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Quick update on fasting and April goal met!

April 30th, 2018 at 01:24 pm

Howdy, checking in here, in case anyone was worried. Fasting has not killed me, haha! I have been intermittent fasting daily- ranging from 18-24 hours. Most days I eat within a 3 to 4 hour period, like 4-7pm. I feel great most of the time doing this! I lost 3 lbs in the first 3 days, then started bouncing around a lb or two. Last Sunday-Tuesday I did a 48 hour fast. I had a headache on Monday, which was my first negative feeling since I started. It was gone on Tuesday. Feelings of hunger would come along, but go away quickly; showing a lot of the struggle is mental. The experts say that if you can make it two days, you might as well go longer because the hunger pangs disappear and you get more energy as your body is set to live on body fat. I am planning on going 3 days/72 hours, so from dinner last night (Sunday) to dinner Wednesday. I am prepared with my water, coffee, tea, salt if needed, and being at work during the day helps keep me distracted. At home, I have some books to read, will do light yoga/meditation and happy to go to bed early!

April goals: I came in under my $330 budget for Groceries!!! Finally! I came close, about $327. For May, my goal will be $300; it should be doable since I've been fasting and am not buying food all the time. I did buy some clothes from Old Navy, using a gift card from previous clothing returns. No spending on cosmetics/skin care. Next month I will have to replenish my face moisturizer, which costs $15.

Adventures in Fasting, Part 1

April 24th, 2018 at 09:33 am

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor offering advice to anyone. This is my experience alone and hope that someone might find it interesting or prompt them to do their own research, as I have.)

Hello! For various reasons, I led myself down the path to experiment with Intermittent Fasting. Basically, it’s voluntarily not consuming food for a period of time- it can be hours or days. I have been practicing a form of this for years- “Skipping Breakfast”. I was operating with an eating window of 11-7 most days. For me, even when I eat ‘clean’ during the time frame, I will only be full for a couple hours and then the cravings hit. I was snacking all afternoon. After dinner (whether it was high protein/low carb or lots of veggies and big portions, whatever method I tried), I HAD to have something sweet or salty. Or both. I’m not overweight, but have gained 5-10 lbs in the last couple years (I’m a small person) and have a belly pooch. I need to get a handle on this before perimenopause!

My research led me to many sources. The most exciting to me is finding Dr. Jason Fung. He has many You Tube videos and podcasts. He has had success treating diabetics with fasting to get their blood sugar under control. There are many others- Michael Mosley made a documentary on fasting using the 5:2 method, for example. Of course, fasting has been done for thousands of years, as part of religion and healing- Hippocrates and others, so it's not really 'new' but it's been all but forgotten by the medical profession. There are a lot of different programs for fasting. I think that’s what is cool- one can do their own research and figure out the best way for them as an individual.

I’m currently in a 38 hour fast. I stopped eating at 7pm on Sunday night. I’ve only consumed water, coffee with a splash of heavy cream, herbal tea and homemade chicken broth with extra sea salt. (There are differing opinions on whether consuming anything other than pure water is a ‘real fast’). Last weekend I fasted for 24 hours and 22 hours with no issues, other than some tummy grumblings which passed in a few minutes. I had a harder time on this longer fast - major headache, fogginess, white-coated tongue. Pretty sure my body was detoxing and repairing yesterday. I slept great last night and woke up tired, but no headache. I meant to stop the fast at the 36 hour mark (7am) but now that the worst is over, I’m getting more energy and mood is great. I’m going to play it by ear and see how I feel during the day. I do have a smoothie and nuts if I need them, and all kinds of food in the work café.

I’m excited to see how this goes for me. So far I’m enjoying this process and learning about myself and what I am capable of. I am finding that it’s more mental than physical. I will make more posts on this subject soon, along with new insights. I’d love to hear your experiences if you have tried fasting.

Weekend almost over.

