Friday, May 20, 2022

Frugal Friday

It hasn't felt very frugal lately, but a few wins here & there.  


Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $20 reward at the grocery store, along with a $1 coupon to pick up a few things. Out of pocket was $15.78, for quite a few items (3 packages of sparkling water, taco shells, ice cream, 4 Gatorades, romaine lesson, salad, & breakfast sausage). I also earned another $5 back between Fetch & iBotta. 
  • On a second trip to the grocery store (you can tell I hadn't been home, and wasn't terribly efficient with my trips. Luckily, the store is 5 minutes from my house), used another $20 reward, & a $1 coupon to pick up some things. (Oat milk, two salads, chicken, protein bars, etc). My out of pocket was $6.46, and I earned $2 via Fetch, and $.25 via iBotta. 
  • I used flight credits for our summer family trip to Bend. M had a United credit from his cancelled holiday travel, which offset the majority of the cost. 
  • I used discounted airline gift cards for flights for the rest of us, saving a bit of additional money.
  • Nick needed an (almost) entirely new wardrobe: underwear, socks, shoes for tennis x2, shorts, tshirts & a hoodie. He's grown tremendously, and is pretty hard on his clothing. That wasn't cheap (to say the least), but I did shop for offers, used gift cards, and clicked through Rakuten where I could. 

Earning money

  • Earned $13 from Rakuten
  • Sold a jacket on eBay, and made $78. The eBay sales have been glacier like (I haven't spent time on this, so unsurprising). It was nice to have a win. 
  • Earned/redeemed a $5 Fetch reward


Avoiding spending

  • Other than optimizing airline flights, I can't think of anything!

Eating what we have

  • We ate all of the leftover lasagna for dinner (could have used one more slice, but the boys filled in with a few snacks after soccer).
  • I made a couple of salads, and topped them with dinner leftovers

For others

  • I'm volunteering as a judge for a UN girls in tech program, and enjoying the work so much. What a highlight of my day. 
That's it from our side. What wins have you had lately? 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 I flew in on Friday afternoon, and am still jet lagged. Hoping to be recovered by mid-week or so. As a result, the menu planning is, shall we say, low effort.

  • Friday - M heated frozen lasagna
  • Saturday - M grilled burgers (belated Mother's Day) + cupcakes
  • Sunday - tacos
  • Monday - I'm driving five kids to soccer, so we'll take the easy route & have leftover lasagna
  • Tuesday - burgers & salad
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - enchiladas (freezer)
  • Friday - any leftovers, or wings 
What about you? What's on the menu this weekend?

Sunday, May 15, 2022

I'm back + all the jetlag

It's been a whirlwind over the last ten days or so. We flew to San Diego last Friday, and attended a wedding for one of M's family members. It was so much fun for the boys to get to meet lots of family members, participate in a traditional Persian wedding, & it was just a gorgeous event. We all had a great time. 

I flew from San Diego to Denver, then on to London. Normally I get a direct flight from SFO, but San Diego didn't have any options that fit my work policies. So, Sunday was quite a long travel day. I don't recommend it as a Mother's Day plan. :-) 

I don't sleep for any period of time on flights (even with business class/reclined seats), so no sleep at all on Sunday. I got to the hotel on Monday afternoon, ordered room service, binge watched Bridgerton (a month of Netflix was my Mother's Day request, knowing I'd use it when I traveled) went to the gym, and then slept for 12 hours. Lots of office time, team dinners, & it was so lovely to see the team again, after 2+ years. 

I flew back on Friday, and slept for maybe an hour, so another night without sleep. The lack of sleep definitely adds up in unhelpful ways. I managed to complete my Global Entry renewal interview as I came through customs at the airport, so at least that task has now been completed, and my next international trip return will go a bit faster. 

I did all of the mom errands yesterday (birthday party, soccer game, reffing game, helping Sam with job forms, etc) & today is taking Sam to his summer job training, Nick to a tennis match, and more tennis. I've managed to unpack, and do all of my laundry. But, I feel so far behind.

Next week will be a very long week, as I attempt to catch up on sleep & readjust myself to the right timezone, all whilst in the middle of my life. 

And now, for a limited time, a picture from the wedding, which was such a family highlight! <Photo now removed.>



What about you? What have you been up to this week? 


Saturday, May 7, 2022

May Goals

 May represents another very busy month for us. We are working to get re-adjusted to high school life, now that most COVID restrictions are lifted. The boys are *very* active, & it keeps us on our toes. One day soon, we will have drivers, but for now, we're in that spot of tons of activities, and all driving falling to us. 

It's also the month where I return to international work travel. Here goes!

Here are my goals for the month. 

Financial 

  • Stick to our budget - 
  • Talk to our accountant about a DAF & adjustments for the year 
  • Come up with long term budget/FIRE Plan. I need to update this based on some comp adjustments our company announced. 
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle goal, gift card goal, & Fetch/iBotta goals 

Family:

  • Plan one fun activity with the kids 
  • Support the kids with various planning items (driving practice, tutoring, ref jobs, summer job forms, etc)
  • Have two dates with M 
  • Lots of photos for M's family (at the wedding for his cousin this month) 
  • Finalize summer plans
  • Book all summer travel
Fitness/Health
  • Stay on track with my healthy eating routine 
  • Come up with international travel healthy plan. Also, avoid getting COVID in London, so I can re-enter the US as planned. 
  • Close rings daily -
  • Lose 4 lbs -
  • Meditate 5x 
Personal/Creative
  • Use return London trip to renew my global entry
  • Take advantage of office perks, making it feel like an appealing change in my routine
  • Do something social with friends - 
  • Volunteer commitment for girls in tech org
  • Continue working on post-work plan & options 
  • Some sort of personal writing (fiction or journaling)
What about you? Any wins to share? 

Friday, May 6, 2022

Frugal Friday

In between a crazy work schedule, I've been deep into summer planning mode, which is helping me feel more organized. But, it's definitely not been cheap, as I book 12+ weeks of activity this week. Nick is planning to take some formal tennis training, which is not inexpensive. But, Sam is now largely on the income generating side of the parenting equation. :-) 

Here are a few frugal things for the week:


Saving on things we buy:

  • Raise had an 3% off promo code, which included Amazon gift cards. I clicked through Rakuten first, then went to Raise & saved 4% (standard 1% + 3%) off of the purchase. I also will get a small amount back from my credit card & Rakuten. 
  • Canceled & rebooked my flight for Hawaii (my mom's 70th anniversary), to save $60. I'm surprised that flights have gone down for June, but I'll take it!
  • I priced out Uber for our trip this weekend, & it was significantly more than parking at the airport (3x as much). I booked in advance online for the parking, saving 10% more. 

Earning money:

  • I redeemed Fetch rewards for a $5 Amazon gift card

Avoiding spending:

  • I ordered a few dresses for the wedding we're going to, but ended up liking the one in my closet the best. 

Eating what we have:

  • M grilled up a huge batch of chicken this weekend, which we've enjoyed with rice. There was plenty to feed us most of the week, and we have some chicken leftover for the freezer.

For others:

  • Continued several mentoring relationships
That's it from my side. What about you? Any wins to share? 


Thursday, May 5, 2022

April Goals Recap

 April whizzed by, and it's time to check in on my progress against goals. I'd describe this as a month where I was mostly getting by. A few things did come together, but largely that's through good habits I already have in place. Anything beyond that mostly didn't happen. Here goes!

Financial 

  • Stick to our budget - dining out was high (I took my mom out 2x as a thank you + early Mother's Day). Groceries were lower than expected, as we had our Costco rebate. 
  • Pay our taxes - done!
  • Talk to our accountant about a DAF & adjustments for the year - nope
  • Come up with long term budget/FIRE Plan - nope
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle goal, gift card goal, & Fetch/iBotta goals - I sold a few things on eBay, redeemed a couple of gift cards, & earned $5 via Fetch. Tiny little wins, but progress. 


