Monday, March 29, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

With a busy schedule & lots of competing activities, having a meal plan is a gift I give myself right now. Here's what we have planned for the week ahead:

  • Friday - I kept things light with a few cheese & crackers, after a lunch out. M had a taco salad, and the kids had cheese pizza & salad.  
  • Saturday - Egg roll in a bowl
  • Sunday -  Tacos el pastor (new recipe, in the crockpot)
  • Monday - salsa chicken (freezer) over rice or cauliflower rice
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - Mississippi Pot Roast (new recipe, in the crockpot)
  • Thursday - leftover egg roll in a bowl 
  • Friday - leftover pot roast + cauliflower rice
That's it from our side. What about you? What do you have cooking this week?

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A long weekend Saturday

Yesterday was such a nice day. M & I both got in a run in the morning, and then went to a wine tasting, and had lunch together. The weather was lovely, & it was so great to just have some time to talk & catch each other up on work, life & how things are going. Those conversations can be hard to have both because we're really busy & because COVID means there are always others around & listening. :-) 

We came home & picked up Sam for his soccer game. They lost 0-2, but it was a fun match to watch. We made dinner & relaxed together.

Gratuitous plant picture. I love the color & number of blooms on this rhododendron in our yard. It's definitely having it's moment this week.

So with that, what's happening today? Plenty to do, as usual:

  • The boys have a soccer scrimmage
  • I'm planning to run
  • I have some yard work/gardening to take care of
  • I'm making eggroll in a bowl for dinner. Yum.
  • I'm going to do some travel planning for our Hawaii trip
  • I have some banking chores to take care of
  • Laundry
  • Wash all of the bedding
  • Sit in the sun & read my book
  • Make the menu plan & grocery list
  • Pick up our weekly groceries
  • Shred cabbage & carrots for dinner & future coleslaw
That's it for us. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, March 26, 2021

Frugal Friday

It was a really, really busy work week (standard for this time of the year), but we did have a few frugal wins to report.  

Saving on things we buy

  • Took advantage of the Friday Freebie (a loaf of French bread) on the way back from soccer practice. I also picked up a can of tuna (using another coupon) & made tuna sandwiches for lunch. I didn't notice that Nick snuck a tub of chocolate sauce into the cart until I got home. And, it was pricey. Sigh, the risk of shopping with teenagers. I also uploaded my receipt to Fetch, & earned some points.
  • M bought whisky at Costco, and when I was uploading my receipt to Fetch, it had an unexpected bonus offer tied to it. Win/win.

Earning money

  • eBay sales finally picked up this week. I sold:
    • Three samples from a Birchbox
    • Shin guard sleeves x2 (sold the day I listed them). The boys prefer to put the shin guard directly under the socks, without sleeves. I recently had to buy new shin guards, & they come in a set with sleeves. I remembered I'd sold these in the past, so put these aside for resale. Also, the extra set of shin guards saves me from having to do the laundry daily. These guys are teenagers, and sweaty, so all soccer clothes/gear needs to be in duplicate, as they are playing 5x/week.
    • A men's undershirt my husband bought & didn't like
    • A dress that I rarely wear
    • An outgrown soccer goalie jersey
    • A book from the free pile
    • A pair of pants that don't fit since I've lost a bit of weight
  • Earned $25 on Swagbucks

Avoiding spending

  • We'd actually planned to do a date night on Saturday, but both kids were unexpectedly out of the house at the same time. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been alone together (without kids) since COVID began. We opted to cancel our date, and have a nice dinner at home alone. We had things already at the house (champagne, appetizers, etc) & it was zero out of pocket for a lovely date together.
  • Tuesday was not a great work day. I found myself out at lunch to drop something off at FedEx, and was very tempted to pick up something to eat. Managed to convince myself to go home & find something from the freezer. 

