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Lacking the Clothes Shopping Gene

April 30th, 2017 at 02:49 pm

We made a special trip down to Albuquerque today to get a graduation dress for F (they graduate from 6th grade).

Before we went, I made her go through everything in her closet and we had a huge pile of things that no longer fit. She has enough leggings, enough shorts, but she's very low on short sleeved tshirts and tank tops. Also her lightweight hoodie is too small, and that's a summer staple. And she has ONE skirt. And she needs clothes for 7th grade that she'll feel good in (I am a firm believer in that - remind me to tell you about my very sad wardrobe as a child sometime - I wore my school PE clothes on weekends because I wore a uniform during the week and my mother didn't think it was necessary for me to have other fall/winter clothes).

So, off to Albuquerque for the Big Clothing Challenge. She's now definitely a tween - so some kids clothes are ok, and some are not. Some adult x-small are ok, and some are not. She's tall and thin, with strong soccer player thighs (leggings are great, skinny jeans are horrible).

We found things at Old Navy and at H&M, but no graduation dress. I had no idea where to go. Old Navy and H&M (and Target) are pretty much the limit of my shopping expertise.

Our coach was with us, and she said we should try Hollister, which is the worst store in the universe. It's dark and it smells like some sort of weird scent that is supposed to evoke California (I am from there, and I can tell you it doesn't; also I have a headache from it). But we found the dress!

It was so perfect on her, and... the strap was detaching from the body. Except it was the the last one left. The only one (and miraculously in her size). When I went up to ask them about getting a discount since it was the last one, they said they wouldn't sell it to me. Whaaaaaat?

I said I didn't care about the discount, and they insisted they couldn't sell it to me. I explained that I can sew. They said they'd call to another mall to see if there was another dark blue, x-small. "You want me to go get this same dress in Rio Rancho??!!!" which is miles out of the way. They tried calling the Rio Rancho store, but they didn't have it.

I asked for the manager, and said to him: "I am buying this dress; ring it up for me NOW." I found out the guy I'd been talking to WAS the manger, but he sighed heavily and sold me the dress for 10% off. It was already on sale for $21, so now it was $19.

And, as I mentioned, I can sew. It's really not a problem.

Did I also mention that is the last time we shop at Hollister? And they gave me a website to take a survey about our "experience" there, which I am going to do.

Other places I'm never shopping again (because F hated their clothes): Rue21 (clothes are too fussy/complicated), Aeropostale (same problem). F likes simple, I like simple. Phew.

We didn't go into Express. Is that simple? Or more of the Rue21 type of stuff?

She doesn't need any more clothes right now (we got two tshirts, a 3/4 sleeve baseball shirt, 3 tank tops, cardigan and a jean skirt), but it'd be good to know where to go for next time. Gap and JCrew would be good if not so expensive, and I don't have the clothing gene to be able to shop in thrift stores (which are not very good here anyway).

Not Too Frugal

October 3rd, 2016 at 08:04 pm

The night that F went to bed in just a t-shirt... that was when I realized she was completely out of pajama bottoms. And three sleepovers this month! And some time this winter there will be pajama day at school. I sort of dread pajama day because the kids all have matchy-matchy pajama sets; in our family we wear pajama bottoms with a t-shirt.

So... off to Target, and F picked out a new pair of bottoms and then a more winter-appropriate set (top and bottoms! together! that match!). We also visited the athletic section so that she could get a top to wear under her jerseys at fall and winter soccer practice. We spent a lot, but I don't need new clothes any time soon, so it's ok.

Also bought claritin.

I had a $10 off coupon! So that was good.

And the pajamas... raccoons eating pizza and donuts on the set, hedgehogs on the other bottoms. I am a sucker for ridiculous pajama patterns, and apparently so is F. (She will probably want to borrow my polar bears skiing pajamas... no way!).

Lots Going on in Late Summer (and a Photo!)

August 7th, 2016 at 10:22 am

So much going on here right now! We're trying to eke out a little more summer before school starts.

Circus Camp - F had her circus camp performance on Friday night. She did trapeze (photo below!) and unicycling and stilt-walking. I bought her a new t-shirt because her old one from camp is too small ($15).

Lots of Unicycling in the Park - We went to the park a lot to practice unicycling. I even tried it, and couldn't even get on the saddle! Grrr!

Soccer in the Park - tonight, meeting friends. And we're bringing the unicycle of course.

My friend's wedding - in mid-October! I'm so excited for her! And F is the flower girl, which means we need to get her a dress and some ballet flats. Yes, my daughter only owns soccer cleats, sneakers, indoor soccer cleats and a pair of outdoor/merrell type sandals. And she has exactly one dress that is a cotton thing she wears after the pool. Where we live dress-wearing doesn't come up that often. All of this means a trip to Albuquerque. They have a Macy's, a Gap, Old Navy. Any other ideas for a dress for a girl that isn't just a dress-wearer?

D's Job - D is getting worried that the non-profit he is working for is shrinking a bit. I think his job is safe, but he's looking around anyway. This is not a big city, and the jobs in his field aren't plentiful, and he's sort of freaking out. So I had to go through this exercise with him where I calc'd only our necessary expenses, and it turns out if we stopped saving and bought only essentials we could live on my salary. Assuming this would only be for a few months, it wouldn't be that bad. So I think he isn't worrying as much. When we pay off our mortgage things will be even less tight.

My nephew - D is on the phone with our brother-in-law right now making arrangements! My fingers are crossed, and I will let you know when things are worked out.

Clean House - Every weekend I clean the house, but I'm DONE so we can go to the pool!

Mortgage - We are officially in the 20k's!!!! $29,296.94. I would say this deserves a celebration, and I'd planned to treat ourselves every time we went went down $10k, but I am so focused on paying this off that I just want to save the money for that and not go out for a big dinner or something.