Family:

  • Plan one fun activity with the kids - we played tennis, I took the boys to dinner with my mom, we had an Easter egg hunt with my family, we went mini golfing, & the boys had lots of spring break fun with my parents. 
  • Support the kids with various planning items (permit, job applications, tutoring) - Yes! Permit acquired, job application was successful, & tutoring is on track. 
  • Have two dates with M - we managed one. M broke his ankle, so he's been reluctant to get out much. 
  • Call with M's family - no, although we've been sending lots of photos. One of the reason we are all heading to the family wedding this weekend is on behalf of my mother in law, who can't be there. 
  • Enjoy spring break/Easter with my parents - done, and it was great!
  • Finalize summer plans - not in April, but I have a positive May update. 
Fitness/Health
  • Stay on track with my healthy eating routine - I did well for the first half of the month, & with visitors & back to the office, & non-stop meals out, the wheels fell off the bus a bit. 
  • Close rings daily - Yes!
  • Lose 2 lbs - I maintained this month
  • Meditate 5x - nope. I think I meditated 2x. 
Personal/Creative
  • Adjust to return to office. Build new routines/habits that work with our schedule - I've worked out every day, including those days I'm in the office. We're still working on the boys getting up on their own those days. There have been some real scrambles!
  • Do something social with friends - went on a hike, & a walk
  • Invest time in my volunteering job - Yes, but not as much as I'd like. 
  • Continue working on post-work plan & options - I don't have much of an update here, but it's something I regularly think about.  
  • Journal 10x. - 1x. I just haven't been particularly motivated on this one. 
That's it from my side! What about you? How did you do with your April goals? Any wins to share?

Monday, May 2, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 We have quite a bit in the freezer, so this will likely be a bit of a use it up week. Here's what I'm thinking. 


  • Friday - gyozas & wings 
  • Saturday - chicken curry & rice
  • Sunday - grilled chicken & pasta salad
  • Monday - chicken enchiladas
  • Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Wednesday - chicken curry
  • Thursday - chicken quesadillas
  • Friday - we are heading to San Diego for a wedding, so something at the airport
What about you? What's on the menu this week? 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday Happenings

 I'm so grateful the work week is done! I had an offsite last week, & two offsites this week. Tons of in person time, and four evening commitments between the two weeks. I feel like I went from zero to 100, with working from home for two years, & then returning to the office full force. 

On the one night I didn't have an evening work commitment, I drove four kids to soccer & hung out in the parking lot until just after nine. After dropping everyone off, it was after 9:30. There were some *long* days last week!

It's more wild times ahead, as we fly out on Friday for a family wedding (M has very few family members in the US & this is one of his cousins). M & the boys fly back on Sunday, while I fly to London. On Mother's Day weekend. I'm not overly excited about it, particularly because there were no direct flights that met my price cap, so I have to go to Denver first. 

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

  • Figure out packing for London & San Diego. I need a bunch of COVID test kit related stuff, so need to remember to add that to the packing list. It will also be a weird packing list, as I need things like a formal dress & heels, which is not something I typically bring on a work trip. ;-) 
  • Decide on a dress for the wedding
  • Take Nick to a reffing game
  • Work out
  • Menu plan for this week, and helpfully arrange the freezer so M can figure out meal options when I'm in London
  • Sort the soccer carpool for next week
  • Take Sam on some practice drives
  • Yoga
  • Laundry
  • Costco
  • Grocery store
  • I think we're having chicken curry (freezer) & rice tonight for dinner, so I need to sort that out as well.
What about you? What's on your schedule for today?

Friday, April 29, 2022

Frugal Friday

I was too busy to spend money during the work week, but made up for it during the weekend, where I treated my mom to a dinner out & a wine tasting, as a thanks for all of her help in the past week or so.  


Saving on things we buy

  • My mom treated the boys to boba one night, and I had a $5 coupon that I applied to the order. I do not get the boba love, but the boys are huge fans. 

Earning money

  • Again with the driving of the kids to their jobs. 

Avoiding spending

  • Along with everything else, Uber has gotten very expensive, so I picked up M at the airport after a flight, and arranged my schedule to be able to drop my parents off for their respective flights. 

Eating what we have

  • Unfortunately, I had to eat out for most of the meals (I love a great dining out experience as much as anyone else, but too much, particularly for work, is not great for the waistline, and I'd much prefer to be at home.)
  • We made chicken enchiladas & guacamole on Sunday, which made quite a bit of leftovers & got put in the freezer for another time. 
  • I turned two small containers of leftovers (many dinners out) into a follow up dinner at home
  • M relied primarily on prepped meals from the freezer to feed the kids while I was busy

For others

  • Returned carts at the grocery store, set up a carpool, helped my parents with some tech issues, and helped out at a work event
What about you? Any wins to share? 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 Things are getting wild here, with lots of in person work time. Here's what's on the menu for the week.


  • Friday - pizza & salad
  • Saturday - taking my mom & the boys out to dinner
  • Sunday - chicken enchiladas 
  • Monday - spaghetti & meatballs, M cooking, as I'm at a team event
  • Tuesday - tacos, M in charge, as I'm at a team event
  • Wednesday - leftover enchiladas, M in charge, as I'm at (you guessed it), a team event
  • Thursday - leftover spaghetti
  • Friday - TBD
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Friday, April 22, 2022

Frugal Friday

 My parents are here this week, so there have been several meals out, & extra groceries & the like. 


Saving on things we buy

  • I adjusted my mom's flight (per her request) & saved $40 due to the flight change. 

Earning money

  • Sold a few small things on eBay. Not much, but junk out of the house & money in.
  • Drove the kids around to reffing games, where they earned money

Avoiding spending

  • We've eaten all dinners at home, despite some crazy schedules. 

Eating what we have

  • We definitely bought more groceries than usual, but I made chicken shawarma & chicken fajitas a couple of nights, M made kebabs & rice, & my parents cooked a few nights as well. 
  • The kids have eaten all of the Easter treats, as well as the chocolate covered fruit that I purchased as a dessert option. 
  • Froze a bunch of leftovers for future use. 

For others

  • Helped my parents save $750 on a flight, by using miles instead of paying out of pocket. 
  • Attended training to mentor girls in tech. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, April 18, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 My parents are in town, so meals look a bit different, with other folks prepping, and us serving six instead of the usual four. 

Here's what's on the menu for the week. 

  • Friday - we had chicken fajitas, with chips & guacamole
  • Saturday - I made chicken shawarma, which was delicious
  • Sunday - M made kebabs & rice, & we had cupcakes for dessert. 
  • Monday - chicken enchiladas
  • Tuesday - I'll be at a team dinner, but I think my dad is making lasagna
  • Wednesday - blackened chicken & pasta
  • Thursday - leftovers
  • Friday - TBD, but it will be just my mom, myself & the kids. We may do frozen pizza
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Friday, April 15, 2022

Frugal Friday

While I survived my first week in the office last week, I had to leave by noon on Tuesday, as my office mate had COVID, and office policies require me to test & then stay home for a week. Back to working from home for the rest of the week, but luckily, no COVID.  

Here are a few frugal highlights from the week.

Saving on things we buy

  • We ended up with two free cookies, when I treated Sam & a friend to a lunch out, between soccer & tennis
  • I used $25 in grocery store rewards to offset a stop. My out of pocket was $.11. If only every grocery store run was like that!

Earning money

  • Nothing for myself, but as always, driving around the kids to their jobs. Nick made a bunch of money reffing back to back games on Saturday, so that was a win. 

Avoiding spending

  • M & I opted for another date by the pool on Friday, heating up leftovers & catching up. It was more relaxing than going to a restaurant, and it was free.

Eating what we have

  • We managed to use up the last of the Hello Fresh freebie box
  • I bought hamburger buns, in order to entice the teens to eat burgers from the freezer. The addition of buns really sells it for them
  • We defrosted fesenjan (a Persian chicken, almond & pomegrante stew like dish) & had that over rice one night

For others:

  • One of Nick's friends unexpectedly needed a ride home on Saturday night, so I got out of bed & took him home.
  • I helped set up the soccer field for a game on Sunday
  • Cleaned up trash at the field while I was walking
  • Signed up to mentor teenage girls in tech
That's it from my side. What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, April 11, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

It's another super wild week, with more sports & my parents arriving on Thursday, plus time in the office. 
Having a menu plan is the only way I can keep things together!

Here's what we're planning this week:

  • Friday - making the last of the duplicate Hello Fresh dinner (Italian chicken sandwiches & baked potato wedges)
  • Saturday - chicken curry & rice
  • Sunday - fesenjan (pomegrante/walnut/chicken Persian dish) with rice
  • Monday - burgers (freezer) + some sort of side dish
  • Tuesday - leftover curry & rice
  • Wednesday - any remaining leftovers. If none, chicken caesar salads
  • Thursday - my parents are flying in, Nick has a tennis match & Sam has soccer. Likely pizza delivery
  • Friday - chicken fajitas, chips, guacamole & all of the sides
What about you? What are you making this week? 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Saturday Happenings

I was up early this morning, likely because I couldn't stay awake last night, & was in bed a good 90 minutes before the kids. ;-) One of the pitfalls of parenting teens - they can outlast you in the evening every single time! 

