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Archive for July, 2015

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

July 30th, 2015 at 06:22 pm

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!

Ebay Sale

July 29th, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Today I sold an old suitcase on craigslist... the suitcase is way to big and the only time I ever traveled with it was when I moved to Dublin. It got a big "heavy" sticker on it at the airport because it had everything I needed to live for a year over there!

I sold it to a woman who works right around the corner from me... her daughter is going to college in Hawaii... I told her about the history of the suitcase and its travels to Ireland, and she said it was definitely good luck! I hope her daughter loves college! Apparently there is an agreement between New Mexico and Hawaii that students from her get in-state tuition there and vice versa... hmmm....

The money from the suitcase will go to the mortgage of course.

Saved $75!

July 28th, 2015 at 01:51 am

I saved $75 today! We bought a new mattress, and had no way of getting rid of the old mattress.

- The easiest option was to ask for a "large item pick-up" from the City's solid waste department - they charge $75.
- Find a friend with a pickup (I don't have any friends with pickups or trucks that I can think of, but I was going to put a post on facebook)
- Pay someone to haul it to the dump, but I figured that would cost about $75 with the dump fee
- Put the mattress on craigslist as a free item - that was my first option and best option... and someone emailed! So now the mattress is gone and it's not filling up the dump either.

We (and particularly my back) are loving the new mattress. It's a Keetsa Pillow Plus, and it's not particularly expensive, and it has a memory foam top and feels great. A big purchase, but according to my physical therapist, one I won't regret.

How Some Kids Eat and Other Thoughts

July 26th, 2015 at 04:55 pm

F's sleepover was a success! We had dinner at the pool. The two friends who slept over are extremely picky eaters. I know they eat mac and cheese, but I told them that we were having turkey burgers and that chicken hot dogs were an option; they still chose mac and cheese. So I put the other package of turkey burger in the freezer for another week. We also had roasted mini peppers; I only made half of the bag because I just knew they wouldn't eat very many. One girl had one, the other had a tiny nibble. We also had cherries and strawberries. One girl had three strawberries, the other girl doesn't like fruit (!!?). We had ice cream sundaes with sprinkles and chocolate sauce. They both ate that!

I am blessed with a child that eats everything (except mushrooms). I realize I am very fortunate, and not all children are like this. I was a picky eater when I was little. But the girl who doesn't eat vegetables or fruit is a VEGETARIAN! So she also doesn't eat chicken or fish or beef. She ONLY eats past and pbj's. And ice cream. Oh - and she was very proud that she tried something new and liked it recently (baked beans). If you guessed that she's overweight, you're correct. I've known her since she was 6, and now she's ten. Her parents have always thought she'd grow out of it.

They make a special dinner for her, which I refuse to do. Anyway, it's not my child, and she is a really sweet, wonderful girl (I just worry about her, and it seems like the parents think her eating quirks are funny!).

All the girls were GREAT! They had fun, they giggled, and were asleep by 10. Phew!

Right now F is doing her Khan Academy math work; all the kids going into 5th have to complete 4th grade math as a review. She's 85% complete and wants to get to 90% today. She decided to do 5% a day so she can be finished by Tuesday.

Oh - and her tooth just fell out. The tooth fairy is not currently prepared. I need to slip out for a few minutes.

Otherwise, today will be low-key as it should be after a sleepover. Adult v. kids soccer kickaround at 5 pm.

Our Meal Plan and a Sleepover

July 25th, 2015 at 08:58 pm

The meal plan for this week:

- turkey burgers with roasted mini peppers
- crustless quiche
- tostadas
- chicken piccata
- gambino crime family pasta
- big salad with cheddar bay biscuits (copycat recipe!)
- grilled cheese and tomato soup

We have two girls coming for a sleepover tonight and F requested turkey burgers and roasted peppers for dinner. We'll barbecue at the pool and the girls can go in and swim, play foosball, etc. Ice cream sundaes back at home for dessert. We just went to the store to get more sprinkles.

Saving and Spending

July 23rd, 2015 at 03:16 am

Savings v. spending:

- I took F and her friend to Baskin Robbins yesterday. Saved $1 from a coupon, and got the coveted "buy any cone, get one for 99c" coupon on the bottom of my receipt. Spent: $5.17, Saved: $3.89

- I found a meter at the post office today with money in it. Saved: 10c

- Four of my items sold on ebay (which is why I was at the post office). I've received payment for one, but the total is $60! Saved: $60 plus I got another $1.38 off the shipping from paypal because I printed shipping with them.

