Saturday, September 23, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 It has been a week! I've been trying to get adjusted back to our timezone, get as much work done as possible & prep for being out of the office, and Sam had a lot of school based deadlines for college applications. That meant we were mostly working on college stuff each evening. We got Greek food last night, as a treat, and crunched through a huge amount of work. 

It's been awhile since I applied to college (understatement), but the process is very time consuming now. In order to get letters of recommendation from teachers & the high school counselors, we filled out 25+ pages of content. I'm ever so grateful to the teachers for writing these letters, as I know they do it out of kindness for the kids, and don't get paid. They each have their own process, template, & Sam & I wanted to make sure he gave them enough information to be able to quickly write the letters & make their jobs as easy as possible. There are parent surveys the school requires, brag sheets (so counselors can understand who you are outside of school), resumes, etc. Phew! 

This is the longest I'll have ever been away from the kids, the longest from work since COVID (can't remember the last time I took more than a week off), & I *think* the longest I've been away from M. There's been a lot to prep!

Here's what today looks like. 

  • Attend workout class
  • Come home for super fast shower
  • Volunteer at a soccer tournament (this satisfies $100 worth of my volunteer hours with the club - one kid)
  • Laundry
  • Last minute packing
  • Pick up my sister at SFO, ahead of her flight. She's flying in, as she needed to be on my reservation for an upgrade. 
  • Package a few returns
  • Help Sam with college tasks
  • Load Kindle
  • Check in for flight
  • Finalize timing for tomorrow
  • Make Costco list
  • Make a salad for dinner. M is making kebabs & rice!

What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, September 22, 2023

Frugal Friday

 A few frugal things we've been up to this week. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Bought lounge passes from a coworker, saving 50% off the rate I can normally get them for. I was hoping our business class upgrades would clear on our trip, but that seems super unlikely, so we can have a mimosa & snack at the lounge & meet up with our friend who is flying in from Seattle ahead of our flight. 

Earning money

  • Sold some Orange Theory workout swag on eBay. 

Avoiding spending

  • I was very, very tempted to order takeout on Friday, when I got home unexpectedly much later than planned, but put together a not fancy but fine dinner with some items on hand. 
  • I have a credit on one of my credit cards, so remembered to use that card to buy groceries at Trader Joes
  • Used a gift card to buy dinner out for the four of us for "family dinner" (rare & hard to plan, with the teens on a weekend). Covered the overage with an Amex gift card. 
  • Whipped up a banana bread with Sam, when he needed to take a treat to school. 

Eating what we have

  • Dug out some fresh mozzarella & tomatoes to accompany basil from the garden, to make up a caprese salad. 
  • Made a double batch of protein bars for Sam, who loves them as a quick snack before soccer practice
  • I discovered a container of grilled chicken sausages in the freezer, and they are close to needing to be tossed. I added one to my salad, and will try to work through them this month, to avoid waste. 
  • M offered to make dinner on a very busy week night, so I pulled out two small packages of steak & leftover hoagie rolls, plus a package of provolone that I bought at some point during the summer. He made Philly Cheesesteaks for dinner, and they were a big hit!
For others
  • Treated my sister to first class flight upgrades on both Portland to SFO & return legs of her flights. I also added my upgrades to my manager's work flight, as he is the one who helped get our boys upgraded on the flight to Dubai last spring. It's looking more like these upgrades will expire (they only clear based on availability). If that happens, I'll give away the rest to coworkers & friends. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Menu Plan

It's a one week menu (plus bonus day), before I leave for France on Sunday. Here's what we're planning to eat this week: 

  • Friday - chicken, caprese salad
  • Saturday - steak, shrimp & salad
  • Sunday - out, family dinner, using a gift card from a neighbor
  • Monday - Philly cheese steaks
  • Tuesday - spaghetti & meatballs + garlic bread for the teens
  • Wednesday - tacos
  • Thursday - leftovers
  • Friday - leftovers (if we have anything), otherwise, wings & gyozas
  • Saturday - kebabs & rice. My sister will be in town, ahead of our flight to France, so M will be making a Persian feast (one of her favorite meals). 
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Sunday Things

 Well, I've been up since 3, and got about 4 hours of sleep last night, so today promises to be a real adventure. I heart jet lag. ;-) Let's hope I can regulate my sleeping again before work tomorrow. 

I was reasonably productive yesterday, all things considered. I went to Sam's game, finished most of my packing for France, got a pedicure, set out new ant traps, did the laundry, worked out, & washed the spare bedding. I also went to Trader Joes, & made a menu plan/shopping list for the week. 

