Monday, July 22, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 Another week, and another menu plan. Hopefully I have more success than last week, as I ended up pushing a bunch of stuff to this week, and M & the boys ordered pizza while I was gone. ;-) 

  • Friday - ravioli & meatballs, topped with lots of fresh garden tomatoes
  • Saturday - chicken alfredo (pushed from last week)
  • Sunday - grilled burgers
  • Monday - leftover chicken alfredo
  • Tuesday - chicken & rice dish (pushed from last week
  • Wednesday - leftover burgers
  • Thursday - leftover chicken & rice dish
  • Friday - heading to Portland for Sam's orientation, so something at the airport
What's on your menu this week? Any fun new additions? Favorite recipe for freshly grown tomatoes? We're having lots of caprese salads, but I'm open to other options!

Sunday, July 21, 2024

Sunday things

 I'm late to post, but it was a good & productive day. I went to my workout class this morning, & got through the running portion with no pain. Hurrah! I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and am hoping to get the all clear to finish training for my relay in four weeks. Fingers crossed.

I'm also teaching Sam how to do his own laundry. He's worked his way through sheets (and, bed making) & is now into clothing separation, emptying the dryer lint trap & clothes folding. It's a journey. ;-) Let's hope all of our clothing survives the process. 

Both teens washed their cars, while M washed our car. 

Sam took his college placement math test today, and scored 98, so he can register for Differential Calculus as his first math class, which means not repeating Trigonometry (he took it in high school), so he's pleased about that. 

Nick volunteered this morning, and we are preparing some sort of family night + gift for him, as he's receiving the President's Volunteer Service Award for completing 175+ hours of volunteering. Normally, volunteers get a banquet or celebration through their service organization, but Nick volunteers for an entirely teen run & led organization, so... organizing that type of thing isn't their jam. ;-) He's also working on college essays today, which is, shall we say, not his favorite way to spend a sunny Sunday.

I worked in the yard, read by the pool, listed a few things on By Nothing, cleaned out our incoming mail tray, iced my hip, ordered college supplies (to be shipped to my sister, so we don't have to move everything), & I'm getting ready to make a caprese salad to go with the burgers M is grilling.

I know our days of all four of us being around our fleeting, and I'm making the most of it! Happy Sunday, everyone. 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

A last minute trip

 First up, it's been a lovely & very busy summer. I'm trying to take advantage of my very flexible schedule, and "say yes" to more things at the moment. Particularly things I can't do when I'm employed. 

My nephew & I were very intrigued by the Mirage closing (a Las Vegas casino) & their corresponding mandatory payout of all of their slot machines. We chatted about what a fun spectacle it would be to see on Friday, laughed about it on Saturday, & then booked flights that afternoon. I had two free room offers (paid $120 in resort fees for my nephew's room). My room was at the Encore, he was at the Cosmopolitan. He covered his flight, which I believe was just over $100 (he was coming from Phoenix). I used my never ending pile of United credits, and magically got upgraded to first class both ways - bonus!

We flew out on Monday & came back on Wednesday. We had an absolutely fabulous time. The execution at the Mirage of their slot payouts was...not what I would have done, had I been them. I've done plenty of slot tournaments, and typically you get entered after spending X, or playing for Y period of time. They had no requirements that you actually had to play at any point. Your players card just needed to be in the machine at the time of the drawings. As a result, their slot machines were all taken by early morning for a 3 pm drawing. Most of their machines were already offline, and the limited ones available were taken by people who were working on laptops, ordering DoorDash, and saving machines. I didn't see a single person playing slots at any time while we were there. It was madness. We got there hours early & decided we would watch some of the craziness, & then headed over to play a bit of blackjack & pick up some commemorative $1 chips. The Mirage was the first hotel I stayed at when I went to Las Vegas many, many years ago.

I suppose you can say that the Mirage truly was a spectacle, just not in the way we were expecting. We had the best time. Great meals, so much laughing, plenty of free champagne at the hotel I was staying at, and just all of that unexpected bonus time together. It's so fun to have an adult nephew who is up for last minute trips. 

The NBA was also hosting their summer league, so there was also some celebrity spotting available. In a truly, "I feel old" moment, I got into an elevator at the same time as another young man. When we got in, another guest in the elevator asked how tall my "son" was. My "son" snorted & explained that he was 7' tall. The guest asked if he played in the NBA (he does) & then we all chatted for a few moments. I looked up the NBA player, and he's 25, so I suppose it's totally possible he could be my child. I can't imagine having a son who is 7' tall! I've never seen so many incredibly tall people all at one time. They were pretty easy to spot, even discounting their team shirts. That height is hard to miss!

10/10, would definitely do it again! What was the last impromptu decision you made that led to something really fun? 

Friday, July 19, 2024

Frugal Friday - a quick one

I was out of town unexpectedly for part of the week (more on that in another post), so I didn't do my normal process of tracking things throughout the week. Meaning, I'm having a hard time coming up with any wins this week! A few that are top of mind.

Saving on things we buy:

  • I used a $5 grocery store rewards to pick up some Gatorade. My stomach felt terrible yesterday, and Gatorade sounded fantastic.
  • Similarly, I had soup delivered, which is a huge indulgence, but luckily I had credit card rewards to cover all of it but $1. I ate the last of my chicken soup a few weeks ago, in a freezer clean out. Because it's been so warm, I haven't made more, but maybe I should remedy that & avoid future splurges. 
Earning money:
  • The teens are working at their summer job, and Nick picked up some after camp hours, which pays extra. College money!

Avoiding spending:
  • The teens made a cake for a friend's birthday, vs buying. Of course, they "cleaned up" the kitchen, but it required just a bit more work to get it back into shape. ;-) 
Eating what we have:
  • We have A LOT of tomatoes from the garden. We are all doing our part eating as much as we can. They are incredible, as garden tomatoes tend to be.
  • A friend dropped off two giant bags of plums from their tree. I shared some with another neighbor, and we are still working our way through the last of those.
  • I made Sam a sandwich for lunch to take to work. 
  • We had a combo of items for dinner last night: teens had chicken sandwiches, M had shrimp & I had leftover soup.
For others:
  • Did some research for my student I'm mentoring, & got that sent off to her.
What about you? Any wins to share this week?

Monday, July 15, 2024

Menu Plan Monday


I took requests from each of the teens for the menu this week. Normally, no one has any ideas, but this week, everyone had a suggestion. Hurrah for crowd sourcing part of the planning!

  • Friday - grilled chicken salads
  • Saturday - chicken with rice & buttered onions
  • Sunday - ravioli/pasta & meatballs + garlic bread
  • Monday - ground beef tacos
  • Tuesday - chicken alfredo
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken with rice
  • Thursday - leftover ravioli & meatballs
  • Friday - leftover chicken alfredo
What about you? What's on your menu this week? Do you poll your diners for suggestions? Does anyone actually give you ideas? :-) 

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Saturday Things

It's supposed to be a bit cooler today, and then head back into the 70s next week. I'm thrilled about this. High 70s is perfect summer weather for me - cool enough to be able to work in the yard, be outside for any number of activities, & no need for AC. Plus, still feels like summer, garden still grows, you can wear dresses or shorts, but are not sticky hot. Woohoo! The bay area has had 2 weeks of a heat wave, so I'm definitely ready to move on from that!

Sam & I made quite a bit of college progress yesterday. We reviewed some of his to dos, talked about what we still need to buy for the dorms, and we had a couple of our "talks". I have a list of topics to talk about with both boys before they move out. He is a wonderful & patient kid, and even though he is 100% opposed to drugs & alcohol (and, requested the substance free dorm), he listened to my talk about fetanyl, and also how to be on the lookout to take care of other friends, should they choose to drink. He's decided to re-take the math placement test, as he needs to score a couple of points higher to enter at the math level he'd like to be at. He did no studying for the first test, so should be able to improve his score slightly.