New lunchbox - Got F a new lunch box yesterday. She'd had her old one 3 years and I was having a hard time getting it to stop smelling! Yuck! I washed it every night! Anyway, it was tax-free day here which meant it was 8% less than usual, and I used my Target card, so another 5% off. So the total was $10. She's very excited about it since it's cute but not girly, a teen/tween lunch box/bag: http://www.target.com/p/thermos-lunch-bag-rainbow/-/A-49146390

And now it's time to go buy groceries and then go to the pool! Hope you're all enjoying the rest of summer!

One Way to avoid Shopping!

May 15th, 2016 at 04:39 pm

I am supposed to go to the grocery store... It's 5 pm on Sunday, and we got back from F's soccer tournament (they came in 2nd - yay!) about an hour ago. But I can't go... it's raining SO hard! Hail, hard, splatty rain. Lightning. Ugh.

I really need to buy food for the week, and I have to work hard all next week, so not sure when I'll have time to go during the week.

I am resigned to not going today, though. I usually shop at two stores, and I'll have to figure out a time to get to each one during the week. Maybe just before or after school pick-up since there's no soccer practice this week?

Boom! More lightning.

We are going to eat out of the pantry for a few days. I am mentally trying to think of what we are lacking that is crucial, and I can't really think of anything big.

The meal plan for this week is:
Tonight - something from the freezer and a salad
Pad Thai - I just need shrimp for this
Pasta Carbonara - need bacon and eggs
Enchiladas - need sauce, more corn tortillas, beans

I can't remember the rest.. but it did just stop raining for a minute - maybe I'll try to go!

Things we Need to Buy in 2016

January 1st, 2016 at 11:49 am

There are some planned purchases for 2016, but I am currently seeing how the numbers are in YNAB before we buy anything...

- Bag for storing the Christmas tree (last tree was stored in the original box which became a mouse bed - yuck) - we will hang from the rafters in the garage with hooks we already have - $40 (we can take this from the $126 we have in Supplies)

- Swimsuit for me (mine is great but after two seasons it's falling apart already!) - $30 (I have $13 in my clothing fund, but this is not an urgent item so I can allow another month or two to let the fund build up)

- Water Shoes for the family for Summer Trip - the beach is super rocky, and if we get shoes there, they are twice as much - saw these on Amazon for $7-10 per pair - $30 for all three of us (let clothing budgets build up for a couple of months)

- Bday gifts for F in June - thinking new scooter and a subscription to BYOU magazine - family gift fund is depleted after Christmas but this will build up and by June there will be plenty

- Wide mouth insulated bowl for F's lunch - $30 (yes, it's a lot) - small appliances is in the red by $46 after buying the Christmas tree - so we'll let that build back up and I should be able to buy this in March. In the meantime, the thermos certainly works...

Also - we have signed F up for a weekend soccer camp in Arizona with her IDOL: Megan Klingenberg. I couldn't wish for a better role model for F, and she has a foundation and a camp each year. It's going to take a little scraping to get us all there... This is an unexpected trip, and luckily Phoenix is close. I am searching for hotels, and we're having our wonderful neighbor over for cake this weekend (and we'll ask her if she can watch the pets while we're gone to avoid boarding).

Frugal and Not-so-Frugal end to 2015

December 31st, 2015 at 04:13 pm

Not-so-frugal:
- We went cross country skiing yesterday (super fun!). It was not in the forest but at the groomed trails, so we had to buy trail passes ($60). D rented his gear ($10).

Frugal:
- F and I have our own skis and boots, so maybe it is frugal...and maybe not so bad compared to downhill (we don't downhill ski, but a lot of our friends do). We made sandwiches at home and ate in the warming hut on the trails. Got to talk to lots of nice people!

Not-so-frugal:
- D bought new wiper blades for his car.

Frugal:
- He put the wiper blades on himself rather than paying someone to install them.

Frugal:
- Went to Target and bought half priced wrapping paper. Also a shirt that F loves in the next size up for $5 on sale. I have a little stack of "favorites" in the next size.

Frugal:
- We joined our friends at their club today to go swimming (indoors of course!). I insisted on paying the guest fee, and they insisted on me not paying it. I insisted again, and my friend reminded me that I had them over for Christmas dinner and did almost everything (which I was so happy to do!) and that she wanted to do something nice for me. Sometimes when I think of my friends, I just want to cry because I'm so thankful for the support (particularly since we don't live near family).

Not-so-Frugal:
- Our NYE celebration will consist of lots of special foods... it wasn't inexpensive, but a lot less than going out to a big party or getting champagne or something. We don't drink... but we do love to eat!

Now... on to 2016! Lots of super exciting things planned including a visit to D's family in the UK (and an add-on trip to Croatia), a trip to LA to see my family, spelling bee, more soccer, and a few things in the works. Most of this was already paid-for last year. I am really looking forward to a year filled with wonderful experiences rather than stuff.

Food Spending is High this Week!

October 13th, 2015 at 07:38 pm

Our food spending is so high this week, it's making me crazy. (And after watching several episodes of Eat Well for Less - shame on me!).

Not sure why, but I will try to figure it out...

- impulse buy candy corn ($2.50) - but it's almost Halloween, and my birthday is on Halloween, and I love candy corn; surely one bag a year won't break the bank?

- stocked up on my bread when I found it at Natural Grocer for $1 less than usual

- coach coming to stay with us

- had leftover mozzarella and thought I'd better use it, so I made a giant lasagna. But the ingredients aren't that expensive - and I already had the mozzarella. This is not one of our usual meals, but the coach is here, and it's a nice treat!

- I accidentally categorized something as groceries when it wasn't groceries; that's an easy way to lower the amount in a category!

Today's Savings

October 4th, 2015 at 01:40 pm

Today was our big shopping day... grocery stores and gas. We didn't do too badly considering we're having friends over for dinner on Thursday (to watch the final of the Great British Bakeoff).

We also got things for F's "hot lunch." She no longer wants any of the hot lunches through school, and I'm just as happy; they charge $7 for the school hot lunch (yikes!) and it's not good, and it's not hot. She (and the other kids) don't like it. Hot lunch used to be a treat, so this is a way that she can have a treat once a week. And it costs $3 less!

