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Gobble Gobble

January 23rd, 2018 at 10:10 am

I should have added this to my last post, but forgot.

The turkeys usually come out in the spring. Not used to seeing them in winter. I just happened to walk by the front door (office) and saw a turkey peering in the glass door. They look HUGE when they get that close. I was on the way to the kitchen (opposite end of building), but turned around to go the other way to get my camera. By the time I got back they were moving on, but I think I startled them and the one fanned its feathers.





Probably some of the best pictures I've gotten of the office turkeys.

Long Week

January 30th, 2017 at 07:55 pm

**Last Sunday I took DL(11) to the art museum. We have a membership but I don't know if I have ever eaten in their cafe. In the end they had small salads for $4 and the food was *really* good. It's kind of perfect because he is hard to get there, but once he was there he had a blast. Now I know that I can bribe him with food.

**MH got called to work in Monday (I don't think they've ever called him last minute like that before) and I ended up having to pick up MM for his high school math class. I think it's the first time all year I've had to sign him out of school for that. I have taken him to math a few times, when he otherwise had the day off or maybe if he got out of his other school early.

Just 4 more months of this madness!

**Last week we went to three shows in San Francisco. It was a LOT. We drove there three days in a row. But we had a great time.

One of them was a show I had been wanting to go to for a long time, where random people volunteer to read from their childhood/teen diaries. Absolutely hilarious. Another was an Adult Swim show panel that we took the kids too. We had front row and center for all the shows. In the past the talent has been uncomfortable with kids in the audience, for more plain vanilla shows (like on network TV). Guess they wanted to curse but there were so many kids in the audience. I didn't know what to expect, but in this case they chose to completely ignore us. Phew! They have to figure either we know what we are getting into, or that we are just clueless. Wink We were the only weirdos that brought kids to that one. DL(11) is hard to please, but he actually really enjoyed it. The third show was a podcast; MH found some friends to go with him. Which is *amazing* because everyone is always so broke and busy. Especially on a week night. We had forgotten that we bought the tickets, figuring we'd just cover them. They reimbursed him the night of the show, so that probably covers most of our costs for the week (tolls and eating out). Had totally forgotten that we even paid for all those tickets, so that was nice.

We took the train when it was just 1-2 of us, to help with our sanity. It maybe saved a few bucks when MH went with his friends, and definitely cost more for two of us. But sanity is priceless. (& I mean, we still had to drive an hour to get to the train, but the last few miles is the worst of the drive).

**On Saturday we went to visit MH's parents after the show. His dad's birthday is this week and we gave him a $50 gift certificate (which was a free credit card reward).

**MH went to a free game night last night. Trying to mix up the frugal with the not-so-frugal...

**Our kids were getting cell service in the reverse order. But in the end I don't think DL(11) ever used, and then suddenly MM(13) wanted to hang with his friends after school. His school seems in the middle nowhere, but I guess is a reasonable walk from the library. Several of his friends wait for their parents there every day, but he's only free on short days. So we have just been giving him DL's phone on those days. MH brought it up and I admitted he'd probably want his own phone for the DC trip too. The problem is that his existing phone is not compatible with Ting. So MH picked him up a new phone this weekend. $100-ish. We didn't necessarily have time to wait for the usual deals we get. But MH told him we'd just cover it; he could pay for the difference if he wanted more. Being Mr. McFrugal, he didn't want anything more.

We need a SIM card, so we have yet to activate. But we are just going to give him DL's phone # and turn off the cell service on DL's phone. If DL decides tomorrow he wants to hang with his friends after school, we can turn it back on. So it seems best to just wait until he *really* starts using it. I still expect that they will both be using cell service by next school year and have already included that in our budget.

I leave you with a picture of a sunset:

Birthday Weekend

November 28th, 2016 at 11:20 am

This month has been a very long and trying month. I wouldn't even know where to begin. Lots of medical stuff with several family members. *sigh*

I think for now mostly everyone seems okay. Though I don't think anyone is "cured" or out of the woods. Four close relatives off the top of my head; no answers when it comes to any of them. Just random unexplained medical stuff.

