Sunday, October 17, 2021

The produce stand, and other Sunday things

Yesterday was a day full of running around (Nick's ref games, Sam's PSATs drop off & pick up, a trip to the produce stand, Sam's soccer games, etc). I also made a double batch of apple sauce, and a zucchini chocolate chip bread. The applesauce used up apples a friend gave us (and, an old lemon from the fruit drawer) & the zucchini bread used up the last zucchini from our garden.

I got in a slow walk (still have a head cold) & Nick made dinner. I highly recommend this (new to us) recipe for Korean Beef Rice Bowls. We will double it next time, as it was just enough for one dinner. We also used sriracha in place of the gochujang sauce, as we didn't have any. M made basmati rice for the rest of us, and I made him cauliflower rice mixed with riced cabbage. Team work! Sam did the dishes. ;-) 

As I mentioned, I went to the produce stand yesterday, and I'm always so impressed with the prices. You do have to check the quality, but it's typically very good. 

Here's what I bought for $13.03

  • 3 heads of broccoli - $2.58
  • 2 head of cauliflower - $2.98
  • 1 bag of large sweet peppers - $1.99 (2.5 lbs)
  • 2+ lbs of Persian cucumbers - $4.30
  • 1 bunch of radishes - $.49
  • 1 bunch of green onions - $.69
I had originally planned to get a red pepper for a recipe I'm making on Wednesday, but the 2.5 lb of large sweet peppers contained plenty of red peppers (and more), and was the same price as a single red pepper. Great deal. 

What's on the agenda for today? 

  • Soccer game for Nick
  • Soccer game for Sam
  • House cleaning
  • Making muffins
  • Working out
  • Laundry
  • Finalizing my packing list for next week
  • Making caprese chicken skillet (a new recipe)
  • Tennis for Nick (it may rain, however)
  • Prep for the week ahead
  • Clean the spare room (normally M's office)
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today? We have an 80% chance of rain today, and I'm thrilled. We need it so much!

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday Happenings

 It was a busy day yesterday, with lots of driving around for homecoming, and both boys getting to bed late. And, up again early, as Sam has the PSATs & Nick has a reffing job this morning. I'm about to drop Nick off, and then hope to maybe sneak in a quick nap before I officially kick start my day. I'm a terrible napper, but we'll see what I can finagle.

Spotted on my walk yesterday:



Other things happening today:

  • Pick Sam up
  • Work out (20k steps)? This has been my daily average in October (21k, actually), but I'm not feeling great today, so we'll see what happens
  • Make applesauce
  • Take Sam to his soccer game this afternoon
  • Do some baking (muffins, cookies?) ahead of my parents visit
  • Go to the produce stand
  • Menu plan/shopping list
  • Costco
  • Laundry
  • List a few things on eBay & Buy Nothing
What about you? What's happening today? And, are you a napper? 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Frugal Friday

 It was a pretty standard week, but we did have a few wins. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a few iBotta offers
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch
  • Received a $100 credit for Sam's soccer fees, by volunteering for three hours on a Saturday a month or so ago. 
  • Bought Southwest gift cards at the grocery store, earning $60 in grocery store credits

Earning money

  • I haven't been listing anything on eBay, but sold a few things:
    • A book from a freebie table
    • A pajama top that came in a set. Nick likes the pajama pants, but not the top
  • Redeemed $5 of Fetch Rewards for an Amazon gift card

Avoiding spending

  • Used grocery store rewards to pick up a few items to round out our dinner on Sunday
  • No eating out this week, despite considering it several times!
Eating what we have

  • I really wanted to get takeout or go out on Saturday, but the kids (surprisingly) talked me out of it. I made chicken fajitas, using up chicken (freezer) & peppers (fridge). Everything was delicious, and I served the fajitas over a cauliflower rice/cabbage rice (Sam's accidental shredding incident from last weekend). The cabbage rice/cauliflower rice combo was great.
  • Nick made apple crisp, using up leftover apples. 
  • Nick also made French bread, to go with dinner on Sunday. He had a failed loaf on Saturday, but tried again, & it came out great.
  • I made butternut squash soup, with squash M brought home unexpectedly from Costco last weekend. 
  • Used up chicken & taco meat from the freezer

For others

  • Helped another family out with a super early carpool
  • Picked up trash on my walk
  • Shared apple crisp with a friend
  • Made a couple of donations
  • Found our neighbor's dog a few blocks away & returned her home

How about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A holiday challenge

 I had an unexpected soccer game on Sunday (bumped into a coach at Starbucks on Saturday, who asked if Nick could make an early morning game). It was a *really* early start time, but the view was so lovely. It almost made up for setting an alarm on a Sunday morning. ;-) The photo has no filter.



I'm feeling the need to create some financial challenges for myself. I have a bunch of bigger projects in motion (finding an accountant & financial planner, opening up a Donor Advised Fund to make charitable donations more advantageous, etc). I used to use my eBay money to pay down our mortgage, and it was so exciting & motivating to see the balance drop regularly, with each small payment. Now that the mortgage is gone (hurrah), I'm losing my motivation.

I've decided that I'll use all of the eBay money earned between October-December to cover holiday expenses and gifts. I don't think it will be enough, but I'm hoping to offset 30% of our holiday budget, with earnings. Let's see how I do!

I haven't been listing much at all, so I'm off to a slow start. Hopefully this will be the motivation I need to kick things into gear.

What about you? Do you have any holiday or other financial challenges/goals you're working on at the moment?

Monday, October 11, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

We had a nice weekend, full of lovely fall weather. My only complaint is that I didn't sleep well last night. Hopefully I'll catch up a bit tonight!


Here's what we're eating this week:

  • Friday - gyozas & chicken
  • Saturday - chicken fajitas
  • Sunday - butternut squash soup, homemade bread/grilled cheese
  • Monday - chicken burritos
  • Tuesday - soup & sandwiches
  • Wednesday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - tacos
  • Friday - TBD. The boys are likely going to the homecoming football game, so if they are gone, we might go out to dinner
What about you? Have you tried any good recipes lately? 



Friday, October 8, 2021

Frugal Friday

This week was definitely a bit slower than last week, and I enjoyed the time in the kitchen, turning apples into applesauce. 


Saving on things we buy

  • Nothing really worth reporting, although I did upload all of our receipts to Fetch. 

Earning money

  • I haven't been updating my eBay listings, but I've sold a few things that were listed a while back.
    • Another suit
    • A kids tie (from Nick's 6th grade graduation)
    • A pair of jeans M kept at the vacation house


Avoiding spending

  • Dried & crushed mint for the spice cabinet. We grow our own, so it's a free addition. M uses the mint in his yogurt sauce he serves with kebabs. 
  • A friend & I traded garden goodies. She gave me a bag of apples, & I gave her zucchini. Yum. 
  • Turned the apples into a huge batch of apple sauce (8 containers). It tastes like apple pie, and it's delicious. I used some of the applesauce to make applesauce muffins. 
  • Brought apple sauce & three loaves of homemade French bread (Nick made) to a friend's house for dinner, when they had both boys over for dinner.
  • Another neighbor gave me additional apples, for snacking
  • I mended Nick's favorite shirt, hoping to extend the life a bit.

Eating what we have

  • I had takeout leftovers for lunch one day. Takeout is expensive (in this case, we used a gift card), but it's nice when they extend to another meal
  • Used up garden strawberries & a couple of mini watermelons in smoothies

For others

  • Volunteered for the grad school I attended
  • Picked up trash on my walk
  • Gave away a few things on Buy Nothing
That's it from my side. Any wins for you to share?

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October Goals

October should be a fun  month. My parents are coming for a visit, we're heading to Santa Barbara for our anniversary, and work *should* be a bit more dialed back. 

Here are my goals for the month:

Financial

  • Find an accountant & financial planner. I'm hiring an accountant this year, given our vacation house sale, and I'd like another set of eyes on the financials of my "leave work" plan.
  • Track all grocery expenses, to get a perspective on a realistic budget, and any cuts/swaps we want to make
  • Make $150 in side hustle
Family:
  • Have two dates with M
  • Set up permit appointment for Sam
  • Have a fabulous anniversary trip
  • Have a family adventure
Fitness/health:
  • Fast until noon 20 days
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • 1300 minutes of cardio
  • Run 25 miles
  • 10 strength workouts
  • Meditate 12 times
  • Continue doctor's stuff for lupus & my back pain
Personal:
  • Donate or toss 30 items
  • Try 2 new recipes
  • Write for 30 minutes
  • Put out at least one Halloween/fall decoration

That's it for me. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in October?

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

September Goals Recap

I knew September would be crazy with work, and it was even nuttier than expected. I'm glad it's behind me! I wasn't as productive as I'd hoped, but did manage to get a few things done.