I had a recruiting call for a job I applied to yesterday. I wasn't sure about the job, but after the discussion, I'm definitely interested. I give it a 10% chance of panning out into an actual job offer, but I'm happy to have had the chance to learn more about the role, and also to have the opportunity to think more about what I would want from future roles. 

As for today:

  • Meeting a friend for a walk. Still trying to rest my hip, so this should be low impact. I'm excited to catch up with this friend, as she moved to Boulder, and is just in town for a short period of time.
  • Help Nick with essays.
  • Continue working on college stuff with Sam.
  • Daily chores: meditate, Farsi, journal
  • Work in the yard, and help M figure out how to keep the squirrels & rabbits out of our garden. Yesterday they somehow managed to pull an enormous butternut squash off of the vine! I need to set up a video, because I'm fascinated to know how they did it. They must have worked as a team!
  • Pickle jalapenos. The critters do not like the spicy things, so I have a huge abundance of peppers, who have been loving this heat wave.
  • If no one will be home for dinner, date with M. It's always a mystery to know if any teens will be home. Often none. Sometimes one or both, sometimes they bring a friend. Planning meals here is an adventure. ;-) 
  • Apply to a couple of jobs.
  • Stretch & ice my hip
What about you? What are you up to today?

Friday, July 12, 2024

Frugal Friday

Recapping the second half of our Lake Tahoe trip, as well as the rest of the week. 

Saving on things we buy

  • We'd planned on a nicer dinner on the way to Lake Tahoe, but Nick got off of work late, and the traffic was a hot mess (emphasis on hot, as it was 110 for a lot of the drive). We stopped for gas at Costco, and the boys decided a Costco food court dinner would be fine. Unfortunately, this was one of the rare Costco's near us with an outdoor food court. Very much not fun given the heat, but we all ate quickly & got back into the car. Also, dinner for five (including 3 teens) for under $25. 
  • I used a couple of free offers at the grocery store (free avocado & some sort of free soda), as well as two iBotta offers on Tyson chicken. I bought four packages of chicken tenders (great to have on hand when we have unexpected teens over for dinner). Two of the packages were the largest/family sized portions, and two were the smaller sized. I saved $22 from iBotta, on a purchase of $64. Other things I purchased: two Gatorades for Nick this week (still supposed to be 90+, and he's working outside), brioche hamburger & hot dog buns, two containers of juice to make smoothies, a bunch of parsley, & green onions. 

Earning money

  • Completed a few survey screens, and qualified for two health care surveys. Once paid, they will pay out $80.
  • Completed a financial plan through my broker, for a $25 reward. 

Avoiding spending

  • Used Starbucks rewards to buy myself a free coffee at the hotel. 
  • The boys each passed various AP exams, which for Sam translates into 12 credits as OSU. Nick isn't sure where he will be next year, but is also likely to earn 12 credits from the school he attends. This also means that Sam isn't registering as a freshman with no credit, so will have a slight priority over other freshman (with no credits) when he registers for classes in a few weeks. Graduating in 4 years would be extremely frugal. 

Eating what we have

  • Brought snacks for Nick & his friends to have in the hotel room, which is always cheaper than buying at the hotel shop or going out. 
  • We've been eating plenty of our garden produce, and I'm thrilled to finally have strawberries! And tomatoes. Both of those are incredible fresh, and so much less so when purchased from a store. 
  • Used up the rest of the bag of frozen cranberries in muffins.
  • Inspired by my cranberry muffins & freezer progress, I defrosted all of the overly ripe bananas & made a double batch of banana muffins.
  • Remembered that I bought a bag of buffalo chicken flavored meatballs way back, & haven't used them. Added them as the protein to my lunch salad.
  • I'm making good progress on my goal of avoiding bagged salad kits, and making my own salads at home. The nicer dressing & sunflower seeds definitely help with this. I've been adding tomatoes & peppers from the garden. 

For others 

  • Had another call with the student I'm mentoring for the college counseling program, and wrote up my monthly progress reports for the same program. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, July 11, 2024

What is your most common grocery splurge

Just for fun, as I was thinking about this myself yesterday. I'd say our two most commonly purchased grocery items that are not part of a menu plan are.... Persian cucumbers from Trader Joes, and sparkling water. 

Nick eats cucumber every day, if we have it. He loves it with salt, or hummus. He can go through a package of the TJ's cucumbers in one sitting, so it can add up. There is a TJs in the same complex as my workout studio, so I pick him up fresh cucumbers regularly. Sometimes 2x/week. We've had mixed success growing cucumbers in our garden, as a temporary replacement... I'd say we spend $10/week on cucumbers, which is nuts. We would cut that out if we needed to, and some weeks the cucumbers don't look good, and/or I forget to run out & restock. But, I like that his favorite food is a healthy snack, so I do keep them on hand often. Whenever he visits family, they always have a to of cucumber for him. ;-)

Our second splurge is sparkling flavored water (bubly, La Croix, etc). We buy it on sale & stock up when it's at a good discount, but it's still quite pricey. I treat myself to one every day after my workout. I got into this type of drink at work (they were free), so it's my treat to myself to keep them at home. Unfortunately, the teens also love them, so they will definitely go through them frequently, especially in the hot weather. I tend to spend about $6/week on the sparkling water, and again, would/could cut it out if we needed to.

What about you? What's your most frequent "splurge" or regular purchase at the grocery store? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Wednesday happenings

Sam is off of work this week, so we are trying to get some college stuff done. Yesterday he wrote all of his thank you notes for graduation, and then uploaded his ID & photos to the college, got his AP scores sent in & verified that his high school sent his transcript. He needs to take his math placement test today. He's opting out of the language placement test, and will be taking Spanish. He's had three years of Spanish, but some of that was middle school, and a lot of it during COVID on Zoom calls, so I do think a refresher will be valuable, and he'd be very unlikely to place out of the college classes. I also ordered him some dorm supplies (mattress topper, sheet set, comforter & towel set). Those are all being sent to my sister, to make logistics easier. 

In exciting news, Sam & Nick both did really well on their AP tests, so Sam will earn 12 credits from OSU for those tests. That will help a lot with registration timing (he gets to register ahead of a freshman with no credits), as well as saving some money. We don't know where Nick will end up, but I estimated using OSU's AP information and Nick would earn 12 credits if he attended OSU. All colleges handle the tests slightly different but passing the AP calculus test will save him a year of math for sure. 

I've got either a strain or a tear in my hip flexor, and need to avoid running for at least a week (combined with lots of icing & rest). I'm not great at mandatory workout breaks, but I also know that my relay is coming up in six weeks, and I need to take this seriously to avoid further problems. I had to stop in the middle of a run yesterday, because the pain was really intense. 

I made this baked zucchini dish twice this week, and it's delicious. Highly recommend, if you have surplus garden zucchini. 