- Picnic dinner tonight at Music on the Hill (the last Music on the Hill of the summer - sob!). We're bringing white chicken chile from the freezer (our favorite crockpot recipe) and sour cream, tortilla chips, raspberries and cookies from home. Spent: $0 extra (this is from our regular groceries).

- Took F to Sonic for slushies, then brought them home to eat and made our own tater tots (much healthier Trader Joe's version which is just potatoes and salt) so we didn't buy them there. Spent: $2.17 for two because it was happy hour.

Starting to Plan the Next Visit to the UK

July 21st, 2015 at 11:00 pm

D and I realized it's time to start planning our next visit to the UK. For those of you who don't know: we go every other year to see D's family. His mum was able to travel here this past Spring (after several years of medical issues), but his dad can't travel and his sister won't come to the US (long story). So to see everyone (including our nephews and niece), we have to go there. Oh - and I forgot all of D's cousins!

Anyway, we always add a vacation on to the end of the trip, since at that point we're already in Europe and Ryanair flights are pretty inexpensive if you don't check anything.

After our trip to Las Vegas, F was pretty enchanted by the Venetian, and we thought it might be nice to at least have a day in Venice (it's beautiful, but not really the type of place we'd like to stay for a week - we like a more low-key, small vacation town and a weekly let). We've been to Italy before (actually we were in that region in a town called Montalto de la Marche which was quite a bit less expensive and more real than Italian tourist spots). But this time, we're thinking outside Italy a little bit... Our current options are coastal Slovenia or coastal Croatia. (Somewhat cheaper than Italy, close to Venice, especially by boat, and there are several towns that are exactly what we're looking for).

We have $2770 in the airfare category and $650 in the rewards category, plus I have another $691 that I can redeem in rewards. At the moment, flights next summer are about $5300 for all three of us - gulp. Is there a better time to buy tickets? (We have to do summer, but if we purchase them 6 months in advance, is that better than purchasing them a year in advance?).

Little Spending and Lots of Work

July 20th, 2015 at 08:56 pm

I made on purchase today:
a New Mexico Trader Joe's bag for my friend who used to live here and moved away about 10 years ago. I called her to say "hi" and tell her about the bag, and as I suspected she was totally excited. I'll probably pay more for postage than the 99c that I paid for the bag! I miss my friend a lot; she's in California now.

I spent most of the day working on answering contractor questions for a fire station that I designed that is out for bid. There were some seriously stupid questions. "Where is the Project located?" (Um - it's called the Glorieta Fire Station; do you think it might be in GLORIETA?!! Also there's a vicinity map on the Cover Sheet!!!). "What size is the lot?" (In the drawings, on the Survey, where you would expect to find it). "Which way does the drainage run?" (You are kidding, right? We included a Grading and Drainage plan in the plans and it's a little more complicated than just answering a question! Look at the PLANS!!!!). "Is there a benchmark?" (YES! That is why it is labeled benchmark on the survey, which is where surveyors put benchmarks they've set. READ the PLANS!!!).

Can you tell I'm frustrated?

At least I'm paid to answer idiotic questions. (Not enough, though).

These kinds of days make me want to eat chocolate, but we are having a healthy dinner of fish with homemade aoili and roasted cauliflower. That'll probably make me feel better than chocolate anyway.

This Week's Meal Plan and Already Musing about Thanksgiving

July 19th, 2015 at 07:28 pm

I always do a weekly meal plan, but I don't always post it.

Here it is for this week:

fish with roasted cauliflower (fishy)
taquitos (chickeny)
baked potatoes and broccoli (potato-ish)
grilled cheese and tomato soup (bready/cheesy)
freezer with salad (something from the freezer)
pasta with red sauce (pasta thing)

That is three vegetarian meals, one fish and two fowl. We don't eat beef/pork/mammals, but I am also trying to eat less chicken/turkey.

Plus we may (or may not) be eating out tonight. I'm waiting for our friends to return from an overnight backpacking trip; if they're up to it, we're all going out for pizza. We have $130 in our dining out budget. If we do go out I want green chile and feta on my pizza; not everyone's favorite, but believe me: it's awesome!

Which reminds me... we are beginning our Thanksgiving discussions/negotiations/arguments. My brother wants an all-vegetarian meal. My mother wants turkey. We are having 24 people with varying diets. I don't care what we have as long as I can eat at least something (I don't eat gluten and I eat very little dairy). I'd like to make mashed potatoes with red chile sauce. My brother wants to make some other type of potatoes. So far we're only having potatoes. Oh - I wouldn't mind doing at least one dessert because I love dessert and it's pretty much off-limits if I don't make it.

