Saturday, February 27, 2021

Positive signs

 I was in a funk for part of February, and it's been hard not knowing what the future looks like. I'm sure all of you can agree, because I'm certainly not alone living with this uncertainty. 

Yesterday, we got the news. Nick's school is returning to a (very part-time) hybrid schedule on April 5th. I cried when I heard. It's been such a struggle for him emotionally. Even a part-time return will bring some sense of normalcy back into his life. Sam is in a different district, so we have no updates on his return, but our county is exiting another tier (moving into a "healthier" bracket), so I'm optimistic that they will likewise announce options.

Moving to another tier also means that there are more social sports options for the boys. They can play soccer games (masked) again, within their own team pod. For the last six months, soccer has consisted only of socially distanced drills, which is, as you can imagine, not quite soccer. ;-) 

Our county has been one of the most conservative in the US, partly because of our case numbers, and partly just an overall conservative approach to COVID. We've stayed safe, and while it's been hard to live through the last year, it does feel like we are seeing glimmers of hope. 

Sam is trying out for the school soccer team on Monday. While it will be very competitive (freshman have a small chance of making the team), it will be the first time he's ever met any of his high school classmates in person What a strange thing, for sure. He's seen a few of the kids on Zoom calls for six months, and will meet them for the first time on the soccer field. 

We also started vaccinating our teachers, and will have another round of vaccines for people with serious medical conditions on 3/15. My parents are likewise getting their second vaccine in Washington next Friday.

I'm feeling so hopeful & optimistic. I know we have a long journey ahead, and we will continue to self test regularly & mask up, but it feels like we're turning a corner.

And with all of that, here's what I'm up to today:

  • Menu planning (we're on the last week of Hello Fresh, although it appears they sent me an "unpause" offer, so we'll see)
  • I'm meeting a friend for a masked walk
  • Sam has tennis lessons
  • I have some gardening projects to work on
  • Cleaning the fridge
  • Laundry
  • M & I are going to an outdoor dinner!
I thought I'd share a photo of our fruit drawer, overrun with neighborhood citrus fruit! I need to start juicing. 

What's one positive sign you've observed recently?

Friday, February 26, 2021

Frugal Friday

It's been a really busy week at work, so I haven't had much time to focus on frugal things. The biggest win is that my persistence paid off, and I'll be receiving a $2k credit for our cancelled ski passes. I sent 12 emails that went unanswered before I took it up with our credit card company, who intervened on my behalf. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used $14 of grocery store rewards for a few fill in purchases we needed (almond milk, Greek yogurt, frozen fruit & tortillas). I spent $9.47 out of pocket, and earned $.10 back on the milk from iBotta. 
  • Found a slightly cheaper option for our Hawaii hotel (COVID tentative trip this summer)

Earning money

  • Cashed our credit card reward check ($1,643) & will apply it to our mortgage
  • Uploaded receipts to Fetch
  • It's been a quiet phase for eBay, and no sales of any real size, but slow trickles. Here's what I've sold this week:
    • A fridge magnet for a sports team
    • An outgrown winter jacket
    • An Ikea kids desk chair (local message board sale)
    • A running jacket M doesn't wear

Avoiding spending

  • I was pretty busy this week at work, so can't think of anything in particular that I avoided spending on. 

Eating what we have

  • Used leftover takeout fried rice (from Sam's birthday dinner), to make breakfast fried rice (adding eggs & bacon) for myself & Sam one morning. Yum!
  • We ended up with multiple packs of crushed red pepper & parmesan cheese after a lunch out last weekend, so I added the crushed pepper to our spice container (which holds the same) & Nick used the parmesan cheese on pasta.
  • Nick made a Hello Fresh of apricot chicken, roasted broccoli & ginger rice. M can't eat rice, so he ate the chicken & broccoli, Sam at the full meal, & I added the rice to some leftover gyro meat the boys had the night before. I also topped it with the goat cheese crostini spread that I'm still trying to work through. 
  • I made a couple of taco salads for lunches, and added a spicy bulgur dish that came with a Hello Fresh meal
  • Likewise, I saved a portion of a "Firecracker" meatball, rice & carrot dish & had it for lunch. This saves on calories & helps the meals go further. 

