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Update III: May Spending

June 17th, 2015 at 02:06 pm

I have been waiting to post because I have pictures to share and the site has been having issues.
Finally, here it is. Smile


We celebrated DS' 5th birthday with a party at a local park. This park has pony rides, train rides and a bouncy house on the weekends. It was a big hit. We invited 24 kids and had 17 attend. Smile

It was race car themed.
I saw this cute idea to put yellow lines on black tablecloths so they looked like a road. Dollar store plastic tablecloths and a roll of yellow tape = easy.

I set out snack food so everyone could just graze as they wanted since the kids were on the move all over the park.
Including a make-your-own trail mix set-up that I named "Nuts and Bolts".
Carrots & celery sticks with hummus I called "Dipsticks". Big Grin

I baked the cupcakes and my sister decorated them into this cute pull-apart cake.
(The road is shaped into a 5.)



Total spent for the picnic area rental, activity passes, food and decor came to $278.
We had a lot of leftover food. In fact we are still munching on trail mix goodies.

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My birthday was celebrated with a semi-surprise trip to Vegas.



**Bellagio fountain

I say semi because my parents knew my BFF had invited us to join her and her hubby for a weekend trip, but we had declined due to cost. So my parents surprised me by paying for our hotel and tickets to the Cirque show "O" I've been wanting to see for years.
I made the reservations and we paid for transportation and food.

Our airfare was $69/pp/each way with Southwest.
(My mom just told me about $39 fare to Vegas in August!)

We had two vouchers for BOGO 1/2 priced to the hotel's buffet. To save money we'd have a large breakfast and that would keep us going until dinner.

We bought passes for the bus that runs up and down the strip (The Deuce) for $16.
DH picked up a new ball cap at the M&M store that ended up being 50% off, so we paid $12.
We bought my sister a souvenir ($9) because she was watching our house and kids.
We each had $50 to gamble with.
Airport parking was $42.
Our total spent was $562.



**Mirage volcano & Venetian canals

Where Did March Go? Tahoe Trip. DH had Pneumonia.

April 8th, 2015 at 05:25 am

I can't believe we are a week into April already! What?!

Catching up here..

In the last half of March we took a four-day family getaway with another family to Lake Tahoe. We rented a house. Which sounds so fancy, but in reality is a reasonably frugal way to vacation. This was the first time we have ever stayed in a vacation rental, but I will definitely do it again.

We split the rental 50/50 with our friends. They have three young kids. We invited a friend for DD to hang out with. That made 10 people total. We paid $100/night ($200/night total) and $75 cleaning fee. The house was plenty spacious for everyone to spread out (four bedrooms & three full baths). The pool table kept the teen girls entertained and actually off their cell phones for a little bit! Big Grin

We ate in the whole time and cooked in the large kitchen; which was nicer than mine at home.
That kept our food spending equal to staying home.

We visited the Discovery museum in Reno at $8/per person. Such a fun place!

The other mom and I had a champagne and goat cheese binge one night in front of the gas fireplace. Glorious. Big Grin

We picnicked at one of the Lake's beaches. No park fees because it was "off-season".




Took the all the kids tubing on the last patch of snow we could find nearby. Splurged $30 for tube rental.

Woke up to a dusting of snow one morning to everyone's delight - especially the four youngsters. Smile




Then when we got home DH started saying how much his chest was hurting. We thought that his asthma was flaring up. But, by the next day he was really hurting. A trip to the ER confirmed pneumonia. Frown
(Is this year going to be the year of medical expenses?? I sure hope not!)

He was pretty sick for about a week. Breathless and tired. And coughing of course.

Doing much better now, but not 100% yet. Did go back to work last Thursday on limited duties.
No sick leave pay for the days he was out. Frown

One good thing is that he is getting a sleep test for his sleep apnea. Something I've been saying for several years he should do...

August

September 1st, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Been busy here. We were out every weekend in August.
DD theater performances.
Camping.
Close friends had their twin's first birthday.
Kids visiting grandparents.
Our nephew's first birthday.
A baby shower for my BFF.

Lots of traveling so we spent way more than usual in gas.


(Beautiful Quicken graph for an ugly total!)

Did a little better in other spending areas - food for one since we didn't have to feed ourselves several weekends.

Gift Giving:
We didn't buy anything for the twins. They have so much family that there was a huge pile of gifts. Our friends have a small house too, so I don't know where all that is going to go!

Our nephew got a box of fruit & veggie pouches from Costco. $12.

For my BFF baby shower I bought two clearance items. A cute outfit for $3.99 and a plush blanket for $5.99. I also bought her firstborn a wooden puzzle (her birthday is next week) for $4.

While shopping I found a very cute long sleeve Roxy shirt for DD. $19. I stashed it for Christmas.

DH is still having short hours at work, which leads to low paychecks. It's tough because we can't pay extra to anything and we still need to get the roof taken care of and I do not want to drain the EF to $0.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time he had a "normal" 40 hour paycheck. It has been about 18 months since he had a full paycheck AND commission (sometimes netted him as much as $500/week extra).

And it seems it is causing him some depression. Even though it isn't his fault, he is taking it personally (like he can't provide for the family).
I have suggested that now might be the right time to try finding something new or maybe a part time job. I have gotten a lukewarm response to that, so we'll see....

Treading Water

April 23rd, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Last Friday our paychecks managed to meet our budgeted amount, so that was a good thing.

Need more though..

Easter weekend was very nice. We visited my sister, her DH and their baby. The money we spent was on gas (about $80) to drive there and back. To save money we slept on her living room floor in our sleeping bags instead of getting a hotel room. And we didn't buy any candy or any Easter treats this year - not even one. (My sis did get the kids a few little candies - I was glad for that.) My mom and dad came and brought my Grandpa with them. That was extra nice because we rarely get to see him as he lives so far from us. It was really special.