It was a really busy & tiring week. On Thursday, I had close to six hours of kid activities, and that was after a day at the office. Nick had one of his last tennis matches, and it went into a very long tie breaker. Due to a conflict on the soccer carpool schedule, I drove both ways & after dropping everyone off, I didn't get home until 9:30. 

On Wednesday, Sam passed his permit test, which we are all very excited about! In California, after you pass the written test, you need two hours of instruction by a driving school before your permit is "authorized", so he will be doing that tomorrow. I'm grateful we could find someone who was available so soon. Most places were booked out at least a month, if not 8 weeks for a weekend spot. Sam also found out that day that he landed a summer job working at a sports camp. This is a camp he attended & really enjoyed, so he's super excited for his summer first job. It was quite an exciting day for Sam, & his teen milestones.

We are in such a transitional phase with the kids - we can see the end of all of the driving, & the scheduling & the non-stop go, go, go, but yet... we are still deep into it right now! I hate evening driving, but I do love hearing what other teens are up to, how they joke with each other, and all of the fun/silly things that happen in the car.

Okay, onto a busy weekend. I thought I'd get a chance to hike with a friend on Sunday, but Sam got asked to sub for another team (he's been waiting for this offer all season), so we will need to find another day.

  • Nick is reffing four games back to back, and needs a ride to/from the field, plus potentially either food dropped off or packed. Need to see how much time he has between games, & what he prefers.
  • Sam has a club game, and I'll walk during warmups. If possible, catch the coach ahead of the game to see about Nick attending a practice in the next few weeks.
  • Menu plan for next week
  • Shopping list
  • Costco
  • Grocery store
  • Produce stand
  • Nick's tennis lesson
  • Figure out how to get Nick's rackets restrung (before his game on Tuesday)
  • Make chicken curry
  • Work out
  • Wash all bedding
  • Laundry 
  • Make room for treadmill
  • Go through all receipts, add to budget & Fetch
And, for visual interest, I came around the corner on a walk with M last weekend, & almost tripped over this guy. He was within petting distance. (I did not pet him.) He was so close! 


What are you all up to this weekend? 


Friday, April 8, 2022

Frugal Friday

It was my first week back in the office, so that means free lunches/snacks/drinks, & electric car charging. My team is very distributed (lots of offices & countries), so I don't love the current set up, & would prefer more dedicated but less frequent in person time. But, hey. Here we are, trying to adjust, after two years of working from home. 

Saving on things we buy:

  • Used grocery store rewards & coupons to save $13 on a small stop at the store, bringing my out of pocket to $1.03.

Earning money:

  • More driving of teens to reffing games, where they earned money. 
  • Redeemed $5 of Fetch rewards

Avoiding spending:

  • Hello Fresh & the delivery company had a misunderstanding about whether last week's box was delivered, so they sent us another one, for free. 
  • Used the gym for free workouts, & a spin class
  • It goes without saying that we drive our electric car absolutely everywhere we can, including all of our soccer carpools. We save a ton on gas that way. 
Eating what we have:

  • I used a Friday freebie yogurt in a muffin recipe, and also used the last of a batch of cranberries, plus some orange juice that was lingering around in the fridge
  • I also dug out a container of pumpkin puree from the freezer, and turned that into a double batch of pumpkin muffins
  • Nick had a very long day on the tennis courts (after reffing a soccer game) on Sunday, so I dropped off snacks, making the most of what we had on hand: pumpkin muffins, a bun leftover from a Hello Fresh meal, fruit, & a protein bar, plus lots of water. It was nice to use stuff up, and keep him fed. He's typically a picky eater, but when you've played six hours of tennis, you'll eat almost anything. ;-) 

For others:

  • Paid for my parents flight & travel arrangements for another family member
  • Helped a few parents with various rides, particularly one on a late night. I'm a real early bird, so this one was painful, but very appreciated by a friend. 
  • Provided high school advice to some parents
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

April Goals

April is a wild month, with both M & I returning to the office, my parents coming for spring break, and two team offsites. (Team offsites mean evening events, dinners & the like.) All of that pent up demand to get together in person is really coming together in April & May! As a result, my main goal for April will be to find new routines that work for us, in this new phase. 

Financial:

  • Stick to our budget
  • Pay our taxes
  • Talk to our accountant about a DAF & make adjustments for next year
  • Keep working on long term budget/FIRE plan
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle goal, gift card goal & Fetch/iBotta goals
  • Change our primary credit card
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids
  • Support the kids with various planning (permit, job applications, tutoring, etc)
  • Have two dates with M
  • Schedule a call with M's family
  • Enjoy spring break with my parents. We're spending our first Easter together in 8+ years, and my mom is very excited about this!
  • Finalize summer plans (awaiting confirmation on Sam's job applications)
Fitness/Health
  • Stay on track with healthy eating routine
  • Close rings daily
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Meditate 5x

Personal/Creative
  • Adjust to return to office, and build new routines/habits that work with our schedule
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month
  • Invest time in my volunteer job
  • Continue working on post-work plans & options
  • Journal 10x
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish in April? 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

March goals recap - how did I do?

March wasn't the most organized month, and I was quite late getting things going. But, unsurprisingly, the month carried on without waiting for me to be ready. It was also a very busy time at work, and I'm expecting that to be getting even busier, with returning to the office, & traveling.


Here's how I did with my goals.

Financial:

  • Stick to our budget - we are trending slightly ahead of where I'd like to be for groceries, but otherwise doing well. 
  • Talk to our accountant about a DAF for charitable contributions, & adjustments for next year - we completed our tax work, but haven't talked about the DAF. 
  • Come up with long term budget/FIRE plan - I've been working on timing, and think I've got a pretty good sense for what I'm working towards. Budget is always more fungible, but also making progress on this as well. 
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle, gift card & Fetch/iBotta goals - I made $1.48 in March, so clearly nailing this one. ;-) I did, however, make progress with some of the gift cards, so that's nice. 
Family:
  • Play one fun activity with the kids - we had a tennis & boba night
  • Support the kids with various planning (permit process, job applications, tutoring, etc) - yes, this is going reasonably well
  • Have two dates with M - Yes, we had a lunch & dinner date
  • Schedule a call with M's family -no, but I sent pictures
Fitness/Health
  • Get back into healthy eating routine - Yes, for the most part, I've turned things around. 
  • Close rings daily - Yes
  • Lose 2 lbs - Yes
Personal/Creative
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month - I met two friends for walks
  • Invest time in my volunteer job - yes, but not as much as I'd like
  • Come up with post-work plan & options - I've been thinking a lot about this!
  • Journal 10x - nope

So there you have it! As always, progress, not perfection. How about you? Did you set any goals for the month? How did you do in March?


Monday, April 4, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 Menu planning, the return to the office edition! Hello Fresh accidentally mailed us another box (the same one as last week), as they thought it got lost in delivery. You may notice some duplicates as a result.

  • Friday - Italian chicken sandwiches & roasted potatoes
  • Saturday - tacos
  • Sunday - barbecued hot dogs & pasta salad
  • Monday - turkey rice bowls
  • Tuesday - leftover hot dogs & pasta salad
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - Italian chicken sandwiches & roasted potatoes, take 2
  • Friday - leftovers
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Saturday Happenings

We had a (reasonably) relaxing evening yesterday. I say reasonably, because there is always at least one kid activity, but this one was close by. M was able to pick up Nick from tennis a few blocks away while I finished dinner. He can only bike that route home towards the middle of summer, when the days are longest. Because Fridays tend to be our latest dinner night due to Nick's tennis, M & I got the chance to sit by the pool & have a glass of wine & catch up. It was so lovely. Sam was inside doing homework, so he perhaps had a slightly less lovely Friday evening. ;-) 

I made a delicious dinner, that required only minor revisions for my two "other" eaters, so that was also a win. 

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

  • Take Sam to reffing games
  • Take Nick to reffing games
  • M to take Sam to the city for a club game
  • Nick to tennis lessons
  • Laundry
  • Work out
  • Dinner. I'm thinking tacos/taco salads, as that's what sounds good right now
  • I'd love to get in a yoga video, depending on the schedule
  • Make muffins
  • List an item on eBay
  • Finalize & book Nick's (now belated) birthday gathering
  • Shopping list for the week
  • Menu
  • Review the boys assignments with them. As we get closer to finals, I encourage them to double check that each assignment is submitted (because, sometimes they are done, but people have neglected to hit the "submit" button), etc. 
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to this weekend? 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Frugal Friday

 


Saving on things we buy

  • M & I planned a date lunch, & intended to go out. We opted last minute to order delivery Panera (coupon code for free delivery + tip, & I had a gift card). We sat by the pool in the sunshine & finished a bottle of champagne while we had lunch. It was much more frugal than going out, and it was lovely. It needs to become a regular staple for our dates. 
  • Bought a few odds & ends items from the grocery store, and used a reward, saving $13 off the purchase. 
  • One of the items I was purchasing was top ramen (for yakisoba) & the recipe is just using the noodles. As such, I bought the heavily discounted "roast beef" flavor. Top Ramen is already cheap, and the roast beef version is even cheaper ($.36/package). 

