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River of snot. Cosi signature salad recreation

November 14th, 2017 at 07:17 pm

My husband got a cold. And now my baby has it. Both complain about it. But the baby... her snot is running like a river. She wipes it with hand, she wipes it on me, she sneezes in my face, sticks tiny snot covered fingers in my mouth in a blink of an eye...
I am pretty much guaranteed to get sick now. I'm surprised my son not showing symptoms yet.

So I stayed home all day. It would not be nice to go to baby play spaces and spread the illness. Plus, she was pretty needy, fell asleep twice and just wanted to nurse all the time.

I did a little better in terms of food. Maybe blogging keeps me more accountable?


(yes, there is oatmeal under there). Ate a ton of candied cashews with it Embarrassment

View as I ate it (cold of course, by the time I got my son ready for school).



Same buttermilk baked chicken. That salad is a cosi signature salad recreation. The hard part was the dressing. My my husband figured it out! (he is the one who does all the salads and breads in the family).
Buttermilk baked chicken. I baked 2 pieces for lunch, and baked the rest for dinner, so they are hot fresh and juicy.

DH forgot to buy one ingredient for the salad, so instead of spending no money on food today, I had to go get greens in Whole Foods. That was $28:

That's how it works. (few ingredients are for soup tomorrow, since we had made the stock yesterday). Going to try something experimental with the soup.

Darn, I just realized I forgot ginger. Will have to go again tomorrow. Embarrassment

I hope I'm back. With my everyday unadventurous life.

November 13th, 2017 at 08:49 pm

We have been in Arlington for a year. I really like it here. But really busy with the new baby. I hope there are still people here from "way back" posting Smile I miss you guys! you are the nicest internet blog posting people! Hope you are around. I just had a margarita and I'm sleep deprived, so I am drunk, pardon grammer mistakes I'm sure are abound. But I put "re-start the blog" in my goal list this morning, so I must post no matter how crappy. Embarrassment

One of my resolutions it to keep a little journal with pictures, because even everyday mundane stuff is fun to look back to few years down the road. Life changes, and we forget.

So I will start today.

The usual day. Except baby, who has a slight cold, may be teething, and slept terribly. I was sleep deprived and exhausted.
After putting my son on a school bus, I took baby and went to DC. Around chinatown area

to my favorite cafe.

I know this sandwich does not look like much, but the freshness of it is superb. Every ingredient. Even the tomato and cream cheese. But what makes that meal is the baguette. Fresh, super light, crispy, just baked. They bake their own bread there and claim not to use industrial east, doing everything old fashion way. I don't even know what that means, but tasting that bread, I believe it! The small pastry is a smore variation - homemade everything. Moist, tangy marshmallow and awesome chocolate cover. Love it. $18 breakfast, but worth it. Got few mini pastries for the boys - another $10

Than picked up some beans at "La Colombe" $22.

More expensive than even I'm used to. It was first time - to see if it is worth it. Coffee was decent, not sure if worth the money though. It was not 50% better than stuff I usually buy.

Than dinner at home. $119 at whole foods - for 2 dinners
1) Fish baked in lemon cream sause and rice - Fish alone was 28$ - 1lb of red snapper fillet. (3.5 people - 2 adults, 1 child, 1 baby)
2) and for tomorrow baked buttermilk chicken and cosi signature salad recreation.

and some extras like cheese, prosciutto to snack on while having margaritas, mustard, butter,

So today's total on food $179, and I only went out for breakfast! (as a stay at home mom I often do that (3-4 times a week) to get out of the house and go about the city) I just realized how much I spent adding up for the blog. I would estimate lower if not for actually looking it up. When we go out for dinner and have one big check, it is easier to see. When it is few little trips, it is harder realize. I will try better tomorrow!

Maternity leave = massive savings raid

March 31st, 2016 at 08:51 am

About to massively raid non-retirement savings/investments.

We need 2 incomes to balance our budget. I make around 45% of the family's take home pay.