April 8th, 2018 at 07:10 pm

It's been a good weekend, although the weather is crappy. Very rainy. At least I wasn't motivated to spend money on plants.

Yesterday I went to the movies. It's been awhile- at least a year. My BF wanted to see "Ready Player One". I enjoyed it, although I'm not really into video games and avatars and all the artificial/computer generated characters.... it had a lot of great 80s music. We had theatre popcorn, but i brought in beverages.
For dinner, we had bacon cheeseburger sliders and potato and radish salad.

Today I cooked: rice in instapot (have frozen veggies to add to it), chicken and mushroom alfredo with bowtie pasta, and zucchini & almond butter brownies. That should last us lunch and dinner for a couple days. Tuesday or Wed night will make a quiche and a big green salad. I have my coffeemaker set to brew coffee in the morning!

Wrap up- month of March and 1st week of April

April 6th, 2018 at 01:32 pm

For March, I exceeded my grocery/food goal by $29.00. Most of that was due to taking my BF out for a birthday dinner ($26 with tip). It was worth it!

My food goal for April is $330. So far, I've spent $53. That included getting a new bottle of EVOO and raw almond butter which are staples of the pantry and should last awhile. On Monday, after my retina appointment, I am treating us to our favorite pizza from Shakeys. A medium runs $20, but they are generous with the toppings so it will last two meals.

I did well this week regarding meals. Everyday I had plenty of food options at work, so I didn't spend a penny in the work cafe. Usually my big bowl of fruit is a wise purchase because it's a tremendous value, but I haven't been eating much fruit since doing my cleanse. Quiche is my go-to for lunch. This week I use grated parmesan cheese as a crust, then for the filling I used crumbled bacon, feta and jarred bell peppers. YUM! I also made basmati rice in my Instapot. Some of it was turned into Cilantro Lime rice.

One thing I'm stoked about: I pulled my coffee maker out of the pantry (after 4+ years) and brought my own coffee to work two days in a row! It's pretty good; much better than the weak stuff in the breakroom. I already had beans I bought from Amazon, and two bags of my favorite Kona coffee from my last vacation. I combine the organic decaf, organic regular beans and the pricey Kona stuff as I please and grind it fresh! I even have a couple cups left over in the fridge to heat up on the weekend.

What else... I have been saving my squeezed lemon/lime halves in a ziplock in the freezer. I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet... maybe blend them up in the vitamix this summer to make lemonade? I can also thaw and zest them for recipes. I already have a bunch of citrus peels in vinegar for cleaning.

Happy Weekend!!

Looking at my finances

March 20th, 2018 at 07:47 am

I'm still taking the steps to get all the requirements filled on the new Chase accounts. I linked the savings account to my Capital One, so I could set up the $15,000 transfer. Next I logged onto my employer's payroll website to add the Chase checking and set up direct deposit of $125/week ($500/month). Now I wait....

Last night, I studied my 2017 Year End Summary for the AMEX Blue Cash Preferred (my main credit card.) It was very enlightening. My total grocery spend was over $5900. (This is what amex considers grocery; the stores that they give me 6% cash back on: Safeway, QFC, Trader Joe's are the ones I shop at that qualify.) That amount also included gift cards purchased at the grocery. The only way I could try to break the GC amount down, was to log onto my Amazon account. I added $1000 of their GCs to my account in 2017. Wow!!! I took advantage of my Prime membership way too much! Now I have Amazon's
VISA card, which earns me 5%, so there's not much incentive to use the gift cards, unless I get bonus fuel points from the grocery.

Still on my quest to earn more money on the side. I've been trying to qualify for some focus groups through a local company, but they haven't contacted me about anything recently. I'm bummed; one of them would have paid $875 over 10 1 hour visits. At this point, I'd be happy to get $100 for a one hour session. I have signed up online with a few mock jury-type websites. Also, Smart Panel, which pays $110/year for them to track your internet usage on phone and PC. That one pays in Amazon gift cards, which works great for me.

