Sunday, June 30, 2019

Hawaii was amazing

I'm back from my girls trip & our trip was amazing. There are very few people in the world I can spend a full week with, 24x7, and not bicker with. It was so relaxing & fun. We took advantage of all of the activities that were offered (for free) at the resort:

  • Snorkeling
  • Kayaking
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding
  • Canoeing
  • Lei making
  • Hula lessons
  • Bingo 
  • Mixology class
  • Beach side yoga

Although Hawaii is never frugal, here are a few things we did to reduce the cost:

  • Parked for free (vs $40+ parking charge per DAY). The car was 1.5 miles away. Given it was 90, those were some pretty hot walks to the car!
  • We took the free resort car service for most activities
  • We only ate one breakfast & one lunch out. The rest we cobbled together from things in our room. We did happy hours for dinner to reduce the cost, and also ate leftovers for dinner one night.
  • Brought our own alcohol, and avoided the $19 cocktails at the hotel
  • I used my companion fare to book my sister's flight
  • We booked the car/hotel via Costco. I don't think we'd rent a car again, as the parking is so expensive. 
Here are some pictures from our fabulous adventure! In order, they are: the gorgeous flowers all around the hotel, view from the pool one morning, and the stunning view from beach side yoga.

I've been feeling pretty low energy the last few days, so I've been relaxing at the beach. Although I haven't been accomplishing much, it feels good to relax & recover from the traveling. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Getting things done at the beach

I'm still looking pretty funny (my face bruises are very colorful), but my finger is feeling better & the swelling is going down. My insect bites (btw, the urgent care says there is a new strain of mosquitos that are very potent, and the first time you are bit by them, you may have a very strong reaction) are not healing much yet, but have stopped itching. I'll take it!

I haven't been working out (my neck hurt from the whiplash hitting the tree) & I've had a nagging headache for the past few days. Today I felt better, and did a strength/cardio workout + yoga. Working out just makes me feel so good, I try to prioritize it whenever I can.

We've been doing work around our vacation house. Working in the yard, buying new patio chairs (ours ripped, after 10+ years of 365 days of exposure at the coast). I suppose that's not a bad lifetime for the chairs, given how much abuse they get in the rain. It's not feasible to pull them inside, as we'd rather replace the chairs every 10 years vs having people dragging them up & down the stairs inside & dinging the walls & paint, etc. We also met with a contractor about replacing our front door, and staining our deck. I've been working on the inside of the house. I've gone through the fridge, freezer & pantry, tossing expired food. I also bleached the shower curtain liner, which needed a good cleaning.

We went to Costco several times to buy supplies & stock up, and tomorrow will order a new fridge. Our has been leaking, and that's a real recipe for disaster in a house where people aren't constantly around. We also ordered a new patio table (with a fire center - so excited). That should be delivered the week of the 4th of July. The Oregon coast is almost always chilly in the evening, year round, so the fire will be an awesome way to extend our time outdoors in the evening.

We're also considering a fire pit area around the back of the house, but we're no sure if we'll get to it this year.

I'm flying to Hawaii tomorrow with my sister and BFF, and we are all so very excited. We've discussed a girls trip to Hawaii for at least a decade, so making it happen is fantastic. When I get back from Hawaii, I'll pick up the boys & we'll spend some time at the beach before M & the rest of the family arrives. I need to rent a carpet cleaner & make sure the carpets get cleaned. I also need to clean the interior & exterior of all of the windows, as moss blows in due to the wet weather. Maintaining a house on the coast is very different from our house in California, that's for sure!

What about you? Are you doing any maintenance or projects on your house this summer?

Monday, June 17, 2019

The time I hit a tree with my face

What an adventure we've been having over here!

On Friday we drove from our house in the bay area to north of Portland. The drive was uneventful, but the Portland traffic was terrible. We timed it to attempt to clear Portland before rush hour, but a series of accidents starting around Eugene meant that we were in traffic for a few hours. What a hard way to finish a long drive. The kids did great, and everyone was awesome in the car. My parents were THRILLED when we arrived.

