Thursday, November 30, 2023

November Goals Recap

 November was another wild month, with not one, but two international work trips! London, followed by Tokyo two weeks later. Do NOT recommend!


  • Stick to our budget - nope. We were out of a bunch of stuff, I bought a few things on seasonal sales, and Nick had some really, really intense nose bleeds which resulted in us having to replace some stuff (house things, like bedding & a rug, and soccer stuff). None of which was cheap. Poor guy! 
  • Use three "hard to use" freezer or pantry items - We used up one (a bag of cranberries.) Luckily, seasonality was on our side for this one ;-) 
  • Work on college funding plans - yes!


  • One fun activity with each teen - Sam & I watched a movie together, I took Nick out after his last club game, and out to dinner after his varsity game. 
  • Have two meetings with each teen - endless discussions with Sam about college, and Nick & I have also spent quite a bit of time discussing things as well
  • Help Nick with his list of potential colleges/tours - yes, lots of discussions happening here
  • Finalize Thanksgiving & ski plans - we had a great Thanksgiving, and are waiting to hear back about a less expensive ski option in December. 
  • Work on plans for Sam's senior trip - we are on pause until we hear back from M's mom on whether she can meet us somewhere.
  • Deep clean one item/area in the house - I went through my dresser & coat closet, decluttered & gave a lot away!


  • Start new training plan for Napa Half - I've been a bit hit or miss, but had a great week last week. Now I just need to keep that up when I'm traveling.
  • Run 40 miles - I ran 35 miles this month. 
  • Follow the No S diet - I've been pretty hit or miss on this.
  • Maintain my diet & fitness plans during my work trip - I did "okay" with this. I worked out, but not great/intense workouts, and my eating was also "meh". 
  • Complete 10 strength training workouts - 10 exactly!
  • Lose 2 lbs - yes
  • Clean up the garden - Lots of leaf collecting!
  • Start learning Farsi - I had a few days of lessons
  • Do something social with friends - met a friend for a workout + coffee, and another friend for a hike + coffee, and played pickle ball with another friend. 
  • Give away 20 items on Buy Nothing - I definitely exceeded this, with 50+ items. 
  • Try one new recipe - I made a chicken pesto pasta dish that was pretty good
What about you? How did you do with your November goals?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

2024 Goals - It's All About the Money....

Not really, of course, as I do have other goals, but having Sam start college in 2024 (with Nick just behind him in 2025) is definitely bringing our budget to the forefront of our goals! You'll notice a heavier weighting on financial goals this year, as we tighten things up a bit, and ensure we're ready for the upcoming college years.

Here's what I'm thinking about, in terms of goals for 2024.


  • Max both boys 529s - $34,000
  • Max our 401ks (standard contribution for me + M's catch up contribution) - $53,500
  • Save the remainder of Sam's college expenses. This is a huge stretch goal, and is dependent upon a variety of things, but I'd like to wrap up his savings, so we can move on to finishing out Nick's college expenses. By having the savings even a year or so in advance, it reduces the need for us to cash flow as much, and gives me more work flexibility. 
  • Earn $3,000 in side hustle
  • Set monthly pantry or freezer challenges


  • Help Sam transition to college
  • Get Nick through the college application process + SATs & AP tests for both boys
  • Optimize our points, perks, miles, etc, to keep travel costs in check while enjoying travel
  • Plan one fun activity per month with both boys, until Sam leaves for college


  • Stretch 2x/week
  • Lose weight (135 by Sam's graduation)
  • Run 2 half marathons + Hood to Coast
  • Continue to strength train regularly
  • Follow the No S diet


  • Get together with friends 1x/month
  • Practice Farsi 100 times
  • Declutter 500 items from the house (can include papers, etc) 

What about you? What goals do you have for 2024?

Monday, November 27, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 Well, not really, because I leave tomorrow for a very extended trip to Tokyo. But, here's an abbreviated menu plan.

  • Friday - Date night with M. We shared a salad & a French dip, which was fabulous. 
  • Saturday - ground beef tacos/taco salads
  • Sunday - grilled chicken & rice
  • Monday - leftover tacos
Tomorrow, I'll be eaten airplane food, and I've requested the chicken. Let's hope it's not too terrible, although it's always hit or miss due to the way they have to heat it during the flight. Sometimes cold, sometimes really, really overheated. 

