Sunday, May 6, 2018

Crafty - type accomplishments

So.  Remember those 2017 goals?  Yeah, me neither.  One of them was related to making blankets though.  I found that sitting down with some crocheting is very relaxing.  I'm trying my best to figure out how to get better sleep.  Stress is an issue for me. I'm actually reading a book about sleep, and right now I'm in the chapter where he talks about how bad sleeping pills are.  Um...I think I'm in trouble.

Here's a little string of pictures of things that I've made in the last year or two.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018


So, I have this new position (started in December) at work.  It means that several times a week (2-5), I end up working late with late night meetings/ phone calls.  This leaves spouse to pick up the kids and make dinner.

So...since I do the shopping, and his method of cooking is different, I've adjusted by... cooking up 2 big meals on the weekend.

Saturday's dinner feeds us Sat, Mon, Wed
Sunday's dinner feeds us Sun, Tue, Thu
Friday is frozen pizza night, and I just make grilled cheese on gluten free bread

I eat salad for lunch every day.
Hubs eats sandwiches or homemade burritos every day.

If we run out earlier, we have other emergency type foods - quesadillas, veggie burgers, curried lentils, grilled salmon, etc.

Our produce box runs out on Weds, so the rest of the week we eat frozen stir fry veg, and I go to Sprouts on Weds or Thurs and buy broccoli, cucumbers, and brussels sprouts.  Every. Single. Week.  I wander through all the produce and just stare...because it's my lunch break and I'm tired.

The kids are tired of eating the same two things every week.
I don't mind it so much.

But I'm running out of ideas of things to cook that will last a long time (aka, three full meals).

Here's what I've been making:
Vegetarian/ vegan:
- Lentil soup
- Mac and cheese
- Fried rice
- Curried lentils
- Beans and rice

With meat
- spaghetti and meatballs
- chicken soup
- chicken enchiladas
- chili

Each weekend I make one veg meal and one meat meal.'ll see that the list has 9 meals.  And every month I need at least 8 of them.  I'm kind of stumped.  I really should go back into this blog's 10 year history and come up with "other things" to make.  I kind of miss being able to make something for one or two nights only ... but I never know when there's going to be TIME mid-week!  Things like Thai curry, roasted curry cauliflower and potatoes...??  For sure, the gluten free thing has thrown a wrench into things.  And the not buying much  meat is another issue.

Plus, ya know, I'm tired!  It's hard to come up with things to make.  When I sit and relax and look at cookbooks, it's not during meal planning.  When I grocery shop, I haven't meal planned yet.  I might find something that looks good but I'm missing an ingredient or it's not on sale.  I hate defrosting meat so I'd rather not bother with that.  I have this awesome Instant Pot that I use for great vegan meals but I haven't figured out any meat meals.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 Grocery budget

So last year, I squeaked it under the wire!  Goal of $7000, came in at $6997.16.

But what to do this year.  Increase it for sure.  These kids can EAT.  And, I'm focusing on reducing my use of plastic - meaning more bulk bins, less large bags - even though bulk bins are often more expensive per pound.

So I was thinking of inching it up a few hundred bucks.  But I think I have to go with $150 a week, or $7800.  That's a big jump, and we are already averaging $160 a week - so not sure how realistic.  Something to shoot for anyway.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2017 Exercise Goals update

I've done the math.  Here's the good news bad news:

1. Run - Goal 300 miles - actual 390.54 miles, with a significant number of those being UP HILL.

2.  Bike - Goal 500 miles - actual 48.44 miles.  Even though the boys were in the same school, we couldn't get out butts in gear.  Spring = allergy season.  Summer = summer camps.  December = fires.  Very little biking, that's essentially 5 one way trips to work.  In a year.

3.  Swim - Goal 50 miles - actual 19.94 miles. I did a lot of running.  And had a lot of rest days because running supplanted my swim days.

4.  Walk - Goal 150 miles - actual 245.59 miles.  So, at least I walked if I didn't bike or swim!

5.  Weights/ yoga - Goal 1560 minutes - actual 894 minutes.  Ya know, I like sleeping in instead of firing up the TV in the morning with a workout.

6.  Hiking - no goal, wasn't on the list - Actual 17.7 miles.  Much of my running group in the fall was partly a hiking group (trails were too hard to run on).

So there you are.  Haven't set goals for 2018 yet.  Not sure if I will! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Goals Recap - Grocery Budget - How did I do?

I'm going to start here and recap my 2017 goals, one at a time!  Because it's been months since I've looked at them, really.

I'm going to start with Goal #2, because it's the easiest!

Goal #2: Grocery bill annual total $7000.

Actual spent: $6,997.16


Now, it's important to note that this is FOOD ONLY.

it's not wine
it's not paper towels or TP or toothpaste
it's not food gifts we sent for Christmas
it's not food at restaurants
it might even be missing a receipt or two from vacation, if my husband bought something at a grocery store.  But, we did it!  It was hard, and it was a nail biter.

Some graphs, because you know I'm into that:

Monthly grocery totals (by month)
Feb: traveled for long weekend
June: ? I have no idea why it was low
December: Traveling during fires and eating up the freezer

Pie Chart of where our money goes:
Mostly Costco, Local Harvest Produce Delivery, Trader Joe's

Things that helped/ hurt this year:
Helped: kids started getting free lunch in August at school.  It's a school wide thing, not an eligibility thing.