Earning money
  • I chauffeured around the boys for reffing games, and helped Sam prep for a job interview, but nothing for me personally. 

Avoiding spending
  • Used a gift card at Subway to pick up a free lunch for Sam, after he reffed his first soccer game. It was hilarious. Reffing a game where the kids don't really understand any of the rules is...complicated. He also had a kid unexpectedly climb on his back, so that he could get ahold of the ladybug on Sam's jersey. ;-) These were really young soccer players.

Eating what we have
  • We did a good job of eating leftovers this week, and keeping waste to a bare minimum. We've enjoyed two weeks of a delivery service for a change of pace, but have paused. I like the occasional break from menu planning, but the packaging waste is still hard.
  • I've switched to oat milk in my coffee, so I can use up more of the super inexpensive cartons I've picked up on sale.
  • I re-organized the pantry, and put the boys snacks in front. If they are not there, they tear through the pantry, and don't exactly leave things as they found it. ;-) 

For others

  • Worked at my volunteer job
  • Returned shopping carts at the grocery store
  • Helped friends with carpools
What about you? Any wins for the week? 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 I'm trying hard to stay on top of the schedule & menu planning. This is also my last week of working from home, so things are about to get...wild! Combined with upcoming travel for M, myself, & onsite evenings when team members travel to see us, it's going to get intense, from a scheduling perspective.

  • Friday - Pecan chicken over salad
  • Saturday - barbecued chicken & rice
  • Sunday - chicken yakisoba
  • Monday - barbecued chicken & rice, take 2
  • Tuesday - Italian chicken & pepper sandwiches (over cauliflower rice for M)
  • Wednesday - Turkey burrito bowls
  • Thursday - chicken yakisoba, take 2
  • Friday -  Any remaining leftovers. If nothing is there, gyozos & wings?
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Weekend happenings

 Yesterday was a good but full day of lots of activities.

  • Nick & Sam both reffed games, & needed a ride. One day soon, hopefully Sam will pass the next level of reffing tests, and they can ref together, which will be a huge win for mom.
  • Sam had a club game. I walked in the sunshine during warmups.
  • M made grilled chicken
  • We played a game of family tennis & then grabbed boba tea together after. I skipped the boba, as it's not my thing. I needed to pick up a gift card (all of Sam's friends appear to be having their 16th birthday within weeks of each other), so it worked out. 
  • I did the inevitable laundry
Today looks similar, with a few twists:
  • Nick is reffing another game
  • I'm hoping for an 8 mile hike in the sunshine
  • I'm making chicken yakisoba for dinner
  • Sam has an interview for a summer camp job
  • I'm taking Sam to a birthday party
  • Nick has tennis lessons
  • Laundry
  • Sort out tennis tournament registration
  • Optimistically: list an item on eBay
  • Motivate lazy teens to complete chores/homework
That's it from our side. What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, March 25, 2022

Frugal Friday

My reminder this week is to never take hungry teenagers to Costco with you. Oh my! They love all of the baked goods, and constantly prowl around & attempt to sneak things into the cart. ;-) 

This was a much lighter work week (more craziness in upcoming weeks), so I enjoyed it as best I could. Here are a few frugal wins for the week. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $2.50 oat milk coupon (yet another one) to get oat milk for about $1. 
  • Uploaded all of our receipts to Fetch
  • Bought two of M's vitamins, while they were on sale at Costco
  • I bought a gift card for a local boba shop (birthday gift for one of the boys friends) & earned rewards at the shop. I took Nick to boba (his request for his birthday) & the gift card purchase generated enough rewards that I had a $1 off coupon to use. 

Earning money

  • Not me personally, but I chauffeured Nick around to earn money reffing. He's a year away from being able to drive on his own - hurrah!

Avoiding spending

  • Nick is planning to wear one of M's ties to an upcoming event. Fifteen year olds really appreciate irony, even when dressing up. Apparently, it's "cool" to wear the Santa tie ironically (e.g. not at the holidays), so you can still be cool, even when wearing a nice suit. This is what I hear, anyway. ;-)  He did teach himself how to tie a Windsor knot, solely via YouTube videos, so at least he's learning something. 

Eating what we have

  • I got a few containers of oat milk for free/near free with iBotta & grocery store deals recently, so I've been trying to use it up. It makes a delicious smoothie (we like it with banana, frozen mango, and some protein powder), so we've been having lots of those.
  • I used a container of applesauce (freezer) to make applesauce muffins
  • Turned a piece of ham & some chicken broth (both from the freezer) into a delicious ham & bean soup. This also cleared out two cans of beans that have been lingering in the pantry. It was a nice "clean it out" meal. 
  • Used zucchini from the garden (freezer) to make another type of muffin

For others

  • Helped our neighbor with painting recommendations, a tech challenge, & opening a few containers that she struggled with 
  • Arranged another carpool, to make driving easier for four families
  • Helped organize a soccer school banquet & donated extra for the coaches (who, don't get paid nearly enough for the time commitment, IMO!)
That's it from our side. What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, March 21, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

Our "menu" was really hit or miss last week, thanks to me getting home much later than expected on Sunday, and not having time to menu plan/prep. I definitely want to avoid that this week. 


  • Friday - leftover birthday pizza & salad (in a nod to health)
  • Saturday - ham & bean soup + bread
  • Sunday - tacos
  • Monday - stuffed peppers (freezer)
  • Tuesday - roasted chicken & carrots
  • Wednesday - leftovers
  • Thursday - pecan crusted chicken over salads
  • Friday - TBD, but likely wings & gyozas, or something similar
What about you? What's on the menu for the week? What's your go to "meal", when you don't have time to meal plan & prep?

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Saturday Happenings

One of my goals this weekend is to "catch up" a bit on life, after being out of town last weekend. I had a fantastic girls weekend, but need to get back to my routine now. I've looked ahead at the work week ahead, and it appears to be much calmer than the past 6-8 weeks, which sounds fabulous to me!

I have my first international work trip scheduled for May, which was a good reminder that I do not want a job with international travel, and should come up with my exit strategy. I'm very close! COVID & working from home gave me a really fantastic break from the international work travel, & allowed me to extend my time at the company for a couple of years. 

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

  • Make 3 batches of muffins. The freezer is empty, and they are a staple.
  • Take Nick to two reffing games, & pick him up
  • Take Sam to a soccer game (walk during warm ups)
  • Menu plan
  • Grocery store
  • Costco
  • Work out
  • Laundry/wash Nick's ref uniform for tomorrow
  • Tacos for dinner
  • Have the boys try on suits I bought for upcoming wedding
  • Nick's tennis 
  • Take Sam to/from a birthday party
  • Motivate lazy teens to do chores & homework
I think that will be plenty of running around for me. :-) What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, March 18, 2022

Two weeks of Frugal Friday

 It's been a long & busy couple of weeks, but here are a few highlights to share.

Saving on things we buy

  • Our flight home on Sunday was cancelled. After spending 3 hours on hold with Southwest, and still not getting through, I found another flight & was able to get home super late on Sunday. My sister, similarly, got home after midnight, so it was a long & unexpected day. I followed up with Southwest to request a discount on the flights, given the very long delay & wasting most of our last day chasing flights. We each received $250 for future credit. 
  • Used a free room offer at the hotel, and won $1500 in a tournament (we were in Las Vegas), which covered the cost of flights & meals. 

Earning money

  • Nothing to report here

Avoiding spending

  • We planned our vacation meals to have small snacks/drinks for breakfast & lunches (free) & splurged more on nice dinners.
  • Baked Nick a cake for his birthday (vs buying one).

Eating what we have

  • Because I was gone over a long weekend, meals have been a bit hit or miss, but M made burgers, I took advantage of a $50 work coupon for takeout pizza, & we had some freezer meals. 

For others:

  • Found & returned two wallets while on vacation. So random that it happened, but really happy we could reunite the wallets with their owners. 
  • Organized carpools, to help other parents with soccer driving. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

March Goals & February Recap

It has been a wild few weeks, so I'm quite far behind on goal setting & recapping how things our going. I debated not posting goals for March, & not recapping February at all, but I'm opting for a trimmed down/combined version, so I can hopefully stay motivated.

