wind, the thunder. Oh, 13 miles I'll never forget! I ran the entire thing in my husband's rain coat, because I don't even own a waterproof running jacket. It was huge on me, and flapped in the wind. I'm sure I made quite a few people laugh.


  • It certainly wasn't too hot
  • I shaved 90 seconds off of my finish time
  • My knees and ankles feel totally fine
  • Overall, not much soreness at all
  • It's done!
  • I didn't properly fuel, and felt really low energy.
  • The last three miles were super difficult
  • It was so rainy. Everything was wet
  • Blisters on my feet, due to wet socks/shoes
  • It was hard to keep the motivation going, when the rain was just pooling off of me
I'm running a relay in less than two weeks, so I need to get back into consistently running this week. And, my first day of sabbatical (today) didn't exactly go as planned. That's life, I suppose? ;-) More to come! Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Frugal Friday

And, the end of work (for a while!) is almost upon me. I just have to finish up today, and I'll be taking a break through September. Hurrah! That said, it was very chaotic the last week, as I wrapped up projects, met with team members, etc.

Here are a few frugal wins for the week:
  • Bought gift cards for flights on sale, saving around $51
  • Went through ebates for the gift card purchases, saving another $6. Nothing too exciting, but everything helps! The gift cards are for flights we are confirmed to book over the next week or so.
  • Prepped meals over the weekend, to make it easier to avoid eating out during the week. And, we were successful in avoiding eating out, despite the track meets & late nights!
  • Similar to above, we bought a discounted Home Depot gift card on Raise, saving $22, and went through eBates, which will save another $5 or so. Given this is something we will use in the upcoming month or so, it's great to save a small amount where we can.
  • We also did the standard stuff: drove the electric car to work & charged for free, utilized free books from work for entertainment, and ate breakfast/lunch at work for free as well.
What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Menu plan for the week ahead

I'm looking forward to getting a lot done today, so I can spend most of tomorrow relaxing! Here's what's on the list for my "getting things done" Saturday.

  1. Take Nick to soccer
  2. Run 3 miles at warmups
  3. Meet Sam at his game, and take him home
  4. Make a menu plan
  5. Make a Costco list from the menu plan
  6. Clean the house
  7. M to manage another game, with a bonus child who needs a ride
  8. And, date night!

So, with that, what shall we eat this week? 

  • Friday - yesterday we had carnitas from the freezer. I forgot to top them with broth before I broiled them, so they weren't as good as usual. Oops.
  • Saturday - we're eating out, and I'll make a cheese pizza for the kids.
  • Sunday - M is making steak, potatoes & asparagus for Mother's Day. Yum!
  • Monday - chicken taco soup (late night with work, prep on Sunday)
  • Tuesday - chicken bacon salad stuffed avocados (chicken likely subbed for turkey)
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken taco soup
  • Thursday - leftover chicken bacon salad stuffed avocados
  • Friday - Boys & I will be on our own & then heading to the airport to pick up my sister & friend, so something quick & easy. Maybe burgers. 

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?  For all of those moms, or those who play a role of mom to someone in your life, wishing you a very happy & relaxing Mother's Day!

Friday, May 10, 2019

2019 - the year of taking risks

I'm a reasonably cautious person, in many aspects of my life. I need financial security, family security, order at home, and I have (almost) always worked in jobs for long periods of time. I was with my previous employer for 15 years, and have been with my current employer for 5.5 years.

I recently took a leadership assessment, and it was so helpful in understanding how some of my primary traits & motivations impact my leadership. There were lots of work takeaways that I'll be putting into practice, but many of the takeaways also were relevant in my "real life". One was around risk taking.

I spend a lot of time talking to our kids about having a growth mindset, and not being afraid of risks. I talk a lot about trying things you don't know if you'll be good at, or making a new friend, signing up for a sport you've never played. Just generally putting yourself out there. I know intrinsically how important this growth is, but I've shied away from it so much in my personal life.

I've done a lot of self reflection on what drives this lack of risk taking, and I've decided that 2019 is a year where I'm going to embrace more risks. I'm going to try things I'm not sure I can do. I'm going to lean into things that are uncomfortable. I'm going to ask for help when I need it. Admit when I'm wrong, even when I'm scared. Gracefully accept feedback and REALLY try to listen to it & accept it. Do things that scare me. Set an example for the kids. And myself.