Saturday savings

March 17th, 2018 at 01:35 pm

This is a good day so far. I got up early, made chicken stock in my insta pot. Took under an hour! I cleaned my master bath, including the shower. Which is usually such a chore due to the hard water stains on the glass doors. However, I have found a practically free and easy way to get the mineral deposits off!!! Are you interested?

Ok, here is the secret: the mesh bags from produce like lemons or potatoes. It has the right amount of scratch, but gentle. Use your cleaner of choice. Mine is white vinegar (with citrus peels soaked in them) sprayed on the glass, let sit for a couple minutes, gently scrub (ball the mesh up like a bath pouf), rinse. For the shower floor I like to use Barkeepers Friend with the mesh. I've switched over to all natural cleaners a few years ago.

After that, went to two grocery stores. Only bought a few items but got great deals. At Fred Meyer, a salad kit that was marked down from 3.49 to 1.99, then I had .45 coupon. Picked up a container of heavy cream, a ripe large avocado, free range eggs ($$ but worth it to me), ginger root and an orange bell pepper on sale. Next, Safeway. I had a club card deal for two corned beefs for 1.99/lb, picked those up and some sausage patties. Since I spent over $10 I had another club deal for $2 off. Uncured ham lunchmeat marked down to 1.99, a head of cabbage, ben & jerry's for 2.88 (I think the cartons are getting smaller Frown ), and a tiny french baguette for .99. Used a 10% off coupon received from S.O. getting a flu shot; only saved an additional 1.83 but the coupon was about to expire. total grocery spend was $27. Said no to Girl Scouts at both stores. (I'm very happy this is their last weekend).

I deposited the money I made from my jewelry sales. Calculated my income/expenses through the end of the month, and due to my decreased spending and that I get 5 paychecks this month, I think I'll be able to sock away an extra $700 into my savings! Next month I hope to do an extra $400. The April figure is pretty optimistic, since I am starting auto deduction of $125/week on my payday into my Capital One account. It's a big goal but i should get close.

Have a great weekend!!

Trying to Sell Stuff is frustrating

March 14th, 2018 at 10:55 am

I don't know how people do it... I listed a couple items on OfferUp and local FB Buy/sell and no success! On a positive note, this is strengthening my resolve to stop buying so much stuff.

I'll hold onto the designer handbag and try again in late summer. I'm going to take more jewelry in tomorrow to the place I went before. This time I have some rings that have diamonds and gemstones, not just plain gold or silver pieces like the first time. It will be interesting how much they value them. I will be more selective about selling these.

I went through some of my Mom's boxes and found a box of pennies and a few other coins. Some of them were fairly old. I sorted and put aside pennies that were 1960s and older. She also had a Susan B Anthony coin,and a buffalo nickel from 1920. Also, three $2 bills! Very cool and I'm keeping them. The rest of the pennies and other coins I rolled and have $5.00 to add to my "extra income" fund.... I need to come up with a clever name for it.

So far:

Extra income fund:
$335.00 - jewelry sale #1
$5.00 - coins
$340.00 TOTAL

Spavings Fund:
$61.11 -balance
$50.00 - AMEX blue cash reward
$111.11 TOTAL


Developing a weekly meal system

March 6th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

I've been thinking about this for years- a system to organize and prepare my meals that's more efficient and doesn't involve me cooking every night. (I'd like to add that there are only 2 people in my house, and the other one will eat just about anything and be happy!) Here's the latest I've came up with:

Sat/Sun: (for Sun-Tues)
- look in fridge/pantry for ingredients I have, check out grocery flyers for what's on sale, then shop for what's missing. Cook 2-3 entrees (for lunches at work and dinners).
- Prepare 5 'salads in a jar' to take for lunches. (I just tried this idea this week!! Brilliant!) I'll explain this if anyone is not familiar with it (see end of post)

Wed: (for Wed- Fri)
- buy a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store on way home, to eat the next couple days.
- prepare 1 additional entree

I think this will work for me, as long as I don't get tired of eating the same meals for 2-3 days- which I typically do not. I only have to plan, shop and cook a couple times a week, which saves me time and gas.