Financial:

  • Set new savings goals. - Yes, done
  • Resolve outstanding vacation house item - YES! I'm so happy to mark it off the list. I had to wait for the buyers to set up a contract with a construction company, & couldn't make a payment until they had a signed contract. Over two months later, this is now done. Hurrah.
  • Figure out grocery budget & determine what's realistic - our grocery budget was less for the month, but this still needs more attention.
  • Make $150 in side hustle - I made $184.

Family:

  • Have two dates with M - yes, we went to lunch one Friday afternoon, & had a wine tasting on a weekend.
  • Build regular soccer carpool - I got into a good groove in September, but the shorter days has adjusted our practice schedule again, and we have minimal overlaps with others. 
  • Have Sam start working on a few things (test prep, drivers ed, etc) - Some progress made
  • Decide on anniversary itinerary - We've booked a few reservations, but that's pretty much it.
  • Have a family adventure - we finally got out to a restaurant we've been wanting to try. 

Fitness/Health:

  • Fast until noon 20 days - I fasted 16 days (until noon)
  • Lose 2 lbs - I lost .5 a lb. I've been on an upward trajectory, so I'll take it
  • 1200 minutes of cardio - 1285 cardio minutes
  • 10 runs - I got in 7 runs
  • 10 strength workouts - 8 of 10
  • Meditate 12 times - 10 times
  • Continue doctor's stuff  - I've been going to a chiropractor for my back. 

Personal:

  • Find 30 items to give away or donate - eh, not much progress. I think I tucked a few items into my Buy Nothing "closet", but nowhere close to 30 items.
  • Try two new recipes - I made a beef & cauliflower rice taco skillet & a Mediterranean coleslaw. Both were good & we will try them again.
  • Write for 30 minutes - nope
  • Plant a few fall items - yes, I planted kale, carrots, radishes & a few more English cucumbers

That's how I did with my September goals. What about you? Any wins to celebrate, or things you want to focus on in October?

Monday, October 4, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

I can't believe we made it through another week. They are just whizzing by, as we approach the final quarter of the year. Here's what we're planning for dinners. 


  • Friday - wings, salad & egg rolls
  • Saturday - I was on my own, & had cheese & crackers
  • Sunday - kebabs & rice
  • Monday - egg roll in a bowl
  • Tuesday - kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - hot dogs (for some), salmon for others
  • Thursday - tacos el pastor (freezer) 
  • Friday - TBD. Potentially pizza
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

It really feels like we've entered the high school years

Sam started high school last year, but it was a COVID, schooling from home year, so the transition wasn't really noticeable. This year, however, we have two kids in high school & many more activities are back up & running (with adaptations, of course). 

No one was home with us on Friday night (Nick at the football game, Sam at a friends). Yesterday was one of the busiest driving days we've had (Nick's reffing jobs, Sam's game #1, Sam's game #2, Nick's haircut, and a birthday party for Nick) & then I was home alone in the evening. M took Sam to dinner in the city after his second game, and Nick was out with friends eating pizza. They've both been invited to a friend's house for dinner tonight. One of the dad's got a new smoker, and is making a bunch of meat for the kids. Nick is making three loaves of homemade bread to share. ;-) 

It's so bittersweet to see them blossoming, with jobs, sports, friends, etc. They are rarely home, and we are trying to enjoy the time we do have together, & not think about all of the driving it takes to get them places. Thank goodness we have an electric car. 

I also try to make the most of the many, many soccer games, turning the time at warm ups (45-60 minutes, depending on the coach) into a workout for myself. 

I suppose this is the inevitable transition that makes it a bit easier when they move out for college. 

High school teens aside, here's what we're up to today:

  • Work out during Nick's warm ups this morning
  • Make applesauce from all of the apples my friend gave me
  • If there are enough apples leftover, make apple crisp
  • I'm going to try to brown the meat for egg roll in a bowl today, and then just combine with the cabbage tomorrow, for a faster weeknight meal
  • Plan our schedule for the week ahead
  • Laundry. Always
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Call my parents (Nick)
  • Take the boys to/from a friends house for dinner
  • Decide what to do with a ton of herbs (cut, dry, & preserve?)
  • Move Fresno pepper to a sunnier part of the yard
  • List 5 more items on Buy Nothing
  • List 2 items on eBay
That's it from my side. What about you - what are you up to today? If you have kids, do you remember this phase?

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Saturday things

 I took yesterday off, and it was such a nice treat. I met a friend for a two hour hike, got a massage (I'm so sore!) & had a long call with my mom. M & I had an unexpected dinner alone (Nick was at the football game, Sam was at a friend's house), so he even lit candles at dinner. :-) We had a very casual dinner of chicken wings & spring rolls. Both with different sauces. It was easy & delicious.

I also picked a bunch of mint for drying (M uses mint in a yogurt sauce he makes) & packaged an eBay sale. I read my book by the pool, & enjoyed the time off very much.

As for today, it's the normal array of things:

  • Taking Nick to/from a couple of reffing jobs for soccer
  • Going for a run
  • Taking Sam to a game in the afternoon. M will pick him up from there, & take him to a second game (he's subbing for another team) in the city. I don't like to drive in the city or at night, so M will be the driver for this one.
  • Drop Nick off/pick up after at a birthday party. 
  • Pick up apples from a friend (from her tree) & drop off zucchini for her
  • Dry the mint
  • Make egg roll in a bowl
  • Laundry (my constant companion)
  • Clean the fridge
  • List 5 items on Buy Nothing. This has been on my to do list forever. Really going to try & make it happen!
That's it for us. Nick had a great time at the football game last night, but got home really late (10:30), when we were already in bed. Apparently, we're too old to be parenting high schoolers. ;-) 

What about you? What are you up to today? 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Frugal Friday

I'm reaching the end of my craziest work season, & I'm ever so grateful. While not the best frugal week, here are a few wins: 


Saving on things we buy

  • Used the last of a Rite Aid gift card to pick up a prescription
  • I get a lot of sun exposure, being outside a lot. I'm also very fair, and need to start wearing more clothes that are light weight & offer sun protection. I read about a few options & priced them out, and found a great deal on some. If they turn out to be high quality (I'm awaiting the order), I'll share the recommendation. I was able to combine multiple offers to get the shirts for close to 70% off, so they were a very good price. 
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch


Earning  money

  • I haven't been listing much on eBay, but have sold a few things that were listed a ways back:
    • A collection of fancy collar stays (think mens suits), for $75, so that was a big win
    • Two pair of shoes
  • I found $.06 on the ground (a penny at the tournament & a nickle at Rite Aid)


Avoiding spending

  • I've had an ongoing problem with Sam's Kindle being charged for Kindle Unlimited. There was an error in his billing email, and we've had no way to log in & turn it off. Multiple (long) calls took care of this back in May, but somehow the charges have re-emerged. Got it taken care of again, and got $30 credited back. He does do a lot of reading, but mostly reads books not available on Kindle Unlimited. 
  • Drove our electric car both ways to a soccer tournament, that was quite a distance away. Tournaments are never super frugal, but it felt good not to have to spend money on gas.
  • Brought lots of water & snacks to the tournament. We bought extra stuff & did have two meals out as expected, but we were able to avoid some purchases through planning ahead. 
  • Used a gift card to buy dinner on a busy day.


Eating what we have

  • We used up all of the taco meat I defrosted. We often have a very small amount leftover (not enough for any one meal), but I made a taco quesadilla for Nick for dinner, which he enjoyed.
  • I used garden zucchini (shredded, from the freezer) & a few other pantry items to make zucchini muffins for M
  • We've had a bunch of garden tomatoes, which are no hardship to use up. 

For others

  • Loaned a tool to a neighbor
  • Shared produce with another neighbor

What about you? Any wins to share for the week? 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tuesday things

I'm in the home stretch with crazy work stuff. My last "big" meeting is this morning. After that's over, I have some follow up work to do, and I'm filling in for my boss, who is on vacation for the next two weeks. But, I'm expecting my stress level to drop significantly, as the remaining work on my plate should be more standard, and not as stressful.

I've stayed on top of my working out during this time (although, not always the workouts I've envisioned), but I have definitely dropped the ball with my eating. More snacking, and less balanced meals. My clothing is sending up the signal, as everything is fitting snugger than normal. Not good. I need to get back on the plan.

As for the soccer tournament, it played out as expected. Nick & Sam played each other in the first game. Sam's team is really incredible, and ended up taking first place in the tournament, and they were unscored on. That alone is crazy. Nick's team just couldn't match them in any way, and lost 0-6. Tournament rules limit how many goals you can score without being penalized, thank goodness. Sam's team beat all of the other opponents similarly, and Nick's team ended up winning their next game & tying the third game. Had they scored one more goal in the third game, they would have met up with Sam's team again in the finals. We are all relieved it didn't come to that. ;-) 

Nick injured himself in the first game, and missed the last two. He tweaked his back during a collision with another player, so has been resting up. He was disappointed to miss the games, and it's the first time either of my kids has ever missed a soccer game due to injury. So, we've gotten really lucky so far. 

