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End of the Week

November 2nd, 2018 at 06:38 pm

On Monday:
- We tried to figure out if we could afford Hamilton tickets. There seems to be two levels of touring companies. One is the original, and we can't afford those tickets, but there are cities closer to us. The other has cheaper tickets, but we'd have to somehow get to Chicago. Have any of you seen it?

On Tuesday:
- I called and got a late charge taken off of a credit card payment. I felt really stupid; I never got the bill but that's no excuse. I guess last month was really stressful (with the stuff with my dad).

On Wednesday:
- We had a Halloween party! This doubled as my birthday party... but it was mostly F's friends. Still my friends B and B came with their daughters and stayed to celebrate with me. I spent money on balloons, making chili. But that was it; we did pot luck.
- F and her teammate won the soccer pairs costume contest. They teamed up the older and younger girls, so F was with a really nice 11th grader; the two of them are probably the most competitive on the team (not just in soccer!). They went as Holy Cow and Oh Deer! We got sticks from the yard for antlers. No purchases necessary!

On Thursday:
- F came home super sad because one of her friends has found a best friend that doesn't like F (and who F doesn't like), and now doesn't want to hang out with F at all (maybe she's the kind of girl who can only have one friend at a time?). They were really close, but F doesn't have one best friend. I am really good at making things, at cooking, at being funny; but I am terrible at giving advice! So I failed to give any helpful advice. My usual m.o. is being direct and confronting someone; it usually backfires, and is not F's style at all. If you have any thoughts, let me know!

- F said she did really well on her Africa test in Global Studies. Proud of her!
- But she's still sad about her friend. She's downstairs listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (and singing!).
- We're going to play a game and hunker down until tomorrow's soccer game. Sleep in! Cheap thrills!

- I bought smoked salmon as part of my birthday week of yummy food, so that will be part of breakfast. An indulgence, but not excessive, right?
- I will clean the house.
- Hopefully time to read (reading Crazy Rich Asians from the library; I missed the movie!)


October 30th, 2018 at 03:51 pm


- I can't comment on anyone's blogs because it won't let me sign in (I can't even respond to anyone's comments on my own blog!)

- I lost a blog post. It was called Dinner out with Jerks (or: How I blew the Dining Out budget). Let's just let that one go. The gist of the story was: splitting the tab. Ugh. I eat mostly vegetarian and I don't drink. I never eat an entire dessert in a restaurant (so I split with my husband or daughter). I need to remember NEVER to split the tab, particularly with people I don't know well, or friends of friends.

- I took our sweet big doofy dog on a walk and apparently she had an upset stomach, and it was upset all over the sidewalk downtown. I went back to the office, got paper towels and a trash bag and several water bottles. I managed to get the sidewalk sort of clean. I didn't gag. I hope it rains! (It's supposed to).

- Still shaken up by events of the last week. Trying to process, as I'm sure everyone is.

So, just to balance things out, here are a few WINS!!!

Win 1 - I finished the 60% set of drawings for my new fire station. The set is more like 85%, so I'm ahead of the game. The meeting is Monday, so I'm also ahead of schedule.

Win 2 - I figured out my Halloween costume. I am not buying ANYTHING. I am using some stuff F had, and I need to print something off the internet, but that's it. D bought a fez on the internet for $6 for his costume.

Win 3 - No trick or treating tomorrow night (F doesn't want to) so we're having friends over (hers, and the parents are ours). I am making two crockpots of chili - one chicken and one veg.

Win 4 - Got my snow tires put on. A little early, but I saved money because they were having a special.

Win 5 - My xmas shopping is DONE!

So... overall more wins, right? Have to look on the bright side.

Haven't Posted in a While

October 30th, 2018 at 08:33 am

I haven't been on here in a while - so much going on (good, bad, in between). I have been saving, and spending (within budget mostly but some shifting around of the budget to accommodate some unexpected expenses).

My father had a drug interaction (pain meds for his back with his Parkinson's medication) and that was awful. He's fine, and has had back surgery and is recovering.

F has been playing soccer non-stop. I pick her up from practice all but one day. The basis of my social life used to be talking to other parents at school pick up. I am making new friends among the other soccer parents at the games. But it's weird.

We didn't go to my niece's wedding in California. It turned out to be a good decision, and we've banked our tickets to use in February. Alaska Air and Southwest were great and credited the full amount without a change fee.

I've done most of my Christmas shopping (and I've overspent and I don't care).

My best friend is moving to Irvine, California. Her husband is freaking out, she is freaking out and sad; I am sad. She's the only person I go to lunch with. She's nice and funny, and I will miss her so much!

I have a ton of work right now. I have a set of drawings that I will finish in early December, and then things slow waaaay down, and I am really looking forward to it.

I cleaned out the spare room closet.

So, that's what's going on.

On the money front:
- over budget on dining and groceries (ugh)
- over budget on auto servicing (another $330 bill for my husband's car)
- over budget on auto fuel (just by a little)
- over budget on Christmas
- over budget on supplies and pets

But under on most every other category so I will shift some around.

And we started a category to replace D's glasses every few years since he has progressives and they're more expensive.

Haven't Posted in a While

October 28th, 2018 at 07:57 pm

I haven't been on here in a while - so much going on (good, bad, in between). I have been saving, and spending (within budget mostly but some shifting around of the budget to accommodate some unexpected expenses).

My father had a drug interaction (pain meds for his back with his Parkinson's medication) and that was awful. He's fine, and has had back surgery and is recovering.

F has been playing soccer non-stop. I pick her up from practice all but one day. The basis of my social life used to be talking to other parents at school pick up. I am making new friends among the other soccer parents at the games. But it's weird.

We didn't go to my niece's wedding in California. It turned out to be a good decision, and we've banked our tickets to use in February. Alaska Air and Southwest were great and credited the full amount without a change fee.

I've done most of my Christmas shopping (and I've overspent and I don't care).

My best friend is moving to Irvine, California. Her husband is freaking out, she is freaking out and sad; I am sad. She's the only person I go to lunch with. She's nice and funny, and I will miss her so much!

I have a ton of work right now. I have a set of drawings that I will finish in early December, and then things slow waaaay down, and I am really looking forward to it.

I cleaned out the spare room closet.

So, that's what's going on.