Yesterday I transferred $5 to the "special focus" just to feel like I was making progress *somewhere*.
I'm only kidding myself because in reality the "special focus" now is just getting enough into the checking account to cover regular bills.

Not going to be able to swing much extra to any of the cc debt for the next few months. Hopefully there will be money to put back into savings starting in June or July.

Some of the savings that I used recently I had earmarked for new tires. The current set we purchased in May 2011 and they are worn. I think I can get by for a few more months without any trouble.

Truck still needs a water pump...

Spring Things

March 5th, 2014 at 05:51 am

** Just re-posting what I could remember of my last post before the site crashed over the weekend.**

Good rainy weather here! Yay!
Really has made everything green and blooming.

This is our Tulip Tree in the backyard.



The hens enjoy strolling around on the grass.




DD's bees are more active on the sunny days. You can see the pollen packed on some of their legs when they fly back to the hive.


Spent last weekend visiting with our nephew we haven't seen in years. My SIL's oldest child. We took him to San Francisco for the day. Beautiful, sunny weather. Great for walking around.
Spendy day though.. $95 for dinner, $50 in parking, $23 for ice cream at Ghirardelli...


Enjoying getting back to a low/ no spend weekend.
Raining some more this weekend so I'm just getting cozy with a good book.

Tiny Bit More About Our Trip...

January 2nd, 2014 at 11:46 pm

(MonkeyMama asked about our rental car..)

HA! Yes my kids are *crammed* into the backseat! Wink

It's funny you comment about the size because the Ford Focus was in the "compact" category (There is a level smaller - "economy"). My DH was very worried about the size not being adequate (he's a good sized guy). For the weeks leading up to our trip he would point out any Focus on the road and say,
"There's your Focus - I don't think I can see us in that for xx hours."

I told him we'd see what we thought at the rental lot and if he wasn't happy we'd upgrade to the next larger size ($40 more, so no big deal if that's what it took, but rather save that $ if the smaller car was okay).

When we rented the car we saw the Focus parked out front and I asked DH if it looked okay. He said yes. Then I asked the rental car worker which car we'd be getting and he pointed to a tiny, two door, red Fiesta type thing!
I thought my DH was going to lose it. Big Grin
He was like, "That is NOT a FOCUS!! Our paperwork says FOCUS!"
I just asked if we could please have the white Focus we saw out front and the guy was totally accommodating.
Yeah, it was a close call there. LOL!

I am not fond of cars per se because I don't like to be so low. I did think it was pretty fun to drive - Zippy. It also had these pretty cabin lights at night and you could change the color (blues, purple, pink, green, yellow, red, orange) and brightness.

Both DH and I had the driver's seat slid back for our comfort which was fine with DS in his car seat. A person with average length legs would have to have the driver move the seat forward. The 6.5 hours to Disney were very comfortable. DD said the backseat was more comfortable than in our Pathfinder. I was pleased with the large trunk.

The car had fancy computer read-out and it said we averaged about 31 mpg for our trip. I never calculated the mpg myself. I was happy enough to just pay under $40 whenever we stopped for gas.

Vacation, then Christmas, now nearly New Year.. Oh My!

December 29th, 2013 at 05:59 am

Our trip was great!
Really my only complaint was that it was 75F-80F (terrible, hu?) and made the Disney parks a bit more crowded than we were used to. (We always plan to go at "non-peak" times to save money and avoid the crowds. We usually wait 15 minutes or less on the really popular rides and less than 5 minutes for everything else.)
I shouldn't complain, even waiting twice as long as we're used to is better than a lot of people deal with.

It was so enjoyable to watch DS's enjoyment.
This is him on the Toy Story ride which he kept referring to as the "yellow glasses ride".


I used a hotel we hadn't stayed in before. While the hotel was nice and the beds very comfy it was too much of a walk to get into the parks. We walked back and forth twice each day in order to take an afternoon nap, so it was a lot of walking.

Yes, there is a circulating bus/shuttle, but I didn't want to pay the extra money, plus you have to wait for it to pick up and drop off. I prefer to walk, although this time it meant some seriously sore feet by day end.

We did pretty well with food spending. Snacks in the car and hotel room. Eating out *only* twice daily was easy to manage.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for $12. I had $100 gift card (credit card reward) that almost covered the "splurg-y" meal.
A character breakfast included with our package at n/c was a great treat.
I had my special treat in Disney - a Monte Cristo - that was filling enough for two meals.
We also ate at the Mexican restaurant in Frontier Land which I have found to be nearly the same cost as Mexican food anywhere else. You can also get free soda refills there. That meant my DH bought a soda with six trips for refills. Big Grin

We rented a car. A 2013 Ford Focus.
It was good for us. I had calculated that we would be about even driving our own gas guzzling car vs. renting a fuel saving car. Additionally, no wear and tear on our aging vehicle (we drove 1370 miles).
With the costs tabulated we saved a little money by renting the car! Smile

Here it is in Las Vegas at the Excalibur - where we stayed.



We splurged on the Tournament of Kings dinner show. It's where you eat with your hands while watching knights battle. I had seen a similar show while in high school so knew what to expect (good for a three-year-old!).
My family really enjoyed the show. As predicted DS was glued to the action. Big Grin

DH and I hit the blackjack tables both nights, but alas, didn't win big. We have found that we can play blackjack for hours on very little money all while drinking *free* beer. Smile

Vacation Spending:
$1414 Disney package (4 nights/(4) 4-day hopper tickets/pkg extras)
$310 Food
$200 Cash for gambling/souvenirs/misc.
$181 Rental car
$159 Dinner show
$146 Gas
$ 94 Vegas hotel (2 nights @ $29+taxes/resort fees)

DH's boss gave us DH's $500 Christmas bonus early so we could apply it to the trip if we wanted.
(I used the Sapphire for almost everything and will use the bonus money toward the bill next month.)

