Friday, October 30, 2020

Frugal Friday

Another busy work week, as we enter our busiest season of the year. I'm barely keeping things afloat, and taking off last Friday set me back quite a bit. But, the week is drawing to a close! Woohoo! 

Here are a few frugal things we got up to. 

Saving on things we buy

  • We drove through a farming area on our way to lunch last Friday, and stopped to buy avocados (5/$1) at a road side stand. We bought 10 avocados for $2 & 3 pomegranates (the large kind) for $5. I couldn't believe the price on the avocados. What a deal!
  • Bought ground beef at $.99/lb, and picked up three pounds for the freezer. 

Earning money

  • eBay picked up a bit, but has generally been slow lately. I continue to list an item daily, as it's also part of my ongoing decluttering and living with less stuff plans. This week I sold:
    • A sweater I don't wear
    • A game the boys don't play (and bonus, mailed it in the envelope I received for free from my local Buy Nothing group)
    • A makeup sample
    • A pair of pajama pants
    • A NWT shirt that I bought Nick. It's a good lesson for me to continually go through their closets. Particularly during COVID, they just aren't wearing too many different things. All of us need fewer items of clothing right now. 
  • Redeemed $5 in Fetch Rewards for an Amazon gift card. (Fetch is the app where you upload your grocery receipts.) 
  • Filled out a claim for a $5 check for a class action lawsuit

Avoiding spending

  • We opted to not go out to dinner on Saturday (socially distanced, outside), as we had such a great lunch out on Friday afternoon. We ended up buying steak & dessert, and having that for four, which was still 1/3 or so of the price of a dinner out. I also used up the last of four very close to needing to be tossed potatoes, and made roasted potatoes & a chimichurri sauce (parsley from the garden) to go with the steak. It was very fun & relaxing. 
  • We returned our electric car (the end of the lease). We loved the car, & it was my favorite car I've ever driven. The dealership made us many fabulous offers on other electric cars, but we are just not driving enough to require another vehicle. We also preferred to lease, because we had questions about the battery life. That ended up not being a factor at all, and we would buy a used electric car, should we ever both end up driving a lot. We saved money on the registration, & insurance, as well as the cost of leasing or buying the car. (We never had a charger put in at our house, as we were able to charge for free at work through creative car dropping off, even during COVID WFH). I'm very sad to see the car go, and will absolutely buy another electric car again. 

For others:
  • Made a cash donation to a food bank
  • Gathered up food for a donation to my son's school food pantry
  • Walked our neighbor's dog several times, and shared steak scraps for her to dole out as treats
  • Shared more costumes with neighbors

What about you? How have you been doing this week? Any frugal wins or actions for others to share? 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Menu planning & other things

M & I had a fabulous day together yesterday. I went for a run in the morning, while he assembled our new elliptical machine. I'm excited to have an indoor workout option, now that it's getting darker in the evenings & we have less light in the mornings. I used to have access to a free gym at work, but COVID means that won't be happening for a long time. 

We drove to the beach for lunch (~90 minutes each way), as we wanted to feel like we were really having a mini vacation. It was perfect! We had a (non-frugal) thoroughly fabulous outdoor lunch & the weather was great. It's usually pretty overcast, but it was a gorgeous day. And, the first day I've worn jeans in maybe six months or so? ;-)

We came home just as the boys were finishing online schooling, and M & Nick finished putting the elliptical together. I did some chores, and then reconfigured the chicken & dumplings into a chicken dish over ravioli. Sam & I went for a walk, and had a lovely chat. (You really have to embrace those moments when you are parenting teen boys.) 

As for today, Sam is taking a practice standardized test (online) & Nick has soccer. I'm going for a run or walk, and need to get some chores done around the house, including the menu plan. I have a few late nights next week, so need easy dinner options this week. 

Menu Plan

  • Friday - hodgepodge of leftovers. Repurposed chicken from chicken & dumplings into chicken + ravioli. Used the last of the taco meat to make Nick a taco quesadilla
  • Saturday - M & I are going to dinner (outdoor) to celebrate our anniversary. The kids will probably have pizza
  • Sunday - kebabs & rice, with yogurt sauce
  • Monday - late night for me, so carnitas from the freezer
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - carnitas, take two
  • Thursday - late night again, so probably hot dogs & salad. Dinner of champions ;-) 
  • Friday - TBD

What are you up to this weekend? What's on the menu plan for the week ahead?