For others

  • Volunteering at work (I have several of these projects, but this time of the year is when I help the most, as it's our performance review time.) I am spending 5-10 extra hours/week helping people navigate different challenges. It's always very rewarding.
  • Helping my volunteer job with a technical problem. Despite this not being my area of expertise, it's no ones, given the small team size, so everyone's help is welcome.

That's it from my side. What about you? Any frugal wins, or things for others to share?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday activities

I'm off to a slow start this morning, but need to rally & get busy for the rest of the day.

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

  • Run a (virtual) 5k for a work fundraiser
  • Laundry
  • Nick is making dinner - I think it will be firecracker meatballs
  • Take Nick to volleyball
  • Sam has soccer, Nick has online math tutoring & tennis. For whatever reason, we have minimal Saturday activities, & lots of Sunday stuff. This is unusual, as most kids activities are consistently on Saturdays. 
  • M & I are picking up our wine club wine, and have a free outdoor tasting scheduled, as a date this afternoon
  • Prep for the week ahead - workout schedule, work schedule, family schedule, etc
  • Pack & mail 2 eBay sales
  • Strength workout
That's it for me. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish today?

Saturday, February 20, 2021

A belated birthday

 We finally got a chance to take Sam for a surf lesson today. The day started off gray & drizzly, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. I walked around Santa Cruz while Sam surfed, & it was lovely.

Sam had a fabulous day, and can't wait for another lesson. He'll be saving up for more. We had a late lunch (outdoor) at Pizza My Heart, and headed home. I'm about to have a glass of wine with M while the boys head off to tennis. I'm impressed with Sam's stamina to surf for two hours & play tennis. I wish I had that energy!

Just a boy & his surf board (and, instructor)

He's the tiny dot on the purple surf board...

I'm so glad we found a COVID friendly activity to celebrate his birthday. Happy Saturday, everyone!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Frugal Friday

 The boys had the week off, and it was Sam's birthday, so more splurges than normal. However, our original plan was to ski in Whistler, which would have been infinitely more expensive. Here are our frugal wins for the week.

Saving on things we buy

  • Bought Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store, and earned $60 in rewards for future grocery purchases. 
  • Used a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off of two boxes of tea, at Rite Aid. Rite Aid also had the tea on sale for $2/5, and there was an iBotta offer for $1 off of each box, plus a $.20 offer. So, all told, I got two boxes of tea for $1.80 ($.90 each). I drink a ton of tea, and even more when I'm fasting, so this was a great deal - total of 38 bags. 
  • M bought me a Valentine's Day gift (flowers & chocolates) & I noticed there was an iBotta offer on the chocolate, so added the receipt to save $1.25. ;-) 
  • I promised Sam Subway for lunch for his birthday, and purchased a (slightly) discounted gift card at Raise (saved $1.87). I also clicked through Rakuten, who gives you 1% back on purchases made at Raise (saving $.23). It's not a large savings, but a bit here & there. 

Earning money

  • eBay sales were quiet this week, but I sold
    • An outgrown NFL kids shirt
    • Over the ear headphones (I now run with a different kind)
    • A pair of swim trunks
  • Uploaded all receipts to Fetch

Avoiding spending

  • Sam decided he'd rather have a homemade cupcakes vs bakery cupcakes, so we made him chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for his birthday, saving quite a bit
  • In an attempt to treat the kids this week with no school, I dug out my Panera gift card, and picked up lunch one day. I also used my free birthday reward, spending $0 out of pocket for two lunches & a cookie. 
  • On a similar note, I used my Uber gift card (previously used for travel, back & forth to the airport) for Uber Eats for Sam's birthday dinner. The food was delicious & will provide lots of leftovers. That said, one of the items was beyond burned. It took some effort to get the feedback to the right place, but I filled out a form & received a refund for the item. 