Eating what we have

  • I was uninspired for dinner last Friday, so I defrosted a couple of containers of curry, and one Keto chili. I made a salad & wings (appetizer) to go with it, and we were done, and the freezer was a bit more cleaned out.
  • Made progress on the turkey meatballs from the freezer. No one is a huge fan of the taste/texture, but I cooked them with pesto, which helped the flavor. 
  • Rescued some very sad potatoes, to have mashed potatoes on Sunday
  • In a similar vein, used some Blue Apron leftover brussel sprouts for Sunday's dinner
  • Picked a yard orange (just in time produce usage) for orange cranberry muffins I made. Bonus, used up cranberries from the freezer & yogurt lingering in the fridge
  • Cut up the last of a container of strawberries. They were hitting the wrinkled phase, so added them to the bag of smoothie fruit. 
  • Added orange juice to Nick's preferred apple juice for smoothies
  • Used the last of a bag of tater tots to heat up with chicken for a quick dinner for Sam between practices

For others:

  • Continued my volunteer job
  • Put together a bag of toiletry donations for a charity & dropped them off with a neighbor
  • Dropped off steak leftovers for our neighbor (she uses them for her dog)

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Laundry, all the laundry

With the kids back in sports, our laundry volume is back with a vengeance. M & I also work out every day, and sweaty clothes can't (shouldn't) be re-worn the next day. Teen boys also are some sweaty creatures, so there is a LOT of laundry happening at my house.

Volume aside, I thought I'd share how I do laundry, as it's intended to preserve the life of our clothes, and also save money. I wash all of our clothes, as normal, but on the "casual" setting (42 minutes, I think), using an eco friendly temperature. If the clothes are particularly grungy, I increase the water temperature.

Once the washing load is complete, I separate into two piles - dryer, and drying rack. Our drying rack is quite large, and was previously in our spare bedroom. M uses the spare bedroom as his office, and having a laundry rack in the background is... a no go. ;-) So, we now have the drying rack in our second shower. A little background - the shower is handicap accessible & really unpleasant to use (it's open air, basically), so we don't use it as a shower. We have plans to remodel it. But, for now, it's serving a great purpose as the clothes drying area. It's especially great, as the area has a floor to ceiling window (yes, in the shower?!), so it gets a lot of sun & the clothes dry quickly.

Items we line dry:

  • All of my undergarments
  • The boys athletic shorts
  • Any "dri fit" or athletic style tshirts
  • The boys jogger pants
  • All workout gear (pants, sports bras, tank tops, etc)
  • My tshirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, etc.
  • Pretty much everything else, minus what's on the "items we machine dry" list, below
Items we machine dry:
  • Towels
  • Socks
  • Jeans
I don't like the feel of line dried towels (too crunchy) & feel similarly about socks & jeans. Oh, and we don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets of any kind. 

We've had tremendous luck extending the life of all of our line dried clothes. My undergarments typically last for years (most have lasted for a decade+). The kids outgrow their clothes before they fall apart. Our workout gear has a really long shelf life.

This is a daily/weekly frugal activity for us, so I thought I'd share. It does require a bit of space for the foldable clothing rack, but is otherwise something that can be done almost anywhere. I will add that, when we've tried this at the Oregon coast, the damp/chilly weather means it can be difficult to get the clothes dried. We struggled with this on our last trip, when the dryer was broken. We used a combination of the drying rack and in room heating & it got the job done, but the humidity made it more challenging.

What about you? How often do you do a load of laundry? Any tips to share? 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Menu plan Monday

 As our schedule gets crazier, it's important for me to get back to menu planning. It saves me time, reduces stress & food waste. 

Here's our plan for the week:

  • Friday - we had freezer items. Chicken curry (x2), Keto chili (x1), and Nick had chicken & pasta. For an appetizer, we had wings
  • Saturday - M & I were going to go out to eat, but we ended up making coconut shrimp & drinking champagne while playing cards. (Kids were both at activities). I made pasta & meatballs for everyone, when they got home. 
  • Sunday - steak, brussel sprouts, & roasted potatoes
  • Monday - gyro meat + naan & salads
  • Tuesday - tacos
  • Wednesday - gyro meat, naan & salads - take 2
  • Thursday - tacos - take 2
  • Friday - kebabs (freezer) & "healthy" noodles
Bonus picture. Our neighbor has rosemary bushes growing as hedges in her yard. They are huge & lovely, and...edible! They inspired us to grow rosemary in a pot, and we used it for our grilled steak yesterday. Yum.

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

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sleepy Sunday

 I didn't sleep particularly well, but got up early so I could meet a friend for a hike. Leaving shortly for that. Looking forward to catching up & getting in some exercise. 

Sam ended up staying with a friend pretty late, so we swapped our dinner out for an impromptu date at home. It was fabulous, and one of the rare COVID times we were home alone. We opened a bottle of champagne, played cards, & had appetizers before the boys came home. It was lovely, and free. Excellent.

