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Archive for November, 2015

Getting Ready for the Holidays

November 30th, 2015 at 03:27 pm

Organizing for the holidays, decluttering the garage, trying to do my work...

1. F's two advent calendars are almost done, and just in time, too! We have a cookie advent calendar (I cut the fancy-schmancy cookies from Trader Joes - four different kinds of dipped oreos - in half, wrap in foil and put them in the pockets of the fabric advent calendar that Grandma embroidered (we use it every year). The second one is a set of "drawers" and I put a note for each day (often with things we may be doing that day). So the total cost is $6.99 for the cookies (although we really just use half the cookies and she gets the rest in January in her lunches!)

2. I bought two large storage bins at Lowe's today. My idea is to eventually have everything in the garage encased in bins! There was a deal, and with each bin, I got a smaller bin for free... so two bins was actually four.

3. I used a $5 gift card at Target today to buy some Hanukkah candles, mechanical pencils for F and some fancy candy canes. Also a couple of ingredients I need for dinner next week and sugar.

4. I picked up a couple of free magazines (New Mexico Kids and Tumbleweeds) to see what is going on during Winter Break so that F and I can plan a few things. There are all sorts of free programs at the museums. I will list of everything we plan to do in a post tomorrow in case it brings something to mind where you live!

5. I only have one more load of laundry from the week away; I'll have to do it tomorrow.

6. I recently wrote a recommendation for a friend who was looking for a job at the community college. He got the job! And he called me today to say there are some projects there that I might be interested in... so we're meeting tomorrow! That is great news for 2016!

7. The tree is up (it's artificial and has been re-used the past ten years)... we are going to start decorating tonight!

8. Almost all presents are purchased. It's really just little things for F...

9. Why did I take the medal for the 5k we did on Thanksgiving Day? F is keeping her medal, of course; it's her first 5k. But mine is just clutter! I'm tossing it!

Back from a Frugal Thanksgiving

November 29th, 2015 at 06:10 pm

We're back from California which was not that warm. Except when we landed last night the cold outside hit us and we all gasped - so I guess it was warmer there after all. And that was Albuquerque; it's colder here.

Overall it was a pretty frugal Thanksgiving. I had packed a few things so that I could make apple pie and red chile sauce. My mom had bought cans of cranberry sauce which I think is just too processed, so we bought some cranberries and I made my own. My mom will take back the cans. Everyone brought dishes to share and we all ended up cooking together stuffed into my mom's tiny kitchen.

We went out for lunch on Wednesday and hot the Korean hot bowl (yum!) but it was a food court, so not that expensive. And then the rest of our meals were at home.

We played Heads Up at Thanksgiving, and the next day had our annual soccer game in the park.

Airport parking was $11, so not too bad for 5 days.

Our neighbor watched our cat, and the dog boarding - well, it's not cheap, but not as bad as some places.

No Black Friday sales for us. I am not a shopper!

Today I bought groceries for the week, and it looks like we're having D's coworkers and spouses over for dinner next weekend. It's casual - so just chile, cornbread... someone can bring a salad, someone else beer or wine. I will probably make a chocolate caramel tart, too.

Here's the meal plan:
roasted veggies and potatoes
tuna melts with tomato soup
fish, broccoli and rice with aoili
chili and cornbread
chicken sausage pasta with white wine sauce
something from the freezer and a salad

Leaving Tomorrow!

November 23rd, 2015 at 08:10 am

I have lots to do today because we are going to California for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

- get ingredients for coleslaw for the 5th/6th grade feast tomorrow
- find a sub for spinning class because I have to be at school pretty much right when spinning starts
- return books to the library
- tidy up house (friends coming into town tonight and this is the only night our travel plans connect, so they're coming over!)
- vacuum up dog hair
- make quick clementine cake for all of us to share tonight
- fold and put away yesterday's laundry
- pack for me and F!
- boarding passes

Tomorrow:
- sandwiches for the plane (we're flying right at dinner time)
- 5th/6th 1 mile turkey trot and feast
- pick up school cookbooks from the printer and take up to school
- a little bit of work (mostly financial stuff to get in order) plus pay renewal on state architecture license

Luckily I don't have a lot of work right now. One project just bid, the other is about to bid. So I may have a nice, quiet holiday season (at least quiet at the office) - wow!

Just Printed 2014 Photo Book

November 22nd, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I've finally finished our 2014 (yes, 2014 not 2015) photo book... there is a 50% off sale on photo books that ends tomorrow and I also had a $10 off coupon. Also free shipping.

It was fun to look at photos from 2014 - it seems like a long time ago now! F looked really young... awwww! And that was the year we went to Europe and France, so there were a LOT of photos to include.

I think 2015 was a little more low-key, but I love the everyday photos too.

Do you print photos or do photo books? It's not inexpensive, but so important to me.