The big money savings today: went to my friend's house to feed her cat. We feed each other's pets when we go away. It works for both of us, and I know it's not current money savings, but every time I pop in on her cat, I think "that's money saved for both of us!" We still take our dog to the free-roam boarding place, but this friend said she'd be happy to take our dog and watch her in her own home, so that might be a future option. When we go away for a long time, we have a friend come stay at our house with all of the pets.

Do you have a petsitting arrangement with any friends?

Slight Loss of Side Income

September 23rd, 2015 at 03:38 pm

I taught my last weightlifting class at the gym today, at least for a while. A woman moved to town and is paying for the gym to be licensed for a certain branded class. In exchange, the owner gave her my class to teach. I understand it from his perspective - he pays me to teach, but she's paying him essentially. The difficult part is that she is a mom at F's school, but we haven't been introduced yet. Not sure if I should introduce myself; I'm pretty sure she doesn't know whose class she has usurped. I'm not sure if she feels justified or embarrassed. I'd be embarrassed.

Anyway, this was a side job, but it means that I now only teach one class at the gym. I still get a free membership, but I will be making $35 less each month. I was using it to pay down the mortgage.

In other "loss of income" news - I am no longer maintaining the website for a subdivision I work for. This was only about 2 hours a month, and I am actually glad to see this extra project move on. I help run their Architectural Review Committee, and that is actually architecture. I am not a website administrator (at all!!!!). They're getting a new website, and they're going to maintain it themselves. I won't miss the income since this took up two work hours that I really could use.

Since I finished up a project on Monday and had a meeting this morning, I was going to spend the rest of the day tying up loose ends, but the other subdivision that I help with Architectural Review had a brand new problem (someone's window trim is BLUE! Oh no!) that needed to be dealt with immediately (you know, if someone's window trim is BLUE that is not something you can let go until tomorrow!). Sorry about the sarcasm. I actually love working for them; they are really good to me.

After dealing with blue window trim, I did manage to get some dinner in the crockpot and I went to Target to find some clothes for F now that the weather is turning cold and she no longer fits in a 7-8 (she still fits in them but everything is way too short - sleeves, length of tops, length of leggings). I bought four shirts and three leggings and... she liked ALL OF IT! I know her taste - not too girly but bright colors. She likes stripes. She likes henley shirts. She likes leggings and soft, soft jeggings, but not jeans. Total cost was $55.

I think we're all set for winter now.

Tonight: soccer practice now that it's stopped raining. I'll bring my new ebook (the new one by Neal Stephenson) from the library.

Picnic Downtown and Food Storage

September 7th, 2015 at 12:32 pm

We delayed our shopping trip by a day, and the amount was about 75% of normal. So the food inventory is working, I guess! I also bought some pasta so we're now stocked for pasta until mid-December (we eat a pasta dish once a week).

Today F and I went downtown to have a mother-daughter day... we parked in the office, and walked about half a block to our favorite place for lemonades, and then had a picnic in Cathedral Park (next to our beautiful cathedral). I brought her a burrito and a sandwich for me, plus some tortilla chips, salsa, pickles and a nectarine. I keep a picnic blanket in the office.

There are tons of art booths downtown right now, and we wandered around a bit, talking, hanging out.

Tonight we're going over to some friends' for dinner. I'm bringing potatoes dauphinoise (they asked for a carb-y side dish).

When I was doing our food inventory yesterday I was thinking about food storage. We hardly ever have food waste, and it's partly because I've worked out how to store a lot of perishable foods.

avocados - I leave them on the counter to ripen, then put them in the fridge so they don't continue to ripen after they're already ripe!

lettuce or cilantro or spinach - I wrap with kitchen roll to absorb moisture from the "rain" in the vegetable aisle.

cheese - I put a piece of kitchen roll in there, too, once it's opened

bananas - I wrap stems with plastic wrap

flour tortillas - I keep these in the freezer and just take out one at a time; they last forever this way; we only use 2 or so a week.

herbs - I store leftover fresh herbs in ice cubes in the freezer

butter - I keep baking butter in the freezer and spreading butter in the fridge

bread - we keep our bread in the fridge (and extra loaves in the freezer)

Things I'm still not sure about: strawberries, applesauce (once it's opened it gets mold so fast; can you freeze it?). Any tips? Any other food storage ideas I haven't mentioned?




Eat from the Pantry

August 15th, 2015 at 10:06 am

Our coach left this morning - oh, F is so, so sad! I think he was the best one so far... like the perfect big brother for F.

I've been spending the morning washing sheets etc. But I don't care - we invited him to come back asap for our city's Fiestas! There is another coach that is here not only part of the summer but also Fall and Spring, and he'll be here for Fiestas, too, and they're friends.

Tonight we are going to our friends' house for a summer afternoon potluck. I am bringing a flourless chocolate cake because I always have the ingredients for flourless chocolate cake on hand!

I need to go to the store tomorrow, but we've got a lot of food still in the fridge, so it's an eat-from-the-pantry meal plan.

What I have: celery, a cucumber, half a watermelon, half a cantaloupe, frozen chicken, some eggs, half of a head of lettuce, whole head of cauliflower, rice, four cans of soup, a few sausages and hot dogs in the freezer, enough turkey burger in the freezer for turkey burgers (plus we have buns in the freezer!), french fries in the freezer, three meals worth of white chicken chile in the freezer... wow, it's a lot!

We need a couple of staples: olive oil, butter. Also some fruit - peaches are on sale and so are cucumbers and mini tomatoes.

Here are the meals I can think of for the next week and a half or so:
- tortilla espanola (I have eggs and potatoes, so I think we're set)
- mexican eggs with salad (need to buy more corn tortillas and green onions and eggs, a couple of courgettes would be nice to have alongside)
- white chicken chile from the freezer with a salad (need a head of lettuce)
- big salad and toast (using the rest of that head of lettuce, probably should buy some more carrots)
- soup with garlic bread
- general tso chicken with rice and cabbage (can use the other half of the green onions I buy for Mexican eggs and a cabbage would be nice since it's not expensive)
- roasted cauliflower with sausages/buns
- turkey burgers with french fries

Things We're Buying and the Declutter Calendar

August 8th, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Just random thoughts for today, some financial/some not...