I wasn't as productive as I should have been yesterday, so things are stacked up for today:

  • Make weekly schedules (family activities, work out, work meetings)
  • Package & return two orders 
  • Package & mail eBay sale
  • Drop off donation to a neighbor
  • Make taco meat for the week (plus extra for the freezer)
  • Make almond flour muffins
  • Vacuum
  • Clean bathrooms (boys)
  • Clean kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Dinner - M is making steak, I'll make sprouts & roasted potatoes
  • Sam needs to write than you notes
  • Take Sam to the park for a meet up with his girl friend
There's more, but that's all I can remember for the moment. Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! Share what you're up to today.

And, this is how moody teens watch their brother's first high school soccer game. He'll be a 9th grader at the same school next year, so he was very excited & curious to spend some time on campus. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

It's Saturday

 I'm thrilled it's the weekend. I've been feeling low energy all week, and just a bit run down, so I'm looking forward to having the day off. 

It's still pretty chilly here in the mornings, but with definite signs of spring. . . A rose growing in our yard. 

I need to get rolling, as the boys have an early scrimmage today. Here's what we have going on:

  • Soccer game
  • I'll walk or run during warm ups
  • I'm taking Sam to a local park to meet up (masked) with a friend
  • Sam has tennis lessons this afternoon
  • I have a stack of laundry awaiting my attention
  • Menu planning
  • Costco
  • Prep taco meat for the week
  • M & I are going out to dinner (outdoor restaurant). It will likely be chilly, so I'll be very bundled up. 
That's what's happening in our world today. What about you? Any fun weekend plans?

Friday, March 19, 2021

Frugal Friday

I shared in a separate post, but by far the biggest frugal "win" was paying off half of our mortgage! Woohoo for progress! 

It's been another busy week, with plenty of activities & Sam's school soccer games & practices. Here's what we've been up to lately. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used a Target gift card to buy snacks & other items we needed. I used $.72 of Target circle rewards. I also earned 1800 points on Fetch, and saved $10.45 via iBotta
  • Used a promo code to save 10% off of a purchase

Earning money

  • I sold a few things on eBay.
    • A duffel bag we've never used
    • A boxed set of young adult books
    • Another book from the freebie pile
    • A pair of shorts
    • A sample from a Birchbox 
  • Earned enough points to redeem a $5 gift card via Fetch

Avoiding spending

  • Sam wanted to eat out after a late practice, so I decided it was the right time to use a Chipotle gift card I've been carrying around for well over a year. Dinner sorted (plus leftovers for me, not the teen, however) & he was thrilled. We don't eat out too much, which makes it a special treat when it happens. 

Eating what we have

  • M grilled chicken this week, and we enjoyed it for leftovers
  • I also used a bunch of leftover Blue Apron ingredients in other ways, to make things stretch a bit further (kale, potatoes, bok choy, etc)

For others

  • I'm still volunteering daily, but my smaller "think of others" top of mind has slipped a bit, & I'd like to get back to that & will try to get creative this weekend.
What about you? What wins have you had for the week?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Meal planning

 It's going to be a very busy week, with Sam having two high school soccer games, and Nick with club soccer & volleyball. (And yes, we've told him that he needs to choose two sports after his current commitments end. Volleyball was a great fill in when soccer wasn't happening, but now that everything has restarted, it's too much. He'll likely select tennis & soccer, which seems to be a good fit for him personally, & for us with logistics.)

I did prep a few things to make things easier during the week. I shredded cabbage & carrots, & made up the coleslaw dressing, and Nick prepped a Blue Apron dinner, so it will be ready for reheating on a night where we need a quick dinner. 

Here's our menu plan for the week:

  • Friday - I selected the easy option, and we had pizza two ways. I doctored up a frozen veggie cauliflower crust pizza from Costco for the adults, using extra pepperoni from the freezer. The kids had a pepperoni pizza (freezer). Keeping pizza in the freezer for busy nights is always a good idea. We had it with champagne, to celebrate achieving our mortgage goal. 
  • Saturday - takeout Greek food & cake. I opted for a new item at our local restaurant - gyro sliders. Delish. There was enough leftover that Sam had Greek food for lunch yesterday
  • Sunday - M grilled chicken (there was a huge rain storm, so he had some regrets), Nick roasted potatoes & I made a salad & sauteed brussel sprouts. Team effort.
  • Monday - Nick is cooking the last of the Blue Apron meals. It's a gouda burger with roasted carrots. M will make salmon for himself, and I'll make a keto friendly coleslaw to round it out. 
  • Tuesday - we prepped another Blue Apron meal on Sunday, so we could easily whip up a chicken in black bean sauce. It looks interesting. We'll roast carrots or potatoes to go with him. 
  • Wednesday - Leftover grilled chicken on caesar salad
  • Thursday - potentially chicken tacos
  • Friday - TBD
What about you? What are you eating/making this week? Any quick & easy weeknight meals to recommend? 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

