Friday, December 15, 2017

Frugal Friday

Another long week - almost complete! I'm working from home today, so I'll enjoy the more relaxing day.

Here are some of the frugal things we've been up to:

  1. Redeemed miles from my recent business flights for $175 in Amazon gift cards
  2. Discovered a hotel promotion before my last trip, and registered for it before I left. Earned a free night to use between now & June. M & I are discussing are options for a little getaway, perhaps. 
  3. Charged our electric car exclusively at work (for free)
  4. Made dinner every night this week. (I had a work dinner last night, but didn't pay. ;-))
  5. Brought home leftover risotto from dinner last night. Good for my waistline not to eat the entire thing, but will also provide lunch today.
  6. Passed on taking an Uber to the work dinner, even though I really wanted to avoid traffic & parking. Saved at least $60, but it was a giant PITA on the way there.
  7. Sam's soccer bag has been found! (It was lost last weekend - another kid from a different team picked it up by accident). This is a $65 bag that's part of his uniform (name on it, special bag that holds a soccer ball, etc). We do have to drive about 20 minutes to pick it up tomorrow, but so happy we don't have to order another one!
What about you? Any frugal wins this week?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thanks to the "old me"

for being organized, and prepping freezer meals. My typical schedule is to cook on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, and then we eat leftovers during the week. My flight schedule, combined with a holiday party at the neighbors on Saturday meant no cooking two of the three days. As such, I've been tapping my freezer meals to get by.

On Friday, we had a Persian rice, been & beef dish that needed just a salad + yogurt sauce to accompany it. For today, I defrosted a potato soup, and made crescent rolls. Even my son said, "these don't taste like homemade" :-), but they did the trick for a quick & easy meal.

It gets really creative later in the week, but with a combination of freezer meals, and a few "ready to eat" freezer options, we should be able to skate by until Friday.

Now, if only the "old me" would have also worked out more frequently, so I could be entering 2018 15 lbs lighter! :-)

Would love to hear from you. What's your tried & true easiest quick dinner option?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

An updated menu plan + errands

I was up *almost* at a normal time this morning, and took the kids to futsal (indoor soccer) practice, & then hit up Costco, Rite Aid & the produce stand. I walked on the track with another mom while the kids were at practice, so I can check off my workout. I would have liked to run, but I have a large burn on my foot. (Hotel room in Seoul had zero counter space, so my hair straightener slipped off the sink & landed on my foot. OUCH!)

I wasn't as capable as I'd hoped with the meal planning this week (I normally cook on Friday, Saturday & Sunday, & then we eat leftovers during the work week). So, some modifications are required:

Friday - 12/8 (back from trip) - I will cobble together a chicken risotto Nope, defrosted a Persian rice & bean dish, and had that instead. 
Saturday - 12/9 - M & I are going to a holiday party at our neighbor's house. I'll make quesadillas for the kids. Yes although the party didn't have dinner, as I'd heard from another neighbor. Should have checked! We went to bed pretty hungry, but probably better for the waistline. 
Sunday - 12/10 - Sam has his end of the season soccer party, so the kids will eat there. I'll make chicken pesto pasta for the adults The boys have opted to do another soccer event this afternoon, so skipping this. I'm thrilled, because it's one less meal out, and at a place I don't really care for. Instead, M is making kebabs & rice, with a yogurt sauce. 
Monday - 12/11 - leftover chicken risotto I'll make chicken pesto pasta, as I didn't make the risotto
Tuesday - 12/12 - Soup (freezer) + rolls - Yes, still the plan
Wednesday - 12/13 - pasta & meatballs - Leftover kebabs & rice
Thursday - 12/14 - I have a work team dinner. M + the boys will have tacos - The boys will have pasta & meatballs -
Friday - 12/15 - Chicken pilaf - still the plan!

That's pretty much it for me. Here's hoping I get some of my energy back. I managed to clean the house yesterday, & catch up on most of the laundry. We're in the home stretch before the end of the year - the boys are out of school after this week!