Both DH and I used paid vacation time, so no lost income.
We saved a few bucks in daycare costs.
My dad stayed at our house so we didn't pay anything for house/pet care. As a big plus, my dad totally spruced up the front and backyard - mowed, raked, swept.. That was nice!

This trip was our Christmas gift to each other. Tiring, but good family time and some funny memories made. I'll tell you it was nice - no shopping, no wrapping, no extra crap!

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Christmas was comfortable and low-key.
Santa brought a $25 dump truck set for DS.
Santa used Amazon credit (from selling back the EMT textbooks) for DH and DD's gifts. They cost $0.
Stocking stuffers included personal care products and trip souvenirs.

I got coffee and chocolate from almost everyone. Smile
My boss gave me a nice, crisp $100.

Only my parents were here with us (Yay! no drama!).
I made a nice ham dinner, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, rolls, pie.

This year I feel like I figured out the best way to warm a ham without drying it out!
I used a roasting bag and set the oven for 275F.
About 10 minutes/lb.
Nice and warm throughout - no dry slices!

I bought a 10lb ham for the extra leftovers. I froze the ham bone for later use and a dinner's worth of slices for a future meal.

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Kids are visiting the in-laws until tomorrow. DH and I have been basking in the quiet laziness the last 48 hours.

Next week will be pretty easy. Work one and a half days, then another paid day off. Big Grin
Then.. WOW.. 2014!

Vacation Planning

November 23rd, 2013 at 09:30 pm

Next month we will be taking a road trip. We are all looking forward to our trip; me and DH especially!

After discussing where and what we wanted for our trip we settled on a few days at Disneyland and a few days in Las Vegas.

DL is seven hours of easy freeway travel for us. The park admission is the most expensive aspect of the trip, but this was what we all really wanted. This is our Christmas gifts for eachother and all comes from the Christmas budget. I can't be frugal with the tickets, but I can with everything else. Smile

I booked a package with Costco after doing a lot of price shopping. With their package we get character dining as a perk. The dining vouchers add $145 of value for no added cost and can be used at face value anywhere in the parks. Also a Cars collector pin for each of us (DD trades pins), a free ride photo and a $20 gift card for use in the shops.

With much searching different dates and websites I didn't find a lower price than the package I booked.
(I found booking the same hotel room and purchasing tickets separately cost almost $200 more!)
Naturally I'm going to go with the option that gives me far more goodies for less dough. Smile

The strip hotel in Vegas is $35/night! Love that!
We are looking forward to showing DS the NASCAR car at the M&M store and DD the Bellagio indoor garden and fountains.

I booked directly with the hotel and got a $20 food & beverage credit. Not much, but we can make that cover most of a meal for us.

Speaking of food, our spending will be low. In addition to the high value vouchers for DL and $20 credit in LV, I am very pleased to say I have cc reward points I am redeeming for restaurant gift cards.

The one I am most excited about is for the Rainforest Cafe - one of their locations is in Downtown Disney - SCORE!

I also have a Cheesecake Factory card to use at Caesar's Palace in Vegas.
And California Pizza Kitchen gift card with locations near both hotels we'll be using.

We will take other food items with us. Snacks, soup (easy to heat in a hotel microwave), sandwich stuff, etc..

DH and I have discussed how blessed we are to be able to enjoy time like this without creating debt.

I am Sick...with the Travel Bug!

October 28th, 2013 at 12:13 am

First off, I love to stay at home - I am a homebody for the most part. Very happy to just putter around the house. Smile
I also love to travel and "get away". See new things.
Recently DH and I have been talking about a family trip. We have not gone anywhere as a family for longer than a weekend in four years come December.

Some quick searching and we almost booked a trip to Cabo. Seven nights at an all inclusive resort through Costco travel was $908 for the four of us. With airfare (only three hour flight from SFO!) the package was close to $2500 total. Still a deal.

This same package if booked during Christmas break would be $6000!

We didn't book it because:
One, we would all need passports. $500+ to get four of those.
Two, we don't have vacation funds to cover a $3k trip. Not even close.

Another time maybe? Smile

We are still researching options. It will be a road trip. In the same vein as Monkey Mama - Vegas is tempting for cheap hotel rooms and free things to see.

We will go in December. After Thanksgiving vacation has ended and before Christmas vacation starts.
We have always chosen to travel this way. Mostly to avoid crowds. The added benefit is saving money during off-peak dates.

Have you been looking at taking a frugal vacation?

Went to the Beach this Morning

October 26th, 2013 at 10:40 pm



We have been enjoying a mild October so far.
It has been cold at night - mid 30s to low 40s, but the days have been sunny and warm. It is 75F right now.

This might be the last mild weekend for awhile so the kids and I headed out to the beach. Once again I was feeling pretty lucky we live so close to the Pacific Ocean. It takes us about 35 minutes to drive out and the road is a nice trip. Pastoral - cows, sheep, horses.

On our last trip we purchased a twelve month county park pass, so the only cost today was a bit of fuel for the Pathfinder.


Cleo at the beach this morning.
She is a big girl now! Smile

Happy First Day of Fall

September 23rd, 2013 at 12:15 am



We took a trip out to the beach this morning. The Pacific Ocean is a 35 minute drive from our house. DH and I were saying that really we should go more often given it is so close. SO we bought a regional park pass this morning for $69. It is good for unlimited visits to the parks in our county for one year. Plus, we got a surprise when we saw we also get one night of camping at any of the campgrounds. The day use fee is $7/visit and camping is $30/night so this pass will pay for itself quickly.

For our first autumn dinner we are having corned beef with cabbage and carrots. The corned beef I bought on sale back in March - $5 for 3lbs. I am going to bake drop biscuits to go with dinner as soon as I finish here. Welcome Fall! Smile

Apple Picking

September 15th, 2013 at 08:07 pm



Yesterday morning we had an outing to a local, organic farm. We picked apples there last year and now, again, this year. They also have berries, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and flowers available to pick.