Friday, October 23, 2020

Frugal Friday

As it tends to be at this time of the year, the weather is changing (a bit cooler, at least), the nights are longer, & there's less sunshine. I'm also entering into my busiest season at work. I feel good that we have (largely) frugal habits to hang on to, even when things get really busy. 

It was our 15th anniversary yesterday, and we'll be taking the day off today, spending it together & hopefully drinking a nice (non-frugal) bottle of champagne by the pool!

Here's what we've been up to in the frugal world lately:

Saving on things we buy

  • Bought some granola bars for the kids, on sale & uploaded my receipt to Fetch, for additional points
  • Bought a 6.5 lb whole chicken for $3.67. We will likely roast it near Thanksgiving
  • Stocked up on juice at $1.49/2 gallon, as the kids use it for smoothie making in the morning. 
  • Found a good price on Honey Crisp apples, & paid $1/lb
  • We usually get zero trick or treaters, but bought 2 bags of candy for $2, and will put them out at the end of our driveway with a free sign for neighbor kids who may just walk on our street to stay safe. 

Earning money

  • I've continued to list things on eBay, even though sales continue to be slow. I did sell a few things:
    • A book
    • A set of 12 bike maps, for $96. Nick spotted these on a "free" table in our neighborhood, and thought they looked cool, but quickly lost interest when we got home. I posted them this week, and sold them for full price a couple of days earlier. Crazy!
    • Sold a pair of very nice dress pants (M's) that no longer fit
  • Sold an old Halloween costume for $7 on Facebook marketplace. More junk out of the house, and an inexpensive costume for someone who wanted one

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up the Friday Freebie at the local store, which was sous vide eggs. We purchased the same brand when we had no kitchen, & found these to be pretty tasty. They are normally super pricey ($3.59), but were free with the Friday Freebie. We'll keep them on hand for a quick & easy breakfast
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds from the pumpkins the boys carved & saved other seeds for a future pumpkin planting. 
  • For M's anniversary gifts, I realized we were out of tissue paper. We almost exclusively "wrap" with gift bags, for environmental & financial reasons. I had four gift bags (small, themed running related gifts) & one lonely piece of tissue paper. I used the tissue paper for one bag, and then got creative, going through our old gift boxes I've stored away for re-use & found just enough tissue paper to fill top each bag. While we will need more tissue paper, we'll stock up at Costco near the holidays, where it will be very inexpensive to get a large package of white paper, vs the pricey colored & patterned kind that nearby shops carry. (Update from when I wrote this... when I received my anniversary gift from M, I noticed that the tissue paper looked suspiciously similar. He took it out of the packages I'd wrapped & used them for my gifts! I couldn't stop laughing. Great minds & all.)

For others:
  • Helped a neighbor
  • Volunteered at a non profit
  • Gave away Halloween costumes to neighbors
  • Organized a work 5k for charity
  • Donated money to a kids organization
  • Donated money to school for a supply drive, when they realized they needed mini wipe boards for the kids in certain classes (foreign language)
  • Helped M with a project where he is translating school flyers for parents that don't speak English. Apparently, he's one of the only bilingual parents in our district, with this particular language expertise. 
What about you? Any frugal wins to report? Kind deeds to inspire the rest of us? 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Pumpkins, part two

 The boys had so much fun yesterday, that they asked M for more pumpkins. Here's what $6 of "more pumpkins" will buy you.