On the money front:
- over budget on dining and groceries (ugh)
- over budget on auto servicing (another $330 bill for my husband's car)
- over budget on auto fuel (just by a little)
- over budget on Christmas
- over budget on supplies and pets

But under on most every other category so I will shift some around.

And we started a category to replace D's glasses every few years since he has progressives and they're more expensive.

Shopping on and off list

September 29th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

We went on to Target today - dangerous place because of possible impulse purchases.

On the list:
- Birthday present for F's friend K
- 2 pairs black leggings (on sale $4 each!) for F
- watch for F to replace hers that broke (they didn't have what she wanted; I just ordered it online)
- ziplocs
- eye stuff for dry eyes (I couldn't figure out what to get, so I didn't get anything, then I called my brother and he said "just saline solution" so I'll have to pick that up later)

Not on the list:
- a bag of candy corn. I have a candy corn obsession; I only eat it once a year, but I know it's awful stuff. I got the real-sugar-not-corn-syrup variety, and I'm bagging half for my friend M who has the same problem I do! I'm having lunch with her on Tuesday, so I can give it to her then.

Found a gift bag that someone gave us (we save those) to put K's present in, and we'll leave in half an hour for the party.

Overspending in September; ugh.

September 24th, 2018 at 08:03 pm

I have not written in a LONG time. Have been super busy!

I will now report on our recent money-wasting behavior (I am very ashamed, but in the interest of accountability, here goes):

- We spent sooo much money on groceries this month. I have no idea why; I thought my meals were frugal. I think F is eating a lot now that she's playing in 2-3 soccer games a week and practicing every day except Wednesday and Sunday. I have $65 left for our next grocery shopping (Sunday). I am going to move $ from another category and increase the budget through soccer season!

- We went to a concert for our anniversary last weekend. It was a waste of money. The music was good (New Orleans, Trombone Shorty!), but it was too loud, and I didn't think it'd be loud so I didn't bring earplugs. It was up in Taos and all the old hippies were blowing pot smoke in our faces, so we left early. We had to get a hotel room because it's too far to drive back. And they didn't let you bring in food, so we had to eat there. We had to pay for petsitting. I feel like we shouldn't have gone.

- We are not able to go to my niece's wedding in two weeks; we need to switch the tickets to some time in January (my niece is going to tell us when is a good time to come out so we can hang out with her and her new husband), but we have one leg on Southwest and another on Alaska Airlines. I know you can change Southwest. We can't look into the Alaska Air flight until we know the new dates! And I don't want to harass the bride!!

- D had an evening lecture he was organizing for work and spent almost $23 on dinner! They do not reimburse. I can't really be angry since he makes more than he used to at this job and he's entitled to a meal out every so often, but $23 for one person!

- Because of the trip to Taos and the lecture series and driving to the middle of nowhere for a soccer game, we've spent a lot on gas this month.

- D bought hubcaps for my car. It was only $28 for four of them, and I did need them (I was missing two). It's justified, but I'm still wondering - are hubcaps just cosmetic?

- I got our booster membership for this year for the school's athletics; it is still a lot cheaper than club soccer. It's budgeted for, so I shouldn't even be worried about it.

- My sneakers were slipping all over the floor when I was teaching lunges (and had a big hole in the top), so I had to get new sneakers. I used the money I get for teaching.

So, there you go... A month of overspending.

Plan for next month:
- careful meal planning (with a bit bigger budget for food)
- pay down categories where we overspent

Some Very Specific Thoughts about Food

September 2nd, 2018 at 10:34 am

Labor Day weekend! We are getting together with friends tonight at our house, and tomorrow night at our neighbor's house.

Tonight - I have a huge crockpot of chili bubbling away. My friend is bringing a salad and cupcakes. I'll have tortilla chips and sour cream and cheese. I figure I spent $30 on all of the ingredients, and the sour cream and cheese will be used for other things as well. We should also have at least one more meal for the freezer out of this depending on how much we eat.

Tomorrow night - Not sure what I'm bringing, but I always have the ingredients for a nice Mary Berry Tunis Cake on hand.

The rest of the week:

Tuesday - F is leaving for her class trip on Wednesday, so she requested Stir Fried Cauliflower and Rice for Tuesday night (she is afraid there won't be much to eat on the trip that she likes, and that is probably true, but they've already talked to her about her GF diet and there are two GF teachers). Anyway, the ingredients for this recipe totaled $5.62. I already have ginger, garlic, green onions.

Wednesday - F will be on her trip (eating frito pies; they told her the menu) so we'll have frito pies, too. We'll use some of the sour cream and cheese from chili night, some of the green onions we already have. We have all of the ingredients for red chili sauce on hand (we do live in NM afterall!) and probably have a side salad with it. Total $3.78.

Thursday - F still on her trip (by this point I will be missing her so much!). She is having pasta that night (they are buying GF pasta for the three of them since the others are having pasta), and so are we. We already have peas and pasta, lemons and garlic. Just needed bacon, goat cheese. So $5.48, and the remaining goat cheese and bacon can be used for other meals.

Friday - F requested kebabs for when she gets back. We have chipotle kebabs with chicken, courgettes, red pepper and mushrooms and a really yummy yoghurt sauce. Ingredients totaled $5.80 because we already have plain yoghurt and other ingredients for the marinade and sauce. We just needed veggies and a lime.

Saturday - We're having tortilla espanola. We have a housewarming party to go to, so we may put this off to Sunday if there's enough to eat there. We will probably bring a salad. So... maybe this is Sunday. Anyway, I bought more mayo for the sauce, but obviously we only use a little bit. Half a thing of eggs, and three potatoes. $8 (and that includes the entire jar of mayo).

I still spent a ton on groceries this week even though are dinners aren't super expensive. I had to get F snacks for the trip because the other kids will be given things she probably can't eat. Also bought GF graham crackers so she can participate in s'mores. They told me no nuts of any kind (there is a severe nut allergy) so I opted for chickpeas, dried fruit, and a fruit/chia bar. I spent a lot on snacks.

Total grocery bill this week is $141 which is a lot more than usual, probably due to the snacks for the trip. And some staples. And feeding chili to everyone tonight! But it's so worth it to hang out with our friends!

Looking Back at August

August 29th, 2018 at 05:59 pm

Almost the end of the month...