What about you? What's on your menu this week? Any big holiday activities on the horizon?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I'm back

And, oh so jet lagged. I'm also incredibly happy to be home.



As you can see, I don't get out much. Just the airport -> hotel -> office -> hotel -> airport. 

I am so very happy to be home! Now I just need to get over the epic jet lag. Always, so much jet lag. My last business trip of 2017 is now complete. Woohoo!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday

It's been the normal crazy week, but there have been some frugal victories. Here's what we have this week:
  • Made turkey broth out of leftover Thanksgiving carcass
  • Ate turkey leftovers all week (turkey enchiladas + turkey chowder)
  • Found a great gift card deal at the grocery store, earning a $20 store gift card. Free groceries! The gift cards were for things we need in the next 6 weeks, so money we would have spent anyway
  • Organized my freezer, so I can now see what we have, and not overbuy/waste food
  • Sold a bike Sam had outgrown for $50
  • Paid to have a dining room chairs re-upholstered vs buying new. Maybe some cost savings, but happy we kept them out of the landfill. They are 20+ years old, and very high quality. Happy to have them back, & they look great.
  • Sold two more items on eBay
  • Sent for the rebate of a pool pump. Even though we had a functioning pool pump, it was a very old school/non-energy efficient version. We bought a newer one that should pay for itself in a year, through reduced energy costs. Plus, there was a rebate of $100 through our power company ending shortly.
  • Ate all meals at home (or, for free at work). Another week of zero dining out!
  • Finished my Christmas shopping, and stuck to my budget.
That's it for us. I'm off to Tokyo tomorrow morning, so while I'll be spending no money, I need to make sure the boys have ample quick meal options. What about you? Any frugal wins for the week?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Goals Check In

It's the home stretch of November, and I'm feeling pretty good about our progress. It's never perfect, but we've definitely accomplished a few things.

1) Financial - 
  • Meet with a financial planner - Nope. We have a few more details to work out about our longer term plans before we meet with someone to get input. 
  • Finalize our 2018 budget. Really! - Yes! We may need to tweak throughout the year, but we are ready to start with this budget. 
  • Finalize our 2018 travel plans (2nd half of the year) - this is dependent on other people (my parents/sister), so I have open questions to them on a few dates. 
  • Make progress on list of house projects (i.e. prioritize a couple that are not dependent on other projects, and work on budget & timeline for those) - we've prioritized the biggest projects that we want to immediately tackle (a deck for our vacation house, as the existing deck needs to be replaced & solar). 
  • Find one alternative cost cutting option - I was pretty creative in my re-use of things like foil, plastic bags, etc. I'll continue to reduce our consumables as much as possible. 
  • Sell another $100 of items on either eBay or my local Facebook swap site. If nothing sells, donate & get rid of the clutter. - I sold $122 worth of stuff between eBay & Craigslist. 
  • Finalize our long term financial working doc, and share with M. Take a day off & have a financial review meeting, align, adjust the plan, etc. - Made some progress, but didn't achieve the day to review. 
  • Get our gas bill down to $60 for the month. We have one trip that we're unsure if we can make with the electric car (soccer tournament), but other than that, we should be able to stick to just the electric car for the majority of our commuting.  - sadly, no. We refilled all of our tanks due to a variety of one time events. (Our car got rear-ended, had to drive to a shop 30 miles away multiple times, a soccer tournament, etc.) We did use the electric car whenever feasibly possible, so I'd estimate we cut 50% off of what our gas bill would have been. 

2) Family - Spend more time together as a family!
  • Plan our Thanksgiving menu, and have the kids help with the planning, shopping, prep & cooking. - Done! It was a success!
  • Have a family game night.  - We had a foosball tournament. :-) 
  • Finish Christmas shopping & planning - all done!
  • More decluttering & organizing in our new house (would like to get the boys closet shelving installed, so they can put away/organize all of their games & toys) - We organized all of the toys & games. We haven't bought the shelving yet, but made the best of the area we had & it looks so much better. 

