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This Week's Meal Plan

January 20th, 2019 at 01:21 pm

Just made this week's meal plan...

- still have cinnamon raisin bread on hand
- scrambled or fried egg
- hash browns
- granola and plain yogurt with fruit
- oatmeal

- tuna wrap
- avocado/radish wrap
- burrito
- caprese on toast
- hardboiled eggs

- lentil coconut soup
- salmon souvlaki bowls
- posole from the freezer with edamame
- jackfruit tacos
- artichoke pasta
- chinese chicken salad with toasted almonds and cabbage
- roasted berbere vegetables (sweet potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, chickpeas)

So that's one fish night and two chicken nights (but not a lot of chicken in either recipe). The rest are vegetarian or vegan. Sometimes I am not sure how to explain to people how little animal protein we eat (because we are not vegetarian but we never eat red meat or pork and eat so little chicken. But I just saw an article on the Flexitarian Diet, and I guess that's what we are. Lots of vegetables, also grains, fruit, nuts, fish/chicken a couple of times a week.

Total grocery bill was $119.

Do you eat less animal protein than you used to? If so, is it for health or cost savings or planet-saving or ethical reasons? Or a combination or some other reason?

What is Going Well v. What I'm Struggling With

January 18th, 2019 at 04:28 pm

I'm going to start on a positive note... these are the things that are going well (and there are a lot, I feel very grateful!)
- my family
- went to California to see my niece (and spent too much money, but we did stay with them, so no hotel cost)
- I have Asian Meatballs in the crockpot and a rice cooker of rice cooking away... tonight F has soccer practice at 8 pm so we had to have dinner worked out.
- School was canceled today due to snow; so got to hang out with F all day! She came to the gym with me. It was the third time I'd taught in 2 days, and I'm pretty exhausted
- I'm reading the new Robert Galbraith novel (really JK Rowling) from the library
- I am in decluttering mode, and getting a lot done; I feel really proud. I have 62 books to take to the library (they have a little store).
- I think my husband got a small raise, but not sure yet - haven't seen a new paycheck.

And here are the things I am struggling with... it's pretty much work stuff.
- I worked my tail off last year in order to make enough money for 2019 to buy myself some time to figure out my work situation, but I've been so busy with work, I haven't had the chance.
- I had a really awful experience with the civil engineer I used on this fire station project; the County would not let me use my usual civil, and so I had to use someone new. It is a very reputable company, but I was driven crazy by the project manager I was working with. I made the uncomfortable call to his boss, and just laid out my displeasure (and the County's). I asked for three things: make things right with the County (by assuring them that they will perform for the rest of the process), do not bill me 100% when the project is not done, assign a new project manager. It was a really hard phone conversation, and I almost went home and went to bed at 10 am!
- The County made what we call a "change in approval" on my project, and now want me to change my drawings in a way that would be detrimental to the cost of the project. But I still have to come in on budget. I came up with a way forward and the Fire Department (my actual client) is happy. I am working up a price for additional services to change the drawings if that's what needs to be done. But the hand-holding and hysteria on this continue, and I'm not up for the stress.
- I don't think there will be any more work for architects with the County; they have decided to go Design-Build (hire the Contractor to do a turnkey project without anyone to represent their interests). And I don't really want to work with the County anymore anyway (see above).
- Which brings me back to the first bullet point: I need to rethink my career (about 30-40% of my billings are to the County currently). And I need to find the time to do that.

So, there you go... Starting fresh next Tuesday to spend a couple of hours each day figuring out different options, and what I would need to do to get to those options (classes? certifications?).

This Week's Meals (and our Grocery Tab)

January 6th, 2019 at 03:14 pm

So one thing I'm always interested is how people shop, what they eat, what their grocery bill is. It borders on obsession.

Did I tell you about the girl M in F's Advisory Group? Her parents give her money for lunch every day, and every day instead of buying the hot lunch with it, she gets an Arizona Tea, a cinnamon roll and a cookie. Each is a dollar, and the hot lunch would be $7 so she pockets $4. The Advisor is freaking out, and she told M that she was going to contact her mom.