- We almost made it to the end of the month within our food budget; we're about $8 short. That can be made up with other categories.

- F has a class trip coming up. She is celiac, and there is a meeting tomorrow with her and her adviser (also celiac! Isn't that cool?) and some other administrators to figure out the meal plan while she's away. I will have to pack food for her, but they are going to figure out what I pack so that she can eat as much like the other kids as possible. She's in middle school now, so these are things she takes care of (I am not involved in the discussion), which is really great!

- I didn't realize that one of the 20s in my pay envelope from the gym was actually a 50! So I made $82 rather than $52.

- I need to increase the amount we put in the Pets category. Our dog is old and wonderful and needs three kinds of medicine daily.

- I made $131 on credit card rewards this month. This is from my new Chase Business Unlimited card which is no fee and is 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

- The meal plan this week is frugal:
S - crustless quiche
M- chicken piccata with rice, broccoli
T - red peppers
W - risotto
T - salmon cakes with peas
F - black bean spinach casserole
S - not sure; maybe big salad?

- I get to eat something tonight that I don't have to cook! Woohoo! Risotto is one of Ds dinners. Every once in a while it's nice not to have to cook.

- F is doing really well on varsity soccer! She is having fun, and started the last game, was played more than 3/4 of the game. And school soccer is free! Well not completely free. I have to pay to get in some games (not at our school) and I will probably join the booster club ($50) and buy a shirt to wear to games. But it's a LOT less than the $465 per season we pay to her club team. And we don't need to buy uniforms.

Lots Going On

August 24th, 2018 at 07:09 pm

I've been working so hard for the past week; it was probably ok that I wasn't able to post until now.

Here's what's been going on (some financial, some not so financial):

- F made it onto the varsity soccer team as an 8th grader! They played their first game last night and won! She played most of the game, and did really well. So we're proud!

- There has been a lot of spending associated with the soccer team (a lunch after a scrimmage, money for a tshirt to tie-dye, entry fees for D and I to the game last night, $20 for the retreat). I am taking the money from the same place we take the fees for her club team since we don't need to pay for club this fall. In the end, school soccer is A LOT less costly even with all those miscellaneous costs.

- F lent money to two friends for the lunch after the scrimmage and only one paid her back. This is her spending money, so it's in her interest to follow up.

- I have $101 left in the grocery budget for the month, which is tight. I'll shop on the 26th. I need to be careful about meal planning! Eat out of the pantry and freezer and add fresh veggies and fruit.

- Our pet debt is up to about $300... old dogs are expensive, but worth it. I need to put money in there from another category.

- We got a massive deal on our 2017 photo book (Shutterfly). I saw they had unlimited pages and 40% off, so I finally printed 2017. Total was $42 including tax and shipping. It's a BIG book. I will start entering 2018 photos so we can have a book in place when the next big deal comes around.

- Got $131 in Chase cash back; this goes into the vacation rewards fund which is up to $1500 now.

- We bought a wedding gift for my niece. We got an item on their registry that was $150. When I put it in the cart, Honey searched for coupons, and by the time we were done, it was $134... so now I feel bad because I intended to spend $150... But we are spending a lot to go out to California to attend the wedding...

- I bought F a winter puffy jacket on sale.

- Total for gym payments this month was $171. That's pretty good! This was partly offset by the $35 I had to pay for the next release. But teaching is more than paying for the releases.

- Now that F is in school and soccer I have a ton of time to work, but I need to learn how to work at a slower pace! I'm so used to having limited work time, that I work with ferocious intensity, and I can't keep that up for 10 hours! I have one more deadline in the near future, and after that I promise I will relax a little.

Busy Week, Meal Plan

August 13th, 2018 at 06:56 pm

It's a big week this week! Two-a-day soccer practices, soccer retreat on Thursday, a training session and scrimmage on Saturday. F is over the moon! They are making friendship bracelets after morning practice tomorrow. And there's a parent meeting tomorrow night.

So I am scheduling my work during soccer practices and trying to be efficient. The retreat and scrimmage will give me a lot of time to work, which is good because I am going to miss F so much now that school is starting!

Here's the meal plan for this week (with lots of good snacks like hardboiled eggs, nuts, string cheese and dried fruit as well as Larabars and Kind bars).

S - big salad with cheddar bay biscuits (salad had turkey, cucumber, sunflower seeds, carrots, homemade dressing)
M- artichoke pasta (easy - 12 mins. total)
T - beet burgers (beets, beans, oats, onions, spices) with green chile/avocado/cheese with corn on the cobb (not easy, but filling and we can freeze the extras)
W - chicken queso casserole (make ahead and pop in oven)
Th - stuffed red pepper with quinoa and black beans (crockpot!!)
F - baked potatoes with broccoli (and cheese!) - oven timer for the potatoes and then just 10 mins for broccoli
S - scrimmage - they are going out for pizza; may have to send F with pizza because not sure about gf options for her

And now I'm going to sit down with my library book and listen to the rain dripping off the canales!

This Weekend and Home Inventory Project

August 10th, 2018 at 04:19 pm

It's rainy outside so we couldn't go to the pool. But they have barbeques there, so we went for lunch, and ate under the patio cover. We were the only ones there!

Then we went for F's allergy shots (which are free because of D's good work insurance). She hates them, but I'm hoping when she's reached maintenance in 6 months to wean her off zyrtec. Without the zyrtec she gets hives.

Tonight's dinner is a frugal cauliflower cheese (yum) made with two cauliflowers because we're hungry!

On Sunday I am going to brunch so that we can discuss Parent Association stuff. I am the Secretary of the PA this year, and the brunch is at the PA President's house; I asked what I could bring figuring would be potluck, and she said "nothing!" - she's making brunch! She's very sweet; I'm slightly intimidated because while I'm probably the friendliest person ever (probably why I was asked to be secretary), I am also super sarcastic.

While I am at brunch at C's house, F has a brunch with the school soccer team. She's been asked to be on Varsity Soccer and Varsity X-Country, so this brunch is with girls of all ages. I'm glad that she's got some girls watching out for her who are in other grades. One of the mom's of a senior said her daughter loves F, and the feeling is totally mutual! Like a big sister. The older girls offered to drive the younger girls, but D will probably just drop her off.