    3) Fitness/health - Lose 2 pounds in November
    • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day - Assuming I get 6 servings today, I'll close out November with 4/day. It's progress, & I'll take it! :-) 
    • Complete 1000 minutes of cardio - I hit 775 minutes, which is okay. I'd like to have broken into the 800s, but it didn't happen. 
    • Complete 6 strength workouts. - I completed 3 strength workouts. 
    • Complete 6 stretching workouts - and, zero stretching workouts. No wonder my back is sore. 
    • Register for & complete a Turkey Trot - yes!
    • Run 20 miles in November. - I didn't actively track, but I'd put it at around 12 miles. 

    4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance.
    • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress  - this is a really hard time of the year for my job. I'm doing "okay". At which I would define "okay" as, better than some years, but hard compared to the rest of the year. 
    • Work from home 2x this month. - yes, done!
    • Plan a spa day. I have a gift card from work that I received over a year ago. Find a day I can make this happen, & take the day off, & relax! - I have the day picked, & just need to call to book. 
    • Brainstorm how I would spend my time if I wasn't working. Really think creatively about what this would mean, what the challenges would be, etc. - haven't made progress on this. 
    • Spend no gas on my work commute. Electric car only!  - yes!

      5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits.
      • Try a new recipe using my new crockpot - I did try a new recipe (three, actually), but no crockpot was involved. 
      • Do something social at least once per month. - met a friend for a hike.
      • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month. - I've requested a volunteer opportunity for next month, through the school. 
      • Write at least 6 blog posts. (Including one on mileage maximizing strategies, per request :-)).- Yes! I think it was 20 posts. Woohoo!

      I think that's it from my side - what about you? How are you doing towards your 2017 goals?

      Saturday, November 25, 2017

      This is what $86 will buy you at Costco

      $86.75, to be precise. This is a pretty standard shopping trip for us.

      Here's what we bought:

      • 5 dozen eggs - $14.49
      • Red grapes - $8.49
      • Pears - $8.49
      • Feta cheese - $7.39
      • Sandwich rolls - $6.49 (would love to make these myself. We always make our sandwiches into paninis, and I haven't found a homemade roll that stands up to the grill. Any recommendations?)
      • Apples - $6.49
      • Plums - $5.99
      • Milk - $4.89
      • Tortilla chips - $4.59
      • Power greens - $4.49
      • Cucumber - $3.99 x2
      • Pineapple - $2.99
      • Honeydew - $2.59
      • Bananas - $1.39
      What does a standard shop look like for you? The eggs will last us a few weeks, but the rest of the food will be consumed this week. We are starting the shopping week with a pretty full fridge (lots of leftovers), but our produce intake remains pretty constant week over week. Love to hear the details of your weekly shop, so please share. :-) 

      It's a bonus Saturday

      It definitely feels like a bonus that we're only at the start of the weekend. Woohoo! I have a packed agenda of things I'd like to do today.

      1. Menu for this week
      2. Menu for the beach house
      3. Budget update
      4. Wash all sheets
      5. Clean boys rooms (with them)
      6. Freezer clean out & inventory, so I can make sure I have enough stuff stocked for the rest of the year.
      7. Make soup for tomorrow
      8. Make meatloaf 
      9. Costco
      10. We have an appointment for an estimate with a solar company this afternoon
      11. Ride bike to produce stand, Rite Aid & grocery store (yeast, powdered sugar)
      12. Work out
      13. Decorate the house for Christmas
      14. Wrap gift for M
      15. Laundry
      16. Sam & I still need socks for our family's sock exchange (so much fun - highly recommend!), so we will likely go to Target and/or Ross
      And, here's my proposed menu for the rest of the year! I always like to plan the last few weeks, as there's so much going on.