Here's what's on the list today:

  • Walk (hopefully that won't bother my hip, but I'm not planning to go very far). Drop off thank you notes at the mail box.
  • Ice my hip
  • Prep for volunteer call
  • Prep for recruiting call on Friday
  • Get Sam to take his math placement test
  • Laundry
  • Daily chores (Farsi, journal, meditate)
  • Work in the yard before it gets too hot
  • Pay a bill for special needs aunt & get reimbursed (this is an ongoing problem that we are trying to resolve, unsuccessfully, as we set everything up for auto bill pay, and it keeps getting rejected)
  • Read by the pool
  • Dust
What about you? What are you up to today? 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Menu Plan Monday


  • Friday - We were super late getting the teens picked up from a golfing event, so we didn't end up having dinner. M & I had a cocktail & snack earlier in the day, and the teens ended up grabbing Subway. 
  • Saturday - everyone was really hungry for lunch on Saturday (skipped dinner on Friday), so we stopped on the drive & ate at Old Spaghetti Factory. It was the perfect place to serve teens. We had those leftovers for dinner. I served M's & Nick's with leftover meatballs that needed to be used up. 
  • Sunday - steak with chimichurri sauce & zucchini fritters (using up garden items, minus the steak ;-)
  • Monday - hot dogs (freezer) & fruit salad
  • Tuesday - carnitas (freezer) tacos/taco salads
  • Wednesday - chicken fajitas (freezer). I think this might be the last of the fajitas we froze. We made a triple batch when my parents were in town (we were feeding seven people & expected their to be leftovers, but.... it's been a ton!) 
  • Thursday - leftover carnitas
  • Friday - wings & potstickers. Or, any remaining leftovers
What's on your menu for the week? 

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Sunday Happenings

We had an absolutely fantastic time in Lake Tahoe. We left on Wednesday, as soon as Nick got home from work. Sam stayed by himself for the first time ever, which definitely made me nervous. He ended up staying with a friend on Thursday night, as the friend's parent was giving the boys a ride to the airport. He's been in LA for the weekend, for his senior trip. So far, it sounds like the boys are having a good time. Nick is picking them up from the airport this evening.

The drive took quite a while, and we stopped and ate at a Costco along the way. We were planning on an actual dinner, but everyone was in a hurry to get off the road & get checked into the hotel. The boys golfed on Thursday & Friday, went on a huge hike on Friday, we all went to the 4th of July party at the hotel, & saw the fireworks. M & I had some lovely dinners out, & really just enjoyed our time together. The three teens absolutely cracked us up on the drives to & from. We are all caught up on teen lingo. ;-) 

After dropping the other boys off last night, we got home around 5:30. Luckily, the drive was pretty easy. We stopped for lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory around the halfway point, which was a perfect spot to feed hungry teens. Nick & I had our leftovers for dinner last night, as I was really not in the mood to cook. I caught up on laundry, watered our plants & made a huge salad. I was also finally able to pick a bunch of strawberries, before the squirrels cold get to them. Hurrah! We can't get our peppers to grow very big. They always go bad if we leave them on the vine to get bigger, so we pick them when they are smallish. They taste the same regardless, but it would be nice if they were a little closer to regular size.

Anyway, on to today. I'm very tired, as I was up late doing chores & laundry & didn't get to sleep until 11. (That's crazy late for me.) I had several nights like that in Lake Tahoe as well, so I'm feeling sleep deprived. I would love to be in bed early tonight, but Sam's flight gets in at 10 pm, so I know I won't fall asleep until the boys are both safely home.

  • Work out (morning workout class)
  • Stretch
  • Daily chores (meditate, Farsi lesson, journal)
  • Laundry
  • Make chimichurri sauce, to go with the steak M is grilling
  • Make zucchini fritters (shred zucchini)
  • Work in the yard
  • Prepare for an interview. I applied for a job a few weeks ago, and was pretty interested, but never heard back. While I was in Lake Tahoe, I dug around in my spam email, looking for an email from the local casino. Turns out there was an email from the recruiter for that job! I was so embarrassed - three weeks had gone by. 
  • Go to the store for a few ingredients
  • Write out schedule for the week
  • Go to the store
  • Stop by the hardware store to look for an owl statue. We need to keep the rabbits out of the raised beds. They are killing me. Note the nibbles on my zucchini. They actually pulled it off the vine, & maybe planned to drag it somewhere & eat it. But, it was too heavy for them to get out of the bed. .. We have a bunch of netting around the plants, & that's working to keep the squirrels & birds largely away, but the rabbits are definitely more creative than I gave them credit for.
That's it on my side. Is anyone making any fun recipes with items from their garden? 

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Lake Tahoe in the summer

 It's gorgeous! We've had a fabulous time. Nick & friends have been golfing & hiking. M & I have been exploring the town, catching up, working out & just having a great & relaxing time.

Sam is on his senior trip with friends (at an anime expo ;-)), and is also having a great time! We miss him, but this was the only weekend they could all make it work.

A few photos. 

Hope you are all having a great weekend!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Frugal Friday - the travel edition

Traveling is rarely frugal, but here are a few wins we collected along the way. We were at Sam's graduation trip, then home briefly, and then on a long weekend to Las Vegas, to celebrate M's birthday. And finally, in Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July. Yes, this is an unusually busy few weeks, so I'm combining two weeks into one. 

Saving on things we buy

  • We knew our trip to SFO would be expensive, but it allowed us to use our United credits (and, four flights more than outweighed the cost of transportation to SFO). We priced the difference between Lyft & Uber and Lyft was much less. I also had a very small credit card reward for using Lyft. We chose the least expensive ride option out of the bunch. 
  • On the way back (we flew into San Jose, which is much closer), we again priced out the difference, & Lyft was again the cheapest. We selected that option and got another small credit card reward. For our trip to Las Vegas, parking at the airport was by far the cheaper option, so we went that route. When the boys flew in, we were able to pick them up (free is best when available!)
  • We used a Priority Pass $56 credit on dinner at the airport on Friday. It was still very expensive, but $56 less than it would have been.

Earning money

  • I earned $560 in dividends on a stock I own, and transferred that over to my savings account. 

Avoiding spending

  • I got a free snack box & drinks on the flight to Portland, but didn't need it after my meal, so I brought my snack box to the boys seats & they enjoyed the treats. 
  • M & I got upgraded to nicer seats on the way home from Portland. We could have gotten free drinks, but the plane didn't receive any catering, so.... :-) Our seats were slightly roomier, which is always a win. 
  • I've been wanting to try a pair of trail running shoes, as I do a lot of weekend running on trails, but only own road running shoes. I found a new pair on Buy Nothing, and picked those up & will try them out. 

Eating what we have

  • After getting back from the airport on Sunday (flight was delayed), I was tempted to order takeout. Instead, I picked a bunch of veggies from the garden, and made a salad, and we had that with baked chicken (freezer). I had a pear to go with mine, as I'm trying to eat up all of the fruit still in the fridge. 
  • M bought a large container of mozzarella balls in olive oil, so I've been working to use those up. We had caprese salad with dinner on Monday, which used up the tomatoes & a bunch of garden basil. For the second meal (Tuesday), I cut up the mozzarella & basil & used it with overly ripe nectarines from the fruit drawer. 
  • Defrosted hot dogs for another dinner, and found a container of chicken stew in the freezer, which I had for a lunch. 
  • In the "using up freezer meals" vein, we also had several meals of the leftover chicken fajitas (frozen from my parents visit), as well as tacos. 
  • I really, really wanted to order takeout for lunch one day, which is just kind of nuts, since we had food in the house. I'm very proud of myself for digging through the yucky lettuce bits, trimming up all of the romaine (and saving the rest to make future salads easier) & making a taco salad with dinner leftovers. Bonus: I got to enjoy a garden tomato on my salad, and those are delicious!

For others

  • Continued volunteering for my college counseling role. 
Not exactly sure which bucket this one falls into, but M had about ~$2k worth of British Airways miles expiring, and we have no plans to take a British Airways flight at the moment. Instead, we researched how to extend the expiration of these miles, and found that British Airways have a shopping portal you can use to earn miles (which, resets the expiration of your account). I bought a pair of workout pants that I needed, which will keep these alive for at least another year. And, since I had no idea these points existed (an old credit card he had), I've now added them to our tracker, so we know about them & aren't caught off guard next time. I also used a credit card cash back offer for the purchase of the workout pants, which will save me another $10. 