1. I bought a new mouse for using at the house with my laptop since the old one broke. Bought with office credit card since I need it for working from home (really only need it to use Autocad). The scroll thingy is sort of weird (smooth rather than clicky; I preferred clicky). This is the updated version of my old mouse. I guess I'll get used to it.

2. I got the mouse at Staples. We were also there to get some plastic/acetate display pockets for F's sports illustrated womens world cup covers. My "framing" idea is to put them in the acetate, then use a big bulldog clip and hang on the wall in a grid pattern. Much cheaper than framing, and she can keep the covers on the magazines. But they didn't have the pockets or the bulldog clips. I went home and ordered on Amazon. Can't believe how irritating stores are; I'd much rather shop online.

3. We ordered 8 more salad plates because we use those most often and always run out before we run the dishwasher. Ordering more plates was on the Declutter Calendar for last week, so I'm a little bit late.

4. We are leaving in a few mins. to go to a horse show (free!!). It's the last weekend. I'll let you know how it is.

5. Here are the other things on the Declutter Calendar for this month:
week 1
- change water filter
- declutter hall closet
- reorder plates and bowls that are broken
week 2
- wash car
- dust tops of all framed pictures
week 3
- clean out paper stacker thingy
- wash and rehang white curtains
week 4
- clean shower and apply rain-x
- weed

Clothing, and Why You Shouldn't Stop Buying Clothing Altogether

July 30th, 2015 at 11:22 am

I did a little spreadsheet a year or so ago of all of my clothes, how many of each type, etc. to figure out the ideal number of each item. This was fine, except that I forgot to take into account condition. I had a lot of things with holes, stains, faded, didn't fit, that I never wore, that looked terrible on me.

This is what happens when you stop buying clothes for a long time. Things wear out. Even if you don't use your dryer.

Well, Creditcardfree and Snafu opened my eyes a little bit, and I went through my closet and removed 27 items of clothing (this is everyday wear, not once-in-a-year going out clothes or pajamas or underwear or socks or workout gear). I wasn't left with much, but I did see that I had the basis of a wardrobe. I have about 4 long sleeved tshirts and 4 short sleeved tshirts. One tank top in a pretty color. A couple pairs of jeans that fit well. Two pairs of cropped summer pants. Two nice summer dresses (one black, one brown). One pair of shorts, two casual skirts and one skirt I can wear to work.

I also saw that when I removed certain items that I was left with a big wardrobe gap. Primarily: things to wear to work. My work is very casual, but not so casual that a threadbare tshirt with holes is ok. Also not so casual that I can wear workout gear to a meeting.

I had $111 in my clothing category (I put in $15 a month, but often raid it for other things like and outing with F).

Armed with a list of things in my reject pile that I actually really need, and was wearing, but were not really wearable, I went all the way down to the outlet mall (20 minutes away! that seems like not that far, but that's pretty much on the edge of town). A friend had mentioned that there is an Ann Taylor Loft outlet down there, and that's where she shops. I put on a podcast because that way I would be distracted and not turn around and go home.

I had a clear morning (no work to finish imminently) so I could take my time. F is in camp.

With the help of a super nice salesperson (and the fact that I was there at opening so it wasn't busy), I managed to buy:
- one pair of black narrow pants in a knit fabric but jean style perfect for autumn because they are long and not jeans (original price was $69.99, I paid $14.88)
- one pair of the same pants in grey (original price $69.99, I paid $9.88)
- really pretty tank top in purple (original price was $29.99, I paid $14.99)
- the same tank top in a black/white print (original price was $29.99, I paid $14.99)
- black tank top with cinched in waist (original price $36.99, I paid $14.99)
- purple tshirt ($9)
- green tunic with 3/4 sleeves ($27.99)

Total: $105

Everything is knit fabric (it's a sensory thing for me), machine-washable. I made sure of that; I don't dry clean/lay flat/iron or otherwise tweak my laundry.

I am feeling like a really good shopper right now whereas before I felt like a terrible shopper with a hideous wardrobe. Thank you to this group for pushing out of my comfort zone a little - I am pretty excited to get dressed tomorrow!


How Soccer Saves Lots of Money and How I Got a Deal on Glasses

April 25th, 2015 at 04:09 pm

So, first: How Soccer Saves us Lots of Money
- We are at the soccer fields every few days for practices and games. We were there last night for practice, today for a game (F scored a beautiful goal!) and tomorrow for another game (F is on the A team; we have A and B... I am so proud! She's worked hard for it!).
- The fields are in an abandoned horse racing track. I'm posting a photo of the entrance. It's super weird. And not near anything. There isn't even anything between the fields and our route home (no restaurants or shops or ANYTHING), so no temptations.
- Free entertainment, a great place to run (also free) when she's practicing (the old horse racing track is packed dirt)
- Lots of parents to socialize with! I even see old friends whose kids are on other teams/fields. There are like 30 fields.
- It forces me to have a good plan for dinner because we're not home until 7:30 or 8 pm on practice nights.



And now, How I Got a Deal on Glasses
I've been using magnifiers to read books and menus and things for a couple of years. But now when I drive, everything is fuzzy and I can't read street signs. Grrr. So I got an eye exam, and got my prescription for distance glasses. It's a light prescription. I don't need the glasses to get a license. But with the prescription, the trees have leaves and the signs have letters (the eye doctor took me outside so that I could test it out on things that are far away like trees and mountains).

There are a lot of eyeglass places online, but I have a teeny tiny head. And I have three pairs of reading glasses and two of them are super uncomfortable. All three are huge on my face and look ridiculous. But I read in private, so I don't care. But I'll be wearing the glasses to see kids' faces in soccer games, so that'll be public. Warby Parker (online) has a try-on program, but I thought I'd check our local eyeglass store first.

It's down by Target, and I was going by there on the way to get some stucco samples made, so I popped in. They had a special for glasses and lenses together (same price as Warby Parker!) and the salesperson showed me which glasses were on special. Then she looked at me and said, "or for the same price you can get any of our kids' glasses." I really am kind of small.