Here's what we accomplished in February:

Financial - generally good. We stuck to the budget on our family trip, handed off all of our tax paperwork to the accountant, and came up with a plan for funding our taxes. We also stuck to our general monthly budget. 

Family - we had an awesome family ski trip, complete with lots of skiing, ice skating, & laughs. M & I even managed to get a drink together while the kids were finishing out the day skiing. We also had a dinner out together. We found Sam a study skills tutor, and that seems to be going well also. 

Fitness - I've continued to my fitness challenge (closing my rings every day, & doing 90 minutes+ of cardio), but my tracking of calories & eating has fallen by the wayside. I haven't gotten on the scale in the last few weeks, but my pants suggest that I've gained a few pounds. 

Personal/creative - I got together with friends twice, and continued to volunteer. 

 Onward to March goals!

Financial:

  • Stick to our budget
  • Talk to our accountant about a DAF for charitable contributions, & adjustments for next year
  • Come up with long term budget/FIRE plan
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle goal, gift card goal, & Fetch/iBotta goals
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids
  • Support the kids with various planning (permit process, job applications, tutoring, etc)
  • Have two dates with M
  • Schedule a call with M's family
Fitness/Health:
  • Get back into healthy eating routine
  • Close rings daily
  • Lose 2 lbs
Personal/creative:
  • Do something social with friends at least once/month
  • Invest time in my volunteer job
  • Come up with post-work plan & options
  • Journal 10x
What about you? How did you do with your February goals? Did you set any goals for March? How are you doing with your progress this month? 




Monday, March 7, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

While I want to lay on the couch & order takeout, that's a terrible decision for a number of reasons. Instead, we'll keep menu planning & cooking. 

  • Friday - we had chicken wings & gyozas, finally finishing the last package of gyozas we were gifted by a friend
  • Saturday - M & I went out to dinner, the teens fed themselves some sort of borderline unhealthy teen food.
  • Sunday - bell pepper meat loaves
  • Monday - chicken fajitas. Meat prepped & in the freezer, uses the rest of the peppers from the meat loaf recipe
  • Tuesday - meat loaf leftovers
  • Wednesday - fajita leftovers
  • Thursday - I'll be out of town, and M needs to juggle a tennis match & soccer practice. I'm guessing this will be frozen pizza
  • Friday - TBD, as I'm out of town. M is an excellent cook (just prefers not to cook unless asked ;-)), so the boys are in excellent hands
What about you? What's on your menu this week?


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Get outside

When I'm stressed or anxious, one of my solutions is to get outside. Being in the fresh air helps me think more creatively, brainstorm solutions, and/or forget about the challenges. 

I got in a lovely 6+ mile hike this morning, and am grateful for the beautiful sunny sky, after a few days of (much needed) rain. Bumped into some friends on my hike...



It was a great way to kick off my morning, & I feel better already. 

I'm off to go be productive & prep for another wild week ahead. Sending you all positive Sunday vibes!

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Saturday Happenings

I'm grateful for the weekend, after a long & challenging work week. Logistics were also very complicated this week for teen activities. Luckily, club soccer hasn't begun games yet, so there are no soccer games this weekend. Hurrah! 

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

  • Work out
  • Make a menu
  • Shopping list
  • Costco
  • Produce stand
  • Have the boys review their grades & assignments
  • Laundry
  • Pack for a trip (long weekend girls trip next week)
  • Plan the schedule for the week ahead
  • Arrange carpools
  • Make M's schedule for when I'm gone 
  • Go out to dinner with M (date night!)
  • Remind lazy teens to do their chores/activities
That's it from my side. What are you up to today? I need to go look up menu options. I'm thinking something with ground beef, as we've had a lot of chicken lately. Any suggestions? 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Frugal Friday

It's been a really challenging week, with the majority of my work time spent dealing with the situation in Russia & Ukraine. Several of my team members have family members directly impacted, and it's hard to focus on anything other than that. It feels pointless to share how I saved a few bucks at the grocery store, but ... focusing on the small things I can do in my own life is something, I suppose. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I redeemed $20 worth of grocery store rewards, and took advantage of a $1 sale, picking up pasta for $1, and a couple of pasta sauces (also $1). I also picked up a few items I needed for dinner during the week. 
  • Uploaded all of our travel receipts to Fetch.
  • Purchased travel gift cards at the grocery store, earning $45 in grocery store rewards

Earning money

  • I earned a $100 bonus randomly at work, which can be used for a meal out. M & I are going to dinner 

Avoiding spending

  • Nothing I can think of 

Eating what we have

  • Before we checked out of our ski condo, I assembled PB&J sandwiches with the rest of the bread, and peanut butter/jelly. I packed those in my backpack, for easy snacks & to avoid waste. 
  • I also packed up the salt & pepper shakers we bought (these can be tricky to find, and are critical for cooking), so we can use them for future trips. I brought home the tiny olive oil container (purchased on another ski trip, and refilled for travel), the leftover coffee I brought from home, a container of mostly full garlic salt I'd purchased, and the remainder of the trail mix. It's almost impossible to use up everything you buy, but we did a pretty good job. And, every meal eaten at the condo definitely paid for itself. Meals out are expensive, particularly when you have four people to feed - two of whom have huge appetites!
  • I used a container of chicken broth (freezer) for an orange chicken dish. I almost used a purchased can, but remembered the homemade broth in the freezer. 

For others

  • Made several large donations to refugees
  • Donated to the school tennis team
  • Arranged several carpools for soccer parents
  • Gave a ride to a tennis game & took a few boys to lunch
Any wins for the week? 

Monday, February 28, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 

We're back to menu planning & enjoying having a full kitchen again, complete with spices & seasoning! We cooked most of our meals while skiing, but it's challenging to make meals with just a few ingredients - particularly when you have picky eaters/those with food sensitivities. 

  • Friday - spaghetti & meatballs + garlic bread, after we got home from the airport
  • Saturday - Grilled chicken & rice
  • Sunday - sesame chicken broccoli bowls
  • Monday - spaghetti & meatballs 
  • Tuesday - leftover grilled chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover sesame chicken broccoli bowls
  • Thursday - finish off all remaining leftovers, or tacos (freezer)
  • Friday - gyozas & wings


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

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Saturday Happenings

We are back from skiing, & Park City sure was beautiful!  



It was also quite chilly there, much chillier than our normal California ski weather. The logistics of a ski trip are tricky (bringing gear/equipment & getting it through the airport x4), but the trip home yesterday was an absolute breeze. Hurrah! 

I skied my first black run in a long time (definitely since having kids), & Sam stayed with me on the run, encouraging me for the entire thing. It was a lot of fun. Nick has moved on to the most challenging runs possible, and really enjoys pushing himself. I'm so happy we all made it back safe & sound, with no injuries & everyone having a wonderful time. It makes all of the logistics worth it.

We got home last night, unpacked, & M made spaghetti & meatballs for dinner. He does something magical with the noodles. I think it's plenty of butter. ;-) Yum.

Okay, so what's on the agenda for today:

  • Menu planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Work out
  • Laundry. I did two loads last night, but there is still quite a bit.
  • Plan work calendar & schedule for the week ahead
  • Finish the last of the unpacking
  • Get all washed/line dried ski gear back into the ski bags & put away 
  • We have ants. Just a few at a time, but find the source outside & spray.
  • Yard work
  • Pay bills
  • Wash all bedding
  • Take boys for haircuts (M) 
I also feel like I should add that I find the current world situation horrifying, hard to watch, & anxiety inducing. Please don't read my lack of discussion as disinterest or lack of awareness on my side. It most certainly is not. I have trouble sleeping, have teens who want to discuss the situation in great detail, & it's very, very difficult. However, I try to keep my blog a place without that, both for myself & for readers. 

What are you up to today? 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Frugal Friday - the ski trip edition

 We've been off having fun in Utah, and boy is it chilly there! The Californians are not used to the weather, but the snow is fantastic!

Saving on things we buy

  • I noticed that Alaska was having a big sale on flights to Hawaii, so I cancelled my flight for our June Mom/Daughters trip (celebrating my Mom's 70th birthday) & rebooked, saving $200+. 
  • We bought groceries & booked a condo with a kitchen for our ski week, to keep costs down. We don't have Winco in our area, but there was one near the airport we flew into. Wow - prices are really low there! 