The apples were $2/lb.
My mom paid for the "farm share membership" and the apples, so this trip didn't cost me anything except the fuel to drive out. She is going to use the apples for applesauce, apple butter and pie filling. She left us with a dozen for eating. It's about 25 minutes from home and we can go out for more in the coming weeks (we can use her membership). Just the drive out and the walking around the farm makes for a nice, frugal family outing. You can munch on apples or berries while you stroll - free "tasting" is encouraged - or bring a picnic lunch out with you and stay a bit longer.

We had hot apple crisp with ice cream last night and I commented that the apples we were eating had been on a tree that morning. I love eating food that way. And I love teaching my family how great it is to eat food that is fresh.



I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful, bountiful area. We are so blessed here.

Have You Felt Like You Are Swimming in Molasses?

June 7th, 2013 at 09:58 pm

HA! I sure do right now - Ugh!

Financially there have been some setbacks. Now that we are halfway through the year it feels like some goals are so far out of reach it'll take years, not months.

I don't like feeling frustrated, and there are so many things I want and need to do that the best way to describe my position is that I am stuck in the middle of a pool of thick, sticky stuff.

Just gotta keep dogpaddling, right?

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I've been so busy the past two plus weeks. I really, truly thought the end of May would be more relaxed than the start, but that ended up all wrong.

For starters work has been busy. Most days we've needed to stay late to finish everything up.

Memorial weekend was going to be quiet. We had turned down offers from friends for camping, daytrips and BBQ. The plan was just to stay home = no spending. Well, Thursday night our friends A & S called insisting that we join them camping. They were not taking "NO" for an answer. They argued that they had already bought enough food, paid for the site and would pay our fuel costs. How could we pass up a "free" trip??

DH and I discussed it and finally caved to our friends' request to go. I am happy we did too. The camping was fun. The weather was nice. And we went to a place we had never been to before - Big Trees State Park - home of Giant Sequoias.


The trip home Monday was where we ran into a problem. We stopped for lunch and afterwards when I started the truck it would drive a few feet and then die.
Hard to start.. Drive for several feet.. Die.
We were in a parking lot thankfully, but 90 miles from home.

Long story short, we had to tow the truck to a nearby shop. Good news it was in the same town as A & S live. The shop of course was closed. We had to leave it. Couldn't rent a car because all those places were closed for the holiday. Our friends graciously lent us their car to drive home in.

Tuesday DH drove their car back and picked up our repaired truck. It was a sensor that went out. Simple fix thankfully, but oh what a huge headache!
So, although we didn't spend much on the weekend (less than $100 on fuel and some food) we did spend money with the extra driving and the repair, which cost $192.

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Thursday, May 30, DD had her 6th grade promotion. Big Grin
I can't believe she is old enough to be going to middle school/junior high!

You might recall DD had us running all around town looking for a dress. Eventually we found something she liked. It looked so cute on her and is something she will be able to wear again. I thought we did well spending just $21 on it.

Her graduation gift from DH and I was a cell phone.
She was thrilled - she has been wanting a phone and has been working hard at saving her money (I told her she had to buy her own).

I bought this used phone several months back and just activated it to my Ting account. This will increase usage to the next tier. I figure our cell bill will be about $27/month now.

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I have been going to my hour-long Pilates classes each Thursday night. This was a Groupon deal. I have one more class. I really like the workout - let me tell you it is a total body workout. I am usually sore for three days afterwards.

The instructor offered me an additional five-pack of classes at a 20% discount. I'd like to do it, but just cannot spend that extra money when we have so many other financial obligations. Someday maybe....

The silver lining? I am going to try to apply some of the moves I've learned in the class and do a little, mini 10-15 minute routine at home. I just need to get into a routine of making myself DO it. Smile

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The garden was seriously damaged by our hens. GRRR!
The hens ate all the leaves on our sugar snap peas - leaving pitiful, scrawny, 7" 'twigs' that dried up and died. They ate the tops of my carrots and all my baby spinach. In DH's box they worked over his corn stalks.

The dog dug up my lemon cucumber.
I planted another - it died - don't know why??
This morning I planted two new plants in new locations - Fingers crossed!! (I really like lemon cucumbers)

My tomato and squash plants are going gangbusters - they look awesome. Yay!! Big Grin

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DS and I visited his preschool and turned in his enrollment paperwork. Ah, preschool... that deserves its own post.

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Been doing a bunch of reading too. That has been keeping me up late. I am just about to start the fourth and last 'Twilight' book. Then I am going to watch the movies. Curious to see what the hype was all about. Smile

Fair & Camping Photos

August 18th, 2012 at 11:04 pm

DD and her friend dressed up as grapes for a parade at the fair.



Some displays inside the big flower show.



The midway lights



I spent $78 at the fair. That was parking, entry for myself the girls and DS, food and a few wagers on the horse races. I also bought a popsicle freezing set from a Tupperware booth.

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Burney Falls on our camping trip.



View off the arched footbridge down the creek from the falls.



Along the way to the camping I stopped at my BFF's baby shower. It was great to have a visit with my buddy and see her baby belly!

Our camping trip was a great break. We really should've stayed three nights instead of two. I mean once all the stuff is packed and we drove up there an extra day to kick back would've been great. The weather was pretty hot up in the mountains. It was about 94F at the campground. It was a perfect 75'ish down in the gorge where the falls were. So each afternoon I would walk down there and stay until dinner was ready. Smile

On the way home we drove thru Redding and it was 115F!

Total camp trip cost was nearly $600. Fuel was a biggie! That also included the camping cabin, fishing licenses, food and two new sleeping bags. Our other set needed to be replaced, so I bit the bullet and bought new ones this year.

