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Archive for January, 2019

Working from Home

January 30th, 2019 at 11:22 am

So F got either food poisoning or a stomach bug in the middle of the night last night (not very bad, so I am super thankful) and is staying home today. She's already done all her homework, and I am making her relax and get better. This is her first day absent this year.

She needs to recover for the timed mile for soccer on Saturday. If they do it in under 7 minutes, they don't need to do the timed two mile on Sunday. Sunday evening is the parent-student Varsity Track meeting. It's going to be a busy Spring!

I just finished the work I need to do today and am now going to do a little brainstorming on career stuff. I have a book to read, too.

Some ideas/thoughts:
- My work style - I am super productive and responsible, but in exchange for that I like flexibility in my schedule. I don't mind having commitments at certain times, but I like to control when I commit to something.
- I like people! I like helping people. But I don't like when people are working for me (like engineers, consultants) - it's better when I can just get the work done myself.
- I like variety, so I don't mind cobbling something together that is a mix of all sorts of part time things that equal full time work.
- The mix of architecture and fitness instruction (maybe pulling back on some of the architecture and increasing fitness instruction) seems like a good idea.

I met with a woman at a local non-profit that takes care of people with disabilities (mostly Downs Syndrome) and I am volunteering to do some core fitness work with them. I connected with the people at the center instantly. I really like doing exercise work with people in under-served populations, like the older women who take my exercise classes.

That's it - just some thoughts...

Time to do a little research.

Frugal Choices

January 26th, 2019 at 08:01 pm

Frugal choices this week:

- I lost my sunglasses (not frugal, but it happens). I bought a new pair at Target for $14 (100% UV protection) rather than the very enticing pair of super-expensive Ray Bans I saw online; I need the sunglasses - not optional here in the high desert!

- My friend who is moving (wahhhhh!) gave me a book on back pain and a foam roller. I am going to try it out after I finish this post.

- Got a new book from the library by Liane Moriarty who I love!

- I got a 50% off coupon for an oil change at the dealer. They said I probably need new brake pads soon, but instead of getting the work done there, I called the other place I go, and it's a lot less!

- My husband found a driver that may work with our old scanner, so I am going to try that out before I buy a new one! I am digitizing all of my old photos.

- I just upgraded to Mac High Sierra (not Mojave yet) which of course is free, but I was worried that none of my old programs would work. They all do!

- Put together a frugal menu for next week (we have $89 left in the grocery budget):
Chinese chicken salad with cabbage and almonds - have everything I need! Nothing to buy!
Stuffed red peppers (black beans, corn, quinoa) - Need beans, red peppers and salsa but have everything else
Elote pasta with corn, green onions, feta and cilantro - Have everything!
Potatoes dauphinoise and a salad - Need potatoes (might try yukon golds this time) and lettuce and cream
Coleslaw and baked potatoes with chile on top - Have pretty much everything for this, too except potatoes
Veggie spring rolls in rice paper wrappers with dipping sauce (I have the wrappers and some red cabbage, everything for the sauce, probably need cucumbers and more carrots)

- Entertainment this weekend: walking the dog, reading my book, chatting with the parents at F's karate class, relaxing.

- Cleaned the house. This is not really frugal, but EVERY one of my friends has a cleaner, so I'm counting this. (I'm serious - everyone has a cleaner; it can't be that way in the general population, right? I just have friends who prioritize this?).

This Week's Meal Plan

January 20th, 2019 at 01:21 pm

Just made this week's meal plan...

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

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

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

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

Total grocery bill was $119.

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

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

January 18th, 2019 at 04:28 pm

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


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

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


This Week's Meals (and our Grocery Tab)

January 6th, 2019 at 03:14 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bulk Bin
- Oats .26
- Jasmine Rice $2.76

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

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

Total $109.44

Thinking Big

January 5th, 2019 at 04:47 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, Hamilton Tickets!!!!

January 1st, 2019 at 10:05 am

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

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

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

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