Food savings/eating what we have

  • Sam found leftover Greek food in the fridge, and had that for lunch. I'd planned to toss it by the end of the day, so I was grateful someone was able to use it before it needed to be thrown out. 
  • Used lemons from our tree as salad dressing
  • Somehow managed to eat through the abundance of leftovers in the fridge with minimal waste (1/2 serving of tomato soup was the only casualty)
  • M had taco slaw for dinner, when Sam & I had sliders. I added extra cabbage & the last of the salsa to bulk it up. I ate more of the taco slaw for lunch one day. 
  • Used up a taco shell (leftover from a Hello Fresh), a bit of goat cheese spread (leftover from Super Bowl crostini) & an egg for breakfast one morning
  • Turned another Hello Fresh meal (2 portions) into three servings, by serving M's sloppy joes on veggie "noodles", making the meat portion smaller, and adding more cabbage to the coleslaw. We were all very satisfied after, and the dinner was delicious. I love it when the meals stretch to serve 3.
  • Made myself a "fridge salad", using a variety of leftovers. A chicken patty that had been cooked up but not eaten, lettuce leftover from a lettuce wrap meal, garden tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese from the crostini, & a dressing I found leftover in the fridge. All in all, delicious & using up all things on hand. 
  • Used the last of a container of yogurt + the remainder of cranberries (freezer) & "yard oranges" to make cranberry orange muffins for M. They are his favorite, & were part of his Valentine's gift.

For others

  • Helped my parents get a list of other friends/family members who don't have access to technology, and help them with booking a COVID vaccine. They've already been able to help 5 family members/friends. 
  • Volunteered at my job
  • Helped my disabled aunt
  • Nick bought a bike in the neighborhood, fixed it up & repaired some parts. I helped him list it for sale & dealt with all of the buyers on his behalf. He was able to sell it, and get it into the hands of someone who needed it. He's saving up for a new bike of his own & I'm happy he's learning a new skill. I was also very happy it sold, so I could stop coordinating with potential buyers. ;-) 
  • Gave away a few things on Buy Nothing (car sun visor, puzzle books, coloring books, crafts, etc)
  • Cut back our mint & parsley, and sent out an email on our local neighborhood alias for folks to come by & pick it up. I love seeing citrus fruit sitting out with a "free" sign, so it's fun to contribute back with what we grow. We have SO MUCH mint, in particular.
That's it from our side. What about you? Any frugal wins or things for others to share?

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

February - 1/2 way goal check

 Somehow, February is more than half way over. Here's how I'm doing with my goals this month. 


  • Stick to the budget (including revised grocery target) - Yes, & I actually think we'll be well under our revised amount from last month. Unfortunately, we won't hit our super aggressive goal, as M was out of nuts (a primary food source for him during Keto) & stocked up. This is quite a chunk of the budget, but will last him around 6 weeks. He also found the kids preferred protein bars on sale, and bought three boxes. 
  • Make $400 in side hustle - For whatever reason, I'm trending way behind this month, and am only 1/4 of the way there. I have had sales, they've just all been quite small. 
  • No clothing purchases for myself - on track
  • Close on our refi - done!
  • Pay down our mortgage to the 1/2 way point - will be done as soon as we finalize our taxes, and get the new payment information for our mortgage
  • Plan/budget house project - exterior paint - done, and I LOVE the updated look!

  • Plan one fun activity with the kids. This is pretty hard during COVID, so may be something like a game night - we've done a few fun things
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening - mostly, yes
  • One "date" with M per month. Unclear how we will make this happen during our current lock down - we've gone for two walks together. Not the same as a date, but it's been fun just the same
  • Make a video for M's parents - I sent photos
  • Plan a fun "ski week" break in February, as we can't travel or ski - plans in the works, & lots of fun happening

  • Lose 2 lbs. - I've lost a pound
  • Run 8 times - I've had no motivation to run, and have only run 3 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet - minus a few birthday splurges, yes
  • Complete 1,100 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 4 stretching workouts. Complete daily January strength challenge - on track
  • Meditate 15 times - on track
  • Intermittent fasting, 2x/week - on track, trying out 3x/week