Anyway, I tried on the adult glasses. Like the three bears: too big! And then I looked at the kids' frames: they looked way too small! But I tried them on just to be sure: just right! Not just one pair, but pretty much every pair was my size.

So, I'm waiting for the prescription to be put in my kid-sized glasses.

I can wear a kids' size 4 1/2 shoe, too. I have kids' mittens and a pair of kids' jeans (I like them because they're stretchy). Kids' stuff is a lot less expensive!

I'm looking out the window at the fuzzy spring trees. I can't wait for my glasses to come so I can see the leaves and branches!

An Expensive Day

April 18th, 2015 at 04:47 pm

We woke up at 6:30 this morning to find that it had snowed overnight - beautiful! But... F was supposed to play in two soccer games. We checked email and at 7 they emailed to say that the games were still on, then drove all the way out there. The games started at 9, and we arrived at 8:35 (coaches need to be early and D is a coach)... at 8:36 we received an email canceling the games. Ugh.

The fields were COVERED with snow, so it wasn't a surprise. We ended up playing in the snow with another family that showed up, too. We made snowmen, played snow soccer, made a huge snowball...

That mom was supposed to bring snack that day, and she gave D and F homemade strawberry bread, and here is where things went wrong... I can't eat gluten so I was jealous, and we stopped at a bakery on the way home. $8.

We went home and watched the football match (soccer), did our spazzy workout since F was stir crazy. Then lunch at home.

I called a few of F's friends to see if they could come play, but no one could, so we decided to go ice skating. On the way we stopped at Target to get Claritin for F. We used a coupon and got 70 pills, so this was an expense we were expecting anyway. $25.

Ice skating was $22 for the three of us.

Then frozen yogurt afterward. $10.

We did combine our errands, and we stopped by the grocery store on the way home, doing a big loop around town. It was supposed to be a relatively inexpensive shopping trip, so I was freaking out until I realized that we also bought a big bag of dogfood (this is from the "pets" budget category). $58 groceries for the week plus $20 dogfood for the month, which is good for us, so this was a spending highlight. It's a good meal plan, too with pad thai, pasta with courgettes, baked potatoes, risotto, mexican eggs, apricot chicken/rice/salad and something from the freezer (also with a salad).

We all have good days and bad days, and I'm not counting the Claritin, groceries or dogfood since those are expected expenses. All in all, $40 I didn't need to spend, but we all had a wonderful day and F wasn't too sad about missing soccer.

Frugal Fun in Santa Fe, New Mexico

April 17th, 2015 at 02:17 pm

Since I live in a place where tourists love to visit, and PNW Mom asked about things to do here, I thought I'd do a post about some of the wonderful things to do here. I've included some locals-only tips, and if you're coming to visit, you should tell me!

Sorry - this is super long!

MUSEUMS -
My favorite is the Musuem of International Folk Art; it's free on Sundays! The most incredible collection of folk art I've ever seen - bright and colorful!
The Spanish Colonial Museum is also on Museum Hill and is housed in a house designed by John Gaw Meem (a famous New Mexican architect who is partly responsible for reviving Spanish Colonial style).

INDIAN PUEBLOS -
Taos Pueblo tour - this is about an hour and a half away; they have tours.
Feast Days - If you are coming in the summer, check to see if there's a feast day at one of the nearby Indian Pueblos...
http://www.indianpueblo.org/19pueblos/feastdays.html

EVENTS -
We have lots going on all year.
Summer -
Music on the Hill (bring a picnic dinner and listen to music while you picnic outside) http://www.sjc.edu/programs-and-events/santa-fe/music-hill-2015/ June-July (free! great with kids)
Santa Fe Bandstand (July-August) https://santafebandstand.org/ concerts on the Plaza (also great with kids)
Indian Market (free), Spanish Market (free), Folk Art Market (July 10-12 this year - Community Celebration with the Artists is Wednesday evening and is free! Tickets to Market vary and the lowest is $10 if purchased in advance)
Rodeo de Santa Fe - end of June
The Burning of Zozobra - We burned Zozobra long before there was burning man...
Santa Fuego Baseball - small-town baseball - we bring food and a blanket and you get to see the game up-close; end of May through July - tickets are $6
Winter -
Winter Indian Market and Winter Spanish Market
Farolitos (paper bag lanterns on Canyon Road) on Christmas Eve
Skiing

HIKES -
- Audobon Trail is a short, easy loop but can be made longer if you make a turn and go up the Bear Canyon trail to make it longer (free); Randall Davey's house was donated to the Audobon center - it's open every Friday at 2 pm for a docent-led tour ($5). They have bird walks led by local experts every Saturday at 8 am (free!).

- Waterfall Hike - As you head up to the ski area there is a ranger
station to the right about halfway up (just past one of the campgrounds in Hyde Park). In back is the old log lodge where they hold a lot of weddings. There is a 1 mile hike to a waterfall - really nice and beautiful... kind of snowy and cold in the winter. Day use parking fee is $5.

-Bandelier - totally worth doing! (about 45 mins from Santa Fe). You can enter the caves and see the blackened ceilings (from the cooking fires made 800 years ago!). At the farthest point of the Main Loop Trail (1.2 mi roundtrip) you have a choice to continue to Alcove House, which is 140 feet above the canyon floor and only accessed by a series of ladders. It's another 1 mile roundtrip and the view from the top is amazing. $12 per car fee.

- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks (about 20 minutes away toward Albuquerque) - really cool cone-shaped rock formations! About 20 min. south of Santa Fe.

-Tsankawi - On the way to Bandelier about 30 minutes from Santa Fe; petroglyphs and an amazing trail worn into the stone by people 600 years ago, beautiful vistas (ladders are a required part of the trail and the trails are very narrow). $12 per car fee.