Great SA Meet Up and a Crazy Day

July 14th, 2012 at 02:03 pm

Must make a quick post. We have to leave for a wedding soon or else we'll be late.

Yesterday's SA meet-up was WONDERFUL! Big Grin
I had the chance to meet Frugal Texan, Swimgirl, Monkey Mama & Big Monkey and Ray & her DD. I ended up getting to the bakery 45 minutes late due to driving my kids all around the county to drop them off and then getting stuck driving behind an impossibly slow truck for most of the way.

Important lesson: If you're going to meet up be sure someone has your phone number and you have theirs! Wink (I didn't have anyone's number so I couldn't call and tell them I wasn't trying to be a total flake.)

Anyway, I finally made it and just as Swimgirl describes it was like a blind date. The bakery was full of people and I didn't know what any of my SA friends looked like. Of course I was thinking because I was so late they all could have already left. Frown

Thankfully they hadn't. The two women in line in front of me turned out to be FT and MM!! Big Grin Big Grin

I didn't go with the rest of the group to SanFran, I had a crazy busy day ahead of me.

After the meet up I had to rush to work. My boss was waiting for me with a dog to take radiographs on as soon as I walked thru the door. And we just kept hustling all afternoon. My boss never got any lunch because we were slammed. I didn't leave until 6:20pm. I'm not complaining. I love my job and it's great when it's busy.

I met up with DH and DH's friend to shop for the wedding clothes for wedding #2. The wedding where DD and DH are going to be in the wedding party.

We all didn't get home until 8pm. We ordered pizza on the drive home because we had no time/energy to cook. DH's buddy and soon-to-be wife had dinner with us.

After dinner I put together the spinach dip for the wedding we are headed to now and packed for me and DS for the overnight stay at MIL/FIL's house.

*Phew*
I can't wait for Sunday when I can sit and take a breather!

Weddings. Baby Showers. New K9 Family Member?

July 12th, 2012 at 11:59 pm

We have two weddings coming up.

The first one is this weekend. DH's cousin. It's a bit of a drive, but looks to be a fun, low-key family get together. It's a potluck and we are bringing spinach dip and bread. I bought a cute card for $2.50 and I am thinking we'll put a $25 gift card inside. Not sure to what yet???

The next wedding is in the first part of August. One of DH's close friends. Going to be a bit more spent on this one because DH is the best man and DD is the flower girl/junior bridesmaid. SO, DH needs a certain vest, tie and a new white shirt. DD needs a dress. We are planning to get the couple a Lowe's gift card as per their wish list. $25 I think I'll buy it thru PlasticJungle.
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And baby showers coming up too..

My BFF has her baby shower the weekend after the second wedding. It's about a four hour drive from my house. I will probably buy her diapers and maybe a cute clearance outfit.

It's likely that we will combine the drive up for the shower with a family camp trip at one of our fav California State parks. It's only an hour'ish from BFF's house.

A girlfriend in my town is having a low-key shower a few weeks later. Probably buy diapers for her.
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Looking into a local rescue for a possible new canine family member.

"Maxx", our Labrador, is doing okay. He is on once daily prednisone for whatever spinal/nerve issue he has. He moves around almost normally while his is on the meds. Other than stumbling around a little bit, he is his normal self. We still want to try some acupuncture treatments for him.

"Maxx" seems lonely without another dog around and I want our next dog to observe "Maxx's" good habits and behavior. Because we don't know exactly what is wrong with him, or how long he'll be with us, I am starting to look for a second dog now.

Pictures

June 14th, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I said when I had time I'd post some pictures. Smile

Here is our garden boxes. I still want a few pavers or stepping stones to place between the boxes so I can walk out in my bare feet.



The sad thing is our peach tree was so loaded with fruit that the main trunk split and we had to cut it off (in the pic behind the garden). Then the other half bent and cracked in the wind. I don't think we'll be able to save the tree now. Frown

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Sunday I took DS, DD and one of her friends to a local humane, sustainable goat dairy. (Redwood Hill Farm - you might see their stuff at Whole Foods.) Their "Farm Day" was free. You could pet and hold kids, milk a goat, brush goats and sample their products. I spent $22 for four types of cheese. Yum, So good!








Sonoma County vineyards on the drive to the farm.


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These are DD's fair entries.
Fused glass plate.
Painted notecards w/envelopes.
Decorated blown egg.



It cost $1/item to enter.
First prize for the egg is $25. **Fingers crossed** for DD!

Updates

May 22nd, 2012 at 07:20 pm

Busy here. Not finding much time to be online for anything more than checking email and paying bills.

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Last Thursday we finally had to say goodbye to our Shetland Sheepdog Sasha. Her health really deteriorated pretty quickly starting last Sunday. She had lymphoma. All of us were very sad to have to say goodbye.

Here she is at DD's last sleepover with a pair of glasses on. She was very popular with all the kids because she was smaller and calm.



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I celebrated my birthday by having dinner on the Napa Valley Wine Train. DH and I went to the "Murder Mystery" dinner. A very fun and entertaining experience. The food was quite good. The train and scenery were both fabulous. I had asked for gift certificates for the train for Christmas. We did have to buy an additional gift certificate from Costco to cover the cost for both of us to go. It was a $100 gc for $80. While on the train we also spent on a glass of wine, a glass of champagne, a beer and a special coffee at dessert. We also left a tip for our server making our total out of pocket cost $150. (The total price was $370.)

My parents watched the kids for us. And the next day they stayed and helped fill our garden boxes with dirt and have BBQ dinner with us. The weather was gorgeous.

Sunday I went kayaking on the Russian River with two girlfriends. Afterwards we went to an early dinner. I had a cat sitting client over the weekend and made $50 which paid for most of my outing. $37 for kayak rental, $5 snack/lunch, $20 for dinner.


