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Thai Basil Chicken

July 4th, 2020 at 02:03 pm

Thai Basil Chicken

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I have never attempted to make any Thai food before.
O.M.G. So Good!

Traditionally this is a very spicy dish. MH literally only picked up one pepper. ??? I don't know. As I have learned from Indian cooking, just throw in a little extra cayenne, seems the easiest way to spice up these type dishes. We had discussed ahead of time we would obviously need more than one pepper, but he forgot. So I would like to try again with more peppers, and will work on dialing up the spice. But this recipe was flavorful and mild.

P.S. We only used one pound of ground chicken. I am going to have to double this recipe for my household.

Chicken Fajita Sandwiches

July 4th, 2020 at 01:47 pm

Chicken Fajita Subs

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MH worked full-time during May (for the first time in 18 years...). He did all the grocery shopping for us (doing one trip mid-month) but I brainstormed a lot of the meals because I (and the kids) were going to be doing all the cooking.

Mostly, I would pat myself on the back. It seemed *very* overwhelming, but we kept everyone fed and it was easier than I imagined it would be. Especially because this is probably the hardest time of all to keep my boys fed. So... They were happy and fed, and by some miracle I kept them satiated. (I can't take much credit at all. MH has a good system and so we might actually survive if anything ever happens to him).

Then... MH stepped back in and as he keeps making some of our meals I am just, "Duh, why didn't I think of that!?" & he has a weird recipe system anyway, so I am making an effort to print out my favorite recipes for my recipe book. So that I can remember and find said recipes. I feel a million times more prepared if I ever have to take over meal planning again.

This recipe is *so good*. By itself I don't know if it's that exciting, but the mix of the cheese and the mayo and the chicken just makes it amazing.

Butter Chicken Recipe

July 4th, 2020 at 01:18 pm

I realized that I don't think I shared this recipe:

Butter Chicken

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I tried this recipe, and DL (my budding chef) recommended adding 1 tsp of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp of cumin. It was so close to our favorite Indian cafe's recipe I can't believe it.

I was intrigued by the meatball take on butter chicken, but in the end we abandoned the meatballs and it tasted better with just crumbled meat.

Finding this recipe around the time the quarantine started, is maybe a reason I currently feel somewhat "meh" if we ever eat out again during 2020.

Meatloaf Recipe

May 12th, 2020 at 02:32 pm

Meatloaf recipe:

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It was easy to find online. Phew!

Quarantine Life

May 10th, 2020 at 02:36 pm

My initial feelings on lockdown, posted over a month ago:
I am just so buried at work, life continues on as it has. We are homebodies and try to generally limit unnecessary errands, always eat our meals at home, etc. so it's been a small change for us at this point.

I only leave the house to go to the office. MH only leaves the house to go to the grocery store.

At 8 weeks of lockdown, I'd say not much has changed for us. One-income living has prepared us for "quarantine life". I am still buried at work. MH and the kids have their slow "summer schedule" (no school/work). It's all in some realm of normalcy for us.

{This was true through the end of April. Now MM and MH are both working, more info below}.

I commented in another blog that we aren't experiencing any +/- in our spending. A lot of it is having a bare bones budget to begin with. We are clearly using a lot less cell data (on wifi 100% now) but that might save us $4 this month ($1 per line). My commute has decreased a little bit, so my electric fuel spending might be $20 instead of $25. It's just stuff like that.

I am waiting for several windfalls, none have materialized yet: refi, stimulus, unemployment. Crickets, crickets, crickets.

Except for one surprise "windfall". My boss called me up a few weeks ago and offered MM(16) a job. He received a 50% raise (over last summer) and it sounded like he was about to offer him use of a car, we are so desperate for help at the office. That was a sudden turn of events. The night before we had literally discussed how MM probably wouldn't be working at all this year. (The seasonal summer job he had gotten would have started yesterday, but is on hold indefinitely. We had discussed that even if they do open it wouldn't be worth being exposed to hundreds of people every day. Going to the same office I go to, with a whole whopping 5 other people... Talk about night and day).

I am still digging out of my hole. It's a million times better than it ever was in 2018 or 2019, I am very well aware. But last last weekend I was catching up on taxes (for relatives) and this past weekend I finished up my professional education for the (entire) year. Phew!

By itself, I may literally have crossed everything (non-work) off of my to-do list and can maybe realistically experience a May with "nothing on my plate." {I know a lot of people are home and bored. It's just not anything I can even begin to fathom right now; have not been able to fathom "boredom" for a few years}.

But... MH has been called back to work. From part-time to full-time. He hasn't worked full-time since 2002 (before kids). Ugh! It's very in line with my current years-long jinx. Every time I think I turn a corner, something else crazy is thrown at my feet. So technically last Sunday was my first peaceful/quiet day in as long as I can even remember. But then... I was thrown head first into the domestic side of things. But I think it will be a good thing. It's always good to walk in someone's shoes for a while. It should just be for a month. Whenever I try to help at all, MH refuses. & he's already a control freak in the kitchen so just isn't good with delegating anything "kitchen" to anyone. He admits it will be good to get out of his comfort zone and this will force us to have more teamwork in the kitchen, regarding both dishes and meals. We are mostly delegating to DL(14) who literally has nothing on his plate. The schedule and responsibility would obviously be good for him; he's already told us he feels better than he has in weeks. (We've given the kids full kitchen duty in the past, but it's just never stuck).

Thursday night I did make our favorite spinach manicotti recipe. We couldn't find any manicotti, so turned it into a lasagna instead. MH was nervous about it and hovering over me in the kitchen. I agreed to cook because DL(14) does not like this dinner. We asked him to make rice for leftovers, as his chore for the day. Anyway, I could tell the lasagna had cooked through and was fine, but MH was driving me crazy. Honestly, it was a much simpler way to make it. MH might prefer the manicotti, but I think I am sold on the lasagna. It will be interesting what meal modifications endure this time. I think we are long practiced in "creativity" and "making do", but are just flexing those muscles more than usual.

Week 1 went really well. It was definitely a team effort.

Last Sunday MH did a big grocery run for 2-3 weeks. He is being protective and refuses to let anyone else in the house go to any store whatsoever. So his plan was just to do a big grocery stock-up before he was back at work and super busy. We probably hadn't gone to the grocery store on a weekend in a couple of months. Things have settled down considerably. We were able (for the first time) to find more than a roll of toilet paper.

{I think we honestly have food for a solid 3 weeks, not counting "emergency reserves" like extra meat and rice. It feels we barely put a dent in the groceries this week}.

In the end, we realized that all the green onions we had, had gone bad. So we already need green onions though clearly we could survive without. But MH didn't really have room on his grocery cart to stock up on more cat food, and he got me some stuff for a recipe (that I found recently) but didn't know I needed tomato paste. & I later remembered a couple of other recipe ingredients I had forgotten. So... On a whim Friday I looked if I could do a grocery pick up. MH was talking about doing a run to get these things. Which is confusing to me because he's been so much otherwise, "Once every two weeks at the most, JUST ME." So it's confusing to me when he's kind of, "Oh well, will go to the store just to pick up green onions". So I ran it past him Friday and asked if he needed anything else. I just did a quick pickup; they delivered to my car. (I have more work flexibility, so it fell on me). The personal shoppers are free at our store (and they don't accept tips). For smaller orders it isn't free, but I guess the first 3 times are free. I think this is more of a "MH is working and it's chaos" thing that anything else. MH was a little skeptical about using for such a small pickup, but I pointed out it's always free on a $100+ pick up. Not hard to do $100 for a family of 4. In fact, on the way out the door MH told me "granola bars are on sale, get some of those." & then he ran in a minute later and told me to check the sales ads, there was some good deals. So I ended up spending $60. That was the quick/small grocery run. My conclusion is that this worked out really well. I got lucky, they didn't have to omit or substitute anything in my order. I didn't bother with things that I *knew* were not as well stocked. But still, I figured I'd end up with a different brand or something or other. (I indicated most things I would not accept substitutes ~ all the sales items. But if I had to get a different brand of tomato paste instead of just the generic, or of had to pay a little more for organic onions, whatever).