I spent 8+ hours at the tournament both Saturday & Sunday, so there wasn't much of a weekend to speak of. I'm very glad I opted to take Friday off. I need the break. 

It was fun to get to know some of the parents/kids on Sam's team, and I think Nick idolizes some of them. A few play the highest level of youth soccer (it's run by Major League Soccer) & it's a thing of beauty to watch them play. I'm sad for teams on both sides that the bracket didn't have more balanced team (better challenges for Sam's team, and similarly rated teams for Nick's team.) Ah, well, that's what you get in tournaments, particularly after COVID, when team standings are very misleading. 

And with that, I'm off. My goal for the week is to improve my eating! What is your one goal for the week you'd like to focus on?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

It's a busy week ahead, but luckily not quite as intense as last week. I have a gift card for takeout from work, and this feels like the right time to use it.  

Here's what we're eating this week (in addition to green salads with every meal):

  • Friday - We had gyozos, & baked chicken
  • Saturday - eat out, late soccer game
  • Sunday - kebabs & rice
  • Monday - chicken curry (freezer)
  • Tuesday - taquitos (didn't get made last week)
  • Wednesday - kebabs & rice
  • Thursday - takeout, using a gift card from work
  • Friday -  TBD, but potentially pizza or salads topped with a protein
That's it from our side. What about you? What are you having for dinner at your house?

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Saturday Happenings

I got through an enormous work milestone yesterday afternoon, and it's like a huge weight off my chest. I have another one next week, so once we get through that phase, I will return to the busy but not crazy times. I'm so looking forward to that. The majority of my intense stress will be done, independent of deadlines. And, for that I'm grateful. M & I had a cocktail by the pool yesterday afternoon, celebrating the end of some deadlines. It was really lovely, and we are soaking up the gorgeous sunny days. 

M made gyozos last night, and they were so delicious. These were just the frozen kind, but mine never end up right. He has the patience for really experimenting with different prep & types of ingredients. Whatever he did, we loved them. Sam, M & I nibbled on those while Nick was at tennis lessons. We are putting those back on the shopping list. Yum!

As for today, the boys have a soccer tournament, about a 45 minute drive away. Nick is subbing for a team that needs players. For the first time ever, the boys are playing against each other. (They've played against each other in scrimmages more than once, but always for the same club, and never in any "real" capacity). Sam switched clubs last season, and is now playing at a higher level. I have no idea why Nick's (sub) team is unlucky enough to have drawn Sam's team, but here they are. The two teams are quite far apart, in terms of skill level. My only asks are 1) for good sportsmanship 2) no fouling of your brother 3) no trash talking, in the car or otherwise. 

Sam then plays again almost immediately after the game against Nick, while Nick's team drew the late game. It's going to be a full day, and we won't be leaving the fields until 9 pm+, making it an 8 hour day of soccer. 

Both boys play again tomorrow morning, & then whomever is in the finals plays that afternoon. 

The busy tournament schedule is one of the reasons I pushed so hard on my work projects last week/weekend, as I knew I wouldn't have time this weekend. 

Here's what's on the to do list for today, ahead of leaving for the tournament:

  • Pack some snacks, sneakers & the like for me to use during warmups, & lots of water for everyone
  • Work out
  • Make a menu (done, I think)
  • Make a shopping list
  • M will go to Costco & the produce stand
  • Dishes
  • Defrost ground beef for tomorrow's dinner

I will somehow have to do laundry when we get home, because the boys definitely can't wear the uniforms two days in a row. Not sure how that will work out, given the late game tonight & early morning tomorrow. 

Hope everyone has a fabulous Saturday! What are you up to today?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Frugal Friday

It's been a very, very busy week with work & kids. Not one of our better "frugal" week, but here are a few things we did this week. 


Saving on things we buy

  • Made an effort to buy more at the produce stand, vs Costco. This helps reduce waste & ensures we buy just the right amount. My husband LOVES Costco, so this is a bit of a work in progress. 
  • Uploaded all of my receipts to Fetch. The toothpaste (below, for donation) yielded bonus points, which was an unexpected win. 

Earning money

  • Sold a few things on eBay (suit, swim suit/SPF top, slides/sandals, dress)

Avoiding spending

  • We noticed an erroneous card on our credit card, and disputed it

Eating what we have

  • This wasn't exactly a banner week (over the last week to ten days, we've eaten out a lot more than normal. This is a phase, due to very challenging work weeks for myself & M. Neither of us like eating out (health wise, as much as $$), but the kids are loving it. ;-) We'll be back to normal soon enough.
  • We have been continuing to eat garden items - we have a ton of tomatoes right now. 

For others

  • I found a great price on toothpaste at Rite Aid, and picked some up for donations
  • Shared extra produce with our neighbor

Monday, September 20, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

We're trying something new this week, as the other diners in my house are getting bored with leftovers. My plan for 10+ years has been to cook on weekends (Friday, Saturday & Sunday), & make enough for leftovers for the week, with one fill in meal. I hate change and am a little worried about the timing of making everything during the week. But, we will give it a try for a few weeks, & see how things go.

We have a green salad with each meal, I just don't post it.

  • Friday - we went out, to an outdoor restaurant we've been interested in trying. IMO, it was overpriced, for the food/experience. 
  • Saturday - steak & caprese salad
  • Sunday - barbecued chicken & roasted squash
  • Monday - spaghetti & meatballs (Nick cooking)
  • Tuesday - tacos/taco salads
  • Wednesday - steak & caprese salad (we'll prep the steak "fresh", so I suppose it's technically not a leftover ;-) 
  • Thursday - taquitos (for 3 diners), salmon for M
  • Friday - Gyozos and baked chicken
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Fall Sunday

 This is absolutely my favorite time of the year, when there is no wildfire smoke. Fingers crossed. It's overcast & may actually rain here, after months & months (& months) of sun. 

I'm planning to take a break from work today (hurrah) & putter around a bit before I take Sam to his game. We had the loveliest evening last night. Dinner was fabulous, the kids were chatty about their days, and then they ended up playing a game together in the evening. COVID was pretty hard on their relationship, and it's been hard to see them not spend time together. I know that is a natural part of growing up, but we were so lucky for the first 12+ years, where they got along exceptionally well. Hearing them laughing & chatting when we went to bed was such a treat. 

Here's what's on the agenda today:

  • Laundry. It's an almost daily activity, when you have four people who work out every day, and one who wears a PE uniform, and two soccer players (game uniforms, etc). 
  • Make zucchini muffins. Defrosted a package of shredded zucchini from the freezer
  • Make salsa verde (roast tomatillos?)
  • Run
  • Take Sam to his game (pick up bonus kid)
  • Arrange soccer schedule for the week
  • Call my parents
  • Have Nick sign up for more reffing games
  • Sam to study for drivers test & PSATs
  • Both boys - homework
  • Make homemade bread (Nick)
  • Review work schedule for the week
  • List the two items from my closet on eBay
  • Clean fridge
That's it from my side. What are you up to today? Hope you have a fabulous day!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday Happenings

I got up at 5 to get started on work, and did that for a few hours, before taking Nick to his first ref job. We want him to select only games he can bike to, but he had to leave straight from that game to get a ride to his own game. Both coaches got a yellow card - he said it was fun but intense. Note that this was pretty young kids, and a rec league, not club/competitive soccer. He's not ready for that level of ref'ing yet. :-) 

M took Nick to his game (an hour+ drive), while I took Sam on a few errands. He can be good company, when he's in the mood to chat. We loaded up at the produce stand, and then went to Costco. Rite Aid had a great deal on toothpaste, so I stocked up on some to donate. 

Nick's team won their game (he scored on a PK, & another player scored in the final minute of the game), so he was thrilled about that. M took Nick & a bonus player back with us, stopping first for lunch. Hungry soccer players couldn't wait, and required a stop at In & Out. 

I worked in the yard, did a few  more hours of work, and then gathered a bunch of garden ingredients for dinner: cilantro, parsley, jalapenos & oregano for a chimichurri sauce, and tomatoes + basil for a caprese salad.

And with that, I'm off to take Sam to his game, while M grills steak. We're having steak with a chimichurri sauce, caprese salad & green salad. All of the yummy things.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! What are you up to today? 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Frugal Friday

 Another really busy week at work. So happy it's Friday! This is my least favorite time of the year at my job - way too much going on!


Saving on things we buy

  • I've done quite a few iBotta deals lately, & earned $55 in the last few weeks. This is really unusual, as I rarely have the time or inclination to shop around for the sale prices + iBotta offers. Everything seemed to work out this time around. 
  • I bought a gift card on Raise (clicked through Rakuten first) & earned a $10 Raise promo. Went back & bought another gift card, applying the $10.