This is the last week of school for DD. Wow!
Welcome Summer! Smile

Relaxing Vacation

April 28th, 2012 at 08:18 pm

DH and I had a very nice vacation. Really enjoyed snorkeling. Saw a sea turtle! Smile

Everything went fine at home while we were gone. Smile

We spent a total of $630. That includes the $175 for DH's sport fishing excursion, $162 for the rental car and about $70 in gas. Gas was $4.89/gal on Maui. The rest of the spending was on food, drinks, snorkel rental and a few little souvenirs. We only took carry-on so we didn't pay any baggage fees.



Out our room balcony.



At the resort.

On the road to Hana.

Rental Car

April 17th, 2012 at 06:52 pm

I reserved our rental car for our Hawaii trip. I thought about and price checked a few independent rental companies, but in the end I figured it would be quicker and more convenient to use a major company who was right there at the airport.

I rechecked Costco travel and was very pleased to see that some of the rates had dropped from when I checked a few weeks back. I wonder if that is normal. If so, it's probably a good idea to recheck the price right before your dates. The lowest price a few weeks back was $220.

Enterprise had the lowest rate on the compact car. I checked their price at their website and it was $184 total.
Thru Costco it was $171 total.
Smile

Hawaii Planning

February 19th, 2012 at 01:49 am

Doing some preliminary planning for the Hawaii trip.
I still am kind of in disbelief about the whole idea of going on vaca in six-ish weeks.

Checked rental car prices thru Costco and we could get one for as low as $219. Or $370 for a Mustang convertible (DH's preference).

DH also wants to go out sport fishing. Average cost $170/pp/for an 8 hour day.

We both would like to go snorkeling. And it looks like there are plenty of options for that. Maybe just set something up one we're there?

It also looks like we won't be spending as much to eat. DH was told that because this is a "work" related trip his regional sales rep will be treating us to a nice dinner. There is also a cocktail reception on the first night. All breakfasts are included in the hotel package. Smile

I started browsing the web for a sundress, and maybe a new swimsuit? Yikes - think I'll need a spray tan before I go. I am a very white girl! lol!

I plan to use paid vacation time for while I'm gone, so no loss in income. Actually, because we'll have family staying and watching the kids/pets/house we will be saving money on childcare. Big Grin

Free(ish) Trip to Hawaii!

February 17th, 2012 at 10:33 pm

OMGosh DH called me about an hour ago and I could tell he had something up his sleeve...
His bosses are passing a trip to Hawaii on to us!

Neither DH or I have ever been.

The trip is paid for by a corporation that they buy their HVAC equipment from. This is a trip they give to their higher grossing clients (something along those lines). Well, DH's bosses (hubby & wife) already have a big trip to Hawaii planned for two weeks after this trip so instead of going twice they asked DH if we'd like to go in thier place. Big Grin

Five nights in Maui. Hotel and airfare for $0.
We will need to pay for food and maybe a rental car. Everyone says it's good to have a car to drive around.

Wow! I am SO excited!

Wonderful Weekend (with Pictures)

January 10th, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I have today off again. Nothing much going on at the office. Tomorrow there is a bunch of appointments and several surgical procedures. Then the boss is going to be gone Thursday and Friday. I will work a nice quiet half day on Thursday and have Friday off. Nice for me, but not so great for my paycheck.
That is the other news; I am going to be getting paid weekly starting this week. The boss wants to try a weekly pay schedule. I don't have much opinion about it either way. We'll see how it goes.
------

Anyhow, about this past weekend....

Friday afternoon my mom came down. She brought a huge, delicious veggie lasagna for dinner. It was all ready to eat as soon as I walked in the door from work.

On Saturday my family, along with my sister, her boyfriend and my mom, spent the day in San Francisco. We live about one hour from the city. We rode the ferry so we didn't have to drive and park.

DH and I had bought six round-trip ferry passes at DD's school fundraiser awhile back. We bought them in a silent auction and paid $25. Each ferry ride costs $8.75/one-way. We were thrilled to be able to use them and save so much money for everyone. Smile

The Saturday farmer's market was in full swing at the Ferry Building when we got there. It was fun to check that out. Several of the booths had vendors from our town. I would have bought some produce or cheese, but we would have had to pack it around all day, so I had to pass.
The Ferry Building. Pier 1.


My DH did the ventalation work on this restaurant inside the Ferry Building. (see the huge hood on the left and a round duct across the upper part of the pic.)



We walked up the Embarcadero to Pier 39. The weather was beautiful. Blue skies and sunshine. Not typical SF weather. Smile

DD and DS rode the carousel on the pier. $5.


At 1:30pm we all went to Alcatraz.
I had pre-purchased the tickets for DH and I (DS was free and my sister paid for DD) on-line for $26/pp. $52 total.


I had gone about 14 years ago; no one else had ever been to Alcatraz before. It was interesting and more of the island was open on this trip. DS was wonderful. We let him out of the stroller to walk along the parade grounds and paths.
Beautiful views of the city and bay.

The Golden Gate from Alcatraz Island.

Our group split up and DH, DS and I walked back down the Embarcadero to catch the earlier ferry so we could get DS home close to his regular bedtime. The sun was setting as we walked. It was lovely.

The Bay Bridge from the Ferry Building.


The rest of the group went to dinner on pier 39. DH, DD and I stopped at a local brewpub/restaurant on the drive home for dinner. DH loves their Kilt Lifter ale. I had a Pomegranate wheat. $60 for dinner, dessert, beers, tip.

On Sunday evening DH and I went for dinner and a movie. My mom stayed an extra night so we could go out. We used gift cards for the restaurant. Paid the tip with cash. We used two of the free passes I had for Sherlock Holmes 2. We both enjoyed the movie.

It was really nice to go out as a couple for a "date night". It was doubly nice to go out and only spend about $20!