Best $6 I've spent in a long time, as the boys had hours more of enjoyment. :-) 

Here's what we were up to on this lovely Sunday:
  • House cleaning
  • Long walks in the sunshine (me)
  • Running a 5k (belated family run participation) - everyone else
  • Making coleslaw, salad, & chicken dumplings in the slow cooker
  • Laundry (always, so much laundry)
  • Planning our anniversary next weekend
Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Pumpkins & such

 I picked up a couple of inexpensive pumpkins at Trader Joes a few weeks back, and they've been sitting on our front porch. Today, I convinced Nick to bring down our Halloween decoration tub from the attic. Inside the tub was a bunch of random stuff - a few adorable decorative plates, a few strands of pumpkin lights, 4 Halloween costumes long since outgrown, 2 masks, 3 holders for candy, & a few other odds & ends. I cleaned everything, & made a free pile of costumes for the neighbors. I also happened to find the rest of a police officer costume I'd hoped to sell or give away, so that's now complete. And, I'll either sell or donate the masks. Moving forward, we definitely won't need a tub, so I'll have to find the right place to store our few remaining items.

At the bottom of the tub was our pumpkin carving kit, bought on clearance years ago. When I saw that, I asked the kids if they wanted to carve our porch pumpkins & they did. My, has COVID changed our world. It's been probably five years since the kids wanted to carve pumpkins, but these days... that type of activity is a winner! Both listed the pumpkin carving ( and their socially distanced soccer- which, is a far cry from soccer of the past) as their highlights. While life isn't the same for them (at all, at all), it's so nice when there are things that feel like a bit of fun, in the midst of everything going on. (Sam's pumpkin, on the left, says "Beautiful". While he wouldn't admit to it, I think he made it so he could send a picture to his girlfriend.;-)) 

Other happenings today:
  • I ran a virtual 5k with my family - a harvest classic. We all posted pictures & shared some laughs over our times. They are getting together for soup & dessert & I wish I were there.
  • The boys had socially distanced soccer
  • We went out for an evening walk
  • M finished installing shelves in the closet of doom, which means I can put everything away tomorrow
  • I packaged & mailed an eBay sale
  • I went through both kids socks & underwear drawer, finding things to donate & toss. Everything is much more organized
  • I menu planned
  • M went to Costco & got groceries & a flu shot
  • I picked up an anniversary card - our 15th is next week. We had originally hoped to be celebrating in Italy. Ironically, we were supposed to celebrate my 30th birthday in Italy, but I found out I was pregnant, which was a huge & lovely surprise. So, we decided our 15th anniversary was appropriate... foiled again. Our 20th, perhaps? ;-) 
  • Nick made Szechuan noodles with fried eggs on top. Yum. 
  • M & I drank a glass of wine while playing rummy 
  • I did laundry (so much laundry) & dishes (likewise, always so much)

On the eBay sale, last week Nick & I picked up a few books off of a neighbor's "free" table. They also had a package of bike maps out (also free). Nick picked them up, but was not interested when we got home. A bit of research indicated they might be valuable, so I listed them on eBay on Wednesday, & sold them last night for $96. Crazy! They are now safely wrapped & ready to do to their new owner. 

What about you? Any fun activities this weekend? 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Frugal Friday

 It was another busy week, so I'll just echo what I said last week. Good frugal habits help so much during weeks where frugality isn't top of mind. Because, sometimes life comes up, but good habits allow you to be frugal even without much time/effort.

Saving on things we buy

  • Combined a store sale + a Fetch offer to buy a couple of boxes of cereal for $1
  • Contacted a company about a missing item, & received the credit, plus a $10 loyalty credit, which was awesome. 
  • Combined a store sale, discounted "sell now" meat offer & a promotional credit to get 3 lbs of lean ground beef for $1.70 (total). What a deal!
  • I'm still hoping we can go visit family for Christmas, and purchased flights months ago (at the start of the pandemic). I decided to trim one day off the trip, and adjusted my dates - turns out, it saved $200 ($50x4)!
  • Took advantage of two Amazon prime deals & earned $20 off of things we'd purchase anyway

Earning money

  • Sales have been very slow, but I've continued to list items & eBay & make a few small sales. Here's what I sold this week:
    • A workout tank I don't wear
    • A kids cookbook. Nick has another one he loves, and this one was a little too young for him
    • A pair of indoor soccer cleats that were outgrown during COVID