We celebrated M's birthday & Father's Day, and had a big mountain biking extravaganza on Saturday. The kids did well in their super advanced riding group. They each went over the handle bars once, and Nick fell into a creek, but they were both uninjured. I rode the beginner trails, and many of the same trails I rode last year without difficulty. Unfortunately, as I was going down a steep incline, my front tire started to go off the side of the trail (picture a really steep drop on one side, and the trail being quite narrow). I pulled my tire back & managed to get going, but had too much speed. I looked up just to see a tree. I hit the tree incredibly hard with my head/face, and flew off the bike over the hill. I'm grateful I wasn't seriously injured. I broke a finger, and the visor of my bike helmet broke across the bridge of my nose. It left a large cut, and I now have two developing black eyes. The nurse who evaluated me is a little concerned that I have a deviated septum. Again, grateful I was okay other than those issues, because it was a super hard hit. That's why you always need a helmet!

Now that the black eyes are developing, I think M is a little afraid to be seen with me in public, for fear that people will think he's abusing me. We got some strange looks on Father's Day!

We're at the beach house & the weather is stunning. We went to a local wine bar & relaxed, sat in the sun & celebrated M for Father's Day.

Unfortunately, today will include a trip to Urgent Care. I was bitten by something during my yard work last week. The bites aren't going away & are huge, swelling & infected. :-( They hurt like the dickens & feel worse. I'm hoping the doctor can prescribe or recommend something that will get rid of the bites quickly.

That's all from my side. I will try to post a few pictures of the beach...aka my favorite place in the world! Update: now with a picture from yesterday afternoon.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Frugal Friday

Another week, a few more frugal wins! The gift card wins continue. Here's what we've accomplished this week:

  • The big one - today we're driving from our house (Bay area) to north of Portland to visit my family. It's about a 12 hour drive, but we're saving on four flights, and the cost of a rental car for multiple visits back & forth to my parents. We'll leave the car there, then M will fly home to work a bit while I go to Hawaii, and we will then have the car for our trips. Because M won't stay the entire time, his flight back & forth was required, but typically he flies in & out twice. This year, it's just once. I'd estimate that we're saving about $1600, after calculating for gas & food on the trip. 
  • Bought road trip supplies a Target using a discounted gift card I picked up at the holidays last year.
  • Brought our own snacks & water for the road, although we will stop along the way to give the kids a chance to stretch.
  • Made my own protein balls vs buying protein bars (my favorite easy breakfast)
  • Working on a significant yard project on my own vs hiring help. We may still hire help for parts of it, but I'm getting a lot done on my own.
  • Had the opportunity for a date night, but rather than going out, came home & made steak & had wine while we watched the Warriors game. 
  • Hosted a friend & her son at our pool, taking advantage of the sunk cost of pool maintenance.
  • Bought a $100 Lowe's gift card (projects continue) for $92 on Raise with a special Father's Day deal, and earned a little bit back via eBates.
  • Picked up two $50 Home Depot gift cards through Rite Aid, earning $16 in Rite Aid rewards. Now is the best time of year to pick up discounted home improvement store gift cards, if you have any projects on the horizon. 
What about you? Did you have any frugal wins this week? Do you buy discounted gift cards? If so, any tips you'd share?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Making progress

With the weather being too hot (100+) to do any outside activities over the last few days, I've mostly skipped the yard work, & focused on inside projects. I prefer to be outside, but hey, do what you can with the weather you've been given & all of that.

Sam narrowly avoided a tooth extraction by pulling out his own tooth late on Monday. Apparently, he really, really didn't want to go to the oral surgeon. ;-) The tooth was loose, so I don't think it was terribly painful. We went to the orthodontist in the morning, and he still has two baby teeth, so can't start with any other course of treatment until those last baby teeth are out. In six months, if both teeth aren't gone, he'll likely have to have them removed, as they are disrupting where the adult teeth are growing in, causing crowding. I see additional expensive dental work in our future.