New cleats, and other things

Unfortunately, the cleats I'd purchased for Sam didn't arrive before the old cleats fell apart & the duct tape wouldn't hold. This means that I had to go & buy another pair of cleats from an "in person" store. I don't want to talk about how much I had to pay for the new cleats. We typically buy the medium range cleats, as teen boys grow very quickly. I tried 14 different pair at Dick's Sporting Goods, and they had none of the medium price range in his size. I guess COVID availability & that he wears a 10.5 means they are hard to find. I also tried Big Five Sporting Goods, but the same problem. In the end, Sam has incredibly nice cleats that he describes as "the most comfortable cleats I've ever worn". So, let's hope they hold up for at least a full season of double soccer - high school & club. 

RIP, old cleats. 

I was out & running errands for most of the day today. I'm not used to my previous COVID life anymore, and I was exhausted & accomplished little once I was home. I used the last of our Uber Eats credits for Nick's dinner, and then we had cake. Yum! 

I need to be significantly more productive today. Here's what's on the list:
  • Juice oranges. We had to pick a bunch more, as the oranges were falling in the pool & clogging the filter.
  • Shred cabbage/carrots for coleslaw
  • Make a Blue Apron dinner. M is grilling chicken, but I need a prepped dinner for Tuesday, when things are schedule crazy here
  • Plan the schedule for the week
  • Sort out potential soccer carpool. I didn't think I could make carpooling work, but both parents of a friend are vaccinated!
  • Work out
  • Have Sam wrap gifts for his girlfriend
  • Nick has tennis & online math tutoring
  • Clean the house
  • Laundry
  • Adjust work schedule for the week
What about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Saturday happenings

The day started off looking like it would rain, but it's largely cleared up & the sun is peeking out. 

I took the boys to a soccer scrimmage, and it was their first game in exactly a year. Wow! Everyone is pretty rusty. I walked during warm ups, and then watched the game & caught up with parents I also haven't seen for a year. Wild.

What else is on the agenda?

  • Nick has volleyball, so we'll be leaving shortly for that
  • I'll head to Target to pick up a few things while he's at volleyball
  • Sam is being interviewed by the yearbook about something
  • M is picking up Nick's birthday cake. We splurged & did a bakery cake, as this is his second year in a row without being able to have friends over or do any sort of a party. The cake was his ask & while I'd prefer it to be non-COVID times & he could have a party or friends over for a sleepover, I guess this will do.
  • We're getting Greek takeout for the birthday boy
  • Sam has a tennis lesson
  • I'm hoping to shred cabbage & carrots to make coleslaw for tomorrow
  • Laundry (always)
That's what's happening in our world. What about you? 

Friday, March 12, 2021

We did it! 2021 Goal Achieved

 It's been a long standing goal to pay off half of our mortgage. Given we live in a very high cost of living area, this was a significant undertaking. 

The details:

  • We bought our house in February of 2017. We took out a mortgage for 75% of the purchase price. We paid cash for the down payment (25%). The down payment required all of our existing cash (I don't recommend this approach), and when we closed, we had less than $1k in all of our combined cash accounts. Again, I don't recommend this. 
  • As of yesterday, we've paid off 69% of the house purchase price, & ~60% of the mortgage! We crushed our goal of 50%. 
  • The market has continued to increase here, so we are now at 75% paid off for the estimated value of our house. (We've not had our home assessed for value, but given the upgrades we've done, it's worth more than that. We don't really factor in estimated value, other than as a directional signal, because unless you're planning to sell right away, it's simply a signal & can change at any time.)
  • The amount we've paid off represents ~53% of our gross income over that same time period. So, when we ask ourselves where all of our money goes... we have the answer!
  • During that time, we also completed some major house projects with cash:
    • A full kitchen remodel
    • Installing air conditioning
    • Solar panels 
    • Painted the exterior
    • New tankless hot water heater
    • Replaced the garage door
    • Trimmed the roof line of the house, & then added gutters
    • Replaced all of the fencing
    • Replaced all of the interior doors
    • Rebuilt the cabinetry in our living room
    • Rebuilt all sheds (pool pump, garbage, yard tool shed)
    • Installed lighting in the ceilings of each room (previous only lamp light?)
    • Removed an interior bamboo garden (?), speaker system (?), and shower planter box (?)
Our mortgage balance is now below our gross combined annual income, which makes me feel really happy. 