Earning money

  • I paused my eBay listings, so didn't earn any side hustle money

Avoiding spending

  • Had our credit card reward direct deposited into our account (a new feature this year), which eliminates the risk of us splurging on something unnecessary when we would (previously) go to the store to redeem.
  • We are going to a formal wedding in May, and I've been attempting to find suits & dress shoes for the kids. That's an adventure unto itself. The boys are pretty lean in the waist, but have muscular thighs due to soccer, so they are unusual & hard to fit sizes. I *think* I've found options for both. For the shoes, each of the kids own three total pair of shoes: soccer cleats, slides, & sneakers (although, in full disclosure, I just had to order Nick a pair of "tennis shoes" (not sneakers, but actual shoes for the courts). They own zero dress shoes. I ordered a couple of inexpensive pair, and then realized that M & Sam are the same size, and M has multiple pair of black dress shoes. I was able to return Sam's shoes, and am down to just one pair for Nick. Hurrah. 
  • I packed sandwiches and snacks + Gatorades in M's ski backpack, so we didn't have to stop for lunch, saving quite a bit of money. We also skied back to the condo one day and had lunch there, & then the boys headed back out for a few more runs. 

Eating what we have

  • Sam had leftovers from his birthday dinner one night
  • I finished off the last of the chocolate almond milk in a smoothie for the kids
  • Likewise, finished off a container of apple juice in smoothies
  • Used up quite a few freezer bananas, as bananas are a smoothie staple for us, and we didn't go to the store before we left for our trip
  • I had an eclectic lunch on Saturday before we left (leftover chicken for breakfast & the remainder of the kids mac & cheese), in an attempt to avoid food waste. Fruit & veggies were also eaten, so it wasn't quite as nutritionally bad as it sounds

For others

  • There are many opportunities to help people when you are skiing. Picking up lost gear, towing a snowboarder with your pole on a cat trail, helping kids with their gear, encouraging newbies, letting people go ahead of you when they are trying to board a lift together, etc. 
  • I also shared a recommendation with a neighbor, helped out a coworker with a quick reply to save them time (I knew the answer, and they are covering for me while I'm out.)
What about you? Any wins to share this week?

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Saturday Happenings

I was able to sleep in an hour later than normal today, and it was glorious! Sometimes it's just that extra hour that makes all of the difference. It was an absolutely crazy week, on the personal & work side. Having those two busy periods intersect was no fun. However, I was supposed to have been on a 10 day trip to London, and I wasn't. I can't imagine how much worse it would have been (both for me, but also for M & the kids) to manage everything if I was out of town.

We leave for Park City tomorrow, so I need to get everything packed up & ready to go today. Here's what's on the to do list:

  • Laundry
  • Pack ski gear
  • Pack clothes/toiletries
  • Make a list for the electronics (tomorrow packing)
  • Finalize menu & shopping list (upon arrival)
  • Confirm car rental
  • Check in for flights
  • Dinner tonight - burgers & potato wedges. M making burgers. I need to pick up buns
  • Kids to finish all assignments + grade check
  • Nick - tennis lessons
  • Sam - camp application
  • Talk about spring break options
  • Pick up the house
  • Work out
  • Follow up with accountant on taxes
  • Pay all bills 
  • Get all work items sorted
It's going to be a full day! What about you? What's on the agenda at your house? 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Frugal Friday

It's been such a very busy week (work combined with lots of family stuff), but here are our wins.  


Saving on things we buy

  • We all went out to dinner for my birthday, and typically would share a bottle of wine. Instead, M & I had a glass of champagne at home, as we had to wait for the boys to finish soccer practice. I ended up having one glass of wine at the restaurant, but M was the driver & had nothing, so it was much less expensive than a bottle of wine. 
  • Scanned a receipt I picked up off of the ground at the grocery store, so I was then $.50 away from another Fetch offer! Found some discounted Ben & Jerry's non-dairy ice cream on clearance, so picked that up for $3, earning a $5 reward, so a $2 money maker, plus free ice cream. :-) 
  • Bought Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store, which generated rewards. 

Earning money

  • I sold a jacket on eBay. 
  • I earned $56 on Rakuten (from the last payout period), which was transferred to my account. 
  • Received a $40 class action settlement 

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up oat milk, which was $3.49 & had a $2 grocery store digital coupon, and an iBotta $1.50 offer, making it free.
Eating what we have:
  • I made spinach dip for the Super Bowl, and used up a bunch of pantry ingredients. Yum!
  • I also had a lunch of soup in a can, from a Friday Freebie (grocery store). It wasn't the best I've had, but it was passable.
  • I've been using chocolate almond milk to make delicious smoothies, as a breakfast or lunch fill in.
  • M burned the wings for the Super Bowl, and we thought of ordering pizza, but I remembered we had a few other appetizers that we could sub in. 

For others

  • Gave one of the boys team mates a ride to soccer, and gave another teen a ride home from school after an impromptu scrimmage
  • Kept in touch with my mentees, & volunteered at my non-profit
  • Shared birthday cupcakes with my neighbor
That's it from my side. What about you? Any wins to share? 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 It's another busy week, so having at least a sample menu plan gives me something to work with. Otherwise, the week is a mad scramble.

Here's what we're planning to eat this week:

  • Friday - chicken tacos
  • Saturday - spaghetti with meatballs
  • Sunday - Superbowl food. Wings, spinach dip, hummus & veggies.
  • Monday - Steak & salad
  • Tuesday - Superbowl leftovers
  • Wednesday - out to dinner
  • Thursday - spaghetti with meatballs
  • Friday - baked chicken & gyozas
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Weekend Happenings - the busy season

It is an incredibly busy season in our lives right now, with double birthdays, a trip to the DMV, four soccer games, the beginning of the tennis season, and plenty of work to juggle. It's also really fun to see the boys blossom, as they grow & get a bit older. But, it's not for the faint of heart! So much driving, schedule planning, & so many events to attend.

We had a fabulous dinner out for Sam & a few friends, to celebrate joint birthdays (found a place with outdoor seating), & then yesterday he had his "friends" party at a local park. I feel very lucky he's such a low key kid. He asked for us to drop off pizza, and the boys did a Magic the Gathering draft. I sent money for boba tea, and they walked to the local shop & had boba. Cost was: money for the boba, pizza & a few snacks, & the cost of the Magic cards. I'm so happy his 16 birthday party was fantastic. 

Later this week, I'm picking up 3 dozen cupcakes at his favorite cupcake place, and dropping them off with his coach for their last soccer game, and then we're having dinner out as a family. He's chosen a Mongolian grill for his dinner. No one else is particularly excited about the location, but the birthday person always gets to choose!

Next week is the official birthday, as well as a trip to the DMV for (hopefully) a permit, and the team dinner for soccer, and the first tennis match of the season. 

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

  • Work out
  • Nick's tennis lesson
  • "Encourage" lazy teens to complete their chores (Sam - study, homework, grades, & prep for DMV test. Nick - study, homework, grades check). Everyone - laundry
  • Produce stand
  • Grocery store (I'm less than a $1 from a $5 Fetch reward, so need to complete that)
  • Superbowl food prep
  • Packing list for ski trip
  • Finalize menu & shopping list for ski trip
  • Lift tickets for trip
  • Tax document upload
  • Laundry (hahaha, it's everywhere)
  • Wash all sheets
  • Book drivers training for Sam 
  • Work stuff
  • Organize schedule for the week (work, personal, fitness)
That's it. What about you? What are you up to this weekend? 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Frugal Friday

Another week, with a few savings here & there.  


Saving on things we buy

  • I used a gift card to treat the boys to dinner, after a wild Friday night soccer game last week. The drive thru person was new & didn't know how to use gift cards. The teens were "embarrassed" & wanted me to pay with credit, but one minute later, all was sorted. One less gift card in my purse, & we saved some money on dinner. Win/win.
  • Followed up with an iBotta offer that didn't work. From a time/money tradeoff, it's definitely not worth the effort, but I'm always frustrated by their process, and figure the more time/money they have to spend troubleshooting customer complaints, the more likely they are to fix the issue in their system. 
  • I used a grocery store reward, a coupon & a Friday freebie offer to save $23 off of my bill. I also bought the kids ice cream via Fetch, earning another $5 P&G offer. My local grocery store is quite expensive if you aren't shopping the sales or doing rewards, but if you pay attention to some of the rewards, they can be quite good. 
  • On a tip from The Frugal Girl, I installed the Safeway app & found a $5 off/$5 purchase reward, as well as a $5/$5 purchase birthday reward. I remembered that I was close to earning another P&G offer via Fetch, so stocked up on some ice cream treats for Sam's birthday. Unfortunately, on my 1st purchase, the items I bought rang up incorrectly (self checkout) & a sweet guy came over to help. He rounded up the discount, which put me $.04 short of the P&G offer. I went back in & made a second transaction, so now we have even more ice cream. ;-) All told, it was a $.55 money maker, & I bought three containers of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough, a large box of popsicles, and the mini caramel ice cream bars. I'll take it! I'll have to keep my eye on Safeway's app in the future. It's not the cheapest or closest option, but may be good for infrequent deal stop ins. 

