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Freebies (or Almost-Freebies)

July 6th, 2017 at 12:45 am

Lots of freebies lately, which is good because we are really pushing to get to the end of our mortgage.

- Chocolate bars - my mother knows I like Chocolove 77, so she always has a bar for me when I visit. But I think she doesn't understand that it takes our family a week to eat an entire bar. She thought that I could site down and eat one by myself in a day, so she got me 4 bars! We took the other three home and are working on one of them this week.

- Dental floss - My mother also gave me four packets of floss; she gets them from the dentist, and it's not the type she uses.

- July 4th - We paid $5 to go to Tent Rocks (it's a per-car fee); if you come to NM, you have to go there. It's a really magical place (see F walking through the slot canyon portion in the photo I'm attaching). There are also hoodoos and a beautiful view from the top. We also went to the pool and then to my neighbor's house to watch fireworks from her roof.

- Long Walk - We walked downtown and back (total of 5.9 miles) today. It was a great time to hang out and talk.

- Virgin Pulse - D's new job allows us to track our fitness on Virgin Pulse and make money for our FSA while doing it! I made $105 in June for the FSA and working hard on this quarter.

Frugal Dollhouse (with Photos)

December 19th, 2016 at 02:20 am

I've mentioned the dollhouse before, and I thought you might want to see the progress...

The kit itself was fairly inexpensive, and I think that may be because the instructions didn't match the pieces. But I was winging it a little bit anyway, and changing it along the way (in the original kit you can't see the stairs to the attic and the railings are ugly - didn't use those).

I made all of the paneling out of kleenex and dog biscuit boxes. The fireplace is made from illustration board. I did buy some inexpensive basswood strips and some paint from Michaels (with a coupon of course). I still need to do a lot of work. The stone foundation will be made from egg cartons. I have to do shingles, and I am thinking egg carton for those, too. The railings are made from toothpicks and paper-beads.

The furniture will also be made from illustration board, cardboard, etc.

I thought I'd show you the progress. This is my silly little hobby, but a lot of people like to see it! (PS - I can't figure out how to make the photos vertical - ugh!!).

Second floor hallway; stairs lead to attic, door is to bedroom. Floor is paper, railings are paper beads, door made from illustration board and kleenex boxes. Doorknob from kleenex box and paper bead and a toothpick.

Bathroom with kleenex box paneling, paper floor.

Front (still unfinished).

Kitchen looking toward entry hall and stairs to second floor.

Front door with illustration board and kleenex box door. Acetate for fan light (painted with house number in gold). Letter box is made from kleenex box and door knob is toothpick with a paper bead.

Lots of Fun Stuff - and Photos!

October 14th, 2016 at 08:29 pm

I realize I haven't posted anything in a while - ooops!

There has been a lot going on:
- signed a contract for a new fire station addition
- working on the dollhouse (my little side project) - this is a pretty frugal hobby since I'm making everything including the wainscot out of discarded cardboard boxes (cereal boxes, kleenex boxes, etc). I attached 2 photos of the dollhouse!
- went to 7th grade options fair last night (had to bring cookies, so not a free event, but very informative); F made a spreadsheet of qualities she wants in a school and was rating the various schools. This impressed the school she wants to go to, which makes me think it's definitely the right school for her.
- tonight is friend's rehearsal dinner; I'm bringing fancy non-alcoholic drinks - not too pricey since I got them from Trader Joe's; F is in the wedding tomorrow!
- F stopped taking tennis lessons; my mom was paying for these, so no effect on the budget
- Altered the dress F is wearing tomorrow with my friend M who is an amazing seamstress; not sure how much I saved. I love M!
- reading a book from the library, as usual
- gave the recommendation forms to F's teachers for the school she wants to go to.
- did the Ropes Course at the Community College with school - OMG so scary. I attached a photo of me (on the right) and F (on the left) dangling after jumping off a tiny shaking platform.

We're supposed to go to L's house for rehearsal dinner at 4:15, so I'm going to just kick back and read a book until then. (No facebook! Too much that makes my head spin in there right now; would rather see cute photos of my friends' kids which is why I'm on it in the first place!). F had the day off school, so I took the day off, too.

Grateful Week 1

January 7th, 2016 at 06:33 pm

A week of gratefulness!

1st - ​Meghan Klingenberg - a soccer player who is world class but still has time for giving back; F can't wait to attend her camp! We signed her up as soon as registration opened (midnight, EST, January 1st!)

2nd - My friends, my support network

3rd - Finished our holiday puzzle, and forgot to photograph it, but who cares? F put in the last pieces.

4th - L's exercise class (we both teach the same class, but I love to go and goof around with her!)