How did we do it? 
  • A lot of the basics, that apply regardless of the amount of your mortgage & income. We put as much "extra" money as we could each month towards the mortgage. Rebate on a $20 item? Directed towards the mortgage. Unexpected $50 check? Towards the mortgage
  • We also tried to live on our salaries (our total compensation is made up of salary, bonus & stock equity) as much as possible, using our bonus & equity to pay down the mortgage as aggressively as possible.
  • As you can see from the above, we put over 50% of our gross income into the house. It represents a huge amount of our budget, and we made cuts to all other categories to afford it. 
  • I used all of my side hustle money to make payments. Each time a payment would come in, I'd round up & make payments. I often make 20+ small payments per month to the mortgage company, but seeing the balance tick down, even if by small amounts, keeps me motivated. 
  • We are very blessed, and make a high income together. That means we have a big "shovel", as it were, to pay down our mortgage, and still have money left over for other things. While we worked hard to prioritize this goal & live below our income, we are blessed & could also afford travel, & other expenses. We made intentional tradeoffs & prioritized the budget items we cared the most about.
What comes next?
  • We keep paying down the mortgage! Although we are at a much lower, more comfortable mortgage, having a mortgage of this size still blocks our flexibility. I want to be able to quit my job at some point. We will likely either refinance or recast our mortgage, so that it can be comfortably paid by M's salary at that point. 
  • I'm hoping to set some new goals related to our mortgage, and get to the 75% paid off amount soon. That's still a huge chunk of change. I need to build a new model & forecast, but I'm thinking it will take us another 12-18 months to get to the 75% paid off amount, with a lot of dedication & focus.
I'm so happy & excited to have hit this milestone. When we bought this house, it was a very big stretch for us, and the total mortgage made me very uncomfortable. I now feel much more relaxed/secure about our mortgage. Yay for financial security!

What about you - any big goal progress to share for 2021? 

Frugal Friday

 It's been another busy week, but here's what's been happening in our house:

Saving on things we buy

  • Used $22 in grocery rewards to stock up on some pantry items & two frozen pizzas (kids preferred brand) to keep on hand. I saved $4.50 through iBotta. 
  • Used Target gift cards to buy two bras, and some grocery items. Additionally, used $.77 in Circle earnings, and I'd forgotten that I had a 5% off my purchase, birthday reward, which saved me another $3.79. I uploaded the receipt to iBotta, & saved $1.60.
  • Used the leftover amount on my Nike gift card (from Nick's shoes) to get soccer cleats for Sam. His cleats have become detached from the soles... I suppose, in positive news, they lasted 1.5 seasons, and he has now outgrown them, so better luck than we've had with other shoes. I paid $9 & change out of pocket, and clicked through Rakuten to save a bit more. 
  • Bought two large heads of cabbage, heavy cream, a bagged salad, & a large bag of onions for $1.36, using rewards and special store offers. I saved $13 (although, this grocery store is notoriously overpriced.) I bought the cabbage because it was so cheap ($.29/lb) & picked up the cream so I can make M's favorite Keto friendly coleslaw. 

Earning money

  • Uploaded all receipts to Fetch
  • I earned a $500 bonus at work this month
  • I earned a few Swagbucks, and had enough to cash out for a $5 Amazon gift card. Normally, I'd save up for a bigger amount, but I had a birthday offer that gave me an additional 55 swagbucks for any gift card redemption. 
  • Sold on eBay
    • A book that I picked up from a freebie box
    • A duffel bag

Avoiding spending

  • I've been wanting a second handkerchief, as I have ongoing "seasonal" allergies. I have a mask that was made for me by my neighbor when COVID was first happening. The fabric is triple lined & makes it really difficult to wear. (I have since bought oodles & oodles of masks, because...boys lose masks. But, that's a non-frugal story for another day.) I took a look at the mask, and decided it could be repurposed. I don't sew, so this was very basic, but I cut off the straps, and used scissors to cut out all of the stitches gathering the fabric. And, now I have a new handkerchief!

