Wednesday, June 30, 2021

We made it to the beach

It was a pretty easy drive, as far as 13 hours of driving can be considered. We stopped three times for gas, bathrooms & a bit of food. There was some road construction (always, with a drive that long) & some traffic as we got closer to Portland. But, otherwise, all went well, and we arrived at the beach house yesterday evening.

The inside of the house is very warm, which is unusual & a sign that it was quite hot over the weekend. The weather is currently blissfully cool - around 65. 

From a frugality perspective, we tried to keep the road trip costs under control - packing snacks & water, using a gift card for breakfast, and opting for an inexpensive lunch (Costco food court, while gassing up.) I also packed dinner for last night in the cooler. We had leftover chicken curry, that was delicious & easy to reheat. We brought all of our perishable items with us, and I was able to make a salad to go with dinner. I also brought three zucchini, so my family will definitely be going home with some zucchini. ;-) 

The rest of the family arrives on Friday, and we have some stuff to get done between now & then:

  • Go for a run. Looking forward to the cool weather & flat running route. Definitely a change from our house!
  • Go to Costco & the grocery store. The closest major store is quite a haul, so I'll bring a cooler & we will stock up. I've already cross referenced our list & menu against what's available in the house. We don't want to buy anything that we already have in the freezer
  • Stop by the post office. Nick was expecting a package, and it's not at the house. I'm assume they are holding it at the post office.
  • Start packing. 
  • Time permitting, weed wack the side lawn.
  • I'm technically on vacation today, but have a few things to do for a meeting I committed to attending tomorrow am. 

And, for a photo... I haven't been to the beach yet, but here's what I'm hoping for (this is last June).

What about you? What are you up to today?

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Somehow, it's Sunday

This entire week has whizzed by. I can't believe it's Sunday. Yesterday was a busy, but fun day. I took Sam to his soccer scrimmage, went to two Targets (the first one I went to was closing permanently that day & had no inventory, unbeknownst to me). I also washed 1/2 of the sheets, made dinner, took the boys + a bonus friend mini golfing. And went to the grocery store, picked up the cooler, dropped off zucchini & went for a walk. After the soccer scrimmage, I noticed a girl asking Sam for his phone number. They go to the same school, but don't know each other, and played on the same team during a blended roster scrimmage. So cute. 

The boys at mini golf made me laugh. Telling stories, generally being foolish teens, and attempting to best each other. I really enjoy this phase, particularly when they are off their technical devices, and just being kids. They got ice cream cones, & I managed to avoid one (mostly because ice cream is not my stomach's friend). June was not a great month for me from a calorie perspective, and time at the beach means this will probably continue through the first week of July.

I still have plenty left to do today. 

  1. Go for a run
  2. Wash our sheets, make the bed
  3. Laundry
  4. Make chicken curry
  5. Pack. For real, finish all packing but final stuff
  6. Meet neighbors this evening for watering explanation
  7. Move all (potted) tomato plants to the front yard, so the neighbors can water them. 
  8. Vacuum
  9. Bathrooms
  10. Clean the kitchen. Nick used the food processor & the ice cream maker yesterday, so the kitchen is...messy. The oreo ice cream he made is delicious, however.
  11. Run to Rite Aid for a couple of things.
  12. Both boys have tennis lessons
  13. Dead head herbs
  14. Package & mail an eBay sale
That's it on our side. I'm missing the "do nothing but have fun" vibe of Hawaii. Can I go back? ;-) Hope you are all having a wonderful day. What are you hoping to accomplish today? 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Getting ready, and an early menu plan

I have a lot to accomplish this weekend. We moved our travel day (to the beach) up by a day, & I'm feeling some time pressure to get everything done for our trip a day early. It will all happen, with careful planning & organizing.

Here's what I have on the list for today. Some items may shift to tomorrow, depending on my productivity level. :-) 

  • Figure out dinner. I was planning on chicken curry, but we will be home late, and that recipe takes a bit of time
  • Start packing
  • Finalize menu plan
  • Build shopping list for the vacation house
  • Take Sam to soccer practice
  • Take the boys + a friend mini golfing
  • Pick up cooler, drop off zucchini with a friend
  • Show neighbors the watering situation
  • Move tomato plants to front yard, for watering purposes
  • Go to Target for road trip snacks
  • Get cash for parents
  • Work out
  • Package/mail eBay item

Here's what I'm thinking for the menu over the next week or so. I need to be on top of it, as there are logistics involved (coolers, shopping in multiple places, guests, etc):