Avoiding spending

  • A few weeks ago, I picked up a Friday Freebie of coffee creamer. My sister was in town, and prefers creamer, so it was great. Since she left, I've been using it in my coffee in place of my preferred almond milk. It's almost gone (it was a small sized container). Hurrah! I hate waste, so prefer to use it, but will be happy to see the end of the container. :-) 
  • Used a free movie credit from work to rent a movie. We watched McFarland, which we all enjoyed.
  • Went through our freezers & created a list of things we should use up (e.g. things I've forgotten were in there, and/or need using up reasonably soon.) I'll plan these into our upcoming menus. 
  • I cut up a pineapple & a mango that were about to go bad. Now that they are chopped & in the fridge, the kids will use them for their morning smoothies. They are too lazy to do all of that while they are still waking up. ;-)
  • I picked up a few books off a neighbor's "free" table, and also did a book exchange at a local lending library. 
  • A neighbor dropped off a few lemons from her tree, as a thank you for sharing our herbs.

For others
  • Helped a neighbor fix her printer
  • Gave a neighbor garden produce
  • Gave another neighbor a box of Hot Pockets that no one in my family will eat. (It was a Costco sized box!) I'm glad to have it out of the house, and being used by someone else. I felt terrible about potentially tossing it, and frozen foods are hard/impossible to donate, so this was a great solution. 
  • Signed up for two volunteer activities. One is one time help, the other is a more consistent level of volunteering. I've committed to signing up for more volunteer options & getting out of my comfort zone a bit. One activity benefits womens shelters & the other benefits girls in technology.
  • I made a couple of donations
What about you? Any frugal wins or kind deeds to help this week? 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

In the neighborhood

I got up this morning & made breakfast for myself & then M, who was washing our cars. He washes the cars almost every weekend, and I don't think we've paid for a car wash since I've known him. We do invest in car washing supplies, but I have to imagine it's still much cheaper than taking the car to be washed.

I put on my back pack & went for a walk this morning. My destination? Yesterday I'd spotted a neighbor a few miles away who had a table with free books. Some of them looked like they may be a good read, or if nothing else, good for future donation or listing on eBay. I picked up those, and then spotted another local book lending library. This one appeared to have a few kids books, so I'll round up some books we're done with & take Nick to see if he finds any winners. 

I also arranged to have someone come by to pick up the 15 Hot Pockets that my husband bought at Costco & no one in my family will eat. I'll begrudgingly eat 1 or 2, but there's no way I'm going to eat 15. Unclear how they made their way home with us, but I found someone on our local Buy Nothing who was thrilled to pick them up. I was also able to pass on one of our many ice packs, so double win!

M is working on installing shelving in our "closet of doom", and I'll be thrilled when that's finished up, so I can put everything back in the closet. Right now, all items are stored in four other closets, and very haphazardly, I might add.

Other things today... 

  • I'm doing laundry (always)
  • Nick is playing tennis this afternoon. Tennis is a great socially distanced option right now
  • I sliced up a pineapple & a mango, so the kids would use them for smoothies in the mornings. They were both about to go bad.
  • I listed an item on eBay
  • I helped Sam make a daily "checklist" for school. Here's hoping it helps him focus a bit more. Online learning is a real struggle for someone who already has challenges with attention. 
It's a gorgeous fall day, & I'm enjoying the sunny weather, moderate temperature & smoke free skies. Later today, I'm planning to try a Keto friendly chicken parmesan recipe. The pico de gallo, taco slaw, & guacamole I made yesterday used up almost all of our garden tomatoes. Woohoo! We're down to just a small bowl for now, with more ripening on the plants. 

Hope you are all enjoying your day. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Baby photo + current photo

 Thanks to Anne for the inspiration. I don't have an infant photo, but here's me as a young ballerina. It's a photo of a photo, so excuse the quality.

And, me at the end of a "virtual" 5k fundraiser last weekend. 

As for today, I did a long hike this morning (2+ hours), & now I'm catching up on a few things. Once I get my productivity mojo back, I need to make pico de gallo & guacamole for dinner. We're having warm taco slaw (think of egg roll in a bowl, but taco style). It's delish & Keto friendly, for those of you who enjoy recipes. My non keto eaters wrap everything in tortilla shells. ;-) 

I'm going to drop off some tomatoes & herbs at my neighbor's house, and other than that, I'm hoping for a glass of wine by the pool. 