What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

July Goals

 Here are my goals for the month! I'm looking forward to spending time with the boys in July, and then heading to Portland at the end of the month for my special needs aunt's big birthday party (70), followed by Sam's college orientation & registration.


  • Sort out tuition payment/timing
  • Figure out what to do with M's expiring BA miles
  • Sort out a plan with United credits (goal plan + backup plan, as his mom's availability to travel will be limited & likely down to the wire)
  • Freezer challenge: use up remaining bag of cranberries + bananas
  • Have a great 4th of July with Nick & a friend in Lake Tahoe
  • Help Nick edit draft college essays & work on new ones
  • Get Sam set up for his solo senior trip (show him how to install airline app, activate credit card, use Uber, etc.) This will all be useful before heading off to college
  • Plan one fun family activity + days for my nephew to visit
  • Finalize legs for relay (me + Sam)
  • 70 miles of running, including some longer runs for relay prep
  • Stretch 12 times
  • 12 strength workouts
  • Follow the No S diet 15 days
  • Meditate 20 times
  • Get together with friends
  • Practice Farsi 20 times
  • Declutter 25 items (I've done so much, the goals have to get smaller this far into the year)
  • Continue exploring jobs
  • Spend time on volunteer role
What about you? Have you set any goals for July? Any top priorities for the month?

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

June goals - how did I do?

 The summer is going by really quickly. I'm more of it than usual, given the countdown for Sam leaving for college is on. I'm not ready! 

Here's how I did with my goals for the month:


  • Create revised 2024 budget, & estimate taxes owed from severance - done
  • Earn $300 in side hustle - $224/300
  • Monthly pantry/freezer challenge: use up fish sticks & bag of cranberries - I've used up a bunch of freezer items, & most of the bag of cranberries, but some remain. Overall, I'm pleased with the state of the freezer, as we had a lot of leftovers at the start of the month, and have whittled them down.
  • Work on plan for United credits - need to roll this over to July, with a better plan
  • Help Sam with college roommate assignments - done
  • Spend a week with Nick on college prep - done, but we have a bunch more work to do. Nick wants to apply to a lot of colleges, many with their own essay requirements
  • Enjoy all of our June fun: Sam's graduation, time with my parents, Sam's party & our long weekend in Las Vegas - We had a fantastic month, with so many celebrations!
  • Finalize the rest of our summer plans - yes!
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - We've had multiple corn hole matches
  • 10 stretching workouts - I did more than usual this month, as I've had a lot of hip tightness I'm trying to work through = 13/10
  • Lose 3 lbs - no progress. I did okay towards the end of the month, but a long weekend in Las Vegas meant many fabulous meals
  • 12 strength training workouts - 10/12, due to not being around as much in June
  • Follow the No S diet - eh, I've had a few days here & there, but definitely inconsistent
  • Run 70 miles - I ran 75 miles in June
  • Get together with friends - lots of coffees, hikes, etc. 
  • Practice Farsi 20 times - 18/20
  • Declutter 100 items from the house - 49/100
  • Meditate daily - I hit this most days, & tried to be much more mindful when I was traveling/not at home
  • Continue exploring various jobs - I look at least several times per week
  • Start college counseling project - I'm currently matched with two students, and have done one meeting & am hoping to meet my other student soon
Given how much we had going on in June, I'm pleased with my progress. July should be a tiny bit easier - we shall see!

What about you? How did you do on your June goals? 

Monday, July 1, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 We are all home again, and it's nice to have everyone together! The boys are at work this morning, & I'm staring down a mountain of laundry & clothes that need to be put away. Of course! M & I had a fabulous weekend together, & the boys had a great time in Bend. It's a "short" week, as we're going to be in Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July this year. We're trying something new, as we've actually never been to Lake Tahoe in the summer. Let's hope it's fun!

  • Sunday - I made spaghetti & meatballs, while M picked up the boys at the airport
  • Monday - tacos
  • Tuesday - baked chicken over salads
  • Wednesday - Friday - eating out in Lake Tahoe
  • Thursday - hot dogs & pasta salad
  • Friday - chicken & gyozos
What about you? What's on the menu at your house this week? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tuesday things

 We flew to Portland on Friday night, and drove to my parents house. We all hung out, chatting & catching up, as it was very warm still outside, even at 10 pm. That's unusual for the pacific Northwest! It was so nice to see my nephews, my sister, my parents, & my BFF & her daughters. Always a treat.

My sister & I went for a run on Saturday morning, and Nick participated in a very long road biking race (86 miles). He hadn't been on his bike in a year, so I think he had some regrets about 1) not opting for the shorter version of that race and 2) not doing any training of any kind. He also got pretty sunburned, which has been uncomfortable. 

The big party was on Saturday, and I got to see lots of other friends & family, which was lovely. M handled the grilling & margarita making. I helped with party set up, getting food ready, & the clean up. So lucky to have such wonderful family & friends. Everyone brought delicious dishes, & there was plenty of great food. Sam got lots of wonderful gifts as well.

On Sunday, I skipped a workout for the first time in months, as I'm trying to let my hip rest a bit. It's already feeling better. Sam did end up going on a mountain bike ride, but Nick was pretty much passed out on the sofa, and was *very* saddle sore from biking that distance without any preparation... he's an overly confident teen, so these life lessons are valuable.

We left for the airport, but the party continued at my parents house. The boys will stay until Sunday, and will head to Bend for another family party & lots of biking. Let's hope Nick is recovered by then. ;-) 

M & I are home alone, which always feels strange, but particularly this year, as we know it's a sign of what's to come for a little over a year, we will be empty nesters! 

Here's what I'm up to today:

  • Daily chores (meditate, journal, Farsi lesson)
  • Work in the yard + water plants
  • Make muffins for M
  • Edit some of Nick's college essays
  • Work on a class action settlement (so. much. paperwork.)
  • Charge & load my Kindle for the weekend
  • Find a date for my nephew to come & visit
  • Pack 
  • Sort out requirements for Sam's orientation trip for college at the end of July
  • Call the dermatologist to make an appointment
  • Go to my workout class
  • Stretch!
That's it from my side. What about you? What are you up to today? 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 It's a travel + home without kids + a bit more travel kind of a week, so you'll see more eating out & a little bit more "make do with what we have on hand" type of meals. 

  • Friday - random bites at the airport
  • Saturday - Sam's graduation party, with my parents. Burgers & lots of sides!
  • Sunday - grilled chicken salads
  • Monday - burgers
  • Tuesday - grilled chicken + caprese salad
  • Wednesday - orange chicken
  • Thursday - M & I are out of town, & eating at an Asian restaurant 
  • Friday - M & I are still out of town, and we're going to a supper club, where I will likely have steak
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Friday, June 21, 2024

Frugal Friday

 Medical bills are not cheap, but a few frugal things for the week...

Saving on things we buy

  • I went to CVS to pick up mouthwash, and used a variety of rewards & coupons. I picked up three of the giant Crest mouthwash containers, and spent $20.91. I earned $2 from iBotta, and another $10 from CVS, making my out of pocket a much more reasonable $8.91, or ~$3/each.  
  • There was a Fetch offer I wanted to take advantage of (Bubly water) & combine with an iBotta offer. The local store had a buy 2/get 2 free offer on Bubly. While it wasn't super cheap at the regular price, once I got the $4 Fetch offer & the $1.50 iBotta offer, it brought the price per package down to ~$1.50, which is a solid deal. 
  • When I got home, I realized that I'm $1.45 from another $4 on Bubly from Fetch, so I stopped by a few days later & picked up a single serve tall Bubly for $1.50, earning another $4 on Fetch. 
  • CVS sent me another offer later in the week, so I went & used up my $10 monthly award, and some more CVS offers & bought 4 giant Gatorades (for Sam, for work, as he's outside working all day in the heat), & Advil for a total of $4. Saw that I also saved $1 on the Gatorade from an iBotta offer, which was an unexpected plus. 