  • Saturday - egg roll in a bowl
  • Sunday - chicken curry. M to make rice, cauliflower rice for M's dinner.
  • Monday - leftover egg roll in a bowl. We'll need a quick option, as I'll be packing, & Sam has his final summer league practice
  • Tuesday - on the road, if traffic is bad. If we make it to the beach in time for dinner, I'll make a quick salad out of cooler items, and the kids can have frozen pizza (one less item in the beach freezer) & M & I can have grilled chicken from the freezer there. 
  • Wednesday - I'm thinking spaghetti & meatballs. Soy noodles for M. 
  • Thursday - leftover spaghetti & meatballs 
  • Friday - family in town. Takeout pizza & salads
  • Saturday - family in town. Grilled chicken + caesar salads
  • Sunday - 4th of July, family in town. Grilled burgers & hot dogs + potato salad, baked beans, fruit pizza for dessert
  • Monday - 4th of July leftovers.
  • Tuesday - drive home. Eat on the way, if traffic is bad. If not, likely 4th of July leftovers, or something quick from the freezer
What about you? What are you up to today? Any fun menu plans coming up?

Friday, June 25, 2021

Frugal Friday

We are back to real life, and attempting to save a bit of money again here & there.  I really struggled to get going this week, but, unfortunately, the week didn't stop to wait for me. ;-) 

Saving on things we buy

  • I used a couple of grocery store rewards for items Nick needed for his Father's Day dinner
  • Bought an Amazon gift card to earn a $10 Amazon promotional credit during Prime days
  • Doesn't quite fit into this category, but we received reimbursement from our HSA for our COVID tests, and I applied the money to our mortgage. I consider it "found" money, even though we are technically just reimbursing ourselves. 

Earning money

  • I unpaused my eBay listings & sold a few things:
    • A felt craft kit
    • A shirt I found at the beach house that had never been worn (and, already outgrown by the kids)
    • Another shirt Nick insisted he needed (a "dressy" shirt) but didn't wear before he outgrew
    • A puzzle storage system (discovered at the beach house)
  • I also received a $6.55 check from a class action lawsuit I vaguely remember filling out
  • We received an $80 credit on our auto insurance, due to additional COVID relief

Avoiding spending

  • Nick made homemade hamburger & hot dog buns to go with dinners this week

Eating what we have

  • I made chicken on Friday evening, when we got home from the airport, avoiding another meal out
  • I also made eggs for breakfast on Saturday morning, despite being tired & jet lagged before an early soccer game, & not really "feeling it". ;-)
  • I cut up two large bowls of fruit, which meant lazy teens ate it quickly
  • I sauteed a zucchini for dinner
  • Nick shredded all of the zucchini that grew while we were out, and I froze it for future muffins or bread 
  • I made pickled jalapenos out of our first batch of garden jalapenos. M loves these on almost anything. 
  • My spinach bolted, so I cut it back & trimmed all that I could & we used it for salads. I also planted more spinach and kale
  • I picked strawberries, lots of green peppers, tomatoes, Greek basil, zucchini, & kale. We froze the strawberries for smoothies, and used everything else in salads

For others

  • I caught up on a few non-profit volunteer tasks
  • I mentored a group of interns at work
  • I gave away zucchini to a neighbor 
  • Listed some of M's summer clothes that no longer fit (discovered while packing for Hawaii) & a bunch of board games on Buy Nothing
That's it from our side. How did you do this week?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Pickled jalapenos & it still feels like Monday

I'm having a heck of a time getting into the swing of work/life, post vacation. Work is particularly painful, with some challenging issues ahead. But, here we are, right into Tuesday. All I can say is that I hope this week goes quickly! :-)

I've gotten a few things done, completing our Oregon tax form for the sale of the vacation house. That required a call to the state tax bureau, to answer a question. I also had to ask the title/escrow company to update the forms numerous times, as they had errors. I'm not feeling great about that. 

I need to find someone to water our plants when we're gone next week. M thought we had a plan last week, but we had a huge heat wave, and we lost quite a few plants. I had wanted to hire Nick's neighbor friend to water, and it was clear I should have gone with my instincts. Unfortunately, he's not available next week, so I'm looking for other options. 

I picked a few large jalapenos, and did a quick pickle on them. They are great, and an easy fridge item. M loves pickled jalapenos, and we buy them in the off season, so it's also a bit of a money saver. Here is the recipe I use. It couldn't be easier. 

My sister is now in Hawaii, celebrating her son's graduation from high school. I'm attempting to live vicariously through her, as she enjoys the beach, sunsets & all of the Hawaii fun.

Hope everyone is having a great week! What is one thing you've accomplished today? 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

Oooh, I'm unprepared for the work week! I'm grateful we got back on Friday evening, but even so, I still needed a few more days of "vacation adjustment". Nevertheless, it's on & I'm back to work today. 