Earning money

I've been trying to slowly add more things to eBay. This week I've sold:

  • A shirt from the vacation house
  • An old remote. I wasn't super optimistic selling these, but would far prefer they get more use vs going to the landfill. I've been pleasantly surprised, and have sold 2 of the 3 I listed.
  • A pair of M's swim trunks that no longer fit
  • A dress I don't wear

Avoiding spending

  • I attended an outdoor goodbye drinks for a coworker, hosted at another coworkers house. She has a lovely outdoor space. I know she loves cooking & baking, so I brought over some goodies from the garden. I thought of buying flowers for the hostess, but know she'd prefer garden produce. I picked multiple varieties of tomatoes, shishito peppers & blueberries. In return, she sent everyone home with a large jar of honey from her bees. I'm very excited to try it. Yum, honey. 
  • Used a Rite Aid gift card to pick up movie theater snacks for Nick, and three more boxes of cereal. Earned 1059 points for the cereal (some sort of special offer) via Fetch. 
  • Got a free lunch from work (meal delivery)

Eating what we have

  • Used up leftover rice, and combined it with scrambled eggs (all baked together) & topped with cheddar cheese. It was surprisingly good, & I had it twice for lunch. 

For others

  • Uploaded my cereal receipt to Box Tops for education, earning money for the local school
  • Signed up to mentor Afghani female students, who were evacuated out, but in transition for a more permanent future. 
  • Volunteered to help someone who needs some career guidance

And, I thought I'd add the things we do every week, as a reminder for myself, if nothing else:
  • Meal plan
  • Save our shower warm up water (this is new over the last few weeks, so I'm excited to see how it will impact our garden watering bill)
  • Line dry the majority of our clothing/laundry
That's it from my side. What about you? 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

Keeping it short & simple, as another wild work week is ahead. Here's what we're eating this week. 


  • Friday - pizzas (kids), leftover curry & rice (adults)
  • Saturday - Burgers on the grill, with Mediterranean Coleslaw
  • Sunday - Beef & cauliflower taco skillet (didn't get made last week)
  • Monday - baked chicken & pasta
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers
  • Wednesday - potentially takeout. If not, spaghetti & meatballs
  • Thursday - leftover beef taco skillet
  • Friday - Wings & salad
What about you? What are you eating this week?

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saturday Happenings

 It's a much quieter weekend, for which I'm very grateful. We have one soccer game today, and Nick is going to an outdoor birthday gathering for a friend, where I believe the parents have set up an outdoor movie viewing. Getting teens together in COVID times is challenging, but we are blessed with good weather for much of the year, which makes it easier.

What else is on my to do list?

  • Run
  • Strength/posture quick workouts
  • Sort out Nick's drop off/pick up
  • Clean the house
  • Take Sam to his soccer game
  • Track down missing iBotta items 
  • Make a grocery list
  • Menu plan
  • Go to the produce stand
  • Spend some time in the garden, weeding, getting fall items planted
  • List 10 items on Buy Nothing
Bonus items:
  • Pick up Nick's soccer jesery
  • Exchange the (wrong running) socks I bought M

M is grilling burgers tonight, & I'm thinking of making this Mediterranean Coleslaw to go with it. 

What is everyone else up to this weekend?

Friday, September 10, 2021

Frugal Friday

 It's been another wild work week, but here's what we accomplished. 


Saving on things we buy

  • Used grocery store rewards to pick up a few items we needed for dinners this week. And almond milk for my coffee, because mornings are hard enough without coffee.
  • Submitted iBotta offers for a few things we were already planning to buy (a sports drink for a thirsty soccer player & ground beef for weekend burgers). Saved $1.60. 
  • Used a Rite Aid gift card & rewards to pay for the above sports drink & two boxes of cereal. Received a Venmo rebate for the price of both boxes of cereal.
  • Contacted the grocery store, as I didn't get rewards for a gift card purchase. I find that these offers work as planned about half the time. They are always very friendly & responsive when I email them, but they should really figure out why their promotions don't work upon purchase. It would save everyone some time. ;-) 

Earning money

  • I didn't list much, but sold a few things:
    • A book off of a freebie table
    • An unworn race tshirt that didn't fit
    • A crystal candy dish, from another freebie table
    • A workout tank
Avoiding spending
  • Picked up a free loaf of bread as part of the Friday Freebies at the grocery store
  • Filled out a rebate for two boxes of cereal (teen snack favorite). I believe the rebate is still open, if you like Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 

Eating what we have
  • Lunch leftovers have been slim pickings lately (a combo of not having as much time to cook & meal prep, people eating more, & I've inadvertently selected a few recipes that just didn't make as much). Had a frozen lunch entree (frozen from our own previous meal) of chicken enchilada rice. Didn't love it as a leftover, due to semi soggy rice, but topped with guacamole, cheese & tomatoes & it was better. 
  • Found some fruit leather that were apparently leftover road trip snacks from this summer. Put them in the front of the pantry so hungry teens would eat them. Done & done. 
  • Used a lot of garden items in salads, and also made a large pasta salad. The salad used up zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil, shishito peppers & banana peppers, and it was delicious. I used up other fridge items, including the last of a jar of sweet & spicy pickles. The pickle brine made a great addition to the dressing. 

For others
  • Helped a friend with transportation to our soccer tournament, and took her son with us to brunch. Another friend has helped me so many times with soccer transportation, so it's really nice to pay it forward. 
  • Bought breakfast for another friend. 
  • Returned a lost phone to a happy owner at a soccer tournament
  • Chased down our neighbor's dog (she's a wily one) & brought her back
  • A neighbor needed help (& a specialty part) for a bike repair. Nick offered to help, and fixed her bike for her. She was thrilled. (She sent him an Amazon gift card & the nicest thank you note, even though no payment was required. He's hoping to build enough skills to work at a bike shop.) 
  • Donated money to the boys school, and then requested a corporate match

Monday, September 6, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

It was a busy week, and an equally busy weekend. Prepping food over the weekend helps us stay on track between activities during the week.  

I can't function without a menu plan!

  • Friday - we had Thai takeout
  • Saturday - barbecued chicken (M) + pasta salad with lots of garden goodies
  • Sunday - In & Out style (homemade) burgers + leftover pasta salad
  • Monday - chicken curry & rice
  • Tuesdaybeef & cauliflower taco skillet
  • Wednesday - leftover barbecued chicken
  • Thursday - chicken curry & rice
  • Friday - Making burritos with the beef & cauliflower skillet filling
Other things happening today:
  • Clean the house
  • Laundry
  • Make curry
  • Prep beef & cauliflower taco skillet
  • Host pool party
  • Take Nick to meet up with friends
  • Work out
  • Carpool plan for the week
  • Work schedule for the week
  • Make to do list for tomorrow, as I have a crazy day
  • Some work
That's it from my side. What about you? What's happening at your house today?

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Soccer Sunday

M took Nick to his early morning game today, and they won 4-0, so we are back in the finals this afternoon. I attempted to go back to sleep after they left, but I find that really hard to do, so instead just relaxed a bit. 

I ran some errands (produce stand, Rite Aid, Trader Joes & the grocery store) to pick up a few items we needed, and also get snacks for tomorrow. Sam is having a couple of friends over to swim tomorrow, and I have a few pool party snacks, but two have meat, & both guests are vegetarian. Picked up some options for that.

I haven't yet worked out, but will plan to walk during tournament warm ups. As usual, there will be plenty of time ahead of the game. :-) 

I made pasta salad last night to go with M's barbecued chicken, and it was delicious. It used up so many garden items: zucchini, cherry tomatoes, basil, shishito peppers, banana peppers & cucumber. I also used the last of a jar of sweet & spicy pickles (delicious) as flavoring for the dressing, which worked well. In fact, I wish I'd had more. The zucchini should have been picked earlier, but was otherwise fine. 

I need to get some house cleaning done today, and then M is grilling burgers. Tomorrow I'll make chicken curry, and then perhaps also prep the beef/taco skillet for the week. 

How about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Saturday Happenings

I was up early (5), made coffee, made a smoothie & toast for Nick, & then we were out the door at six for soccer. The tournament organizers said we had to be there over an hour early, but somehow when we got there, the tournament wasn't even open yet. ;-) 

We won our first game 6-0 (you have to stop scoring at six) & then tied our second game 1-1. In between, we took the kids to brunch, where they scarfed pancakes & laughed & generally fooled around. 

I'm now home, & finished up a bit of work. It's definitely my busy time of the year. Luckily, it was a fast project. M is cooking, and I still have to make a salad. Oh, and laundry, because Nick's soccer uniform is all of the fragrant smells, and he has two more games tomorrow. Sam is at a birthday/swim party, and is thrilled, as the family is Indian & making lots of Indian food for the kids. That's his absolute favorite. Other (Indian) kids often ask their parents if they can have more Western party food, like pizza, but Sam always begs for their parents to make traditional food. They love feeding him, so I'm sure he'll come home stuffed. 