A great weekend from start to finish. Big Grin

Post Thanksgiving Report

November 27th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Boy, how fast three days can fly by!
We had a delicious T-Day dinner at my mom and dad's with my in-laws. My mom is a fabulous cook and baker, so no one went away disappointed or hungry.

We were staying with the in-laws so after dinner we drove there and watched the 49er game. Unfortunately the niners lost. Frown

DH, DD and MIL went to the 10pm sale at WalMart. MIL bought the $188 32" TV at Midnight. DH bought a little food processor/chopper for $2.88 and a few other small items.

Black Friday DH and FIL went off shopping at 6am. They do this every year and it's pretty funny because they are such unlikely Black Friday shoppers. I don't know if you could give me such a good deal that I would be tempted to shop in such craziness. Sure I look thru the ads and if I see something worthwhile I ask DH to try to pick it up. But, rarely is there anything that tempting to me.

DH did buy an early Christmas gift for himself; an iPhone for $100.
I can see the allure, all those "smart phones" do really cool things, I know. But now our monthly cell phone bill is going to be higher. DH and I have already had a "discussion" about that, but the phone is still staying. We very rarely argue about money. I just think having to upgrade the cell plan is a stupid waste; he feels it's very important to his happiness. Rolleyes

Other than the phone, DH did score some good deals on a few needed items (shoes) and on a few Christmas gifts (me and the kids). All the money he spent was cash from a side job he did last weekend. No household money spent for Black Friday. Something to be happy about. Smile

While DH was shopping I drove up to see my grandma with DD, my BFF, my mom and dad. It was a long day. We started out about 8am and came back to the in-laws just after 9pm.

Grandma is doing better! Hard to see her just laying there in the hospital bed, but she was very talkative with all her visitors. She was really happy we drove up to see her. The doctors plan to release her to an assisted living/rehab facility on Tuesday. She is expected to be there about three weeks before she can return to her home. Hoping and praying it will all go as easy as that.

On Saturday DD and I checked in at the ranch where our horses live. They were great. I miss riding so much. We brought out carrots, apples and crunchy oat horse cookies. I also bought two 50lb bags of senior horse feed. $40. They'll be getting that daily as a special treat, plus they need the additional calories as the weather gets colder.

Saturday evening we drove home. Ahh, so good to sleep in my own bed last night!

Our Thanksgiving trip cost $157. That was for two fill-ups (gas for $3.49/gal) and the horse feed.

EF. CC. Father's Day.

June 18th, 2011 at 06:34 pm

Transferred $6 to savings for three Giants wins.
Current balance in EF is $2770.

I paid $300 toward CC#3 bringing that balance to $13,093.

Yeah, excellent proof why CC debt sucks..Blah!

------------

Today DH is working and will clear $1k to add the EF. He paid off his motorcycle purchase, so now this extra money is being directed back to where it belongs! Big Grin. Will be a really nice boost and he's got a few more projects on the horizon to boot.

This evening we will be trekking up to the inlaw's house. An unplanned trip, but their A/C has some problem so DH will fix it for them. It will be nice because we'll be seeing both his dad and mine for Father's Day and eating for free for the rest of the weekend. Smile Downside is the cost of fuel, but thankfully it's come down a bit in price. I haven't gotten DH anything yet...Hmm??
For our dads I picked up really cute bottle openers from Yosemite. $7 each. They are shaped like a bear with the mouth wide open for the bottle top to fit in. And they're magnets too. Cute and usable.

Have a great Father's Day weekend everyone!

CC Rewards. Shopping. More Pictures from Yosemite.

June 17th, 2011 at 12:06 am

When I first started getting reward points on my credit card 100 points redeemed as $1. As time has gone on I noticed they had changed the redemption value for some of the lower $5-$10 rewards; you needed 650 points for $5 cash or giftcard. That didn't really bother me, I figured that was good motivation to save up your points.

Then they started doing that to the $50 cash reward. You need 6,500 points.
And now I see it takes 12,000 points to get $100.

Arg..

But I did learn something new while cruising thru the webpages. If I shop online thru the links on the rewards home page I can earn 3 to 8 times the points. Hmmm.. I'll try to keep that in mind since now I need to earn 25,000 points to redeem for $250. And not just redeeming at the $100 mark like I have been doing.

--------------

I bought DS his new carseat from Diapers.com. I also bought some Happy Tot squeezy pouches of food, shampoo, lotion, baby wipes, DH's body wash and deoderant. Some of the items were buy one get one half off and I had a $10 account credit. The grand total was $290.

I had my co-worker sign up at diapers.com so she (I) could take advantage of their new customer promotion where she (I) get 30% back on all diaper purchases for three months. So far she (I) received $58 in account credit with a bit over one month left to earn more cash back. Her (my) plan is to have earned enough credit to pay for two cases of diapers or max out their credit "limit", which I think is $100. Hehe. Big Grin

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Some more Yosemite...

One of the fireplaces inside the Ahwahnee Hotel.


The Ahwahnee dining room where we had lunch. Huge windows.


Outside the dining room. The smaller window on the left is the one in the pic above.

Update in Pictures

June 11th, 2011 at 07:03 pm

Wow has time been flying by! Haven't found much time to get on the computer. Busy at work and at home. I've been wanting to share some photos and update on the past few weeks...so TaDa!



My Mother's Day garden.

]
Yosemite. Merced River and Yosemite Falls.


Yosemite Falls. 2425 feet tall! Fifth tallest in the world.


Half Dome.

[
Lots of water from spring snow melt and rain.


Flowering Dogwood all over Yosemite.


Settling down for the night inside the tent cabin.

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Last weekend DH and I went to a Giants game, had a fabulous dinner out at The Melting Pot and saw a movie. All to celebrate our anniversary, which was yesterday. My parents stayed for the weekend so we had free babysitting. I had paid for the game tickets two months ago. We spent $30 at the game for parking, $12 for hot coco and garlic fries, $100 for dinner, $18 for movie tickets. Yes a splurge, but the rest of this month we have zero plans for the weekends. Totally the opposite of May. Every weekend was busy in May, and lots of money going out.