The boys have an afternoon tennis camp this week, and Sam has soccer practice, so dinner timing will be a bit all over the place. Here's our plan for the week:

  • Friday - we had a combination of snacks, flight meal (kids) & then I baked up chicken when we got home/were unpacking
  • Saturday - M grilled hot dogs, and Nick made homemade buns. I made a green salad & fruit salad. 
  • Sunday - Nick made dinner for Father's Day - burgers, homemade buns, and a burger sauce. They were delicious!
  • Monday - I defrosted barbecued chicken from the freezer, so we will have that on leftover buns
  • Tuesday - hot dogs, green salad & fruit salad
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - barbecued chicken
  • Friday - TBD, but I typically make more of an appetizer meal on Fridays. So, potentially wings or panko crusted shrimp. 

What are you having for dinner this week?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Travel priorities

I thought I'd share a bit more about our trip, while it's fresh in my mind. I do not consider this trip to be frugal, by any stretch of the imagination, but we instead treated it as a major splurge. Even treating it as a splurge, we made sure to prioritize the most important aspects of the vacation, and not waste money on things that weren't important to us. 

Here's how we planned:

Savings/budget. It goes without saying that we had cash to pay for the entire trip, and had the money tucked away in our savings. Because we didn't travel much (at all) in 2020, we had carryover travel money available in 2021.

Flights. We needed six flights to Hawaii (ours, and my parents). Because of COVID, Alaska Air allowed you to carryover your companion fare to 2021. We took advantage of this, and split our travel into two groups. I added Nick as my companion, and used the 2020 companion fare, and then booked M & Sam together. This allowed us to use both companion fares, driving the cost way down. I also used miles for both of my parents flights. I booked early, when flights to Hawaii were still pretty reasonable, from a mileage trade in perspective. 

Lodging. This one was harder for me, and I went back & forth quite a bit. After a lot of research, it was clear we'd need to choose our highest priority: having a kitchen, access to the beach, number of included activities, or best available hotel rooms. After polling the group, we decided that we wanted to prioritize the number of included activities, for a few reasons. 

  • Booking water sports for six people was really, really expensive
  • Access & availability to the activities were highly varied 
  • The activities were the things the kids/my parents were most excited about. In fact, when we planned this trip, the boys & my dad sat down & planned out all of their preferred activities. The hotel we stayed at had a resort fee that included: stand up paddle boarding, snorkel/boogie board gear, kayaking, canoeing, work out classes, ukulele lessons, bingo, etc. We took advantage of all of these, saving a lot of money. 
Once we decided what we prioritized, I started looking on Costco travel, which we consistently find to have the best deals on hotel prices. My first choice hotel wasn't available, so I booked something else (it had a few included activities, but not as many). I kept looking, and eventually found what I wanted. Hotels booked via Costco also come with a car rental. Given how difficult car rentals were to book during our trip, this was wonderful. I upgraded to a mini van, so we could have room to transport all six of us.

Food. We requested a fridge & microwave for the room, but the food prep options were pretty limited, which we knew going in.  

We all decided that breakfast wasn't a big deal to us, as we'd be doing water activities in the morning (the water is smoothest, and best for things like kayaking & paddle boarding). My mom made & brought two giant loaves of bread (pumpkin & banana), & we bought bananas at Costco. This served as breakfast. 

We bought snacks & drinks for the pool at Costco, which helped us avoid pricey hotel purchases. We were able to bring some of the snacks on the return flight as well.

For lunches, we went out to an inexpensive fish & chips restaurant one day, and the other few days shared some things at the pool bar. We were able to use our bingo "winnings" to offset some of the cost there. For our arrival day, and departure day, we stopped at Costco to buy snacks & fill up on gas (respectively) & the boys had lunch at the Costco food court. As you can imagine, that's always cheap. ;-) 

Dinners were a different story, and we knew they would be a splurge. We planned for a mix of restaurants, and our main goal was to ensure the menu suited the diners, and whenever possible, have a view. Because of the huge surge in travelers to Hawaii, and current labor shortage, it was pretty challenging to get reservations anywhere. In the end, it worked out great. M & I had a special dinner out for his birthday, while my parents took the kids to a different place. All of our other meals were together & were fantastic. And, not cheap. :-) 

Other stuff. We were able to pack all of our stuff in three small carry on bags (for the four of us) & took advantage of the hotel's free laundry. This allowed us to get into & out of the airport quickly, and ensured we had no baggage charges. We also needed very little in the way of new things for the trip. I bought one new dress to replace one that no longer fit. The kids needed a pair of new trunks, and one pair of "dressy" shorts for dinners out. I found the shorts at Marshalls, for $8/each, so they were quite a deal. The trunks were 2/$12 at Costco. I used a gift card for the majority of the cost for my dress. 