Anyway, because she's F, she informed me that she has already looked at the menu online and decided what to order. I have cash from the gym to give her.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day. D is videotaping a talk that a local permaculturist is giving to our neighborhood landcape committee. They're paying him to do it! (I think he would have done it for free, but that's nice; it does take a lot of preparation and editing). We will go up with him because our neighbor will be there, and tomorrow is her 80th birthday! We got her a pretty cactus and some chocolates. We love her!

And, finally, I have started my decluttering/home inventory project. The idea is to declutter a room then take photos of every wall and every drawer. I have finished our bathroom! The easiest room, but still - it's a start! I was inspired by the fires in CA - scares me so much... Do you have a home inventory?

School Money and an Extra Paycheck

August 5th, 2018 at 09:19 am

I did this complicated excel spreadsheet to figure out if we can pay for 9th grade in two installments rather than monthly (which saves the cost of the installment plan). I've only been putting 230 a month rather than 500 into the school savings fund. According to my spreadsheet, this will actually work; I can even stop putting the extra $230 aside and save that in another way. I'm pretty excited. When F graduates, we'll have $20k to add to the college fund approximately (depending on rise in tuition costs).

That's one money thing.

Here's another: this is D's month with three paychecks. We live off 24 paychecks a year but he gets 26. Our plan is:
- 150 wedding gift
- pay ourselves back for auto repair and medical expenses 1251
- 200 to the 529
- 397 leftover (not sure what to do with this, but maybe use part for my 52nd birthday party - I never had a 50th)

That's it for now... I am coming up with a "things we need around the house that I'm avoiding" list... will post later.

Grocery Shopping Again

July 29th, 2018 at 05:17 pm

Grocery shopping again - must be Sunday!

I shop on Sundays because there are no alcohol sales before noon on Sundays so the store is quiet. I go to two stores - Sprouts and Trader Joe's. At Sprouts, I check my receipt in the car before I head home, and 1 out of 3 times there is a mistake! Today I bought ginger, and it was like 39 cents, but then there was another charge for ginger right below it for something like 1.8 POUNDS of ginger for $5.59!!! I went back in the store for my refund. They wanted to give it to me in cash.... nooooo! I asked for it to be put back on the credit card.

Here is this week's menu plan:
S - salmon souvlaki bowls (kalamata, cucumber, red pepper over rice) and tzatziki (fish)
M - pad thai with bok choy (veggie)
T - frittata with spinach and onion (veggie)
W - chili from the freezer with a salad (turkey)
T - ottolenghi red rice/quinoa with pistachios, apricots, rocket (veggie)
F - asian meatballs (turkey mince) with rice (turkey)
S - pan fried hearts of palm with coleslaw and corn on the cob (veggie)

We also bought fruit for snacks (grapes, melon, plums, strawberries) and jicama (a little lime, a little chile powder - yum!). And Trader Joe's bean and seed mix. And we always have dried fruit (dried pears from TJ are our current favorite) and nuts.

Lunches will be artichokes, deviled eggs, tuna wraps, turkey wraps with green chile, salad with avocado and sunflower seeds.

I am also working on cleaning the pantry shelves one shelf at a time, top down. They need cleaning, but it also helps me remember to use things up! And I moved some things around a little (we don't eat a lot of cereal, so it doesn't need to be eye level!).

Other food-related thoughts:
- We are watching Eat Well for Less; there have been a couple of good recipes including one for breakfast tray-baked eggs. We always have veggies that we could dump in there..
- I have had so much work these past two weeks I haven't baked anything, but I want to. Maybe lemon-poppyseed cake? Chocolate seems too heavy right now.
- I bought kebab skewers which was exciting (rather than using the disposable bamboo kind)
- We've been using this recipe but with only a little bit of chicken and mostly veggies (courgette, red pepper, mushrooms) https://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2015/07/chipotle-chicken-kabobs-with-cilantro-lime-dipping-sauce/
- We made this Asian Thai salad for lunch last week and it was awesome! https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/thai-crunch-salad-with-peanut-dressing.html except I made half the dressing and used only a tiny pinch of sugar (there is already honey in it)
- We went to my friend's 50th bday last night and it was a BBQ. We brought a salad to share, and they had two types of veggie dogs (this is a good friend so I didn't feel bad digging through her trash to read the labels - one was gluten free and the other wasn't so we had the gf ones!). We were planning on eating a little more when we got home, but we didn't need to!
- Today we went to the "beach" (down by the lake half an hour from here), but we ate before we went. We had TJ tamales instead of going out to eat.

What are you having for dinner this week?

Quiet, frugal weekend

July 22nd, 2018 at 07:31 am

It's been a quiet and uneventful weekend, which is GOOD! We like quiet!

I've been popping in to take care of an acquaintances dog (she did the same for us, so it's a trade, and free for both of us). Also working on a Nimbus 2000 (for those of you who aren't Harry Potter fans, that is a type of racing broom for Quidditch) for F. I had the perfect piece of scrap wood, cut it yesterday with my jigsaw and now trying to shape it with my orbital sander. We got some reeds with a Michael's coupon.

For frugal fun: we biked to karate yesterday along the river trail, went to the pool. Today we're going down to this cute little village (Cerrillos, NM) where I have a project. This is work/fun because I need to do a photo study before I begin designing this fire station.

And lastly - F is saving us a bunch of money. Instead of doing soccer camp this week, she asked to the do these morning workouts up at school with her soccer team. The workouts are free, 1 1/2 hours (so I can get work done) and saves us $325. Because of that, I'm going to ask a friend to cover my Thursday bodypump class so I can hang out with F more rather than her having to stay home while I teach. That is a loss of $25 in gym payments, but worth it I think considering the savings!

Frugal and Not-Frugal

July 17th, 2018 at 03:59 pm

Frugal: got $94 from the gym. That is probably my largest payment yet!

Not-Frugal: I broke a bowl this morning! We already had very few of those bowls, which I use a lot. Grrr. Bought a set of 6 on Amazon for $17.

Frugal: I got a $10 gift card from Swagbucks.

Not-Frugal: I messed up on an invoice I sent to a client (wrong tax amount! Ack!). It was an excel error on my part. I just sent him the correct invoice. I hope I don't have to eat the tax.