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

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Sunday Things

I'm a little sad the long weekend is almost over, but plan to make the most of my day. I got up & went to a workout class this morning, and booked our car rental for our January college tour, so there's two things off of the to do list. 

I was reasonably productive yesterday, and organized my schedule in Japan, created a schedule for M with the kids activities, and spent a few hours in the yard. So many leaves raked! The yard waste bin is now full, which is always a sign I was busy. :-) 

As for today, here's what's on the list:

  • Finish packing for Tokyo
  • Run to CVS & Rite Aid, to use rewards & pick up cold medicine
  • Have Nick try on M's suit, to see if he can wear it for winter formal, or if we need another option
  • Find 20 things to give away on BN, recycle, etc.
  • Have a homework check in with both boys
  • Laundry
  • Work on 2024 goals
  • Rest, because I feel like I'm coming down with the same cold the boys have, and not feeling well on a flight is the worst kind of misery
What about you? What's on your to do list today? 

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Saturday Happenings

The long weekend is going too quickly, and I need to make the most of it! 

Nick & I picked up a few things he needed at Target yesterday, and I was surprised that it wasn't too busy (this was around 2:30), which made things nice. M & I also had a lovely evening, and the boys went to a game together. 

As for today, here's what I'm up to:

  1. Workout class
  2. Plan menu for the week
  3. Pack for upcoming trip. I'm taking my longest ever work trip (includes an over the weekend stay) & I'm dreading it so much. I'll be missing a ton of family time, including three of Nick's soccer games, and I just am not in the mind set for it. It also involves a variety of dress up work meetings, and that plus the duration is going to make packing a huge challenge. We'll see where I net out with it. 
  4. Laundry
  5. Pick up the house
  6. Find ten more items to list on BN
  7. Clean out paperwork tray
  8. Catch up on bills
  9. Sweep the back patio 
  10. Make tacos for dinner
That's it on our side. What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, November 24, 2023

Black Friday

We had such a lovely day yesterday. We all ran in a local turkey trot. Sam was sick, so he was a bit slower than usual, but Nick finished in the top 20 of the race. It always makes me giggle, because the last time he ran a timed run was last year's turkey trot. He was also wearing non running shoes, and his only goal was to beat M. M beat out everyone else in the 50+ division, so he was feeling great about that. I was about 30 seconds slower than last year, but there were a few points where I got stuck behind some slower folks, and it was hard to safely get past. Otherwise, I'd say I was on pace from last year. Always a win.

M grilled delicious steak, and we had mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans (we serve ours with parmesan & toasted almonds), roasted squash, & cranberry sauce. While we were finishing the meal prep, M & I had pomegranate martinis (delicious!) & the teens had sparkling cider. I also made goat cheese crostini, which is a family favorite. This year, I tried a new method, where I left some plain, added very thinly sliced cucumber on top of some, and then drizzled cranberry sauce across the last third. Those were my favorite! The savory plus sweet combination was fabulous.

We don't have a ton of leftovers, but I most certainly had green beans, stuffing & mashed potatoes (with cranberry sauce) for lunch. We make those things almost only ever on Thanksgiving, so they are a nice treat.

M had pumpkin pie (one slice of a Costco pie - that's how much he eats, so I'm not sure why he buys such a big pie!), & the boys & I had cookies. I gave away the rest of the Costco pie on Buy Nothing today, to a neighbor who didn't have leftovers. Glad to avoid waste.

As for today, I went to a hard workout class (much needed, after yesterday), picked up a few discounted gift cards for things we need (Home Depot, Lyft, etc) & bought a few Christmas gifts. 

The boys helped me assemble our artificial tree, and put out our decorations (we limit all of the Christmas decorations - minus outdoor lights) to one plastic tub. That includes our mantle decorations + the tree ornaments & skirt. It comes together pretty quickly. I also wrapped all of the boys gifts. I have a few other gifts that I'll pack in our suitcase for our trip to my parents house at Christmas. 

I took Nick to Target for a few things he needed, did multiple loads of laundry, and also found another 8 things to give away on Buy Nothing. Hurrah! I love getting stuff out of the house.

Finally, M & I are going on a date tonight (dinner). It's always lovely to get the time together.