And, there you have it. That's how we planned, budgeted & prioritized our trip. What about you? How do you plan for travel? Do you make a similar list of priorities? 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Frugal Saturday

The last week or so has been spent on vacation, so lots of money out (and memories made), but fewer opportunities for frugality. There have been a few wins here & there. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Planning ahead for our trips to/from the airport, I purchased (slightly) discounted Uber gift cards through Raise. I also clicked through Rakuten to get to Raise, saving a small amount more.
  • Took advantage of an iBotta strawberry offer, saving $.35. That offer triggered another (redeem any offer type of thing), saving another $.15. I like saving $.50 for strawberries we were planning to buy anyway. Also, we bought them on Friday evening, and they were gone on Saturday afternoon. The teens are big fruit eaters!
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch
  • Picked up some snacks & drinks at Costco, to save a bit on food spending. 
  • I went through our hotel bill & found an overcharge, and had it corrected. 

Earning money

  • I paused all of my eBay sales, so nothing there. I did find $.35 on the ground in Hawaii ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • I packed snacks for the kids, and also pre-ordered them a meal for the long flight. 
  • Brought our own water bottles to fill, to avoid having to buy drinks for travel days.

Eating what we have

  • We did a good job clearing out the fridge ahead of our trip, finishing off leftovers, etc.

For others

  • Gave away a bunch of garden produce ahead of leaving town, as well as two gallons of milk. Waste makes me sad, so this makes me happy. 
  • We paid for my parents trip to Hawaii, as the gift for my dad's (belated) 70th birthday & my parents (early) 50th anniversary this fall. So happy for the time & memories together.
  • I managed to give away a yard sign metal holder (Nick refused to display his middle school graduation sign), so at least it's not going straight to the recycling bin. 
Sam has an early soccer game, in a bid to avoid the heat this morning. We got in late last night, so combined with jet lag, I'm very tired. Hope you are all having a great day!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Surfing, turtles & all the fun

 We went to the gym this morning, then caneoing, and had a few turtles following our canoe. They got SO close! (Photos below). It was incredible.

The boys went surfing, and excellent times were had by all.

Whatever expectations/hopes I had for this trip, they were wildly exceeded. It was such a wonderful family experience.

Boys, surfing:

The turtle basically got into the canoe with us:

Even the view from the gym is lovely:

Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Paddle boarding & bingo

We started off the morning at SUP (stand up paddle boarding) & the water was perfect, with low wind. We all had a fabulous time. The boys took an ukulele lesson with my dad, and then we had bingo by the pool We won four bingo prizes, which was pretty great - poolside drinks (x2), an appetizer, and an entree. We  plan to use them tomorrow. 

Tomorrow will be canoeing, and the boys are taking a surf lesson. We've done everything we've wanted & then some. I'm very happy with our decision on lodging, as we went back & forth numerous times on our biggest priority. In the end, we opted for a hotel with lots of (included) activities, as that was the boys biggest priority. It's worked out so well, & the activities have been the highlight of the trip. My parents also had photos taken for their 50th anniversary, and they are stunning. 

My view this afternoon was pretty fantastic. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely week!

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


 We pulled over on our way back from dinner, because the sunset was breath taking. No filter on the picture. 

We kayaked today, and had an overall fabulous day. Tomorrow is stand up paddle boarding. Can't wait!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week. 

Maui vibes

 Maui is, as expected, absolutely fantastic. All of the activities, family fun, & laughs. So many laughs.

Dinner view

View from my yoga mat. Ocean side yoga = total bliss

Swimming with the turtles

Hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

Friday, June 11, 2021

Frugal Friday

It was a busy week, with Sam in soccer camp & Nick wrapping up school, along with plenty of other errands. But, it's also a week where we planned out summer travel. I can't believe it - travel planning is back! I'm very tired after the busy week of getting ready for vacation, but we're almost there. 