Who knows what I'll get done today, particularly given how tired I am. Here's what's on the list:

  • Weekly check in with boys (this is overdue, so needs to be done)
  • Vacuum
  • Clean kitchen
  • Bathrooms
  • Finalize last France travel detail
  • Make protein bars
  • Run
  • Meet a friend for a hike
  • Schedule for the week
  • Family dinner out (using a gift card)
What about you? What's on your to do list for today? Hope you have a lovely & productive day!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Saturday Happenings

It was a long, long travel day yesterday. We sat on the runway for 5 hours in Tokyo, due to a thunder & lightning storm. My back was already hurting before we took off, which was not a good sign with a long flight still ahead. I got home much later than planned, but did a load of laundry, unpacked & made dinner with M before I went to bed. I slept for 12 hours (!) last night, and then got up & went to my workout class. My body protested a bit, but it definitely gave me some energy that I desperately need. 

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

  • Workout class (done)
  • Pedicure (I'm losing 2 nails & need professional help ahead of my trip)
  • Start packing for France
  • Figure out where ants are coming from (plus, spray for ants, put out new ant traps)
  • Clean closet
  • Wash spare bed sheets
  • Vacuum
  • Bathrooms
  • Clean kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Make a menu plan
  • Go to Nick's soccer game
  • Costco list
  • Trader Joes
  • Grocery store
  • Sort out toiletry list with friends (we'll each bring items, so we don't duplicate)
  • Finalize one last France travel detail
Anything that doesn't get done today will swap over to tomorrow. What about you? What's on your to do list today?

Monday, September 11, 2023

Tokyo, by the numbers

 I sometimes get asked what a standard work travel day looks like, so here are some details:

  • Up at 5:30 am (Sunday, PST). Coffee, finished last minute packing
  • Made final notes for the teens/M for the day
  • 30 minutes on the elliptical
  • Lyft picked me up at 8 am
  • Got to SFO just before 9 am. Made it through security & went to the lounge.
  • Filled my water bottle, & had some fruit & eggs for breakfast.
  • Got to the gate at 9:40, exactly at the pre-boarding phase. I board ahead of "group 1", which I'm not sure if that's a blessing or a curse. Always room for your bags, but more time on the plane!
  • I was flying business, which was a gift, despite not sleeping. 
  • Flight was delayed, so we didn't take off until 11:30. I try to stand up (it's a single seat, and I'm not in the aisle, so there's room to stand) & walk around a bit until the flight actually leaves.
  • Flight was approximately 10.5 hours long. I watched two movies (some really awful Jennifer Lopez/Josh Duhamel wedding movie + the original Fast & The Furious), plus a bunch of episodes of House, which I liked. I also read a bit.
  • On the flight, I had my pre-ordered meal (chicken curry + salad), skipped the dessert & alcohol. It was hard to say no to a glass of rose on the flight! I skipped the snack & breakfast service. I mostly had tea, because it was freezing on the flight, despite wearing pants, two layers on top, and having the blankets. 
  • Landed at approximately 2 pm JST. Got through security & customs by 2:45, in a taxi by 3. (The taxi line was super long).
  • Got to my hotel around 3:30. Unpacked, and then headed to the gym. This is all part of the plan to stay awake until as close as possible to evening in Japan. 
  • Did an hour on the elliptical, and read on my Kindle.
  • Back to my room to do some work, catch up on family stuff & watch some Netflix.
  • I also ordered room service & got a new menu item (I've been to this hotel many, many times) - the Power Bowl, which was a bunch of veggies, quinoa & chicken. I was starving, and hadn't eaten in maybe 15 hours, so I also had a side of truffle fries. Both were great. 
  • Stayed up until 7 pm, and I tried to make it to 7:30, but no chance. Woke up at 3 am JST, because #jetlag.
  • Finally got out of bed at 4, admitting to myself that I wasn't going to fall back asleep. My back was killing me, after the plane time, plus the generally inactive day.
  • Worked from 4-6 am. The espresso machine in my room wasn't working, and I had a wicked caffeine headache. Hotel restaurant wasn't open, so I had a Coke Zero out of the mini bar. I do not regularly drink soda, but my body really appreciated the caffeine.
  • Ran on the treadmill at the gym. Let's just say that they don't have the AC on (it's 90 degrees currently in Tokyo), the treadmills don't have fans, and they still have the COVID protocol plexiglass shields surrounding each treadmill. It was like running in a sauna! 
  • Picked up a to go latte at the restaurant on the way back to my room. 
Off to shower & head to the office, where I have meetings from 9-7. After that, my goal is to stay awake & sleep from 8-4 tonight (then, 9-5 tomorrow, if possible). I'll likely pick something up on my way back to the hotel. Typically, I have work dinners every evening, but this trip was unplanned & I'm the only "visitor" in town, so no dinners! I'm ever so grateful I can relax a bit in the evenings. 

A day(ish) in the life on a work trip!