Frugal: I found some yarn I've had for a while, and I'm going to knit a new sweater, but not sure what to knit. I have two patterns I want to do...

Frugal and Not-Frugal: It's only July and I already bought F a Christmas present. But I guess it's good to be ahead.

Frugal: We went to the library yesterday and got a ton of books and ran into friends. Free books and social gathering in one!

Not-Frugal: One of F's friends is leaving for a ballet camp for 3 weeks on Saturday and when the mom suggested we have lunch before she leaves, I said ok. Should have suggested a picnic.

Frugal: I am playing the free Harry Potter Mystery game on my phone; yes, it's a time-waster, but I am a bit of a Harry Potter fan (just a bit).

Meal Plan - Lots of Veggies!

July 16th, 2018 at 07:24 am

We spent $117 on groceries this week.

S - Friends over - spaghetti with courgettes and bread (and my friend brought a salad) - vegetarian dinner
S - asian cauliflower stirfry with rice - vegetarian dinner
M - kimchi quesadillas - vegetarian dinner
T - chili with cornbread (has turkey in the chili)
W - potatoes with rosemary, kale salad with avocado and other veggies - vegetarian dinner
T - crustless quiche (with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, broccoli) - vegetarian dinner
F - elote pasta - vegetarian dinner
S - not sure...

We are eating more vegetarian meals, but trying to make sure they are packed with good protein and good fats, especially on soccer practice nights! Kimchi quesadillas has beans and cheese, crustless quiche is eggs/cheese. Soccer is T/Th this week.

I went to my friend A's house yesterday - she's going away and her garden is producing a ton, so she gave me a huge pile of vegetables! Yay!!!

We invested in a bowl shaped thermos for F's lunches after seeing a really cool vending machine called Farmer's Fridge in the Chicago Airport. We're inspired to try different grain bowls and salads for her lunch (I realized - duh - that I can set the rice cooker overnight and have rice or other grains in the morning to use in a bowl). Check out their website. https://www.farmersfridge.com/ I looked it up for inspiration for different things to put in the bowl.

They have a greek salad, a cobb salad, a peanut sauce thai salad. Southwest salad, napa salad (F says - "I want that one!"). There are bowls, too, with rice or noodles or quinoa. Lots of good veggies, avocado, etc.

All of this is super easy to make at home! Need to look up some dressing recipes.

Back from Holiday

July 15th, 2018 at 11:21 am

We had an amazing 3 week holiday, and are now back! It's nice to be back (as we were landing, my daughter said excitedly "Look at the brown grass!" - this is what happens when you grow up in New Mexico - you think grass is supposed to be brown).

Here are the highs and lows of the holiday spending:

- We bought only one souvenir (a plate to use for olives with two sections - one for olives and one for pits, from Portugal) - 12 euro. We usually buy one useful thing (in France several years ago it was salad tongs that we use all the time) that are a great reminder of our wonderful trip every time it's used. F bought some things at the Harry Potter Studios with her money.

- We did not check any bags, so no bag fees.

- We stayed in apartments, so we were able to cook a lot of our meals.

- We did eat out a fair amount, probably more than previous trips. Eating out in Portugal was not expensive. We took D's dad out to dinner in Gloucester (UK). That wasn't cheap. But we had a lot of picnics. Carrots are super inexpensive, and butter and cheese. A lot of our picnics were of the cheese/olive/bread/fruit variety. Cherries were in season in Portugal and they were huge, yummy and cheap! We were taken out to dinner by family a few times (who I think were appreciative that we spent the money to come see them rather than them having to buy plane tickets to the US).

- We used public transport exclusively. They were having a "kids ride free" promotion in Ireland, so F was free there. We bought Leap cards in Ireland; any unused amount on the Leap card is refundable later if you register the cards online (including the deposit for the card).

- Some of the experiences that were so worth the money: Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour, Palacio de Pena/Quinta de Regaleira/Moorish Castle in Portugal, pedalo and stand up paddleboarding rental in Cascais Portugal, kayaking on the Liffey in Dublin, Powerscourt gardens outside of Dublin, rented bikes in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, played footgolf in Howth outside of Dublin. We used the money in our Irish account to pay for all of this; I have not been transferring any money from this account to our US account for several months.

- We had what I think was a lot of spending on experiences (which I far prefer to stuff), but had some big savings, too:
-In Cambridge, we paid only 16 pounds to punt on the River Cam because D has his alumni card and has punted before so we didn't need to do a tour (which is like 150 pounds - yikes!).
-In Dublin we got in to see the Book of Kells for free because D is an alumnus of Trinity. That would have been 28 euro.
-Visit to an English park with a little zipline that kept all three of us amused for a long time. A lot of English parks have ziplines!

- We brought home some gf food we can't get in the US or cost a lot to get online (Irish brown bread, crumpets).

- Free souvenir from Ireland - a rock from Killiney beach and lots and lots of photos.

I hope your summer travels are also amazing! Have you been to Lisbon/Cascais/Sintra? Incredible, right?

Summer Update

June 16th, 2018 at 04:33 pm

I haven't written anything in a while! I've just been so, so busy and I now have half an hour before we have to leave to go to my friends' son's bar mitzvah party.

We went to the service this morning, which I thought would be good for F to see. We decided not to do any religious education for her since D and I are not religious and grew up with different cultures/religions. Anyway, she was confused, and I was having all these mixed emotions (I knew a lot of the songs/words from my childhood but didn't say them out loud because I felt like that would have been sort of hypocritical). I sort of hummed along.

We got the son a gift certificate, but D (who used to be a children's photographer and still does family portraits now and then) also took the photos in the temple yesterday morning. He will process the images, too, and give them to the family for free (they were expecting to pay).

I had to do a little work today, but also trying to get things together since we leave in a week for Europe. So excited! We have someone house and petsitting and want to make sure things are super clean and super nice/relaxing for her. I have a huge to-do list and I still need to work this week.

We are eating from the fridge and pantry this week so we don't waste food, but I'll do a small shop for a few items. We are bringing wraps that we make at home when we leave on Saturday so we don't need an overpriced airport lunch in Dallas. And some chocolate from home. Some snacks, too (nuts, dried fruit).