      Saturday - 11/25 - meatloaf & (leftover) mashed potatoes
      Sunday - 11/26 - turkey potato chowder (new recipe) with homemade rolls
      Monday - 11/27 - leftover turkey enchiladas
      Tuesday - 11/28 - leftover meatloaf
      Wednesday - 11/29 - leftover turkey potato chowder
      Thursday - 11/30 - eat up any remaining leftovers. If none remain, spaghetti with meatballs
      Friday - 12/1 - chicken fajita skillet
      Saturday - 12/2 (I fly to Tokyo). M + the boys will have pizza
      Sunday - 12/3 (Tokyo) - M + the boys will have leftover chicken fajita skillet
      Monday - 12/4 (Tokyo) - M + the boys will have pasta & meatballs
      Tuesday - 12/5 (Seoul) - M + the boys will have leftovers
      Wednesday - 12/6 (Seoul) - M + the boys will likely go out
      Thursday - 12/7 (Seoul) - M + the boys will have grilled chicken & pasta
      Friday - 12/8 (back from trip) - I will cobble together a chicken risotto
      Saturday - 12/9 - M & I are going to a holiday party at our neighbor's house. I'll make quesadillas for the kids.
      Sunday - 12/10 - Sam has his end of the season soccer party, so the kids will eat there. I'll make chicken pesto pasta for the adults
      Monday - 12/11 - leftover chicken risotto
      Tuesday - 12/12 - Soup (freezer) + rolls
      Wednesday - 12/13 - pasta & meatballs
      Thursday - 12/14 - I have a work team dinner. M + the boys will have tacos
      Friday - 12/15 - Chicken pilaf
      Saturday - 12/16 - M & I have our holiday date night. I'll make something kid friendly for the boys. Probably hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls. :-) 
      Sunday - 12/17 - M will make kebabs & rice
      Monday - 12/18 - Leftover pilaf
      Tuesday - 12/19 - Leftover kebabs & rice
      Wednesday - 12/20 - Eat any remaining leftovers. If none remain, pesto (freezer) + pasta
      Thursday - 12/21 - White bean chili (freezer) + rolls
      Friday - 12/22 - Scramble together something from the freezer before we leave. 
      Saturday - 12/23 - flying to Portland. We'll be eating out with my family. 
      Sunday - 12/24 - Christmas Eve! We are having pizza & pomegranate martinis 
      Monday - 12/25 - Christmas with the family. We have a microbrew tasting + appetizers, followed by soup & salad
      Tuesday - 12/26 - We will be at our vacation house. I'll inventory the freezer, but we eat easy things while we're there. I'm going with pasta + meatballs for the first night. 
      Wednesday - 12/27 - Beach
      Thursday - 12/28 - At the beach, and my parents will likely arrive. I'll probably make some sort of risotto
      Friday - 12/29 - At the beach. I'm thinking soup + appetizers
      Saturday - 12/30 - Beach (we'll have 6 additional house guests)
      Sunday - 12/31 - Beach, NYE. I'm thinking we'll have goat cheese crostini + champagne, followed by steak & mashed potatoes. 
      Monday - 1/1 - fly back from the beach. We arrive at 5:30 pm, so I'll make sure there is pizza in the freezer for a quick meal. 

      What about you? What's on your agenda for today? Is anyone else decorating? And, inspiration for New Year's Eve? What are you thinking of making? 

      Friday, November 24, 2017

      Frugal Friday

      Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I hope everyone had a lovely day. We started off our day with a Turkey Trot. My 11 year old managed a 21 minute finish. So inspiring! Nick finished in just under 25 minutes, which is also incredible. I was a bit slower. ;-)

      After that, we came home, & prepped all of the food. It was my first time making a turkey (breast) & it was delicious. My only fail was the stuffing. The mix was just too stale (should have tossed it!) & ended up wasting the entire batch. I love stuffing, so I was super sad that it didn't turn out.

      We dressed up, had martinis (sparkling cider for the kids), made appetizers, and had a lot of laughs. It was very relaxing & fun. Such a lovely time with the family.