Eating what we have

  • Used two tortillas leftover from a Hello Fresh meal to make Nick a quesadilla to go with his dinner one night
  • Continued to roast carrots to bulk up M's meals, as he can't eat carbs
  • Ate the last of a Hello Fresh meal leftover for lunch

For others

  • Uploaded receipts to BoxTops for schools, earning $.40 for things I was buying anyway. 
  • Made a large donation (and, requested a company match) for the Pancreatic Cancer Network, as part of a fundraiser. 
  • Added another non-profit into our company tool, so another smaller donation could be matched & approved
  • By using Amazon smile, donated $50+ to a local school (I just got my quarterly update, this wasn't all at once.)
That's it, frugal friends. What about you? Any frugal wins, or things you've done for others?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Signs of spring & high school happenings

 It's been a wild & crazy week at work (again), but I'm turning the corner, heading into a quieter Thursday & Friday. 

A few positive things to share:

  • Sam is going back to school! We officially have a date of 4/19. Thrilled! Absolutely thrilled. He's never "been" to high school before, so this will be quite a transition for him. The kids have been out of school since early March, so this will represent one year, and six weeks since the last time he was in person. 
  • Nick is returning to school in early April, and it feels like back to school. The boys need backpacks & shoes & have outgrown "regular" clothes. It hasn't been as noticeable, as everyone is wearing pajama pants on calls. ;-) 
  • Sam made the high school JV soccer team. He's thrilled! His cleats, of course, have a hole in them & this was discovered today. He has his first scrimmage on Saturday. His coach has duct taped the shoes in the interim.
  • I'm in the next wave of vaccine distribution & have an appointment!
  • Spring is in the air, and our newly planted tulip tree is blossoming. 

Hope you are all having a lovely Wednesday. Please do share something positive that's happening. I love to read about the wonderful things happening in your lives. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Baby bok choy & Sunday things

 After I used bok choy in a recipe, I decided to see if I could bring them back to life (similar to celery). A quick internet search told me it was possible. They are already starting to sprout again. Our window is dirty due to the exterior painting (they power washed first), so cleaning that needs to get on our to do list!

I'm going to maximize my day today, so here's what's on the agenda:

  • Run 2-3 miles
  • Build schedule for the week
  • And, workout schedule 
  • Nick has online math tutoring
  • And tennis
  • Laundry (forever & always)
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Vacuum
  • I need to mail two packages
  • M is taking the kids to a hair cut. It's been a LONG time since salons have been open in our area, but they are back
  • And, M is making dinner
Other than that, I am hoping to read for a bit in the sunshine. What about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday happenings

I'm so done with work at the moment, and am ready to have a work free weekend. (Fingers crossed.) Next week promises to be another very busy week, so I'm going to do my best to relax & not borrow trouble from next week. 

And, I'm trying to add more pictures to the blog, so here's an example of what I typically see on my run, although the picture is from winter. It's a beautiful place for runs, walks, hikes, etc. 

And with that, here's what's on the to do list for today:
  1. Mail back a pair of Nick's shoes (too small - he's feet are growing so quickly)! I've exchanged these for the next size up
  2. Run
  3. Pick up a few groceries/snacks, using rewards
  4. Boys have soccer
  5. Pick up Nick from soccer (Sam will bike home) & drop him off at volleyball
  6. Look for a new bra at Target. I've lost 15 lbs in the last year or so, and my bra has not enjoyed the evolution. It's not fitting properly any more. 
  7. Laundry
  8. Sam has tennis this afternoon
  9. I'm doing a happy hour zoom chat with my friends (it's been rescheduled four times, as we all had a crazy week)
  10. Menu plan & create grocery list for the week

I may as well get started on #10. Here's what we're planning for the week:

  • Friday - I made a roasted pork loin with potatoes, a carrot/apple coleslaw, cherry sauce & roasted carrots. Delicious. 
  • Saturday - Nick is cooking. We have the current box of Blue Apron meals (3) & we are getting one next week (3), but that's the end for a while. We don't have time to cook full meals during the week due to activities, so we need to revert back to our "cook on weekends/eat leftovers during the work week" plan. I think he's making a chipotle chicken dish
  • Sunday - M is making rice & kebabs
  • Monday - Nick's only day without sports, so he's making a spicy beef dish
  • Tuesday - leftover kebabs & rice
  • Wednesday - gyro meat salads (or, on naan for the kids)
  • Thursday - spaghetti & meaballs
  • Friday - steak, roasted brussel sprouts & mashed potatoes
What are you up to today? Hoping it's a relaxing and productive day for you. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Frugal Friday

This was a really busy work week (again), so I didn't give much thought to frugal activities. Luckily, we continued to do a few small things here & there to save.  