An Accomplishment and Meal Plan

November 15th, 2015 at 11:38 am

For her birthday last June, we got F a new bike because her old one was sooooo small. She rode it once, and it scared her a little bit because it was bigger and had hand brakes and gears. All summer we kept suggesting bike rides and she kept saying no. Then she learned to ride a unicycle, but the bicycle was still too scary (???).

Yesterday she said to me, "I want to ride my bike." We have a river trail a block away (wide and paved), but she wanted to go to the park where there is a narrow circuit of sidewalks and ramps. OK. When she sets her mind to something, she usually achieves what she wants, so we put the bike in the car and went to the park.

She did it - and she was great! We were there two hours and went back today. Now she is really good on her bike, and I said that we could ride the river trail to the park (1 mile) or to downtown (3 miles). I'm so happy for her!

That's my good news for today... It's frugal news, too, because that is a great zero-cost thing to do on the weekends when there isn't snow on the ground.

And here's the frugal meal plan for this week:
S - to a friend's 50th birthday party (not sure if it'll be enough for dinner; if not then home for soup and garlic bread)
M - chicken shepherd’s pie (Rachael Ray recipe that makes enough for lunch the next day)
T - tuna melts and green beans (because when D made the tuna melts last time they weren't that good, and F and I have been craving them ever since)
W - potatoes dauphinoise and broccoli (having these because I won't be making them for Thanksgiving, and they're so good!)
T - frito pies (a Santa Fe specialty! - beans all piled on top of fritos or tortilla chips but fritos are better even though they're kind of gross), cheese, chile not chili, sour cream, lettuce, green onions)
F - pasta with zucchini and goat - yummy recipe with a goat cheese sauce and lemon zest
S - freezer and salad (I have white chicken chile in the freezer)
M - friends coming into town, so probably out to dinner (we have enough money in our "dining out" category)

Holiday Season is Beginning!

November 11th, 2015 at 03:58 pm

Sold a bag on craigslist and made $10 today. I have more things to sell; I need to post them! Some of them would be great Christmas gifts, so I think now is the time.

Tomorrow F and I are going to see a movie. You have no idea what a big deal this is! We haven't been to the movie theater in years! Literally years. The last time was a birthday party for a kid in her class. She says she doesn't like watching movies in the theater, but this is one she did want to go to: the Peanuts Movie. And I want to see it, too. And we have a really nice new theater here. We haven't been, but I hear the chairs are super cushy and you can order food! (We'll wait and have dinner at home). Tickets for both of us will be $17. There is $34 in our entertainment category.

It just dawned on me that we'll be in California in two weeks! I am looking forward to seeing everyone for Thanksgiving. We are still working out the menu. I want to make mashed potatoes with red chile sauce (on the side!), but my niece who was going to make brussels sprouts is now making quinoa; we need something green. So maybe I'll make a vegetable, too. I also need to make a dessert (so that I can eat it because regular flour is out for me); maybe something chocolate since my mom is buying a pumpkin pie? I love apple pie, though. Hmmm... I need to think about what I have to bring in my luggage (pans and stuff that my mom doesn't have). And red chile to make the sauce.

We won't need to do a full week's grocery shopping, but obviously I still need to buy some ingredients. After we pay for the dog boarding place, it's an expensive proposition even though my parents graciously pay for our airfare (mostly because they are so relieved not to have to travel to me or my brother). Reminder to sign up for airport parking online for the discount!

Do you have plans to travel for Thanksgiving? Are you helping out with the cooking or doing it all yourself? What kind of budget do you have?

Long Post about Not Much (But I'm Getting a lot Done!)

November 10th, 2015 at 04:27 pm

I did a lot of decluttering and getting things in order today including:
- the usual housework
- the usual work-work
- cleaned out the trunk of my car
- entered orders for school pics (we are going to place the order tomorrow evening - net should be about $1800)
- rearranged my pajama drawers so that winter stuff is in the top drawer
- cleaned up F's art supplies in the pantry
- got the old holiday cards out to see what we can recycle. I think we'll use an old card and insert a photo or maybe paste a new photo on top of an old card style that we never used up. I am NOT paying for cards this year!

Other stuff:
I've been trying to sell a bag on craigslist, and the woman wants it but she lives in the next town north which is about 30 minutes away. We're having trouble coordinating. She's having some hard life stuff right now, so I'm not trying to sell it out from under her. We'll work it out, I'm sure.

I have other things to sell on craigslist, but I haven't posted them yet. On tomorrow's to-do list!

Also on tomorrow's list: finish the school recipe book! We need to print a trial copy and get the word out so people can order them as holiday gifts! I know what my mom and dad are getting!