What about you? Any baby photos to share? Any plans this weekend? 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Frugal Friday

 It's a good thing I try to build frugal habits, because I spent very little mental energy on it this week. Here are a few things we did to save money:

Saving on things we buy

  • I received a $20 Uber Eats offer, so used it to order a Saturday night pizza for the boys. They were thrilled. I spent a bit out of pocket to cover the tip & tax. 
  • Purchased Starbucks gift cards at the grocery store to earn $60 in rewards. This will be enough Starbucks cards for the next year or two, depending on whether we ever go back to a more "normal" life, but either way, the boys occasionally bike to Starbucks to get an iced tea. 
  • Used a $1 coupon to buy a box of pasta for $.50, found other pasta on sale $5/5. The $.50 is unheard of, and was a limit of one. The $1/box is my stock up price, and I will likely go back for more. 
  • I try to make Gatorade/sports drinks a rare purchase, but we've had continued temperatures in the 90s, and the boys are playing (modified) soccer. They had a great store deal ($3.99 for a 12 pack, as long as you bought 5) & there was a Fetch offer as well. 

Earning money

  • Continued to sell a few things on eBay, although it's still very slow
    • Cleats Nick didn't get a chance to wear much (COVID)
    • A running watch I bought from a neighbor for Sam, but didn't work for his needs. Sold it for exactly what I paid for, so at least I didn't lose any money
    • A top I never wear
  • Sold our toaster oven (we used during the remodel) on Nextdoor. Left out on our porch, for a contactless pickup. 

Avoiding spending

  • I've been giving a bunch of stuff away on our local "Buy Nothing" group. While I was posting, I noticed someone was giving away padded envelopes. I picked them up & will use them for mailing out eBay sales. 
  • I paused our produce box delivery. I love it, but I'm working on cutting back our grocery bill, and this is an easy way to reduce at least part of our spending
  • Continued to meal plan, eat leftovers, and enjoy our tomatoes from the garden

Things for others

  • Made several cash donations
  • Donated pantry items to families in need at our school (included hand sanitizer & wipes, which can still be hard to find)
  • Helped a neighbor who was struggling
  • Made donations of goods to our local shelter

What about you? Any frugal wins to report? 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

A lovely Sunday

 The weather has dropped to 80, the air quality is 50 (healthy-ish, for those of you who don't regularly follow), which means we can be outside safely again. Woohoo! It's a beautiful day & I'm sitting outside, enjoying the cooler temperatures.

I got up this morning & met a friend for a socially distanced (with masks) 7 mile hike. It was great to catch up, and we got our hike in before the weather got too warm. I also did a 5k (virtual) race for work yesterday, and put up a reasonable time, given the heat, smoke & the foolishly hilly route I chose. 

I forgot to customize my produce box a week back, so really need to make it a priority to use up the ingredients I ended up with. So far, I've used 1 1/2 onions, a package of mushrooms, a bunch of carrots, and the remainder in the celery to form the base of a red sauce with meat. I also found a 1/2 full can of tomato paste & a pizza marinara side dipping sauce that went in, so I'm feeling good about "using things up".

I still have:

  • Beets
  • Whole carrots
  • Asparagus
  • Parsley
  • Brussel sprouts
I think I'll roast the carrots & beets. I'll pan saute the brussel sprouts tonight with dinner, and steam the asparagus tomorrow. That just leaves the dreaded parsley. Particularly ironic, since we have a plant (the seeds we bought were marked as "cilantro", so we have a huge parsley bush in the yard anyway. I'll give that one some thought. 