Saving on things we buy:

  • Nick needed new shoes for tennis & regular shoes. He's been wearing regular shoes for tennis, and the courts have ripped a hole in the toe (from dragging it back when hitting). So, I invested in tennis shoes, hoping they will preserve the life of his regular shoes. I also bought a gift card on Raise (clicking through Rakuten first), saving 3% off of the purchase of the gift card. I also clicked through Rakuten for the purchase, saving 8% more. Shoes for growing & active teens are quite expensive, so saving even a small amount, while still investing in high quality shoes, is a win.  
  • I used a $1.00 coupon off of cereal, and uploaded the receipt to Fetch for bonus points

Earning money:

  • I've sold a few things on Ebay
    • A book from a freebie table
    • A workout DVD
    • A hat
    • An outgrown jacket
    • Outgrown warmup pants

Avoiding spending:

  • Picked up a box of free box off of our local Buy Nothing - six of the books are from my preferred authors. Win! Dropped off some of our books at the local Free Library & picked up a book for Sam. He's thrilled for new reading material, & read half in a day. 
  • We do this every week, but it's good to remind myself that I run the dryer less often, by line drying the majority of our clothes. We have the clothing racks inside, near a window where they get a lot of sun. This preserves the life of the clothing, and keeps energy costs down. 

Eating what we have

  • I had leftover cottage cheese (free from an iBotta offer) for breakfast
  • Sam ate pesto rice leftovers (delicious, never would have thought to combine) from a Hello Fresh meal, and combined it with gyro meat & a naan bread for lunch
  • I had a chicken fajita (leftover) for breakfast, after a run. It was delicious & I would have never thought to have it that way, if I wasn't being creative.
  • Juiced all of the oranges & added them to Nick's smoothie juice
  • Juiced almost all of the lemons (ran out of time), and now we have lemon juice, ready to go for salads. 
  • Used up an extra head of bok choy that was sitting around. I served it with tilapia & rice & it was great. 

For others

  • Helped Nick sell the second of the two bikes that he bought & repaired. I coordinate all of the buyers & payments, so am always happy when another is gone from his bike shed, and I can mark it as "sold". :-) 
  • Gave away four free Hello Fresh boxes - one to a friend who was interested in trying it out, and three to  a local group
  • Uploaded a receipt to earn Box Tops for the local school
  • Continued to volunteer every (week) day at my volunteer gig

How did your week go?

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Busy, busy, busy

I'm in one of my busiest times of the year at work (our performance review time) & this year I somehow have 2x the amount of people up for promotion. Promotion adds significant effort to the process (for me), so I'm deep into work & deadlines right now. 

In positive news, if I push hard this week, I hope to be through the worst of it by Friday. I've been working so long each day that I close my laptop with a tension headache. It's been awhile since I've had that, and I'm not enjoying it. I am still working out each day, and taking a few minutes to walk around in the sunshine. 

Looking on the bright side, if I were putting in these hours at the office, I'd definitely be keeping myself "energized" with junk food. Our team tends to bring in catered meals, extra snacks, etc during these times. And, I likely would bail on workouts in favor of...more work. So, this time of year is healthier than a typical time when not working from home.

Other good things happening, during this time of business:

  • M authorized the first of the large mortgage payments, now that we have online access to our new mortgage. Progress!
  • Nick's soccer team is playing full contact again, and able to have scrimmages. For the first time in a year. He's over the moon.
  • Sam is doing school soccer tryouts at the high school. I haven't seen Sam this happy since COVID started. He's animated, happy, meeting people he's on all day zoom calls with, and spending time (the only time ever) at his high school. Fingers crossed he makes the team. His school has 2,500 kids, so making the JV team as a freshman is still an accomplishment.
  • The weather has been lovely, facilitating my walking during work breaks
  • My parents get their second COVID shot on Friday
  • My nephews have returned to school! (First time in a year)
  • I made a delicious dinner last night, and enjoyed the break from work. It was a Hello Fresh pulled chicken sandwich with roasted potatoes, coleslaw & a quick pickled jalapeno. Delicious. I added roasted carrots, which were wonderful. We bought a big bag of carrots at Costco last week, so we can make roasted carrots a regular thing. We all love them.
  • I need an additional piece of hardware on my laptop (security login) to access corporate tools. I dropped my laptop a couple of weeks ago, and the hardware bent. In normal times, this a) wouldn't be a big deal and b) I'd walk over to the tech area & get a new one. However, this is perf time & I don't have any spares at home. And awesome tech was able to hook me up with temporary access, & I received my new hardware (plus a spare) yesterday, just in time as the temporary access expired. I could not afford to be slowed down & miss a day right now, so this worked out well.
Also, a gorgeous sunset while waiting for Sam to finish tryouts yesterday.