The boys got in the pool yesterday, played Magic (a card game), did a few chores for me around the house, and spent time at the library. All in all, it's exactly how I've envisioned a relaxing summer. The kids have even gotten (gasp) bored, which I think is a great sign. I remember boredom leading to creativity when I was growing up, and sometimes our over scheduled lives means that kids don't really get to experience boredom. The boys have also signed up for the reading challenge at the library, and are both reading a lot,which is fantastic to see.

We just received news that both boys will be in the advanced math track (6th grade is the last of the standardized test hurdles required) for the following school year. This means that, if all goes well, they will be able to take honors math through high school. I have mixed feelings about this. In many ways, I feel that the schools are super competitive where we are, and push the kids too much. That said, if they have a passion for math & learning, I'm glad they will be appropriately challenged. Luckily, M is a great at math & will be able to help Nick with his homework next year, to ensure he's practicing the problems at home.

As for today, my list is reasonable. And, it's supposed to be much cooler today (88 vs over 100). Hurrah!

  • Drop off paperwork for Sam at the school
  • Clean the house
  • Boys do their house cleaning chores
  • Finish all packing (minus very last minute stuff)
  • Nick is having a friend over
  • Strength workout
  • Yoga
  • Journal & meditate
  • Clean another closet or organize paperwork/filing
That's it for me. What do you have going on at your house?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Plans for the week

It will be a busy week before we head out of town. And, let me say that my current definition of busy is different than when I'm working. Both because the tasks on my list are just different in nature, and that I allow myself a little more flex. It's great & I have absolutely no regrets about this summer. What a fantastic opportunity to spend time on other projects, spend time on myself & with all of my favorite people.

Here's what I plan to do this week:

  • Sam has a bunch of appointments for his teeth & will have an extraction. He's super excited. ;-)
  • I need to continue my workouts, and maybe do some additional core work, as I'll be wearing a bathing suit in about ten days!
  • Clean the house before we go out of town.
  • Finish packing for our many parts of the trip.
  • Get Sam's paperwork finished & ready to go for some testing he's having done.
  • Clean the fridge & freezer
  • Continue yard work project. I'll have to do this in the early mornings and/or before it's too hot.
  • The boys have a few friend plans that include the pool.
  • Update the budget.
  • Journal, meditate, blog. I love all three of these, and find them very enjoyable & a good balance to my other activities.
  • Organize paperwork that's stacked up.
  • Call a friend that I haven't spoken to in a long time.
  • Finish all camp paperwork for both kids.
  • Build a menu for the next three or so weeks & a matching shopping list.
That's it for me! What about you? What's on your list for the week?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Menu plan Monday

We're trying to use up what we have this week, as we're going to be out of town starting on Friday. Here's what's on the "use it up" menu for the week:

  • Friday - M & I had steaks, the kids had cheeseburgers
  • Saturday - carnitas in the crockpot
  • Sunday  - burgers on the grill
  • Monday - leftover carnitas
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - homemade pizza (kids). M & I will probably have salads with carnitas on top
  • Thursday - use up anything remaining. If there are no leftovers, I'll defrost enchiladas from the freezer.
  • Friday - assuming we make good time, we'll eat at my parents house
What about you? What are you making this week?

Salads for days

Now that I'm on sabbatical, I'm at home for lunch & try to stick with my low carb plan. I also like to clean out the fridge & eat any leftovers that are appropriate. As a result, I've started eating lots of leftovers on salads. I keep a few salad mix ins available for times when we don't have any protein. I love the "salad kits" they sell at the grocery store, but those are pricey & I'm trying to wean myself off of all of the packaged stuff, healthy or not.