This has been on my mind for a while, but here are a few things I've done lately that are trying to put this into practice:

  • I decided to take a sabbatical. As someone who has always been conservative at work, this is and was a huge risk for me. But, worth it.
  • I decided that when I come back from my sabbatical, I will be comfortable with my managers putting me up for promotion. This is *the* promotion, and I've had a lot of self doubt about this. While my long term career future is unknown, this promotion will help lock in future levels inside & outside the company, giving me flexibility for the future.
  • I signed up for a half marathon. Next weekend!
  • I also signed up (myself & the kids) for an obstacle course race.
  • And, in a very uncomfortable (for me) move, I agreed to run a relay the first week of June with my sister. I'm big into not letting other people down, and not feeling fast enough, so this will be quite a test for me, especially without a lot of prep & training
I've noticed that I'm getting more comfortable with physical risk/athletic challenges, but there is an entire world of things out there that I still haven't tried yet. I've enjoyed so many things that I was at first afraid of, and really, isn't that where growth comes from? And, I want to embrace those things, try things I've never done before. Be okay with not being great at things. It's terrifying, and kind of exhilarating. 

What are you afraid to try? What would you like to try if you knew you couldn't fail?

Frugal Friday

Only a week and a half to go until my sabbatical, and things are starting to get really crazy! It feels good to check things off of my list at work, but the list magically keeps growing. :-)

It's also track season for the boys, and meets go long (Nick runs in the relay, which is the very last event of each meet.) Lucky us. ;-)

Here are a few frugal wins for the week:

  • We've been consistently using up food in the freezer. One of my goals for May is to use 15 freezer items. We're at 7, and have been making most of our meals out of freezer options.
  • I ran to the office to pick up my car (9 miles), saving the cost of an Uber
  • We've eaten leftovers for dinner every night, even on the crazy days!
  • We've applied all "unexpected" funds to our unfunded goals (mortgage paydown + college savings)
  • Because I won't be getting a paycheck for a few months, I decided to pay upfront out of my savings my additional planned mortgage payments. I then realized that the savings difference between my mortgage interest & even my high yield savings account meant it was worth paying my additional planned mortgage payments for the entire year in one lump sum. It feels good to have that done, and I know I saved additional interest by paying up front. 
  • Driven the electric car for work commutes, & charged for free.
  • We didn't need our nanny this week (one exception), so we worked it out so she'll babysit for a date night. This way, she doesn't lose money & we get a date night that's already included in our "childcare" budget. Win/win.

What about you? What are your frugal wins for the week?

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Saturday happenings

A quick preview into what we have going on today...

A friend is taking Nick to soccer, so I can get in my 9 mile run. I left my car at work yesterday, and Uber'd home from a work event (I'll get reimbursed). So, there will be no short cuts on my run. Sometimes on a long run, I'm tempted to shorten it by a mile or so. That won't be an option today, as my car will be waiting for me at the end of the run.

Then I'll hustle back to make it to Sam's soccer game, and pick up Nick. We have the rest of the afternoon free after that, so we'll be doing house cleaning & homework catch up.

I still haven't figured out a menu for the week, and I need to get that sorted before I can go to Costco. I'm hoping the first half of the day will be crazy & busy, and the second half will be a little more relaxing.

So, with that, let me drum up a menu:

  • Saturday - We'll eat enchiladas from the freezer
  • Sunday - Egg Roll in a Bowl
  • Monday - crack chicken in avocados (or, with slider buns for the kids)
  • Tuesday - leftover Egg roll in a bowl
  • Wednesday - leftover crack chicken in avocados
  • Thursday - Sometimes there are leftovers of the egg roll in a bowl, as it makes quite a bit. If not, we'll do spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - TBD
I'm off to make a grocery list. Hope you all have a Saturday that combines productive & relaxing, or is at least relaxing! :-) 

Friday, May 3, 2019

Frugal Friday

Another wild week, but there were a few frugal wins to report:

  • Drove our electric car to work, & charged for free
  • Use eBates to make an Amazon purchase that was a gift
  • Promptly filed an expense report, as part of the spending was out of pocket
  • Got home from a track meet at 7:00 pm yesterday, and was really tempted to stop for takeout or something. Instead, stuck to the plan & hustled together a quick dinner of a freezer leftover (for some) & the final chicken leftovers for M.
  • We've made it through the end of the week with no leftover meals in the fridge! (We do still have produce & dairy, but that's part of our normal eating stuff.) I love seeing the fridge empty, as we grocery shop & repeat the cycle on Saturdays.
What about you? Any frugal wins to share?

Thursday, May 2, 2019

May goals

I'm pretty excited for May, as I'll start my sabbatical during the month. WOOHOO! I'm so very ready. I'm also running a half marathon in May, and taking my mom to Las Vegas. A bunch of fun things are ahead.