  • Practice Farsi &/or Spanish, at least 20 days - on track
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month - 2 hikes, and virtual happy hour
  • Continue daily checkins & support of volunteer job - on track
  • Write & journal regularly. Try fiction writing for at least 30 minutes. - on track
  • Shoot for no swearing for the month. This includes in text messages! - I've been doing really well, with only one day I didn't hit this. I went for a hike with a friend with a potty mouth & joined in
  • Crafty - Make two more hats for the homeless. Watch a couple of crocheting videos, to understand where I'm going wrong. - I've started a new hat, but haven't watched videos
  • Achieve a total of 400 "points" on my daily checklists - pretty much on track
  • Continue looking for opportunities to help others daily - I try to keep this at the top of my mind

Doing the mid-month check in helps me remember where to focus. What about you? How are you doing with your February goals?

Monday, February 15, 2021

Our review of Hello Fresh

Given that we've tried Hello Fresh for a while now, I thought I'd share my (unsponsored) review. The pandemic changed the way we were eating, and I'll confess to hitting a point where menu planning left me uninspired.

I received a free box from my sister, so gave it a shot. Here are my observations, after making & eating 30+ meals over the past few months.


  • Most of the recipes we've tried have been really tasty - as good as what we'd make at home, with typically more flavor. As far as I can remember, there's only been one we didn't all really like.
  • The servings are quite large, for our family. We order the two person box, and about half the time, we can make a third meal out of the two servings.
  • The recipes are clear, easy to follow, and contain nutritional information on the recipe card. Nick (13), makes the majority of the recipes. He rarely/never needs help, so I'd describe these as pretty easy to follow, regardless of cooking skill. He does, however, make quite a mess in the kitchen at times, but that's not likely the fault of Hello Fresh. ;-) 
  • Each meal comes with a very nice recipe card, so you can make meals on your own, long after you've had the service. We've done this with some success. 
  • Minimal food waste. If you find you buy ingredients & don't end up using all of the veggies or ingredients for a meal, this would solve that problem. However, see below for overall thoughts on cost. 


  • Environmentally, the small packaging is problematic. Most of it is recyclable, but there's just a lot of very small ingredients (tiny mayo packs, bags with two green onion, etc). 
  • The cost. I find that, when compared to take out, these are a bit cheaper than takeout, and definitely cheaper than most restaurants. However, you will be able to make much cheaper meals at home, of course. Eating your own meals, that you've shopped for, followed sales & bought items on sale would be significantly cheaper, always. With our current discount (a "come back" offer), we're paying between $30-40/box. Let's just say $35, on average. We get three meals, with 2.5 servings each (as noted, we often get three servings out of each meal, as the portions are quite large for us). That makes the cost per single serving meal around $4.67. If you have larger appetites, your mileage may vary on getting another serving out of the portions. 
  • Food allergies/preferences. M largely eats a Keto diet, so we adapt most of the meals to suit him. He doesn't have serious food allergies, so we work around (for example, we do a lot of tacos, and he just has all of the fillings and toppings on a salad). I'm not sure this would work with any serious food allergy.

On the whole, I'd recommend this if you are looking to spice up your menu planning, you have someone looking to grow their cooking skills, or if you just want a change of pace & easy meal prep. I wouldn't recommend this if you are on a tight budget, or if you are an excellent cook, who is a whiz with using up ingredients in fun & compelling ways all on your own. You can also skip a box, pause your subscription, or cancel altogether. I got a very compelling offer after cancelling, which is why we went back. 

We've made some really fantastic recipes. I thought I'd share our favorites so far. You can definitely get a sense of our preferences from the list below. ;-):

Our favorite recipes:
  • Beef bulgogi bowls with carrots, pickled cucumber & sriracha crema
  • Sweet soy glazed steak tacos with spicy slaw, marinated cucumber & peanuts
  • Banh mi style chicken tacos with pickled cucumber & sriracha mayo (my #1 favorite)
  • Zucchini & tomato flatbread with lemon ricotta, basil, honey & chili flakes
  • Chicken katsu with roasted green beans & ginger rice
  • Bayou style crispy tilapia with remoulade, paprika potato wedges, & mixed greens
  • Street cart style chicken shawarma bowls with bell pepper, pistachio rice & creamy cilantro sauce
  • Mango tango chicken tacos
  • Creamy lemon butter chicken with parmesan zucchini rounds & scallian couscous
  • Beef bulgogi meatballs with roasted carros, ginger rice & sriracha crema
If anyone is interested in trying Hello Fresh, here is a referral link. (You get $70 off, and I get a $10 credit if you sign up via the referral.) 