I think mostly our personalities are, "Meh, it's easier/better to just do things ourselves". We've been doing some Target grocery deliveries to our house (regular shipping), but is nothing I foresee doing once things normalize.

Our menu this week:

Monday: mini meatloaves and roasted potatoes (we have the most amazing recipe, horseradish and chili sauce are the secret ingredients). MH has discovered red potatoes during quarantine so asked us to roast some red potatoes, versus our usual mashed potatoes with this dinner. Just remembering a change that will endure. MM(16) and I cooked dinner.

Tuesday: Burritos (simple/old family recipe) - prepared by DL(14)

Wednesday: South of the Border Wraps (black bean and salsa burritos with green onions and cilantro; simple but divine) - prepared by DL(14)

Thursday: Spinach lasagna - prepared by Moi, with a hovering MH

Friday: Thai chicken (noodles) - prepared by DL(14)

DL(14) has also made a couple of batches of hummus this week.

I share because my kids can cook. 😉

MH is cooking this weekend. Phew! On the menu still (ingredients on hand): Sesame chicken (a new recipe to try), pasta with chickpeas and garlic sauce, Fiesta chicken (crockpot recipe, spicy shredded chicken that we eat with tortillas), salisbury steak, sloppy joes, zuppa toscano, pasta meatball soup, Kashari, Indian butter chicken with jasmine rice, Spicy Stir-Fried tofu & Coconut Rice. This menu is heavy on some of our easier meals. I think MH has another couple of recipes to make next weekend and so we probably won't need another grocery store run for another two weeks. Which feels like a miracle with two teen boys to feed. (MM is still running 8 miles per day; DL has reverted to the home workouts he had been doing for many years before we recently joined the gym. So I am not getting a break with "school sports" retired. Caloric needs continue to be completely absurd. But MM is getting fed some at my job, which helps *a lot*). Will see how I feel about it next weekend...


January 19th, 2017 at 01:42 pm

**MH got called into work next week, but then gets two weeks off.

This works out for the best. I don't think he could have worked much this week. This week DL(11) has finals. CRAZY schedule.

We are going to have to take DL out to celebrate. He easily gets all As, without much effort. But... this semester I think he was lucky to pass all of his classes. PHEW! I know he's never had to work so hard. I am just feeling so much *relief* that we made it. The year started out very rocky. He's really done exceptional, given all he has had to deal with.

**MH's birthday is this week. I almost forgot in the work chaos.

We don't exchange gifts. I discussed with the kids, and they just wanted to give their daddy HUGS and home-made fudge. I said I thought that sounded perfect.

He already bought himself a sous vide (precision cooker). It's a long story, but he bought one for his parents for Christmas, and ended up with two. Was supposed to return the other one to Amazon but he seems to have a hang up about paying $10 postage to get a $40 refund. Don't ask me! He is way smarter than that.

I think *I* realized he wasn't going to return it before he did. He was struggling subconsciously with it. & he kept trying to make justifications to keep it. I finally said, "Happy Birthday". Moving on...

That was weeks ago, and he has yet to use it. (Still having some internal struggle about it). Thankfully some meat went on sale and he gave it a try this week. We've been eating like KINGS. I'd say we are accomplished cooks and eat very well, but probably limit ourselves on the meat side to the cheap cuts we grew up with and are familiar with. So this is expanding our horizons considerably. (MH has been salivating over this contraption since his friend cooked him dinner with one several years ago).

He made some seared tuna earlier this week. It turned out more cooked than he preferred. & he generally doesn't eat fish, but I guess is just more picky about it. He told us he over-cooked it. I said if it was any less cooked I'd be putting mine in the microwave. But maybe he will refine us a bit. Wink I thought it was *perfect*

Last night we had pork chops. I don't even know if I have ever had pork chops before. But it was *perfection*

I could get used to this. & it's nice to mix it up a bit and to try new things.

**In other fanciness, we went to the movies on Tuesday night. We got a new theater with the fancy reclining seats. The tickets are $6.50 on Tuesdays. I think our theater bumped up their tickets to $6.25 on Tuesday nights (cheap night) so there isn't any big difference.

MH had been a few times, and I just told him I wanted to check it out.

We agreed that Tuesday night is our movie night. At this theater. From now on! Used to be weekend matinees. Or you can stand in line and get there early on Tuesday nights (by our house). Or... you can just reserve your seats online and show up after the commercials/previews ,and sit in luxury. For an extra quarter per ticket. SOLD!

(MH had seen Star Wars at this theater on opening night. It's the first time he didn't have to wait in line for a Star Wars movie. Worked out because the weather was bad that night. He just reasoned he'd rather just reserve seats ahead of time. Few seemed to think of the option, but the new theater had just opened. Next time might not be quite so easy).

Back to School

August 21st, 2015 at 07:44 pm

I took last week off work. I really didn't do much of anything. It's probably been a while since I have had such a relaxing vacation. Aaaaaahhhhhh... & we leave for San Diego soon and then Hawaii not long after that!

One thing I did was work through some recipes. I've been wanting to try baking a wider variety of vegetables. That was when I stumbled upon the most amazing cauliflower recipe (see last post).

I also found another website that was very much my style. I salivate just looking at the blog. Definitely will be trying many of this site's recipes. Anyway, it all *looked* good, but we tried the first recipe last night. It was simple and delicious.

Balsamic Chicken:

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This weekend I am going to make Teriyaki salmon with sriracha cream sauce, also from the same website. (Dh doesn't eat fish, so why I frequently make salmon. Dh cooks most the rest).

I will probably also make the cauliflower again (the most of it is the smoky paprika to spice it up). It was one of those recipes we have everything on hand usually.


Back to school. A big change up in schedule this year since both kids will be together at other campus and no more walking to school. I am sure dh is delighting in being able to sleep in every day, for the first time since having kids. !! The only big change is for LM, who has to leave an hour early (with BM and I). We are early birds so it's not been a big deal. Our calm mornings remain calm. I think a lot of it is honestly that we don't use alarm clocks. I was never a morning person in the slightest before we ditched the alarm clocks. (Admittedly, I was never a night owl either).

Dh and I have been working on getting walks in the evening, since dh is losing his 2 miles a day or whatever of walking. We haven't been consistent, but walk once in a while. It will be easier when it gets a little cooler. Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous. It cooled off before we went outside, and we saw a breathtaking sunset.

BM has been a challenge on the lunch side of things this year. He is not generally picky, but has gotten awfully picky about his lunch. Firstly, he refuses to buy lunch any more. Thankfully LM seems to like the food at this campus and he's just been buying more to offset BM. As school starts, BM will only eat a PBJ sandwich. That is it. ??? I decided he should just pack a snack on Wednesdays because they get out of school super early. Then he can eat a full meal when he gets home. Then Dh bought him a thermos so he could take hot leftovers. I can't tell you how genius that is. Dh is always good for solutions like that. Between the two of us I think we figured it out.


So with all the school stuff going on our little "end of summer" celebration was mostly postponed. We had decided to go to the big pool (inflatable obstacle courses) on the first day of school since they got out of school before they opened. But then I saw that was the first day they closed the inflatables for week days. (Or maybe the day before they had closed it down). UGH! So we planned to go on the weekend and were resigned to more crowds.

On Sunday, dh mentions to me that it was supposed to be 105F degrees. OMG. We both would have preferred to postpone, but the kids were pretty set on going and I couldn't push it off any more. (In any other situation it would have been an INDOOR day). In the end, I am glad we went. The facility was really nice and the kids had a blast. We got there early enough to secure a comfortable shady spot. & there was even a breeze so it wasn't half as bad as I imagined. The water was also really cool, which helps. (Could have been cold simply because the air was so hot).

I told the kids we could go again this weekend. It should be much more pleasant. Unfortunately, it is about 30 miles away, as these places always are. It will be the last time for this year.