Here are some of my top salad mix in choices:

  • Cheese. I prefer feta, as just a little adds a lot of flavor, and I can't eat too much cheese. I bought a small container of crumbled feta at Trader Joes, as we're heading out of town soon. However, to cut down on the cost, I will likely start buying this at Costco.
  • Nuts. Any nuts work well in a salad, but from a cost perspective, I like peanuts. They also don't require any toasting. We buy the large container at Costco, which can last several months.
  • Edamame. This is a strange one, but I like the shelled edamame at Trader Joes. It adds a lot of flavor, and increases the protein. I typically only use edamame when I don't have a lean protein leftover to add to my salad. I cook the edamame for 4-5 minutes, drain, & then add some to the salad. I'm fine with it going on warm. It does need a bit of salt.
  • Dressing. I know I'm not supposed technically eat pre made dressing, but sometimes I cheat due to laziness/speed. I prefer a balsamic on my salad, as it impacts the other flavors the least.
  • Hummus. Similar to the edamame, I add hummus when I don't have another leftover protein to go on top. I love the spicy cilantro jalapeno hummus from Trader Joes.
Leftover options for salads. Almost anything works. Here are my top favorites:
  • Chicken. I've used diced up chicken patties, baked chicken strips, grilled chicken, chicken kebabs, etc. I'm not picky, & if it's in the fridge, I'll put it in the salad. 
  • Carnitas. I love crisping the carnitas again a bit in the oven & then serving them on salad. I sometimes add a little guac to the carnitas bowl, if I have it.
  • Taco meat. This is another top favorite. While the kids have tacos, I serve my taco meat (ground beef seasoned with onions & taco seasoning) over a salad. Perfect!
  • Hot dogs. Yes, this has happened. M grills the hot dogs with a little marinade that kicks up the flavor. While not the healthiest, I figure that the salad somewhat balances out the hot dog. ;-) 
  • Steak. Self explanatory, because steak on a salad is magical.
  • Burgers. I haven't tried this, but we have mini sliders in the fridge, so likely this week I'll test out a crumbled burger on a salad & will report back. I'm sure it will be great!
Basically, salads are my vehicle for getting in veggies & protein, & eating up fridge leftovers. I try to eat salads for both lunch & dinner, & the options are pretty endless once you start mixing & matching from the lists above. What about you? What are your favorite salad toppings? 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunny Sunday

We had a great day yesterday, with friends over to swim, and concluded with hot dogs & salmon on the barbecue, & dinner outside. It was a lot of fun. I also got most of my chores done. 

We have a huge ivy "infestation", so I'm trying to get that taken care of & work on our backyard generally. It's A LOT of work! My arms are so sore that, when I tried to use the trimmers on a plant last night, I couldn't squeeze enough to trim even the smallest plant. :-) Oh well, a good sign that I'm working hard!

I'll try & get some pictures of our projects along the way. 

Here's what's on the agenda for today. It's going to be a reasonably mellow day, with just one time commitment. 

  • Trim ivy off of fence by pool
  • Have boys collect all yard clippings into a big pile (our yard waste bin is incredibly full)
  • Work out, assuming I have enough strength and/or don't get enough work out in the yard. Maybe yoga or pilates.
  • Wash all of the sheets
  • Go to Rite Aid for discounted Home Depot gift card
  • Head to Lowes with M to look at blinds, a light fixture & a net for our plants, to keep the squirrels out. They have eaten all of our produce, again.
  • Have the boys call my parents.
  • Take Sam for his soccer evaluation
  • Fill out paperwork for Sam
  • Pick up almond milk at the store
  • Hang out by the pool, as it's supposed to be close to 100 today!
I think that's it for us. I need to get the yard work stuff done early, before it gets too hot. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Happy Saturday

It's looking like it will be a lovely day today! I started a huge yard project yesterday, and my entire upper body is sore. That's always a good sign that progress is being made. ;-) I'll try to get pictures as I go.

Yesterday was the last day of school (hurrah) & the boys had their pre camp physical with the doctor, and we went to Target to pick up a few supplies for our drive to Portland next week. As an end of the school year treat, I also took the boys to a Friday night game event that they love & rarely get to attend, due to other commitments. They had a blast.

