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Blog: Balancing Thrifty And Fun

This blog will ramble on about raising two boys while working full time as an editor for ThriftyFun. I'm really lucky in so many ways. I have a loving, hardworking husband, a not too heavily mortgaged home, and two healthy and bright boys. But it is still hard, despite my blessings. I thought I'd share my challenges and my techniques (or lack thereof) for staying ahead of the wave of chores, responsibilities and financial problems.

Showing 2 posts from September 2006 for this blog.
I love working at home
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I was in the kitchen this morning, getting a cup of coffee to motivate me for today's work.  I had just gotten the kids out the door, one to school and one to daycare next door.  I drive to work four days a week but it is cheaper to pay for daycare by the month so I take my youngest on the days I work from home too.  I am able to get a lot more done and the house is cleaner too.

I turned on the radio as I was waiting for the coffee.  The traffic report came on, the traffic that I would have been sitting in on every other day.  It made me smile and feel lucky to be able to make money at home.  Plus, I save money!

Let's not even get into the cost of gas, the expense of a second car, the upkeep and extra time it takes to get there (time is money, after all).  I'm not tempted to stop for coffee, usually a latte so around $4.00.  I don't get a bagel or donut to tide me over to lunch. I try to bring lunches from home most days but when everyone else is getting Burger King, it is hard to eat last night's leftovers.  And when I work late (like last night), I'm tempted to stop for pizza or something so dinner isn't extrememly late.  Even if I am on time, it seems that I wind up going to the grocery store for something.  No matter what you are shopping for, it seems that it costs about $50.00 for every visit.  If I am home, I usually make do with what I have or make a list and really shop for the whole week.

I don't have to wear nice clothes or, worse, nice shoes.  Same with makeup (although I don't wear a lot of that anyway)  I can take care of doctor's appointments and errands without having to take time off work.  I can just work earlier or later to make up for it.  And there are tax writeoffs for your office space in your house.  Someday maybe I can work at home full time!

Well gotta go and make sure I keep this at-home job and get some work done!

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Our Frugal Day Out
Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Well, despite (or perhaps, because of) my earlier rant, my husband managed to arrange the entire Labor Day weekend off, including Monday.  We decided to go out on Saturday night to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  I arranged a friend from work to babysit.  She is not long out of high school so I pay her $20 to $30.  We don't go out much.  I try to get the family to watch the boys occasionally but usually would rather visit with them as they live about 200 miles away (3 hours with good traffic).  I'm working on an exchange system with a parent from daycare and school with kids that are the right ages but it is a little like dating.  First, you watch their kids for a couple of hours, then they watch your for a bit. Next, I'll volunteer to watch their kids overnight, working up to our next big night out.  Baby steps.

Late last week, we became aware of a discount coupon for Oaks Park on Saturday.  People have been asking us if we have been yet since we moved to the Portland area 4 years ago. This is a cool, old fashioned carnival type park, with picnic areas, fair food and games, lots of rides for littler kids and some for bigger ones, a very old carousel with beautiful carved horses and other animals (Ethan rode on a chicken!), a train that goes very slowly and a big, wood floor roller skating rink.  We got an all ride pass for all four of us for $24.00.  This allowed us to do everything listed above, including the big kid rides for my husband, Jess.  We brought sandwiches and bought some soda and fries.  My oldest, Beck, doesn't like the rides that go up in the air and turn you upside down.  My youngest, Ethan, didn't like having roller skates on and wanted to "walk".  I can barely roller skate but enjoyed watching Jess skate around and around.  The music was reminiscent of my childhood days at Skate King, lots of upbeat oldies and some newer stuff.  We could have stayed later but for the anniversary date. Ethan was starting to get pretty tired anyway.