P.S. I'd share pictures if they worked!


Oh, and we had the most amazing dinner the other night.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

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O.M.G. So Good!

Left Over Food Safety

February 17th, 2014 at 02:32 pm

The talk of using up and leftovers, reminded me of a story.

I had some leftovers at work pushing the 2-week mark so I thought I better look up when it was no longer safe to eat. When I googled it, I Saw most recommendations to throw away food after 2-3 days.


It is just so ridiculous what a wasteful society we live in.

I decided to toss to food to be on the safe side, just because it was beyond my comfort limit. But for food less than two weeks we have always used the "smell" test. Is long as it tastes good, isn't moldy, and smells good. I've never particularly tasted anything "bad" if it passed the mold and smell test. So while the "taste" test is good in theory it would be rare to get that far??

A quick google today brought up an article that I think is excellent on the subject:

The Dos and Donts of Keeping Leftovers Safe

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Sum up:

--Put leftovers away ASAP (in appropriately cold fridge, etc.)

--Cover food well

A lot of food does okay with a loose covering, but there are some foods I wrap in an extra plastic bag to preserve freshness. I most often do this for baked goods or bread. (Loose covered food may never be kept very long, too, to be fair). This may be more due to our dry climate.

--Trust your instincts

--Properly reheat food before eating

--Don't throw away perfectly good food

--Don't leave things sitting out at room temperature for long period of time

So, that sums it up pretty well.

Between me and my spouse? He is the more cautious one - so I can tell he has grown up in a more cautious house. He will raise an eyebrow sometimes, at me, and he gets crazy insane about chicken. (I believe to the point of unreasonable). But, it is what it is - he is not prone to waste food. It more comes out in what we have to cook or eat "today" because he believes it will go to waste given another day. & now that I think about it - he would tell you the same thing about me. When something is way crazy expired (usually condiments and dressings) I will throw them out. & that drives him nuts. So, we all have our quirks.

Which reminds me, we are also far more food cautious in our sweltering summers than in our cool winters. (Since we keep our house much cooler in winter and much warmer in summer).

When thinking about it, the first thing that also came to mind was immunity. We have fairly strong immunities in my house, in general, and you do have to wonder if your body does adjust more to what you do eat. Interestingly, I did see that people with lower immunities should be more food careful. Fair enough.

Chickpeas for Lunch

February 17th, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Give me a convenient Indian grocer, and a good crockpot cookbook. & I am pretty much ready to go vegetarian. Which sounds totally absurd to me on some level. Big Grin

Seriously. I am keeping a food log because I kind of want to see where we are. Dh and I have been talking about cutting back meat a bit more. (For us - not for the kids). I don't think I could have fathomed this ages 0-30. My caloric needs were way too high while growing and bearing children. But age slows things down considerably. These days it's more like a shrug and a *why not?* What's even more interesting is dh is so on the same page as me. Probably anything to get me to eat better. But his metabolism is slowing too.

I believe in moderation, so I highly doubt we will ever go 100% vegan or vegetarian. But we are just trying to be more conscious and move more in that direction.

I think we have just been naturally heading in this direction as we have been mindful of our grocery budget since having children. Eating at home mostly. Improving on that over the years. VEry slowly picking up more and more cooking skills and tools. When we eat these beans and lentils, to replace only a handful of meals, our grocery bill is going down down down. !! It will be interesting to see how this plays out for the long run. Could be a substantial grocery spending cut while feeling like we are eating even better.

Anyway, what yummy goodness has me pondering vegetarianism?

Curried Chickpeas:

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That was 14 hours on high, slowcooker. So we cooked it overnight and had it for lunch.

Black Lentils

February 13th, 2013 at 03:21 pm


This cookbook is going to save us a fortune in eating well:

The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes

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**THANKS to Thriftorama, who recommended it!**

Last night we had black lentils:

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{Beware - this is a spicy dish}.

Served on rice and garnished with finely chopped onions. SO GOOD!!


It's interesting, because we eat a diet heavy in onions and garlic, and peppers (probably more mexican inspired, usually, when it comes to home cooking skills). But all these Indian dishes are really heavy on the garlic and onions, and peppers - just prepared in an entirely different manner. No wonder we like so much.

Dh scored spices for 70 cents, at Target. HE noticed quite by accident.

Since we *just* had a new Indian grocer open up real close, we are getting most the Indian spices and lentils very cheaply there. So, what I thought might be a bit of a luxury is actually decreasing our grocery bill. I likey!!


In other news, dh told me he got all kind of deals at Target yesterday. I am too busy with work to detail any of it or figure it all out. I think there was $5 off for buying pet products (cat litter and cat food).

$5 off some blu rays, too.

Dh also told me that he can no longer keep the grocery runs at $100+ (for gas rewards) if we are going to be eating all these Indian dishes. Oh well!! I think we come out farther ahead with the lower grocery bills. Wink I don't think he hit $100 at all this year. Another big part of that is they changed up their rewards. Which made me anxious at first, but we seem to be benefiting us - working in our favor. The gas coupons usually amount to about $8 of gas saving a month, but obviously we are saving far more than $8 on groceries. So I can appreciate the bigger picture.

A New Week

April 15th, 2012 at 08:16 pm

I got my salmon!

It was $8.99 per pound (good price) and I got 1.11 pounds for $9.89. So it ended up being 100% free (with $10-off coupon).

I also bought eggs and bananas (breakfast staples for moi).

& I was checking the online coupons and found a coupon for 88-cents per frozen pizza - Celeste brand. These are *really* good. I will keep them at work. Anyway, so I got five pizzas for $4.40.

April 15:
Groceries: $9.62
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, garlic butter rice


We try to slowly increase our culinary capabilities by just adding new skills - slowly over time. This week I am working on sweet potatoes. We seem to eat them all the time (out, etc.), but I have never bought one or baked or cooked a sweet potato.

SO, "frugal foodie/rob" had an interesting recipe recently, and I asked dh to pick up some sweet potatoes. He picked up a whole bag. I dug around online and found a very simple recipe for baked potato wedges (took me a while to weed through the "pile on tons of sugar recipes" - which are good,but now what I am interested in for our regular diet!). I also found a recipe for sweet potato hash. Says "good with salmon" but I didn't want to cook all day. Wink But maybe will make some time this week.

I also looked for a new rice side dish and found garlic butter rice. I will link/share these recipes once I try them.

The kids and I are going to enjoy the gorgeous weather today, and then I will be cooking this afternoon.


This next week is going to be a BIG crunch week at work. Got tons of other deadlines (post tax day) coming up and dh has plans in San Jose next weekend. Unfortunately they have plans early Saturday and late Sunday, so it is an *all weekend* thing. I can't go unless I make huge progress at work this week. If I can swing it, the kids and I will go to the beach on Sunday. That makes me *very* motivated!

That said, if I am stuck with a quiet weekend at home, that won't be so bad either. I will survive. (I shouldn't have to work that much next weekend!)

*Perfect* Eggs & Weekend Doings

January 22nd, 2012 at 05:48 pm

**I have mastered easy-peel hard boiled eggs. So we have been eating them a LOT lately. (They are suddenly not a chore to make!)

Of course, I think a lot of it depends on how fresh your eggs are and how your stove is, etc., etc.

But what is working for me?

**Boil water & THEN add the eggs. Boil on medium-high for 6 minutes. (Just not a roiling boil so the eggs don't get knocked around too much).

**Take off burner and cover pot, let sit for 1/2 hour

**Cool eggs in ice water for 10-15 minutes

That's it. They practically pop out of the shell. In fact, we boiled a dozen last night and was going to keep 6 shelled for later. Within a minute the kids had shelled them all. *Then* I remembered I wanted to keep some. Anyway, was glad to see the shelled ones keep about as long. I ate on for breakfast and thought I had never seen a more perfect hard boiled egg, so had to share.