Saving on things we buy

  • It took two very long calls with Comcast, but I got our internet bill back under control, after they raised our rates. This promotion is good for the next two years, which will help. In total, I'll have saved $1200 in two years, by calling in. So, well worth the time, despite the temporary pain.  
  • I also saved $.70 on our grocery bill via iBotta offers, and uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch as well. The contrast of those small vs large savings..they all add up.
  • Used Southwest points & a tiny amount left over from a gift card to buy two flights for later this summer, saving $900. I'll take it!
  • Also travel related, used a 10% off promo code for a flight for our family relay (assuming it happens, with COVID). This is our last year, so we're hoping it occurs. We are all double vaccinated. I used travel credit for the rest of the cost.
  • I'm working on cutting down on our usage of plastic wrap. I ordered a set of silicon covers, and took advantage of a new customer offer, and free shipping, saving $10. 
  • I noticed that the local grocery store was having a gift card offer with Home Depot. I bought gift cards (we use them frequently for house projects) & earned $30 in grocery store rewards
  • Used a $10 credit to buy a Father's Day gift for M
  • Took Sam out to Chiptole, after a long week of soccer camp & soccer practices. Finally used the $1 or so remaining on my Chipotle gift card. It's now out of my purse!

Earning money

  • It continues to be a slow week, and I'm ramping down sales in advance of a vacation. But, a few things here & there. I sold:
    • A set of 3 blank VHS tapes (new in sealed wrappers). Who knew these were still a thing?
    • An outgrown hoodie
    • A wand topper, from the days we used to go to Great Wolf Lodge. I had no idea I still had this, but discovered it while cleaning out an ignored drawer. 
    • A sweater I never wear
  • Earned a $5 Paypal offer by downloading the app. It covered postage for an eBay sale. 

Avoiding spending

  • Used additional travel credits for my flight to pick up the boys from my parents house later in the summer, with $0 out of pocket
  • Picked up two PE uniforms for school, off of Buy Nothing. It looks like I'll only have to buy one extra set per kid, saving me about $30. 
  • Neither of the kids have flip flops (long since outgrown). I considered picking up a cheap pair for summer, but didn't feel great about that. As we were going through M's stuff, we discovered two like new pair of flip flops. One pair fit Sam. Nick opted to wear slides for our trip, and doesn't like flip flops. Great! No out of pocket spent needed. I'll list the other pair on eBay, as they are an expensive brand & no longer made. 
  • I took Nick to Starbucks to use a gift card he'd received (for his 8th grade graduation). I was hungry, hadn't made lunch, & was very tempted to buy lunch out. Instead, I came home & had a burger out of the freezer. 

Eating what we have

  • They are not my favorites, but the boys don't like a granola (purchased to top yogurt) & granola bars I bought a while back. I've been slowing working my way through them. 
  • We continue to eat a lot from the garden: spinach, kale, radishes, carrots, zucchini, mint, basil. I can't wait for the tomatoes & peppers to really start producing. 

For others:

  • Gave away a bunch on Buy Nothing
    • A very fancy dress from the way back time machine, when I was *ahem* much younger & could wear a dress without a bra
    • Swim goggles, two sets of snorkel gear
    • Swim trunks & a swim shirt
  • I accidentally bought two yearbooks for Nick (speaking of frugal fails). I even checked my budget spreadsheet & tried to get a hold of someone to find out. Somehow, still ended up with two. Another mom offered to buy it from me, but I was happy just to give it to someone who would use it. As a thank you, she made a donation to the school PTO. Win/win. 
  • Gave away lots of zucchini to friends, neighbors, & everyone who was picking up items on Buy Nothing ;-)
That's it on our side? What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

All the last minute fun

Things with our vacation house sale have been...difficult, to say the least. The buyers have been challenging, and we have been super accommodating. We finally hit the breaking point of how flexible we would/could be, and their realtor gave us a 10% chance of closing.

Our expiration window is today at 5 pm. They accepted at 4:40. I'm absolutely over the moon thrilled by the end result, but very frustrated by the transaction process. I won't get into the details, but it was a long & messy process. We accepted a buyer credit in the initial offer, with the clear feedback that the credit would avoid back & forth during the inspection process (e.g. could be used to cover any minor repairs as needed), & they agreed. We found a previously unknown issue, and agreed to cover that, as it was impacting the usability of the item. Irritating, but fine & totally understandable. The rest of the nickle & diming over the repairs, despite the prior agreements around the credit, and then asking for multiple other smaller ticket things that we approved without question....sigh. It was a lot of drama.

Now we just have the appraisal, and we'll be moving towards closing. Hurrah. I was up at 4:00 am, because I couldn't sleep. Too stressed about the house. I've learned a lot about myself, and let's just say that I'm not, by any means, the kind of person who enjoys buying/selling homes. I need to avoid this in the future, and let M manage all of the negotiations. 