Earning money

  • I completed a survey from my local hospital, and earned $25
  • Sold reffing gear on FB & made $35
  • M & I received a $2 class action settlement. $2 - woohoo! ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • Made M a cake at home, vs buying one.
  • Picked up a new set of corn hole bags on Buy Nothing. My sister & I got a corn hole set for my special needs aunt for her 70th birthday, but it was just the boards. Now we will have a full set for her birthday.
  • I also picked up two zucchini plants & a pumpkin plant on Buy Nothing. The squirrels decimated one of my garden beds, so I'll be adding a new border to keep them out & replanting.  
  • Packed Sam lunches for the week & used some of our abundance of electrolyte tablets to reduce the need for Gatorade (he brings one a day). 
  • Defrosted fajitas leftover from my parents visit, and we had that for dinner one night.
  • Continued to use lots of garden goodies: jalapenos, lettuce, peppers, mint, Thai & regular basil, cilantro... still waiting for the tomatoes! 
  • DH & I spent his day off trimming one of our giant trees, using the extension ladder. It was a messy & time consuming project, but we're slowly getting all of the tree trimming done ourselves. We've paid for it to be done before, and it's not cheap!

Eating what we have

  • Made gyro meat for dinner one night (leftover from my parents visit, as we only ended up making one package). Had gyro salads for lunch two days, finishing off the rest of the feta cheese as well.
  • Generally I've been eating a lot of leftovers for lunch, including things like cheese & crackers (leftover from my parents visit), as well as dinner leftovers. 
  • For the days I didn't have any obvious leftovers, lunches were salads with protein from the freezer (edamame) & pantry (nuts). Plus fruit, because we had a bunch of fruit this week. 
  • Defrosted the second of the huge Too Good To Go bakery loaf of bread, and used that for Sam's lunches this week. 

For others

  • Had my first mentoring session with the student I'm volunteering with, as a college counselor. It was a lot of fun, and I can tell I'm going to love this volunteering role.
  • Saved my mom money by returning a shirt she bought my dad (it was too small) when she was here, and finding it online with a coupon code for $15 less. 
What about you? Any frugal wins to share?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Thursday Things

A random collection of things that are top of mind today...

M had yesterday off for Juneteenth, and we spend a bunch of time in the yard trimming a huge bush/tree. It was a lot of work, but it was getting close to our roof line & making a mess in the gutters, so this was a necessary project. He also drove me to the mall to return a shirt for my mom (should have chosen a day that wasn't a holiday!), which worked out well, as he stayed in the car & I zipped in & out to do the return.

I submitted payment for his urgent care visit + x-ray ($545 - yikes), and requested reimbursement. The health care thing is so much more complicated now, as M is our insurance provider, but I have the majority of the funds in my HSA. M sends me the bills (which, neither of us can review, if it's for a dependent), I pay the bill via my credit card (for points!) & then reimburse myself through my HSA. It was a lot more straightforward when I was the insurance provider & had the HSA funds. But, at least I'm getting the credit card points? ;-) 

Sam & his friends plan to drive to Los Angeles for a weekend, for their senior trip. I'm helping him review hotel options, and we are discussing all of the things a first time (solo) traveler might need to know. They are all really good kids, so I'm not worried about them, but they are all also a bit naive about traveling solo, so this should be an adventure! 

Meanwhile, Nick is bringing a friend with us to Lake Tahoe for the 4th of July, as Sam will be on above senior trip. He's been friends with this kid since 1st grade, so love that they are going to hang out together. 

Things I need to do today:

  • Heading out for my running class soon
  • Daily chores (Farsi lesson, meditate, journal, yard work)
  • Pack for our trip
  • Check in for flights. Sort out seats for M & the boys if they don't get upgraded (they are on the upgrade list.)
  • Clean the house. No one wants to come home to a dirty house.
  • Help Sam book the hotel for his trip
  • Have Sam try on running shoes & return whichever pair doesn't work.
  • Laundry
  • Read by the pool
What about you? What are you up to today? What's top of mind?

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mountain biking, golfing, & the broken finger

Sam fractured his finger at camp yesterday, and after a trip to urgent care & an x-ray, now has a rather large splint. I'm grateful it was a relatively minor injury, but the timing is terrible. We're leaving on Friday for his graduation party, followed by a week of mountain biking & golfing. Both of which are.... not really possible with a broken finger. Poor kid. 

He's back at work today, and Nick & I are back working on college applications, followed by a dentist appointment (for Nick, he's overjoyed). I have my first call with the student I'll be mentoring through the college application process.

I also need to do the chores I didn't get to yesterday (at urgent care) & start a packing list for this weekend. 

Monday, June 17, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

We have a couple of special events this (a birthday + Father's Day), so we have a dinner out + a fancier dinner this week. Otherwise, we will be working to ensure there's no food waste before we take off for the weekend. 

  • Friday - orange chicken + salad
  • Saturday - out to dinner (birthday)
  • Sunday - kebabs and rice for Father's Day. M showed the boys a few tips for making them ;-) 
  • Monday - tacos
  • Tuesday - grilled chicken & caprese salad
  • Wednesday - leftover tacos
  • Thursday - any remaining leftovers, or something from the freezer
  • Friday - we will be eating at the airport, ahead of our trip to Portland. 
What about you? What's on your menu for the week?

Sunday, June 16, 2024


If you've never seen a pomegranate tree before, they have gorgeous blossoms in the spring, and over the summer, the fruit starts to develop. They are ready to pick around Thanksgiving time. Looking at the tree today reminded me that all of the blossoms are maturing at slightly different rates...each on their own time table. It was a nice reminder, especially for me, as I'm always looking for predictability & uniformity in life, which, as we all know, is often not the case!

Are you a fan of pomegranates? I have minimal patience for getting the arils out of the fruit, but absolutely love them, as do the boys. 

Saturday, June 15, 2024

June goals check in

 As with every month it feels like, June is whizzing by! Here's how I'm doing on my goals for the month:


  • Create revised 2024 budget, & estimate taxes owed from severance. - done
  • Earn $300 in side hustle - $164/300
  • Monthly pantry/freezer challenge: use up fish sticks & bag of cranberries - I've used up a bunch of freezer items, but not these two in particular
  • Work on plan for United credits with M's mom - no, and realistically, any planning we do will likely be in the fall

  • Help Sam with college roommate assignments  - done
  • Spend a week with Nick on college prep - done, although we need a lot more than a week for this
  • Enjoy all of our June fun: Sam's graduation, time with my parents, Sam's party & our long weekend in Las Vegas - we had a great time with my parents & at Sam's graduation. The other two events are still to come.
  • Finalize the rest of our summer plans - yes!
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - We have had multiple corn hole matches
  • 10 stretching workouts - 8/10 so far, as I've been battling hip tightness
  • Lose 3 lbs - no progress so far, but I am holding steady, despite house guests & lots of events
  • 12 strength training workouts - 6/12
  • Follow the No S diet - I had three successful days last week, which is pretty much the limit of my progress
  • Run 70 miles - 39.47 miles, so on track


  • Get together with friends - I've gone to coffee with a friend 2x, and hiked with two other friends
  • Practice Farsi 20 times - 9/20, as I didn't do this when I had guests
  • Declutter 100 items from the house - 41/100
  • Meditate daily - I didn't do this when I had guests, but have meditated 6 times this month
  • Continue exploring various jobs - yes, I look daily at a variety of future options
  • Start college counseling volunteer project - yes! I am now matched, and we have our first call on Tuesday. 
What about you? How are you doing with your June goals? Share your progress, so we can cheer you on!

