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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!

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).

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...

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

- 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!

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!

- 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!

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

- 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)

- 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)

- 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...