I'm happy to answer any questions you might have, so please ask. If you've used a meal service, please share your thoughts in the comments. We're currently trying Blue Apron, so I'll share thoughts on that, once we've tried a few more recipes. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day - the teen boy edition

 I have two teen boys at my house (one turning 15 this week, the other turning 14 just after him), and Valentine's Day these days looks a bit different than those in my 20s. My birthday & Valentine's Day are very close together, so I've done lots of long weekends & ski trips to celebrate. M & I once had the absolute best ski in/ski out trip to Whistler, with a stop over in Vancouver. Fancy meals, dressing up, fun apres ski, etc. 

Fabulous memories at this point in my life. Last year we were back in Whistler, celebrating with the boys, my parents & my nephew. Another fabulous trip, but slightly less romantic, with all of us sharing a condo. ;-) We're disappointed not to be able to ski this year (M worries he's getting too old to keep up with the boys, so counts every year as a blessing), but keep reminding ourselves that we're reducing risk, so we can enjoy future ski trips. 

Sam's ants migrated from the test tube he brought them home in, to his ant farm/habitat (for those of you that missed the earlier post, this was his birthday gift) & we were all very intrigued to see how the ants explored, leaving the queen behind, then coming back for the larvae, and eventually moving the queen to the stable environment. 

Here's what we have going on today, in the teen boy Valentine's Day edition:

  • I've packaged up treats for the kids, as they'd normally have class parties. My mom sent them cards, which I assume have a small amount of money in them, as she loves doing Valentine's gifts.
  • M got me flowers & chocolates, & a card which while totally unnecessary, was very sweet. 
  • I'll be taking both boys to soccer practice
  • Then taking Nick home for math tutoring, while Sam bikes home
  • Sam will be packaging up the gift he got his girlfriend (a stuffed animal, several types of chocolates, and flowers) & I will take him to the park, so they can have a masked up get together, & then return to take him home after.
  • Nick has tennis lessons this afternoon
  • I'm making a fancier than normal Hello Fresh (steak with roasted veggies) & need to think of what the boys should have. I will for sure have chocolate for dessert, but M doesn't eat sugar of any kind, so that's out for him. 
I'll also be cleaning the house, doing laundry & my normal Sunday chores. As I read on other blogs, Valentine's Day is a nice reminder to thank the people you love, and give a few extra hugs & kisses. It's cute to remember Valentine's Day through the eyes of Sam, with his first girlfriend. I remember being a teen girl, nervous/excited for the day. My, how things have changed! :-) 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Happy Saturday

We had the exterior of our house painted this week, and I love the color! The gray makes such a difference, over the previous light beige. The house looks much more modern & up to date. We opted for the exterior house paint project, as it didn't require anyone to be inside of our house, during COVID. We have more house projects to go (bathroom update, to convert a wheelchair accessibility into an actual bath tub & adding a dry bar to the kitchen, to create more space.) 

What's happening today? Not much, it's actually a relatively quiet Saturday. I'd planned to run this morning, but it's raining, so I'll either wait until this afternoon, or find something to do inside. Here's what else we're up to:

  • Menu planning. This is really just deciding which of the Hello Fresh/Blue Apron meals we'll be making each night, and ensuring I have a Keto option for the meals that M won't be able to eat
  • Costco. We need just a few things, given we have lots of meal options at home & in the delivery.
  • Picking up ants. ;-) This is for Sam's birthday, and he asked for an ant farm. We purchased the equipment, so now we just need to pick up the queen ant & the workers. He's so excited.
  • Writing. I'm working on a review of Hello Fresh that I'll share, & then I'm hoping to do a bit of fiction writing as well.
  • Tennis. Sam, not me. 
  • Working out. 
  • Reconcile a health care bill. I had a bunch of labs done, and my HSA shows no unpaid claims, but the hospital is showing a $42 bill. I need to go line by line to see if I actually owe anything, or it's an error on the hospital's side. 
  • Use all citrus fruits. We have a large bag of lemons & need to pick more, we have some oranges I need to juice, and I believe there are limes in the back of the fridge as well. 
That's it for us. What about you? What are you up to this weekend? 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Frugal Friday

 Another week of applying frugality where we can. In big frugal news, we signed on our refi this week, which will save us some money in interest. It's still our goal to pay off the loan as quickly as possible, but the lower rate is better (fixed term vs ARM), to give us the flexibility should we need it. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used a Rite Aid reward to cover the out of pocket amount of a prescription
  • I used the rest of the reward to pick up two pizzas & two bag of chips for the Superbowl. I paid $4 out of pocket, & earned another $3. The pizza also had a $1.25 iBotta offer, & a $.10 off any purchase. 
  • Used a Target gift card to pick up a few items. Applied a Target reward to the balance, and earned $8.34 back via iBotta. 
  • Used the last of my Rite Aid rewards to pick up a couple of items for the kids - cereal for snacking is quite popular right now, and Valentine's treats. Those purchases pushed me over for a $10 iBotta reward, which was nice to get. 

Earning money

  • Uploaded receipts to Fetch
  • Sold & listed items on eBay. What sold this week:
    • A cookbook from a freebie pile
    • A fleece I found on the ground in a rainstorm. I brought it in & washed it, and posted it on our neighborhood alias a few times, but couldn't find the owner. 
    • A champagne bottle zippered cover
    • A knitting set
    • A pair of jeans Sam grew out of before he wore more than once

Avoiding spending

  • Organized our under bathroom sink toiletry stash. Cleaned up both under bathroom sink areas, and arranged everything by type, so we can now easily see what we have. Organization can be a powerful frugal tool, as I saw many things tucked away that I didn't know we had. Knowing we have some at home means I won't spend money on it. 
  • Picked up a birthday freebie sandwich at Starbucks, which Sam had for lunch
  • M offered takeout on my actual birthday (we celebrated over the weekend, as we had a lot going on the actual day of), but I passed. Plenty of good food in the fridge. 

Food savings/eating what we have

  • Ate leftovers from a turkey Tex Mex bowl for lunch, ensuring we had no food waste after a larger than normal Hello Fresh meal. 
  • Leftover Greek nachos made up my lunch on Wednesday. Still delicious!
  • Ate leftover beef bulgogi bowl (yum) for dinner on Wednesday, before I had to get on a long Zoom call to register Nick for high school 

For others

  • Uploaded couple of bucks for Box Tops receipts for the local school. It takes less than a minute to take a photo of a receipt, which I already do for Fetch
  • Continue my volunteer role
  • Looming a hat for the homeless
That's it from our side. What about you? Any frugal wins, or things to share for others? 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sunday Happenings

I woke up too early this morning, & couldn't get back to sleep. For whatever reason, the coffee is not helping. Maybe I'll take a nap later today. ;-)

M & I sat by the pool & drank champagne in the sun yesterday, as an early birthday celebration. The weather was perfect, the kids were playing tennis together. It was a great chance to catch up & chat. 

We had Greek takeout & cupcakes, and it was delicious. The last time we ordered takeout from this restaurant, it was really disappointing, but we tried again, as it's previously been a favorite. I'm very happy they are back with high quality menu items. Greek takeout is one of the rare things that everyone in my family eats. The cupcakes were, as always, fantastic. 

My stomach is not used to all of that amazing food in one day, so I'm definitely feeling the indulgence today. 

I also treated myself yesterday, and didn't pay attention to my to do list at all. I did go for a run, and then go on a walk with M & Sam to ensure I got to 12k steps, but otherwise accomplished almost nothing. I worked on a hat (looming) & watched The Mentalist. It was so lovely & relaxing. 

