Home > Archive: July, 2016

Archive for July, 2016

New Recipe

July 26th, 2016 at 01:35 am

We made this for dinner tonight:
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower Stirfry (with Rice)


The goal is less fish/chicken/turkey and more veggie meals. We eat veggie about 3-4 days a week. I want to eat one fish night, one turkey or chicken night and the rest vegetarian.

Tomorrow night is chili in the crockpot with cornbread. We put turkey in that but it could easily be vegetarian with more beans. Or Quorn.

Our other vegetarian standby recipes:
- tostadas
- grilled cheese with tomato soup
- frito pies
- baked potatoes and a veg
- crustless quiche with various veggies, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes
- frittata with spinach and cheese
- roasted veggies and rice
- tortilla espanola
- stirfry with carrots, snow peas, ginger, broccoli, cilantro and mint over rice
- mexican eggs
- crash potatoes and a veg
- potatoes dauphinoise and a green salad
- bean and cheese enchiladas
- socca
- soup (butternut squash or hungarian mushroom) with bread
- olives, cheese and crackers for dinner
- risotto
- quesadillas with guacamole
- polenta with red sauce and a salad
- pasta with zucchini and goat cheese
- pasta with red sauce
- bad breath pasta (capers, spinach, kalamata olives, balsamic)
- noodles jefferson with courgettes

Notice there are no eggplant recipes on there. Blech. No one in my family seems to like eggplant. And I would eat artichokes for dinner every night, but D doesn't think they're worth the trouble (!!!!). And F isn't fond of mushrooms.

Do you have any other veggie recipes that you use a lot?

The General To-Do List, not the Day-to-Day One

July 22nd, 2016 at 05:33 pm

This is a different to-do list. I have a day-to-day to-do list and I'm very good on getting things done.

This is my general, overall, life to-do list:
- find a new project for 2017 (I have a lot of projects that are wrapping up/in construction - need a new one!)
- figure out what to do about the gym situation (the gym attendance is so low now that they moved us to the south part of town - we lost most of our old attendees, then the gym owner put us in a room with no AC and no windows, so no doubt we'll lose more). I need to leave and find a new gym.
- 50th birthday party - no idea what I want to do, but I want to invite everyone (this may mean 100 people coming)! So it'll need to be large and inexpensive. Will be in October so outside won't work. I'm not so much into just sitting around. Not sure where to have it, or what to do. My birthday is on Halloween - but the party won't be on Halloween. Costumes? (I'd be into that, but will everyone else?). 80s music? (yes!) Kids should be able to come, too!!!

Working Mom + Summer = Guilt

July 21st, 2016 at 11:05 pm

I am super lucky that I have my own business and can (generally) set my own hours. Which means I can drop off F at school and pick her up, and hang out with her during the summer.

But I still have to do my work which means at least an hour or two every morning in the summer. And I still have meetings that can't be changed.

I dragged F to the office for an hour (where she ate her lunch) and then with me to a meeting at a jobsite today, which meant that she sat in the corner with a hardhat on reading Harry Potter (not sure which book since she's read them through more than once).

Oh, the guilt.

I just want a nice, fun summer with her. A summer where we have no cares and I don't have to make money, and I don't have to take work calls.

She has camp next week, and I'm so sad. I want to take her to the pool every day after camp! I want to get slushies or snow cones!

Waaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Frown

What I Didn't Buy Today

July 20th, 2016 at 04:46 am

Here is what I wanted to buy today but didn't (and I am very proud of myself):

- Walking downtown, our friends wanted to stop for gelato; we got F a cup with cash, but D and I didn't get any.

- Got an email from UKonserve (the containers we use for lunches) for a buy one get one thermos container. It would be a $20 savings, but also a $20 spend (plus shipping). We already have a thermos for F's lunch, and I have a microwave at work, so I don't really need it.

- Saw a red top on the Banana Republic website; it's a color I love that doesn't come out that often, but it's part linen (not sure what that means for care) and it was $37. No thanks. I have enough t-shirts. I bookmarked it in case it goes on sale, and I'll check in every once in a while unless I forget about it (which is entirely possible). First I'll see if it's dry clean, because in that case - no way!

Mortgage Update

July 19th, 2016 at 06:25 pm

Paid off some money to mortgage principal yesterday, and I am happy to report that despite the new banking system, it showed up in online banking this morning. We now owe $31,006.56. Which is so frustrating! I mean, that $6.57 shouldn't matter, but I would love to see a number in the 30k's.

It's ok... as soon as F is in camp next week, I am posting some things on craigslist or facebook and I am confident this will be below the 31k's by the end of the month.