Hope you've all been having a great week!

Frugal Friday

 It's that time of the year, where there are plenty of "deals". I try & stay focused on buying the things we need for gifts, will use regularly, etc. 

Saving on things we buy

  • I signed up for a Hyatt card, as I've been doing a lot of traveling. I noticed that the points weren't correctly applied to my account, so I spent an hour on the phone, while they discovered that my credit card wasn't tied to the correct account. All fixed now, and I now have two free nights, as well as all of the missing points. We will likely use the free nights when doing college tours. 
  • Took Nick to Chick Fil A, after an evening school soccer game. I avoided getting anything for myself, and used points to get him a free milkshake, dropping the cost for his dinner to under $10. 
  • I used our Amex gift card for a grocery store run. I picked up the Friday freebie (some sort of chip like snack), earned $1.50 through iBotta & various Fetch points. I also bought two Chipotle gift cards (Christmas gifts for the teens) & earned a $20 grocery store gift card. 
  • Went to CVS to use up my $5 award. Nick came with me, as he had a few toiletry items he wanted to pick up. I noticed they had $50 Door Dash gift cards, generating a $10/each reward. I picked up two, as we sparingly use Door Dash, but maybe 2-3x/year, in a pinch after a travel day, etc. I also had a 20% off credit card offer that I saved (maximum $8 off), so all told, I spent $122 ($100 for Door Dash) & earned back $33 between the various rewards. 
  • Bought two Christmas gifts, and used $50 of Nordstrom rewards. 

Earning money

  • I have business class flight upgrades that are expiring, so I've been offering them up to coworkers. I've gotten a bunch of gift cards as thank yous (I don't ask, but people offer them if the upgrade clears, which is very cool). $640 in gift cards earned, and I only have 10 points left that may expire, which is much better than the original 280. 
  • A neighbor needed help moving a bunch of stuff, so Sam went down & helped her & earned $60.
  • I listed a bunch of stuff on eBay, that's been sitting in my eBay pile forever, & already sold an item for $150. 

Avoiding spending

  • I used Starbucks credit (earned from that delayed flight to London) to pick up brunch after a workout class. I also opted into an offer that was available, and earned bonus points. I like the double dip of free money generating additional stars that I can redeem for a drink or something on another occasion.
  • Used a free Hyatt night to cover the cost of a hotel for an upcoming college tour. 
  • Used Hyatt points for two nights for a girls trip, after our half marathon in March. We typically do experiences for birthdays, Mother's Day, etc, so my sister, mom & I are running a half marathon together in Napa, and then will spend a few days relaxing afterward. 

Eating what we have

  • Froze grapes & pineapple guava before they had to be tossed. We have been using them in smoothies.
  • Made myself a quick meal of leftover chicken fajita rice, ahead of Nick's soccer game. I bought him dinner after soccer (9 pm), but saved money myself by eating at home ahead of time. 
  • Used up some very old potatoes & carrots in a chicken stew
  • Frugal fail: didn't check the date of pulled pork M bought at Costco, and it expired before we used it. Drat. We were in a time pinch ahead of a soccer game, so I was able to pull some Trader Joes orange chicken out of the freezer & made that plus cauliflower "fried rice". I added two eggs to the fried rice, to increase the flavor, and because Sam brought a friend over for dinner, and we needed a bit more food. Of course, I later found out that said friend doesn't eat eggs. Oops! 

For others

  • Carpooled to soccer games
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving Eve

I don't think Thanksgiving Eve is really a thing, but it is indeed the day before (US) Thanksgiving. I'm working today, and keeping an eye on a few fires that are burning, some escalations, and a major program we are trying to launch today. I'm also attempting to prep for Monday, where I have an absolute ton of stuff to do & 14 meetings, because I leave for Tokyo on Tuesday, and will then be unavailable for west coast time zone meetings for the majority of my loooooong trip. 

We went to see Nick's 2nd varsity game last night, and he played really well. The other team was aggressive, shall we say, which is Nick's favorite kind of game. He had an assist on the game winning goal, so he was pretty pleased. We got home late, and then he was hungry, so I stayed up to make him a smoothie & do a few chores before bed.

I went to Orange Theory this morning (it's a light meeting week, as most people are out of the office, hurrah!), which was super hard & a great workout. 