And we finally dared to try for our second (and most likely last) baby and can't wait to meet her in September!!!

I want to do a crazy thing and take 2 years out of workforce. That sounds very scary (career wise and otherwise). But this is something I've been contemplating for a while.

To give this gift of time to my family and my kids, to reduce the hectic pace of life, even if for a set amount of time have a different experience.

It is not an easy choice - these savings are a cumulative product of a lot of years and represent our progress. Also, we live in a junior 4 apartment, and as baby gets older, would want to upgrade to her having her own room, even if a small one. And middle school in our area is currently not good. So we may look at option of moving to Scarsdale in 4 years (really don't like the idea, but #1 school district in the nation, and housing prices/property taxes reflect that).

We have always been planners (that is why we even have that option, due to years of savings). And these are uncharted waters. But with this being a last baby (I don't think we can afford more wich childcare costs - I just paid 5K for 5 weeks of summer camp, and all these things are going to double), this is probably my only chance to do this, and experience life where time is not the most scarce resource.

$150 for kindergarten book, $400 for playgroup, 47K for kindergarten

December 10th, 2015 at 07:05 am

We bought the book, since this is the only one available for this specific private schools test.

We skipped the practice playgroup, because I thought it was kind of insane, but after a disaster of a playdate at Fieldston (DS had a bad day, and he is 5) I kind of wish we did not. This was our #1 choice school, and it was his first interview/playdate. That school was amazing. Frown He would have an awesome experience and future if we could get in. We would not only need to beat the odds (given number of applicants per seat, this kindergarten is 3 times harder to get into than Harvard). But we would also need to receive financial aid, because 47K (which is not tax deductible) is out of our reach.

So all together, the odds are stacked against us, and it is a lot of time and effort to just try. It is like a job on top of a full time job. But you still try for your child, because... what if?

410K in student loans. Jar dropping story.

November 27th, 2015 at 07:04 pm

I think there should be some limitations on how much and how long you can go on borrowing. She pretty much financed her life on student loans.
Perhaps an in-person interview/evaluation on loan request once the borrower exceeds a set amount. And no one should be able to delay payments that long.

As far as what she was thinking, can't wrap my head around that. And the way she looks in that photo, almost as if she thinks it is a joke.


If you think you have problems, listen to this story.

November 13th, 2015 at 11:24 am

The hate and anger people express towards refugees and immigrants... How in today's society we still are at the point where so many do not view others as humans with same fears and hopes as themselves, and assign lesser value to lives of different nationalities?

You have to listen to this story, re-told by UNHCR worker and imagine yourself being there, worse yet, being the parent.


Off topic maybe, but I just had to share.

Starting to think this is crazy.

November 1st, 2015 at 07:38 pm

Board meeting, another board meeting, teaching, midterms, grading midterms, birthday party planning for our son, jury duty summons, feeling sick, trying to get into the best private school in NYC, 2 other private school deadlines coming up, mother's birthday, son's homework, workload at work, DH's business trip, school day off, teacher meeting, absolutely nothing ever stops. Going grocery shopping is something we have to really juggle schedules to accomplish.

One of us always has something, and another one is taking care of our son. It is like we are working in shifts, non-stop, all the time.

The only time we actually get together is at the expense of sleep. Going to bed at 1 and waking up by 5 is extremely tough. But this seems to be life. Besides the 6 weeks we carve out for vacations. The rest is just crazy.

Emergency Fund milestone reached.

October 29th, 2015 at 03:14 pm

My goal was to have 1 year of take home pay saved in non-retirement accounts and we finally surpassed it.

Granted, it is not a "traditional" EF, since most of it is in investments and not in "cash", but with 2 incomes and stable jobs, I think it is a risk worth taking.

When people ask on TV about how many paychecks away many families are from being homeless, I am relieved to reply to myself "many". In many ways I'm very risk averse and this gives me a sense of comfort.

Broken dishwasher - 15K?