M is up for the early morning game tomorrow, and then I'll go to the afternoon game. I'm making chicken curry tomorrow (yum), & then a cauliflower/beef skillet dish on Monday. It sounds delicious, so I'll report back.

And, spotted on a run this week:



What about you? What are you up to this long weekend (for those of you in the US) Saturday?

Friday, September 3, 2021

Frugal Friday

 It was a really busy week on all sides, but here's what we accomplished!


Saving on things we buy

  • Bought two drinks at Starbucks, using a gift card. While I was walking into Starbucks, I looked on the app to see if there was a promotion, and quickly signed up for that, earning 25 stars.
  • Used grocery store rewards to buy Gatorade for soccer player on a super hot day. We don't do it often, so it's a special treat.
  • While I was dropping off the cleat exchange items for recycling, noticed that M's favorite running socks were on sale (good running socks are $$), & picked up a couple of pair


Earning money

  • Our mortgage company was challenging to work with, while we were attempting to pay off the balance, so we ended up overpaying. They reimbursed us $6k for the over payment, which I added to our savings
  • Listed a few items on eBay, as things are slow. Sold a few things:
    • A remote
    • A pair of football gloves that were at the bottom of the cleat recycling bin, but looked to be in great shape

Avoiding spending

  • I planned to make homemade granola bars, but Costco was out of natural peanut butter. I looked around our pantry, & found an unopened container of peanuts that needed to be used anyway, and made homemade peanut butter. Cleaning out the pantry & avoiding spending money. Win/win. 
  • I finally set up water containers in the shower to catch the warm up shower water. I feel so much better, making even tiny strides in reducing our water usage. The fires here continue to remind me to use as little water as possible. 
  • Picked up a few free lemons that a neighbor had out with a "free" sign. We use lemons to dress our salad every night
Eating what we have

  • Following on to the granola bar win, I also used up the dregs of a bag of stale granola & cereal (both in the back of the pantry, that someone left unsealed) in this granola bar recipe. I find that the pretzels can be replaced with many things. 
  • Roasted Serrano peppers
  • Picked a couple of small watermelons & one cantaloupe from the raised bed. They are small, but taste great!
  • I made eggs for lunch a couple of days, as there were no suitable leftovers. A couple of our recipes made less than expected/people ate more than anticipated. :)

For others

  • Gave away more zucchini to neighbors
  • Another neighbor dropped off strawberries & two (unopened) packages of pasta, as a thanks for all of our zucchini sharing
  • Volunteered at the cleat exchange, and helped match up soccer players with cleats & other soccer gear
  • Took the cleats with no life left, and dropped them off at the local sports store for recycling. 
  • Volunteering through a project at work

Thursday, September 2, 2021

September Goals

September, it's happening! September is another busy work month, so I'm keeping things pretty focused on what I feel like I can realistically accomplish. Here are my goals for the month. 


Financial:

  • Set new savings goals. I need clear motivation & tracking, after we finish saving for taxes
  • Resolve outstanding vacation house item
  • Figure out grocery budget, & determine what's realistic
  • Make $150 in side hustle

Family:

  • Have two dates with M
  • Build a regular soccer carpool schedule, once the practice time/days get finalized
  • Have Sam start working on a few longer term projects: test prep, drivers ed practice, job considerations
  • Decide on anniversary itinerary
  • Have a family adventure (this could be anything - dinner out, family tennis match, etc). 
Fitness/Health
  • Fast until noon 20 days
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • 1200 minutes of cardio
  • 10 runs
  • 10 strength workouts
  • Meditate 12 times
  • Continue doctors stuff for lupus & back
Personal:
  • Find 30 items to donate/give away, or toss
  • Try two new recipes
  • Write for 30 minutes
  • Plant a few fall vegetables



Wednesday, September 1, 2021

August Goals Recap

I can't believe August is over. It was a whirlwind month, with soccer & school starting, & my workload getting busier. Yet, here we are!

Here's a look back at my goals, and how I did for the month.


Financial:

  • Pay off our mortgage! - yes, done! WOOHOOOO!! All of the celebration emojis. 
  • Resolve outstanding vacation house item. - No, and we can't proceed until the buyers finalize a contractor.
  • Stick to our budget. - we were way over on groceries again. I need to take a closer look in September. I can think of a few things that contributed, but it's going to take some dedicated effort to figure out exactly what's happening (other than, spending too much generally) & deciding where we want to cut back, what we're comfortable with, and what's due to generally rising prices. 
  • Make $300 in side hustle - I made $130, as I didn't get much listed in August, due to overall business. 
Family:
  • Have a date with M- yes, we had a lovely dinner out a few weeks ago. 
  • Help the boys get back into school/soccer, particularly high school for Nick - yes, this is going pretty well, but a lot going on!
  • Help the boys with potential new job opportunities - Nick has completed the soccer ref course & is awaiting his official completion card, but is otherwise good to go. Sam's job didn't pan out (the school didn't end up hiring anyone), so we're waiting for him to get a bit more settled with school & sports before figuring out what might be a good option. 
  • Plan our anniversary - my parents are coming to hang out with the boys, and we're going out of town. Flights (parents) & travel (us) are booked!
Fitness/Health:
  • Lose 3 lbs - I've lost one pound but it's not net new. It's losing a pound I'd gained back. I'm happy for a bit of positive momentum, but need more!
  • Start half marathon training - I had one good week, but have since dialed it back to less frequent running & shorter distances. I'm not sure if a half is in the cards right now. Maybe a 10k
  • Complete 12 strength workouts - I did 6, and can tell that I had a rough month. I'm not as toned as I was, and need to make this a priority.
  • Meditate 10 times - I meditated 7 times
  • Continue doctor's stuff for lupus - yes, it's slow to get in for some of the appointments, but I'm doing my part. 

Personal:

  • Go through all of the boys + my clothes -  I did finish the boys clothes. My wardrobe is largely pared, & I did go through all of my dresses, but still a few things to go through.
  • Give away or donate all Buy Nothing items - I'm about 1/2 way through, and keep finding more!
  • Stay on top of garden. Try a few new recipes. - we've done a good job of this. I've given away a lot, we've made a few zucchini recipes, I've tried several pickled pepper recipes, and we used our bell peppers in a new fajita recipe. 
  • Write, for at least 30 minutes - I journaled, and probably spent about this amount of time, but was hoping to get in some fiction writing, which didn't happen


The month looks as I'd expected it to. Some progress, but not a lot of completed items. What about you? How did you do with your August goals?

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Another recipe recommendation - chicken shawarma

I tried this recipe & it was really great. Highly recommend. I made it with chicken breasts (that's what I had on hand), but will try the thighs next time around. 

I made the recipe as is, and found that the toppers were a critical component. We had:

  • Feta
  • Diced tomatoes & cucumbers
  • Lettuce 
  • Cilantro (a lot in the garden)
  • Tzatziki sauce (we bought some from Trader Joes & it was leftover, thus the inspiration for the dish)
  • Diced red onions
I marinated the chicken overnight, and next time will double the quantity of chicken, so we can have a lot of leftovers. 

Enjoy!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Menu plan Monday

 Here's our menu for the week. I'll report in on the new chicken recipe, linked below. 


  • Friday - gyozas, baked chicken, fruit & green salad
  • Saturday - out to dinner 
  • Sunday -  tomato & red pepper soup, grilled cheese with homemade bread
  • Monday chicken shawarma 
  • Tuesday - beef tacos & guacamole
  • Wednesday - potentially takeout, or leftovers
  • Thursday -  tacos
  • Friday - Pizza at home
That's it on our side. Nick informed me that he's not a fan of the tomato & red pepper soup, and will only eat plain tomato soup next time around, so I'll need to sub that in. It was great to have an easy meal to make, particularly since Nick made the loaf of bread. Yum!

What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday happenings

I'm hoping to get some stuff done before it gets too hot (and smoky) today. All three soccer games ended up being cancelled yesterday, so we ran the A/C (a rarity for us, as we can usually keep the house cooled by opening the doors/windows) & hung out at the house.

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

  • Work out
  • Get my vaccine booster (3rd shot, due to being immunocompromised)
  • Work on the schedule for next week. I was largely done with this, but soccer has changed. AGAIN.
  • Call my parents
  • Make granola bars
  • Prep taco meat
  • Marinate chicken
  • Weed the garden beds
  • List a couple of things on eBay
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the kitchen
That's it on my list. It's going to be a simple dinner of tomato soup & homemade rolls. I'm prepping some meals for the week ahead, which is always useful. 

Hope everyone is having a great day, and staying safe. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Hot & smoky Saturday

It's 100 degrees, high humidity, and our AQI (air quality) is over 150. Gross. 