- end of June is our rodeo down at the rodeo grounds - Rodeo de Santa Fe
- Folk Art Market - July 11, 12, 13 - http://www.folkartmarket.org/ - I would definitely come for the Thursday procession in Railyard Park (free with a free African concert - everyone dances, it’s a blast!!!). There is a volunteer button on the homepage - if you volunteer you get a free ticket (special times excluded) - volunteer as a Line Host!

FOOD -
We have some really amazing food here.
- The Tea House - stroll up Canyon Road, see the art (Friday night there are a ton of art gallery openings with wine/food), then stop in at The Tea House for tea and a scone or other dessert (they have a lot of gluten free choices, too).

- Ecco - stop in for gelato (on Marcy St) - it's homemade and wonderful

- Bumblebees - Mexican (not New Mexican) food, inexpensive

- Tune Up - GREAT locals place - really great New Mexican food

- Pascual's - great breakfast! This is not cheap, though.

- Vinaigrette - salads made with locally grown produce (grown up in
Nambe) - really wonderful, can eat outside beautiful patio (but also pretty expensive - this is for a treat!)

- Cowgirl - a fun outside patio, good to stop in and have a margarita
and listen to live music on the patio

- Kakawa - try an unusual hot chocolate - not cheap, but really different!

- Roque's Carnitas - a little lunch truck on the Plaza has been here for years and years. Super yummy and very messy! Get extra napkins!

- The Pantry - for a great New Mexico locals-style breakfast - it's down Cerrillos a few miles. You'll be the only tourist there! Be sure to get the potatoes.

- Chocolate Maven - you can sit down for breakfast here or just pick up a breakfast burrito to go. These are the best breakfast burritos in town!


SHOPPING -
- If you want Indian jewelry, shop under the portal of the Palace of the
Governors - you have to be certified/vetted to sell there,
so you know what you're getting is real - if you buy from any other
places/tables scattered around the plaza, the authenticity is not guaranteed

- Doodlet’s - fun/crazy souvenirs (this is just off the plaza)

- Madrid - a small town south on Highway 14 about 30 minutes - fun for a day trip and some funky art/crafts for gifts.

- Farmer's Market (Saturday and Tuesday mornings - check dates for summer v. winter) and Artist's Market across the street in the Railyard on Saturday mornings. You can get a yummy breakfast burrito in the Farmer's Market building.

- Todos Santos - chocolate shop hidden away in the beautiful Sena Plaza downtown; it's beautiful but I never buy anything here. It is worth seeing, though, and I'd probably buy something as a special gift for someone.

- Señor Murphy Candymaker - I do buy piñon caramel turtles here! And my favorite thing is the marshmallow dipped in caramel and then chocolate! Yum!


LODGING -
It's soooo much better and more fun to be near downtown, but it is more expensive. The biggest bargain is the Santa Fe Sage Inn which is a short walk from downtown. I hear that the Old Santa Fe Inn (even closer) is also not too expensive depending on the season.

i was "perfumed" at Target!

March 7th, 2015 at 03:46 pm

I got "perfumed" at Target today. It was from pushing the cart (it's my hands that smell). It's so strong that even after using germ stuff, washing my hands three times, rubbing with a lemon... they still smell! I am so grumpy! Now I'm going to have to sniff the cart handles before I use them.

Anyway, I bought F some shorts (we are going to CA for Spring Break and I realized her summer clothes don't fit!) $8, some foil and kleenex and wipes.

I also went to the grocery store this week and had a pretty good week. Total was about $75.

I am going to go wash my hands with baking soda; be right back.

I'm back; it didn't work.

Dinner tonight is Apricot Chicken with Basmati Rice and Broccoli. I'm going to go get started on the sauce to take my mind off my stinky hands.

Saved a Little Today

February 11th, 2015 at 06:32 pm

F needed googly eyes to finish her valentines for school... Michaels coupon 40% off, so total spent on valentines is $1.94 for googly eyes. She made them out of construction paper she already has. We got the idea from this website: http://www.theidearoom.net/2015/01/valentines-day-crafts.html

Michaels is right near Petsmart, and I had a coupon for $3 off good through the end of February, so I popped in to buy cat litter. Besides the $3 coupon, the cat litter (their own brand) was $2 off with my petperks card. So the $14 box of cat litter (I buy the 40 lb. box) was $9. And the receipt had another $3 coupon (good until 3/17) if I filled out a survey online. So I did that while F did her math homework. We'll use if for dogfood.

Now the valentines are done, and the kitchen is clean for the night, and F has done her reading and logged it.

Today was a very low anxiety day for F and I'm hoping that things are getting better. She and I relax A LOT now! I think it's good for both of us.

Also talked to our friends who used to live on the Central Coast and now live here (I lived in SLO in college). I told them we're going to visit my parents and then go up the coast and they said they'll be there at the same time (we're there for a week, but they're there almost all summer!). She said "You should stay with us! We're renting a house!" I think that would be awesome! Let's see what D says... (he's more of an introvert, and I LOVE being around people). It could also save money (sharing costs), and we all know I love that!

Mini Getaway, No Overnight, No Hotel

January 25th, 2015 at 04:01 pm

Yesterday we spent a lot of money on a cross country skiing day trip to Enchanted Forest in Red River, but it was planned. Here is a list of all the way we saved but still got a really great weekend break:

- F and I own our own gear (my skis and boots are about 20 years old but are still great!) so no rental fees for us. Only D rented, total price: $16
- the ski area is the biggest x-c ski area in our state (33 km of trails), but it's still a cool little family-owned business. For trail passes for three of us it was $45. That's a lot less than downhill! (We don't downhill, by the way).
- We did not stay overnight, so no hotel. And our neighbor popped in to let our dog out since it was a long day (no petsitter).
- We packed a lunch, so we didn't pay for lunch (and we didn't need to take out any ski time to go eat).
- Used half a tank of gas to get there and back which is pretty good, and gas prices are low right now. $8 in gas.
- We went with another family, and had so much fun!
- We all stopped for dinner at our favorite place in Española on the way home. The last time we ate out was three weeks ago since we knew we were going out after the ski trip.