Earning money

  • Work was intense, so I definitely earned my standard salary
  • I also sold an old book on eBay
  • Redeemed $25 of Fetch rewards

Avoiding spending

  • I skipped Costco (where we buy the majority of our groceries) & filled in at the grocery store, as we didn't need much. I'm sure I saved money, as I  *know* I would have bought more than what was on the list. - Well this was originally accurate, but M then went & picked up a few things when he got back to town. 
  • I charged my car for free on a day when I needed to stop by the office. 

Eating what we have

  • I made muffins from lemon curd (freezer) last weekend, and had a bit of lemon curd left over. I'm now eating the muffins with the rest of the lemon curd spread on it. What a delightful treat!
  • I made waffles ahead of Nick's tennis tryouts, using up almost the last of the mix. We eat waffles/pancakes so rarely, I had no idea it was running low, but won't replace it when it's out. It was a common breakfast when the kids were young, but they rarely take the time to make (or eat) a big breakfast.
  • I made a bag of edamame (freezer) to go with dinner one night. Sam ate most of the bag - he's an edamame lover.
  • I also used up a can of green beans to stretch out a dinner for Sam. Green beans are his favorite vegetable, and the only one we really eat canned. He ate an entire can in one go. 
  • I made the Red Baron pizza (iBotta offer) for lunch on a weekend day for the teens.
  • I continued to have creative lunches (leftover takeout salad, eggs & homemade hashbrowns, fruit & muffins, waffles with hummus, chili from the freezer). 
  • Used stale cereal to make granola bars
  • Free lunch at work one day

For others

  • Went through the boys closets & fulfilled an ask on Buy Nothing (volleyball kneepads for a kid who wanted to try out). Nick doesn't play anymore, so two pair out of the house & in the hands of someone who wants them
  • I also gave away a very expensive almost new (one season) soccer kit to a mom on Buy Nothing. Her kid plays in the club the boys used to play for. The uniforms are crazy expensive, and I had nine items (practice jerseys, extra shorts, etc), some of which were brand new. So happy they are going to someone who will use them!
  • Continued to help with my non-profit role, and mentoring
  • Took a bonus kid to dinner. His parents haven't attended any of the soccer games, and when I was planning a dinner with my boys & a friend, he was standing around. He was so excited to be included.
In non-frugal news, Sam and his buddy are having birthdays within a week of each other. He got into the car after practice this week, and asked if they could all go to dinner together, after their schools play each other in soccer. It wasn't frugal, but was a really fun time, and Sam isn't the most social guy (nor is his friend),  so I was thrilled to make it happen for them. He kept talking about how much fun they all had. In embarrassing news, it was my idea, i offered to take everyone to dinner, I added on a bonus kid, plus I also had Nick, and when we got to the restaurant, I didn't have my wallet. This NEVER happens, but I'd switched cars with M, so I wouldn't have to take the kids bikes (from school) to the restaurant. I left my purse in the wrong car. My friend ended up paying. I paid her back via Paypal on the spot, but I was so embarrassed. Please, come out to dinner & celebrate with us. Oh, and I "forgot" my wallet. ;-) 

What about you? Any wins (or fails) to share?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

February Goals

 I'm late to the party, and during a short month. But, better late than never!

Financial:

  • Stick to our budget
  • Talk to our accountant on DAF for charitable contributions
  • Gather/hand off all tax paperwork for account & plan funding
  • Progress towards $1500 side hustle
  • Progress towards Fetch/iBotta goal of $200
  • Stick to our budget on family ski trip
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids
  • Find Sam a tutor for study skills
  • Have two dates with M
  • Send pictures/videos to M's family

Fitness/Health:

  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Track calories, close rings daily
  • Fast & meditate 10 times each
  • Stretch 20 days

Personal/Creative:

  • Do something social with friends at least once/month
  • Invest time in my volunteer role
  • Read an article on happiness & the relationship with helping others
  • Complete one exploratory exercise on my next phase (post current career)
  • Research coaching class
  • Journal 10x 

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

January goals recap - how did I do?

I'm a bit behind this month, but better late than never! It was a busy month with lots of commitments for work & with the kids, so I was clearly overly ambitious with my goals. 

Financial:

  • Research work financial planning benefits - no, roll to next month 
  • Review & revise categories & 2022 budget - yes, done
  • Determine 2022 travel plans & budget - yes, done
  • Research a Donor Advised Fund for charitable contributions - very light research, follow up with accountant
  • Stick to the budget/experiment with new template & tweak as needed - yes, & I really like the new template. Someone left a comment asking which budget template we use. I've built my own in Excel, and use that. I'd previously had a monthly budget, and a separate yearly budget. It was meant to give us more visibility into how we were trending on monthly stuff, so we could make adjustments. In reality, we rarely used the  monthly info & simply checked in quarterly across all categories. Merging the budgets together has really streamlined the work for me. 
Family:
  • Plan one fun activity with the kids - we went skiing on a long weekend
  • Re-institute family electronic rules - yes
  • Get into a good homework system with the kids - it was a struggle at the beginning of the month, but we're getting there
  • Have two dates with M - we went to a wine tasting, & also had a margarita on a sunny afternoon when the boys were both out of the house. 
  • Call or videos for M's family - M called weekly, but I fell off of my part of sending photos
Fitness:
  • Stretch every day - I did great at the beginning of the month, & this sort of fell by the wayside. I stretched 20 days. 
  • Lose 2 lbs - I lost 3 lbs (mostly carryover Christmas weight, so hopefully the rest of my losses are actually from the weight I'm trying to lose, vs yoyo'ing)
  • Track calories - Yes, I tracked daily 
  • Close my fitness rings every day - yes!
  • Meditate & fast 20 times - I meditated 13 times, and fasted 9 times. I'm working out a lot, so finding the fasting harder. I'll keep experimenting to see what works best. 
  • Make an appointment with the dermatologist - Yes
Personal/creative:
  • Do something social with friends - met friends 2x for hikes
  • Invest time in volunteer roles - yes, I've kept this up
  • Read an article on happiness & the relationship between helping others - no, roll to next month
  • Complete one exploratory exercise on my next phase (post current career) - I started a book, but really didn't enjoy it, and didn't finish it. 
  • Research coaching class - I considered a class via work, but opted not to do it right now, as my schedule is really busy
  • Journal 10x - I journaled 7 times. 

So there you have it! Progress, not perfection. Some good steps in January, but still plenty of room for improvement & progress in February. What about you? How did you do with your January goals? 





Monday, February 7, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

 We have a busy week planned, so need a clear plan heading into the week. 

  • Friday - we did takeout, after a wild & late soccer game
  • Saturday - it was a bit of a grab bag. I had eggs & potatoes (I don't typically eat breakfast, so love breakfast for dinner). Sam had edamame, green beans & taquitos (all his choice), & Nick had a chicken sandwich. 
  • Sunday - spring rolls, gyozas & chicken
  • Monday - soccer game. Baked chicken & ravioli. 
  • Tuesday - Pasta, a new sauce I got at Trader Joes, & meatballs
  • Wednesday - soccer game. chicken tacos.
  • Thursday - out for my birthday. It will be a mad scramble to get the kids from practice, get them out of their uniforms & to the restaurant on time. 
  • Friday - soccer game. Meatball soup & bread. 
Apparently, we will be having a lot of chicken this week! What about you? What's on your menu for the week ahead? 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

More sports in our future + Sunday activities

High school sports are nothing like I remember, either because I went to a small school, or a lot's changed since then. Or, perhaps some combination of that. At the boys high school, sports seasons overlap by multiple weeks & sometimes a month. If you play soccer (a winter sport), and want to try out for a spring sport, the spring sport coach is "required" to hold a spot for you until your season wraps up. What happens in reality is that the spring coach is attempting to finalize a roster, get back to a bunch of pushy parents & let kids know if they should be coming to practice for multiple weeks/a month, or if they are cut. It's odd & leads to a lot of frustration. Nick was originally told he by the athletic director that he (and all winter sports athletes) couldn't try out for tennis until his winter season ended. However, there was a change on Friday afternoon, and he reported on Saturday morning for tryouts. The tennis coach cautioned him that he would have to beat out all of the kids who had already made JV & had been trying out for a week, and he needed to be the top JV placer. There were 60+ kids trying out, so no pressure. 