      As for frugal moves:

      • Used a gift card to buy two bras at Target. I only have one of each color, and when I travel & wear them for long days, I need other options. Found my preferred brand/cut in a 2 pack - for $10! Used the gift card to get them for zero out of pocket.
      • Made my own cranberry sauce, and will use the leftover cranberries to make M's favorite muffins. The cranberry sauce was amazing!
      • Made my own hummus, using lingering stuff around the house. 
      • Found a few Black Friday deals on gifts I was already planning to buy. I'm now officially done with my holiday shopping! 
      • Used eBates to earn a small amount back on each of my Black Friday purchases.
      • Saved the turkey carcass & will make a broth this afternoon
      • Will take the boys to a free "play the coaches" session with their soccer club this morning.
      • Planning to pick up a few Rite Aid gift cards for things we use anyway. (Uber, which I use for work trips to the airport, & Home Depot). 

      What about you? How was your Thanksgiving? Any big frugal wins this week?

      Wednesday, November 22, 2017

      2017 Goals Check In

      I can't believe we're in the home stretch of 2017! And, wow. A lot has changed since I created our 2017 goals a year or so ago! With just over a month left, I wanted to check in on my progress:

      1) Financial - Figure out our housing situation, and get it all resolved (i.e. moved, job changes as needed) before school starts. - Bought a house, moved, & sold our other house!
      • Decide what to do with our Seattle house. Contingent upon location.
      • Move!
      • Build/follow a 2017 "interim budget" (until I leave my job) & a 2017 "post-job budget", after.
      • Inventory & track our various stockpiles, so we reduce waste & minimize what we need to move.
      • Every month, come up with a new way to reduce what we need on an ongoing basis. Examples I've kicked around: find an alternative to all of the ziplock bags/plastic wraps we use for kid lunches. Put a container in the shower to save water for the yard. Collect rain in buckets. Create a compost bucket for the kitchen, so it's easy to compost food scraps. All of these are meant to be permanent changes, so not focused on one time savings. 

      2) Family - Spend more time together as a family! - We mostly accomplished this, but had weeks that were better than others. The date night thing didn't happen consistently, but M & I had two vacations together, so I'll consider that a huge win instead.
      • Do a minimum of one fun activity/month with the kids. This can be family puzzle night, cooking dinner together, board games, going out somewhere, etc. 
      • Be more present with the kids & M - play games, minimize computer time, exercise together, etc. 
      • Have two dates with M per month (one lunch, one evening) 

        3) Fitness/health - Lose 20 pounds, bringing my weight to 133. This may sound familiar, as it's also a carryover goal from last year! - Major fail on the weight side. 2018 is going to need an entirely different plan. I'm actually running 2 pounds over my weight from last year. Sigh. 
        • Make running a consistent part of my life. Build & follow a training plan.
        • Eat five servings of fruit & vegetables (combined) per day
        • Complete 10,000 minutes of cardio
        • Complete 50 strength workouts.
        • Complete 50 stretching workouts. Make yoga a consistent part of my life. 

        4) Work/career - Improve my work life balance. - I've done an okay job with this. But, international travel just really eliminates any balance the week of, plus the next 5 or so days for me. That's a lot of time out of my life. 
        • Keep better perspective at work/reduce stress (until I leave)
        • Determine an end date for my job.
        • Take time off from my job.

          5) Personal/creative - Spend more time on myself/creative pursuits. - I've done okay with this one as well. No real new skill, but I did bake more, spend time with friends (hiking), & volunteered throughout the last school year. However, technology has replaced my old volunteer job ;-), so I need to find something new in 2018. 
          • Learn a new skill. I'm thinking of learning a new language, but would be fine with anything: sewing, knitting, expanding my baking, etc.
          • Make time for my friends. Do something social at least once per month.
          • Volunteer a minimum of 1x/month.