To change my mood, positive things:

  • The weather has been perfect for Sam's (6 hour a day) soccer camp. Sunny & beautiful, but not too hot. Low 70s all week.
  • We leave on vacation in just a few days, and the last "hurdle" (COVID tests) is tomorrow. After that, it will be pretty smooth sailing.
  • I can head into the vacation knowing that things are in hand with the vacation house. Based on what the realtor said, I thought we would instead be putting the house back on the market this weekend. 
  • Nick has officially "graduated" from middle school. I have two high schoolers on my hands! Whoa, there. Not sure I'm ready, but here goes. 
  • We are going out to dinner tonight, for a work event. I haven't worn proper adult clothes in a while, & I'm looking forward to it. 

That's it from my side. What's happening in your world? 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Sharing & happiness

Just a few thoughts on how much I'm enjoying sharing right now, & how much positive energy it brings into your life. Despite all of the chaos of the day to day, it really cheers me up & makes me happy. A few recent examples. 

Buy Nothing Group:

  • I've been giving a ton of stuff away on Buy Nothing, and it feels so nice to make someone else happy, provide utility to others, and get stuff we don't need out of our house. I feel like I'm really on top of decluttering, but there's always more. I swear that stuff multiplies. Pool toys, goggles, snorkel gear, swim trunks & shirts, hoodies, soccer gear, food we won't eat, etc. 
  • On the reverse side, I was able to pick up two P.E. uniforms from a mom I'd never met, who lives two blocks away. She didn't want them to go to waste (hear, hear) & I would have had to buy them for the boys .I'll probably end up buying them each one extra set, because...laundry. But, we kept useful items in circulation, instead of in a junk pile.

Food sharing:
  • Those of you who have grown zucchini before can sympathize with my plight. There are SO MANY. And, we're heading out of town on vacation soon, and won't be here to eat lots of zucchini. I've been giving these away left & right. Friends, neighbors, strangers picking up stuff on my porch from Buy Nothing, etc. (All with permission, of course.) Not as many people garden in my neighborhood, so people are thrilled to have the free fresh produce.
  • On the flip side, sharing begets more sharing. Two neighbors who took zucchini dropped off items for us (unexpectedly). One was a Persian yogurt dish M hadn't had since childhood. Another dropped off fresh lemons. What a treat. 

Time/expertise sharing:
  • I helped out with reviewing a project for the non-profit I volunteer for, which should help accelerate the program. It feels great that, what takes me not much time, is a skill someone else really needs right now. 
  • Likewise, I'm volunteering with a few groups at work: new interns, mentoring through a diversity program, etc. It's so much fun to be able to answer questions & help direct people when they are overwhelmed, or need guidance. 

I'd love to hear any examples of sharing & happiness from you! We all need more positives in our lives. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Menu plan Monday

 The weeks are speeding by, as ever. Here's what we're having this week for dinner!

Friday - wrap up last of the leftovers, & burgers for others

Saturday - ribs & potato salad

Sunday - barbecue chicken & coleslaw

Monday - tacos

Tuesday - ribs & potato salad

Wednesday - barbecue chicken & coleslaw

Thursday - tacos

Friday - pizza, or TBD. Whatever we need to eat out of the fridge, before we leave for vacation. 

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

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Weekend happenings

 It's been a good weekend so far, with beautiful weather & enough activities to keep everyone busy, without being overwhelming.

I got a few things done yesterday:

  • Went for a run
  • Took Sam to a soccer scrimmage (got in a bonus walk during warm ups)
  • Attempted to drop off books at the library for donation. They must have adjusted their hours again, so I'll need to try again another day.
  • Booked (different) COVID test appointments for our Hawaii trip, and cancelled the previous ones. I'm happy I found an alternative, as it will save me ~90 minutes of driving 
  • Got the majority of items packed for our trip. I like to lay things out, & get as much as possible done ahead. Then, right before the trip, I just pack the items we need this week.
  • I drank a margarita by the pool with M. He's been working on his homemade "skinny" margarita recipe, and it was delicious. 
  • As part of the Hawaii packing, I discovered a bunch of outgrown swim goggles, & two snorkel sets in our pool bin. Gave those away on Buy Nothing. 
  • Packaged & mailed an eBay sale
  • Did a little bit of gardening. Items I picked yesterday, below. (Spinach, kale, radishes, two types of basil, & three zucchini)
  • Booked a bunch of summer travel. I'm thrilled that traveling will be happening again this summer!