5th - My daughter's friends are so wonderful! I like them the way I like my own friends; I love to see her with them!

6th - Went to indoor soccer practice, and the building was soooo cold - but my friend T whose daughter does soccer with F worked out with me - crazy jumping jacks and jumprope and step-ups outside while the snow fell!

7th - Snow, snow, snow! Woke up to a snow delay and everything was so beautiful! This is still exciting for a native Californian even after 23 years...

(A lot of it is already melted off because the sun is out... but it's supposed to snow again tonight).

Snow Day (Mother-Daughter Time!)

December 15th, 2015 at 11:55 pm

When we went to bed last night, I was pretty sure there would be a snow delay, but at our usual waking up time, there was still no text or email. D checked the school website on his phone - nothing. Then he looked at the website on his computer and there was just a banner across the top (no date on it) that said there was a delay.

I got F's lunch ready and let her sleep in. At 7:22, we finally got the text and email. That is about 10 minutes before we usually leave for school, so I was glad we checked the actual website. I did email the head of school to let him know that we hadn't received the text, and he said that he'd sent it to the service at 6 am! I would have slept in a little longer...

Anyway, we had a fun morning, and then we got a text at 8:34 saying school was canceled. Icy roads.

We tried to sled down a hill near our house, hung out, ate cake I made last night (great recipe! and I had all the ingredients).

Then we decorated the general store dollhouse for Christmas!

Craigslist postings up

December 3rd, 2015 at 12:46 am

I promised myself I wouldn't blog until I posted four things on Craigslist.

First I continued the Great Winter Garage Purge. I found more evidence of mice which strengthened my resolve to continue this project. I am going to get almost everything up off the floor onto either shelves or hooks.

Then I did my work (and managed to complete a mini-cost estimate that actually makes some sense). The project bid meeting is on December 18th which is the last day of school before break. It's at 11 am, and I am going to have to skip the site visit because I need to pick F up from school early that day.

Then I picked up F, got her settled with a snack while she did her homework, started the rice for dinner and emptied out the containers from her lunch box.

Then she wanted to hang the ornaments on the tree outside our door (the indoor tree is happening bit by bit). Then we had cider.

And then... finally... I posted my craigslist items. I still have several to post. This is a good time for some of them (Christmas dress, child size ski boots and skis, snow boots) so I really needed to get this done! And others are really important for being able to clear out the garage (plus they'd make nice Christmas gifts for someone). I try to price really reasonably.

Cross your fingers that someone will take some of this off our hands! Especially the large stuff!

Budget Has to Absorb $85

February 11th, 2015 at 12:32 am

Well, I met with the psychologist today, and let's just say that our thinking on F's anxiety is different. It just wasn't a match. Please bear in mind that she's never met F, so maybe her take on the situation is biased based on her experience with other 9 year olds? Basically she said that a big part of it is probably attention-seeking. (My take: F is very frustrated by the unwanted anxious thoughts; she is an only child and gets tons of attention; right now she is playing with D who just got home). She also suggested that if F came in to see her, she'd have her do drawings to explain her feelings since she's "only 9." (My take: F is not much of an "art" kid and doesn't feel super comfortable with art, but is very verbal and loves making up stories; I'm not sure what "only 9" means since F is very capable of describing her feelings and so are the other 9 and 10 year olds I know). Lastly, she wants to find the source for the worry; did we not hug her very often - !!!! - or maybe it was because she was a preemie. (My take: she has had bouts of anxiety since she was 2; I think she's just that kind of kid; I was that kind of kid; sometimes there is no trauma involved).

So, anyway, I spent $85 on the appointment, and I made another appointment, but I'm going to call and cancel. I just don't feel that it's right for us. (You may agree with the psychologist, but I think with a psychologist, it has to be right for your specific family).

In good news: dropoff was so much better today, and at pickup she didn't have any big worries to report. We decided that 3:30 would be our "worry time" and other times she'd try to put her worries into an imaginary box to discuss later. This seemed to work pretty well. We've also taught her some anxiety management tools and she's been doing relaxation techniques.

In other good news: my dad is fine after surgery. We can't wait to visit my parents in CA in March!!!

Meal Plan and a Snow Day

January 31st, 2015 at 03:08 am

I always shop on Saturday or Sunday (because of my work schedule) but today was a snow day! I dropped F off at school and went shopping, thinking that they'd probably call a half day (they did) because the snow was really coming down!

It's supposed to snow into tomorrow, so I thought it'd be better to get the food for the week today and not have to go out tomorrow (unless the roads are good, and then we're totally going sledding! If they are bad we'll go sledding on Sunday instead).

