Hallelujah, I can see blue skies! It rained in earnest on Sunday and did a really good job clearing up the air beyond what was predicted, which meant we were actually able to spend a good amount of time outside this past week. Being stuck inside for a week or more at a time is something we never do, even in the middle of rainy winter, so it was definitely an adjustment for all of us and we had some serious cabin fever around here.

Monday after work, instead of heading for my usual run, I picked the kiddo up from preschool as soon as I could and we went to the park to meet up with a few friends. I missed my run, but it was absolutely worth it for him to get a few hours at the park with his friends, and I got some time with mine as well. When the smoke finally goes away, you take advantage and spend most of the afternoon outdoors.

Friday’s Frugal Five

1. Apparently I’ve chosen well when it comes to frugal mom friends. When we arrived at the park, one brought two brand new t shirts for the kiddo that she’d gotten from a friend who works at a department store and the other brought a bag full of plums she’d picked from her neighbor’s yard (with permission, of course). I’ve done clothing swaps and shared garden produce with both of them, and I definitely appreciated the reciprocation.

Lovely plums!

They’re also friends who are perfectly happy meeting up at the park with snacks to share instead of going out to somewhere pricey. I may not have very many mom friends, but the ones I do have are totally awesome. Plus my son loves their boys and asks to play with them on a regular basis, so it’s a fun time all around when we get to hang out. They are both stay at home moms so we met up at the park at 3PM right after nap time, and again I really appreciated my reduced schedule that allows me to have those afternoons when everyone else is still at work.

2. Another night over the weekend I went over to a friend’s house for dinner and for our kids to play. We coordinated ahead of time and were able to make dinner by shopping out of our pantries and my garden, so this was a zero cost evening, complete with leftover wine from another party she’d had at her house the week prior. We made burgers for dinner using the last of the Cajun seasoning mix I had gifted her last Christmas, and I would HIGHLY recommend making burgers this way. They were SO good, plus the hamburger came from our bulk local beef purchase last month, so it was high quality to begin with.

3. After weeks and weeks talking about how I needed to get back into the habit, I actually brought real leftovers for lunch this week! Our roommate made us tacos for dinner Sunday night and I took the leftover ground beef from that meal and added zucchini, tomatoes, onions, candied jalapeños, and rice to make a tasty casserole type meal for lunches. It made enough for three meals and it was SO much tastier than the oatmeal or canned soup that I’ve been eating a lot of lately.

Multi day lunch prep

I’m looking forward to fall and cooler weather because it is way easier to prep bulk lunches when it’s not too hot to cook inside. And homemade meals are a thousand times tastier than the simple meals I’ve been eating. I haven’t been buying lunches almost ever though, so at least I haven’t caved and slid back into the habit of spending way too much money on work lunches.

4. Our son received a balance bike from my parents for Christmas this past year, and it’s been one of his favorite possessions since then. However, the neighbor kid closest to his age recently got a pedal bike and he’s been dying for one ever since then. I had been telling him that he would just have to wait for Christmas because he has a perfectly good bike, and he’d more or less accepted it other than continuing to ask for one at regular intervals.

Our neighbor then walked across the street this week with a bike his grandchildren had outgrown, asking if we knew someone who might like a bike. Well, we definitely did, and that little boy has been on his new “pedal bike” every day since. We’ll pass it along to another kid once he’s outgrown it, but for now it is a very appreciated new toy. Again, we have the very best neighbors.

He’s been hard to pry off this thing

5. My husband worked extra hours this and last week in exchange for Friday off to extend the long weekend instead of burning up vacation time. Since we’ve been taking more regular trips of the one and two week variety the past few years, any days off that aren’t PTO are very much appreciated. I also currently get a week more of vacation time than he does (I’ve been at my job longer), but we rarely take days off separately since having our son.

Time for longer (and more frequent) trips are something we’re definitely struggling with because neither of us want to leave our jobs any time soon, but an extra few weeks of vacation sure wouldn’t go amiss. We just have way too much we want to do and see that it makes it difficult to fit even a fraction of it in to our schedules, so the occasional “extra” day earned from longer days is always good to have.

Running Update

Since I took my son to the park for a play date on Monday, I didn’t end up getting to run that day. I did go for a short run Tuesday and my normal six mile run to work Wednesday morning, but now that I’ve gotten used to 3-4 days a week, two just didn’t seem like enough. Worth it though to take an afternoon to focus on the kid. Just like with vacation time, there is so much I want to do in a week and just never enough time to do it.

How do you work out vacation time with your job? Do you have any flexibility to manage more frequent or longer trips by way or longer hours or remote work? Any tips for us?