Friday, June 14, 2024

Frugal Friday

 Nothing too exciting happening on the frugal front this week, but there are always a few ways to save, if you are looking for options. 

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $20 grocery store reward to stock up on packed lunches for the boys. Sam started work this week, and Nick starts next week. 
  • Sam is filling in on our relay team in August, as someone had to drop out. I previously booked my flight using miles (as part of the large travel shuffle a month or so back), but with two people, it was less expensive to use my companion fare. I still had one leftover from our previous credit card. I booked the two of us (using Alaska wallet credits, so no out of pocket spending) & had the miles returned to my account from my original ticket for just myself. 
  • I'm going on a hiking trip with a friend in September, and Delta is the best airline option. It's one of the only ones where I don't have credits or enough miles for a ticket, of course. However, I asked M, and he happens to have Delta miles from a few work trips. Transferring the miles comes with a ridiculous cost, so he booked the flight directly for me in his account, making the base ticket free. I then went in & used my very small amount of miles (3,000 from an unknown trip) to upgrade to "comfort plus" one way (and, more importantly, hopefully I won't have to check my bag if I can board earlier). Then, I went & purchased comfort plus on the second leg, for $31. So, full cost of the flight was $31. 

Earning money

  • Sold a Lego set & a watch on eBay, and made $130.

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up curbside lemons from Buy Nothing.

Eating what we have

  • Packed lunches for Sam this week. Bonus, used the Friday Freebie electrolytes in his water bottle, as he was outside running around in the sun all day this week. 
  • I met a friend for lunch one day, and had leftovers of lunch the second day.
  • We continued to use up lots of garden items in our meals (basil, mint, garlic scapes, lettuce & jalapenos). Can't wait for the tomatoes to ripen!
  • We've been eating through the leftovers from my parents visit, and there was very little cooking required this week. Hurrah!

For others

  • Nothing too exciting. A lot of the usual: gave stuff away on Buy Nothing (always love when I can fulfill an "ISO" ask), collecting grocery carts, & a little volunteering. 
  • I was matched with my first high school senior, for the college counseling volunteer role. Very excited to kick that off. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Thursday Things

I met up with a couple of friends this week (lunch with an old coworker & a hike with an old friend who I haven't seen in forever). It was really lovely to see them both. I also had a doctor's appointment on Monday. I am starting to get a feel for what type of week I prefer, and I do prefer to have outings spread out a bit more than I did this week. Next week, for example, I have none of the above on the calendar (although we leave for Portland on Friday), but I'm also trying to work around the schedules of everyone else, as they are much busier than I am. It's so funny to discover new preferences for yourself, when you have time to evaluate what you like a bit more. I'm always learning a little more!

A random list of things, in no particular order:

  • I've sold two higher value items on eBay this week. Yay!
  • I got matched up with my first student for my college counseling volunteer project. Very excited to kick off our year long mentorship together.
  • Nick & I have been making slow but steady process on the college application process. He plans to apply to quite a few colleges that require additional essays (vs the Common App, which shares essays, reducing the work). Nick's least favorite subject is English/Lit, so he's incredibly unenthusiastic about this. ;-) I'm helping by asking open ended questions on things like, "which experience have you learned the most from? Who inspires you? What's been the hardest thing you've ever done? Why have you selected your major?" Anyway, we're both realizing how much time it all takes. 
  • We've been eating a ton of leftovers this week, and I'm grateful to have them on hand, post our house guests. Less cooking for me! It has also meant that I have time to make caprese salad as a side, using up lots of garden basil. Can't wait until the tomatoes are ripe.
  • I desperately need to clean the house today. In my dream world, I assumed that once I wasn't working, house cleaning would be much less irritating. It's true that I don't have to squeeze it in & race through it in whatever small time window I could carve out. But, I still don't enjoy it! 
Share your random things with us!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tuesday Happenings

 We're slowly getting back into the groove of life (and, summer) now that school is out & my parents have returned home. We still have plenty going on in the months ahead, but this week is filled with Sam working (his third summer at a sports camp). 

Nick & I are working on his college list, and narrowing down the schools he would like to apply to. We're also filling out a spreadsheet with all of the application deadlines, any school specific requirements, costs, etc. We made a little progress yesterday, but it's quite an involved process. We did take a break for lunch, and I treated him to Panera (his favorite), as I had a coupon code & a gift card. That aside, Panera's prices.... oh my! Definitely expensive for what you get. Today will be lunch from home! 

As for today, my to do list is quite long, as I catch up on missed chores from last week, and try to get ahead on a few other tasks. Here's a snapshot of what I'm hoping to accomplish:

  • Daily to do's (journaling, Farsi lesson, meditation)
  • Yard work. I try to do a minimum of 20 minutes/day. I could spend hours & not make progress in our yard, but some is better than nothing!
  • Call around to find an in network PT option for my back
  • Research inexpensive (or better, free) options for yoga. 
  • Pick up a prescription. I went to a spine doctor yesterday, and he was optimistic that with a few weeks of a prescription treatment, plus PT & additional yoga, my back problems might get to the point that they stop bothering me. The problem is degenerative, so it will get worse as I age, but feels I might get some relief for a few years, at least.
  • Help Nick with the college process. I need to decide how to spend our time today. I think I'll have him work a bit on the essay prompts, while I edit his document he put together for his letters of reference. 
  • List Sam's bike for sale. We will sell his bike here, and if he would like a bike at college, we will find something inexpensive on FB market place. We don't have a way to transport his bike easily to college, and given college bike thefts, would prefer to get him something that will be less of a target for a thief. His current bike was a reimbursement from insurance, after he was hit by a car in middle school, so it's quite a nice bike. 
  • I'm meeting an old coworker for lunch.
  • Sort out our 4th of July plans.
I have a much longer list, but if I get this done, I'll be thrilled! What about you? What's on your list for the day? 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 We had a full house for our meals until yesterday, with Sam's girlfriend + my parents joining us. I'm trying to plan meals to use up what we have left, to reduce waste.

  • Friday - I made chicken fajitas & guacamole
  • Saturday - M made grilled chicken & rice
  • Sunday - just me + M, and we had leftovers. I had a gyro salad, and he had a salad with grilled chicken on top
  • Monday - leftover burgers
  • Tuesday - leftover fajitas & guacamole
  • Wednesday - leftover chicken & rice
  • Thursday - orange chicken 
  • Friday - TBD
What about you? What's on your menu this week? 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Frugal Friday, or Sunday

I forgot to schedule this to be published on Friday, so I'm a little late. It's not really much of a frugal season at our house right now, but a few wins here & there.

Saving on things we buy

  • Used a $20 store reward to pick up things we need this week. Our menu & shopping list are bigger, with two other adults dining with us. The teens will also be home for more meals, so we're trying to plan accordingly. The local grocery store is pretty expensive, even with the $20 off. I bought: two packages of tortillas, two packages of tortilla chips, four packages of cheese (2 sliced, 2 shredded), four containers of sparkling water, frozen fries, four peppers, two containers of raspberries, 1 six pack of diet soda, salsa, & hamburger buns & spent $45.58 (after the $20 coupon). I had a free offer for the soda, and the sparkling water was buy 2/get 2 free. I also won another $1.50 in future rewards from the game they currently have going. I'll cash those in next time I go to the store. The soda is for my mom, as we don't keep soda at the house (or, drink it, really).  

