Monday, August 28, 2023

No menu plan, but an update

Starting off with the positives - I completed my relay & had an awesome time with the best group of van mates you could ever ask for! It was a fun & supportive bunch.

My first leg was near Boring, OR & was not only incredibly hot (90, and 100 on the pavement), it was also high AQI thanks to a nearby wildfire. That run was by far the most challenging for me, and way hillier than expected, with a lot more elevation than described in the course guide. When I could see my team waiting for me at the top of the last hill, I almost cried, I was so grateful. 

My second leg was at night, as we moved closer to the Oregon coast. It was the "very hard" leg, and lived up to its reputation. Tons & tons of very steep hills, but I was lucky that it was paved. The guy who I handed off to ran a very similar leg, on gravel, which is just so much harder to run on. I appreciated the cool temperature so much, but running at night with a head lamp & on pitch black road (this was WAY out in the country) freaked me out a little. I was worried about falling, but made it happen.

My last leg was the easiest of the bunch, and the first leg that I finished below my expected pace time. The other two I came in around 10 seconds over. I was ever so grateful to be done, and my quads were killing me, as I wrapped up the last mile (on a huge incline, because of course).

On the bad news, I felt terrible starting on Thursday, tested for COVID before I left. I was negative, but got progressively worse throughout the weekend. It was only thanks to TheraFlu, and lots of cough drops & tea that I finished at all. Came home last night, and tested positive. I feel terrible for all of my van mates, and my parents, who we met for brunch yesterday. I picked up COVID at the work offsite we had last week, which apparently became a super spreader event. 

I'm so happy I finished, but really want to do it again. I was well trained, but all of the training in the world couldn't overcome how fatigued I was. I felt like I was running in slow motion, even though I was giving it 100% effort. I'd love to run again, when I'm feeling at my peak. We're discussing signing up again next year, and/or finding a one day event, and adding a half in for 2024. 

And, no cooking or menu plan for me this week. I'm isolating in one bedroom, to hopefully avoid spreading this to M & the boys. 

Stay healthy out there, everyone!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Frugal Friday

 I'm setting this up to publish automatically, as I'll be out in a van, running my relay, hoping to survive on zero sleep & sore legs!

Saving on things we buy

  • I used a $20 grocery store reward to pick up items Nick wanted. He made a birthday cake for a friend, and also asked for a few snack/smoothie items for back to school. 
  • We have been wanting a generator for awhile, and found a used one via the for sale group at work.
  • I used a credit card offer to save a little bit off of two tours we booked for our France trip. 
  • We typically do delivery pizza as a first day of school treat. I had a $5 discount code in my app, that I used to cover a bit of the cost.
  • I picked up free apples on BN. Now, I need to make apple sauce!

Earning money

  • I received a check of $18 from Rakuten, for online purchases (most of which was from a purchase of 2 pair of running shoes, I believe).
  • I received a full refund from USPS for the lost eBay item, so while I didn't earn any money, I was able to keep the money I earned from the original sale. (I refunded the buyer, of course.)

Avoiding spending

  • M is able to take me both ways to/from the airport for my trip, saving the cost of a Lyft.

Eating what we have

  • Sam & I went to lunch together on Thursday (after his senior picture appointment didn't happen), & I had leftovers for breakfast one day.
  • Made a triple batch of pickled peppers, to use up some garden produce. 
  • We've been eating lots & lots of tomatoes from the garden

For others

  • I volunteered at a food bank. We had a work event, and were looking for a way to spend time together & get to know each other a bit more. I suggested a food packing event at a food bank (we've also done a huge garden clean up at a school, which was a lot of fun). It's free for us, helpful to others, and I always enjoy it more than getting together over drinks & snacks. I think most of my peers felt the same, which is great!
  • I made donations to the school on behalf of both boys, and submitted for a match via the company I work for.
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, August 21, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

Honestly, there hasn't been much cooking happening around here, for several reasons. I'm working a lot, particularly in the early evenings, as I work through a large project with Japan. It's also been hot, and I hate using the kitchen in the evenings. Finally, we never know who will be around for dinners, so we frequently have leftovers we can eat instead. 

