Monday, July 30

San Miguel de Allende (I'm going there!!!)

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon this lovely vacation home in Mexico ( ) I was researching Rafael Lopez, the illustrator, for the book we will feature for the 2008 Every Family Reads project ( I playfully e-mailed my colleagues and suggested we should rent this vacation house. Surprisingly everyone expressed genuine interest. We tossed around dates for a few weeks and finally settled on December 1-8. Five of us will go together - It is exciting as we are newer friends and don't socialize with each other outside work. I think we all share the same goals and expectations for the trip... A fun getaway, good food, tasty cocktails, a lovely environment and a fun city to explore. We are even planning to take a cooking class!
I am so thrilled to finally get away for a girl's weekend and some "me" time. My husband has been able to get away for several "boys" weekends over the past few years and I have been eagerly waiting for the right opportunity. Truth is I have no idea where I'm going... It is a long 5-hour (nonstop) flight to Mexico City and then a 4-hour bus trip to San Miguel. I'll need to research a bit in the coming months.
You may think this does not tie in with our budget goals and you are wise to think so. Surprisingly the trip is somewhat reasonable... $430 RT airfare, $162 for a week of lodging, and miscellaneous spending money!
As I posted a while back, we were looking into reward and incentive ideas to help us stick to our weekly budget goal ($500/week). My husband gets a modest bonus two times a year... Instead of sticking this bonus into savings - We decided use bonus money for something special. In this case it will fund my trip to Mexico and his trip to Ann Arbor for the Oregon Michigan game.
Tomorrow we will close out our first complete month of "the project". I will tally up some numbers and let you know how we are doing. August is a pretty expensive month... We have three birthdays, two weddings, a weekend trip to Missoula, and I need to have my hair cut and highlighted ($$$).

Saturday, July 28

Crushed IKEA Dreams

It was quite a crazy week... On a whim, my husband and I went to see a one bedroom condo- 1/2 block from our house (across the street with one house between). Three years ago we seriously looked into buying another one of the four units in this historic 1889 Victorian building, but it was weeks after my son was born and it seemed like too much to take on at the time.
On Tuesday we went to see the newly listed unit and immediately fell in love... ML# 7072629. We scrambled to research, dream, call our loan officer, accountant and realtor.

We both have families that live out of state, we thought this unit would make an ideal guest house. We planned to furnish it and decorate it (a reason to shop at IKEA). Our plan was to rent it as a short-term vacation rental (by the night - $135; by the week $750; or by the month $2200). We would need to rent it about 50% of the time to break even. We made an offer on Thursday night. We were so excited and nervous. I would finally have the perfect "hobby" business and beautiful place for our families to stay.

Turns out some other people had the same idea... On Friday, the owners received two offers for MORE than the asking price - we only offered $185,000 (of $189,000).

I guess it is not meant to be. It was fun to dream about my shopping trip to IKEA ;-) Maybe I just miss shopping!

Tuesday, July 17


Yes... It is true. I must love him as I just gave him the green light to go to the Oregon Michigan game on September 8. Here is a little youtube video to get you excited...

As you may recall from my first post his mother told him that he needed to go to his cousins wedding in Austin, TX. I'm still scratching my head on how he got out of this. He is off on a fantastic 5-day weekend trip with his Duck buddies. They will fly into Chicago, see a Cubs game, take the train up to Ann Arbor and (hopefully) enjoy the game of a lifetime. This trip will present an interesting challenge to our budget. GO DUCKS!!!

Thursday, July 12

Oh... The HORROR!!!

So I swing by Trader Joe's after work to pick up a few items.

I needed:

Paper Towels

Coffee Filters

Mini Yogurts (for the boy)

Butter (I like the fancy Irish kind for the butter dish)

Butter (regular kind for baking)


Dishwasher soap

Dishwasher detergent

Cheese sticks

2 cans of tuna

bath soap

I also picked up a bag of spinach, dried cranberries, almonds, and a box of organic tampons.

I was confident that I had $40 to $50 dollars so I did not pay attention to how much I was spending. I thought I had plenty to cover these items.

At the check-out, I quickly pulled out my cash and realized that I only had $26... that can't be right!!! Okay I did spend $8 for lunch, but YIKES... I've got to warn the cashier. I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH!!!