I just take then straight from the fridge to the boiling water - it seems to work well that way. We just have store bought eggs - these eggs were just bought they day I boiled them, so maybe there is something to "fresher" eggs.

On average, only one per dozen has been cracking with this method, and still turns out well anyway. (I think generally advised not to put into already boiling water, due to cracking, but that seems to be the least of my issues with boiled eggs - I'd rather not spend all day peeling them!).


I should probably try to get my taxes done the first weekend in February. I just feel slammed with work and 1/31 deadlines right now, plus would like to go out of town next weekend. SO, will probably have to wait 2 more weeks. I owe the Feds so no huge hurry, buy I think I might get $20 or so back from the state. If it's $5, I will file ASAP, otherwise lord knows when I will get it. Too many years of IOUs in this state. I was really not expecting a refund this year, at all. But was close enough that I will just leave my withholding as is.

I probably should have done the taxes sooner. I usually have them done by 1/31, but usually not so swamped.


Work is crazy but for none of the usual reasons. I've been frustrated with clients who want everything yesterday that are not deadline related, etc. So will probably work a pretty long week this week to get my 1/31 deadlines done. Way far behind for usual, which I didn't really expect since I was out 1-2 weeks the last 2 Januaries with our surgeries. I thought this year would be EASIER. But we lost one employee, and everyone wants everything yesterday. It's just been hectic.

All that said, I Really don't mind. The tax side gets really stressful, but this 1099/W-2 stuff is mostly low key. So am just enjoying this kind of work before I get slammed with more stressful taxes. w-2s and 1099s are pretty EASY.

I'd probably work today but dh had a commitment this morning and I didn't want to work in the afternoon. So, will probably just bring some work home during the week.

I feel like I have no time for anything. It is amazing how much an extra 13 hours a week of work makes. 13 hours lost of free time. & I generally leave work 5:00 every day. It just still feels like an intense adjustment. Anyway, I have never met anyone in the industry who works as little as our firm does. & I also get paid overtime. So no complaints here. I know I have it GOOD!!! Just 3 more months, and back to normal. The extra income is always nice. The boss does not like us working too much and getting burned out. Then quality of work suffers, know what I mean?

It's hard to believe that this is the first January in three years that dh and I are not having major surgery. He says, well, his mom is having surgery. Yeah, but I don't have to pay for it or take a ton of time off work for that! Nor try to recover and care for my family and all that. So I am surprised how swamped I have been feeling. I expected this year to be much easier than past years - particularly January. Anyway, yes it sucks that she is having surgery, but it doesn't affect us quite in the same manner. Her surgery is on the 30th I believe - I will keep you updated. All seems to be good news but "they won't know for sure until they get in there."


The weather was GORGEOUS yesterday and crappy today. I'd work Sundays instead, but then Sundays would be pretty and Saturdays would be all gloomy. Can't seem to win. Wink


Oh, and I paid the February bills. It's amazing how quickly the checking account balance piles up when you put all savings and mortgage payments on hold (waiting for refi to finish). Anyway, which means once I get paid 2/1 I can probably resume some ROTH payments. I have 2-3 months on hold due to credit card rewards and refinance. I'd have funded those amounts to ROTH by now, but I need more "cash in the bank" per CU request than I expect to *really* need. For one, I've paid off $1200 of mortgage since I applied for refi the first of December. So I won't need *that* $1200 for the refi. But I need to keep it in my checking account until they re-run their figures for actual closing.

German/Irish Cookie Recipes?

November 30th, 2011 at 02:45 am

Here are all the butterflies we couldn't see when we went to the beach the other day:

WOW! It just wasn't quite so impressive down on the ground. (My dad sent me this picture and was also surprised how many there were).

Next time we will have to remember our binoculars.


BM needs to work on a big cookie project for school. He is supposed to pick a recipe from his heritage. I told him he was American and we have been here for several generations - and I have no non-American recipes. I have a great chocolate chip cookie recipe from his Grandma, and is the best I could come up with. I googled it to check that chocolate chip cookies were American. Encyclopedia BM already knew the answer to that.

Anyway, we googled German cookies and found a couple of recipes, and I said we could try a couple this weekend and see what we like best.

BUT, if you have any Irish or German cookie recipes, please share. Of course, preferably the easier the better since he has to make a how to book of some sort. We ruled out some of the recipes with 20 ingredients.

I still think we should just pick something American, but that just isn't as cool!

There will be lots of baking in my house this weekend!


Tonight we tried this recipe:

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Text is and Link is

Thumbs up!

Dh got a few free recipe books on the kindle - so this was one of those - glad I could find it online to share.


Today I received that annual refund from Chase. YAY! I will have to update my rewards tallies. Maybe tomorrow.

Plastic Jungle is less impressive this round. Last time they struck me as lightning fast - I sold some gift cards for cash. This time it took them EIGHT DAYS to receive half of my gift cards. The other half has apparently not arrived yet. They clearly closed their offices for the holidays, but from 2 to 8+ days is a little ridiculous. (To be fair, the US Postal service has gone amazingly downhill the last decade, and I use it as little as possible any more - I understand it may not all be their fault - but I think the Holidays slowed them down VERY considerably).


Tomorrow is back to work for me. The end of lazy and the beginning of CRAZY.

The Secret to Losing Weight

October 31st, 2011 at 07:53 pm

The secret to losing weight?

Eat at home. Cook your own food. Don't order food To go and don't eat at restaurants.

I think that is as simple as it gets when it comes to a weight loss plan. The irony is that we don't really follow any diet guidelines (er, fads). There is nothing uber healthy about our food choices. We don't cook everything from scratch - we make a lot of food we can throw together quickly. I do admit that we don't drink a lot of calories. (Mostly drink water - ocassional soda and juice, beer, wine, hot tea). I am not scared of white bread, white rice, carbs, red meat, or butter.

Anyway, I was astounded when I became pregnant with BM, dh got laid off, and he took it upon himself to whittle our food bill down and home cook all our meals. He lost 10 pounds in just a few months. For reference, he was underweight to begin with. He might have easily lost 8% of his body weight. (I didn't lose weight, overall, because I was pregnant. & I have horrible horrible eating habits, to boot). But yeah, that was VERY eye opening.

I've since noticed that every time I eat out a lot, I tend to notice it on the scale before I notice it in the checkbook. But there is a very specific correlation there. Every time we spend too much eating out, the scale is not very nice to me!

Anyway, October hasn't been pretty. I have been at a very nice/low weight since about the time we went to Hawaii last year. I think #1 - I was in great shape back then. & #2 - my metabolism returned somewhat back to normal post surgery in January. ("Normal" for me is a pretty high metabolism - much like dh). But this month I gained an easy 6 pounds or so. I was horrified by the scale this morning, after returning from Napa.

Gee, what have I done but eat out this month? On vacation for a week - no access to home cooking. Then, eating and drinking wine all weekend? Ugh.

The irony is that I am not exactly sure what it is. I mostly ordered tap water while eating out (just as I would drink at home). I had THREE meals this past week that were obviously big portions and so I took the leftovers to eat later. I don't feel like I was eating big portions. I had a salami sandwich for lunch and dinner last night (half sandwich for each meal). I had a wrap at Mimi's last week that I ate in two sittings - was filled with veggies, etc. I mentioned the burrito I turned into 3 meals because it was so HUGE. I only drank the equivalent of 2-3 glasses of wine, all weekend. There is no real apparent difference between the kinds of food I eat at home and in a restaurant, but geez louise my body sure can tell the difference.

For November? I am just going to eat at home, thanks. It makes ALL the difference.

I probably should have called this, "The Secret to Losing Weight AND Saving Money!"

Odds & Ends

July 6th, 2011 at 04:47 pm

**Got news that property tax assesments were released. (I always forget about that - so glad I saw).

Assessment went from $270k to $263k. Something like that.

First - a decrease in taxes is GREAT! That is a $70 annual reduction.

Second - For many reasons, I decided to use tax assesment for net worth purposes - value of home. So, yippee - I don't have to fight a large decline this year. My net worth may go UP this year? Imagine that.