I've been giving away a ton of stuff on Buy Nothing. It feels so great to get stuff out of the house! I've probably gotten 40 items out of the house in the last week or so. That always feels great. I listed a few things on eBay, and mailed one of the sales yesterday. Again, wins for getting stuff out of the house!

I've done some Christmas shopping, helped Sam find a few gifts for his girlfriend (he's going with a basket of cuddly/warm items, such as slippers, socks, a blanket, etc.). I picked up gift cards for our family's saran wrap game, and mailed those out to my mom (she's the saran ball maker, and we all contribute gift cards). 

As for the rest of the day, once I finish work, I'll be:

  • Picking up the race packets for our turkey trot 
  • Swinging into the store to get sparkling cider for happy hour tomorrow
  • Searching for my watch charger, which has gone missing
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning the fridge
  • Making dinner
If I get really motivated, I'll review some upcoming travel plans with M, and plan out the weekend ahead. I love a long weekend!

What about you? What are you up to today?

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Approach to the holidays this year

Our holidays have remained the same over the past few years, and we really enjoy our traditions. We typically fly to Portland a few nights early, and my parents meet us at the airport and pick up the teens for an early version of "Nana & Papa Camp - holiday edition". M & I have two nights in a cute location nearby & that's our gift to each other. It's so lovely & relaxing. My sister lives close by, so I'm also hoping we can meet up for a workout on one of the days I'm in town. 

From there, we all head to my parents house (Christmas Eve) & relax & have fun, helping with meal prep. M usually makes prime rib + some sides. We don't exchange gifts, but we do play the Saran wrap game, which is always a lot of fun. Everyone contributes a few gift cards, which makes everything easy. 

When we get home from Christmas, we will head to Lake Tahoe & ski for a few days over New Years - one of Nick's favorite parts of the holidays. 

For Sam in particular this year, his gift list is primarily about things he needs for college: a backpack, a rain jacket (neither of the boys own one) & a winter jacket (also doesn't own this - his thickest "jacket" is a hoodie). We have such moderate weather, but given his current college locations, he will definitely need other jacket options. He also wants cologne, because he's a teen boy. ;-)

Nick's list is similar, although he did ask for 23 & Me, because he's fascinated by it. He has a hoodie, cologne, & pajamas on his list. 

I've wrapped up quite a bit of shopping already, and am looking forward to getting basically everything done before I leave for an extra long trip to Tokyo on Tuesday. 

What about you? Have you evolved your holidays over the past few years? Any fun new (or old) traditions to recommend?

Monday, November 20, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 I'm very excited about Thanksgiving food, as it's one of my favorites. We sub steak in for the turkey, as we are not big turkey fans here. Otherwise, the rest of the meal is pretty traditional. 

  • Friday - it was Nick's first varsity soccer game, and Sam went to dinner with friends. I had leftover chicken fajita rice, and after an incredibly wet game, took Nick to Chick Fil A, where he got a milkshake & chicken tenders. As you do, teen boy.
  • Saturday - chicken stew with bread & salad
  • Sunday - one pot chicken pesto pasta
  • Monday - pulled pork sandwiches
  • Tuesday - leftover chicken stew (late night soccer game)
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken pesto pasta
  • Thursday - Thanksgiving! We are having steak, roasted squash, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes & pumpkin pie
  • Friday - Leftover Thanksgiving side, with some sort of protein added in 
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday things

It's finally stopped raining, so I'm hoping to go for a run this morning. I haven't run outside in a while, so I need to take advantage while I can.

Both of the teens have colds, so hoping not to come down with that before I have to leave for Japan in a week or so. Sam was unexpectedly home, so we ate dinner together, and then he offered to watch a movie with me. If you have/have had teens, you know to embrace these moments. We watched Pitch Perfect, and both enjoyed it. 

I made a delicious stew last night, and would recommend it. It would be even better with a bit of cream added, but I didn't have any. 