I got up early, and woke up Nick so he could get ready for his morning soccer game. Our coach asked the home team if they wanted to cancel, due to air quality. We were right on the edge of the cancellation bar, with the day getting worse. The other team kept saying no, and insisting on playing. Fine. We drove to the field, & the home team had neglected to paint the lines, which is an automatic default & win for us. After that, they decided to cancel the game "due to air quality". Some people are just full of shenanigans. I would have rather not played, but have some common sense & cancel before you drag people to the field at 7:30 am on a Saturday & for the love of soccer, paint the fields if you want to play.

Anyway, from there, I went to volunteer at the cleat exchange, which was also outdoor. It was very hot, but I was happy to see people finding cleats for their kids. We had sizes from 2 (they are so tiny & adorable) to adult 13. My role was cleat organization (by size), checking wear, helping people find cleats that fit, & answering plenty of questions about soccer. 

After the cleat exchange, I volunteered to take the cleats that cannot be given out (too worn) to the shoe recycling at a local sports shop. I'm glad they won't be going to the landfill, at least. I also took home the two pair of like new baseball cleats that someone accidentally donated, & will give these away on Buy Nothing. 

Nick helped me out with the enormous box of recycling cleats (maybe 150+ pair), so we went to Starbucks for a cool drink after. I used a gift card, and earned extra stars, so I suppose it was a victory of sorts. I was mostly just happy to rehydrate.

Sam had two games scheduled for today. The first game cancelled due to air quality (with, lots of advance notice) & we're waiting to see about the second game. I hope it gets cancelled due to the smoke & heat, because it's a miserable day for soccer.

I should have taken a picture of the well organized cleat exchange. It made my environmental heart sing to see items stay in circulation.

How's the weather where you are, and what are you up to today?

Friday, August 27, 2021

Frugal Friday

 The busy work weeks continue, but we are trying to continue our good financial habits. 


Saving on things we buy

  • I considered doing delivery pizza for the boys last weekend, while we went on a date night. Picked up a Digornio's pizza instead, which was still pricey (need to stock up while they are on sale), but definitely cheaper than delivery pizza. 
  • I attempted a gift card offer at Rite Aid, and never got the rewards. I checked my receipt, and both cashiers & the manager were very puzzled, but eventually just added $20 to a gift card. Even better.
  • I booked our holiday flights using a travel credit from a cancelled COVID United flight. I paid $215 for four tickets, including a multi destination trip.  It was a great deal, and I'm thrilled I could use the credit for a trip we were already planning on taking. 

Earning money

  • Nick is going through training to become a soccer ref. This is a great job for someone who is below 16, and he has lots of soccer experience already. We fronted him the initial $75 for the class, and received the rest of the training for free via Sam's soccer club. We were able to use a gift card for the required uniform. I'm almost done with the gift card we won in a raffle several years ago. 
  • Earned a $5 reward on Bing
  • It's been very slow on eBay, mostly because I haven't been posting new things. Here's what I sold:
    • One of M's now outgrown dress shirt (he's lost a bunch of weight recently)
    • A gift we purchased that didn't work out 

Avoiding spending

  • Nick needed a whistle for his ref training course, and I almost ordered him one on Amazon, and then remembered that I'd been meaning to toss one that's been lingering in my closet. That was leftover from long forgotten soccer days 8 years ago, when I coached the boys team. :-) Glad it's back in use & we didn't need to buy anything. 
  • Used a credit for a movie rental over the weekend. It's amazing how we have several streaming services, yet many movies are still unavailable ... 
  • I also have another large United credit that needs to be used by May, so we're planning a potential family spring break trip. The planning part is fun, particularly knowing that the flights will be free!

Eating what we have

  • We somehow managed to eat all of the frozen bananas - I can't believe they are out of the freezer! So much more space.
  • I heated up the leftovers from my Saturday dinner out for Sam, and Nick ate leftovers from his Saturday dinner
  • Made blistered shisito peppers as a side dish, as well as guacamole (using homegrown cilantro, jalapenos & tomatoes) 
  • Used up garden green/orange/yellow peppers in our fajita dish
  • Made 8 batches of pickled peppers, and then used the brine to pickle other vegetables

For others

  • Gave away two skateboards & a scooter on our Buy Nothing group. 
  • Shared more zucchini & other garden goodies with friends & neighbors. My across the street neighbor also gave us Persian basil & lettuce from her garden. Love the sharing!
  • Gave away lots of peppers via Buy Nothing
What about you? Any wins to share?

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Delicious & easy (Keto friendly) chicken fajita recipe

 I made this chicken fajita recipe & it was so delicious, I thought I'd share. I followed the recipe as is, which is unusual for me. All of the peppers were from our garden!

I served it with cilantro, fresh baked tortillas, & guacamole (peppers, tomatoes & cilantro from the yard). Yum. 




Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2021

That time you made 8 batches of pickled peppers, and Menu Plan Monday

We had SOOOOOO many Serrano peppers, even after giving away a huge amount on Buy Nothing. I made 8 batches of this recipe, & then M added a ton of veggies into the leftover brine, creating an enormous bowl of pickled vegetables. I'm hoping we'll have lots of wonderful peppers preserved as a result. 

Here's what's on the menu:

  • Friday - we had "cheater" takeout, which is Trader Joes frozen Chinese options of egg rolls & gyozas + grilled chicken
  • Saturday - we were all out to eat. M & I were on a date night, and the kids went out to eat with a friend
  • Sunday - steak, shishito peppers, & Caesar salads
  • Monday - chicken fajitas, guacamole
  • Tuesday - steak, peppers & caprese salad
  • Wednesday - chicken fajitas
  • Thursday - any leftovers. If not, gyozas & chicken
  • Friday - pizza + salad
What are you making this week? Are you working through any garden bounty? 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Adulting

Less about my own adulting, but I'm helping the kids adult today. I took Nick to the soccer shop to pick up his ref outfit, showed him how to use his social security card to register all of the information (and, how to look out for SS scams), linked his bank account, registered for leagues to ref. There's quite a bit of work to help him, but I'm glad he'll be earning money soon & slowly heading towards being an adult. He's passed all of the tests & attended in person training, so he's ready to go when the games get posted.

Our agreement is that he can save 75% of his money, spend 25%, and I'll match all of his earned income, so he can get started saving for retirement. 

Sam's soccer game was a lot of fun yesterday, as he scored 3 goals & they won 4-1. He typically is a defender, but his new club has moved him around a bit, and he's definitely enjoying himself. 

My lesson learned from yesterday is to never take hungry kids to Costco. Not only did they have lunch there, but there were lots of miscellaneous "asks" that folks wanted to add to the list. ;-) 

M & I had a fabulous date night, and the boys went out to dinner with another friend, & said friend wanted a bunch of zucchini, so it was a triple win. ;-)  All in all, yesterday was lovely.

I went for a run this morning, and the temperature was perfect. 

I also trimmed back the Serrano pepper bush, as it's attempting to take over an entire raised bed. I'm giving away the peppers on Buy Nothing. 


Here's what's on the to do list for the rest of today:
  1. Vacuum
  2. Clean the kitchen
  3. Bathrooms
  4. Laundry
  5. Make fajitas
  6. Pickle peppers
  7. Make guacamole
  8. Sort out soccer schedule for next week
  9. Post a couple of items on Buy Nothing or eBay
  10. Dust
  11. Call my parents
What about you? What are you up to today?


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Saturday Happenings

 I managed to get quite a bit of work done yesterday, so that was a huge relief. After I was wrapped up for the day, I took Nick to ref training, came home & made dinner, & then M picked Nick up. Sam asked to watch "Mean Girls", so we found that, & had some laughs. He reports that high school is nothing like what's shown in the movie. ;-) 

Our neighbor loves zucchini, so we drop off multiples per week. She's grown Persian basil, which is an absolutely gorgeous color. This was the bottom of the kebab tray from last Sunday's dinner. The basil & onions add a lot of flavor to the kebabs, even after cooking. The photo doesn't do justice to some of the beautiful purple hues of the basil.




On to today. Here's what we have on the agenda:

  • Work out (planned for during Sam's soccer warm ups)
  • Take Sam to a soccer game
  • Costco
  • Grocery store
  • Clean fridge
  • Wash sheets
  • Make beds
  • Laundry (non-sheets)
  • Call my dad, make him birthday videos of the boys
  • Date night (outdoor) with M. It looks like the air quality will be decent this evening, which is awesome news.
What about you? What are you up to today? 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Frugal Friday

 Another week has passed. We're entering my very busy season at work, so things are a bit more sparse than usual. 