As a result, I really need to be productive today! Here's what's on the to do list)

  • Clean the house
  • Go through work calendar, adjust meetings & set up work out plan for the week
  • Take Nick to volleyball
  • Figure out if Sam is biking to soccer, or needs a ride
  • Take weekly COVID test. I think M will drop this off at FedEx for us (he takes one as well)
  • Call my parents
  • Work out
  • Set up my Kindle (birthday gift)
  • Depending on my energy level, pickle jalapenos
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today? 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Frugal Friday

It's that time again. Here's what I've been up to this week. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $2 reward at the grocery store, to provide a small discount. This store is more expensive than both Trader Joes & the local produce stand for the items I needed. But, unfortunately, Trader Joes is very crowded (long wait lines, although minimal crowding once inside) & the produce stand has terrible social distancing options. One day soon, I hope to be back to the less expensive options
  • Bought Sam a birthday gift, and used a birthday promo code from the retailer, a $5 reward from previous purchases, and a BOGO promo code. All in all, the price per item was about 1/2 their normal price. 

Earning money

  • Continued to list & sell things on eBay. (Unfortunately, this week I had two things marked as "free shipping" that shouldn't have been, so I barely covered the costs. I swear that I pay attention to this when I create the listing, but must be more careful in the future.) So far, I've sold:
    • A Fitbit charger for a Fitbit I no longer have
    • Lip samples (I received a Birchbox subscription as a gift, and I'm picky about what I use & sell the rest)
    • Ditto a hair product sample
    • A sweater
    • A butter warmer
    • A bike jersey
    • A rain jacket
    • A "wand" for an indoor water park, that I discovered at the bottom of a drawer. We haven't been there in years
    • A book
  • Sold two Delta gift cards that had been listed on Raise for ever. Apparently, people are starting to get the travel itch again? While I "lost" $30 on the purchase from the original price, I'm much happier to have this money back & I've added it to our travel budget for 2021. Not to worry, Laura, if you are still interested, we have one left that hasn't sold! :-)  

Avoiding spending

  • Used a Target gift card to pick up a few things (tea, avocados, a protein bar, a chocolate mint candy, & pasta). Used $.66 in Target rewards to bring the price down a bit, & the tea was on sale. I used a gift card for the purchase ($12). I used iBotta to get the protein bar & chocolate mint candy for free, got back $.75 on the avocados, & also uploaded my receipt to Fetch (the tea provided 60 points). 
  • Made some progress using our Alaska balance, booking flights for my parents (COVID tbd, assuming they are able to get their vaccines). 

Food savings/eating everything we have

  • Ate the last of the carnitas (freezer) on top of my lunch salad on Saturday
  • Made ham salad out of remaining ham. I'd never tried it before, but it's Keto friendly & gives M another protein option. Sam also enjoyed it for lunch, rolled in a tortilla. I had a ton of ham, so it made quite a bit. I froze some for future enjoyment - and labeled it & added it to the inventory!
  • I brought it all of our green tomatoes before the frost (it actually dropped below freezing here a few nights) & ripened them on our window sill. We've been enjoying the ripened tomatoes in salads
  • Juiced oranges from the yard, for Nick to use in his smoothies
  • Picked additional oranges to use in orange cranberry muffins this weekend
  • Used a bag of roasted chicken in a chicken yakisoba dish 
  • Ate the last of a tub of plain yogurt, doctored with homemade lemon curd & pumpkin granola. This feels like a victory, as I don't enjoy plain yogurt, as much as I wish I did.