I'll report back next week with how it went for me. Would love to see others' ideas on what they do.


*Salad in a jar: use a regular size canning/mason jar. Put dressing in first, then firmer items like cut up veggies, cheese, nuts, protein; finish with greens on top (you don't want the greens to touch the dressing and get soggy.) When it's eating time, dump everything into a bowl or plate, mix and chew! Easy.

Weekly wrap up

February 23rd, 2018 at 10:57 am

It snowed yesterday. Anywhere from trace to 2 inches in my area. Of course, since I live in the Seattle area, any appearance of the white stuff causes panic. In this case, it was justified because temps went down to 20 after snow, so we had roads and hills of ice, oh the fun! (sarcasm). I was 2 hrs late to work so I skipped lunch yesterday, and will today, to try to make up some time. (I am an hourly employee.)

Other than that, it's been a pretty boring week. I did pretty good with my meal prep last Sunday, got me through Thursday lunch. I will surpass my grocery budget of $280 ($10/day), as I only have $6 left for the month. Oh well.... I think it helps to have a goal, to be mindful, even if I don't meet it.

I'm starting a new category of savings, called Spavings. I read about it on some other blogs (Budgets are sexy was the original)... I'm going to take any cash back incentives and put them into my savings. For 2018 so far:

$21.11 MR Rebates check
$40.00 Chase Amazon cash back
Total: $61.11

I had a massage yesterday. I sure needed it! I usually get at least one per month, but due to my eye surgery, I postponed. My therapist was kind enough to loan me a head cradle while I was recovering from the vitrectomy, and I returned it and we caught up while I was getting my service. She and her husband are going to Maui next week- doing one of those time share deals to get free hotel and rental car. They are one of those type that can handle the pressure for 90 minutes and don't feel bad about saying no... it sounds like a nightmare to me! I am jealous that she will get some sunshine. I can't wait for spring... or at least the temp to get into the 50s...

My SO wants to go to the Seattle home show this weekend. Normally I would love to... but 1. I just finished my kitchen project and am not eager to do another project of any kind, 2. I have no $$$ budgeted as I have to pay $3000 for my eye surgery OOP. Jack wants to go to research his next project, which will be some kind of path on the shady side of the house. Which sounds pretty boring to me... but if he buys me dinner afterward, I'm game!

January Spending Diet wrap up

February 4th, 2018 at 05:49 pm

First, I changed the name of my blog. Salamander was my nickname as a kid, so "salamander saves" sounds cool and snazzy to me!

I didn't meet my goals, but in spite of the unexpected eye surgery, I did pretty well.

Grocery spend- Goal $250- Actual $287
**Since I spent 5 days laying around with my head toward the ground and not going shopping, I thought I would accomplish this. On 1/28 my guy drove me to Trader Joe's and I stocked up on things, and bought more convenience foods than normal, since I was still pretty tired.

No spend days: Goal 15- Actual 14
close!!


I'm scared about my eye

January 15th, 2018 at 11:37 am

I have an eye exam this afternoon. Worried because one afternoon last week, in the car on the way home, I noticed there was a blurry/cloudy spot on my right eye. It's like when you rub your eye and your contact slips and gets scrunched on one side, only I don't wear one in that eye. I tried washing it out with water and lens solution. I'm worried that it's a detached retina. Of course, self-diagnosing on the internet is a bad idea, hence the dr appt. Please think good thoughts for me!

On a positive note, I had FOUR No spend days last week! And my kitchen backsplash is installed and grouted! I'm thrilled with it. Last step is the drywall person to stop by and repair the area where there used to be tile and now it's all wall. After that, I'll be able to really clean and make it sparkle!