Nonetheless, we usually have a rough plan:

  • Friday - I had leftover chicken & rice, with tomatoes & strawberries on the side (garden). M had salmon. I made Nick taco quesadillas, using up the last of the taco meat.
  • Saturday - chicken yakisoba
  • Sunday - steak & scalloped potatoes
  • Monday - first day of school! We may do delivery pizza, as a celebration
  • Tuesday - caprese salad (tomatoes/basil from the garden) with grilled burgers (freezer)
  • Wednesday - leftover yakisoba
  • Thursday - I'll be eating with my sister & BFF, after flying to Portland. The boys will have leftover pizza 
  • Friday - I will be eating van food. M & the boys will be having leftover burgers, assuming anyone is home!

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

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 It was a really, really long work week. I'm happy to see the end of it. Still reading about the horror stories in Maui, and now thinking about NWT in Canada. M's cousin lives in that area. Our wildfire season typically starts in October, so to be having this kind of fire in August is really scary. 

I leave on Thursday for Portland, and our relay starts bright & early on Friday (6:30 am). I'm in the second van (there are 12 people, six in each van) & the first van starts at Mt. Hood ski area. I'm the first runner in our van, which means I will need to figure out who the runner from van 1 is who is handing off to me. I'm expecting to run my legs at: Leg 1 at 1 pm on Friday, Leg 2 at 12:15 am on Saturday, and Leg 3 at 10:20 am Saturday. I'll also be the first one done in our van, which is kind of nice. On the flip side, it's been incredibly hot in Portland, and I'm really dreading running in the heat. Luckily, I have only the first leg where it could theoretically be hot, which is nice. Some of my van mates may be running both legs 1 & 3 in the heat. The race finishes in Seaside, and then we'll be staying the night at a local beach town. It's also the town where we used to have our vacation house, so it will be so very nice to see Manzanita again! I've missed that place. I do not like running after I've eaten (another reason why I prefer to run in the mornings), so I'm trying to figure out easy food options for the van, that won't be hard to run on (PB&J & bananas, maybe?) My hardest leg is leg 2, and I'm not much of a night owl, so that 12:15 am start time will be quite a challenge. ;-) It's six very hilly miles, through the Neahkahnie mountains. Regardless, it's going to be an adventure!

What am I up to today? Plenty to do, as always. And, some items on this list will inevitably shift to tomorrow, as needed:

  • Go to an early workout class
  • Review the family rules with the teens. We've always had family rules (curfew, electronics usage, chores, etc) & review them before the start of each school year
  • Pack for the relay. It involves a bunch of odd stuff, lots of layers, and you have super minimal space, due to six people in a van. Luckily, I've done this before, and have done the walking version many times, so at least I have some experience.
  • Laundry
  • Menu plan
  • Make shopping list
  • Go to TJs & the grocery store
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Give away a few things on BN
  • Review our car insurance
  • Go through school supplies with boys/have them clean out their backpacks
  • Download books to my Kindle, for the flights to/from
  • See if I can make a prepayment on a France hotel, to take advantage of a credit card offer
  • Work in the garden
That's it on my side. What about you? What are you up to today? Any food option recommendations that might work to have in the van, & would be easy on my stomach? 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Frugal Friday

It's the final few days before school starts, and the teens are very busy! I'm also busy with work, and leave next week for my relay, so plenty going on at our house. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Nick would like to learn to golf (he also plays tennis, soccer, mountain bikes, surfs & skis - so.... there are a LOT of sports involved). I recommended that he sign up for a very discounted teen course fee ($5 at many local courses) & he found a set of used clubs at Goodwill. This way, he can try it out without a big cost investment. 
  • I used a $2 Rite Aid reward to pick up a replacement travel deodorant
  • I bought Nick a six pack of his favorite socks for $10 (50% off). With all of the sports, he's very hard on socks, and we are constantly tossing those with holes.
  • Reduced our internet bill by $15/month, by calling when our promo period expired. 

Earning money

  • I sold an old remote on eBay

Avoiding spending

  • Nick had planned to take a tennis class the last week of summer, but it was cancelled due to low enrollment. They offered me a more intense version, that was quite a bit more money. Instead, I rolled over the summer camp fee into his fall lessons, saving a lot of money towards those. He's also attending a few tennis clinics during the week when he was supposed to have camp, so there will still be plenty of tennis!
  • Used a gift card to pick up lunch at Panera while we were between soccer games for a tournament. I also earned $2 back with Fetch, as they were having a Panera promo of some sort. 