And, here's a big one: everyone was so satisfied with the trip (and exhausted) that we just stayed home today and didn't feel the need to go out today. F mentioned ice cream, but then I got two apples at the store, so we're having an apple/blueberry crumble instead.

I did the meal planning, and spent $80 for the week's groceries (and that includes ingredients for a salad for the potluck lunch the Parent Association is making for teachers/staff on Tuesday.

Meal Plan and an Unplanned Purchase

January 4th, 2015 at 03:32 pm

I did really well on groceries this week. I had to check the receipts to make sure, but we were under $100 which is good for us.

This week's meal plan:
S - pasta with courgettes (and some goat cheese)
M - v. sweet salmon and green beans
T - mexican eggs with garlic bread
W - crockpot meal from the freezer with salad
T - chicken tikka in crockpot with rice
F - baked potato and broccoli
S - quesadillas and guacamole

Unfortunately I accidentally bought a bag of cat food we didn't need. I thought we were out, and didn't realize that we had a bag waiting. Oh well, it will get used eventually and it was on sale. Also had a deal from American Express (spend $25 at Petsmart, get $5 back). I looked, but there aren't any other deals I need right now.

Now I'll tell you about the unplanned purchase I made today. I've been thinking about it for a while because I'm so cold all the time and I spend a lot of time in unheated job trailers or on jobsites. I bought an on-sale down jacket from Lands End (I also used a coupon code for an extra 15% off). Actually, the office bought it for me because it's my new site visit jacket. Now hopefully I won't shiver noticeably at outdoor meetings. It probably won't come in time, but I have to meet at a job site on Tuesday that is basically a big dirt hole up in the mountains (brrrrrrrr).

Bought Investments in Energy Savings

December 29th, 2014 at 03:47 pm

Today I bought;
- a toaster oven (it is a very good brand, and it's convection and is easy to clean; was in the scratch and dent section) which uses a third of the watts of our oven; I decided to go with one that does 6 slices of toast because that's the most we'd make for garlic bread - that way we'll barely need to use the oven!
- a bunch of LED light bulbs to replace the 35 watt halogens in our track lighting. Instead of 35 watts, each one is 4 watts.

I am weird about energy usage, and also I don't want to change those bulbs again! I shouldn't have to ever again!

Also today: began drafting my New Year's resolutions. One is to have an eye exam (it's been a few years), and I started calling around places to find out prices. One wasn't open, so I'll call them back tomorrow. They take the 15% vision discount that comes with my insurance (vision isn't covered for adults). So far the prices seem really high ($140-150 without the discount). Our Lenscrafters just lost their eye doctor, but I don't know if they'd be cheaper anyway. The one that wasn't open is stuck into the side of a Walmart; I'm not a big fan of Walmart, but I don't think they're affiliated.

If you've recently had an eye exam, what did you pay? It's probably covered in the UK, right? (I'm scared to even talk to D about it; every time something like that comes up he wants to move back immediately!).

Thinking about a Purchase...

December 28th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

We have $40 in small appliances/household furnishings, and I'm thinking of making a purchase...

Right now when we make a quesadilla or cheese on toast or make a burrito for lunch (these are all single items, not six burritos or something) I have to heat up the entire oven which is something like 2000 to 3000 watts per hour.

This probably happens once a day.

I am thinking of getting a small 600-1000 watt toaster oven for those small jobs.

What do you think?

Spent Some, Saved Some

October 5th, 2014 at 08:01 pm

Spending:
- dinner out on Saturday night because we went to see the UNM men's soccer team play ($30, but eating out once a week is in our regular budget)
- went to Old Navy and spent $86 on winter clothes for F (and got a couple of things for myself, and I know that I wasn't going to buy any clothes this year, but since I have two shirts that are worn out, these are replacement items - total for me was $26). My mom is probably sending me some money for my birthday later this month, so both my clothes and F's should be covered.
- grocery shopping: a usual budget item of course
- bought gas for the week (I get it every Sunday now since my gas gauge is broken; I do track mileage, but this way no matter what I have gas)

Savings:
- sold a hat on craigslist ($20 saved - will be put toward mortgage principal)
- F played in a tournament today, which was supposed to have an entrance fee, but it was waived because our league played internally and coaches ref'd the games rather than hiring refs ($35 saved)
- rescheduled my dentist appt. so that the visit is covered by insurance; the previous appt. was about two days under a full year, and insurance only covers once a year (saved about $100)
- Old Navy was having a sale, so we actually saved $50. We got a ton of stuff and believe me, she needed it! She's grown so much! (for her: 3 pants, 2 shirts, 1 pajama pants for $40)

Priceless:
- how F played in her soccer game yesterday and tournament today - she loves it so much, and it's so fun to watch her!

Shutterfly Order for Christmas

September 17th, 2014 at 03:13 pm

I am totally ahead of this Christmas thing! We decided a few weeks ago that we'd get photo calendars for my mom, D's mom and D's dad and a new mousepad for my dad. I saw the 40% off Calendar sale on Shutterfly. Plus there was a code for free shipping for orders over $39.

Our order came to $38.37! Grrr... I should have just put a 4x6 photo in my cart, but I called customer service and they gave me free shipping anyway because I was so close. That was nice! So total order with tax for four gifts: $42.90.

We have about $300 in our gift "bucket" so we're right on target. I've made a list of gifts for F, and she and D want a Playstation with the latest Fifa soccer game. I don't want anything, but D never listens to me about that, so I need to think of something that he can buy me that doesn't cost much, that I would like and that would make him feel like he's gotten me a present.

Big Grocery Spending - but there's a reason

June 20th, 2014 at 07:57 am

The grocery spending this week was about $80 more than normal - yikes! But there's a reason... we have a British coach from F's soccer camp staying with us. He's 22, and he eats a lot!

But... we get a check for $80 from the camp at some point as a "thank you" - really it's to cover extra food costs. Characteristically, I am not worrying that they'll forget to send it to us.

F is so sad that the coach is leaving this evening. I'm sad, too. We'll miss him!

Just got a notice that the coaches (Brazilian this time) from next week's camp need somewhere to stay. I'd do it, but D thinks it's a bit much to do it two weeks in a row. Next year...