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

  • Yard work. So much yard work! The kids will be helping, to earn some bonus summer money
  • Costco
  • Menu plan for the week. So far, I know I'm making crockpot carnitas. I'm stuck beyond that.
  • A friend & her son are coming over to swim in the afternoon.
  • If I don't get enough of a workout doing yard work, some sort of a work out.
  • Make protein balls
  • Make muffins? TBD if M is now allowed to eat muffins again
  • Continue to work on our packing. I'm packing for a variety of things (a biking event, the kids with my parents, all of us at our vacation house, and my girls trip to Hawaii). There are also quite a few special events, and we will need each of the bags at different times, so it's been hard to get my packing together effectively. Fingers crossed that I can make some progress today.
That's it for us. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Friday, June 7, 2019

Frugal Friday

It's the kids last day of school today, and boy, are they ever excited! The weather is finally good, so we've been using the pool again. I've been trying to get back into the swing of things with menu planning & shopping.

Here are a few frugal things for the week:

  • It's that time of the year where there are gift card discounts. I bought a $50 gift card to one of the kids favorite restaurants, & earned $10 in a reward to use on a future meal.
  • I also bought a Delta gift card for an upcoming trip my husband is taking. I earned a $25 Home Depot gift card for that purchase
  • Likewise, bought $2,000 of Lowes gift cards at Raise, going through eBates. Saved $68 on the gift cards, and earned another $19 back through eBates. We're getting new doors!
  • Turned $12 of lose change into an Amazon gift card
  • Met a friend for lunch at our mutual employer. I'm still allowed there on my sabbatical. ;-) Saved the cost of lunch.
  • Listed two things on eBay & a gift card on Raise.
  • Used a $3 grocery store rebate to buy tortillas. The 20 pack was surprisingly less expensive than the 10 pack, so purchased that for $.49 (difference after the $3).
  • Found a ton of clearanced snacks at Rite Aid, so bought those for our upcoming road trip.
  • Purchased paper plates & a few other things we'll bring to Hawaii. We're planning to try & eat breakfast & lunch in our room, and limit eating out to dinner. 
  • Started a lengthy yard project. I'm doing the labor, so it may take longer, but it will be free!

What about you? How did you save money this week?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

June goals

I'm very much looking forward to the end of the school year this week. Here's what's on my list of goals for June.

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 sidehustle
  • Use up 5 freezer items from our house, & 5 from our vacation house
2) Family - spend more time together as a family
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening
  • Have two dates with Michael
  • Continue meal prepping, so we have 2 meals/week that a minimum of 3 people in the family can eat
  • Plan & book our holidays
  • Get a plan together for Sam for next year (doctors appt, tutor, etc)
  • Finish camp paperwork
  • Deep clean the entire house
  • Do 2 projects at the beach house
  • Finalize house projects & build budget/schedule for work
3) Fitness/health - lose 2 lbs
  • Run 12 times
  • Track calories (average of 1440/day) & eat 5 servings/day of fruit & veggies
  • Work out 35 times
  • Meditate 10 times

4) Personal/creative - spend more time on myself & creative pursuits
  • Do something social
  • Volunteer a minimum of 1x
  • Journal 15 times
  • Finish one non-fiction book
  • Figure out to do with an unused space in our yard
  • Tackle three projects from my sabbatical list
That's it for me. I'm excited about June. I'll be on vacation part of the time, and hopefully being productive as well. What about you? What are your major goals for the month?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

May Goal Recap - How Did I Do?

The last week of May went by in a flash, as I was traveling. Here's how I did for the month.

1) Financial:
  • Stick to the budget - we were over on dining out & groceries, so need to better on both in June.
  • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need/spend on an ongoing basis. - I started buying gift cards for everything we need that can be first purchased via a gift card (Uber, Home Depot, airlines, etc) at Raise & using ebates to generate a little additional discount. I've made about $25 on eBates, in addition to the money saved on Raise.
  • Make $300 in sidehustle - I made $425
  • Use up 15 freezer items - done! 15/15
    • Lasagna
    • Chicken tenders
    • Enchiladas
    • Bag of grilled chicken
    • Package of ciabatta buns x2
    • Shredded chicken
    • Bolognese sauce
    • Breakfast sandwich
    • Shredded turkey x3
    • Wontons
    • Taco meat
    • Mystery chicken dish
2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Do one fun activity/month with the kids - took the kids to dinner & ice cream to celebrate the (almost) end of school.
  • Off the computer by 7:45 each evening - mostly, I'd say 85% of the way there.
  • Have two dates with Michael - We had one dinner & a lunch planned, but the lunch was rescheduled due to a meeting conflict.
  • Take my mom to Las Vegas - Done!