Anyway - we can't wait! But this week will be fun before we leave... F can do karate every day (we pay a monthly fee, but for the summer there are four classes a week she can go to, and she's so happy). And we'll go to the pool. And Music on the Hill (free music; everyone brings a picnic dinner and hangs out with friends).

Soccer, Savings, Snowflakes...

May 15th, 2018 at 10:24 am

F played in a tournament last weekend; there weren't enough teams entered, so our team had to play three boys teams (and one girls team). Not ideal, but they had fun. We did not eat out at all (brought our own food), but we did have dessert that D brought back from our favorite little cafe up the street (for mother's day and to celebrate the end of the tournament). We are going to another tournament this weekend; this one is out of town. I have the cooler ready to go, and meals planned. We'll eat out once. I just found out that the tournament is on turf rather than grass, and I'm not thrilled about that.

We are going to swap petsitting with a woman at the karate dojo. She's watched our pets before. So - no cost!

I got a $50 payment from the gym, and I sold the birdcage for another $50. Should see another payment from this gym, and something from the other gym, too. Last month my total gym payments were $152.

Soccer Tournament Weekend

May 12th, 2018 at 09:03 am

Soccer tournament weekend!

The car is all packed up... I made a spreadsheet for food, partly based on the recommendation of F's coaches on what the kids should eat and when. The games are at slightly weird times so we had to make the schedule. I just reminded her to drink another glass of water! Hydrate!

F is super excited!

I already vacuumed most of the house, cleaned the litterbox.

I also made a list of everything to bring to next week's tournament which is out of town - 5 1/2 hour car ride away!

And I looked at our "red" categories. I don't want to dip into our tax refund to pay those back to ourselves. I am shifting money around from other categories. The big one is the car repair category which is just at $700. This may take a few months to knock down.

Someone was supposed to come before 10 am to buy the birdcage we have for sale... it is 9:59, so I'm not hopeful. We leave at 10:30 for the soccer fields. I have other people who are interested, so I will email them if I have to!

Car Repair

May 9th, 2018 at 12:19 pm

This is the thing about having an older car, right? You know you'll have some repairs. We budget for car service, but it wasn't enough to cover a big service/repair for D's car and then a big service/repair for mine a month later.

We are short $729.41 after all the payments in the auto servicing category. We will pay this down with other categories and then pay it off little by little until it's gone. It makes me sick, but because our finances are in good shape, we can owe this money to ourselves rather than a credit card!!!

Here are the numbers:
- D's car - $1365.86
- D uber to get home from the car place $15.08 (Grrrr)
- My car - $876.77 (service plus rear brakes plus replace broken torque mount)
- My transportation home from the car place $ZERO (It was a beautiful 1.5 mile walk along the river trail most of the way, 26 mins, I'll leave to walk back and pick up my car at 2 pm)

So D has a more expensive car than mine. It was more expensive to buy, but he had the money from an Irish account that was his before we got married to buy it. It's now 11 years old, but it's going strong. What's interesting is how much it costs to OWN compared to my cheapo car (insurance, gas and repairs).

My car is not glamorous (Nissan Versa hatchback) but it will now be in good working order for our trips to AZ and CO for soccer tournaments.

Saving Money on Weekend Plans

May 6th, 2018 at 11:24 am

Here's how we saved money this weekend:

- Instead of going out to dinner or lunch (which we do have a budget for), we went out for dessert last night! It was a beautiful night and we walked down Canyon Road afterward (like tourists! Ha!). We are saving up money to go out to dinner in Flagstaff when F has her soccer tournament.

- We are having a party for F's grade at school (50 kids and their families); but since I organized it, I decided to do a fun potluck picnic (the school is letting us use the campus) instead of meeting at a restaurant (which other classes have done). This way no one has to pay for meals out for their family (so no one is excluded) and we can play soccer and frisbee, etc. People forget that even though it's a foo-foo private school, not everyone is wealthy, and lots of kids get tuition assistance.

- F and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday and wandered around looking at everything. We bought a chard plant and a zucchini plant for the garden. I hope they do well! I don't think we'll have another freeze...

Grocery Shopping

April 30th, 2018 at 08:28 am

My grocery shop used to be about $100-120 per week and now it's more like $115-130.

I have a few theories about why this is:
- F is almost a teenager and eating A LOT
- F and I both have to eat gluten free which is slightly more expensive
- I buy organic where possible and now that we've paid off our mortgage, this is the one place I've bought better ingredients and skimped less

Here is our meal plan for this week:
- frito pies
- hearts of palm with coleslaw
- gambino crime
- salmon cakes
- crustless quiche
- freezer
- chicken taquitos

Here, for the record is what we bought (this is a long list, sorry, but just in case anyone is interested; I shop at Trader Joe's and Sprouts. I wish we had an Aldi). Total spend was $127.98:

Dinner Ingredients for 7 dinners ($44.28):
Frozen chicken, 2.5 lbs (3 meals worth) - 7.49
Cream cheese (also for breakfast) - 1.99
Goat cheese (also for lunches) - 4.99
Sour cream (will last 2 weeks) - 2.99
Plain yoghurt (also for breakfast) - 1.99
Eggs - 3.99
Frozen edamame (2 meals worth) - 1.79
Green onions - 1.29
Bok choy - 1.99
Tinned salmon - 3.29
Corn tortillas - 1.29
Salsa verde (also for snacks) - 1.99
Hearts of palm - 2.99
Broccoli - .71
Cilantro - .50
Green cabbage - .57
Lettuce - .99
Lime - .50
Red pepper - .50
Red cabbage (some used for lunches and salads) - 1.44
3 ears of corn on the cob - 1.00

Staples ($5.18):
Almond milk - 2.69
Irish breakfast tea for D - 2.49

Advisory Snack (we are responsible this week) ($5.98):
String cheese - 2.99
Crackers GF - 2.99

Breakfast items ($19.01):
Eggs - 3.99
D's bread (also for sandwiches) - 2.49
our GF bread (lasts 2 weeks) - 4.99
our GF bagels (last 2 weeks) - 4.49
2 potatoes - .98
yellow onion - .31
Large grapefruit for me and F - 1.76

Lunch Items and snacks ($37.45):
Sliced turkey for D (this will last 1.5 weeks) - 4.99 x2
Cookies for F - 3.99
Carrots - .79
Crackers - 2.29
Crisps for D - 1.99
Crisps for me and F - 2.29
Seaweed snack - .99
Tortilla chips (large bag) - 4.49
Apples 2 lb - 2.99
3 bananas - .57
Mandarins 2 lb - 2.99
Larabars (2) - 2.00
2 mangos - 1.00
Strawberries - .98
Cucumbers 2 - 1.00
Avocado - .99
Kiwis - 1.00
Radishes - .50
Tomato - .18

Baking ingredients ($9.03):
Chocolate chips - 1.99
Dark chocolate 1 lb. - 4.99
Sugar 2 lb - 2.05

Sunday lunch (we get something like this instead of eating out on the grocery shopping day!) ($3.69):
Trader Joe's black bean taquitos - 3.69

I know there are places we could cut back (chips!!), but I try to remember that this is 7 days of meals, three meals a day, and we don't eat out this week.

