Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Another recipe recommendation - chicken shawarma

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

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

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


Monday, August 30, 2021

Menu plan Monday

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

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

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday happenings

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Hot & smoky Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

Earning money

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

Avoiding spending

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

Eating what we have

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

For others

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

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Delicious & easy (Keto friendly) chicken fajita recipe

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

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


Monday, August 23, 2021

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

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

Here's what's on the menu:

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

Sunday, August 22, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Saturday Happenings

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 20, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

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

Avoiding spending

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 16, 2021

Menu plan Monday

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

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

What about you? What are you making this week? 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

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

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

I love these cute peppers. Twins. 

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Saturday happenings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 13, 2021

Frugal Friday


Saving on things we buy:

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Big goals to small goals

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

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

Things to use up, week 1 challenge:

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

Monday, August 9, 2021

Nick's pizza recipe

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

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Menu Plan Monday

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Produce stand shopping, garden harvesting & other Sunday things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you? What are you up to today? 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

We are mortgage free!

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

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

What comes next?

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

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

Friday, August 6, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

Earning money

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

Avoiding spending

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

Eating what we have

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

For others

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

Thursday, August 5, 2021

July Goals Recap

And just like that, July is gone! Here's how I did with my goals this month. Overall, M & I had lots of fabulous adult time, my fitness slid a bit due to a bunch of splurging & eating out & everything else was pretty much as expected. It was a lovely & relaxing month, which I don't feel like I say often. ;-) 


  • Close on our vacation house & move funds to mortgage. Both are done, but there's a lingering item remaining. More on that in a subsequent post.
  • Stick to our budget - we were WAY over on eating out, courtesy of some child free dates
  • Make $300 in side hustle - I worked hard at this in July, and made $317. 
  • Take advantage of alone time with M, with dates & a long weekend together. Done & done. Fabulous times were had by all.
  • Start planning our family holiday trip in December. Booked our lodging, and worked with the family on dates.


  • Lose 3 lbs - I did not lose any weight, and gained back two pounds. Must focus on this in August. I have a lot less going on, travel wise, which will definitely help. 
  • Run 10 times - I ran 7 times
  • Complete 12 strength workouts - I did complete my strength workouts
  • Meditate 10 times - I really fell off the meditation wagon, and only got in 4 meditations


  • Relist all eBay items - done, x2 for both trips
  • Give away or donate all items put aside for Buy Nothing group - I had about a 90% success rate. I still have a few things I'll re-post on Buy Nothing. I've found putting together a bunch of stuff draws more interest, and people are willing to come pick up multiple items. It's harder when it's just one offs. 
  • Stay on top of garden, try a few new recipes - Yes, for the most part. I pickled peppers (multiple batches), made pico de gallo & tried a couple of new zucchini recipes - zucchini fritters & baked zucchini coins. Both were delicious. 
  • Write, for at least 30 minutes - Nope. For some reason, this has been a struggle. 

That's it for me for July! How did you do for the month? 


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

August Goals

 I'm a little late getting these up, but better late than never! These should look very similar to July - I'm keeping on with the positive momentum. 


  • Pay off our mortgage!
  • Resolve outstanding vacation house item (it's a long story. One day I'll post all of the drama)
  • Stick to the budget
  • Make $300 in side hustle
  • Have a date with M
  • Help the boys get back into school & soccer, particularly with Nick starting high school
  • Help the boys with potential new job opportunities
  • Plan our anniversary (October)
  • Lose 3 lbs
  • Start half marathon training
  • Complete 12 strength workouts
  • Meditate 10 times
  • Continue doctor's stuff for lupus


  • Go through all clothes (minus M's) & get rid of anything that no longer fits, we don't wear, etc
  • Give away or donate all items put aside for Buy Nothing group
  • Stay on top of garden. Try a few new recipes
  • Write, for at least 30 minutes

What about you? Have you set any goals for August? 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

A belated menu plan

I'm off of my game, as I was out of town over the weekend & got back Sunday evening. We are now in full swing with the kids & soccer camp, and fall practice. Woohoo! 

Here's what we've been up to:

  • Friday - I went out to dinner with my sister & BFF. We had Latin tapas. M ate leftover Persian food.
  • Saturday - I was at a family party, and we had a taco bar. I love tacos, so this was a win
  • Sunday - M made cheeseburgers, I whipped up coleslaw & a salad
  • Monday - Hot dogs (freezer, as I'm driving Sam back & forth to practice) with spicy cauliflower rice
  • Tuesday - cheeseburgers & coleslaw
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - leftovers
  • Friday - wings & salad
I need to get back into the groove & work on a solid plan for next week. What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Frugal Monday

I was out of town on Friday, so I'm just getting back into the swing of things. Here's what we did this week.  

Saving on things we buy

  • Returned another sunblock to Rite Aid (sadly, the recalled brand was my favorite) & this time they just credited me back on my card. Last time I earned a gift card. I think I've corralled up all of the sunblock, but we keep it in lots of bags & places, to ensure we always have it on hand when we need it. 
  • Uploaded receipts to iBotta & Fetch. Saved a bit here & there. 
  • Used a grocery store gift card to get $20 of groceries for "free". Combined that with a double points offer, and iBotta, which made it a slightly better deal. I bought the kids sports drinks for their summer camp (a rare treat, but 8 hours of soccer a day & 80 degree weather means I'll allow ;-)), picked up some pasta & a few other things we needed. 

Earning money

  • I've continued to sell a few things on eBay:
    • A set of face masks
    • A dress shirt
    • A knit hat
    • A camera (from the beach house)

Avoiding spending

  • Posted an ask for Amazon (or other types) of padded mailing envelopes. I received a ton, which is great. I will use them to package my eBay sales. I also had quite a few people say that they would start saving them, as they loved keeping them out of landfills, and getting extra use. 

Eating what we have

  • We continued to eat a lot of delicious stuff out of the garden, in our salads, and making caprese with tomatoes & basil. Current harvests include: green peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, mint, Greek basil, tomatoes (just a few, due to the squirrels), zucchini & banana peppers.
  • Used up a bunch of fruit in smoothies for lunch this week. Nectarines, peaches, & blueberries. I was also able to use up frozen bananas & strawberries. I love smoothies for summer lunches. Filling & cooling, and a great way to use up produce. 
  • Ate leftover Greek takeout for lunch on Saturday
  • Pickled a variety of peppers & chiles in a mixed batch for M
  • Made a triple batch of pico de gallo, to use up a bunch of tomatoes & jalapenos
  • Made a double batch of coleslaw (I always shred my own cabbage & carrots) to use up a head of cabbage that was getting old
  • Made breaded zucchini coins, to accompany dinner

For others

  • Continued to give things away on Buy Nothing
  • Checked in on my volunteer job
  • Made a donation to a cause dear to my Mom's heart, as a thank you
What about you? Any wins to report?