In other (boring!) news:
- Jury duty is tomorrow; I am reviewing what I can/can't take with me and what I'm supposed to wear (no tank tops).
- We took the cat to the vet for his annual check up today; $84. I guess it's ok since it's budgeted for

New Bank System - Ugh

July 18th, 2016 at 08:51 pm

My bank has updated their entire website... and ugh! It's just terrible! Actually it's not just the website and online banking, but also the banking system in the physical bank itself.

There were a bunch of generic, suit-wearing people milling around the bank to see how the transition was going this morning. People here don't really wear suits and none of these people looked like New Mexico natives, so I'm pretty sure they were from out of town, probably representing the system that the bank bought.

This is a small local bank, and everyone here loves it. I don't love it as much as I did yesterday.

I made two deposits, got my receipt and realized that the receipt no longer has the last few digits of the account number on it. So I had to scribble on each which account they belonged to. Ugh.

And I also paid down some mortgage principal. Instead of the normal sheet that shows that it was a principal payment and the amount of the loan before and after the payment, I got a generic receipt that looked like my deposit receipts. There was no account listed. It said "special payment" which they told me meant it was principal payment, sort of. It didn't list the previous amount of the mortgage or the new amount, so I couldn't tell that it was a principal payment. The teller was super-sorry; I kept telling her it wasn't her fault.

I sought out one of the generic suit-guys to ask if he wanted some feedback, and he said yes, definitely. He told me that my principal payment would show up tomorrow in online banking if I wanted to check it (but at the moment it looks like I took money out of checking and it evaporated).

I also let him know that in the new online system, my escrow account (for taxes and insurance) has disappeared. He said that he thought that would be with the mortgage, and I told him that it wasn't; I'd checked that morning. He said "Oh, huh, well that's where they said it would be." You can see the amount of my regular payment that goes to escrow but not the value of the escrow account, how and when payments are made from that account for the taxes and insurance.

Who knows what they'll do with my feedback, but thank you for letting me rant!

Medical Expenses, Energy Rebate, Jury Duty, Grocery Budget

July 17th, 2016 at 02:48 pm

A few financial things:

- The eye drops - I have (according to the dr.) allergic conjunctivitis. My eyes are so red and scratchy. I wouldn't mind so much, but the other day, the whites turned completely red; every time F looked at me she screamed! And I'm worried that my clients are going to think I'm on drugs or something since my eyes are pretty much always bloodshot. I've tried the over-the-counter option and it didn't do much. So the dr. prescribed drops, and when I went to get them at the pharmacy, they said they couldn't fill the prescription, that the dr. needed to get pre-authorization from my insurance co. to explain why I need the drops. (Don't get me started - I mean if the dr. didn't think I needed them then she wouldn't have prescribed them, right?). Part 2: I called the insurance, and they said they'd give me an ok to get the medicine, but I might not want to since the copay is $268!!! Yikes! I told them I'd asked the dr. to prescribe a generic, and I asked if there were other similar drops. They gave me a list of drops on Tier 1 and I got a new prescriptoin. Turned out to be a $10 copay. My eyes feel better, but you seriously have to be on top of things.

- We got a $27 rebate from our energy company for energy generated by our solar panels that we didn't use. Yes - will go toward the mortgage!

- I have jury duty on Wednesday! Aacckkk! This should not be financial, but it is, since I am self employed and I don't make money unless I work and earn it. It's not only a day (at least) of no work... F has no camp this week, so I tried in vain for a playdate for her. All of her friends are away on trips or in camp themselves. Even friends who are more acquaintances are not available, and it's a lot harder to ask for a favor from them. So F will go to work with D. Not ideal. I hope I get out early because I have a 3 pm appt. I can't change. Ugh.

- We have 547.17 left in the grocery budget, and three more shopping trips. Should be plenty, and we will have money left over to help pay off the money we just spent on our driveway.

Meal Planning (and Lunch Meal Plan!)

July 16th, 2016 at 03:18 pm

When we got back from our holiday, the refrigerator was empty. There were a few things in the pantry. I did a quick shopping trip to restock and get items for Wednesday through Saturday. Tomorrow is the regular shopping for the coming week.

I am going to try a new recipe that I saw on Eat Well for Less (this is one of our favorite tv shows).

We don't eat red meat (pork, lamb, beef), but we do eat chicken, turkey and fish. I am trying to cut down, though, and eat more vegetarian meals. It's partly for health and partly for savings. So that recipe replaces the turkey burger we'd use with lentils. Have you tried using lentils in place of mince?

Here is the menu plan for this week:

S - baked potatoes, salad
S - fish, rice, broccoli with lemon/garlic/mayo sauce
M - mexican eggs with salsa, sour cream, green onion
T - spagbol with lentils
W - something from the freezer (I think it's chili) with salad
T - roasted vegetables (red onion, courgettes, cauliflower) and rice
F - tuna melts with corn on the cob
S - out with friends (pizza?)