Saving on things we buy

  • We've hit our health care plan deductible for the year, so all of the appointments & prescriptions are suddenly very, very low price. We've never hit our deductible before, which is a sign that there's been a lot of $$$ specialist appointments & tests for me. Sam's typically pricey prescription was $11 when I went to refill it this month. 
  • Signed up for a 3 hour volunteer slot with Sam's soccer club, which offsets the club costs by $100. It's an event focused on keeping equipment circulating as kids outgrow, which is something the environmentalist in me loves!
  • I've been on a three year long search for the perfect casual black skirt (think, with a tank top & sandals for a summer day). I think I've found a promising candidate, so ordered it via Rakuten, then used a gift card & also a credit from a prior purchase, cutting the out of pocket cost in more than half. Fingers crossed this is the one!

Earning money
  • Continued to list & sell things on eBay, and upload my receipts to Fetch. Sold so far:
    • A gifted sports jersey that didn't fit properly
    • A reusable wine bag

Avoiding spending

  • Carpooled with a friend to a soccer tournament, saving us both time & fuel
  • Made vanilla extract, using the last of my vanilla bean pods

Eating what we have
  • I continue to sneakily make the boys meals of things I'm trying to get rid of. Lots of smoothies to use up freezer bananas & protein powder, & other things here & there. 
  • Finished off Greek food we ordered, which made 1 dinner & 1.5 lunches for me. It was a huge entree! And, delicious. 
  • Substituted jalapenos for another pepper in a recipe Nick was making. He's a stickler & likes to have exactly the right ingredients, but in this case, jalapenos were also less spicy (in addition to growing in the yard), so he was convinced. 
  • Used up the dregs of some trail mix (with, all of the M&Ms eaten out of it) & the end of a can of peanuts in a muffin recipe. It called for walnuts, but this worked as well.
  • Used garden zucchini to make three dozen muffins for the freezer
  • Used our first (tiny) cantaloupe in a fruit smoothie

For others
  • Gave away a desk to a neighbor. Glad to get out of the house, and into the house of someone who needs it (new college student)
  • Gave away zucchini to a friend ;-) 
  • Continued supporting my volunteer job. Also tracked my hours, as the non-profit gets a small donation for each hour I volunteer, via my job.
  • Gave away cleats that Nick outgrew. Plenty of life still left in them, so I'm happy they are getting more use. 
  • Sent money to help out with a project for a family member
  • Also was able to give away Nick's club soccer uniform from last season. They are very pricey, so I was thrilled someone else could use it. 
In a frugal fail/partial save, my company has had a concert series lottery for the local winery since I started working there. I've won tickets a couple of times, and it's always a lot of fun. I entered the lottery this year, but did not read the fine print. It turns out that this year, the lottery was to *buy* the tickets. The tickets were (at a pretty big discount) $300, and on a week day when we have two kid activities. I was able to sell the tickets for $250, which feels like a win, even though there was a $50 (self imposed) penalty for not reading the small print. ;-) 

That's it from my end. Please share your wins for the week!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Menu plan Monday

 Nick was in charge of selecting menu options for the "Dinner Game" this week, so here's what we came up with:

  • Friday - leftover deep dish pizza, Greek salad. Salmon for M
  • Saturday - Nick's mango habanero chicken wings & mozzarella/peach/basil salad
  • Sunday - M's barbecued chicken
  • Monday - pasta & meatballs
  • Tuesday - leftover wings, green salad & fruit salad
  • Wednesday - barbecued chicken salad or quesadillas
  • Thursday - leftover pasta & meatballs
  • Friday - TBD, or Mexican chicken rice
For the mango habanero sauce, we used less sugar, used four large jalapenos in place of the habanero, and then used a very hot habanero hot sauce in place of the Franks sauce, to give it a more habanero flavor. We also skipped the corn syrup and used a touch of agave. Next time, we'll leave that out altogether.

What about you? What are you making this week? 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Cute peppers, the first day of school & all of the zucchini

I know everyone will be relieved to hear that I gave away three zucchini to a friend yesterday, and my neighbor is back in town & would like another two zucchini. I also shredded up a large one yesterday, and made three dozen zucchini muffins. Of course, there are still many on the vine, a few in the fridge, not to mention all of the shredded zucchini in my freezer. Waste not, want not.

I love these cute peppers. Twins. 


I did pretty much everything on the list yesterday, but I didn't make baked zucchini coins for dinner. We opted for a peach mozzarella/basil salad, and a green salad. Nick made an amazing mango habanero sauce for wings, and it was so good we're making more wings tonight. The sauce was incredible. 

Tomorrow is the first day of school, so we're getting everything ready for that - backpacks cleaned out, PE uniforms & school supplies gathered, bike tires inflated, etc.

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

  1. Clean the kitchen (again, after Nick was in there)
  2. Vacuum
  3. Package & mail an eBay sale
  4. Pickle a batch of peppers
  5. Take Sam to a soccer game
  6. Work out
  7. Laundry (always)
  8. Have a glass of wine by the pool with M
I think that will do it for today. How about you? What are you up to today?

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Saturday happenings

Yesterday afternoon was filled with "adventure", as I helped to navigate a difficult situation with my special needs aunt. As she gets older, her decision making skills (already limited), decline. As my mom gets older, she finds it more challenging to stay on top of everything & gets more frustrated with the situation. My aunt has been repeatedly been scammed, sending checks, giving out her social security number, Medicare number, drivers license info, etc. She does not understand/recognize that she's special needs, and things are getting to the point where substantially more intervention will be required. It's a very emotional time for everyone. Also, how can you live with yourself as a scammer? It's just such a disgusting thing to do to another human.

I didn't sleep well, as a result of last night's situation, but I got up at six to help Sam get ready for a soccer tournament. His ride came at 6:55, so the morning was off to a very early start. I really could have used some extra sleep, but here we are. ;-) 

As soon as Sam left, I went for a long walk, which was nice, as the weather was lovely & cool. I came home, shredded a giant zucchini, and made three dozen zucchini muffins. I was also able to use some other bits & bobs from the pantry, which is always a win.

I'm driving to the next tournament game, and conveniently, Nick's scrimmage is only a few blocks away. Depending on how the tournament goes, there will likely be two additional games tomorrow. We shall see.

It's going to be a light to do list today, as I won't be home much of the day:

  1. Take Sam, Nick & bonus carpool kid to two games
  2. Make zucchini muffins
  3. Clean the kitchen
  4. Laundry
  5. Work out
  6. Give away at least 3 other zucchinis
  7. Organize & clean the fridge
  8. Make baked zucchini coins & caprese salad to go with dinner
  9. Have the boys go through their math school supply list (the only one they have) for Monday & ensure we have everything we need
That's it for me. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Frugal Friday

 


Saving on things we buy:

  • Bought three ice cream cakes, using a free Fetch offer with 3x redemptions. The kids were thrilled. The cakes were pretty small, and after the first purchase, the store printed out a $1.50 off coupon, making the cake a money earner on the second purchase. They enjoyed sharing with a friend we had over to swim this weekend.  It was also double points day at our grocery store, which made it a slightly better deal.
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch & iBotta. I found a Rite Aid receipt on the ground, and snapped that one as well (and, put it in the trash after). It had some sort of bonus on it, so I earned 70 points there.
  • Used the last of a grocery store gift card to pick up a few things Nick needed (he was in charge of dinner one night this week) 

Earning money:
  • Sold a few things on eBay
    • A race shirt
    • A car sticker (from M's VHS bin that I emptied out. It's OLD, but apparently still in style)
    • A pair of shoes
    • A reusable wine bag
    • Shoe dust cvovers
  • Redeemed $20 in Fetch rewards (see above on ice cream cakes) for Amazon gift cards

Avoiding spending
  • Used a gift card to a local soccer store (earned in a raffle several years back) to pick up extra socks, shin guards & a ball. Because I was also picking up a uniform (and, wouldn't you know, you can't use gift cards on uniforms), I also got 30% off of my other supplies. It was nice to spend zero out of pocket. I still have ~$60 or so left, and will use that to pick up reffing supplies for Nick, as he's going through the training to be a referee. 
  • It turns out that Sam doesn't need braces. We were planning to get them pre-COVID, but his adult teeth have settled in & all looks good. That's a huge money (and time) saver!

Eating what we have
  • Our garden is going nuts! We have so many cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, Greek basil, oregano, rosemary, mint, jalapenos, shishitos, serranos, & chives. It's really fun to go out & pick things for dinner. 
  • On a related note, made ten jars of pickled peppers - a mixed variety with jalapenos, banana & fresno. 
  • The kids are eating the blueberries before they make it into the house, but better them than the birds!
  • We are all snacking on the abundance of fresh cucumbers. The boys eat them sliced, with a bit of salt. 

