Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Down time at the beach

I've been getting the house in shape before my parents are back with the kids. The quiet has been amazing, but I miss them. The weather was a bit dreary today, but I walked to the beach. Just can't resist.

I sold a couple of items on Facebook, found my grandparents old fishing floats to take home & sell, cleaned the track of the patio door, took a bath (we don't have a working tub at home), worked out & went for a walk. A lovely & relaxing vacation day.

M & I are working on our anniversary plans (15th, meant to be in Italy in October), & deciding what a good back up plan might be.

What about you? How are you spending the day?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Fun

I'm having trouble replying to comments (on my own blog) as well as adding comments to other blogs. Not sure what's happening, but I'm still reading! I'll see if I can troubleshoot this week.

We bought new chairs for our vacation house yesterday, so now need to get rid of the one that is pretty worn & has seen better days. We've had the house for 11 years, but the fabric hasn't held up well, particularly with small kids underfoot in the earlier days. I have the chair listed on the local Facebook swap for a very inexpensive price ($35) just to hopefully get someone else to come & get it. It's quite a nice brand, so fingers crossed it will serve a need for someone else.

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

  • Hopefully sell some decorative pillows. I have a woman coming over in a bit, but people don't always come by when they say they will! ;-)
  • Return trailer to Uhaul
  • Pick up masks at Costco (fingers crossed they are still available)
  • Find missing fitted sheet for master bedroom
  • Laundry
  • Deal with packaging supplies from chairs (decide what to bring home, for packing delicate eBay items)
  • Decide on some remodeling projects at the other house, including budget & timing
  • Make a menu for the week. It's just me + M until Thursday, so should be nice & mellow
  • Work out. Weather isn't cooperating, so likely something inside, and maybe a walk this afternoon if it clears up. 
  • Sort out the calendar for the rest of the summer, until the kids go back to school. We have a lot of regulations around summer camps, and several are still very much TBD on their social distancing & safety protocols, so trying to keep the kids moving & entertained, while safe.

And, a photo of the beach & sand dunes, from a few days ago. Today is a bit more overcast.

How are you filling your day today? Any fun Sunday activities planned? 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Frugal Friday

We are working from home at our vacation house, and are enjoying the change of pace while still staying safe.

Saving on things we buy:

  • Can't really think of anything. We made a menu, bought things off of our list, and tried to avoid spending beyond that. For food, we've been eating well:
    • White chicken chili soup
    • Eggroll in a bowl
    • Carnitas
    • Carnitas nachos (oh, yes! So delicious)
  • We did buy some alcohol in California before we drove here, as the taxes make is significantly cheaper. Less expensive happy hour! 
  • We also picked up a few items we needed here, as there's no sales tax.

Earning money:

  • Sold patio chairs & a waffle maker on the local Facebook site, making $60

Avoiding spending

  • We've done low key activities like walks on the beach, runs through the state park, playing rummy, and watching movies. 
  • I used mint that I wrapped in a wet paper towel when we left California, and it was still fresh. I like to use it in water with a bit of lemon juice.
  • Worked out with a free yoga video, on a drizzly morning

That's it from our side. What frugal wins have you had lately?

Friday, June 19, 2020

Frugal Friday

It was our first week at the beach, and it was lovely! We had my parents for a few meals (lunch & dinner on Monday, plus breakfast on Tuesday) & had a nicer dinner than normal for M's birthday. Steak & crab cakes + cake. Yum!

Here are the frugal things we got up to.

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a BOGOF offer at Subway to pick up two foot long subs for $7 on the drive to Oregon
  • Used Starbucks rewards to buy breakfast on the drive
  • Called our wifi company to get a $10 adjustment to our account. The service wasn't working at the start of the billing cycle (they had to send a tech to activate something at the street), but managed to bill us anyway. I had that adjusted, and saved a bit. 

Earning money

  • Found $.10 on the ground
  • Haven't sold them yet, but listed two outgrown bikes on Craigslist Changed my mind, and gave these to my dad. He manages a local bike park (volunteering) in his small town, and brought his bike rack & took them home. He can always find local kids who need a free bike. Win/win
  • Looked through the vacation house & found quite a few things to sell, once we're back home
  • Listed a few bigger items on Craigslist, that we no longer need

Avoiding spending:

  • This is our standard process, but for Father's Day & birthdays this week, we used recycled gift bags
  • We also made our own cards (I buy colorful, blank note cards in bulk) for the birthday  Father's Day as well
  • I finally figured out a better option for our supply closet (think toilet paper, soap, cleaning supplies, etc). It's always hard to know how much we have, as other people come to stay. Our previous closet was a top shelf in the garage, and I couldn't see into it without a step stool, and the closet was so deep, you couldn't see most of the back. Instead, I've re-arranged a bunch of stuff, and put everything in  a hall closet in the house. It's amazing to be able to see what we have plenty of, what we're running low on, etc. Not sure why it took me 10+ years to do it. :-)

The kids left with my parents on Tuesday, and are mountain biking, playing the guitar, and baking. Good times are being had by all for sure. M & I are working during the day (and, long days, as it's my APAC week, which includes both mornings for India, as well as evenings for Japan & Korea), but taking breaks to go out on the deck & have a cocktail in the evening, over a game of rummy. It's been so nice.