Earning money

  • Nick has stopped reffing, so I sold a pair of reffing shorts & two pair of socks for $15 on FB market place, and some gifted perfume for $30. Nick insisted on keeping another pair of the reffing shorts (they have pockets) for tennis. That's all well & good, but they are a youth small, and are real shorty short style on him. ;-) 

Avoiding spending

  • I treated Sam to Subway (he loves it) on his last day of classes. They had a BOGO offer, so I also got a sandwich. I used a gift card for all of it. I don't typically order foot longs, but that was part of the deal. I had it for lunch two days in a row.
  • Hung up the free graduation banner I picked up on Buy Nothing last summer. I'll save it for Nick, and then pass it along. 

Eating what we have

  • Sam's girlfriend ate dinner with us two nights in a row, and I'll never say no to extra teens at the dinner table. I rounded out a last minute grilled chicken dinner with a larger salad, cut fruit & I reheated a foccacia bread we bought on Saturday. I brushed butter and coarsely ground salt over the top. Yum.
  • For the other dinner with a bonus guest, I defrosted a second container of taco meat, so that fed us all for two dinners. 
  • We've continued to use up lots of fresh garden produce: garlic scapes, mint, basil (purple Thai & regular), and two kinds of lettuce. Yum! The dastardly squirrels keep eating my strawberries, and dug out an entire squash plant. They drive me bananas!

For others

  • I finished my volunteer training, which included a large section about preventing & reporting sexual assaults on minors. It was really difficult to get through, but I understand the importance of knowing about it, so you can appropriately report concerns. I'm now done & ready to be matched with a senior. 
  • Gave away a bunch on Buy Nothing, continued my regular task of returning grocery carts to the corrals (they damage cars! and block spaces! and make it harder for seniors to get into and out of their cars). It's the little stuff. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The clean up + impromptu pool parties

I was so proud of myself yesterday - the house was sparkling clean. Floors steam mopped, entire house scrubbed, floorboards dusted, the works! So, of course Nick let me know that a few friends were going to come over. A few friends turned into another impromptu pool party. Those dirty foot prints on the floor definitely make the house look clean. ;-)

Seriously, though, I'm so grateful to have this time to enjoy the boys & give them the space to have friends over. I cut up an entire Costco watermelon, busted out some snacks & fruit I bought for the week, and M picked up two Costco pizzas. 

My corn hole set finally got some action, and our new pool football was also a big hit. My music selections were less of a hit. Shocking! :-)

I've gotten the house put back into shape (mostly) again, and am ready to go pick up our guests in a bit. M is grilling burgers tonight, and I'm making the peach/basil/mozzarella salad. I also picked up potato salad from Trader Joes, to make life easier. 

It's supposed to be mid-90s today, so I'm also working through a giant stack of swim trunks (Nick's friends borrowed, so luckily we have a bunch to share) & pool towels. Maybe we will get in the pool this evening.

Hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 It's another wild week, as Sam has graduation on Thursday, & my parents arrive on Wednesday. Here's what's on the menu for the week.

  • Friday - salmon 
  • Saturday - coconut shrimp + salad
  • Sunday - tacos
  • Monday - grilled chicken
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - grilled burgers + caprese salad
  • Thursday - gyros (quick dinner that we can make after graduation)
  • Friday - chicken fajitas, chips & guac
  • Saturday - grilled chicken & Persian rice
  • Sunday - leftovers

What about you? What's on the menu at your house this week?

Sunday, June 2, 2024

May Goals Recap

Towards the end of the month, May was flying by at warp speed! Here's how I did with my goals


  • Sort out cash flow & remaining 2024 budget, post severance numbers - I've received my severance, and while it's taking quite a few days to clear a bank transfer, I'm very close to having everything put away in the correct accounts. We have the boys college funded, and are saving some additional funds for a potential bathroom remodel.
  • Earn $300 in side hustle - $337, thanks to selling our patio set, and a bunch of smaller items. 
  • Pantry/freezer challenge: use up fish sticks, pureed bananas & the rest of a bag of cranberries - I used some of the fish sticks, and 1/2 a bag of cranberries. 
  • Figure out how to maximize expiring travel rewards - I made good progress with one of the United credits (expiring soonest), & was able to extend the expiration of another travel voucher. 
  • Get Sam registered for orientation & finalize housing contract - done & done!
  • Help Nick with college tasks & finalize work back schedule -I've done some early planning with Nick, but the majority of this work will take place this summer, and now we're ready to go for that. 
  • AP test prep (both) & SAT prep (Nick) - all AP tests are done, & SAT for May is complete!
  • Have a great & on budget trip to Sedona with my mom - Yes!
  • Finalize the rest of our summer plans - mostly done, although we are still working on a few things.
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys - We played corn hole, and had a family chess game after dinner. 


  • 10 stretching workouts - 10/10
  • Lose 3 lbs - 1/3 lost
  • 12 strength training workouts - 17/12
  • Follow the No S diet - It was a real mixed month for the no snacking portion of this diet, and I'm looking forward to a more consistent June.
  • Run 70 miles - 79/70 miles!
  • Get together with friends - met a friend for a very early hike, and another friend for a workout & coffee
  • Practice Farsi 20 times - 26/20
  • Declutter 100 items from the house - 116/100
  • Meditate daily - mostly on track, with a ~80% success rate or so
  • Continue exploring various jobs - I'm working on some training for a volunteer role I'm pretty excited about!
  • Finish soccer volunteering project - Done!
  • Read blog on building a life without work - yes, done

What about you? How did you do on your goals for May?

Friday, May 31, 2024

Frugal Friday

 It wasn't the most frugal week, as we had two meals out over the long weekend (a day trip + a date night), both of which were fantastic. But, pricey! Otherwise, here are our frugal wins:

Saving on things we buy

  • Bought Home Depot gift cards at the grocery store, earning $45 in store rewards.
  • M & I had a bit of a miscommunication, where he asked if he should pick up discounted Southwest gift cards at Costco (they were $430 for a $500 gift card). I said, let's get 2 x 500 gift cards, but he read it as $2500 worth (5 gift cards). We will definitely use them & they don't expire, but I wasn't expecting to spend $2150 on Southwest cards this week. ;) 
  • I needed to pick up a few items at the grocery for the tennis banquet (I'm making chocolate chip cookies & I was out of both chocolate chips & brown sugar), as well as drinks for the event. I loaded a $20 grocery store reward on my account. I bought: a family sized package of pretzels (both boys requested more snacks), two containers of ice cream bars (for the upcoming family visit + boys having friends over in the pool), brown sugar, chocolate chips & six packages of sparkling water (most for the banquet). I earned $4 via Fetch, $.60 via iBotta & spent $20.43. I also had a $1.50 coupon for the ice cream. I earned another $.25 in grocery store rewards, and finally got an instant winner ticket, good for a six pack of soda. I will pick that up to have on hand, as my mom likes Diet Pepsi. 
  • I used CVS rewards to pick up wrapping paper for graduation, as we apparently only had Christmas paper. We tend to use gift bags for birthdays. I bought a large container of pistachios ($14) + the wrapping paper ($6.99 - when did wrapping paper get so expensive?!) & spent $11.50 out of pocket. I earned $.50 back from iBotta & another $1 from my credit card rebate offer. 

Earning money

  • Sold a couple of things on eBay & made $50

Avoiding spending

  • I looked at a few cute dress options for graduation, but reminded myself that I have more than enough in my closet. 

Eating what we have

  • M & I brought home leftovers from our date night, and Sam ate that for lunch one day.
  • We've continued to eat what's being grown in the garden (mint, basil, garlic scapes, lettuce)
  • I was able to use up the last of a container of fresh mozzarella I bought at 1/2 price, by making one of our favorite summer salads: peaches (or, nectarines), fresh mozzarella & basil. I also used basil from the garden. We season ours with olive oil, salt & pepper. If you like, you can add balsamic, but I prefer it without. It's absolutely fantastic. 
  • Was feeling particularly hungry after a hard workout this week, so I dug out a frozen leftover meal (pasta with chicken in a peanut sauce). It was great & very filling with a banana. I was feeling virtuous, as I looked up delivery options, but reminded myself how unnecessary that was & how we'd already eaten out 2x over the weekend. 
  • As always, I was unsure who would be home for dinner, so we made a few dining swaps from our menu & I defrosted an Asian beef rice dish for dinner on Tuesday night. (M had salmon). Sam & I had the rice dish & Nick was (unsurprisingly) not home. He made toast for dinner when he got back. It was nice to get a larger container out of the freezer. 