A Little Rant about Spending Differences

April 30th, 2014 at 01:22 pm

My husband is not a big spender, but he's not all OCD about spending like I am. I think it's possible that he's normal, and I'm a little too frugal. I don't know.

Sometimes, though, the difference in our spending habits makes me feel a little bit frustrated.

Today I got home from teaching at the gym (I thought for certain I'd get this month's payment today, but I didn't, so I was pre-frustrated; this payment goes toward our mortgage). I was starving because I'd just taught weightlifting; there was pretty much nothing in the house to eat, but I cobbled together a salad (when you lift weights, you really feel like more than salad, but I put a little turkey on it).

Then I sat down to do the monthly financials. Today, my husband charged lunch out (which he does once a week; I never eat lunch out unless it's a family lunch, but that's my choice). And he'd charged $90 for two shirts. (I think I've mentioned I haven't bought any clothes this year after determining I have enough clothes). He said it was from the birthday money his dad sent from the UK, but I have no record of the birthday money being deposited, so he might have put it into his business account.

Then I ate a little bit of ice cream from the freezer, because I told F that I'd take her for a treat after school, and I don't want to spend money on a treat for me, too.

I know you're all going to say I have to do something for myself once in a while, and I do, I promise! Like two weeks ago I took F down to Albuquerque and we had lunch, played mini-golf and got slushes from Sonic. I'm not feeling sorry for myself; it's not that. It's more that I'm wishing that everyone was as into sacrificing as I was. And I seriously can't ask for that, so what happens is, I do less for myself to offset everyone else's spending.

OK, rant over.

I think that we did well this month despite some of those extra expenses. I know grocery spending was low. And D made some side money (I really shouldn't complain about him buying stuff once in a while since he often makes extra).

American Express Offers

April 28th, 2014 at 07:39 pm

I took advantage of the American Express "spend $5 on itunes and get a $5 statement credit." It's hard to believe; that means free music, right? I spent $5.20 on four songs to use for my spinning class. Need to check to make sure I get the credit.

There is also an offer for $5 statement credit when you spend $25 at Petsmart. I need to get down there tomorrow to buy cat and dogfood I'd be buying anyway.

And thinking about dogfood and catfood... I am really conflicted. We don't have a ton of money to spend, but I am realizing that Iams, which I thought was good, is basically just like supermarket brands. Every website says to go with the grain-free, protein based foods, but they're super expensive. Iams is about $28 for 25 lbs. v. $52 for a 30 lb. bag of Blue Buffalo.

I might use our coupon to try something new...

What do you use?

Still No New Clothing

April 24th, 2014 at 06:58 pm

I haven't bought any new clothes since December, after determining that I don't need anything. It hasn't been too hard, but I really want this shirt:
http://factory.jcrew.com/womens-clothing/knits_tees/long_sleeve_tees/PRDOVR~A0140/A0140.jsp?color_name=navy-white
Which is ridiculous, because as I mentioned, I don't need it.

And furthermore, I am going to need to pay the Big Medical Bill soon, and I am funneling any extra money into the medical "envelope."

I shouldn't be feeling deprived. Seriously, I am not deprived in any way. And I just bought a foam roller, so it's not like I never buy anything for myself.

It gets me thinking again about how much we really need, and how we decide we want something. I really like the "waiting period" method of buying something, where you wait a certain amount of time before you make a purchase.

(I am not buying the shirt, by the way; I have enough shirts).

Recap of No Spend Days

April 20th, 2014 at 06:53 am

We had some spending last week, but nothing that wasn't budgeted for...

No Spend Days
These don’t include regular bills (utilities, etc) only discretionary spending.

Sunday - household soap $3.78, gas $30.53, drugstore.com $39.42 (saved $2.22 plus $5 off plus free shipping), check for $32.75 for F’s hot lunches through the rest of the year at school

Monday - NSD

Tuesday - bought bday present for F ($40), bought her soccer socks ($15 for two pairs)

Wednesday - NSD

Thursday - F’s horse riding canceled; stopped for ice cream and rolaids (yes, they go together!)

Friday - big outing: $20 lunch, $18 mini golf and arcade, $2 slushes, $5.62 clothes for F

Saturday - NSD
groceries (as usual) - but they were lower than budgeted

The Old Navy stop turned out to be really great! I had a $35 reward coupon, and they were also having a big sale. We ended up filling out F's summer clothes (so now she's all set) for $5.62. Bought 3 long-sleeved t-shirts, one pair of capris, two short sleeved t-shirts, a skort and a pair of shorts. She already has about 3 pairs of capris and about 5 short sleeved t-shirts, also a few cotton dresses that fit. The hard thing is she's getting taller but is still very thin, so if something is an ok length, it's too big, and if it fits, it's too short. I will end up taking the skort and shorts in at the waist (a good reason to know how to sew!)

A Frugal Grocery Week

March 23rd, 2014 at 01:44 pm

Thankfully it's a frugal grocery week.

We're having:
- tuna melts
- mexican eggs and spinach
- pasta with courgettes and goat cheese
- asian meatballs over rice
- italian soup with ground turkey (crockpot) - this will make about 4 meals (we'll put three in the freezer)
- tamales out of the freezer and salad
- and tonight we're going to F's friend's house for kids and adult party (two of her friends have birthdays - both boys - that are just a few days apart, so they often have a celebration together)

Now I just have to work out what we're having on which nights. Soccer has started again, which means that on soccer nights we need to having something easy. (That is the mexican eggs, crockpot things, something from the freezer).
Monday - piano (we get back at about 5:45)
Wednesday - soccer practice (we get back late - like 7:30)
Friday - soccer practice (7:30 again!)

It's a juggling act, isn't it? But it is absolutely a requirement for me to have a nice meal as a family.

The grocery shopping came to $88.41
- dinner ingredients $35
- lunch ingredients $20
- fruit $6
- staples $11
- breakfast staples $13
- dessert items $3

OK, need to go wrap birthday gifts and play a game with F.


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