Oh, and work is completely crazed. So... Yeah, that's why I haven't been bloggy.

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It looked touch and go for a while, but thankfully I had a nice birthday weekend. MH was a little under the weather, the weather looked pretty crappy, and DL freaked out when we tried to leave him with grandparents. (Which has *never* happened before, but you know he has been having issues). But... in the end it all somehow worked out. Phew!

Our original plan was to just stay south of San Francisco. We had wanted to do a hike and have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in SF. But with the weather (very rainy on Saturday) we let it go and just stayed close to our hotel. I chose Half Moon Bay, since I wanted to stay along the coast and didn't really want to stay *in* San Francisco.

It worked out really well. We just happened to drive through that area on our one-year anniversary and there was a spectacular thunderstorm. I guess the place is just kind of magical, to us. We ended up just spending the whole weekend in Half Moon Bay, which was quite all right.

The view from our hotel room:



Given the stormy weather, we were maybe a bit too close to the ocean. Yeesh!

Saturday we were able to do a nice morning and evening walk by our hotel, between rains. It was nice.

Sunday morning we did two hikes before we headed out. The sun came out at it was gorgeous that day.

It was extra nice since it's the first hike I've been able to do post broken foot. I really couldn't walk much when we went to Tahoe last month. We couldn't even do a small hike.





MIL slipped me $200 for my birthday. We actually spent about exactly $200 on food this weekend, including ordering pizza for the kids on Friday since we seemed to have no food in the house. So I already paid off the dining credit card for the month (closes monthly on the 25th) and threw the extra $200 to cover weekend dining expenses.

There was a restaurant next to our hotel which was absolutely divine. They had live piano music and excellent food. We spent $100 there Friday night. Saturday we went to the Moss Beach Distillery. I thought it sounded familiar. I guess it is a famous haunted restaurant. It used to be a speakeasy, as was the first restaurant we ate at. Otherwise we just kept it light. Didn't even eat out Sunday since our hotel served such a substantial breakfast.

I am grateful for the relaxing weekend. Work is just going to be crazy for the foreseeable future. I was planning to take this week off, but I don't see that is going to fly. Just not enough hours in the day. (Will have an extra week of vacation next year, if I don't use my last week up this year, which will be nice).

Edited to add: My birthday isn't for a few more days, but we celebrated ahead.

Summer Doings

July 30th, 2016 at 07:31 am

**Finished with the birthdays. BM insisted on making his own cake from scratch. Spent $44 on pizzas. Just had a party at our house.

I did take BM clothes shopping. He's a beanpole so we made do with the Boys section. I expect it will be the last time. Since LM has graduated out of school uniforms and this is BM's last year, I won't be buying ahead sizes on clearance any more. I also expect their clothing choices to diverge as they surpass uniforms and find their own styles.

I am pleased with how we made out though it wasn't planned. He picked out some $5 shorts. The school shorts were reasonable and so I bought 4 pair. I just told him I'd buy a 5th pair when I know they fit well and are comfortable. Will see if 5 sets of uniform clothing will get him through the year.

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I suppose that it's nice that I am not hosting a birthday party at my house or driving 4 hours round trip this weekend. But I think I over-scheduled since we haven't had time for anything else but birthdays lately.

I told the kids we could go to the "Wipeout" pool this weekend (has inflatable obstacle courses). It's a bit of a drive and will take up a chunk of the day.

I recall pictures weren't working when we found this place last summer. Here are the obstacle courses:


Next weekend LM has his drama camp showcase and everyone wants to come up to our house for that. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

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Today we plan to get BM's new checking account set up. I expect it to make my life a little easier. I am hoping to set up electronic "direct deposits" for his allowance (which is still a whole whopping $2 per week because the kid just doesn't spend any money). He will also be able to do phone deposits. So I am hoping to be less of a middle man for his finances.