Anyway, in case you are like me, here is what we're eating this week, but also our shopping list and prices!

S - Hearts of Palm with Asian Slaw
M - Fagioli Stew (turkey, beans, carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc)
T - Baked penne
W - Lemon Crumbed Fish, Rice, Broccoli
Th - Chimichurri Rice and a salad
F - Jackfruit Tacos

Breakfasts - oatmeal with fruit, toast with fruit, scrambled eggs, granola with yogurt and fruit

Lunches - red pepper with quinoa/beans (which we have in the freezer), tuna wrap, goat cheese on toast with beets (which we had today), avocado/tomato wrap, leftovers, burrito...
plus a fruit, a starch (like chips or crackers) and a veg (like carrots, cucumber with hummus).

The shopping list:
- Broccoli $1.52
- Spinach $1.29
- Cilantro .69
- Garlic .50
- Green Cabbage $1.27
- Beets $1.99
- Red Pepper $1.25
- Red Cabbage $2.99
- Red Onion .94
- Radishes .69
- Tomatoes .41
- Yellow Onion .35
- Avocados $3.29
- Carrots .79
- Cucumbers $1.00

- Hearts of Palm $5.98 (this is our main!)
- Marinara (tomatoes, salt only) 2 cans $4.58
- Kidney beans .99
- Cannellini beans .79
- Diced tomatoes $1.99
- Tuna 2 cans $2.98

- Pears $3.04
- Pineapple $2.50
- Grapefruit .99
- Mangos $1.98
- Apples $2.99
(we still have a bag of cuties in the fridge)

Bulk Bin
- Oats .26
- Jasmine Rice $2.76

- GF tortillas $5.99
- Olive oil $6.99
- Canola oil $2.49
- Almond Milk $2.69
- Plain Yogurt $3.29
- Cheddar $4.01
- Hummus $3.29
- Cereal for my husband $2.99
we still have granola for F in the pantry
- Bread for my husband $2.49
we still have our bread in the fridge
- Chocolate Chips $1.99
- Eggs 3.69

- Ricotta $2.99
- Ground Turkey $5.59 (also our main)
- Tilapia $7.44 (another main)

Total $109.44

Thinking Big

January 5th, 2019 at 04:47 pm

The big plan last year was to delay some of my billings so that I'd have enough money in my business to start the year off with a significant amount of money. The goal is to be able to take some time to Think BIG and figure out where my life/career/business is heading.

There are lots of possibilities, but also lots of moving pieces.

1. I delayed enough billing that I've essentially made all of the money I need to for 2019. That is GREAT! And sort of bad, because I will make more, and will need to figure out where it goes (SEP? yes. Higher pay? probably not). Now I have more things to think about and arrange. A good problem to have, I know.

2. We have always said we might move back to Europe; this was always in the future, but next year F will be in 9th grade, so that's now in the 5 year plan! Need to think about career here AND there.

3. We may want to add a portal (that is New Mexican for covered outdoor area!) on to the front of our house and outside F's bedroom. I will need to figure out a budget, do plans, get a permit, find a builder, cost everything, figure out how much of it I can do).

4. Some of the Thinking Big may involve some classes and certifications. I need to get going on this! BUT I still have a ton of work! I just said no to a project; saying no is hard, but it felt so good! I need to free up time. Probably mid-January things should (better!) quiet down.

Anyway, this is all good, and I am thankful for the privilege.

Have you gone through the process of making career adjustments or changes? Any books you recommend? Or did you hire a career coach? Or...?

Yes, Hamilton Tickets!!!!

January 1st, 2019 at 10:05 am

We got the tickets!!!! Row G orchestra, right on the aisle so F and I can actually see. We got on this website which shows you the views posted by people from various seats. OMG! As FrugalTexan I think correctly guessed: HAMILTON! We are so excited!!!!!!

Not sure if we can stay with my brother (and I wouldn't want to burden him with that), we got a hotel on booking.com. It was less than we could get on the hotel website, and we can cancel up to two days before. It's not a fancy hotel, but it looks just fine for us! And has a pool...

We will also go visit Stanford. And if you have any suggestions in the Palo Alto area, would love to hear it! It will be early August.