For others

  • Spent hours, but found my parents COVID vaccine appointments! Definitely the highlight of my week
  • My emails, phone calls & nags finally paid off, and the intersection where Sam was hit by a car while biking has now been much safer. I'm so happy & this benefits all of the bikers/walkers. 
  • Volunteered at my side job
  • At work: volunteered to take on a bunch of tasks to help other coworkers, as my week was unexpectedly slow. 
  • Helped our neighbor with a tool she was struggling with
  • Gave away crafting supplies & packing/mail supplies on local Buy Nothing

That's it from my side. What about you? Any frugal wins to report, or things for others? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

February Goals

It's the shortest month of the year, but there's still plenty of time to achieve your monthly goals! Here's what I have planned for the month 


  • Stick to the budget (including revised grocery target)
  • Make $400 in side hustle
  • No clothing purchases for myself
  • Close on our refi
  • Pay down our mortgage to the 1/2 way point
  • Plan/budget house project - exterior paint

  • Plan one fun activity with the kids. This is pretty hard during COVID, so may be something like a game night
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening
  • One "date" with M per month. Unclear how we will make this happen during our current lock down
  • Make a video for M's parents
  • Plan a fun "ski week" break in February, as we can't travel or ski

  • Lose 2 lbs.
  • Run 8 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet
  • Complete 1,100 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 4 stretching workouts. Complete daily January strength challenge
  • Meditate 15 times
  • Intermittent fasting, 2x/week
  • Set up appointment for stomach issue

  • Practice Farsi &/or Spanish, at least 20 days
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month
  • Continue daily checkins & support of volunteer job
  • Write & journal regularly. Try fiction writing for at least 30 minutes. 
  • Shoot for no swearing for the month. This includes in text messages!
  • Crafty - Make two more hats for the homeless. Watch a couple of crocheting videos, to understand where I'm going wrong. 
  • Achieve a total of 400 "points" on my daily checklists
  • Continue looking for opportunities to help others daily

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in February?

Monday, February 1, 2021

January Goals Recap

January is never my favorite month, but guess what? It's over now. :-) Let's see how I did with the goals for the month.  


  • Stick to the budget (including revised grocery target) - Yes! I was under the grocery target by $18. It still feels like a large budget, but we are working on it, and I appreciate the progress. Also, we spent $0 on dining out! That hasn't happened in a long time. Also, #covid. 
  • Make $200 in side hustle - I set a conservative target, but ended up making $399. Woohoo!
  • No clothing purchases for myself - achieved
  • Research lodging for (COVID tentative) Maui trip - done, and booked!
  • Complete house project - gutters - paid for & done, just in time for the rain!
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids. This is pretty hard during COVID, so may be something like a game night - we've done walks & game nights. 
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening - mostly, yes
  • One "date" with M per month. Unclear how we will make this happen during our current lock down - we went on walks, had drinks by the pool, & went to pick up our wine club wine 2x. 
  • Make a video for M's parents - yes!
  • Lose 2 lbs - I lost 2.5 lbs
  • Run 8 times - 9 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet - yes, & the consistency is really helping
  • Complete 1,100 minutes of cardio, 10 strength & 4 stretching workouts. Complete daily January strength challenge - I worked hard the last few days to get in the 1,100 minutes & hit my goal just a few minutes over the target. I changed up my strength & stretching & the way I'm counting will change moving forward. But, done!
  • Meditate 15 times - Yes, 15 times exactly
  • Set up appointment for stomach issue - yes, and a few changes have really helped
  • Practice Farsi &/or Spanish, at least 20 days - yep!
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month - no hikes in January (why I struggled with my cardio numbers, as hikes tend to be 2+ hours), due to COVID. But, I did do a virtual happy hour weekly. 
  • Continue daily checkins & support of volunteer job - yes
  • Write & journal regularly. Try fiction writing for at least 15 minutes. - I journaled near daily, and squeezed in some very enjoyable fiction writing towards the end of the month
  • Shoot for no swearing for the month. This includes in text messages! - Only swore 4 times this month, which I consider a huge accomplishment. 
  • Crafty - Make two more hats for the homeless. Watch a couple of crocheting videos, to understand where I'm going wrong. - I finished one hat. I was out of the right kind of yarn, and it kept slipping my mind to get more. I'm now back up & running, for evening hat making.
  • Continue looking for opportunities to help others daily - lots of great wins. My favorites for the month: advocating for a safer route to school for kids, giving our basketball hoop to our neighbors, & finding COVID vaccines for my parents!

All told, I'm thrilled with my progress, and I think this is easily the best I've ever done on my goals for the month. How about you? How did you do with your goals for January?