26 thoughts on “Friday’s Frugal Five (2018 Week 35)

  1. with this job i’ve had the benefit of buying an extra week off since i started. it amounts to a 2% pay reduction but i’ve done it every year and used to need to get away when it was more stressful. that option is sadly going away next year but with a lot of years in the bank i’ll still get 4.5 paid weeks off. now we have to coordinate with mrs. smidlap’s new college teaching schedule. i just got back on our regular food after our out of town guests left. we went out for a couple of greasy lunches of wings and poutine and i was feeling terrible as we never eat that stuff….or maybe it was the 16 bottles of wine in 4 days. it’s hard to say.

    1. 4.5 weeks off is still awesome but I’d absolutely buy that extra week! Not many work perks better than vacation time in my opinion.

  2. One of my local acquaintances was giving away a bunch of apples and tomatoes last week so I jumped on those. It’s nice when people give away things rather than throw them out or let things go to waste. Hope you have a fun long weekend and the weather looks awesome, Im so stoked on the clear skies and weather.

    1. I try and do the same, so it’s great that I have a friend group that also makes an effort to share the excess 🙂

      Our son keeps pointing out the blue sky and clear air. He’s so happy to be outside again.

  3. Thank goodness the smoke had cleared. It’s pretty much back to normal in Portland too. I hope this weather holds for a while.
    Your circle of mom friends is great. I used to meet up with Jr’s friends at the playground too. Now that he’s in school, we don’t meet up much anymore. The kids are pretty busy with various activities.
    Very cool with the bike. Get him a light pedal bike so he can learn quickly. The balance bike is a great prep.
    Enjoy your weekend!

    1. He just got a pedal bike from the neighbor! He’s had a balance bike since last Christmas 🙂 And I realize our flexible schedule is going to change a LOT come school in another two years.

  4. Awwww yay frugal friends are the BEST! It’s so awesome when you can relax w someone who is having just as much fun as you not spending money. That taco casserole looks BOMB 🙂 Proud of you for tolerating boring lunches rather than spending money though.
    For me:
    1. Had a pressure cooker I no longer needed, so I asked around and found a friend to re-home it with who will use it and enjoy it.
    2. Renewed my library books, 90% of which are cookbooks right now.
    3. Picked 3 tomatoes and a handful of beans from my backyard garden!
    4. Washed, air dried, and pressed a batch of handkerchiefs.
    5. Had an awesome gathering of friends at our co-op for $3 dinner night! Got to catch up with several people, introduce some friends to other friends, AND met Bob from FrugalFellow! It was a fantastic frugal night.

    1. I don’t know why I don’t check out cookbooks from the library! Will be looking in that section the next time I’m there 🙂 What kind of tomatoes did you pick?

      And yay for meeting blogger friends!

  5. Leftovers is something I am notoriously bad at, with a few exceptions; meat and pasta. Even then, I struggle to eat them later, and it drives my wife nuts. I will eat it, somewhat begrudgingly, but at least not grumpily.

    Like Garfield, I love lasagna, and what I have always done is to make a large one for dinner one day, and when it cools, cut it into meal size sections. I put those in freezer bags, sandwich size usually work, and then freeze them. The last quite a while, and well I love Italian food.

    1. It’s taken me WAY too long to love leftovers, but I’m *finally* there. Going cold turkey on no buying work lunches helped to finally get around to seeing leftovers in a different way.

  6. I think it’s time you got a bike to join him now Angela 🙂 I see lots of family bike outings.

    So glad the weather has got better, that smoke sounded absolutely terrible.

    1. It was so terrible! Unfortunately scientists are predicting this is our new normal for August.

  7. We were able to buy back one week of vacation each year during the first 5 years at my current job, but that’s been reduced to 20 hours. To make up for it, I was able to work some overtime at time and a half, and I chose comp time rather than cash in hand. Nothing better than PTO!

    Our daughter has a new job at a winery, and she brought home a nice bottle of wine to go with the dinner she made us.

    I have a stack of cookbooks from the library right now, too, but it seems I rarely have time to cook.

    Your friends & neighbors sound super sweet!

  8. I love this! Especially how you’ve build an amazing community of friends and neighbours who freely share and give things instead of selling them or throwing them away. I can understand why kiddo is so thrilled with his new toy!

    1. We are so lucky to have landed in the community we did! Not something that was top on our list when we were house searching, but it would be now.

  9. Summer is awesome for frugal outings. It’s easy to convince friends, even not so frugal ones, to do summer time activities. Enjoying the weather seems to be universal.

    Parks, picnics and hiking!

  10. What a great way to kick off the long weekend! Clean air, an afternoon with frugal mom friends, and kids on bikes. The simplest pleasures are the best.

    I work remotely which doesn’t get me any more vacation time, but I do get the time back that I would have spent commuting. More kiddo time every day, and I guess we do get an earlier start on long weekends, which is nice.

  11. I haven’t fully explored the possibilities since we’re happy where we’re at. Theoretically it might be possible but there are time zone and travel issues that would limit where I could move and keep doing my job.

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