Yesterday I sorted out all the kids' birthday money and we went to the CU to withdraw their 7% interest. (Those accounts are maxed out so they aren't earning anything on the interest). I thought maybe we'd withdraw once or twice per year. But as someone who has always done 99%+ of her banking remotely, yeah, I have not bothered to go more than once per year. I admit that we were right there anyway and there was no line. It's just relative.

I sorted all of LM's money stuff with him. He's got a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $28 of interest from other CU. $19 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money. Plus $17 piggy bank money to deposit ($11 of which was birthday money from my sister). I'll deposit the check for him while I am at the other CU tomorrow. The rest, I took the cash and will do an equivalent transfer to his savings account.

LM is up to $600 cash!

BM has a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $35 of interest from other CU. $30 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money (because he spent $0 of it). $26 from his piggy bank.

BM is up to $900 cash!

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Last month was spendy and it was hard to justify spending any money the last week or so. I am relieved our credit cards have all closed for the month and we are on a "new month".

Yesterday dh and BM went to the movies. Dh had a free ticket and so just had to pay for BM.

My plan was to take LM to his favorite sandwich shop since I had a free sandwich coupon (in exchange for giving blood). I thought we'd do our own thing while they were at the movies, but dh moved in on our dinner. I agreed because it was right by the CU and would save me a trip to the CU on Saturday since I wanted to take both kids with me. We banked while dh ordered for us. He had a free sandwich reward thing and so we only had to pay for 2 sandwiches.

(To be clear, the kids have the 7% accounts at some other CU that we are not members of. So we are going to the other CU to set up the checking account. They both seemed to offer fairly equal terms for youth checking accounts, but my CU is walking distance from our house and I can do electronic transfers to/from kids accounts since we are all members of that CU. It wins on convenience).

We went to Togo's and their meatball sauce was kind of weird last time I had a meatball sub. Fearing the worst I haven't re-ordered for a while but I thought I would redeem my free sub sooner and meatballs was sounding really good after giving blood. So I got that in my craw. Sad to say that after 30-ish years, if not more, they changed their meatball recipe. Do NOT LIKE!! Frown I'd probably be more devastated but LM has got me on another sandwich. Oh, and I am kind of addicted to their chicken salads also. The dressing is so good, and maybe that will get me through this. That meatball sauce was just *so good* before. Maybe I can find a recipe that is close.

The Turkeys are Out

February 6th, 2016 at 08:16 am



I saw 20-30 turkeys while driving into work today. These guys were keeping the cars in check.

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February 5:
-0- Spending
Dinner: hobo dinner (crockpot meatloaf + potatoes)

Planned spending for the weekend:
Saturday - weekly groceries
Sunday - haircuts

BM agreed to a haircut, which happens never, so I will drag him along with me.

May Doings, New Project

May 10th, 2014 at 06:32 am

Shifting from work mode to play mode, over here.

I took yesterday off, which was first weekday off since December. Having 3 days off feels like having a week off, after tax season. Big Grin

Dh and I went on a beautiful hour long hike about a 40 minute drive from our home. I just googled "easy" and this is what I came up with. It was close and it looked gorgeous, and it was indeed easy. We were rewarded with a waterfall at the end of the hike.





Afterwards, we went over to Fry's for 50 cent hot dog/soda meals. Dh picked up a blu ray on sale for $9.99. The full prices of those blu rays astound me. Yeesh! ($40 for a movie??)

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Other May doings:

**Robot Wars seems to be a no-go this year. I haven't heard anything as to what happened with that. Frown Frown Frown

So, we have plans to go to the Maker Faire this month, instead.

"Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned."

You name it, they will probably have it. I expect to have some interesting pictures to share.

**This weekend the kids have a birthday party at a rock climbing place. The place has a very reasonably priced summer camp, so we make look into that for BM. He probably needs a membership to one of these places. He is a born climber.

I also noticed the drop-in play place was open Sunday. Hard to get open play on the weekend, due to birthday parties. So, I may take the kids. It's only $7 per kid and it might as well be Disneyland, as far as they are concerned.