Broken Part on Boiler

April 22nd, 2018 at 06:58 pm

F and I walked into the garage today on our way to the grocery store and smelled gas! Yikes! I called D who was out on a run, and left the garage door open to air it out.

He called the Gas Company and they came right away. They red tagged our boiler, but let us know that it was just the pilot light that is broken, not any other part (he checked everything) and told us to get a reputable plumber who wouldn't try to fix other things that aren't broken.

Luckily it's warm here now and we don't need our boiler. We use two plumbers and they are both good and honest. I called the first one and he is out of town until Tuesday. I will call the second one tomorrow.

Unexpected expense, but I have $600 in household repairs.

Frugal Things Today

April 21st, 2018 at 07:01 pm

Frugal stuff from today:

- A 12 noon soccer game... we drove F and her friend down to the game. I made turkey wraps rather than going out (saved money and the girls got to eat right away). I also brough cucumber, cuties and some tortilla chips. And a couple of cookies, but they didn't eat them because the coach brought brownies (and GF cupcakes for F and her teammate L) because it was the last official game of the season. Now the tournaments start.

- We went to the library today when we got home because F finished another book, and realized at the end that it's a series. I saw online that the library had the next book, and she got two others as well.

- I started a new book on my phone (also from the library). It's really terrible, but entertaining. When we were at the library I saw they had the new Philip Pullman. I want to read it, but first I think I need to re-read His Dark Materials since it's been 14 years since I read it. We have a copy on the shelf (the same copy I read 14 years ago in Dublin, because D had the books).

- Got a postcard for a gallery opening for a show by the woman who was my landlord when I first moved here in 1993. We became friends instantly, but drifted apart when she was spending most of her time in Hawaii. I can't wait to go and see her! I sent her an email; hope she writes back.

- I started negotiating the contracts for my engineers on my new fire station project. So far just structural engineering, but he accepted my fee proposal - good news! On Monday: mechanical/electrical/plumbing and civil engineering.

- Got paid by one of my gyms: $52. I made $100 at the other gym this month, so total for the month of $152. The way I look at it is they pay me for exercising.

- I was given a free pass to try a class at OrangeTheory fitness. Have you tried it? It is $28/class (!!!!) as opposed to being paid to work out, so there's no way I'll be going regularly.

- We are using up some stuff in the freezer this week... make your own pizzas and frito pies (I made enough beans last time for two meals).

- Going to clean F's bathroom tonight. She still prefers baths to showers, and so I clean the tub when she gets out (it's easier when it's already wet). Not sure this is frugal, but somehow for me lifehacks are mentally linked to frugality (time saving?).

Warning about Earny! (and others like it)

April 18th, 2018 at 08:35 am

I saw that a few of my friends use Earny, so I got on their website to take a look.

The premise is that they pay you the difference in what you paid for an item if the price drops.

Here's the thing, though: when you go to sign up, it gives you this message:
"Earny wants to access your Google Account
This will allow Earny to:
Read, send, delete, and manage your email"

Whaaaaaaat? Read, send, delete and manage my email???!!!!!

I didn't sign up. It seems slightly insane. Wondering if anyone here has experience with Earny?

Spring wind, soccer tournament lodging and a rant about work

April 17th, 2018 at 07:18 pm

Spring. The wind has been so bad that they keep canceling soccer practice due to air quality issues (dust in the air!). F had to have PE inside today, too. She's not very happy about it, but what can you do? It meant I didn't get a workout today, either (I usually walk/run during soccer practice).

I did walk to meet my friend to take her out for lunch for her birthday. The wind was just starting to kick up. Afterward, walked to the City to drop something off at Land Use, and then walked back to the office. A little bit of exercise, I guess, before air got really bad. I could smell a fire somewhere, too.

We had leftover chili for dinner, and I made cornbread to go with it.

Other frugal stuff: we got a condo to stay in for the soccer tournament in Flagstaff; we are sharing with 2 other families and it ends up being less than half what a hotel would be. And access to a pool! Not to mention that it will be more fun, and we'll have a fridge and somewhere to cook!

Now the not so great part of last week: I did not even get shortlisted for the project that I submitted a proposal for. It's not that I always expect to be shortlisted, but this was a fire station, and I have designed a lot of fire stations in our area. They've all been really successful (close to zero change orders!), and the firefighters always request to transfer into my stations.

Well... another architect who was shortlisted was talking to my office mate, and they were discussing how shocked they were that I didn't make the shortlist. My office mate said he wanted to tell me because he knew it was going to make me crazy otherwise: the architect said that the new head of projects at the City told him that they know I have a child, and if my child has a cold or something I might not be able to make a meeting.

On the one hand, this is a way of saying that my firm is not big enough for their comfort level which is a valid concern.... although the Project Architect (heading up the project) will always have that problem no matter what the firm size - you can't just send a junior person because they can't make decision. I have people to send instead of me, too, but they wouldn't be able to make decisions or know the project as well as I know it.

On the other hand this sounds so sexist I can't even believe it. Would they say that about a man with a child?

I haven't spoken to the Fire Chief (he wasn't on the selection committee). It's a bummer because this is a big project, but I always believe that when I don't get a project, there's a reason, like the project would be a nightmare in some way (and this one really could be - I won't get into why, but there are signs in addition to the fact that the City's project manager doesn't like that I have a family).

The good news: the County (not City) accepted my fee proposal for a different fire station so that should get started soon.