Weekend to-do and spending diet

January 12th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

I've had 3 no spend days this week (M, W and Th). (Today also, most likely). I'm pretty proud of that!!
That's a total of 5 no-spend in 11 days. My goal is 15.

My grocery spending is $97.57 out of my $250 budget. So far, I'm right on.

My new kitchen backsplash is being installed right now. I had new granite counters put in November and waited to pick out the backsplash material. Then, various delays, including my tile being out of stock, contractor getting sick etc. It should be done by tomorrow! That is the extent of my kitchen project. I'm not including that spending in my diet, because it would have been taken care of last month.

My diet and exercise are going well. I'm starting to feel a little slimmer (but not going to weigh or measure for awhile because I'm trying to focus on other benefits). I am still tired in the morning, in spite of getting 8 hours of sleep, but have more energy in the afternoons, and hunger is better controlled. I can tell that my upper body is getting stronger with all of the tricep push ups, downward dogs, side planks, etc that are prevalent in the Piyo program.

So for the weekend, I will clean and reorganize my kitchen, cook some meals for next week, do my workouts and relax.

Spending Diet update

January 9th, 2018 at 11:46 am

1/5 - $14.12 for family size papa murphy pizza (4 meals)
1/6- 23.38 food (groc)
1/7- 33.59 gas, 6.37 food
1/8 - 0
1/9 - $92.91 for colon cleanse system, 29.29 groc

I have been thinking of doing a colon cleanse for a few days, so this is not an impulse purchase. It falls into one of my exceptions to spending: medical/ health. I'm not getting the results I expected on my other plan,so I will switch to the colon, then back to the "Fat Flush". I'm still doing my Piyo exercise and eating clean.

Over the weekend, I was at Fred Meyer getting groceries and I was drawn to an endcap in the health aisles. There were 50% markdowns of my favorite natural soap brand "Zum". There were soaps, travel kits and soy candles. The company uses all essential oils and everything smelled so yummy! And 50% off! I put two items in my basket before saying to myself, "Hey, what the h**l? You're on a spending diet!!" I replied, "Yes, but these are my favorites at half off! They will all be sold out by Feb 1!!!" Miraculously, I put them back and went back to buying my planned vegetables. I am pretty happy with myself! I think this type of interaction is a "ah hah" moment and the main purpose of a spending diet.

So.... I don't think I will meet my goal of 15 "no spend" days. But this is not a bad thing. First, it is still making me pause and really think about what I'm buying and if it's necessary at this time, or can I wait, or make due with what I already have. Second, if I'm forcing myself to overbuy on food, it could go bad before I have a chance to use it. So I'd rather go shopping more often, but buy less of the perishables so I minimize waste. (Does that sound like I'm justifying not meeting my goal??? Probably.... but I'm still going to get as close as I can!

It's been a long time

January 17th, 2017 at 02:27 pm

I've been away from the blogging for many many years, although I check out the forum regularly. It was fun looking over my past entries. Maybe I'll start again soon....

Taxes filed

February 4th, 2008 at 11:21 am

I did my taxes yesterday. I'm getting $686 back. I e-filed using H&R. I'm putting most of this into my Home Decor fund. In addition to wanting to purchase an armoire and some window treatments for my home, I am going to help my Mom pay for laminate flooring in her condo. Her carpet is really gross (from the previous owner) and I think it would be a great investment in her place. I am also going to paint her living/dining room a pale yellow. She is really excited about this. My Mom is in her 70's, has many health problems and very limited income. I really want to make her feel comfortable and secure.

I (don't) heart ING

January 25th, 2008 at 03:41 pm

Wo! I can't believe they lowered their rate to 3.65.... from 4.10 !!! I'm glad that I don't have my long term savings there. I would pull all my money out but it's only $4000 so I doubt they would care.

I have decided to up my 2008 savings goal $500 to $7500 since I'm doing so good already!