In other very boring news:
- Am freaking out because the book I ordered from the library is in but the library is closed today!!! I've been on the waiting list for a while; it's the new Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) book.
- I am trying to do my billing for work today even though I'm not technically working. Billing = money. Need money!

Vacation/Holiday Decisions

December 31st, 2018 at 08:34 am

We are leaving in less than 2 weeks to go to California for the weekend and spend time with my three wonderful nieces and their boyfriends/husbands! So excited, and so is F who really looks up to her older cousins. We are staying with K and her husband S who just got married in October (we missed the wedding, and that's why we're going out there - we get to spend a lot more time with them than just a few hours at the reception with 200 other people, so I'm glad).

Next trip - March back to California to see my parents, mid-week during Spring Break (to avoid soccer games). My mother will probably pay for our plane tickets because ordinarily they'd be coming out here (we were there for Thanksgiving) but my dad can't really travel.

We were going to use miles and take a trip farther afield in the summer, but we've scrapped that idea. We found out my brother and his wife are having a baby in July, so instead we are going to go to Palo Alto in August. I hope we can be helpful; at least watch the baby so they can nap or something!

We also did not go anywhere for Christmas (we never do, but I thought I'd mention it anyway). Most of F's friends are in Belize or somewhere, but we've been enjoying the snow. Christmas is amazing here!

Because we didn't travel this holiday and our upcoming trips do not involve eating out and staying in hotels, we are able to spend some money here and there on some cool experiences!

Yesterday: went to Ojo Caliente (hot springs about an hour north of here).

In March: maybe day trip to Disneyland!

In August: I don't even want to say yet... but... we are looking at getting tickets to a very big, popular musical that F knows ALL the words to. And is listening to right now. And has inspired her to write her own musical about feminism which has been her non-stop winter break entertainment! I am willing to get good tickets because this will come from the vacation budget.

Christmas Day

December 25th, 2018 at 10:34 am

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!!

It has been way too long since I've written anything! I was working on two things:
- a fire station (turned in the drawings on 12/20)
- a Christmas Advent Village (made of cardboard) for me and my daughter. We each wrote stories about each building, too, and gave them to each other each day. You can see them here: https://www.instagram.com/every_.little_.thing/?hl=en

I have work to finish later this week, but I am taking off Christmas!

We had a great day yesterday with all of the Santa Fe traditions. We did the Farolito walk, singing carols at the bonfires, and stopped in at the houses of two different friends, ending up at my friend K's house for frito pies. This is a free and beautiful tradition. Have any of you ever been here for Christmas?

It's supposed to snow tonight (fingers crossed we get a lot!).

So, two recent odd financial things:

1. We got nice presents for F's teachers and for her karate teachers. She signed the karate teacher cards when a friend was over, and the friend (who also takes karate) wanted to sign the cards, too (yes, she knew there was a gift included). I wasn't around (they are teenagers after all) or I would've suggested she do her own cards (I have some on hand). I didn't know what had happened until I saw her handing one of the envelopes to one of the karate teachers and then asked F about it in the car. Her mom is going to be surprised when she is thanked for the gift, but whatever. I decided to let it go. One of the cards/gifts was for someone F does private lessons with sometimes; her friend does privates with someone else, and I feel a little bad that he didn't get anything, but can't do anything about it.

2. I was at Trader Joe's the other day, and something didn't scan, and they had overcharged me $71 when they coded it in! (The item was turkey, and was only $10.24). I was super surprised that the total of the groceries was so high, but I figured "Well, I bought some special things for Christmas."
Still, I checked the receipt when I got in the car, and went right back in. They took care of it quickly. Check your receipts!!

3. My brother and his wife are expecting a baby boy! So excited! I want to knit a little cardigan, but all of my stash yarn has at least some wool in it (20% merino/80% cotton on the stuff I wanted to use) and they are vegan. I need to go to the store and find something. I am going to find something they can machine wash, but I know they wouldn't like 100% polyester.

I am super happy that these are the things on my mind because they are insignificant and not really bothersome at all! Looking forward to the day; already made cranberry sauce, and Christmas crackers are ready to go!!

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.