3) Fitness/health - Lose 2 lbs - Yes! I lost 3 lbs.
  • Run 12 times - 9/12
  • Track calories (average 1400/day) & eat five servings of fruit & veggies per day - I averaged 1555, thanks to a fabulous vacation, & 5.5 servings of fruit & veggies/day.
  • Work out 35 times - 28/35
  • Meditate 10 times - 2/10
  • Run a half marathon - done! In the rain & everything.
4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
  • Make it to my sabbatical with a thoughtful & organized handoff - did my best & felt really good about how much I got done before I left
  • Have one lunch to expand my network - done
5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
  • Do something social - my sister & friend were in town for our half marathon
  • Volunteer a minimum of 1x - still trying to find a flexible option
  • Journal 15 times - 10/15
  • Finish one non-fiction book - Done! I read a memoir "Out East"
  • Figure out what to do with an unused space in our yard - I've thought about it, but haven't done anything beyond that
  • Tackle one item from my sabbatical list - I've made progress on a few projects, but haven't finished anything yet.

Overall, I'm pleased with my progress for May! On to June. How did you do with your May goals?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Menu Plan Tuesday

I was out of town for the last week, so I'm scrambling a bit to put a menu plan together. Here's what I'm thinking:

Sunday - M grilled kebabs & made rice
Monday - salmon + rice
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - leftover kebabs + rice
Thursday - leftover salmon
Friday - Tacos

It should be a pretty straightforward menu, as M will make the salmon, & I'll cook up a batch of taco meat & put the rest in the freezer. We've done a good job of using up our freezer meals, so the freezer is looking like it's in pretty good shape. Hurrah!

What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Monday, June 3, 2019

I won $50 in a slot tournament

I had an amazing time in Las Vegas with my mom (and, was a "big winner" of $50 in the slot tournament). I didn't win any of the big prizes, but we had a great time. Lots of mom/daughter time together, which is rare these days. We ate some fabulous meals, read our books by the pool, and had a lot of laughs. I know how much my mom appreciates this time together, so I'm so happy it all worked out.

I then flew from Las Vegas to Portland, and ran a relay on the Washington coast on Saturday. I had two runs for a total of about ten miles, so I was pretty toasted after that. I also didn't get much sleep on Friday (we had to be up at 2:45 am), so I'm catching up on sleep now. The relay was great - weather was reasonably cool & no rain, & the scenery was beautiful. I've forgotten how beautiful the Washington coast can be.

It was so nice to come home yesterday afternoon! I have a few chores to accomplish today, but I'm also hoping for a mostly mellow day. Here's what I'm hoping to accomplish:

  • Yoga - I need to stretch out my legs
  • Laundry - seriously, there are probably six loads that the boys washed but didn't fold, so I need to get that put away. I'm surprised anyone has any clothes left!
  • Bills - catch up on all of my emails & bills, budget tracking, etc.
  • Meet a friend for lunch
  • Brown ground beef for tacos
  • Pick up the house
I also had a few financial wins, in between all of the spending over the last week or so:
  • M & the kids unexpectedly took me to the airport last Sunday, saving about $25
  • I found $.16 on the ground at a casino. Sluggy! :-)
  • Two of our dinners were comped
  • Four nights of the hotel stay were comped
  • I was able to avoid checking a bag, despite having all of my relay/running stuff + my Las Vegas stuff
  • I purchased food from the grocery store for the relay, vs buying anything on the course
  • I had a free beer & sandwich after the relay, thanks to our VIP tent access. A few others bought additional food, but I stuck with the free options
  • M & the kids also picked me up from the airport yesterday, saving another $30 or so
  • I brought home my leftover PB&Js, and Sam took them for his lunch today. :-) 
What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?