What frugal wins have you had this week?

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A beachy Sunday

The weather is supposed to be better weather today, fingers crossed. We enjoyed a gorgeous walk on the beach last night, so not all was lost.

We also went to the closest nearby town & stocked up on groceries. We spent a lot on meat & seafood for the upcoming couple of weeks. We also bought quite a lot of produce, and tried to adjust our purchases to account for the fact that the kids will be with my parents for the next few weeks.

M & I will work from home for the next few weeks, but our desk delivery didn't go as planned (that happens a lot here, where they only deliver once a week or so). The desk arrived before we got here on Friday, and they wouldn't leave it. Now we'll have to see how that plays out. And, the internet fiasco continues. I have had really bad internet mojo over the past few weeks.

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

  • Running this morning. It should be cool but not rainy. I'll take it. And, compared to where I normally run, very flat.
  • Have the kids try on the clothes that are in the closets/drawers, and make piles of things to donate, keep, or take home.
  • Take photos of the bikes the kids have outgrown, and list them on Craigslist. 
  • M is going to check out a furniture option at Costco. We've had the house for about 11 years, and one of the chairs has seen better days. It looked like a good option when we bought it, but the color now shows a tremendous amount of wear. 
  • Laundry
  • Another walk on the beach
  • Organize the pantry. It's a disaster

That's about it for today. How are you spending your day?

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The thing about the weather forecast

is that it's often wrong, particularly at the coast. It did rain for most of the day, but was gorgeous this evening. Perfect for a walk on the beach.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Menu planning, and a rainy Saturday

We got to the Oregon coast around 6 pm last night, making the drive in almost exactly 13 hours. It was a reasonably easy trip, with minimal drama due to fewer cars on the way. As soon as we crossed the Oregon border, we enter super thick fog in a construction zone, with lots of hills & one lane. That was pretty much the diciest part of the drive.

We brought masks, gloves, wipes, hand sanitizer, and tried to avoid others as much as possible. All told, it was an easy drive, for which I'm always grateful. Let's never forget the drive home through a wild fire.

Of course, the wifi set up failed to work, so a tech will be dispatched to our house on Tuesday afternoon. We both have to work Monday & Tuesday, so it should be interesting to see how tethering off our phones will work for a video call.

As for today, M got up & went for a run. It was raining by the time I dragged myself up (getting up at 4 on Friday meant I was bushed & over slept), the rain had begun. I only need one more run this week, and tomorrow looks good. So, tomorrow is the plan for a cool & flat run. Looking forward to it.

I've been going through the house, taking stock of what we need, what we have, & what we should make for the menu. My parents arrive on Monday, we will all celebrate M's birthday, and then they will head to their house with the kids on Tuesday morning. From there, M & I will be alone for a few nights, until I pick up my sister on Saturday.

Here's the menu that I'm thinking of, for the moment:

Friday - we had tacos/taco salad
Saturday - salmon + spaghetti & meatballs (kids)
Sunday - grilled chicken & rice
Monday - (M's birthday) - steak & crab cakes, maybe with a mozzarella/nectarine/basil salad. And, cake
Tuesday - burgers (freezer)
Wednesday - leftover salmon
Thursday - leftover chicken
Friday - takeout

That's it from our side. What's on the menu at your house?

Friday, June 12, 2020

Frugal Friday

Another week of WFH, and school is finally complete! Woohoo! We are heading to the Oregon coast & looking forward to a change of scenery, if nothing else. It's always expensive to stock up the vacation house, but we will be sticking close to home for meals, which will reduce costs. We rarely eat out when we are there anyway, but usually go to a wine bar, or out for a beer/appetizer.

Saving on things we buy

  • Bought $900 worth of Home Depot gift cards (we have multiple big house projects on the agenda, taking advantage of this time), and earned $180 of grocery store gift cards. I love free groceries!

Earning money

  • I've continued to list & sell things on eBay. I am pausing my listings while we're in Oregon, as we don't have a printer available for postage, and I really don't want to bring all of the supplies + listed items. I'll continue again when we're back.