Lunches are:
- goat cheese on chips, carrots, fruit
- turkey sandwich, fruit, tortilla chips
- avocado toast with radishes, fruit
- fried egg, veggies with dip, piece of cheese
- corkscrew hot dog with fries (at the pool!)

I don't really plan lunches, but I like to have a list of things I can make so that we don't have to think about it too much. It also helps when I'm buying groceries.

A Few More Photos of Croatia

July 15th, 2016 at 07:30 pm

Here are a few more photos of Croatia...
PS - I have been working so hard since we returned! But it's the weekend now so I get to relax a little bit!

Our apartment:

The view from the patio in our apt. where we ate dinner most nights:

The waterfront/marina area that leads to the big hotels:

Bar down by the water (a wave splashed up into my lemonade):

One of the beaches:

The Vacation Portion of the Vacation (photos!)

July 15th, 2016 at 03:20 pm

Despite the fact that the visiting-family portion of our holiday was challenging, the vacation portion was AMAZING. When we visit D's mum, dad, sister, etc. in the UK, we always plan a vacation afterward (not before!) to somewhere in Europe.

This trip was Croatia. Wow! It was like unspoiled Italy with a little Eastern Bloc and a little Pirate. We were in Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula.

Here are some of the financial notes:
- We traveled on Ryanair; unlike many people I don't have a problem with that airline. They charge very little, but you have to comply with the rules or risk extra fees. D, F and I travel carry-on only, one bag each (and no additional personal bag!) that fits Ryanair's requirement. So it's pretty inexpensive to get from the UK to the rest of Europe.
- We rent an apt. for a week (this time was through Homeaway) so we don't have to eat out all the time. We eat simple, inexpensive meals in our apt.
- We did have meals out that were amazing. Best food I've ever had in my life for about $12 each at a restaurant in Motovun, a hilltown near Rovinj. That's a photo of what I had: polenta with truffles and a parmesan crisp.
- We splurge on cool activities. This time we went sea kayaking to the nearby islands. We also went to the Harry Potter studios in the UK (so worth it!).
- Grandma (my MIL in the UK) gave us some money to "have a nice meal" and gave F 40 pounds to buy some souvenirs at Harry Potter. That was nice!
- We don't usually buy any souvenirs, but we were in Venice for two days and painted our own Carnevale masks. So that was our souvenir (besides F's wand from Harry Potter!)
- We brought picnics to the beach
- We only rented a car for three days, and otherwise used public transport (including the boat to Venice)

Here are a few photos:

Back from Vacation! (and Family Visit)

July 15th, 2016 at 02:26 am

There is so much to write, but I will spread over several entries because otherwise I'll bore you to tears!

We are back from our holiday. Well - it was really a family visit/holiday. Family visit (to the UK) was first, and I have to say it was not super great. My FIL is not doing well (in fact, D went out a week early to help his dad before F and I arrived). D's sister is... difficult. Her daughter (my niece) is super whiny and poorly behaved (and imagine how horrified I was when she announced that she has nits! D confronted his sister who said that they'd gotten rid of the lice completely).

Oldest son (my nephew) has decided not to go to university (and didn't take any A-levels, so he doesn't even have the option) despite being super smart; my MIL and I freaked out that he is closing off his options. D's sister has a PhD but feels like society is too conventional, and she doesn't want her kids to go to university.

Which leads me to my other nephew who is just turning 15, and is such a cool kid, amazing artist, nice person. D's sister had a falling out with his school that he loved (a Steiner school - so not a conventional place) and school in general, so he is now homeschooled. Except that she travels for work almost constantly and his dad is sort of introverted and a little bit scattered, so he's not homeschooled. He does coursework online.

I told my wonderful MIL that I'd love to have him come live with us, but immigration laws won't allow it. I said even 3 months (max. stay) would be good (he can continue his online courses), and if he liked it I might be able to work out an exchange program with a school here (we even have a Waldorf school which is the same as Steiner).

She said she would pay for his ticket if he wants to come and his parents are ok with it!

D has an interview tomorrow, so I'm not pushing him to call his sister yet to ask about it, but I will after tomorrow! If she says it would be ok (probably a longshot), we'll ask him what he thinks. He's young; it might be scary to be away from home like that. I have no idea what he'll say.

The financial news:
- we saved money by eating, hanging out with family
- we spent money because D's sister made D drive 1.5 hours and back to pick her up from Heathrow airport
- we stayed in a hotel because I can't stay in their house because it's filthy
- we saved money by staying in my MIL's house which is lovely; and she fed us all sorts of nice food. I miss her.
- if my nephew comes, my MIL will buy his ticket
- there will certainly be expenses, but so worth it
- it would be good for him, and for us, and for F, and that is priceless!

Next post will be the vacation portion of the trip!

Photo below is around the corner from D's sister's house... we went on a lot of walks! Rainy, but super pretty in that area of the Cotswalds.