Share something positive that's happening in your life right now!

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

March Goals

 Another month, and fresh new goals! Actually, a lot of repeats from prior months, because why fix what isn't broken? 


  • Stick to the budget (including revised grocery target)
  • Make $400 in side hustle
  • No clothing purchases for myself
  • Pay down our mortgage to the 1/2 way point
  • Finish & file our taxes
  • Plan/budget next house project - we're going to have shelving added to the garage

  • Plan one fun activity with the kids. 
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening
  • One "date" with M 
  • Make a video for M's parents, or send photos
  • Finalize summer plans (if possible, with COVID)

  • Lose 3 lbs.
  • Run 10 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet
  • Complete 1,300 minutes of cardio, & complete daily strength & posture challenge
  • Meditate 15 times
  • Intermittent fasting, 3x/week

  • Practice 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 - Finish 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
  • Find a new date for girls trip

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

Monday, March 1, 2021

February Goals Recap

 And with that, another month is over! I'd describe February as pretty good, overall.


  • Stick to the budget - we were $25 over our grocery budget, and quite a bit over our dining out budget (two birthdays, a dinner out, and a wine tasting). We did well outside of that. And, I can add the $2k ski passes back to the budget, which more than makes up for the other categories.
  • Make $400 in side hustle - this wasn't the month for me to make much, apparently. I ended the month at $168.30, although I did help Nick sell both of his bikes. 
  • No clothing purchases for myself - done
  • Plan next house project - we had the exterior of the house painted, & we love it!
  • Close on our refi - done
  • Pay our mortgage to the 1/2 way point - we thought we'd get there over the weekend, but we're still waiting for the new bank on getting our account set up. 
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids - we went to Santa Cruz for a day, I took the kids mini golfing, & M took Sam to the zoo
  • Off the computer by 7:30 each evening - mostly, yes. I had one late night of work
  • One date with M per month - we crushed this, and are making up for lost time, now that outdoor dining is back in our area. We went on several walks, went to a wine tasting when picking up our wine shipment, and went to dinner. 
  • Make a video for M's parents - I sent photos for Sam's birthday
  • Plan a fun ski week - it went as well as could be expected, and we weaved in some fun treats (lunches out, mini golfing, zoo, etc) 
  • Lose 2.5 lbs - I lost 3.3 lbs, despite it being a shorter month, and one with lots of celebrations
  • Run 8 times - I ran 9 times
  • Track calories, eat a balanced diet - yes, other than planned splurge days
  • Complete 1,100 minutes of cardio & daily February strength & posture challenges - I hit 1,580 minutes of cardio, & missed a few days of strength/posture, but made them up. My strength & posture numbers are so much better by doing 10 minutes a day, vs trying for a 30 minute workout several times per week. 
  • Meditate 15 times - I meditated 16 times
  • Intermittent fast 2x/week - yes, I'm now IFing on M, W, F


  • Practice Spanish at least 20 days - yes
  • Do something social with friends - yes, I've been doing hiking and have had a couple of virtual happy hours 
  • Continue daily checkins & support of volunteer job - yes
  • Write & journal regularly. Try fiction writing for at least 30 minutes. - Yes, I journal almost daily, and did some fiction writing as well. I enjoy it, but find I need to have plenty of time. If I rush, I'm not creative at all. :-) 
  • No swearing - I had 2 or 3 curses, but that's huge for me, and tremendous progress
  • Make 2 hats for the homelesss - I haven't finished my hat
  • Continue looking for opportunities to help others - yes
  • Achieve a total of 400 "points" on my daily checklists - yes! I was at 402, and this system has made me much more efficient & goal oriented on a daily basis. 

All in all, I'll consider February a successful month. What about you? How did you do in February with your goals?