September 18th, 2015 at 07:01 am

Our dishwasher broke. It is close to 6 years old, so it is probably best to replace it. $500-$1,000.

Once you are replacing a dishwasher, you may as well replace the counter top - we have a cheaper non-stone one, I don't even know what that is. I'm thinking granite or some kind of stone. Don't know how much, probably 4K.

You can't replace the counter top and leave the old sink and old faucet. Than, once you have new counter top and sink, that cheap white tile back splash is just completely out of place.

And since cutting stone for the counter top, it would be cheaper to cut out a small slab to be cut at the same time for an additional 2 cabinets on the other side (we really need more storage room and counter space).

That means the shelf that is there and goes across the entire wall needs to be ripped out, wall spackled and painted (or put some architectural element like a stone accent wall.

A build-in nook there would be nice.
My kitchen is insanely tiny.

This is when you invest.

September 4th, 2015 at 02:28 pm

Counter-intuitive, I know. But logical.

We consistently invested (though very tiny, insignificant amounts) dollar-cost averaging through the financial crisis. That turned out to be a great strategy, even though we did not wait for the market to "bottom out" and invested equally on way down and the way up. Later on, we wished we invested more during the crisis.

Now, we are trying to do the same, even if difficult to do emotionally - put whatever money we can scrape up during the month into SP500 and another mutual fund.
$200, $300, $500, $100, etc whenever market has a bad day (running out of money to cover all the bad days).
We have no idea how long it markets be going down, and while it is painful to see the losses continue, I know from looking back on major dips, this is how you get ahead in the span of several years.
So we try to invest what we can now, and when the market is rallying (could be long time from now), we will ease up on investments and do minimum monthly amounts.

Timing is not great - we just got back from a 4 week luxury holiday in the UK and now have to pre-pay whole year of after school care this week, so cashflow is very limited. But we put in what we can.

Student loan - GONE!

July 21st, 2015 at 07:08 am

Just paid off the last 5K of my student loan. It is GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have to wait a day for balance to adjust to 0.00.

Now, the only debt left is our mortgage.
And we are flying out to UK on Friday.

I could live here for the same payment!

June 26th, 2015 at 08:58 am

Even factoring 11K in property taxes (not too big comparing to other towns), we could own this and pay exactly the same monthly payment as we do for our junior 4 (that means 1.5 bedroom) apartment in Bronx.


However, the commute would be a killer. When they say 2 hours, it is never actually 2 hours(that's each way), it is the most optimistic estimate that could ideally be achieved when all variables fall into place perfectly. So with current jobs it is not an option. If we had jobs where we would only have to go in 3 days a week or less, this could be a contender.

I have co-workers that commute 4-5 hours per day because they want to live in a house. Can't think it is a great idea when you have children though. I would never see my son, and wouldn't be home even to pick him up from the longest after school program. Frown

It is nice to fantasize for few minutes about having that much space!

Vacation or work? Forfeiting airfare

June 20th, 2015 at 11:17 am

So our family was going to go on vacation for 28 days to Scotland and Iceland. I booked the tickets to Scotland, and from Iceland already.

Now, I have to go on a business trip that is supposed to start 5 days prior to our planned end of vacation. I guess sometimes planing in advance is not best. This business trip would be good for me and I do need to go. There is no question about that.

Our vacation tickets are, of course, non refundable. And now any other tickets in August are twice as much. There are a lot of issues to work out.

I wish I could just change all our tickets and just leave 5 days earlier, but I won't be allowed to, I'm pretty sure. I do not want to just lose the money for all 3 tickets. I will probably just have to buy my ticket ($500) and lose the money on the ticket I already bought, and miss out on 5 days of Iceland, leaving my husband and son there by themselves.

Also, my DH will need to take an important exam right after coming back, and will need to study for a weekend right after vacation and also to grade his student's finals. So we would need to make sure that my mom takes our son for the two weekends I will be away working. However, I don't yet want to ask her - because she will worry herself sick. She is just a "worrier" and imagines worst possible scenarios, so she will naturally ask where I am going and than will watch the news and drive herself crazy.