Interestingly, I think assessment has been on low side, since decline (no complaints as far as tax bill) but feel it was pretty spot on this year.

For the record, I wouldn't be surprised if values sunk *much* further. I've mentioned how home prices have stagnated/kept afloat with large percent of 0% - 3% down payment programs STILL available, large number of cash investors from outside the area (& outside the country) AND maybe most importantly all that phantom inventory (tons of homes in default and in foreclosure but not listed for sale very promptly). Banks seem to be heavily controlling supply, whereas MANY more homes should probably be up for sale at any given time. I think there is largely an element of "there is only so much you can do to keep up with the avalanche" - regardless of any sly motivations. As a homeowner, it's good. As a home buyer, I personally wouldn't be impressed with the inflated sales prices.

We still maintain 25%-ish equity - which is where we started out. Lost some value, but have paid down some principal this last decade.


**On the Chase - we only need to spend $160 more to complete our reward. I haven't filled up the van since camp, so when I fill that up - and next grocery trip - that will do it. Probably within one week.

Perfect timing. New Citi cards should arrive any day. Will switch to that one probably as soon as it arrives. Easy peasy.


Chimichurri Shrimp

Text is and Link is

This is what we had for dinner the other night. It was pretty good.

Like the one reviewer, we skipped the grapes, and felt it was a bit too much rice. But, it had an interesting flavor. Oh - no need for instant rice since you just add it in the end. We just use regular rice in those instances. IT almost seems easier to throw it in the rice cooker than to go through all the "instant rice" cooking.

I am actually not a huge fan of shrimp, but liked it. I suppose I can handle very flavorful/salty shrimp. & regardless, the rice itself was a meal. I left most the shrimp for the boys.


**4th of July was great, and we feasted very well. Today I am eating the last of the hamburgers for lunch.

I brought the shrimp/rice to work today - to cover for tomorrow - and in case I didn't have enough food today.

Friday I have my first continuing education webcast. I am going to attend it from home. (NO GAS or wear and tear). I am excited about that.

Since we have so many leftovers, not sure when dh will cook dinner again? For the best - he apparently ended up spending almost $70 on food for 4th of July. BUT, we probably have enough food to get through 10 more days. So, works out.


**It's cake season.

LM requested chocolate cake with melted hershey chocolate "frosting." This week - for his birthday.

BM requested red velvet cake - which is a new one. Dh found a box mix for it though - so there we go.

I like the funfetti mix + mini chip frosting, so will probably do that for the party. Cupcakes. Plus, will probably have leftover cake to get rid of at the party. Might work out well.

I admit dh bought a lot of cake mix/frosting along with the 4th of July groceries.


Today should be last day of heat wave. Phew!

Anything can happen, but weather looks perfect for upcoming Six Flags day trip. Woohoo!

Smoky Chicken Enchilada Skillet

June 18th, 2011 at 04:28 pm

Smoky Chicken Enchilada Skillet Recipe:

Text is and Link is

This is one of the better new recipes we've tried recently. Dh made it last week and I see the recipe is available to the public now (without registering anyway. I highly recommend registering, for free, to get recipe ideas).

This recipe = YUM!!!

For dinner, it's Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta:

Text is and Link is

It's nothing spectacular, but sure beats Hamburger Helper!


**I *think* camp is on, but we will be packing boots and sleds. We've been given the option to cancel or try it out. I was impressed with pictures of DRY areas (snow completely shoveled out and given some days to dry). & dh made the point that it was "muddy as heck" last year - anyway. So it looks like it will be about the same maybe? Though we will be completely surrounded by tons of snow this time, probably. Hence, sleds. Unless 9 feet of snow melts faster than I realize. In camp, they simply dug it all out. Well - they have a ways to go. But there are now places to park and stuff. Will see!

**Haven't done a thing for Father's Day. Was going to go on a hike with my dad tomorrow, but the driving itinerary this month was pretty out of control. I wanted to postpone, and my dad agreed.

Dh is working Scholastic all day (he brought home a pile of books last week, and today's work is for the school library). So, we have got all day to work something out for Father's Day. We will think of something.

**Will go swimming this morning before the peak sun hours. We either go very early, or in the late afternoon/evening. Probably saves a fortune on sun block that way. I just hate the stuff. & well - makes life much easier.

**Going to the library today for some puppet show or something, and I will attempt to renew my library card again.

While out I figured we would grab some yogurt, juice and bananas, to make some smoothies. It's been so cold and haven't really been in a smoothie mood. But, smoothie weather has arrived!

Beef-Barley Soup

March 20th, 2011 at 02:35 am

We ate well tonight:

Bacon-Beef Barley Soup

Text is and Link is

This was a crockpot recipe. Though it was recommended to serve with mashed potatoes, we didn't see the point. (The soup had potatoes in it).

Perfect for a cold winter day!

We were also out of bacon (it had gone bad), and so skipped it. It probably tastes even better with bacon, I am sure.


I worked all day and plan to do NOTHING tomorrow.

I suppose I may run to Kohls, but the kind of weather will just stay holed up in side, for the most part. I will enjoy a lazy day.

Hard to believe, only 3 more weekends!!! Though it is pretty busy through April 30th, my boss has taken to paying us overtime checks April 16th the past few years. I find I am never as motivated to work the extra hours when I get paid early. Might have to work 40+ hours or even a couple of hours on the weekend, but no more ALL DAY weekends after the 16th. Until next January. Woohoo!

It's kind of funny how the stars all seem to align at crazy some years. I feel like, surgery aside, the stars aligned at non-crazy this year. & it's probably been a while since it has. As such, I can't believe only 3 more weeks.

IT's like literally everyone has issues and corrections and outstanding items, or no one does. I don't know if I ever remember such a calm and uneventful tax season (knock on wood).


Since I am not uber stressed out and the stars did not align at crazy, we will probably make it to Holi (Festival of Color) this year. It will depend on the weather. Will hope for some sunshine and some drying out before April 2nd.

Text is and Link is


February 15th, 2011 at 09:17 pm

Lunch Challenge:

Lunch In: 11
Lunch Out: 2

Lunch Sun - Frozen Pizza
Lunch Mon - Leftover Jambalaya (GOOD!)
Lunch Tues - chicken nuggets & ramen

I actually brought leftover spinach manicotti today (cheese, spinach, salsa, YUM). But I was hungry on the early side and decided I probably needed more protein. OF course, I may need some of the manicotti to get through the afternoon - ate closer to 11:00. Will see.

Dh tried a new jambalaya recipe over the weekend. Yum!

Lunch Update

February 12th, 2011 at 01:21 am

Lunch In: 8
Lunch Out: 2

Tues. Lunch - Leftover potato soup
Wed. Lunch - Frozen Pizza
Thurs. Lunch - salami sandwich
Fri. Lunch - OUT - buffet

Dh and I had our lunch date today. I forget that buffets aren't the best *Dates* - we seem to spend so much time up and getting food - less time with each other. Particularly last week anyway. This week we timed our food trips a little better.

Anyway, it was rather disappointing. A lot of cold and stale food. Frown Not near as good as last time!

For one, they have the most divine red velvet cake, usually. I was more in a chocolate mood, and got chocolate cake, but it was hard and stale. I didn't realize at first it had just been sitting out too long. I just thought it wasn't very good. I asked dh to grab me a velvet cake instead, but it was even worse. Instead of trying again, I grabbed a cookie that was fresh baked. At least I got a decent/fresh dessert.

Probably for the best - less inclined to eat there again, any time soon.


Not much planned for the weekend.

Work work work.

& I really need to do some long put off chores around the house. REAL exciting stuff.

Dh wants to buy an apple tree and February is the month to plant. Anyway, that is one thing we need to look into. I can't help but feel it will get put off another year!