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

  • Run
  • Go to CVS, to take advantage of a gift card sale (needed for a gift) & a credit card cash back offer
  • List a bunch of stuff on eBay
  • Clean up old eBay listings
  • I did list a bunch of stuff on BN yesterday (and, cleaned the coat closet!), but discovered a few more bags of items that I need to list.
  • Make a chicken pesto pasta dish
  • Time permitting, make cranberry muffins
  • Nick has tutoring at 1
  • Laundry
What about you? What are you up to today? Hope your Sunday is fabulous!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 It's a very, very wet Saturday here. We always need the rain, so that's a win. I watched Nick's first varsity soccer match yesterday, and we were both soaked. Varsity plays at 7 pm, so we have a lot of "late" nights this season. I'm a total early bird, and usually in bed reading by 9. :-) Nick did get to start (several players are ineligible for another week or so, as they are still playing club soccer), which was exciting for his first outing. They played well, but lost 2-3. 

After that, I took him to Chick Fil A, where I managed to avoid eating anything myself. He had only had breakfast, so powered down a milkshake & 12 piece chicken. Ahhh, to be a teen boy! 

In college updates, Sam got in to one of his top three schools (in Washington), and is thrilled. It's also where my 18 year old nephew goes to school, and is a train ride from my parents house. I think he's unlikely to get a scholarship to this school, so we are estimating cost based on the full tuition. We are still waiting to hear on his top choice school, but that is very much a reach, so we shall see. We are likely still to do the tour of the school where he got the scholarship, so we can at least vet that out as well. I made travel plans for January to tour, as that's when he has an upcoming three day weekend, when students will be in session.

What else is happening today:

  • Meeting a friend for either a hike or brunch. We always do a hike, but the weather is terrible, and our schedules are very, very difficult to coordinate. If it rains, we'll do brunch. If that happens, I'll run on the treadmill, to get in a workout.
  • Go to the store & CVS. I have a few expiring CVS coupons I'd like to use, and I want to pick up a few things at the store that are inexpensive for Thanksgiving.
  • Laundry
  • List 10 items on eBay
  • Clean up old eBay listings, donate a bunch of stuff
  • Clean out my hall closet
  • List 10 items on BN
  • Finalize Thanksgiving menu
  • Make a menu plan for the week
  • Get Christmas ideas for the boys
  • Plan the schedule for next week
  • Make a soup. Haven't figured out which recipe I want to use, but soup sounds amazing. 
What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, November 17, 2023

Frugal Friday

 It's been a whirlwind of a week, but we are here again! It feels like we have some giant/expensive options ahead (college), so sometimes feels a little crazy to look for deals on ground beef & the like, but as many other bloggers have been mentioning, making good choices on a daily basis adds up, even when it doesn't feel like it. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used the Amex gift card at the store to pick up a few things I needed for a recipe. While I was there, picked up the Friday freebie, which was a sparkling water. That only lasted a few minutes at the house. I also bought ground beef for $1.99.
  • I picked up a few Christmas gifts for Nick, and took advantage of a credit card offer (10% cash back), a retailer sale, and Rakuten. The items were also on sale. 

Earning money

  • Sam found out he earned a four year scholarship at one of the schools he applied to. If he ends up going there, it will be worth about $50k, so definitely a big win if it works out. I've built a tracker mapping all of the various school costs & "discounts". Some schools, for example, participate in a tuition exchange for out of state students from California, others have scholarships, etc. It's a huge range in cost, so the spreadsheet will help us make a final determination. In addition to other non-financial factors, of course. 
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, made $45 in cash back via Rakuten.
  • Similarly, bundled all of my Sephora purchases (I'm a lotion & mascara only girl, typically from the drug store, but have also reached an age where I wanted a better face lotion. Let's see if it helps :) to take advantage of a cash back offer from my credit card, saving $13. 
  • Washed Sam's club soccer uniform, and will get $30 back from our club, as part of the turn in program. I'm thrilled to see the uniforms not go to waste. Our old club didn't have a program, and I tried to get them to start one, but there was no interest. Super happy these excellent condition uniforms will get more wear. 

Avoiding spending

  • Sam is not playing spring club soccer this year (first time in 11 years), so I filled out the correct form by the deadline, to ensure we saved on the club fees. We'll be saving $1150. While money wasn't a factor (he wants to have time to do college prep, AP test studying, etc), it will be nice to be able to apply those funds to all of our upcoming college expenses. 