For the menu this week, it's looking like:

  • Friday - Nick made butter chicken with couscous & parmesan zucchini coins
  • Saturday - I used an Uber Eats $20 promo to get the boys a pizza, while M & I did a date night
  • Sunday - Nick is making chicken shwarma bowls. Depending on how those turn out, we may also have the spaghetti sauce of pasta. (I've learned to always have a backup plan, when a 13 year old is doing the cooking.)
  • Monday - roasted veggies, asparagus & kebabs (freezer)
  • Tuesday - pasta & meat sauce
  • Wednesday - finish off the roasted veggies, asparagus & kebabs
  • Thursday - chicken arugula salad
  • Friday - TBD
What else is on my to do list for the day? I'm going to be hard pressed to move out of my chair by the pool, but I do need to get a few things done:
  • Calendar review for the week ahead
  • Set workout schedule for the week, based on meetings
  • Roast veggies
  • Figure out how to use parsley
  • Package up & freeze the pumpkin muffins I made this morning. I tried this recipe & it was fantastic. Highly recommend
  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Vacuum
  • Clean kitchen
  • Clean bathrooms (the boys help, but supervision/quality checks are needed)
  • Call my parents
That's what's happening in our world. Hope you are all having a lovely day. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Frugal Friday

I'm late to get this out, because it's been a whirlwind today. Another week, another Friday! 

Saving on things we buy

  • I've never tried "Fetch" before, but after reading about it on a few frugal blogs, I gave it a try. I uploaded my first few receipts, and painlessly have already earned an Amazon gift card. I'm only a few days in, but will report if I think it's easy to do/valuable. If you are interested in trying it out, here's a referral link. You'll get $2 in points for uploading your first receipt. 
  • We got on the roof & cleaned our solar panels. Our production has been way down (September was equivalent to February) due to the smoke in the sky & ash on our panels. We can't make up for the lost production, but hopefully this will help boost production moving forward. We saw a 27% increase in production after cleaning, despite the next few days also being hazier due to new wildfires. 

Earning money

  • Continued to list & sell things on eBay. I sold:
    • A book
    • A pair of outgrown shorts
    • An old race tshirt that no longer fits me (it's in pristine condition, and is from a very popular relay. Otherwise, I don't think there's demand for this type of stuff).

Avoiding spending

  • I had Starbucks reward points expiring, so I stopped by to pick up a free sandwich on my way to the store. 
  • I received an offer through work for a waived cost refi. I followed up & while the rate was lower, once you factor in costs, it was pretty much break even from our current mortgage, so we will stay where we are. Although this didn't work out, it's always useful to keep an eye on your options, to ensure you have the best deal that matches your financial situation. 

Things for others:
  • Made dinner for a friend who lost her father recently
  • Gave away a few things on "Buy Nothing", and added in herbs as a bonus surprise
  • Dropped off fresh mint for a friend who was looking for some
  • Connected with another neighbor who was looking for basil & mint
  • Dropped off cookies for another friend/family
  • Gave away organizers, a roasting pan & a suitcase. Glad to get them out of my house, and into the hands of someone who will use them
What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Thursday, October 1, 2020

October Goals

 As I say every month, the days are whizzing by. I use my goals to create as much daily accountability as possible, particularly during this unstructured & unpredictable time of life. 

Here are the goals for the month:


  • Stick to the budget. Figure out a realistic WFH grocery budget for 2021 & the rest of the year
  • Pay down our mortgage to the next mini milestone
  • No clothing/shoes purchases for me (essential running gear excluded)
  • Make $500 in side hustle
  • Work through pantry/freezer clean out (10 random items out)
  • Have will/guardianship appointment

  • Go for walks, make dinner together, enjoy this time of closeness
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening (not counting reading)
  • Have a weekly half hour alone with M, schedule two creative "dates"
  • Schedule a call with M's family, or at a minimum, record a few videos for them
  • Two hours of practicing Spanish or Farsi
  • Compliment M every day
  • Complete one project every day

  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Work out 31 times in October
  • Track calories & aim for 1450 calories/day
  • Complete 1400 minutes of cardio, 5 strength & 5 stretching workouts
  • Meditate 10 times
  • Journal 30 times


  • Do something social at least 2x
  • Volunteer
  • Journal 30 times
  • Improve myself
    • Judge less
    • Listen more often
    • Reduce/eliminate swearing
    • One kind deed a day
  • Read one non fiction book

That's it for me. I'm looking forward to a successful month! What about you? What's on your list of goals for October?