Eating what we have

  • We continue to eat a lot of garden goodies: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, & basil.
  • The boys were both going to be out with friends on Friday, so I planned an easy dinner for myself & M. (Wings, Trader Joes samosas, salad & a bowl of sliced tomatoes & sliced strawberries). Nick decided to leave a little later, so he also ate with us. He's not a big wing fan, so I made a quick chicken patty sandwich for him, and he wrapped up the last of the carrots, cucumber & a huge bowl of cherry tomatoes, with hummus. 
  • I've made the boys protein smoothies a few times, using up berries from the freezer (so many berries!) & almond milk. I've discovered that almond milk bothers my stomach, so I swapped it out for oat milk in my coffee. I don't want to waste it, so happy to find another use for it. The smoothies also include the free protein powder that I picked up on Buy Nothing. 

For others

  • Helped my parents with rebooking flights for their trip to Hawaii (now shifted to Oahu vs Maui). There were a few complications with their reservations, and my father is quite hard of hearing, so it's easiest if I sort it out with the airline directly. Two phone calls & one chat later, it's now fixed!
  • M spent Sunday helping our neighbor with a repair project.
  • We donated money to the Maui wildfires, and filled out a form via work, who will match our donation. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, August 14, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 It should be a pretty normal week this week. That said, the teens are rarely at home at the same time for dinner, given it's their last week of summer. Conflicting sports practices, dinners out with friends, etc. Here's what we're eating this week!

  • Friday - it was supposed to be just myself and M, so we had wings & chicken samosas + salad. Nick ended up going out later than planned, so I made him a chicken patty sandwich (freezer options for the win), as he joined us. We also had sliced tomatoes & berries, both from the garden, as a side. 
  • Saturday - M grilled burgers, & we had those with more sliced tomatoes. I had mine over a salad, and we served that with cheater TJs potato salad. I call it cheater, because potato salad is, in my mind, an effort to make, and buying it is much easier. ;-) 
  • Sunday - I prepped M's grilled chicken recipe while he helped a neighbor, and he grilled & made rice. 
  • Monday - we're having ground beef tacos 
  • Tuesday - leftover burgers & potato salad
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken & rice
  • Thursday - leftover smorgasbord
  • Friday - it sounds like Nick is going to have friends over to swim, so likely pizza & watermelon
What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sunday Things

 The weekend has whizzed by. I haven't been drinking much/if at all this summer, as it isn't a great mix for me with the running. But, in celebration of finishing my last long run of the training cycle, I'm having a glass of delicious chardonnay today. 

I managed to get *almost* everything done on my to do list. I'll need to vacuum after work tomorrow, and deal with USPS & our car insurance.

I spent a chunk of unexpected time today helping my parents with some flight changes (due to the Maui fires), and got them all sorted out. I also took over prepping M's special chicken recipe, as he spent most of today helping our neighbor install a new garage door opener. She is in her 80s, and appreciates the help so much. I had no idea how much work M's chicken recipe is, and now I have a new appreciation for the time he spends on it!

I also had to go back to a mall (drat) to exchange a pair of shoes for Sam, and pick up a few other back to school items. My two teens could not be more different. Nick loves everything about shoes, clothes, cologne, style... He spends a lot of his own money on those things. Sam wears 8 year old shorts from Costco, and despite my best effort, will not upgrade! He recently allowed us (me + Nick) to choose a few "cooler" clothing items for him, and when he ripped his only pair of shoes, he also allowed us to pick a few slightly nicer pairs. They make me laugh, with their very distinct approaches to dressing. 

What is everyone else up to today? Hope your weekend was a lovely mix of productive & relaxing!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Saturday Happenings

I can't get Maui off of my mind. I feel terrible for everyone there, and I'm just so sad about the devastation, & loss of life. Maybe because I'm very familiar with the area, it feels so real. 

Work has been very, very busy & my anxiety has been higher than usual. I really need to make time to meditate, which is always helpful, but somehow falls to the bottom of my list. I also have a huge meeting coming up on Monday, so I'll be happy when that's wrapped up.

On the family side, this is a super busy time of year. The boys are getting ready to go back to school, and getting all of the school stuff sorted out & ASB cards ordered, schedules managed, booking a last minute business trip to Japan (more on that another time) & I've been feeling overwhelmed. I'm also in the final stages of relay prep (it's at the end of the month) & staying trained & preparing for that is also top of mind. 