Today is going to be a bit cooler, with a high in the mid-70s. Sounds pretty perfect to me. I'm off of cooking duty this weekend, as M made ribs last night, and I cheated & bought potato salad at Costco. It was pretty good, so I'll give it a pass. Tonight he's making barbecued chicken, so will have that with the leftover potato salad. And, he went a little crazy with the fruit purchases this week. Last week, we ran out of fruit half way through the week. Our kids do love fruit. Let's see if we can get through everything purchased this week (all bought at Costco, for size scale): apples, blueberries x3, raspberries, strawberries, nectarines x2, peaches, watermelon. One container of blueberries is wrapped up, but it will be a challenge to finish all of that before our trip. Fingers crossed. Whenever we run out, M panics & overbuys the following week. :-) 

Here's what I need to get done today:
  • Make zucchini muffins
  • Nick - math tutoring (the last one of the year, and he's thrilled)
  • Both boys - tennis
  • Clean out the remainder of the pool bin (there was a lot in there, and it all needs to be pulled out, cleaned, organized, some items tossed/donated, etc)
  • Work out
  • Make the schedule for the week (it's a wild one, with a bunch of family stuff)
  • Make a workout schedule for the week
  • Talk to our neighbor about aphid infestation
  • Clean solar panels
That's it. What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, June 4, 2021

Frugal Friday

 We made a lot of progress on the food front this week, and had some other small wins along the way.

Saving on things we buy

  • I uploaded our receipts to Fetch. No big savings, but a bit here & there
  • After a very unexpectedly long outing, I treated Sam to lunch at Subway. I had $10 or so on my app that I didn't remember, so that was a bonus.
  • I stocked up on hoodies for the boys for school (fall), as they were a great price. I really struggle to find plain (non-logo'd) hoodies. Finally found some, and tried to save as much as possible. First, went through Rakuten to Raise, earning 1% back. On Raise, bought gift cards for 10% off. Then, clicked over to Old Navy (via Rakuten again), saving another 6%. The clothing was marked down 35%, and then there were the additional savings via Raise & Rakuten. Let's hope the four hoodies will last for the entire year. They are thrilled to have non-logo'd hoodies, and I was able to get slightly different but both very neutral colors for each kid. No one wants to match their brother! 
  • After numerous cancellations, the boys were able to get their second vaccines at Rite Aid! We got celebratory Thrifty's ice cream post shot, and I earned a $.10 iBotta offer. 

Earning money

  • I continued to list things on eBay, and went through all of my inventory to decide what to keep, price adjust, donate, or give away. I only a few items this week. It was a super slow week:
    • A Seattle Sounders soccer shirt
    • A small Pokemon figurine I got in Japan 
  • Not sure which bucket this really falls into, but I received a Paypal offer to buy $25 of bitcoin, & get a $25 Paypal credit. I've been reluctant on bitcoin, but this felt like a safe (not to mention low risk) offer. There was a small fee (can't remember, but maybe $.75). I went for it, and purchased $25 of bitcoin, and immediately redeemed the Paypal offer for a $25 Home Depot gift card. So, all told, I now have $25 of bitcoin, for approximately $.75. We'll see how this experiment plays out. :-) 

Avoiding spending

  • We had an unfortunate burned dinner situation (details below), & considered buying a timer that beeps until shut off (vs our current one that just beeps a few times). I then remembered an old one that's been on the side of the fridge (it's a magnet) & never used. I tried it out & it works great for our purposes. No need to buy anything new. 

Eating what we have

  • I had a couple of (carb-less) breakfast sandwiches for lunch. They were originally for Sam, for a quick breakfast, but he grew tired of them quickly. I'm less picky, or care more about food waste. ;-) 
  • I re-organized our snack area, and noticed a few of the dried fruit bars I enjoy were available. The teens must not have noticed the last ones, so I had those for a snack.
  • Sam used the last of our electrolyte tablets, for hot soccer days. I've had these for awhile (purchased, and also received as samples at races), so it was good to use them up. I really prefer them over Gatorade, as they have minimal plastic waste (one very small plastic tube), and no added sugar. You just add the tablet to a bottle of water, and there is an incredibly mild flavor, but all of the electrolytes you need. 
  • Used the first two zucchini to make zucchini muffins. Added some chopped nuts to fill them out a bit. 
  • Made roasted parmesan zucchini, to go with dinner on Monday. It was good. I need to tweak the recipe prep a bit, but it was worth making again. Sauteed another zucchini to go with leftovers for M on Tuesday & roasted zucchini on Wednesday. Noticing a theme? ;-) 
  • I defrosted a pork loin that had been in the freezer for quite a while, and made a 1/2 batch of crockpot carnitas. One container for the freezer, one for dinners this week.
  • I was also able to tweak a recipe to use up a container of enchilada sauce (freezer) & two containers of grilled chicken (freezer) for chicken enchilada rice.
  • Finally, I defrosted two small packages of steak, & M made grilled steak on Monday. 
  • Ate the last of a grilled chicken sausage. This has been lingering in the freezer forever, so I'm happy to see them gone