Monday Monday

February 7th, 2011 at 08:47 pm

Lunch In: 4
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - granola bar
Lunch - Leftover pasta casserole (from last week)
Snacks - TBD

Dinner - TBD

I know everyone thinks I am super organized and I plan plan plan. Well, organized, sure, I guess. But I think my life philsophy is more *keep it simple* than *plan plan plan*.

Anyway, as usual, I just grabbed something to eat on my way out the door. This works just fine for me. All that I really saw in the fridge was leftovers from last week. So that was my lunch.


TV was interesting over the weekend.

**SUZE - What a great episode Suze did. Did anyone watch? Did you love that letter that realtor wrote to Suze? Berating Suze for telling viewers they can't afford mortgages. The realtor said that you don't need a good FICO or more than 3.5% down for a mortgage - and so many people profit from these mortgages - brokers, appraiser, realtors, etc., etc. People need to take on these mortgages to keep the economy afloat! The letter was so self serving, and Suze said to consider the motives of those who encourage you to buy things.

Seems like basic common sense, doesn't it? Consider the motives of others when they give you financial advice.

Likewise, I have commented many times on this blog how absolutely insane the real estate market here is (Sacramento). While just about everyone I know has foreclosed or is on the verge of foreclosure, people all over the world are swooping in to snatch up real estate at *rock bottom lows.* Let's back the truck up here. Real estate may have feel 50% overnight, but it went up 100% overnight, immediately beforehand. The thing is, Sacramento real estate has never been particularly valuable, except when people were taking on mortgages worth 10 times their income. The people who are buying don't understand the market at all. They think prices are super low, when they are actually on the high side, really.

All I see is a new bubble reforming before the old one had even finished deflating.

Likewise, the VERY FEW people I know who did not foreclose, are all running out to buy their first homes, or real estate investments with little money down. EVERYONE. So I have said quite a few times, "Has anyone learned a thing?!?"

Anyway, Suze touched on this. She is the first person I have seen vocalize those concerns. She specifically used the word *bubble* in regards to the prevalence of 3.5%-down FHA loans and the real estate market.

Again, seems like basic common sense, doesn't it?


**'Til Debt Do Us Part

I watched the episode with the guy with the $700/month truck payment.

Boy, I thought Gail was awfully nice to that guy!

When she told him to settle for a *gasp* $400/month payment (very generous, don't you think?) he literally cried and had a little hissy fit about that. He blurted out that truck was the ONLY thing he had bought for himself since having a family (resentful, much?).

Gail told him to live in his truck for a weekend (hey - you love your truck so much...). That was probably genius. BUT, she caved a bit and told him to rework the budget while he was in the truck, if it meant that much to him.

I think that was an important move to get him on board. The point of frugality is not being deprived. BUT, I think her caving in a bit glossed over the point she initially was trying to make that his truck seemed more important to him than his family.

Of course, the very end was warm and fuzzy, he kept his truck, and they did well enough to get the full $5k from Gail.

I can't help but wonder if a large percentage of these families don't learn anything and start back at square one. I'd find it more interesting if they actually followed up on some of these families.

I think it is possible for some people out there to prioritize, and even lease a $700/month truck while being fiscally sound. But, I just didn't see it with this family. The truck was a very big emotional symbol for some deep seated issues between the husband and wife. I just don't think he really *got it*.


February 4th, 2011 at 09:38 pm

Lunch In: 3
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - apple sauce, cereal
Lunch - Leftover chicken enchilada casserole
Snacks - chicken nuggets, banana

For Dinner, we have a gourmet dinner out (fundraiser). The menu wasn't that impressive, but will cross my fingers. We had this most amazing dinner in Hawaii and I was thinking something more along those lines. More courses and more unique dishes. Maybe I have just been watching too much "Top Chef."

Well, will see how it goes!


TGIF - merely since this is my only Saturday off for many weeks.

As such, I can go to aerobics. I have done some walking since surgery, but that is about it.

I KNOW this is pushing it, but the weather is so gorgeous, I want to fit in some tennis. I KNOW I should ease in more, but oh well. I will be careful and take both activities slowly.

Tomorrow is also "Free Museum" Day in Sacramento. We have absolutely never gone. Maybe because it is smack dab in the middle of tax season. As my only Saturday off, maybe we usually collapse at home, or go visit family. I don't know, but the weekend is wide open, so we are excited about it.

The aerospace/science museum are close together and a good fit (LM And dh haven't been to this science museum). However, I have never been to the art museum here, and since it is more expensive generally, that is my first choice. Some that we talked about that looked interesting by name were the city cemetery and the medical history museum. Obviously we have to narrow it down.

Oh, I just had a thought, too. That YUM buffet is right by the science and aerospace museums. Maybe we could hit the art museum and downtown stuff in the a.m. and then go to the buffet across town and hit the others in that vicinity.


In other news, last time I visited my mom, she was shredding old documents from the 80s.

She even had some paperwork re: a house they had not owned since 1980!

I thought about it, and decided that since it has been 9 years since we sold our condo, that we probably didn't need all our old closing documents and refinance statements (refied twice, at the least!)

I might wait until May, but that is a shredding project I must tackle. I would keep the closing statements and anything nostalgic, but can probably dump a box or two of paperwork!

I also have tax filings going back to 1992 or whenever I first started working. Um, yeah, it's time to start shredding. I'll be keeping 1040s and certain paperwork, but the bulk of it is no longer necessary to keep. Shred shred shred.


I am relieved to say that Fidelity credit card reward redemption got deposited to my account. Took 2 days instead of the 30 days in the fine print. Phew!

& then, today, I had another $100 to redeem (due to medical bills).

So, I added the $150 ROTH deposits to my side bar. Pretty genius, huh? The income is tax free to begin with - then into the ROTH where it stays tax free. Big Grin

Anyway, I had trouble redeeming, initially, so I am glad those kinks seemed to be worked out.

Bill Reductions & Vacation Plans

February 4th, 2011 at 04:23 am

For February Lunch Challenge:

Lunch In: 2
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - granola bar, peanut M&Ms (@ home)
Lunch - Leftover chicken enchilada casserole

For dinner, it was leftovers. I decided to have a salami sandwich and some wheat thins. On a hamburger bun, since we were out of bread! (Since I have been eating leftovers for lunch every day).


Bill reductions:

**Gas bill (balanced billing) went down from $26/month to $21/month.

This is where you become jealous I live in California, and then I point out that I know plenty of people with three-figure gas bills ($100-$500/month in winter months). The weather helps, but energy efficiency matters MUCH more!

Anyway, our gas usage was actually up for January (no surprise since I was home 2 weeks - I use far more heat than the rest of the household). But gas prices were low compared to last year.

Anyway, they adjust it every 6 months or so, and I figured $20/month was more along the lines of our gas usage. The lowest it has been is $14/month (which was too low for all year!)

**Auto insurance - dh's auto insurance renewed January and it was exactly the same as last year.

I just got my bill and so was surprised it went down about $40 per year.

I presumed at first that it was the collision portion that went down. Since the van has collision insurance and the other car doesn't. BUT, I decided to pull out the bill to be sure.

Surprise, surprise - we both paid the same for liability last year, but this year that is the part of my bill that went down. I presume that they will adjust dh's bill, accordingly. I will keep an eye on that and call them later if we don't get a refund or if it doesn't show up on the July bill.



We are gathering up loose ideas for vacation plans this year.

For one, I am pleased because no one is dictating our vacation this year. (That has its pluses and minuses. But since that is the norm, I am kind of sick of it). Of course, I won't speak TOO soon because it is only January.

On top of that, I actually have vacation time. Maybe simply because no one has planned a 2-week trip yet to eat up all my vacation time.

The topic of vacation did come up because we are planning our annual family camp vacation. Just 2-3 nights a couple of hours away, but is always a blast.

We've already discussed a LegoLand, Magic Mountain, Planetarium/Observatory trip. The cost would be virtually nothing. (WE decided to skip Disney since the kids have already been a 4 or 5 times between Florida and LA).