I give Nick a ton of credit for walking into a situation like that, staying calm, and performing. Most of the kids trying out have been playing for a long time, play in tournaments, and have a ranking. He has none of that, & picked it up very casually during COVID. He made the team, so the day after the last soccer game...tennis begins. :-) We're very excited for him, especially given the odds. But, this means lots of practices & games, and driving to meets, and the works. I feel so lucky right now that I'm working from home & have some work flex. His good friend made the varsity team, which also means that my dreams of carpooling have been dashed, as JV & varsity play at different times. Hopefully we will be able to set up other carpools. 

Next week is a crazy week, with three soccer games (making up for a few delayed games from COVID, earlier in the season) & a wild work week for me. My goal is to get through it with as little stress as possible. I went through my calendar yesterday, & mapped most things out.

Here's what's on the agenda for today. Lots of paperwork, planning & organization:

  • Meet a friend for a hike. It was a last minute invite last night, and a new trail, so looking forward to that.
  • Gather paperwork for Sam's permit. He FINALLY finished his test, so he will be getting his permit in a few weeks (soonest available appointment).
  • Call insurance to add Sam. Shivers. I've heard this is insanely pricey.
  • Depending on length of hike, strength workout
  • Wrap up January goals, set February goals. I'm late!
  • Make a menu plan for the week, keeping in mind the wild schedule
  • Laundry (of course)
  • Thinking that Nick had tryouts in a few weeks, I'd signed him up for a few extra tennis classes, so he has those today. Oh well, it will give him some confidence going into the season, as he's missing a few weeks of playing with the team.
  • Plan menu & shopping list for ski trip
  • Packing list for ski trip
  • Give away stuff on Buy Nothing
  • Gather tax documents, make a list of what's outstanding
  • Pick up Magic cards for Sam's outdoor birthday party
  • Boys review homework & grades
  • Call my parents
If I finish all of that, I'll be thrilled. What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this week? 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

More soccer shenanigans, and weekend things

If your kids play/ed competitive sports, you know there is always plenty of crazy on the field. You somewhat get accustomed to it, and focus on making sure your kids are good sports, and being coached by people who are leading by example & so forth. But, there are always plenty of .... others out there on the field. 

The boys played a team yesterday (this is high school, not club), & the opponents stood out to me from last season. They were pretty terrible sports during the COVID season, and we tried to cancel (not enough players) & they told us to come out for a friendly scrimmage, and they'd play with as many kids as we brought. Well, that didn't play out as expected. They played with a full roster, ran up the score, and the parents and kids were making fun of our players. It was pretty terrible.

As you may expect, Sam & I are not a fan of the team. We beat them earlier in the season, and that must have set them off a bit. We played them at home yesterday, and it was again tragic. Their coach walked over to our bench and talked about how he couldn't believe our team had beaten them, because our kids were so terrible, and multiple other negative things. To say nothing of the other kids and they way they talked on the field. It was really disappointing. I took the boys out to dinner last night, because really, what could I do after that? ;-) We used a gift card that was tucked in my purse for just such an occasion, and they shared stories of the on field shenanigans with the other players. Just gross stuff. Making fun of someone's weight, calling people names, trying to fight the kids. Sigh. All kids get into soccer on the field, but most kids are generally good sports. They may play hard and foul, but they are typically right there offering a player a hand up if they get knocked down, or shaking hands after the game. They may get frustrated and say "dang" when they lose the ball, but calling people names and trying to fight? Not to mention an actual "adult" doing something like that. Sam stepped in before a fight happened, and I'm grateful that Nick had such a terrible turf burn from the Wednesday game that he was unable to properly tackle, because my guess is he would have gotten a yellow card. He is unimpressed when people behave like that. People should really be ashamed of themselves. 

Anyway, on to this weekend! Here's what's on the to do list for today:

  • Work out
  • Go to Costco
  • Take Nick to tennis tryouts
  • Organize the hall closet
  • Laundry
  • Make granola bars or some sort of snack for the kids
  • Organize the freezer
  • Encourage lazy teens to complete homework/tasks/chores
That's it from my side. What about you? What's happening at your house this weekend?

Friday, February 4, 2022

Frugal Friday

It was a wild work week, but we made it to Friday! That's the best thing I can say about this week. ;-)  


Saving on things we buy

  • It was a quiet week for deals, but we've been doing a good job of staying largely at our grocery budget, which is always a huge win for us. It's mostly because the freezer is well stocked, and we're eating from there & attempting to clear the pantry. 
  • I used an Amazon Kindle offer to browse a few short stories (free), which generated a $5 off a Kindle book purchase. The short stories are nothing I'd pay for, but it was nice to get the $5 for a future book. Time spent was less than five minutes. 

Earning money

  • I made two eBay sales this week, which is nice. It's been a while. 

Avoiding spending

  • Returned something we didn't need. I discovered an alternative just before the return window, so I was glad to get it out of the house & mailed back.

Eating what we have

  • I turned a large Costco sized pack of ground beef into spaghetti sauce & tacos. A couple of containers are in the fridge for meals this week, and the rest went into the freezer.
  • Had the last banana in a protein smoothie, for a late lunch, x2
  • Ate a leftover taquito & the last of a container of sour cream for another lunch one day
  • I turned two containers of lemon curd from the freezer into delicious lemon muffins
  • I used strawberries from the planter box (somehow still growing) for smoothies, and ripened tomatoes indoor for salads
  • Shredded my own cabbage & carrots for coleslaw, which always makes 3x as much as a store bag would, for the same price as the ingredients. My homemade dressing always makes a large batch as well, and M & Sam love coleslaw, so it works well. All dressing has now been used, so I'll use the remainder of the shredded cabbage/carrot mix in M's salads

For others

  • When someone pulled out in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes, come to a complete stop, and the car was rocking back & forth .... I managed not to honk or use finger gestures. :-) The other driver pretended it didn't happen (no apology wave, etc), but I reminded myself that I also have made driving errors
  • Helped a shopper track down a lost receipt at the grocery store
  • Continued non-profit support & working with two people I'm mentoring
  • Helped a neighbor with childcare
  • Gave away a few items on Buy Nothing
That's it from my side. What about you? Any wins to share? 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Menu Plan Monday

Dealing with food allergies & picky eaters can be..time consuming, so I've opted for a menu this week that has two core meals Nick likes (tacos & spaghetti) & can easily be customized for M. While Sam & I enjoying trying out various cuisines, sometimes you just need a week where you can guarantee everyone will eat what you make. ;-)  

Here's what's on the menu:

  • Friday - we went out, after an evening soccer game
  • Saturday - tacos
  • Sunday - chicken curry & rice
  • Monday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Tuesday - tacos
  • Wednesday - chicken curry
  • Thursday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - pizza
What are you making this week?

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday things

The weekend is whizzing by, and I can't believe January is almost complete! Time to look ahead to February & new goals for the month.

I was obsessed with a book yesterday, so spent more time than usual reading, and it was lovely. I also got the majority of my chores done, so all wasn't lost! Nick got invited to join a bonus tennis lesson (he loves tennis) & was also offered a summer very part-time job helping his tennis instructor. He's thrilled. We are very happy for him, and that little bit of extra spending money will be a big win all around. 

Sam met up with friends at the park, and was able to bike back & forth on his own. He could be getting his license in a few weeks, but has so far shown zero motivation to do so. I want him to be comfortable ahead of getting his license (a nervous driver is no good), but could definitely use the help on the driving side, even if it's just driving to practice a few days/week. We shall see.

I also went on a 9 mile hike with a friend, chatting & catching up, which was absolutely lovely. It's rare that I meet friends for meals or coffee, but meeting for a workout is always a winner. Luckily, most of my friends feel the same.

Here's what's on the agenda today:

  • Schedule for the week, adjust as needed. (Workouts, family, work)
  • Go to the produce stand. And, Trader Joes, to fulfill a "want" from one of the teens. He branched out & tried a new variety of mac & cheese, and loves it. This may sound silly, but if you have a truly picky eater, you'll know that often they are not just picky on food types, but brands as well. 
  • Meet a friend for a walk
  • Make chicken curry
  • Make lemon curd muffins
  • Make coleslaw. Everything is largely prepped (dressing from the last batch), but I may need to shred more cabbage
  • Laundry
  • Ensure lazy teens get things done
  • Nick has tennis lesson
  • Call for a haircut
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today?