Avoiding spending

  • Packing lots of snacks & drinks for the road trip
  • The kids & M have all had free hair cuts at home
  • Dried mint from the garden, and crushed it to use in recipes. 
  • Used airline credit (from previously cancelled flights) to book a flight for my dad's 70th birthday/family relay in August, assuming it's okay to fly
That's it for us. Any frugal wins to report on your side? 

Sunday, June 7, 2020

A lovely Sunday ahead

I'm optimistically planning for a lovely day today. It's supposed to be sunny, but cool (high of 67 or so), before it warms up again.

I mentioned that I'd been working on some large yard projects, and then we'd hire professionals to wrap up the rest. They came yesterday, and the yard looks amazing! I usually have a bit of regret when we spend a chunk of money on things like this, but after seeing all of the effort, high quality & results, no regrets at all. Seven of our neighbors stopped by to get a card from the service we used, so it seems like many people were impressed. It gave me great pleasure to walk around last night & see how tidy the house looks. Woohoo! We also have the tree service coming on Monday to trim a 50 foot pine tree (not ours, but blocking all of our plants, and dropping enough pine needles on our property to kill even the hardiest plants. Also, in our neighborhood, roof rats exist, and they love building nests in large pine trees. This will also get rid of that. Ick)

What am I up to today, other than admiring the yard?

  • One workout, potentially pilates
  • A few walks around, to enjoy the sunshine
  • Make muffins
  • Help M with a shelving project (I'm in charge of emptying & putting back. He's doing the actual building).
  • Clean the kitchen
  • List all remaining items I can find on eBay
  • Pack for our trip
  • Call my parents
  • Build my schedule for the week
  • Sit outside & read my book!
What about you? What plans do you have for today?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday virtual run

I participated in two virtual runs today (a 5K with Feed America for work, & a 5K where you do burpees, crunches, mountain climbers, etc between each 1K). I combined them, so I didn't have to run 6 miles. ;-) I'm not a total fool.

The weather was perfect - not too hot, but sunny. Now that I've completed my miles for the week, I always feel accomplished.

I came home, showered, and vacuumed. Then dealt with our wifi provider, for the second time this week. I spent almost an hour with them earlier in the week, and our internet is now actually slower. Given we are working from home, this is a no go. We're trying to do video calls, and a slow internet makes that really challenging. Anyway, another 45 minutes of time today, and they are sending a technician out this week. Fingers crossed they can fix it.

M is working on adding more shelving today. I actually remembered to take before photos of this round of closets, so will share those once complete. He's also in charge of dinner tonight. Hurrah! We're having Persian kebabs & rice, with cucumber/dill yogurt sauce.

While I was on the chat line with the internet provider, I listed 11 items on eBay. Making the most of the wasted time. All were books. Lately, I've had a lot of success with books. I'm guessing because many libraries are closed. Anyway, books are as easy as it gets to list, and media mail makes shipping hard to get wrong. I'll need to pause all of my eBay sales while we are traveling, so I'm trying to list as much as possible right now.

And with that, I'm off to be productive. I still need to clean the kitchen, bathrooms, pick up the kids from the tennis courts (one of the few "allowed" activities right now), & work on packing for our trip.

Happy Saturday! What are you up to today?

Friday, June 5, 2020

Frugal Friday

Another week of working from home, the last full week of distance learning, and a few frugal wins under our belt.

Saving on things we buy

  • Can't really think of anything in particular. We are buying what we need, and few items are on sale these days. I suppose I did pick up two packages of the granola bars Sam & I enjoy, as they were finally on sale at our local (expensive) grocery store. We're limiting our outings to as few places as possible, and a local store has fantastic social distancing options, but is definitely not the cheapest place. 
  • Spent 90 minutes with our internet provider to upgrade our wifi. As a bonus, it's $4 less/month. Why it takes 90 minutes to "approve" cheaper & better speed internet is hard to imagine. Why would a customer say no? Anyway, it's done, so I'll take it.

Earning money

  • Sold two gift cards on Raise
  • Earned another $5 gift card on Microsoft Rewards
  • Completed a study at work, earning a $25 gift card
  • Sold quite a few items on eBay, including a record six in one day. I've been listing a bunch of items, and it's paying off. 
  • Found $.25 in my son's backpack, while washing it. He emptied it, and we found a thermos from one of the last days of (in person) school. It was pretty tragic. I'm hoping the backpack can be saved. :-( 
  • Received $25 for a data breach settlement that I'd filled out months ago. 