For others

  • Made a tennis donation, returned shopping carts & I did a bit more work for my college counseling volunteering project. 
What about you? Any wins to share?

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Goals for June

How are we to June already? May whizzed by, but June is looking to be even busier. We have a lot of exciting events on the calendar: Sam's graduation, Sam's graduation party + my uncle's 70th birthday/bike trip to Bend, M & I are doing a long weekend in Las Vegas for his birthday, and both boys start working. There's plenty on the schedule!

Here are my goals for the month:


  • Create revised 2024 budget, & estimate taxes owed from severance. Create separate tax CD.
  • Earn $300 in side hustle
  • Monthly pantry/freezer challenge: use up fish sticks, & the rest of a bag of cranberries
  • Work on plan for spending United credits
  • Help Sam with college roommate assignments
  • Spend a week with Nick on college prep
  • Enjoy all of our June fun: Sam's graduation, time with my parents, Sam's party & our long weekend in Las Vegas
  • Finalize the rest of our summer plans
  • Plan one fun activity with the boys


  • 10 stretching workouts
  • Lose 3 lbs
  • 12 strength training workouts
  • Follow the No S diet
  • Run 70 miles (including beginning training plan for August relay)
  • Get together with friends
  • Practice Farsi 20 times
  • Declutter 100 items from the house
  • Meditate 20 times
  • Continue exploring various jobs
  • Start college counseling volunteer role

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The long weekend recap

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I can say that it definitely makes life easier when you don't have to go back to work on Tuesday, with all of that work having built up while you were out. 

A few things we did:

  • The boys went to prom on Saturday! I loved seeing them in their suits (Sam in M's suit & shoes, Nick in the new suit I bought him, as he's too skinny for M's clothes) & getting pictures. It was a wild day, as they had very different plans (one was eating out ahead of prom, one after, one had to leave by 2, one was leaving at 6), so we had everyone get ready & take photos, and then they could each set their own schedule for leaving. I worried about the boys driving home late, so I was up from 11-1, but everyone got home safely & had a great time.
  • M & I went on a day trip to Santa Rosa on Sunday, and found a great restaurant. We had a wine flight, some little shared plates, & I had dessert. Eating dessert for lunch, or really, ever is pretty rare for me, but I couldn't resist the warm flour chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse & vanilla ice cream. Decadent & fabulous.
  • Nick worked at a soccer tournament for most of Sunday, earning money. And, volunteered for his tennis program. He's completed more than 150 hours of tennis volunteering this year & does an absolutely incredible amount for the program. He's so busy.
  • Sam was home for dinner & we chatted about prom & his evening with friends, and why girls wear uncomfortable high heeled shoes. ;-) 
  • Everyone did chores yesterday, while I tried a 90 minute workout class (vs my normal 60 minutes). It was definitely hard! After that, both boys washed their cars, there was a bit of corn hole, the teens went on a search for Pokemon together, I packaged up a couple of eBay sales & listed some things on FB market place.
  • M grilled hot dogs & I made the mozzarella, peach & basil salad that we love. We chatted & caught up. Nick called my dad, which is his usual Sunday activity. They are very close. Everyone checked in on homework, Nick met up with a group to work on a shared project. And studied for the SATs. Sam checked in on potential college roommate assignments. 
  • I did a lot of laundry!
All told, we feel so blessed whenever we have time with the teens. We are trying to soak it in, as we know it's coming quickly to an end. 

What were you up to this weekend?

Monday, May 27, 2024

Menu Plan Monday

 It's the home stretch of the wild times at school, with senior finals, senior awards, & the tennis banquet. Next week is graduation!

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

  • Friday - wings & pot stickers
  • Saturday - tacos
  • Sunday - grilled chicken salads
  • Monday - hot dogs & mozzarella/nectarine/basil salad
  • Tuesday - leftover tacos
  • Wednesday - leftover hot dogs
  • Thursday - eating at the tennis banquet
  • Friday - pizza? I'd love to try one of the grilled pizza recipes, but let's be honest, this week is probably not the week for that.
What about you? What's on your menu plan for the week?

Friday, May 24, 2024

Frugal Friday


Saving on things we buy

  • The local grocery store was having a few good weekend sales (mac & cheese, which Nick makes himself if he's on his own for dinner between sporting events, BOGO various items, etc). I combined that with a $10 off a $50 purchase, and bought: 5 packages of sparkling Bubly water (the boys current obsession), 2 containers of raspberries, 6 lbs of pork loin, 6 packages of mac & cheese, Advil, two packages of sliced cheese, the Friday freebie (a sparkling water, ironically) & radishes. There standard prices aren't very good, but I felt like $52 was a reasonable price, particularly given the Advil & the meat. I earned another $.60 back on iBotta, and $2.50 in game pieces that I can redeem next time I'm there. 
  • Used Too Good To Go to pick up a $5.99 surprise bag at a local bakery. I ended up with two enormous loaves (maybe 2x a standard loaf) of bread - one sourdough & one wheat, as well as 10 huge Dutch Crunch sandwich rolls. It was definitely a bargain, and we will try it out again. 
  • Signed up for a Care Pass at CVS. You pay $5/month & get a $10/month reward, as well as a few other discounts. I signed up, as my credit card had a $10 off a Care Pass purchase reward, if you paid for the year upfront. I go to CVS reasonably regularly, so I'll check it out this year & see what I think. There was also a small discount for paying for the full year (total = $52.38). All told, it's $120 in credit, for $42.38 (the $52, minus the $10 credit card rebate). So far, I went & bought a bunch of cards I needed for upcoming events (graduation, Father's Day, etc) using my first $10 credit, and earned another $5 credit for a Hallmark reward. Additionally, iBotta had a reward on the full purchase price of your CVS transaction, so I earned another $.73 from that. 
  • I bought ground beef for $1.99/lb. They only had a couple of packages left, so I bought the largest one they had, and came home & divided the meat for the freezer. 

Earning money

  • Sold lights we weren't using on Facebook marketplace, and earned $65. The buyer was thrilled, and we got four large lights (three new in boxes, one used) out of the house. 
  • Sold a Pokemon card on eBay, and earned $75. 
  • I received my severance today, which was a significant amount of money. While I didn't enjoy the process of the layoff, it was a generous severance & I feel lucky to have gotten this much. I'm putting all of it in CDs, for the boys college, as well as to figure out how to use the rest. 

Avoiding spending

  • Picked up new books for upcoming college students on Buy Nothing, which will make a great graduation gift for some of Sam's friends, with cash tucked in. 

Eating what we have

  • I've continued to eat lots of leftovers for lunches, which works well.
  • Both of the teens have eaten lots of sandwiches, with the Too Good To Go bread.
  • I defrosted cranberries from the freezer (on my May "use it up" goals list) to make cranberry muffins. 
  • We've been eating lots of garden produce in our salads: basil, chives, mint & lettuce. 
  • Managed to use up two bags of salad before it went bad, even though the last salad required fishing out some questionable pieces. I'm working hard on food waste, so I went through the effort. 

For others

  • Finished my volunteer training for my college counselor role, and got fingerprinted for the same. 
  • Helped my aunt with another billing challenge.
What about you? Any wins to share?