In addition, we have been talking about some road trips for a while. I have never been to the Grand Canyon or Bryce Canyon, so that tops my list.

Dh and I talked a little about doing one big vacation, but have decided that we should just do two trips. So Cal Trip and Southwest road trip.

I am kind of overwhelmed thinking of all the logistics on the Southwest road trip. A lot to plan and figure out. I think the hardest part will be keeping the trip short and sweet while feeling we have enough time to see and enjoy everything.

Our families have been so *vacation crazy* lately. MIL has some pretty pie in the sky and grand vacation plans for the upcoming years. I wouldn't even know where to begin. MExico, China, exotic places of the kids' choosing. I personally feel a little nostalgic to those *dirt broke* road trips we always did when I was a kid and in college, etc. A road trip sounds very enticing to me!

My blog theme lately has been how the point of being frugal is to have the good things in life at a lower cost. My personal vacation philosophy would probably be a perfect example. It doesn't have to be grand and expensive to be fun and meaningful!

Food Doings

February 3rd, 2011 at 04:31 am

For February Lunch Challenge:

Lunch In: 1
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - granola bar, apple sauce
Lunch - Sushi buffet

For dinner, heart cheese soup (with hamburger instead of turkey):

Text is and Link is



Anyway, dh and I had a marvelous lunch date.

That said, regardless of the economy, the buffet that we ate at is usually jam packed. If you eat at the traditional noon hour, I have seen them run out of plates. We try to go on the early or late side.

Imagine my surprise when I got there closer to noon and the parking lost was mostly empty. "This is interesting," I thought. Of course, the restaurant was chosen because I had received a really good coupon in the mail (a rare find).

In the end, the place was empty. No idea what was going on. To find a restaurant deader than dead is not rare in this economy. Probably more the norm. But, at the same time, some places are just always jam packed. People are so fickle. One day it's the most popular restaurant - the next day it's suffered the fate of the rest.

Anyway, we spent about $17 for 2 lunches and a soda - so not a bad deal. In addition to sushi galore and some other food, I got some baked salmon as well. A very good deal.


Weather here is spring-like. BM told me the groundhog saw his shadow. Last year we got a really early spring. Looks the same, but who knows how long it will last. The kids wore shorts and we didn't run the heat today. Obviously this is polar opposite of most everyone we know! I was writing a note to dh's Grandpa in Florida and remarked that maybe they had as much sun as us - no one else seems to. Wink

I hope everyone is keeping warm and safe!

Lunch Update - Part II

February 2nd, 2011 at 02:50 am

For February Lunch Challenge:

Lunch In: 1
Lunch Out: 0

Breakfast - granola bar, apple sauce
Lunch - leftover pasta casserole
snacks - yogurt, raisins

Boss gave away some *old* soda (not old at all) and so I caved and had a can of soda with lunch.

For dinner, dh made this really good smoked chicken enchilada casserole. REALLY good - the recipe is not available online at the moment. I would share, otherwise (a Taste of Home Recipe).


Not sure I will eat out this week at all. Wanted to do a lunch date with dh. Thursday is some kind of school thing (LM is performing), and Friday we already have dinner plans. Tomorrow the kids get out of school early. But will suggest early lunch.

Since dh has no kids and more time lately, we have talked a lot about him coming to meet me for more lunches. BUT, I just got a good coupon for our favorite buffet and coupons for a new Thai restaurant in my neighborhood. My boss lives so close to work - I should ask him to keep all his coupons and give them to me! What I need is some coupons for destinations closer to work.

Anyway, maybe tomorrow would work better if I met dh closer to home. Sushi buffet for lunch. YUM. If we do that - will eat well this week.


Today I got paid. Zapped the deposit online so should show up tomorrow.

Every January I reshuffle everything. See what can be paid with what paycheck. Since everything seems to change. Anyway, it looks like I can pay everything. Mortgage and big credit card gets paid closer to the 30th. Everything else can come out of my 1st check of the month.

So, once my paycheck clears I will send $2k to the credit card (to pay off surgery deposit). I am pleased I can fund our ROTHs, etc., since I initially thought I'd have to wait for my next paycheck. I need to set the ROTH contributions to pull automatically every month. I need to pay all the credit cards (Visa, Target card). Everything else has been set up to pay via credit card or online banking. I just had to wait to the end of the month to see how much the card balances ended up (paid off monthly).


We've had the American Express card a few months. 2% of every purchase should automatically go to ROTH.


I set it up automatically but it didn't transfer.

I tried to redeem "one time" but the link didn't work.

Today another blogger mentioned some sort of credit card rewards and it jogged my memory. The link actually worked so supposedly $50 is being transferred. Said it may take 30 days. Rolleyes

I hope the link is working in a few days since with the medical bills I might actually have $100 more to redeem come February 4th. If I don't make it, will be $50 in a few days, and another $50 in a month. I will claim success once I get any of this money in my ROTH!

Lunch Challenge

February 1st, 2011 at 04:04 pm

The Lunch Challenge

I eat in most of the time, anyway, but welcome the opportunity to share how I do it.

Since I have been out from work quite a while and just going home for lunch (since my return), the challenge reminded me it was time to restock some food at work.

On hand already:

BBQ Sauce
Salad Dressing
Apple Sauce (large jug)
cereal (in tupperware)

Brought today:

Granola bar (breakfast)
Bag of frozen chicken nuggets
leftover pasta casserole (dinner last night)

I forgot the ramen!

I don't think I have ever had ramen in my life, before, but dh picked some up on sale rather recently and I have come to enjoy them as a light snack. (Not enough nutrients or calories for a meal - but a nice winter snack). IT was funny because at first I looked at it and said, "Should we really be eating that???" But, in the end I decided I was a little overly concerned. My motto is always moderation, and my initial reaction was overkill considering we don't eat that much of it.

I'll have to bring some ramen in tomorrow - my work stock is gone.

I primarily drink water. No beverages to bring, but I usually bring a large cup (32 oz?) so that I don't have to run to the water jug every hour all day. A cup is just easy to grab, easy to clean, etc. Over the years I see more co-workers copying my idea. Wink I usually just bring one cup every Monday, and take it home to wash at the end of the week.

For the challenge, I have 23 work days this month.

I will aim to bring lunch 19 days out of 23. I meet dh or friends for lunch once a week. For me, I find it necessary for my relationships, to not hole up and eat in ALL The time. But, it's a challenge to remember and make the time, some times.

On the weekends, since I get paid overtime, I am usually a little less concerned about eating in. If I have to work on a Saturday, might as well eat some decadent fast food or something like that. BUT, when I eat in, I can get out of here faster. Since I didn't work most of January, I will just aim to eat in Saturdays. Will see how it goes.


When it comes to saving money in some areas so we have more to save (& splurge in other areas), these are the three biggies for us:

**Home - cut home costs as much as possible (moved to low cost region)
**Cars - cut vehicle costs as much as possible (buy older vehicles, for cash, and keep them a LONG time)
**Food - Eat in (most of the time) to cut food costs

Those are the three biggies, for us. Food is one of those things that can add up to a ton over time.

Breakfast for Four

July 3rd, 2010 at 05:26 pm

Eggs: 15 cents
Potatoes: $1
Smoothie ingredients: $1?

Breakfast $2.15?


Of course, I did use all of this for breakfast (more than the bigger/stand alone/easy to price items):

2 eggs (dh/BM not into the eggs)
sprinkling of cheddar cheese, some milk
salt, pepper

3 potatoes
paprika, garlic, salt pepper

plain yogurt
1/2 can frozen juice
bit of apple juice
frozen strawberries

We had a nice feast today - scrambled eggs, fried potato wedges, and smoothies. YUM!

I only share, because we too often hear that "eating healthy is SO expensive." I won't win an award for healthy eating, but it is hard to get much simpler/cheaper than this. It doesn't get much more basic than eggs and potatoes. My smoothies have the processed juice (sometimes) but sure beats plain juice or soft drinks, or whatever else the average american drinks every day. We are mostly big water drinkers. We did have tap water with our smoothies.