My to do list was so long yesterday that I ended up making a second list half way through the day, to keep me focused on the remaining items I could accomplish. I did make a lot of progress, although never as much as I'd hoped! 

Here's what's on the agenda for today, with some slipping to tomorrow:

  • It's my running break day, so I'm going to a workout class. The class involves about 2 miles of running, but that's a break compared to my other training days. And, there will be rowing & strength training, so it will be a nice mix. 
  • Sam has two tournament games today, so attend at least one, hopefully both.
  • M is grilling burgers, & hitting up Costco. We need everything, as the boys cleaned us out of basically all fresh food. We were getting desperate last night, so I was grateful for all of the garden tomatoes & strawberries! 
  • Work on packing list for relay. There's not much space in the van, and you need a bunch of odd stuff. The weather is also super unpredictable, and you are running at all possible times of night/day, so you need things like head lamps, warm clothes, clothes for hot weather, etc. 
  • Order all of boys stuff for orientation: parking permits, ASB cards, picture order forms. The website wasn't working yesterday, so fingers crossed that I can check this off today.
  • I'm going to go to Trader Joes, to pick up other grocery items. 
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Package/mail eBay
  • File USPS claim for lost eBay item
  • File all receipts, run budget numbers
  • Look into car insurance
  • Clean kitchen
  • Vacuum
  • Duolingo
  • Stretch 
  • Meditate
What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, August 11, 2023

Two weeks of Frugal Friday

 I was out of town last Friday, so catching up with a double edition.

Saving on things we buy

  • We ran out of packing tape, and I picked up a roll at Rite Aid, and used $4 of Rite Aid rewards. I'll buy a larger pack at Costco, but this will hold us over in the interim. 
  • I used $40 of grocery store rewards to do a mid-week shop. We didn't do our typical grocery shop the week the boys were gone, and had nothing in the house when we got home. I picked up fruit, veggies & some milk, as well as Gatorade for myself, for the 36 hours of fasting I had to do for my medical procedure. 

Earning money

  • In the opposite of "earning money", the post office lost one of my eBay packages, and I need to return the buyer's money. The post office has determined the item was stolen, so hopefully I'll be getting a check at some point. But, there are some hoops to jump through to get my money back for sure. 

Avoiding spending (apparently, these are travel themed for the week)

  • The boys & I were able to get dinner at the airport at no cost, using our lounge passes (these come with our credit card).
  • We used Southwest free drink coupons to get a free drink on our flight back last weekend.
  • We received two free bottles of wine on our trip, and checked a bag (for free) & brought them home.
  • I was upgraded to business class on a work trip to London in November. I used "plus points" earned from status, and while I would never pay to upgrade myself on a work trip, it will be a huge benefit to return home with less jetlag, thanks to a lie flat seat. 

Eating what we have

  • I ate a freebie yogurt container, with fresh strawberries from the garden. I wanted a little "crunch" & figured I'd use some stale cereal (teen snack). Let's just say, whoa! The sugar level in that cereal. I think it was Trix? I ended up eating around it. Haven't had Trix in years, and it's definitely more of a dessert than an actual breakfast food. ;-) 
  • With the boys out of town, I've been trying to creatively eat through smaller portion fridge/freezer items. I made a breakfast burrito for a lunch, using up tomatoes from the garden + tortillas & cheese leftover from taco night. 
  • M & I also had a few leftover kebabs, served with 1/2 of a remaining pack of gyozos.
  • On Monday, with minimal options in the fridge, I made a breakfast burrito (similar to the above) & then we had freezer leftovers for dinner.  
  • I fasted for a few days, and M ate other single serving leftovers from the freezer, which saved us from needing to shop for a bit longer. 

For others

  • M has been helping our neighbor with a variety of projects, I've stocked up on toiletries for a neighbor who is doing a run to a shelter in need, and continue to offer up items to our neighbors on Buy Nothing. 

What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, August 7, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 M & I were on vacation, and arrived home last night. Good times were had all around, but it's always nice to be home. The teens are arriving back home tomorrow (woohoo), so we will be back to our more regular menu planning. We eat a large green salad with every dinner.