For others

  • Gave away a bunch of stuff on Buy Nothing:
    • A bag of teen boy clothes 
    • Arch support inserts that don't fit
    • Two pair of soccer cleats
    • 2 containers of unopened frozen spanakopita that no one in my family liked (we had to really "work" to eat the first container we opened. So glad someone who enjoys it will get to have it. 
  • I gave away zucchini to neighbors (both requested it, it wasn't forced up on them, although we may need to do that, later in the season ;-))

In frugal fails, I asked Sam to remove a pizza from the oven while I picked up Nick from tennis. There was a timer set & everything. Apparently, he didn't hear it, so pizza burned. This was a good lesson that I need a timer that doesn't just beep a few times & then go off, but one that gets louder & louder. That way, the teens can't ignore it. We had fruit & toast for dinner instead, so all was not lost. ;-) 

What about you? Any wins to report?

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Grateful, part 2

Getting a second vaccine for the boys was a lot of work, due to reasons. They had finals during their original appointment, & it was really a challenge to get them rescheduled. We also had two places allow us to book, and then cancel. CVS actually cancelled yesterday (the day of the appointment). In the end, it worked out really well. I was able to book same day appointments yesterday evening, at the Rite Aid right down the street from my house. Afterward, we celebrated with Thrifty ice cream cones. 

Sam also made progress with both of his low grades, and things are looking much better. It's been quite a challenging year for him, so this is a huge relief for everyone. And, today is the last day of school. It can't come soon enough. 9th grade was very much an adjustment, particularly with a hybrid remote/in person schedule, and a learning disorder. We made it through, though, and most of my sanity remains. ;-)

I'm so very, very grateful that the second dose of the vaccine is behind all of us, and we are all protecting ourselves & our communities. In other fantastic news, it sounds like Maui is going to drop the on arrival COVID test. (You still have to have one 72 hours before you leave), as so few people were found to have COVID upon arrival, but not during the 72 hour test. This is great news, and will make the logistics of our trip that much easier.

Happy Thursday, everyone! What are you thankful for today? As a bonus, I'm also thankful that I've discovered another neighbor who loves zucchini. We have so much, and it's so wonderful to find other people to share with, who enjoy it. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

June Goals

 I'm keeping the June goals light again. It worked well in May, and June promises to be equally busy. We're very much looking forward to our family trip to Hawaii, and last summer hurrah at the beach house. 

Here's what I would like to accomplish in June. 


  • Continue what’s needed to sell our vacation house. Pack up during our summer trip.  

  • Stick to the budget during our trip to Hawaii (and, have an amazing trip!)

  • Stick to the rest of our monthly budget - 

  • Make $200 in side hustle 


  • One date with M

  • Enjoy a few fun family activities

  • Plan the last of the Hawaii details (mostly just COVID test logistics, final packing, etc)


  • Lose 2 lbs -

  • Run 3x/week - 

  • Get back to regular strength training


  • Get all eBay items listed

  • Stay on top of the garden

  • Work on fiction writing

  • Make a list of everything that needs to be done the week we’re at the beach house

What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this month?

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

May Goals Recap

 May was as stressful as predicted. In very positive news, we were able to get the boys their first vaccine appointments, which was the highlight by far. We also got a full price offer on our vacation house, although the transaction has been...challenging. I won't go into more details for now, but it's been very stressful. The end of the school year has, likewise, been quite challenging. I'll be incredibly happy when the school year is complete, and we can move on to summer break!

Here's how I did with my goals this month:


  • Sell our vacation house - we're in the inspection phase, and it's not without complications, but we're still hoping to work things out. 
  • Handle incoming stock vest, saving some for Hawaii trip & putting the rest on our mortgage - Done
  • Stick to the budget - we were under overall, but slightly over on dining out & groceries.
  • Make $400 in side hustle - I made $263. I had quite a few sales this month, but they were all small. 
  • Make time for lunch with M one day/week, when the kids are at school - it was a crazy month, but we managed once.
  • Have a last hurrah with my mom & sister at the beach house - done, and lots of fun was had.
  • Help Sam finish the year out as strongly as possible - definitely still a "work in progress"
  • Sort out soccer club tryouts - club tryouts complete
  • Lose 3 lbs - I lost 2 lbs
  • Run 3x/week - I averaged closer to 2x/week
  • Do not gain weight over mom/sister trip - done
  • Review all eBay items. Lower prices, donate, keep things moving - done
  • Finish Decluttr order, and get junk out of my closet - done
  • Go through clothes I brought back from the vacation house. Figure out what to give away, sell, or keep - mostly done. 
What about you? How did you do with your May goals?