The other (possibly) good news: I have a meeting on Thursday to discuss another project that could help me branch out into other areas (I've done police station, library, lots of fire stations, but this is something new!).

The other good news: what the City's project manager doesn't like about me is what I like best about myself and my work situation - I can be there for my daughter (she is growing up so fast!). So if a client isn't ok with that, they're not the client for me!

Planned and Unplanned Expenses

April 14th, 2018 at 12:35 pm

We've had some large-ish expenses around here, some planned, some unplanned.

Property Taxes (second half of the year) - Planned - $1254.76 from the sinking fund, and still have $135 left in that category (which is good because our taxes go up each year).

New soccer ball - Unplanned (her ball got a weird split in the seams and the inside was splooging out) - $21.69 - took from the sports supplies category which still has $73 in it, which is good because F needs new running shoes.

Pillow - Sort of planned - because of F's allergies, I needed to get a new (non-feather) pillow for myself and her last visit to the allergist confirmed this. She crawls into bed with us sometimes to watch tv or read, and we just need to limit her exposure as much as possible - I just took half the stuffing out and saved it in a bag (I like a flat pillow and this was already supposed to be a flat pillow, ha ha). $35

Air Filter for F's Room - Unplanned (but strongly suggested by the allergist) - $124

Vet Visit - Unplanned - $130 - our Pets sinking fund is now negative, ugh. Need to fill it up from another category. Our poor dog has had gooey eyes, and it turns out that she is not producing enough tears. It happens to some dogs when they age. The $130 was for vet visit, eyedrops and some goo to keep her eyes moist (that we can get at the drugstore next time according to D).

Hoping that the groceries are under budget this month...

One more planned expense: somewhere to stay in Flagstaff for the soccer tournament in May. I'll discuss getting a condo with one of the moms today at the game. Hotels are expensive, and if we can share a condo it'll be a lot less. It's 382 miles there and back, so I estimated $62 in gas. Then hotel. So we will be bringing a big cooler so we don't have to eat out the whole time! I'm sure there will be a big team dinner, which will be fun! But breakfast and lunch can be from our own supplies.

What I saved money on:
- ate lunch from home all month so far (but taking my friend out for her birthday on Tuesday)
- no costs for entertainment (on the weekends we play basketball at the park and go to F's soccer games)
- a good friend just gave me a present (she pre-ordered the Greatest Showman for me because she said it's my kind of movie - feelgood - and I never go to movies) - tonight's entertainment!
- have been working so hard and work has been difficult and stressful, and sometimes I think I'll stop and get a fancy tea latte to make myself feel better, but then I reconsider, and I haven't splurged at all so I'm very proud!
- reading a library book on my phone (free!) and have a list of other books for when I finish this one
- have a pile of socks to darn (ok, so I haven't done this yet, but I will!)
- did most of the housework this morning (I am including this because I don't have a cleaning person!)

Our Meal Plan and Why it's Frugal

April 7th, 2018 at 04:54 pm

I think my daughter is HANGRY. She played all 70 minutes of the soccer game today and that doesn't include the warmup. I have, of course, been feeding her all day, before and immediately after and since the game. I am going to go make dinner in 5 minutes.

But first, while I'm thinking about food...

Here is our meal plan and "why it's frugal."

S - flacas with mini peppers (flacas are two corn tortillas, dry pan fried with beans and cheese) - Frugal because not meat-based, corn tortillas are a cheap grain, we already have some extra mini peppers on hand...
S - asian meatballs - Made with ground turkey instead of ground beef, we put in a couple of diced green onions and some garlic and ginger, make a sauce with leftover marinara/rice vinegar and add some rice - nothing exotic or expensive. Usually a vegetable on the side - whatever is on sale.
M - pasta with zucchini and goat cheese - No-meat meal. Goat cheese from Trader Joe's is affordable - this uses about half a package and we use the rest for lunches.
T - aloo gobi with rice - Makes a ton! No meat, two potatoes, one head of cauliflower and some onion and spices - I think the whole dinner is less than $5. This is made in the crockpot which is good for soccer night.
W - lemon crumbed fish with veg and cheddar bay biscuits - The fish is not cheap but we buy whatever vegetable is on sale at Sprouts and make our own cheddar bay biscuits. I have the breadcrumbs from bread heels in the freezer ready to use. Probably one of our more expensive dinners, but definitely under $15 total.
Th - freezer and salad - We have some posole and chili in the freezer, leftover from a crockpot meal specifically for soccer nights when we don't get home until 7:30 at the earliest. We make a salad with lettuce ($1) and some radishes, shredded carrot and sunflower seeds. Homemade salad dressing that I always have in the fridge.
F - tacos - One last soccer night to deal with. Corn tortillas, a little bit of shredded chicken made in the crockpot, sour cream, salsa, lettuce... Or we might do these veggie with avocados instead of chicken.

Now time to feed one hungry girl... and two hungry adults... and a dog and a cat.

Work Budget

April 5th, 2018 at 09:16 am

My work financials are tied into my personal financials because my business is an S-corp and I am the only employee. I have things very separate, so sometimes it's hard to remember that in the end, it's all just our money.

#1 - Projects
If I don't have projects, I don't have work, and then I don't have a paycheck. I have to do marketing (proposals) to get projects. I just turned in 4 proposals and got shortlisted on 3 (the other one I just turned in, so not sure yet). Of the three, I was contacted that I won one of them, lost one of them, and the other won just had the interview on Monday, so not sure about that yet either. Anyway, we are in negotiations on the one I won, and it's making me so nervous. It's a new fire station, and I really want it, and I submitted my fee. They came back that they wanted me to include landscape architecture from a certain firm and a professional cost estimate. That's about $10k of extra work ($10k I have to pay someone else). I absorbed most of it. I hope this works out. But every penny of the $10k comes out of my pocket.

#2 - Dining Out
I have a budget for taking clients out, but like my personal budget, this seems like excess, the only place to cut costs. But it's a marketing cost, really. I just made a lunch meeting with head of one of my Design Review Committees.

#3 - Supplies
I hate buying supplies. Ink for the printer costs so much. This is another category which is one of those rare places I can save. I have to keep supplies at home, too, because I work from there in the afternoons after I pick up F from school. So I need the printer there to have ink, paper...

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