Sunday, October 31, 2021

Halloween Happenings

I miss the days of small boys in Halloween costumes. But, we are in another phase for sure. :-) Nick is heading over to a friend's house to play poker, & eat pizza. Sam is likely not going anywhere, so we will eat chicken & dumplings, hand out candy, & watch a scary movie. Tomorrow is soccer tryouts, so no one will stay out very late. I hope to see at least a few kiddos in cute costumes.

I had a productive but enjoyable day yesterday. I'm done with almost everything on the list, but still haven't made it to the produce stand. Maybe after dropping off Nick, or perhaps it will need to be done midweek. We shall see. 

We went to a soccer game this morning, I walked during warmups. Then we went to Costco, which was my foolish mistake, as both boys were super hungry. I feel like we bought everything. In reality, we were out of a bunch of basics (flour, sugar, vitamins, etc), which always adds up.

I went for my final walk of the month (step challenge is done today) & I clocked in over 300 miles for October, more than doubling my highest ever cardio month. I had 3,145 minutes of cardio in October, which is crazy. Woohoo! I'll be glad to be getting back to a more diverse set of workouts in November. ;-) 

I came back from my walk & tidied up the house, put chicken in the crockpot for chicken & dumplings, & now I'm onto the laundry. 

Throwback Halloween...

Wishing everyone a lovely Sunday!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Saturday Happenings

 The last few days have been filled with driving & teen activities. I'm so happy their lives have returned to some sort of COVID normalcy. 

Nick went to the last school football game last night, Sam had soccer practice. I was up late, waiting for Nick to get home from the game. Blissfully, I slept in about an hour past my normal wake up time.

As for today, we somehow don't have any soccer on the agenda! Hurrah. Very excited, and planning to use the extra time to be productive in the kitchen.

  1. Pick more pomegranates
  2. Clean up the garden
  3. Pick the last of the tomatillos & roast them.
  4. Make muffins
  5. Make a fresh tomato sauce for the freezer, out of our abundance of tomatoes
  6. Pick up a few items at the store
  7. Make a Costco list
  8. Costco
  9. Run to the produce stand
  10. Get in a long workout
  11. Make a beef vegetable soup
  12. Have Nick make two loaves of bread
  13. Do a (virtual) happy hour with my sister & friend
  14. List at least one item on eBay
And, a few pictures from the last week or so...

Pomegranates from the tree. So delicious!

A couple of photos from our vacation:

That's it for me. What are you planning to do today?

Friday, October 29, 2021

Frugal Friday

It was a lovely weekend away, but we are now back to our regularly scheduled life. Here are a few wins we've had, in the frugal department.

Saving money on things we buy

  • I noticed that the hotel didn't apply the $50/night food credit that was supposed to be included, so asked about it at check out. It was applied to the bill as one total, which worked out perfectly, as we had spend just less than $50 on one of the days. 

Earning money

  • On the work front, I received another high score for the last six months of work, which will translate into a higher bonus, salary & stock. More than exceeds all of my other frugal wins for the year, but not as fun as the daily wins. ;-) 
  • I paused my eBay sales while I was traveling, but sold a hoodie

Avoiding spending

  • Tried to mostly eat at home, despite our guests. We did pretty well, and I had leftovers for lunch a few days. 
  • Took my parents to the airport, & used the electric car, saving fuel costs. 
  • Picked tomatoes & jalapenos from our garden.

Eating what we have

  • We didn't end up having the one pan chicken rice on Wednesday, so I made it on Sunday. It used more of the long peppers, as well as two bags of chicken from the freezer. I was also able to substitute garden jalapenos for the recipe indicated canned chiles. 
  • We also had the two bags of Korean beef I prepped & froze a couple of weekends ago, and had that with rice for dinner one night
  • We also picked our first pomegranate from our tree! We all love them, so we're excited to try them. We have A LOT of pomegranates. 
  • We continue to pick tomatoes (bringing them inside to ripen) off of our plants.
  • Nick made a loaf of French bread to share with our neighbor, and for our dinner on Sunday

For others

  • Our neighbor lost power, so we brought her several meals, called the power department for her, got a hold of her daughter (our neighbor is elderly), charged her small electronics, loaned her our charging unit, and checked in on her throughout the days.
  • Donated to a fundraiser, as my coworker lost her infant baby
  • Bought a meal service for another coworker going through a challenging time
  • Gave away three pair of jeans that Nick outgrew. 
  • Dropped off a bottle of champagne to a coworker who was promoted (I volunteered to do this on behalf of our mutual manager, who doesn't live in the area)
  • Took my parents to lunch as a thank you for all of their help this week.
  • Checked in with my volunteer/non-profit role
That's it for me. What about you? Any wins to share? 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Monday (Tuesday) Menu Plan

My parents are in town for a few more days, and spending time with us before they head home. As a result, we are feeding 6-7. Our neighbor's power is out, so we've also been feeding her dinner. 