For others
  • Picked a bunch of peppers & shared them on Buy Nothing. People love garden produce!
  • Gave away other garden items to friends & neighbors
  • So happy to finally find someone who was new to the boys soccer club (Nick's current, Sam's previous) & could use an outgrown practice jersey. Unfortunately, the rest of the gear went into the donation pile a while back, so I was thrilled to be able to help someone with a Buy Nothing ask. 
  • In the produce giveaways (above), two people offered us items from their garden. Unnecessary, but so kind. We ended up with additional shishitos, and Persian basil. I love the community aspect of sharing your bounty with others. I'll definitely have a lot more to share, and it makes me happy to pass it on to others who can't/don't have a garden, and will enjoy. Food waste of all types makes me crazy, and sharing makes me happy. 
  • Met a new neighbor while walking on Sunday, and after a chat up the hill, asked her if she liked zucchini & serrano peppers. She said yes to both, so it was great to meet someone else & share. She was lovely. 
What about you? Any frugal wins to report?

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Big goals to small goals

 After paying off the mortgage a week or so ago, I'm feeling the itch to set a few smaller goals. Currently, we are overwhelmed with garden produce, and they are pushing other food to the back of the fridge. I think a "use it up" challenge, will be useful over the next month or so.

My current plan is to list out a few things that need to be used up, and ensure they are top of mind as I'm making meals, snacks & putting together lunches for the kids. Side note, I typically only make lunches for the kids when I have something I want to use up. They are more than capable of making their own, but I'm sneaky that way. :-) 

Things to use up, week 1 challenge:

  1. 1/2 a loaf of sliced bread. We're not big sandwich eaters, so I'll need to get creative. Maybe french toast?
  2. 1/2 a package of sliced cheese
  3. Grate, use, or give away at least six zuchhinis
  4. Pickle at least 2 more batches of peppers
  5. Finish the open tomato soup
  6. Use up one freezer item (wild card, as it can be anything ;-))
  7. Finish off the taco meat
What about you? Do you set small goals? Any you'd like to share? Are you currently trying to use up anything in particular? 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Nick's pizza recipe

 Nick tried this recipe , & it was fabulous. Highly recommend. We topped ours with garden tomatoes. I have no idea if the price point mentioned in the recipe is accurate (didn't think to keep my receipts), but it was delicious. The pizza is huge (very, very thick crust) & even my hungry eaters didn't make much of a dent in it. 





Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Menu Plan Monday

We went through so much food last week! The boys had 40 hours of soccer each (camp + club practice + scrimmages), so eating was their part time job. ;-) 

Nick has also grown six inches in the last year, so I know why our food budget is so high these days.

I'm trying something new with the menu planning, as I find it hard to solicit verbal input for dinner recommendations. Last night I passed out a chart with dinner selections, and then had everyone select three. That way, no one can complain about what I make! I'm thinking of rotating the creation of the dinner recommendations. I've called it "the dinner game", and the teens didn't really think it was much of a game, but begrudgingly voted. ;-) I also had a write in section, so of course someone (M) wrote in a Greek takeout meal. That was a winner, as was tacos. Nick will also make a Sicilian pan pizza that he found the recipe for (another write in). 

Here's the menu for the week (we have a large green salad with every meal):

  • Friday - wings & zucchini fritters
  • Saturday - kebabs & rice
  • Sunday - Nick's Sicilian pan pizza (salmon for M)
  • Monday - tacos, with spicy cauliflower rice
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover pizza (salmon for M)
  • Thursday - takeout Greek food
  • Friday - leftovers, or TBD
What's on your menu for the week?


Sunday, August 8, 2021

Produce stand shopping, garden harvesting & other Sunday things.

I went to the produce stand yesterday, & was so surprised by the (low) prices. It's definitely the right time of year to be produce shopping in our area. I've largely avoided the produce stand during COVID. It's actually indoors, and very packed. 

I picked up the following, for a total of $6.77:

  • A giant head of organic cauliflower - $.99
  • A bunch of radishes - $.49
  • Green onions - $.33
  • A head of celery - $.69
  • 2 lbs of Persian cucumbers (I can't get these to grow) - $2.84
  • 1.5 lbs of organic red plums - $1.43
It's so nice to fill in our garden bounty with other local items. Speaking of our garden, I harvested a lot yesterday:

Serrano peppers (gave these away on Buy Nothing, as we have so many others that are also ripe):






We enjoyed the shishitos with dinner (blistered on the barbecue - yum) last night. I need to pickle the rest of the peppers. And, potentially make pickles with all of those cucumbers!

The birds continue to knock unripe tomatoes off of the plant, so I bring them in to ripen, in case you're wondering why I'm picking unripe tomatoes. I'm not, my "friends" the crows have other ideas. ;-) 

Here's what else we're up to today:
  • Vacuuming
  • Cleaning the kitchen
  • Prep the patio area (we're having one friend over to swim today - first time in two years. They are vaccinated).
  • Pickle peppers
  • Make tacos
  • Pick up (free) ice cream cake via Fetch 
  • Laundry
  • Work out

What about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

We are mortgage free!

We made the last payment earlier in the week, but the bank finally marked a zero balance today. There will definitely be champagne!

I detailed a lot about the payoff plan here, where we hit the half way mortgage mark in March. Since then, we decided to sell our vacation house. In previous years, that wasn't on our radar, and it also wouldn't have helped much. Once we were closer to the finish line, and the huge uptick in property value thanks to COVID, we decided to go for it!

What comes next?

  • Saving for taxes. We put all of the profit from the vacation home on our mortgage (saving ourselves about $10k in interest, vs front loading our savings for the taxes). Now, we will start tucking away money to pay the capital gains
  • Saving for me to quit my job. I'm still planning to quit somewhere between end of February and June next year. Some of the timing is dependent on my compensation plan that I'll be receiving in December, so it's hard to predict right now. 
  • Significantly more financial flexibility. This is a huge game changer for us. We bought our house in 2017, and I really thought this house was out of reach, financially. We not only managed, but sold our rental house & eventually vacation house.
  • Peace of mind. I already feel so much lighter! We have no debt of any kind, and our monthly expenses have just dropped tremendously. 
I'm going to have to figure out the next challenge for myself, as I love a good financial challenge. I've been putting all of my eBay sales towards this goal, and frittering away all of our "extra" money towards the mortgages for at least a decade. Now, I'll need a new motivation. I'm thinking of something travel related (e.g. an experience we can splurge on, funded out of the "extra" savings.) 

Any other goal related suggestions? How do you keep yourself motivated? 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Frugal Friday

Paid our last mortgage payment!!! We're still waiting for the balance to clear, but this is definitely our biggest milestone. Expect a full post on that soon!  


Saving on things we buy

  • My summer sandals were trapped under a box during the packing of the beach house, and the strap that wraps around your ankle got all stretched out. They are very uncomfortable to wear, as one shoe is super loose, and the other fits normally. My favorite style is no longer made, but I found what I hope is a similar alternative. I clicked through Rakuten for a small amount back, used a 10% coupon code on the web site, and waited for a sale combined with free shipping. I hope these last as long as my previous pair. 

Earning money

  • I converted Fetch rewards into an Amazon gift card
  • I unpaused my eBay listings, and sold a few more things. Bonus, used the (recycled) Amazon mailers I picked up off of Buy Nothing.
    • Flameless votive candles (found in a drawer at the beach)
    • LED lights
    • Running gloves (from the beach)
    • A sports jersey
    • A (new) car sticker, found when cleaning out my husband's VHS tapes. I think it's now considered "vintage" :-) 
    • A race shirt

Avoiding spending

  • Sam is on a major growth spurt, and has outgrown many of his shorts. I almost ordered a few pair as experiments, but decided none of them were quite right, and decided to keep looking. Returning things can be some effort, and I'd prefer to look for them in person, where he can be right there to approve or reject. 

Eating what we have

  • We continue to eat lots of delicious garden items in our salads (cucumber, kale, green/orange peppers, tomatoes, chives, mint & cilantro)
  • I've continued to enjoy smoothies for lunch, using up our abundance of frozen bananas (as well as protein powder & other frozen fruit). I'm making serious progress on the bananas, after they built up in the freezer. Also made smoothies for the boys, when they got home from soccer camp.
  • Ate the first handful of blueberries off of our plant
  • Made a mozzarella/peach/basil salad to use up an abundance of fresh mozzarella we bought at Costco (fantastic sale), and basil from the garden. I prefer nectarines, as they don't need to be peeled. So tasty. Michael & I had a small taste of the salad - Sam was a huge fan. ;-) 
  • Used up (already grilled) hot dogs from the freezer
  • Used up the last of the Keto friendly coleslaw dressing & (almost) all of the shredded cabbage & carrots for another coleslaw
  • Made zucchini fritters for dinner one night
  • If I don't have a smoothie for lunch, I try to have a "use it up" salad. One version this week had chicken nuggets as the protein (leftover from the kids) & cottage cheese on top. The cottage cheese added a lot of texture/creaminess to the salad that I enjoyed, so I'll have to try that again. 

For others

  • Spent a lot of time on a volunteer project at work, and also checked in with my non-profit volunteer job.
That's it for me. What about you? Any wins for the week to share?