On the eating out end of the spectrum, the kids are actually now free at IHOP, indefinitely. (You just have to ask, when they bring you the bill). Home made it much cheaper, much healthier, and WAY tastier though. Big Grin

Random Updates

June 20th, 2010 at 02:20 pm

**Dh's stars must be aligned on the friendship front, lately. He had his grade school reunion last night, and one of his old friends is a "stay at home dad" who lives a couple of blocks from us. (Keep in mind, we live 110 miles away from said grade school, but then again it's not the first "neighbor who used to be a neighbor." Happens all the time in our affordable mecca - our neighborhood attracts Bay Area types. Our next door neighbor grew up down the street from dh, for example).

**Looking at the weather for our impending camping trip, and am glad we are staying in cabins. Night time lows in the 30s? Yeesh. Not necessarily prepared for that. Looking on the bright side - don't think we will need mosquito spray.

We will just have to do more active things, to keep warm. Looks like one of the days will be warm enough for the beach, but too far ahead to tell. I won't hold my breath!

**Yesterday I ran to the grocery store. Frozen mango orange juice was all on sale for 99 cents. I bought 2 more (and then found one in the freezer) for smoothies. I generally just grab what is on sale, and that is the best kind anyway. But, none of the fruit was on sale. I thought I had some strawberries already, so grabbed blueberries and peaches.

We have so many cherries left from the farm, that I should probably freeze some of those too.

I cut up and froze some browning bananas.

We picked out a tub of strawberry banana yogurt.

I didn't get frozen mangos so I couldn't use my recipe:

Thin/sweet (juice) version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
8 oz water
1 cup frozen mango pieces
handful of ice cubes

Thick/less sweet version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen mango pieces
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I suppose I forgot the peach yogurt, too.

SO, we tried this:
some strawberry banana yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
some milk
some water
4 frozen peach slices
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I was pretty tempted to throw in some blueberries, but didn't want to go overboard. In the end, they probably would have been good. The kids told me it was the "best smoothie ever." It wasn't near as sweet as it can usually get with the mango orange. I think peach/mangos does better to bring out the awesome flavor of the mango orange juice, but this worked quite well for that we had.

Oh, I also let the kids get watermelon juice. Maybe we will try to do watermelon smoothies today. I probably should have gotten some plain or vanilla yogurt for that.

**I supppose it is Father's Day. Dh is the clever/thoughtful gift giving type. I am not. I let him buy a new monitor (already got it) and forgot today was the big day. I could have the kids make a list of why they love their daddy - something like that. He is not home since he went to the Bay Area for his reunion. He won't have to know I FORGOT. I suppose that is good - we have a crazy/busy day otherwise. Some last minute kid cuteness will have to do.

**I have been catching "Til Debt Do us Part," show that everyone has been talking about. I had never noticed it before (current episodes first aired in 2005???).

Two observations:

-I think I have come to understand the "Head in the Sand" types a bit and have an extra understanding how frustrating that could be. I don't know - I don't think I could do it. It just hit me one day watching that show - how nice it must be to not have a care in the world - let someone else worry about all that. A terrible thing to do as a person (in a marriage), but I can see the draw. Especially if your partner lets you get away with that! Anyway, I suppose this may be the first show of this type that really focuses on the financial dynamics of married couples. Kind of fascinating.

-The money jars. It always strikes me that their "cut it to the bone/get out of debt" budget strongly resembles our budget. Usually something in the $1k range for variable expenses like food, transportation, eating out, etc. Not that we follow is strictly, but we generally go $800 for food and gas, $150 misc, and maybe $300-ish per month for a few other variable items. We are not trying to get out of debt, but are trying to not get into debt, and also would like to be able to retire some day. Big Grin

Lunch Updates

June 18th, 2010 at 07:49 pm

Lunch In: 13
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - granola bar, cherries
Lunch - Frozen pizza
snacks - TBD

Breakfast - apple sauce, sourdough walnut bread (yum!)
Lunch - Frozen pizza
snacks - nuts, banana


So, dh got these frozen pizzas on sale. I tried one yesterday and it was so good, I wanted to eat the other one today. Bad bad bad. While my frozen chicken nuggets are all natural, these pizzas are full of preservatives and "no no"s. Which I really don't care about once in a while, but why I am beating myself up a bit about it today - two days in a row and all. Oh well!

I need to remember to clear out the fridge today - I brought some leftover I never ate (will go bad soon, if not already), and I have cherries in the fridge still, etc.

Work provided the sourdough bread, and some lunch meats and cheese for a meeting - which I am sure I snacked on the last couple of days. Not sure I have ever had sourdough walnut bread before, but it is delish!

Lunch & Such

June 16th, 2010 at 06:46 pm

Lunch Tally...

Lunch In: 11
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - cookie, soda
Lunch - salad, BBQ
snacks - TBD


Boss brought in cookies. They will last a few more days...

Going to the school for a BBQ at noon. Kids will be released for summer, after the feast.

Told the kids we could go skating tonight, to celebrate.

Unfortunately, I don't have any vacation time to spare, so am stuck at work after BBQ, until 5:00. Oh well! (I could make up time later, but we are leaving for vacation and all that jazz. So, will suffer through).

Last year I had the day off and we went to the water park. This year, too much time off for sick people, precludes that.


It's nice for things to let up on my family (maybe?), but the news is still pretty depressing, of late.

There was a Month 9 *miscarriage* in the extended family. *sigh* I seem to know too many people who have gone through this. (I suppose the appropriate term is stillborn - for any baby lost after 20 weeks).

The boy missing in Oregon is a "friend of a friend." I can't open Facebook without being reminded a family is missing their 7-year-old child.

Maybe it's just all too much, but yesterday I read in a community blog that a young father had just passed after a 5 month battle with cancer. I looked at the picture of his young face and little kids, (though I didn't know them from Adam), and just broke down. It just struck me as so tragic, and yet maybe a little too close to home. (As it was exactly 5 months ago we found out 100% dh did not have cancer. So, we were celebrating while another family was broken terrible news the other way).

Of course, the blogs have been filled with their own tragedies, lately.

I always hug & love my husband and kids, but extra hugs & love lately.

Lunch Update...

June 15th, 2010 at 03:55 pm

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 10
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - apple sauce, mixed nuts, water
Lunch - tuna + cheese (@ home, per LM's request. Dh doesn't do tuna!), soda, farm picked cherries
snacks - cookie provided by work



Lunch In: 9
Lunch Out: 1

Breakfast - apple sauce, water
Lunch - salad, soda
snacks - peanut m&ms


Yesterday I brought in a ton of food (some freezer stuff, some dressing, etc., etc.). I actually wasn't very hungry and didn't eat much at all yesterday.

Dh picked me up 2 cases of 8-oz. sodas, so I brought that in today. I think I am good for June!

I need to work on the eating out. I thought dh and I would have a date "in" today, but forgot he is working a shift at Scholastic.

I do need to get together with a client for lunch. I always eat in - I need to work on some eating out (social).

I am also meeting a friend tomorrow after work, so I think it's less likely I will meet my goal of eating out 4 times this month.


The last few days have been spendy. I ordered some new sunglasses, signed BM up for "summer camp," and reserved a hotel room in Denver (pre-paid).

We have 2 huge coupons so asked dh to get the oil changed in both vehicles (we go once every 6 months - mine is due and his is due in a month - but worth it one month early for the discount).

I need a haircut - has been 5 or 6 months. My massive amounts of hair are driving me nuts with this heat - chop chop chop.

The funny thing is I wanted to get my hair chopped before our camping trip (not sure when I will have time???) BUT just heard there is still snow on the ground. Maybe I will be glad to have the hair. The unusually cold winter/spring means a cool camping trip, I am sure.


Dh "worked" all day Saturday and used his Scholastic voucher to bring home a giant box of books yesterday. Probably no need to buy any kid gifts for the rest of the year. (More than books - some toys, games, etc.)

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