Right now I have a crostata (Italian rustic tart) in the oven, and that would be a good candidate. (No, we are not Italian). I could also make a Tunis Cake (no, we are not Tunisian). My mother wants to buy dessert because she thinks store-bought desserts are nicer/fancier than home-made ones. And baking makes her ovens "too hot." (I am not kidding).

My brother has this idea that everyone (all 24 of us) should be able to eat everything.

I live 1000 miles from my parents' house, and because my mother doesn't cook I'll need to bring my own pans, etc. My brother bought baking trays last year to leave at her house, and she's still upset about it. She wants to give them away, but I reminded her that he might want to use them for his potatoes this year.

Did I mention that when my brother cooks he never makes enough? He says that there are lots of other things to eat, so he only needs to make enough for about 6 people. I am a terrible over-feeder. I will make mashed potatoes for 24 as if everyone is ONLY eating mashed potatoes.

I like cranberry sauce. Other people like cranberry relish (blech). My mother likes the cranberry sauce in the can, but she will stoop to my level and eat my home-made stuff (but she always mentions that she prefers the can).

I always want to have a salad. No one else wants salad. It's just not "Thanksgiving."

My mother likes that spinach stuff with a can of cream of mushroom soup in frozen spinach. She is surprised every year that I can't eat the mushroom soup since it's thickened with flour.

This could go on and on, so I am going to go eat that crostata now... I truly hope you haven't started planning Thanksgiving yet, but if your family is as neurotic as mine, please comment so I know I'm not alone.

What is $100 Worth Where You Live (US map)

July 19th, 2015 at 01:55 pm

I just saw this map on Apt. Therapy...

Our County says $100 is worth $100 (but is the most expensive place to live in our state), but for some places on the map it's like having a 20% pay cut (or a 5% raise in others). Interesting.

In other news:
Went to a party last night and had a great time. And of course another bonus was that we didn't need to make dinner, just a dish to share.

F has a friend coming over today, then soccer kick-around and then we may go out for pizza. We haven't eaten out since we got back from our vacation 3 weeks ago, so we've got money in that category.

Circus Show Tonight!

July 17th, 2015 at 04:49 pm

F's two week camp is over at noon today; we'll have lunch at home. And then she goes back to camp for the end-of-camp performance. It's a circus camp, and F is doing fabric/silks (aerials) and unicycling and stilt-walking. This is her fourth camp with this circus troupe. So much fun!

Nine to noon is not a lot of time to get much done, but I made some work phone calls, went for a short run (it's the only kind I do - 1.5 miles). And I also paid down mortgage principal with a few snowflakes.

$77 gym money
$5 craigslist sale
$15 survey amazon certificate

We've paid off $6830 this year so far! And the mortgage is down to $51,357. Next month we'll be below $50k and we're celebrating by going to Denver for a Colorado Rapids soccer game and weekend break!

More Snowflakes!

July 15th, 2015 at 09:30 pm

Several snowflakes came in today and yesterday... I am so happy because I thought we'd paid down as much as we could on the mortgage this month.

- $77 payment for June from the gym
- $5 sale on Craigslist
- $15 amazon credit from a professional survey that I participated in


So I'll be taking a trip to the bank tomorrow.

The difficult thing today is that F has been really anxious at camp this week. I had to pick her up early. She is going to see her psychologist tomorrow to work on how to talk herself back down when she gets really worried.

Tonight: we're bringing dinner to Music on the Hill. Should be fun, and we should see lots of friends up there!

Monday's Frugal Things

July 13th, 2015 at 09:51 pm


1. I started the day off right and sold something on Craigslist (just $5, but still...). The person I sold it to is the boyfriend of a friend of mine! We both had no idea when we were working out how to meet up. Small town.

2. Went to weightlifting class at the gym. Free because I teach there. I went to Pilates yesterday. (Still sore! That was a lot of hip work).

3. Had lunch at home (leftover tuna with celery and some crisps; also a plum and some blackberries). I love that there is a ton of fresh fruit in season. We bought cantaloupe, blackberries and pineapple. Fruit makes even my boring lunches sort of exciting.

4. Having some new friends over tomorrow. This always makes me look at our house with new eyes. I identified two quick jobs: fixed trim on a window in our bedroom and sewed a fraying part of our slipcovers. It's nice when new people come over because I take care of small things that I've let go for a while.

5. F seems keen to go to the pool (yay!). She went off the diving board for the first time yesterday (and then repeated her new trick about a thousand times). She's pretty excited to go back this evening. The pool is open until 7:45 pm, so I think we'll bring dinner over and D can meet us there. Tonight: chili and corn on the cob. Yum! Maybe I'l bring some pineapple, too.