  • Friday - we ate at a French restaurant, and I had an amazing roast chicken dish. So good. 
  • Saturday - out again, and & I had steak & scalloped potatoes. Plus, strawberry cheesecake. It was a very indulgent dinner.
  • Sunday - we got home from the airport & were too tired to sort out dinner, so we just went to bed.
  • Monday - PF Chang lettuce wraps from the freezer (dupe recipe)
  • Tuesday - I need to fast for a medical procedure on Wednesday. M will have chicken shawarma (freezer)
  • Wednesday - I have a medical procedure for part of the day, and need a ride to/from the hospital. So, it will be an easy dinner of orange chicken & rice (Trader Joes).
  • Thursday - spaghetti & meatballs
  • Friday - grilled burgers + goodies from the garden. I'll probably make a caprese salad, to use up lots of tomatoes & basil.
That's it for us. What about you? What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

August Goals

 August will be a busy month. M & I are doing a long weekend in Las Vegas, while the boys are with my parents. Then the boys return, and it's a flurry of back to school activities (dentist appointments, sports physicals, packet pickup & the actual start of back to school). I'm also doing Hood to Coast (a relay that goes from Mt Hood to Seaside Oregon) at the end of the month, so I'll be training for that as well. We've got a lot to get done in August!


  • Stick to our budget
  • Use 6 "hard to use" freezer or pantry items. 
  • Make $100 in side hustle 
  • One fun activity with the kids 
  • Prep & get ready for back to school. Complete all registration & sports physical requirements.
  • Work in the yard
  • Two dates with M 
  • Prep for September travel (I'm going to Tokyo unexpectedly for work, and heading to France at the end of the month)
  • Complete my running plan for the month & successfully finish my legs at Hood to Coast 
  • Follow the No S diet 
  • Meditate 3x 
  • Have my colonscopy

  • Do something social with friends 
  • Practice French on Duolingo -
  • Finalize all France activities
  • Give away 20 items on BN 
  • Try new garden recipes 
  • Get back into journaling 
What about you? Do you have any goals for the month? Share, so we can cheer you on!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

July Goals Recap

 July absolutely whizzed by. Work was much busier than expected, but it was a good month just the same. Overall, I feel good about the progress for the month. 

Here's how we did with our goals this month:


  • Stick to our budget - mostly, yes. We have some yearly budget categories (vs monthly) that we are trending over for, so as we get closer to the end of the year, we'll have a better idea of how we fare. That said, I'm working  longer than I'd planned, so that income is more than offsetting the budget increases.
  • Use 6 "hard to use" freezer or pantry items. - I used 4 total this month (pepperoni that had been lingering forever, a mystery chicken dish, a chicken basil single serve meal, & a lunch soup sized frozen meal). 
  • Make $100 in side hustle -finally, a month where I had a few sales. I sold a ref kit, skirt, bike jersey & luggage tags. I made $130.
  • One fun activity with the kids - we bought a corn hole set, and have played that, and watched a lot of Wimbledon together. 
  • Plan something for the days off we have in July - we went to Half Moon Bay, and it was cool & gorgeous!
  • Work in the yard - not as much as I'd like (we had a bunch of hot days), but we've been staying on top of it
  • Two dates with M - yes, we went to HMB, and also sat by the pool several times & either had a cocktail, or just caught up & chatted. 
  • Complete my running plan for the month - done! I ran about 75 miles this month
  • Follow the No S diet - yes, and I've lost 3.5 lbs this month
  • Meditate 10x - nope, this didn't happen
  • Set up overdue dentist appointment - yes, and they had a cancellation & squeezed me in
  • And, colonoscopy - this is happening in early August. Yay ;-) 
  • Do something social with friends - I met a friend for a hike, another friend for a workout class/coffee & met up with two other friends for an after work glass of wine. 
  • Practice French on Duolingo - yes, I've been practicing most days
  • Land on timing for France trip + hotel & activities - timing is decided, hotels are booked & tours are largely decided on
  • Give away 20 items on BN - done, and more like 30 items were given away
  • Try new garden recipes - eh, not much here. I'd hoped to use zucchini for a new recipe, and the rabbits (I think) have eaten every single zucchini. We've since added a cage, and will see if we are able to successfully grow anything
  • Get back into journaling - no progress. 
Did you set any goals for July? If so, how did you do?