          All in all, work & the move/house stuff dominated 2017, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that I did "okay" on the other goals. I'm hoping that 2018 will bring more house stability, enabling me to focus more on my health & solve my work situation.

          I'm working on my 2018 goals now, and like to create a few drafts & then edit them over time. What about you? How have you done on your 2017 goals? Are you already thinking of 2018? 

          Tuesday, November 21, 2017

          Evaluating our "personal" spending category for 2017

          As we prep for 2018, I review all of our spend for 2017 & look for categories where we're over, under, or right on target. Based on those numbers, I determine whether we need to buckle down in a specific category, or increase it, or whether we can cut it down in 2018.

          I'll post about a few of the categories as it gets closer to the end of the year.

          For our "personal" category, this is all hair cuts, pedicures, etc. In 2016, we spent $1139, and in 2017, we've spent (to date) $357. Woohoo! Another category where we're making great progress. :-) (There are categories where we blew our spending out of the water, so more to come on that side. The picture isn't so rosy on every category.)

          Here's what's happened with our personal category:

          • Pretty much nothing for the boys. They all got the same number of cuts.
          • I had zero hair cuts in 2017. I really, really want to learn to trim it myself, so I wait. :-)
          • I also had my hair colored zero times.
          • And, got zero pedicures, minus one that I bid on for the school auction. It was a nice social event with other moms, food, drinks, etc. Other than that, I'm doing it myself. 

          It feels really, really good to be able to in source (or skip) most of my personal expenditures. I do still need to figure out a hair cut solution for myself. I'm trying to build up to buying shears, watching videos to learn techniques, and starting off with something very tame with my own hair. Over time, I'd love to add in the boys as well, but I want to start slowly. Goal for 2018! :-) 

          What about you? How do you spend your money in this category? Have you learned to in source anything that you previously paid for? When I look back at my spending on pedicures, it was mostly a chance to get pampered & get out of the house with young kids. Now that the boys are older, it's just much easier to make time for myself. 

          Monday, November 20, 2017

          2017 Small Goal Check In

          The end of the year is nigh, so it's time to start checking in on my goals. For 2017, I have a long list of my "main goals", but I also came up with a list of smaller goals that I could more easily accomplish. Here's how I'm doing so far!

          • A toiletry challenge! I consider toiletries any of the following: makeup, anything dental related, any product you'd use in the shower and/or to clean your face. I currently have $75 of Rite Aid plenti points, and I'm hoping to make these last for at least six months. Even better if I can make them last for all of 2017 by "rolling" the points. This may be tricky, as rolling your points means generating new points off of purchases made with points. It would take just the right combination of point offers & needs for this to work well. I'll be doing an inventory of our toiletries in the next few weeks, so I can see where we stand & determine what I need to look out for on sale. I've already raided my gym makeup bag when I ran out of eyeliner, because it's the rare day that I work out in the morning before I've showered at home. Using up what I have in various bags (travel, gym) may be my first way to reduce spending.  - I used up my $75 Rite Aid rewards, and have then go on to spend $178 of my $300 budget for the year. That's huge for me! I've definitely cut WAY back on my toiletries spending (spend $335 in 2016, as a comparison.) I'm feeling good about this progress, and rarely stock up anymore. Instead, we've been working through our stockpile of things we already have. 
          • Tracking all of our clothing purchases. I did this with our groceries in 2016 & it was both fun (sometimes tedious), but also really helpful when it came to understanding patterns, areas to stock up on, and where to cut back. We have a reduced clothing budget this year, so I'm hoping this helps. - Our clothing & shoe budget for all of us for the year is $1600, and we're at $1648 for the year. So, pretty close to our budget. As context, we spent $1965 in 2016. And, for this year, $384 went to the boys soccer uniform + ski clothes, & $130 went to running shoes for me. Overall, I'm pleased with how we did, and think we can cut our budget slightly further in 2018. 
          • Every month, look for one permanent way to cut costs. It's totally fine (and, likely) that these will be small cuts that will add up over time. This may be finding a ziplock alternative for one of our common usages (school lunches), reducing our water needs by building rain storage, etc. - I've done okay with this. I bought ziplock alternatives, we bought solar outdoor lights, we've cut our paper towel usage quite a bit. But, I wasn't as consistent as I would like. I think this was a fun goal, & one i want to repeat. 
          • Come up with two date night suggestions that don't involve an expensive meal out. - M & I are planning to do two date nights that don't involve an expensive meal out. 1) we're going to have a spa day with a gift card I received as a gift. 2) We're going to go to a sporting event together. We've also done a good job of ensuring we bring wine for our dinners out (a couple of our local favorite places have no corkage fee), which has helped reduce costs even when we do go out. 
          • Maximize my travel hacking. I'm not sure what 2017 will involve for work travel, but there are lots of opportunities to use points & credits for their best value & by keeping track of all of our rewards, it helps to ensure I'm using them well. - I'm super excited about this, as I just posted more details in this post. So far this year, I've earned $603 in flight credits for price matching, a $150 customer care voucher, $730 in gift cards (redeemed from points/miles from work trips) & earned 269K in miles on our preferred airline. I'm going to set another goal in 2018, because I really liked this one & feel like the goal helped me best utilize all of my points. 
          • Make $100 selling things on Facebook. - Crushed this! I've made $2264 selling items on my local Facebook swap + eBay. Woohoo! Super happy about this. 