  • Friday - M & I were in Scottsdale, and went out for Mexican food, at the hotel we were staying at. We had fajitas. Yum.
  • Saturday - M & I were still in Scottsdale, and had steak. Yum.
  • Sunday - We were back home, & I made a fiesta chicken rice skillet, that we served with garden tomatoes, sour cream, chips & guacamole.
  • Monday - My dad made a delicious stuffed shells dinner, with Caesar salad & garlic bread
  • Tuesday - M is making rice, and we will serve that with the Korean beef dish I made & froze last week. We will be driving to multiple soccer practices
  • Wednesday - My dad is making one of Nick's favorites - homemade baked chicken tenders
  • Thursday - Everyone is flying out, and I'll be juggling various soccer practices, so leftovers
  • Friday - Nick & Sam both have activities, so likely frozen pizza & salad
What about you? What are you eating this week? Any good recipes to share? 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Frugal Friday

There are going to definitely be some splurges ahead, as we're out of town for a few days, and my parents are with the boys. Making good choices the majority of the time allows us to also have fun when the opportunities arise. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Scanned all of our receipts to Fetch
  • M & I were both pretty sick on Monday, so I picked up soup at Panera, using a gift card. I paid a small amount out of pocket for a tip (curbside delivery), but the rest was free.

Earning money

  • It was a quiet week, but I earned a $1 doing a survey via iBotta
  • I paused my eBay sales, so nothing happening there

Avoiding spending

  • Found a free, excellent shape cooler on the street (with a free sign). Used it for transporting a few things to the office for an event, and will either keep or pass on to others. 
  • We have an at home COVID test kit provided by our employer, and were able to test multiple times (for free) to ensure what we have is a regular, although yucky, cold. Not COVID. 

Eating what we have

  • Made more applesauce out of apples from a friend, & a sad looking lemon in the produce drawer. I'm obsessed with applesauce muffins, so the applesauce is a great addition to the freezer
  • Made zucchini bread to have on hand for guests, using the last of the garden zucchini
  • Made chocolate brownie cookies  for guests, and put some in the freezer for easy desserts as needed

For others

  • Made applesauce for a neighbor
  • Helped a friend with a ride for her kiddo, when she had an urgent work situation

What about you? Any wins to share? 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

M & I will be on vacation/out of town Thursday-Sunday, so my parents will be feeding the kids & I won't be in charge of any meals, short of ordering something at a restaurant. ;-)  

  • Friday - Pizza & salad
  • Saturday - caprese chicken skillet
  • Sunday - Korean beef rice bowls
  • Monday - Caprese chicken salad
  • Tuesday - Leftover Korean beef rice bowls
  • Wednesday - Chicken fajita rice with chips & guacamole (my parents arrive)
  • Thursday - out of town 
  • Friday - out of town
  • Saturday - out of town
  • Sunday - Not sure what time we'll be home, so may be something cooked by my parents
What's on your menu this week? Two of the recipes above (caprese chicken skillet & Korean beef rice bowls) are new to us, so fingers crossed they are a hit. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The produce stand, and other Sunday things

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

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

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

Here's what I bought for $13.03

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

What's on the agenda for today? 

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

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday Happenings

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

Spotted on my walk yesterday:

Other things happening today:

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

Friday, October 15, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

Earning money

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

Avoiding spending

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

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

For others

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

How about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A holiday challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 11, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

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

Here's what we're eating this week:

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

Friday, October 8, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

Earning money

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

Avoiding spending

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

Eating what we have

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

For others

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

October Goals

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

Here are my goals for the month:


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

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

September Goals Recap

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


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


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


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


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

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

Monday, October 4, 2021

Menu Plan Monday

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

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

Sunday, October 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Saturday things

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

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

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

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

What about you? What are you up to today? 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Frugal Friday

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

Saving on things we buy

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

Earning  money

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

Avoiding spending

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

Eating what we have

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

For others

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

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