Eating what we have

  • Nothing particularly exciting this week. We ate what was on the meal plan, kept food waste to a minimum, and I finally took the last of the Halloween candy to work, so I'd stop eating it. ;-) 

For others

  • Noticed there was a peer match available during our giving campaign for the local food bank, so I made an additional donation, outside of my yearly plan. It was a 3x match, due to an employer match as well, so felt really good about maximizing that donation. 
  • Donated to the school soccer team, and filled out the match via work as well. 
  • Gave a friend a ride to/from work, when she needed a lift. 
  • Gave away two pair of excellent condition teen jeans on BN. These are hard to find, so I'm thrilled when I can match them with someone who needs them. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Monday, November 13, 2023

Menu Plan Monday

 I'm back to standard menu planning, and attempting to get into the groove at home. 

  • Friday - I believe M & the kids had burgers, but I sat groggily at the table post my flight & had nothing. Everyone teased me, as my comments indicated that I was beyond tired & made minimal sense. :-)  
  • Saturday - One pan Mexican chicken and rice
  • Sunday - Korean beef rice bowls
  • Monday - pulled pork sliders + salad
  • Tuesday - leftover Mexican chicken & rice
  • Wednesday - leftover Korean beef rice bowls
  • Thursday - leftover sliders
  • Friday - TBD, based on who happens to be home for dinner. Likely pizza.

What's on your menu for the week? Any good recipes to share? 

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Sunday Things

 I did make it to my workout class yesterday (I was really not excited about it), and it gave me a lot of energy. I guess past me knew what she was doing, booking that class. ;-) I have another class this morning, so hopefully it will also help, as I've been up since four.

I went to Nick's soccer yesterday afternoon, and then Sam had a bonus final game. It was at 8 pm, an hour away, so I knew I wouldn't be able to stay awake for it. Instead, Nick went to see Sam's last game, and ended up playing as well, as they needed extra players. Glad Sam's final hurrah was a fun event for both brothers. 

Sam found out he got an academic scholarship at one of the schools he's been accepted to, so we're now looking to try & book a tour at that college - likely in January. It's a few hours from where my nephew works, so if possible, it would be fun to also see him. M will likely take Nick skiing, as it's a three day weekend for the boys.

I have a giant list of things to do today, unsurprisingly.

  • Workout class
  • Help Sam with another essay a college asked for, as a follow up. 
  • Nick has calculus tutoring
  • Mail birthday cards for my mom (the boys were supposed to do this last week, as her birthday is tomorrow)
  • Laundry
  • Make Korean Beef Bowls for dinner. M will make rice, because his rice is outstanding.
  • Do a homework review with both boys
  • Build my 2024 Christmas tracker (spreadsheet where I track gifts, ideas & budget)
  • Fill out missing property claim forms. I found about $50 in my name, but no idea where I'll find proof of identity for an address 20 years ago.
  • Dice/freeze pineapple guava, gifted from a neighbor
  • Schedule for the week
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today?

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Saturday Happenings

 First off, all of the jet lag. I didn't sleep at all on the flight home (not unusual), got home around 5:45 & then hung out with everyone until around 6:45, where I went to bed. My goal was to sleep 12 hours, if at all possible. I slept until 2 am, which was non ideal. ;-) I dozed on & off & was officially up at 6, because my back was killing me. 

I'm woefully behind my preparations for the week, and my standard planning. Aside from the fact that I woke up this morning to a work crisis, and needed to resolve that for the first hour. What a special treat that was. 

Flight home was uneventful. I watched all three Pitch Perfect movies, along with the most recent James Bond movie. Read a bit, worked, & then we landed. They've added a new immigration option in SFO (may be available elsewhere in the US), where you just walk over to a camera & it scans your face. If you have Global Entry, you are immediately admitted. The same was available in the UK. This was a huge game changer, and saved at least 45 minutes when entering the UK, and probably 10 minutes when entering the US, as even the Global Entry line often has quite a queue.

I'm truly exhausted today, so hopefully I'll "wake up" a bit, and then get a few things done. Here's what's on the list.