**For Memorial Day weekend the HOA has a BBQ and turns on the pool heat.

BM will be at camp that week with his 5th grade class. IT sounds fairly identical to the family camp we always go to in June. I think he will have a blast.

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We have a movie theater in our home. Which I have mentioned before, but probably not much the past few years. My husband is deaf in one ear, post brain tumor. & so I think this has really dampened his enjoyment of the theater room. In addition, he has since bought a couple of HDTVs (which are smaller screens but higher quality). We are also both fairly set on downsizing, so I don't think anyone here has been too upset that the theater room is not getting a lot of use. We aren't taking it with us. (Will just buy a ridiculously large TV for our new home. Which can be way more expensive than our theater setup, but will work better in a smaller space).

BUT...

Dh is getting renewed interest in utilizing the room more. I told him I was more than fine with him upgrading the projector. I know he has been unhappy with it for a long time. I did express my concerns about long-term future. But we both kind of feel if we have the space and the equipment, we might as well enjoy it. We don't plan to downsize for another 15 years or so.

So, we have a loose plan to build a platform for the seating so it is at a more ideal height. & this will allow us to add another row of more formal seating if we ever want to. For now, we have some old office chair and bean bags, which I think will work for a long time. We've been using those anyway, but more seats will work better with the back row raised. I don't think dh cares that much about additional seating aesthetics, but I will keep an eye out on Craigslist for theater seating. The only reason we ever bought theater seats in the first place was we stumbled onto an incredible deal. I am sure we can find a deal on a second row.

Before dh and I discussed it, I was kind of thinking we had really gotten pretty up to date on everything. Finished furnishing our home a couple of years back (took it very slowly over the years) and replaced most our electronics in the past year. I was thinking that really the only thing on our wish list at this point is to replace the old projector. We've agreed to probably do that after Christimas. Dh's parents have been generous lately and if he wants to take all of what they give us at Christmas, I am fine with that. Will probably work on the seating before that since it should be fairly inexpensive to build a platform.

I don't know if I fully realized how much dh has been sulking around the last 4 years, but he seems to be snapping out of it. I am so happy to see him impassioned about his movie set up again. I think financially the timing just works, too. This may have been a ridiculous splurge 2 years ago and it might be two years from now too. But for now, it works. I think his parents will likely pay for it anyway. They have been fairly generous the last couple of Christmases, with cash gifts.

We are waiting until Christmas to see what his parents give us and what kind of year we have financially. We can buy a much better projector for $1,000-ish otherwise. But holding out to potentially spend closer to $3,000 of gift money. Whatever our budget, we will make it work. A $1,000 projector will be a significant improvement.

Our home theater setup is fairly simple. It started with an inexpensive projector on a small table. That was when dh had a dream and we all thought he was a little insane. Wink

We eventually bought a screen and seating, and a new ceiling mounted projector. Around $3,000-ish for all that, but it was about 5 years into this whole movie theater thing. For the first 5 years, a blank wall and a projector and some hand-me-down couch was the setup. We have had the current set up for about 10 years.

That's the bulk of it. Dh has a surround sound setup that he bought in college. He eventually bought a fancier tuner and a blu ray player, but can watch most anything through his computer.

I share because I think it's something really important to share as far as debt free living. It has never been about deprivation for us. It has always been about being creative, and usually means having more than other people anyway. It means starting small and building up. Which is how we approach just about everything. I couldn't tell you how a $30,000 theater set up is any better than our current $3,000-ish set up. The difference would be fairly indiscernable to most. (Especially when you turn out the lights!!) Yes, our projector is outdated, but that would happen no matter how expensive we went. It's a 10-year-old projector and TV technology has blown it out of the water in that time. Dh is fairly confident that this projector will be the last one he ever buys. For this house, anyway. We may be able to swing a theater setup in a smaller space.