We rushed home, picked up some soda and Papa Murphy's pizza for the babysitter, Stephanie, and tidied up the house.  I had just enough time to wash my face, brush my teeth and pretty myself up a bit before it was time to leave.  Jess and I had decided to go to the Grand Lodge, a McMenamins in nearby Forest Grove.  For those of you not lucky enough to live the Pacific Northwest, McMenamins is a local chain of restaurants, hotels and brew pubs.  They are always very unique with a personal charm.  The Grand Lodge is an old Masonic Lodge that has been turned into a hotel with a spa.  The rooms are all individual, there is original artwork everywhere and little faces painted on the exposed pipes and other surprising places. There is a restaurant, three separate bars and a movie theatre that allows you to order from the restaurant and bar during the movie.  We were going to see "A Prairie Home Companion" for $3.00 each. We were pretty much game to see anything that was playing but thought that this sounded like fun.  When we arrived, we had a couple of hours to kill.  Not being very hungry yet, we decided to go have a drink  to kill some time.

The Wine Bar is just downstairs from the lobby.  We had considered the Doctor's Office but I vetoed it.  There were video games, a Snooker table (kind of like pool) and some TV's.  I wanted something a bit more intimate.  There was live music starting, I could hear her singing a Tracy Chapman song, accompanied by guitar.   I counted this as a good sign.  We sat at the bar and chatted up the waitress who recommended that we do a wine tasting.  This cost a whopping $1 each.  We got 3 different white wines and 2 different reds, that were all bottled at the McMenamins Edgefield Winery.  (They make their own brandy and bourbon, as well as excellent beers.)  She poured us a generous half glass of each, one at a time, explaining what flavors to expect.  I don't know a ton about wine but it is pretty fun to taste the different types side by side.  There was one wine that was not part of the taste test, a Syrah, that she offered us at an additional $1.00 each.  So, after $4.00 (plus a generous tip), we were ready for dinner.  As we went upstairs, I gave a wave to the singer, Beth Willis.  We had chatted with her when she came in for a drink during a break and mentioned that it was our anniversary. She called out after us, "Happy Anniversary, you two!"  I thought that was really sweet.

We went upstairs to the Ironside Grill for a bite to eat.  We were both still not very hungry but didn't want to eat a ton during the movie (rude, it seems).  They had Prime Rib on special, with potatoes and veggies. We decided to order one serving, figuring we would split it and got an appetizer besides.  The waitress heard us saying that we were going to split it and went ahead and served it to us on two plates.  We ordered the small Prime Rib and it was almost more than we could eat.  I think they hooked us up!  There was au jus, horseradish, cheese bread, potatoes and green beans.  It was possibly the best prime rib I have ever had.  I think our bill was just over $20.00.

We went upstairs to the movie theatre and ordered some tater tots (I love the tater tots here, just a thing with me) and beers.  We got Rubinators, this is similar to a Black and Tan, but with a mix of their Ruby Ale and their well known Terminator Stout.  We set our beers and our number for the food down at a table and then went out to kill some time as our food would be 15  minutes and the movie was still over 20 minutes out.  We went back downstairs and listened to Beth again, giving her a tip. My mom was a struggling singer/songwriter when I was growing up so I like to support people trying to make it.  She said "Thanks, Jess" when he put it in her tip jar, still remembering his name an hour later!  We then went back upstairs.

When we went back up to the movie, someone was sitting in the seats where we had been sitting.  They had kind of shoved our number and beers to the side.  Not wanting to make any kind of a scene, we just tried to grab our stuff and sit somewhere else as there were lots of seats.  They noticed what we were doing, of course, and there was an awkward moment where they tried to move for us and we tried to get them to stay.  Finally, we all just shared a table together.  They were a nice couple from Seattle, my hometown when I was growing up.  Anyhow, the movie was funny, maybe better than I expected.  I felt truly at home at the Grand Lodge and really want to go and spend the night some time.  No trouble driving home as it had been about 2 hours since we finished our beers and we were home soon after 11 PM.  All in all, a pretty frugal celebretory night to top off our frugal day out.

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jess (Contact)
Hillsboro, OR USA
About Me:

I'm a 39 year old . . . what? Mother, college graduate, housewife with a full time job, mostly unpublished writer, the list just goes on. I'm spiritual, but not religious; lazily liberal; frugal but with a love of pretty, shiny things. My mother, Susan, was the founder of ThriftyFun and scrimped all her life to have enough for her kids. I try to do her proud but sometimes stumble along the way.

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