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Saturday Happenings

I'm trying to hit the right balance of productivity & relaxing today, as it's my only weekend day. My ride is picking me up at 8 am tomorrow, to head to the airport for my trip to Japan. Long travel days are definitely not relaxing.

I got up this morning, and went to a workout class. Came home, showered & went to Sam's soccer game. Sam has been playing soccer for 12 years, and as far as I can recall, this is the first time he's ever needed to sub out due to injury. Both boys have been incredibly lucky in that regard. He got elbowed in the face, and had a bloody nose that lasted for most of the second half. 

What else is on the to do list for today?

  • Finish my last minute packing
  • Read by the pool for a bit?
  • Make dinner - I'm trying this chicken & orzo skillet recipe 
  • Package up a few returns
  • Laundry. Sam has a second game tomorrow, so hoping I can get all of that blood out of his uniform. 
  • Do some budget management & spreadsheet entry
What about you? What are you up to today? 

Friday, September 8, 2023

Frugal Friday

 Here's what we've been up to lately:

Saving on things we buy:

  • Used a $10/$50 grocery store offer, plus two $2 salad coupons at the grocery store, and picked up the Friday Freebie. Uploaded the receipt to iBotta to save another $2.85. I also played the Monopoly game, and earned another $.50 back. 

Earning money

  • Nothing to report here

Avoiding spending

  • Used a gift card to buy a gift

Eating what we have

  • My taste buds are definitely still out of whack, which is making eating a bit more unpredictable than usual. I also still wasn't feeling great last weekend, so I ordered another (hopefully last for a while) delivery dinner. I did have leftovers, and ate that for two meals. 
  • Made the boys some creative meal options last weekend. If I have food that needs to be used, as long as I prep it for lunches or whatever, they will eat what i'd like them to. If I leave it to them, they go for the first visible item in the fridge or pantry, and often not as healthy of options. ;-) 
  • Made a huge batch of applesauce, out of neighbors apples she was giving away. Turned 1/3 of that into two dozen muffins.
  • Also turned a bunch of overripe bananas from the freezer into another two dozen muffins. 

For others

  • Helped my family (x2) with travel logistics, when their flights were diverted en route to my nephew's 21st birthday trip. Spent at least two hours on the phone with Southwest, to ensure they had flights home, and to get them the credit for the diverted flight. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

September Goals

 I have a crazy September, with an unexpected trip to Japan (work) & my sister's 50th birthday trip (France). I'm very excited for the France trip, but the Japan trip got added last minute & is making September feel particularly nuts. As a result, I'm trying to keep my goals realistic for the month.


  • Stick to our budget
  • Use 3 "hard to use" freezer/pantry items
  • Stay on track with travel budget
  • Have one date with M
  • Take Nick out
  • Set up weekly kid/mom meetings
  • Lose 3 lbs
  • Run 60 miles
  • Follow the No S diet...entirely, when not traveling + in Tokyo, and loosely in France

  • Do something social with friends
  • Practice French on Duolingo
  • Have a fabulous trip to France
What about you? What's on your list of goals for the month? 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

August Goals Recap

 Wow, August was a wild ride, closing with the running relay & COVID! Here's what I accomplished for my goals this month.


  • Stick to our budget - we did "okay" this month, but had a lot of back to school expenses. 
  • Use six "hard to use" freezer or pantry items - I used a ton of bananas, to make muffins. We also ate through quite a few freezer leftovers, when the boys were with my parents. 
  • Make $100 in side hustle - I made $0 in side hustle in August


  • One fun activity with the kids - I did a breakfast & a lunch out with Sam, but Nick & I didn't get to anything this month (unless you count those doctor's visits ;-)). That's on my list for next month! However, I did get Nick to deep clean his room, which was a crazy time investment, and so very worth it! He got rid of about 1/3 of his room contents. 
  • Prep & get ready for back to school - Done. All registrations, sports physicals, & forms complete!
  • Work in the yard - I did okay with this. Some garden work, but not as much as I'd have liked. 
  • Two dates with M -  Yes! We had a long weekend together in Las Vegas, and several afternoons with cocktails by the pool
  • Prep for September travel - yes. Made a lot of progress on this
  • Complete my running plan for the month & successfully finish my legs at Hood to Coast - yes & yes! Despite not feeling well
  • Follow the No S diet - yes, this is still going well
  • Meditate 3x - nope
  • Have a colonoscopy - yes, and what a treat that was ;-) 


  • Do something social with friends - yes, I met a couple friends for coffee, walks & a hike
  • Practice French on Duolingo - yes, most days
  • Finalize all France activities - yes! we are 95% of the way complete
  • Give away 20 items on Buy Nothing - I probably 3x'd this target
  • Try new garden recipes - Not a new recipe, but I did make pickled jalapenos for M
  • Get back into journaling - nope
That's it for me. How did you do with your goals for August? 