As an aside? Technically we paid an extra $30,000 for the room for this theater. That is not exactly frugal. It came to be when we moved to our lower cost haven. We figured we might as well splurge on that because we were saving *so much* on housing. BUT, at then end of the day, since we bought new construction we got the extra space at a deep discount. Today the extra room fetches a premium of about $100,000 over the smaller homes in the same neighborhood. I had to share because I think at the end of the day this little splurge will have been a fairly profitable investment. (It's been like that since Day 1 and was obvious we got an incredible deal on the extra space. Which is why we chose this house in the first place. The space was perfect and the price was right!).

Relaxing Weekend

February 3rd, 2013 at 02:34 pm

**I am so happy to be home. We had a nice/relaxing weekend, and I think dh had a GREAT time (I think he appreciates breaks like this more, being with the kids every day). BUT, I slept terrible, and killed my back staying up last night to watch a movie on their small TV/uncomfortable couch. I told dh, "I know this place is fancy schmanzy, but I like our home MUCH better!!" We certainly have a much nicer TV and a much nicer bed and couch! Big Grin

So, I am personally just glad to be home.

WE did soak in the hot tub this morning, and my back does feel much better.



Last time we went to Napa, we gave it a try and saw the sights and did the wine tasting. This time the location was just chosen for the last minute vacancy. We decided to stay in and relax. That we succeeded with. I think dh's mom was appalled that we did stay in and did a take and bake pizza. LOL. Frankly, nothing appealed to us about going out and spending a ton of money. We did order some room service, the take and bake pizza our local grocery store does is A+, and we went out for an excellent Greek lunch. So, certainly no complaints from us. Since she did slip us $60 (I suppose was for dinner?), I don't think we will spend any of our own money for this trip. At least the vacation budget will remain intact for *this* weekend. Phew!! {We did have to pay $10 for the room - for whatever reason - it has been $0 generally lately when we use their timeshare points}.

We also did go walking for a couple of hours - bird watching by the marsh. There was absolutely no one there; I only wish we had thought to bring binoculars. But still saw plenty of beautiful birds, and enjoyed the peacefulness.





Weather was pretty nice, but not as warm as expected. I still broke out the flip flops and worked on my tan a bit. Big Grin

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Room service: I had to order again because last time we were in a splurgey mood and ordered smoked salmon, toasted bagel, chive cream cheese, red onions and capers. So we ordered again this time, but I think what I should do is just re-create this at home. YUM!! We are entertaining in a few weeks, and will have to remember this. I wrote it down so I do not forget.

While at the store picking up our pizza, I also noticed ranch/carrot packaging with sunflower seeds. I had never thought of that. I just picked it up because it looked tasty, but we always have these ingredients on hand at home. So I will have to remember this next time we entertain, too. Or to keep on hand for the kids.

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In other news, we went to San Francisco twice last month, AND my friend just bought a home in San Francisco. !! That is another post for another day. But looks like I may be going back in a couple of weeks to see her new place.

{Short version - paid $500k+ to own 1/4 of a home/four-plex kind of thing. She will probably fare better than most the locals who can't hang onto their $100k-$300k homes. So though it sounds kind of crazy insane to me, I am also not too worried about her finances. Wink Just because she is crazy insane frugal, and I do think her parents would help her if she lost her job or anything like that}.

SO, I looked up once again into getting an electronic toll tag, and for the first time it actually makes some financial sense. In fact, I almost got one for each car before I read that it had to be used at least once a year. Unlikely with our van, as we try to drive the gas sipper for longer trips and especially for big city parking. SO, we decided to just get one. The fine print on the toll tag said we could switch it between cars. So, PHEW! That is PERFECT!! {THey did not say this so much on website, as they prefer you do not switch it. But for once in a blue moon, makes me very happy. Now I just have to remember. !!}.

This is kind of significant to me, because when we moved here, one thing I felt like was that we were not much farther out from San Francisco. BUT, in the end we never go (directly from home) because the bridge is such a nightmare. So, I am so happy to erase that part as a downside to our low-cost-of-living move. No more waiting hours just to get past the toll booths. WOOHOO!!