Here are my goals for the month:

1) Financial:

  • Stick to our budget
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis
  • Make $300 in side hustle
  • Use up 15 freezer/pantry items

2) Family - spend more time together

  • Do one fun activity with the kids
  • Be off the computer by 7:45 each evening
  • Have two dates with M
  • Continue meal prepping, so 2 meals/week that at least 3 people of 4 can eat
  • Take my mom to Las Vegas

3) Fitness/health - lose 2 lbs
  • Run 12 times
  • Track calories (average of 1400/day) & five servings of fruit & veggies/day
  • Work out 35 times
  • Meditate 10 times
  • Run a half marathon
4) Work/career
  • Make it to my sabbatical
  • Prep for upcoming promotion
  • Have one lunch to expand my network
5) Personal/creative
  • Do something social
  • Volunteer at least 1x
  • Journal 15 times
  • Finish one non-fiction book
  • Figure out what to do with an ugly/unused space in our yard
  • Tackle one item from my sabbatical list (photo books, yard work, decluttering, deep cleaning, etc)
That's it for me. What are your goals for May? Any big events coming up in your life?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Sabbatical Home Stretch + April Goals Recap

I'm in the last few weeks before my sabbatical begins, and things have gotten really busy as I try to wrap up all of my responsibilities before I head out. As such, my work schedule has been really nuts. Additionally, my parents were in town for a week, and we've had two reorgs at work this month. So, fewer goal wins than I'd hoped for.

Here's how I did for April:

1) Financial:
  • Stick to the budget - we were about $580 over. We were over on dining out (my parents were in town, so we ordered takeout one night) & we bought wine in Napa (alcohol budget). We were also over on gas, as we drove to Napa, and left our larger (not particularly fuel efficient car) for my parents to drive during the week. They drove the kids to a couple of out of town soccer games, which drove up the gas spending. 
  • Come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - I didn't really have any great ideas this month. More to come, as I give this additional thought in May!
  • Make $300 in side hustle money - Nope, I didn't make any. I did list a few things on my local Facebook swap, but nothing sold. I wasn't actively managing any of the listings, which probably didn't help. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • One fun activity with the kids - we all spent a bunch of time together at a soccer tournament last weekend. While I would have preferred another activity, this was what came up in April!
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each night - I've been reading a lot more, so I've done okay with this. Still days where I'm on the computer, & can do better. 
  • Have two dates with M - even better, we had a weekend together in Napa!
  • Continue meal prepping, so each meal can serve at least three of us. - yes, and it's saved so much time & stress!

3) Fitness/health - lose 2 lbs
  • Run 12 times, while getting rid of knee/ankle pain - I had 8 runs. Short of my goal for sure, & I'm feeling it. The boys had 8 soccer games last weekend, which impacted my long run. I've also just been taking it easy with my knee & ankle, and the stress at work has meant that I have both been in a time crunch, & just not feeling super motivated. 
  • Track calories (1400/day) + 5 servings of fruit & veggies/day - I was at 1527 calories/day (Napa was really the only time I was significantly over my goal) & 6.4 on the fruit & veggies/day average. 
  • Work out 33 times - I achieved 27 out of 30 days. My goal was to get in a few bonus workouts as well, but the 27 was close to every day. Just shy of the mark. I'm hoping to get in some of my "makeup" workouts over my sabbatical. 
  • Meditate 10 times - I only meditated 2x this month, & I can tell the difference! I need to make it part of my daily routine again.
4) Work/Career - improve work life balance
  • Keep better perspective at work & focus on making it to my sabbatical. - eh, I did okay with this. There have been so many changes that, at this point, my only goal is to focus on wrapping up projects & not stress. 
  • Work from home 2x - I worked from home 1x, but was also out on a Friday & had a bunch of meetings the other days.
  • Have one lunch/month to expand my network - I had one networking lunch, & also attended a 3 day training (lunch, dinner, etc) that was really useful on leadership development. 
5) Personal/creative
  • Do something social at least once/month - I spent a LOT of time with friends at soccer games. ;-) 
  • Volunteer once/month - nothing in April, but I have two opportunities for May. 
  • Journal 15 times - I journaled 9/15 times. I really enjoy it, so will continue journaling. 
  • Finish one non-fiction book - I did finish a non-fiction book, and started another! (I read lots of non-fiction, so my goal is to branch out a bit with non-fiction). 
  • Figure out what to do with an ugly/unused space in our yard - on hold until my sabbatical
  • Finish planning my sabbatical! - Done. All travel is booked & planned.

That's it for my April goals. What about you? How did you do on your goals for the month? Any wins or things you'll carry over to May?