I see that I didn't mention work at all in my five things... which is good - it means that everything is going smoothly. I got in enough hours while F was at camp and I got a lot done.

Hoping your day was good, too!

Low Key Weekend

July 12th, 2015 at 02:07 am

Today was pretty low-key. I wanted to go to the pool, but F said she'd rather go tomorrow when her friend is over.

So... I vacuumed and cleaned out the litterbox, washed the picnic blanket, dusted, got the fur off the pet covers that I keep on the sofa, cleaned all of the kitchen appliances (including toaster crumbs and the inside of the microwave).

We had a nice lunch on our patio (finally it's warm enough after weeks of rain every day!). Quesadillas and watermelon and leftover roast courgettes and red pepper.

Then I worked on the General Store dollhouse I made for F. It's almost done! I think we'll be able to decorate it tomorrow! I will definitely post some photos.

We played tennis at the park (and unfortunately lost a ball; ah well).

Then we went to the store to get strawberries and whipping cream. I made mini pavlovas for dessert tonight. That might be my favorite dessert ever. I had two egg whites I'd saved from a recipe that used just yolks, so I wanted to use them up, and meringues are perfect.

Tonight we're going to watch Married at First Sight which is sure to be completely stupid, but we all need to relax. Last week was stressful (work) and rainy (a day of crazy hail which made the upper patio fill with dirt which we had to dig out) and emotional (F had some anxiety due to the thunder associated with the rain). I am looking forward to sitting at the pool tomorrow and reading the book on my phone!

Sometimes I feel like our weekends are dull compared to other people (I'm on Facebook too much obviously), but I think I like them that way. Are you a high intensity weekend person or a low-key weekend person? I think they can both be frugal...

Free Stuff Friday

July 11th, 2015 at 12:19 am

Today was pretty busy (every day this week has been busy). I managed to get a lot of work done, but also exercised and did some stuff around the house etc.

Here is the Free Stuff from today:
- Got two books from the library for F (Chomp and When you Reach Me)
- While I was there, picked up three magazines for me at the magazine exchange rack
- The pay machine was out of order so I parked for free which is good since I was only there for 2 minutes
- There's been a flooding situation at one of the neighborhoods I work with (I am their Design Review Committee Chair) and it's meant a ton of phone calls. I've been carefully logging my hours; so I guess I've made some extra money this week.
- Tonight is crash potatoes and grilled veggies (courgettes and red pepper). Yum!
- Spent some time today listening to the Undisclosed podcast on my phone (it's a follow-up to Serial; if you were super into Serial, you need to listen to Undisclosed!)
- I have a ridiculous but fun book on my phone by Liane Moriarty (also from the library)
- We'll watch another episode of Celebrity Masterchef tonight (best show ever!)
- I went for a run today (free exercise!) which was both awful (running is awful) and felt great afterward. And I passed another woman who was running like me (I don't know how to explain it - we were both the same age and we were clomping along similarly in our non-fancy running clothes) and we said hi and "keep going!" which felt good!
- Went to the bank to pay down mortgage principal (got a $23 check from our utility and had $327 from our Irish house) - and it was popcorn day! I love popcorn day!

I hope you had some Free Stuff, too!

Lots of Work, Big Hail, Evening Plans - ?

July 8th, 2015 at 08:59 pm

The last couple of days have been so stressful work-wise! Ugh! I don't even want to go into it... just lots of work, not enough time to do it, millions of phone calls from people who want me to help them but it's not part of my role to settle disputes between property owners (and even if I wanted to help, it would be bad for me to do that).

So, I am exhausted.

The result, though: no spending. No time to spend anything.

What we did spend money on: got a few stickers for F's Women's World Cup sticker book. Yes, she was THRILLED about the final match! She wore her Klingenberg jersey. She was so passionate about the game, some people at the next table (we saw it on a big screen at a restaurant her in town) said "We want her to sit with us!"

Right now: it's just stopped hailing (for the second time). Big hail, too - like 3/4 of an inch! And I'm super sad because the one thing I really look forward to all week (besides Celebrity Master Chef) is Music on the Hill. And it's not looking likely. We'll see what the weather does.

I'm going to go pick up F from Circus Camp. And then I guess either Music on the Hill or a quiet evening at home.

Transferring Money from Ireland

July 8th, 2015 at 01:53 am

We've been trying for several days to bring money from our Irish account to the US. Now that we don't have to make mortgage payments on our Irish house anymore, we decided to use some of the rent money we receive for the house to pay down principal on our US house (about $400 a month).