Fortunately he was really nice and understanding. He said, "That paying with cash is the only way to stick to a budget"... He also said that my current subtotal was $23 and my cart was still half full. I hesitated and tried to decide what I should purchase with my remaining $3... After an awkward pause I selected to yogurt and coffee filters.

I had to leave many items behind... I'm glad the cashier was really nice.

I'll be sure this doesn't happen twice!

Monday, July 9

A little more baking before the heatwave hits!
I had three ripe bananas left over from the weekend. I decided to try and copy the yummy banana streusel muffins from the Daily Cafe. I hit it right on... these were the yummiest muffins ever!
My son prepared for the heat by enjoying a strawberry FrozFruit bar

Sunday, July 8

A Day of Baking
(First come first serve offer...)
Last week my son and I fell in love with the Pecan Sandies at New Seasons. At $1.50 per cookie, I realized this could become an expensive treat. This morning we attempted to make our own version. They are luscious... pure butter, flour and toasted pecans. I think we have a new favorite summer cookie.

I spent the afternoon at the Bakery Bar taking Shuna Fish Lydon's Pie Pastry Class ( It was so much fun to learn the secrets to making pie crust. I have always been terrified of making pie crust so this class was perfect for me. (note: I signed up for this class is April and paid for it before the new budget plan was implemented)

I was a bit disappointed to leave this class with only a pie shell... I thought we would actually get to make a pie. The shell is resting peacefully in the freezer. I'll have to dream up the perfect filling... I'm thinking peach-raspberry. Let me know if you want to invite us over for dinner. We will bring dessert... You can request the filling of your choice ;-) (first come... this offer will go fast!).

Friday, July 6

More Summer Pleasures!

It was an ambitious day... We started out at Sauvie Island
The raspberries were glorious!
We picked a little over 3 pounds to make a batch of jam. Here is the picture of my prized berries just moments before my son got an uncontrollable urge to stomp of the berries with his muddy sandal. I nearly died... Why would he do that!?! I was so angry... He apologized three times and I continued to rant and lecture him for the next thirty minutes about how precious and fragile berries are... I managed to pick more berries during my ranting and he had to sit out the rest of the visit in the wagon.
With our $1 off coupon, the berries were only $3.90. Unfortunately the canning jars were $8.50!! We made 9 small jars. It works out to about $1.50 per jar, but you can't buy jam this good.
After Sauvie Island, we went to the library for the preschool storytime in NW. The youth librarian, Susan, does such a fantastic job... It was an entertaining 45 minutes and then it was home for a nap.
We spent the afternoon riding bikes in Sellwood Park with our good friends. It was a pretty inexpensive day... I'm left with $17 for tomorrow.
We love summer!

Thursday, July 5

Summer Pleasures

Happy Summer!!! There is nothing better than summer in Oregon. We have been eating our weight in cherries, raspberries and blueberries. Tonight we went to the pool, followed by pizza at Pizzicato and then wrapped up the evening with gelato at Mio Gelato. I'm proud to report we only spent $5.50 for the entire evening. I'm really working it these days... We had free pool passes from Henry's summer reading prizes, we had a gift certificate to Pizzicato (from my grandmother for my birthday) and we had one free gelato from my full punch card (buy 10 get one free).

Monday, July 2


This is a photo from a book we have been enjoying, called A BAD CASE OF STRIPES by David Shannon... The girl looks like how I felt over the past week. It turns out I was diagnosed with STREP... Thank goodness for antibiotics. We are all taking them and our home is finally returning to normal.

For some financial news we closed out the month of June. For three weeks we basically lived on $400 week (not including housing, utilities or childcare).

The most challenging part of living without a credit card is keeping cash available (and in your wallet). I surrendered my debit card on July 1 as it was too easy to use it as a back-up and safety net.

Starting July 1 we are allocating ourselves with a weekly allowance of $500. We will only access $400 per week and use the additional $100 to build a safety net for unexpected expenses (emergency Vet care, gifts, travel, clothing, special entertainment, etc.). Every month we will create a "wish list" of things we would like to buy. If we have any remaining money at the end of the month we can decide to spend it on identified items or choose to carry it forward to the next month.

I think I'm really going to miss spending so freely...

We are discussing bonuses and other reward and incentive programs as this may become boring and depressing. I'll keep you posted!