Hurt: I went gluten free in late July.  At first, it wasn't expensive, because I was testing it out.  Rather than mess with gluten free bread or stuff like that, I just started subbing oats, rice, corn tortillas, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes for the carbs that I was eating.  Which wasn't many, to be honest.

Helped: I started working on reducing plastic even more.  I read "Zero Waste Home" by Bea Johnson and it pushed me stop buying bread and start baking it (for the family).

Helped: I bought a new cookbook called "The New Fast Food" by Jill Nussinow.  She's vegan, it's a pressure cooker cookbook.  Everything I've made in my instant pot with it is fab.

Hurt/Helped: The fires.  We were eating on the run which helped as we ate out more but hurt because we bought food wherever.

So how have we been doing in the last few years of tracking?  Not bad, considering my boys are GROWING:

Groceries 2014 $10,261.00
Groceries 2015 $5,706.05
Groceries 2016 $6,864.21
Groceries 2017 $6,997.16

2014 was the "lose the baby weight" year and "to heck what it costs". 
2015 was "OMG that was expensive, let's get a handle on this budget".
2016 was "That budget was too hard.  Live a little."

So there you are, grocery budget Frugal Healthy Simple Style, family of 4 that eats a lot of produce, in Southern California.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Things you can get for $1

When you are self-enforced into a $19.55 week at the end of the year, you learn to be creative.

Creative with what you have left in the fridge and freezer (which is a good thing).

Creative with shopping.

Here's a list of things that you can get for $1 at the 99 cent store.  For the record, most things at the 99 cent only store are actually $0.9999.  So, $1.

2 bell peppers
2 lb carrots
3 pack Romaine hearts
6 oz mushrooms
1 lb persian cucumbers
3 lb potatoes
1 lb tomatoes
small pkg of liverwurst
30 corn tortillas
10 flour tortillas
1 lb dry beans
small can sardines
small tube pringles
1 can tomatoes
3 cans tomato sauce
2 cans tomato paste
24 oz can spaghetti sauce
1 lb pasta
3 lb onions
1 lb grapes
1 lb strawberries
1 pineapples
1 butternut squash
1 cake mix (but not a very good one)
4 bagels
1 lb frozen mixed fruit
1 lb frozen vegetables
6 oz sliced cheese

How did I spend my last $19.55?  So far:
$0.50 - 2 limes from a neighbor
$1 - 1 lb cucumbers
$1 - 2 lb carrots
$1 - 1 lb strawberries
$1.99 - 3 lb pink lady apples
$1 - 1 head cauliflower
$1 - 10 flour tortillas
$2.99 - strawberry jam
$2.99 - gallon milk
$2.29 - dozen eggs
$0.95 - 5 bananas

Leaving $2.84.  I could have spent it, but decided I needed to keep it as a backup, ha!

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Remember January, and earlier this year?  I had these goals, inspired by Mavis' goals at  I had food goals, craft goals, fitness goals.  Somewhere along the line, I got tired of checking in on my goals, which means... I sort of lost sight of them.

There are a lot of reasons for that.  I got busy running half marathons and up mountains.  Layoffs.  New responsibilities, a horrible 2017 filled with...ugh, politics.

Then when I thought it couldn't get any worse, December said "Hold my Beer!" and we were faced with the largest wild fire in CA state history.  Terrible air quality, cancellation of the last 7 days of school before the 2 week winter break, cancellation of the winter camp for the little kid.  Two unplanned and unforced evacuations, 7 days in hotels, a nasty head cold and chest cough. A 5 year old barfing in the hotel room.  Finally returning home and losing water due to a water main break for 24 hours.  Then a 48 hour boil water advisory.

But it's Christmas Eve.  We've been back home and settled in since Monday.  Back to "normal" since Friday.  Yay!  Today I gathered up the various grocery receipts for the last week at hotels and put them into my spreadsheet.  Then I looked up my goal for the year.  What do you know?

My goal for the year was $7000, about $134 per week.  I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to hit it, as these later months were expensive.  But funny that, a week in hotels = eating out more, shopping less, and cancellation of our produce box.

Our total as of today, with 7 days left in this year? $6980.45.  That means if I want to hit my goal, I have $19.55 for the rest of the week.

Can I do it?  Do I even want to try?  I've decided: yes.  Why not.  The fridge, freezer, and pantry are full.  I should be able to get through the week on what we have.  The little bit of $ left in the budget can go to eggs, and maybe fruits and veg if we run out.  The only important thing is to be better at planning for the week.  I can do that, right?  We are home more this week anyway.  I am dangerously low on rice and beans though.

On the menu:
Christmas eve: Vegan chili from The New Fast Food and corn bread
Christmas day: Chicken legs, mashed potatoes, roast brussels sprouts and green beans

Rest of the week: leftover rice & chicken, more chili, probably a quinoa and lentil dish, lots of quesadillas with guac for lunch.  I think I'll be eating a lot of oatmeal for breakfast and salad for lunch.  Husband is getting sandwiches!

We have leftover fruit salad from this morning's pot luck.  Next week's potluck I'll make scones and an egg dish.  Instead of doing something for New Year's (who am I kidding, I go to bed early), we are attending a NYE party up the street.  Last year we did the same and one adult and all the kids came down to our house.  So, we can provide popcorn! 

So wish me luck.  Assuming I didn't lose a receipt here or there (and if I did, too late!), $19.55 left.  Let's do this!

Obligatory photo of peanut butter balls I made yesterday.