TransferWise seemed to be our best option because we don't have to pay ATM fees and the fee they do charge is really small. They give you a good interest rate, too.

There were a couple of options on TransferWise, but because our Irish bank charges for transfers to other banks, we decided to go with their debit card option. It didn't work, so D called the Irish bank, and they said it needed to be used at an actual ATM first.

There's a bank in town that doesn't charge a fee (although our Irish bank does, ugh). So we took out $80 and tried TransferWise again.

It still didn't work. So D called the Irish bank, and they said that we could only take out 300 euro at a time using the debit card.

D tried taking out only 300 euro, and it worked! So now we have a way to get that money out of Ireland and into our US account. It should show up on Thursday.

D took the $80 from the ATM to the bank to pay down principal today on our US mortgage.

This month's mortgage principal so far:
- $150 budgeted
- $80 reimbursement for coach hosting
- $90 gym payment
- $80 from Irish house
- more to come!

Net Worth for June

July 3rd, 2015 at 03:58 pm

I don't know about you, but net worth seems a little weird to me... I mean, we have to have somewhere to live, right? So the value of our house, which is the majority of our net worth, doesn't seem like it really adds to our investments. I guess we could downsize if we wanted to at some point.

Anyway, I still calculate net worth every 3 months.

Net Worth Total = $996,326
Net Worth of only Investments = $407,482

Investments haven't gained any value since March, but rose because we put money in each month. Frustrating, and it's why I only check every 3 months.

Another Mortgage Snowflake and some Free Catfood

July 2nd, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I got paid by the gym yesterday, and it was $90! That was for May; the owner is characteristically late on paying us. I drove it to the bank this morning to pay down principal so we're now at $52,817 (and that's before our regular payment posts on the 7th).

A little more about the gym: we used to have a space close to downtown, but the owner is moving us to his other gym. It's ok with me because my house is equidistant between the new place and the old one, but I think we're going to lose some members who won't be able to make it there on their lunch hours. I thought we'd pick up members from the new gym, but after I toured around, I realized it's really two separate types of clientele. Our people take classes in weights (light weights, high reps) and cardio (spinning, zumba) and the people at the gym do only Golds type freeweights (heavy weights, low reps). They won't be coming to our classes.

And we won't be using their gym. I thought that the treadmills that were taken out of our gym went to the new gym, but I think they were sold. There is no cardio equipment at the new gym at all.

Also - I thought there would be someone to greet, check people in, take payments. There isn't. The people at that gym have a key to get in when they want. Our instructors have a key so we can teach our classes. We still have to take payments and sign people in, open the case to sell water, etc.

Here's the thing: I am really considering calling the private club here in town where most of my friends belong. It's far from my house, but not that far. And it's closer to my office. I have so many friends there, I know I could build up some classes. And I'm pretty sure they pay better (and on time). It feels risky for some reason, and I don't know why. I've been really loyal to this gym, but maybe it's time for a change.

Anyway, the other thing I did today was take our cat to the vet. He is so fat, they gave us some free food to try. He is honestly not that fat. He's a big cat to start with, and he's pretty sedentary. We play catch with him, and we give him less food than it says on the bag to maintain his ideal weight. The doctor gave us wet food to try. I guess free food is good.

I am realizing this post sounds sort of grumpy, and I am almost never grumpy, so I apologize. I will have a better attitude tomorrow!

Errands (including Mortgage Principal Payment)

July 1st, 2015 at 05:12 pm

F was not very happy with me this morning. I had to drag her around on a few errands...
1. To the office to pick up some things I needed to bring to my client. Plus a check that had arrived.
2. To the bank to deposit the check, and the reimbursement for hosting a coach at camp. And paid down mortgage principal (regular $150 plus $80 reimbursement check). Also bought tickets to the Fourth of July pancake breakfast.
3. Dropped off the things to the client.

It took less than an hour.

We bought the pancake tickets with cash from a counter check... If I had gotten cash, I would have had leftover cash which somehow just disappears. This way, nothing leftover to spend. Buying them early saved us $2. We only buy two tickets because I can't eat the pancakes, so I just bring something along and we all sit on a blanket on the grass. We park at my office so we don't have to pay for parking.

On the mortgage front: we now owe $52,907, and that will be less when our regular payment goes through on the 7th. When we get to $50,000 I promised that we would do something fun. That will most likely be in August... wow... I guess that'll be our road trip to Denver to see the Colorado Rapids!