          All in all, I'm really happy with my progress on my "mini goals", and will definitely be repeating this exercise in 2018. What about you? did you have any mini goals for the year? How did they go? 

          Sunday, November 19, 2017

          It's Sunday, and the pantry clean out continues

          Today was the end of season soccer, so we wrapped up two games, and then I spent the rest of the day getting stuff done. I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and cleaned the bathrooms. Party animal. ;-)

          After that, I made yeast rolls & white bean chili & then we went to a pool shop to pick up a replacement part for our pool filter, and then stopped by another grocery store to (finally) find a turkey breast for Thursday. 

          I've been making big progress on our pantry clean out as well! Here's the latest:
          • An enormous (25 oz) jar of green olives. Side note: what was I thinking? - Done! Made a giant batch of green olive tapenade, with basil from the garden. Kept some for the fridge, and froze the rest. 
          • 1/3 or so of a package of chocolate breakfast cereal. This is nothing we would allow the boys for breakfast, but I'm open to using it in something a little more snack like. One of our house guests brought this. - used, in a batch of granola bars!
          • The end of a bag of pretzel chips. Used these for these delicious granola bars. 
          • Two 1/2 used boxes of lasagna noodles - Used one 1/2 box, so down to the other half
          • A 1/2 bag of pine nuts. -  Made more homemade pesto. Down to 1/4 of a bag. Those pine nuts go a really long way!
          • Most of a container of almondsused all of it! In pilaf, plus almond butter. 
          • Most of a container of cashews . . . Done! Used to make lots of yummy cashew butter
          • A few bits & bobs of trail mix used, in a batch of granola bars!
          • Most of a large bag of sourdough stuffing. - haven't used it up, but planning to in Thanksgiving. 
          • The last of a bottle of green chile sauce (from the fridge) - used up in chicken fiesta rice!
          • An unopened jar of Nutella turns out this was expired (& had a funky taste), so unfortunately, it was tossed. I have no idea why M bought this way back in the day, but it will never make it on another grocery list, so I feel like we can avoid this type of waste moving forward. 

          I've also been using up other stuff that didn't make it onto the original list:
          • Remnants of a bag of trail mix - used in granola bars
          • White chocolate chips - used 1/2 in granola bars
          • Heath bar chips - haven't used yet
          • Walnut oil - used the last of a jar in my pesto recipe
          • Another jar of olives. Yikes.
          • 2 jars of green enchilada sauce - Used one in a white bean chili tonight. 
          Looking forward to a more relaxing week ahead, with no school! What about you? Any big plans for this holiday week?