Wednesday, August 22

When a community comes together

What a clever way to bring the community together...

A perfect summer evening in the park

With friends
Face painting
And lots of music and dancing!
Since my son was a baby we have been taking Music Together classes with Bonnie Singer This has been such a fabulous experience for our family. We were excited to have an opportunity to give back and support Bonnie and her daughter, Samara. Samara organized this fundraising musical picnic to help pay for her 8th grade trip to the East coast -- What a wonderful educational and cultural opportunity!
Samara was hoping to raise half of the cost of the trip - total cost is $3,000- so she could go.
It was inspiring to see so many families come out to support Bonnie and Samara. What a wonderful lesson and learning opportunity for a young person. I hope my son will grow up with some of the same values and responsibility. It is a wonderful gift to be able to provide your children with everything they need, but it is an even greater gift to teach them responsibility and self reliance.

Friday, August 17

A Very Busy Friday

What a busy day!!

Summer is winding down and my little boy is really growing up. We started our day with a quick haircut. We raced home to meet my son's new preschool teacher. She came to our house for a home visit. It was fun to see him entertain a guest on his own. He was so giddy and excited to show her his toys, etc.
After a nap, we joined our friends Kara and Ian for a playdate. Henry was excited that I made a batch of blueberry muffins to bring along.
After our visit, we raced home again for a quick dinner and then it was off to the pool for our final night of swim lessons. We have attended 19 swim lessons over the past four weeks (5 nights a week from 6:40 PM to 7:10 PM). It was a big commitment, but it was a lot of fun and we are looking forward to doing it again next summer.

Tell me about your trip to Europe?

Have you been?

How long ago were you there?

What did you do?

What was the best thing about your trip?

What was the worst?

Did you travel with children?

As many of you know, my husband will be eligible for an 8-week sabbatical this year. We managed to save over 300,000 frequent flier miles and we just booked reservations to Europe for 3-weeks ( June-July 2008). We initially planned to spend the majority of our time in Italy, but we were not able to get flights to Italy. Currently we fly into Paris and return from Heathrow Airport in London. We can still work our way to Italy through Ryan Air or we can just settle into France.

I'm not sure what we should do. I would love advice and suggestions.
At this point our tentative schedule is to arrive in Paris:
Spend days 1-3 in Paris
Travel by Train to Beaune in Burgundy
Spend 10 nights in Burgundy (we found this lovely rental
I should mention that our babysitter will be joining us for the first two weeks. She will watch our son 50% of the time. While we are in Burgundy, my husband and I will take two 3-night excursions - by foot, bicycle or train to nearby villages. Our sitter with remain with our son in the rental house.
After two weeks, our sitter will leave and we have a week to travel on our own. Should we stay in France? Go to England? Amsterdam? Belgium? Germany? Italy? The options are endless. Should we even stay in France at all or just hop on a Ryan Air flight to Italy, etc.?
Please comment if you have ideas or suggestions. I'll keep you posted as our planning progresses. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 7

Dining Out

Okay... I know that this is the category that should really be reduced/cut-out when you are on a financial diet. What can I say?!

I'm lazy...

I like eating out...

I don't know. I love to cook, but since my son was born, I just can't seem to find the time or energy. We still eat out A LOT. Last month we spent $604.22 on food outside the home. This included work lunches, snacks, coffee, ice cream, you name it. Historically we were averaging about $871 per month dining out.

Our most expensive dinner was $51 at Meriwether's for a date night. We also had three dinners at Justa Pasta ($23-$32 per dinner) and four dinners at Laughing Planet(average $20 per visit for three). What about you? How do you find the time to coordinate meals and cook? What do you make? Do you eat out? How frequently? Please tell.


I'm curious... How much do you spend? Do you know?

What are your money saving tips and secrets?

What do you include in your "grocery" category? I tend to lump all grocery related expenses into the grocery category (e.g diapers- when I bought them, cleaning supplies, toiletries, asprin, wine, batteries, etc.)

Our average monthly grocery expense prior to the financial diet was $881. Last month we spent $701.89 on groceries (28 entries). A 20% reduction. Groceries are usually pretty essential. I have been trying to only buy exactly what we need - not what we might need. Paying with cash really helps!

We have a basic Excel spreadsheet and every night we document how much we spent and group it into general categories (grocery, dining out, entertainment, gas, travel, auto maintenance, etc.). It is a lot of work, but pretty critical for the project.

I'm really curious... tell me about you.

Thursday, August 2

Talking Trash

Friday is garbage pick-up day in our neighborhood. Last week we changed our trash pick-up schedule to monthly, rather than weekly. Our trash will only be picked up on the last Friday of every month (August is a bit of a challenge because there are FIVE Fridays!).

It is not as bad as it sounds. We will still have weekly recycling pick-up. Since we started our financial diet our trash bin has been empty every week. A newly potty trained child also helps to lighten the trash (no more stinky diapers!). A few years ago, before our son was born, we had monthly trash service and it was perfect for the two of us. It is really not about saving money... It only works out to about $10 per month savings. It just feels like a good thing.

We are motivated and inspired to create less trash. We are really good about recycling and we compost our food scraps. I'm not willing to go as far as No Impact "FAMILY", but they have some great ideas in their blog

The City of Portland recently released a draft PORTLAND RECYCLES plan. It is really exciting! (
The proposal states the city will offer new 65 gallon carts for recycling in 2008. Yogurt and margarine containers, plastic lids, and plastic nursery pots will become recyclable. In phase two (2009) food scraps and food soiled paper will be collected every week with yard debris. Standard garbage pick-up will be changed to every other week. It is such a good plan!
We are very excited about the four "compost" pumpkins growing in our garden. The seeds were in our compost from last Halloween! Wouldn't it be cool if we actually grew some pumpkins?!