Monday, September 4, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

Getting back into the swing of things, post COVID. There was a lot of takeout, and I'm happy to get back into eating home prepped food. 

  • Friday - ground beef tacos 
  • Saturday -  orange chicken & fried rice
  • Sunday - chicken fajitas
  • Monday - creamy chicken & orzo skillet
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - leftover fajitas
  • Thursday - leftover chicken & orzo
  • Friday - any remaining leftovers, or pizza
What about you? What's on your menu this week? It's expected to cool off this weekend, which makes prepping & cooking food a bit more appealing!

Sunday, September 3, 2023

It's Sunday

 I was moderately productive yesterday, but definitely didn't get as much done as I would have liked. 

I did a video call with my friends, to finalize some our France trip details, then ordered a few things I'm still missing, and booked our train travel while we're there. I made two dozen muffins, did some laundry & cleaned all of Nick's junk out of my closet & listed almost all of it on Buy Nothing. That was a big time hit, but I'm thrilled to have made progress on that. I also worked out, and while it was tiring, it felt good to get back to a routine.

As for today:

  • Clean the house. For real. It's so messy, after I was out of town last weekend.
  • Laundry
  • Make a chicken dish (find out who will be eating)
  • Work out
  • Send revised France itinerary to friends
  • Work on budget/bill paying
  • Coordinate Buy Nothing pickups
  • September goals
  • August goals recap
  • Make banana muffins
  • Clean freezer
What about you? What are you up to today?

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 M(tested negative before he left, phew) flew to Las Vegas on Thursday to meet up with my dad, uncle, sister's partner & my nephew, for my nephew's 21st birthday celebration. The Portland based crowd attempted to fly in yesterday. They got within 100 feet of the runway, and the visibility was so bad that the pilot aborted the landing. Eventually, they ended up in LAX, with no possible flights to Las Vegas, and not even an option to get home that night. You also don't get hotel accommodations if your flight was canceled/diverted due to weather. 

After reboarding the flight again, and then it being cancelled, they ended up driving to Las Vegas, and got there at 1 am. I'm so grateful they made it there safely! What an adventure they've already had, and the trip hasn't even started. Fingers crossed that the rest of the trip is awesome.

I'm thrilled to have a long weekend. I'm very far behind on life & work, after the past week. Here's what's on the agenda (and, as always, some will spill over, so think of this as more of a weekend vs today list):

  • Virtual happy hour call with my sister & BFF, to discuss our France plans.
  • Make 3 dozen muffins. Maybe more, if I get the freezer organized.
  • Use/freeze the applesauce that I made last night. Some of it will go into the muffins. I turned a huge bag of fallen apples from a neighbor's tree into sauce. They were thrilled to get rid of them, and I was able to use 90% of them. Some were a little too far gone, but I caught most of them in time.
  • Vacuum
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Scrub the shower
  • Laundry
  • Wash all the sheets
  • September goals
  • August goal recap
  • Figure out what I'm packing for France
  • Give away at least 20 items on Buy Nothing
  • Sort out math tutoring
  • Sign up for Farsi language practice
  • Clean the fridge
  • Catch up on bills/budget tracking
What about you? What are you hoping to accomplish this weekend?

Friday, September 1, 2023

Frugal Friday

It was definitely not a frugal week, as it involved a lot of takeout while I was isolating from everyone, medicine & COVID tests. 

A roundup of a few things that saved money:

  • I didn't eat much at the relay, save for the packed snacks, as I didn't have much of an appetite.
  • I ate nothing at the airport (either way), & filled my water bottle for free.
  • M dropped me off & picked me up at the airport, saving on the cost of transportation
  • I used a Panera gift card to order myself a couple of lunches, as well as a family feast to feed everyone one night. We don't do delivery meals often (crazy pricey), but there are times when they are exactly what you need.
  • I also used DoorDash credits (from my credit card) to order another dinner for myself one night. I locked myself into my bedroom & tried to avoid being in the main living space as much as possible.
  • I found burgers & buns in the freezer, so M could pull together a quick dinner for himself & the teens, in between tutoring & sports practice.
  • I made myself an egg burrito, using the very last of some shredded cheese, & a tortilla I found in a drawer in the way back of the fridge. It's always nice to use up some containers. 
  • I had another creative lunch (strawberries from the garden, 1/2 a bagel with fresh leftover mozzarella cheese that needed to be used up + a garden tomato & the last of a large container of soup I ordered earlier in the week). 
  • And, I loved the 1/2 bagel + fresh mozzarella + garden tomato combo so much, that I had it for dinner another night. There's still quite a bit of fresh mozzarella left, so maybe it will be back for a triple repeat :-) 
I'm hoping to be back, with more energy & more frugality next week!