This week's meal plan:
- pasta with aubergines
- tuna melts with salad
- potatoes and peas (since I have peas in the freezer)
- pad thai
- something from the freezer (chipotle chicken stew made last week)
- manchego and spinach frittata

After we got home we had snow slushies and made a snowman. Since I grew up without snow, I really, really love snow days.

Boxing Day - Snow, Leftovers, No Spending

December 26th, 2014 at 04:01 pm

Woke up to snow this Boxing Day - beautiful!

Because of the snow, and the fact that it's on a holiday (which means our City didn't plow our street or even the busier street that we use to go downtown), we're staying in today. Which means no spending!

F is playing with her presents. D is having a leisurely cup of tea.

We all had leftovers for breakfast, and for dinner I'm using leftovers to make Rachael Ray's turkey croquettes. I can't tell you how much I love leftovers!

I think we'll drag the sled out later.

Back from Thanksgiving

December 3rd, 2014 at 03:22 am

We're back from Thanksgiving, and I have random bits of financial news:

1. We drove to CA (nearly 1000 miles) and back - spent only $170 on gas which is good; my mom paid for a hotel on the way there and one on the way back which was so nice of her (I think the message is she'd rather contribute financially to our travel plans than come out here).

2. Actually that is definitely the message my parents are paying for us to take the train back out to see them in March. We had such a great time out there, and F got to see her adorable older cousins (they are quite a bit older - in their 20s).

3. We (our family, the cousins, my brother, etc) played soccer in the park on Black Friday with the older cousins instead of shopping. F was the captain of her team, and she drafted a pretty good team. I was not the last to be picked (I used to be in school).

4. Dining and grocery budget suffered a little bit, but I didn't go over the budget.

5. I got paid by the gym just before I left and was able to put another $102 (don't ask - weird amount, right?) toward mortgage principal. This month we'll be below $65k after our regular payment posts.

6. Our solar system is installed but we're still waiting for the rec meter from the local utility.

7. I had to get a filling replaced today, so I'm hoping the dental insurance covers most of it.

8. Just a few more gifts to buy, total cost will be less than $30. I also need to do teacher gifts. There is plenty of money in the gift fund. My parents' gift to F is three days of winter break circus camp; this is not only awesome for her (she loves this circus troupe) but also means that their gift won't create clutter (gift of experience!) and that I have three days during the winter break to get some work done!!

9. Frustratingly, I can't work out next year's budget. I don't know how much D will be making (he's getting a small raise which I'm super thankful for). He gets an employer match also, starting in January, up to 6% of his salary; we'll definitely be taking advantage of that. But I so want to work out the budget!!

Our Garden - Almost there! With photos

June 10th, 2014 at 04:20 pm

The yard isn't done yet (which is why I didn't take a photo looking the other direction - I still need to build something to enclose our barbeque).

We already had the table and chairs, the bench (which used to be in an unused corner where the raised veggie bed is now) and the light wood chairs (which were in the garage; hadn't used them since they were in my living room 15 years ago!). We had all but about 25 of the concrete pavers (but they were in a different configuration). We even had the river rock (which I haven't finished putting back in yet; it was also in a different configuration). Oh - and the planter bed made of concrete slabs - we had all of the slabs, but there were planters scattered all over the yard.

We basically rearranged what we already had.

I had some wood in the garage, so on Sunday I made the little table in front of the bench.

I've bought: the bright plastic rug from World Market ($30) and some pavers (about $30), a lot of sand to put down the pavers and some potting soil. It's now a garden we want to hang out in! (Even our dog wants to be there!).

I still need to: move the river rock around, plant the veggie bed and the planter and build that barbeque enclosure. But there's a whole summer to accomplish those things!

Also - I saw these solar twinkly lights at Target - would love to wind those around each of our Honey Locusts.

Merry Christmas from New Mexico

December 24th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Merry Christmas from New Mexico! It finally feels like Christmas - I've made the biscochitos (see my Grandmother's rolling pin? I always feel close to her when I use it) and red chile chicken tamales (that's what we eat on Christmas Eve). I brought the presents home from the office, and we'll be heading out after tamales to see the farolitos and stop by a few friends' houses for posole.

Then we'll leave both a mince pie (English tradition) and biscochito (New Mexican tradition) for Father Chrismtas/Santa. And a carrot for the reindeer. And D and I will dutifully eat most of each to make it look real. And F will not fall asleep until 11, but after that I'll come down the chimney (figuratively) and put out all the gifts. And we'll all follow F's lead and get up at 6 am!

Saving Advice has turned out to be a really great outlet for me, a good place to keep my thoughts and stay sane. Everyone on here is so supportive and nice! I wish for you all to meet your goals (financial or otherwise) in 2014, and have a wonderful holiday and a stupendous new year!

Warmest wishes!