  • Work out class. I didn't work out nearly at the intensity or duration I liked in London (jet lag, meeting timing, etc), so I need it. Despite really not feeling like it.
  • Attend Nick's soccer game.
  • Help Sam with some college application follow ups. Decide on tours.
  • Review homework with both boys.
  • Unpack
  • Laundry
  • Make a menu plan
  • Make a shopping list, M will likely go to Costco, I'll go to the local shop + Trader Joes
  • Work on my schedule for next week, which promises to be crazy, as I'm behind in all aspects of l ife
What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, November 10, 2023

Frugal Friday


Saving on things we buy

  • I used a business class upgrade (free, from my travel status) & it cleared for the return London flight. My work cap covered business just one way. Business on the return flight makes a huge difference in resting. (I usually can't sleep, but business class allows you to fully recline.) 
  • My flight out on Sunday was quite late (oh, what a treat!), and I had lounge access thanks to my business class flight. United offered meal vouchers, but I didn't need any more food. Instead, I did a bit of internet research, and you can use those vouchers almost anywhere. (Not just at the airport.) To make things easier, I added them to my Starbucks app. $60 isn't exactly worth hanging out at the airport all day, but it's better than wasting them. 

Earning money

  • Earned a $1,000 bonus at work, which was a nice surprise. Senior folks don't often get ad hoc bonuses, so it was unusual. 

Avoiding spending

  • Let Nick use my Amex gift card to pick up snacks he wanted at Trader Joes. In case you are wondering what a 16 year old might like there, he chose: three packages of mini cucumbers, chocolate milk, & some sort of ciabatta buns. :)
  • When we realized neither teen would be home for dinner on Saturday, used the same Amex gift card to pay for a date night. We had such a great time, and bonus points for it being unexpected. M was planning to grill burgers, so he shifted those to Sunday night. 
  • I spent $0 out of pocket on my work trip. 

Eating what we have

  • Honestly, I can't remember on Friday. On Saturday, we ate out (with a gift card) & I was traveling the rest of the week. I'm unsure what M & the teens ate. 

For others

  • We are doing a donation event at work, so I made my payroll donation & clicked through to receive the match.
What about you? Any wins to share?

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Sunday Things

 It's a travel day, so that's looming over me, but I want to maximize my free time as much as possible. 

M & I had an unexpected evening with no one home for dinner (with teens, on the weekend, that is quite often the case). We opted to go out for dinner, and had such a fabulous time. That time to catch up & chat is really priceless, particularly as we are in such a busy season of life.

For a mixed bag of reasons, yesterday was a little emotional for me. Sam's last soccer game (they won, 3-0), Nick's SATs (reminding me that college is also looming for him) & Sam got his first college acceptance. Really driving home that he will be gone next year. All of the milestones! We've felt so lucky having two kids so close in age (well, once we got past ages 2-3, I don't recommend the sleep deprivation of those early days.) It also means that we will have back to back college departures. I've obviously known this was coming for a while, but it sometimes feels more real, like yesterday. 

On to today. I don't know that I can muster up enough energy to clean the house, and may either do a super fast clean up to get us through until next week, or see if the cleaning lady we used to use is available while I'm gone. It's an option I give myself when I'm traveling for work. 

Other goals for today:

  • Workout class
  • Have everyone write birthday cards for my mom, so we can get those sent out.
  • Write up fitness summary & share out. My mom, sister & I are doing a half marathon together, & I'm kicking off our training plan.
  • Finish last minute packing
  • Wrap up some work
  • Finish the budgeting tasks that didn't get done yesterday
  • Review the schedule for the week with the boys
  • Nick has calculus tutoring, and I need to remember to pay the tutor before I take off
  • Getting a ride to the airport around 2 pm
What about you? What are you up to today? For those of you who are empty nesters, were there any particular milestones that hit you harder than others? 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Saturday Happenings

Today feels a lot like Sunday, as I'm leaving for SFO tomorrow around 2 pm for my flight to London. We have a busy day at our house, and plenty to do as usual. I need to be extra productive, given tomorrow's schedule.