This weekend DH is doing some side work (yay! Money!) and my only plan is to do a little grocery shopping and hang around the house. Cheap weekend.
Next weekend? More of the same, DH has more work and I'll be sticking close to home.

In other news, effective June 1st I'm making a $1/hour more! WhooHoo! My job satisfaction has certainly increased with getting some overdue pay raises. Big Grin

Update. Spending. New Tires.

May 19th, 2011 at 07:45 pm

I feel like I'm so far behind with posting and tracking the finances. I cannot believe we're halfway thru May!

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We are still working at our weekly spending cap of $175. Here are the totals over the last weeks:
April 15 - 21: Over by $19
April 22 - 28: Over by $53 (Easter splurge)
April 29 - May 5: Over by $29
May 6 - 12: Under by $11 (yay!)

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This past weekend we drove to a family gathering for DH's family. He had the chance to see family he hasn't seen in a long time and DD, DS and I had a chance to meet family we had never met before. A funny thing: He had two cousins who said they remembered meeting me at our wedding. DH and I eloped. They were thinking I was DH's first wife..oops! They felt embarrassed, but it didn't bother me at all. (DH married his high school sweetheart pretty much out of high school and the divorced on their two year anniversary.)

We went out to breakfast on Saturday morning before heading out. One of my DH's favorite hole-in-the-wall breakfast stops - he used to go there about once a week when he was working close. Now it's a special treat to go there. I had their Eggs Benedict, one of my usuals, it's the best..yum, yum! $40.

We had to fill up. $3.99/gal. $66 total.
We stopped at the Jelly Belly factory for gifts. $25.
Then about 40 minutes from the party we had a flat tire. DH changed it without trouble, but with all the stops Saturday morning we kept joking it would take us forever to get to the party.
We drove home Saturday night too; it was a long day.

-----------------
The Giants won Saturday and last night. +$4 to the EF.

-----------------
After discussing with DH I decided we should get all new tires on the Pathfinder. We had been talking about a month before how it had been three years since we had bought the set that's on it now. Our plan was to wait thru the summer and buy a new set in Sept/Oct. The tires still were safe tread wise and in good shape, no weather wear, so waiting thru the summer would have been fine. But, with the sudden flat on Saturday and the upcoming trip to Yosemite this weekend we'll all feel safer with new tires now.

Monday I spent a good deal of time calling for prices and reading online tire reviews. The end result? New tires this afternoon. The brand/style I chose is highest rated for my model car, reviewers even had improvement in their MPG (crossing my fingers 'cause that would be great!) $791 total. Sadly, the money will come from the dwindling EF. But first I'll use the CC to get the rewards. Smile

Easter Spending & More Busy Weekends Ahead

April 27th, 2011 at 04:22 am

Let me start by saying I had a weak moment Friday evening at Costco.

I saw they had prime rib in for Easter and one jumped in my basket! Okay, it had a little help from me. Wink We had one for Christmas and it was so delicious I couldn't pass it up for our Easter dinner.

My parents and sister came Saturday. So we had our big dinner Saturday and then a tasty breakfast Sunday. Total spent on food and Easter "things" was about $118.

Time with my family and not traveling was wonderful.

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It's looking like all of our weekends in May are going to be full of activity. And money spending! Yipes!

This coming weekend will be a trip to my parents. Then my mom will drive all of us in her van to see my grandparents. We'll celebrate a late Easter (with a ham dinner this time!), early Mother's Day and an early birthday for baby. Hoping my cousin and her family will be able to join us as well as my BFF. It will be wonderful family time, but lots of car travel over a weekend. In fact I think I'll drive home from my parent's house early Monday morning. Too much car time Sunday coming home from the grandfolks to add on the two hours home. Cost? About $70. Gas only, but that is bad enough right?

Mother's Day weekend we'll host my FIL and MIL for a late Easter, birthday party for baby and Mother's day. Not sure what other activities for that weekend, but a car show is in town on Saturday and I heard DH say something about golfing with FIL. Cost? $20 to $100, depending on what my MIL pays for!

Weekend after is DH and DD's trip, with me and baby brother meeting up with them in Yosemite Sunday-Monday. Cost? $80ish. DH and DD have been saving $40/week for the trip, so I'm looking at my gas and the entry fee to the park.

Then Memorial weekend. DD is going to stay with my folks for a week. Cost? $30ish for gas to meet parents half way.

Weekend after that, Giants game for DH and me to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Cost? $60ish for ferry tickets and dinner afterwards. Tickets for the game are already bought and paid for.

It's all going to be fun. But...Whew! I feel broke already! lol!


Adding to the EF. Tempting Sweets.

April 12th, 2011 at 06:28 pm

Our auto transfer to the EF posted yesterday and the Giants won Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately not on Sunday or Monday. Frown

+ $25 Savings Transfer
+ $4 Two Giants Wins
-----
$3909 EF balance

----------------------------

Our weekend at the inlaws was very low key. DH cut down these two tree/bush Junipers they had in the front yard and was paid $150 - his motorcycle payment for next month. Rolleyes

We spent $80 in gas..**choke**

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Went for a lovely walk this morning with a girl friend, her baby, daughter and my DS. The weather is sunny and about 58F. Very nice for walking. I picked up a Starbucks for free using a Free Drink coupon given to me by a client.

It's super nice having clients who appreciate us!

However it's a double edge sword. Yesterday we were given about 6lbs of See's Candy from two separate clients.

Ugh..How can I lose weight around all that?!

Friday one of our other clients will be bringing us creampuffs. She owns a restaurant and bakery and we're always getting pies, cookies and now creampuffs from her.

What a problem to have, hu? Wink


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