Avoiding spending 

  • Made a very interesting dinner last Friday night. Parsley pesto, using parsley from the garden, lemons from a neighbor & pine nuts that have been on my "use it up" pantry list forever. The pesto became a topper for naan bread we received via our produce box. Topped the naan with a pepper (also from the produce box) & thinly sliced hot dogs. The hot dogs were leftover from another meal. ;-) It was surprisingly quite delicious. The parsley pesto was great, and our plant is enormous, so we will be making it again until the pine nuts run out. 
  • Nick & I also went to the store to stock up on road trip snacks. We are planning to leave for the Oregon coast next weekend, and snacks you bring with you are almost always cheaper than what you buy at a restaurant. We will still need to pick up food on the way, but hoping to minimize it as much as possible. 

Frugally optimized, but not for me - I took advantage of a three way matching opportunity for a charity that my work team was supporting. I donated, my employer automatically matched. Because I donated, my leadership team matched it (personally), & my employer then matched their donation as well. It was a small thing to do right now, when things are so challenging, but it did feel good to maximize the power of my donation. Money is not the only way to help, and I also donated cleaning products & toilet paper to a friend's who is collecting it for a school project. It's going to help in homeless shelters, to reduce the spread of COVID. 

How about you? Any frugal wins to report? 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

These times

We are all in challenging times right now, and I'm finding it hard not to be overwhelmed. Please don't take the fact that I'm not going to blog about things as me not caring. I'm trying instead to create a spot where some of life can be a bit normal, for myself, and for others. I encourage everyone to practice kindness to themselves & others, today & every day, even when it's difficult.

Today is my 99th day in a row of working out. Tomorrow is the "official" 100 day milestone. Never in my life (as far as I know, I wasn't paying much attention when I was younger), have I worked out for 100 days straight. It's an amazing feeling. My body feels different, my energy level is so much higher, and I feel so much better. Everyone advises taking care of yourself so you can take care of others, and is it ever true. I'm focused on my physical & mental wellbeing right now (like, deeply focused in a way I've spoken about but never truly delivered on), because it's how I'm getting through right now.

The side benefit is how I feel. It's amazing. I wish I could bottle this energy & share it with previous and future me. It's also a good reminder that future me needs to craft a life that better supports consistent physical activity.

In other news, we've been doing all of the normal stuff. . . making meals, eating leftovers, working, prepping for our trip to the coast in a few weeks, donating, volunteering, finishing online learning, gardening, and making progress on our house. Woohoo for progress!

Hoping you are all taking good care of yourselves during these times.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

June goals

As much as possible, I want to use the time at home as a positive. I'm working hard on focusing on my mental health & well being, and supporting my family during this time. I also really need small forward progress, so I love mini goals. They keep me motivated throughout the month. Here are my goals for June.

1) Financial

  • Stick to the budget
  • Achieve our next mortgage milestone
  • No clothing/shoes purchases (for me)
  • Make $350 in side hustle
  • Keep working through freezer/pantry clean out. Use 10 items off of the list

2) Family

  • Play tennis weekly with the boys (or, another fun activity)
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening
  • Have a weekly half hour alone with M
  • Monthly calls (or shared videos) with M's family
  • Two hours of practicing Farsi or Spanish
  • Make revised July/August plans

3) Fitness/health
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Work out every day
  • Track calories, aim for 1400 calories/day.
  • Complete 1400 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 5 stretching workouts
  • Meditate 20 times
  • Run 10 times

4) Personal/creative
  • Spend time with friends (virtually, or otherwise)
  • Volunteer
  • Journal 25 times
  • Grow as a person:
    • Adapt a more positive mind set
    • Listen more vs talking
    • Reduce swearing
  • Read one non-fiction book
  • Compliment M every day
  • Support the kids with online learning
  • One project/day (taking advantage of WFH)

What about you? What goals are you hoping to accomplish in June? How have you adapted your goals to fit the current situation?

Monday, June 1, 2020

Menu plan Monday

We've been a bit scattered with our menu the last few days, so I'm trying to correct that. Here's what we're having (have been having)

  • Friday - I made naan pizza with pesto parsley, made M cauliflower crust pizza, and Nick made the kids pasta
  • Saturday - our plans fell apart, so we did takeout Greek food. The restaurant has been very consistently good for 5+ years, but the food was very disappointing this time. I'm wondering if they have a new chef, have adjusted recipes based on availability, etc. It was pricey before, so not worth the price. 
  • Sunday - tacos (and, salmon for M)
  • Monday - I'm planning on some sort of a mahi mahi recipe. I'm thinking of this one
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - lubia polo (freezer)
  • Thursday - pasta & meatballs
  • Friday - TBD
That's it for us. What's on your menu for the week?