  • Nick is taking the SATs, and needs to be up soon. I'll make sure he has all of his required items, as sleepy teens are not the most reliable.
  • Sam also needs to be up early, as he has an early soccer game. Small chance he will have another game next weekend. Otherwise, this will be the last soccer game I ever watch of Sam's. I'm a little emotional. :-) It's been eleven years of lots & lots & LOTS of soccer. I will miss it. 
  • Run before Sam's game.
  • Finish packing
  • Follow up with Sam's tutor.
  • Help Sam with college application stuff. All applications are submitted, but there is a lot of chasing: missing SAT scores, missing transcripts, creating logins with various schools, etc. Multiple systems are involved in getting everything sent, and despite us having done everything by all of the proper deadlines, the systems don't always work seamlessly. 
  • Catch up on bill paying, as I'm out next week.
  • Laundry, my constant companion.
  • Clean the fridge.
  • Nick has tennis volunteering.
  • Review upcoming assignments with both boys.
  • Get back to a couple of friends about upcoming plans.
  • Schedule workout classes through the rest of November.
That's it for me. What about you? What's happening at your house this weekend?

Friday, November 3, 2023

Frugal Friday

I really don't feel like we're being all that frugal these weeks (paying for SAT scores to be sent, & college applications & feeding two teen boys ;-)), but it's nice to remind myself of the small wins we do have.

Saving on things we buy

  • We have an Alaska Air credit card, and they were having a cash back offer for in flight purchases (meals, snacks, etc). We were planning to pre-order food for our flight to Hawaii, so I made sure to save the credit card offer, and confirmed that we received our cash back. It saved $5. 
  • Uploaded our receipts to Fetch. This is a slow process, as we rarely buy the special items, but it only takes a few seconds to submit the receipts. 
  • We get a small reimbursement for personal development at work. This can include lessons, foreign language classes, learning a new skill, etc. I submitted my pickleball lessons from our most recent vacation, and should get a bit back on that. I submit my gym membership each month, and get about $40 back, which is a nice offset to the cost. 
  • Picked up more of Nick's juice for smoothies, which had a new iBotta offer, saving $3.25. I used our Amex gift card to get our groceries, which included ingredients for guacamole, chicken broth, oat milk, & the juice. 
  • Combined a 20% credit card cash back offer with a 25% coupon I received to place a clothing order. I was surprised to see that both worked. I don't know if I'll like the two jackets I ordered, but if I do, they will be at near half off, particularly as I also ordered via Rakuten, to save another 2%. 

Earning money

  • Nothing this week

Avoiding spending

  • I'm staying at a hotel in London that is more expensive than allowed in our work system. (It has a gym, room service, but more walking distance to the office during a week that there are expected to be several protests near my office, which could otherwise disrupt transit). I have to pay out of pocket for the difference between our allowed amount, & this hotel's total. I'm not sure how this hotel dropped off the list, as it's always been where I've stayed. Regardless, using my own hotel points to offset the difference, thus saving myself the need to reimburse the company any actual cash for the overage. 

Eating what we have

  • The goal of the past few weeks has really been "avoiding takeout" vs trying to be super frugal about food costs overall. We're in a very busy season with everyone, so I'm working on not letting perfect be the enemy of good, or whatever that phrase is. 
  • I made gyros (meat from Costco, which is good in a pinch) for dinner, and served with feta leftover from a chicken shawarma recipe. Also used mini cucumbers & tomatoes. I thought we had tzatziki sauce, but my parents must have finished it all off when they were visiting. They were a little dry, but otherwise delicious. We enjoy the Trader Joes naan bread, and the boys like to make grilled cheese sandwiches out of the leftovers. 
  • I also pulled taco meat out of the freezer, and we had that for two dinners as well. 

For others

  • Dropped off banana bread for our elderly across the street neighbor
  • Gave away a bunch of stuff on Buy Nothing
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November Goals

 Another month is here! I have one international work trip to London to work around, and have factored in accordingly. Here are my goals for the month!


  • Stick to our budget
  • Use three "hard to use" freezer or pantry items
  • Work on college funding plans

  • One fun activity with each teen
  • Have two meetings with each teen
  • Help Nick with his list of potential college/tours
  • Finish remaining college applications
  • Finalize Thanksgiving & ski plans
  • Work on plans for Sam's senior trip
  • Deep clean one item/area in the house
  • Start new training plan for Napa Half
  • Run 40 miles
  • Follow the No S diet
  • Maintain my diet & fitness plans during my work trip
  • Complete 10 strength training workouts
  • Lose 2 lbs
  • Clean up the garden
  • Start learning Farsi
  • Do something social with friends
  • Give away 20 items on Buy Nothing
  • Try a new recipe

What about you? Do you have any goals for November?