F had a hard day at school today. They got to choose science partners today, but the groups are three kids and she is in a group of four best friends. One friend decided to do it by rock-paper-scissors, and F's friend A was left out. She wasn't in a bad group, but not with any of her best friends. F and I talked because she walked out of school looking super dejected because she was so sad for A and feeling guilty. She said "I think I'm going to talk to S and see if she wants to switch groups with me so I can be with A. Then it's two and two. If S says ok, I can ask the science teacher." I told her I thought that was a great idea and a very caring way to handle the situation. I was thinking of LivingAlmostLarge and her Kindergarten woes! The learning process just continues... F is in 5th grade.

F is quitting piano, and the teacher made a really wonderful gesture (speaking of learning experiences and ways to deal with situations). She said F could just learn a song at a time just to still be involved with music, and that if she gets stuck on how to work out the notes, we can have one-off lessons with her here and there. Brilliant! And a great offer! F is playing "Blank Space" on the piano right now, so I guess that's good!

It's dark now, so I guess time to make dinner. Pasta with red sauce and asparagus.



I Was Just Invited to a Purse Party... ?????

November 5th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

I was just invited by the interior designer that usually does the furniture for my fire station projects to a Purse Party.

Huh?

I almost trashed the invitation (purses are not really on my radar; I have one small baggallini about 5"x7" that I put my credit cards/phone/fold up brush. into and that pops into my laptop bag; I do not have any other purses).

Here is what the invitation reads:

Sponsored by KI and Pallas Fabrics [note: these are commercial fabric lines for desk chairs and stuff]

Come and view the latest Pallas fabric offerings. Select a bag design with your favorite Pallas fabric(s) and receive your complimentary bag in just a few weeks!

Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be provided

So it's a free purse, and they're feeding me? Also - this interior designer has daughters, and F went to camp with one of them last summer (they loved each other). I'm going to see if her daughter will be there (I think she will - the interior designer is super sweet and has an afterschool kid area in her office that she's invited F to come to before).

So - what do you think? Should I rsvp yes?

If I go, what should I do with the purse? Keep? Sell on Craigslist (or is that rude?).

Financial Matters for Today

November 4th, 2015 at 03:43 pm

It's 4:29 and it's raining, and it's starting to be really dark. F has practice (at least they haven't called it yet) under the lights at the park at 5:30. Brrrr! But the girls are always up for more soccer. I need some heavier clothes!

Tonight's frugal dinner is tuna melts and a salad.

So here's another cost-saving thing: I was told by my Physical Therapist (still working on my back pain) that I should temporarily stop eating sugar. She said it's an inflammatory food, and I'm inflamed, and we need to give it a chance to go down. This should save some money but it's sad because sugar is pretty much the only vice I have left! I was way better after today's visit, so that's good.

This week I also figured out our new health insurance. Do you need to switch insurance for 2016? We do because Blue Cross has pulled out of individual coverage in our state. They wanted to raise premiums 50% and the state said no. Our new plan seems good; I used to be with this company and liked them.

The last bit of news from today: F is one of two kids from her class going to the school spelling bee. This has been a goal of hers since 3rd grade! The other student is her best friend, and they are making plans to study together. Her words were moxie, bewilder and lavender. Not as hard as some of the ones on the list: polemic, platinum... but she knew all of them; they only had two days to study!

Now on my list:
- put drawings in my FTP folder so my client can give them to the Purchasing Department
- finish the school recipe book so we can start selling it for holiday gifts
- meet a contractor at his lot to check him out for completion
- call an accountant to set up an FSA (or something else?)

Sunday - Meal Plan, Some Frugal Stuff, Baking

November 1st, 2015 at 12:57 pm

This week's meal plan:
S - pad thai
M - white chicken chile (will make three additional freezer meals!)
T - mexican eggs and mixed veg
W - tuna melts and salad
T - risotto with peas and goat cheese and sundried tomatoes
F - baked potatoes and broccoli (save leftover mash for salmon cakes the next night)
S - salmon cakes

One more frugal thing: my rear tail light burned out, so we ordered a new bulb (about $6) and D will put it in himself. He replaces tail lights and puts the snow tires on himself, which saves a lot of money!

Oh - and I forgot - I am going downstairs to make a carrot cake in a couple of minutes. I was going to make it yesterday, but there was so much going on. Carrot cake at our house doesn't last long, but I'm sure there'll be a piece for F after school! Her soccer practice is early tomorrow due to the time change (4 pm!). I may be bringing other kids to the practice, too, since it's so early and I stop working at 3 when I go to pick F up from school.

Anything else frugal? Yes! How could I forget! I got $300 from my parents for my birthday! Once again, I am supposed to spend it on myself. D and I need a new duvet. Ours is in fine condition, but it's a full size not a queen, so it doesn't fit in the duvet cover and it doesn't completely cover us. We'll pass on the full-size duvet to F who has a full-size bed and duvet cover.

OK, down to the kitchen... I'm going to listen to the Serial Dynasty podcast while I bake.

Are you baking anything from scratch? Listening to any good podcasts?