Went to see John Steward, and awesome camping

June 19th, 2015 at 08:04 am

My friends got the tickets to the Daily Show taping. They also stood in line from 9 am, to be sure to get the secondary ticket at 2:30. I showed up at 2:00 to claim it, only having to take half a day from work.

It was awesome. In the pre-show, when he talked to the audience, I realized he is really smart, even though he does play a character on TV. And he is also very able to think on his feet and be funny unscripted.

We were not allowed to take pictures after John Stewart came out. I treated the group to lunch at a nice Thai place to thank them for standing in line for the tickets.

Camping was gorgeous. Falling asleep and waking up looking at the giant trees above us was a rare treat.

I had camping fever afterwards - I was really itching to buy up half the REI store to have our own equipment (this time our friend brought everything and set everything up for us, including food). He is a hard core camper and did Appalachian trail for 8 weeks straight.) DH suggested I cool off first, which was a good idea. I was not in a rational state of mind after that awesome experience. I may still buy some things, but slower, and "as needed". Maybe on REI's semi-annual sale when we have a coupon...

Lifetime Gold

May 28th, 2015 at 09:46 am

Status, that is. DH finally earned it with Marriott.

Now, presumably he will be gold elite for life.

Right now, he has been making platinum every year for close to 10 years, but since he stays in cheaper properties when travelling for business, it is hard to get to lifetime plat points-wise.

It is kind of nice to know, that even if/when his travel stops, he will still have some status and we can have free breakfasts/upgrade opportunities and earn point bonuses when traveling for leisure.

This has some value.

Very high-spend day - new bedroom for DS (pics included).

May 26th, 2015 at 02:36 pm

I finally bit the bullet and bought the stuff.

I was putting it off for months, but DS is now really growing out of his toddler bed and needs a twin bed (which will hopefully last him into adulthood).

He is going to kindergarten this year, and the room has to change from being a baby room to a boy room.

Since this is a very long term purchase, I went with a neutral and clean-looking bed from RH.

Of course, I also needed mattress, duvet covers, sheets, side table to the bed (so that he can have a lamp and a place for his water/book).

After all said and done, close to 2.5K.

But, it is either IKEA, or this price range, as all other furniture besides IKEA are not cheaper than this.

I also would like to re-paint the room from sunny yellow to a calmer tone (specific shade of light blue). I wish I knew how to do it correctly so that we could do the job ourselves to save the money. He will also need a bigger desk and some shelves at some point. *Sigh*

extra income = EXHAUSTION.

May 23rd, 2015 at 09:17 pm

Both DH and I were working like crazy this month earning extra income.

I have been working overtime at my job (that is not really to earn extra income, but because I needed to get job done, as another colleague was transferred out). Waking up at 6:30 every day and getting home by 8 is not fun.

DH had finals, and had to write and grade massive pile of finals. (not done yet with that).

We both are just completely exhausted with 5-6 hours of sleep every day this last week and juggling everything. (I only got some sleep this night, on weekdays just not possible).

And this weekend I have 3 social dinners planned. And we will bring our toddler who is going through the "Dinosaur" stage with us to all 3. (That stage involves pretending he is a dinosaur and making scary faces with roaring sounds whenever he gets stressed).

So between DH's teaching job, his travel and my overtime, we made $4,300 in extra income this month. Plus I also earned 2 extra days of vacation time to take later.

Vacation fund is reimbursed now (we had to raid it to pay 2014 taxes). But man, we are working hard for this money.

Another kind of savings

May 12th, 2015 at 09:48 am

Other balances I keep track of is points balance.
I am also slowly working towards these goals.

This summer I want in first class to Shanghai on Cathay Pacific (this is the most luxurious, fantastic service first class product out there, preferred by many travelers even over Singapore air or Etihad), than on to Sichuan and Singapore, and than DH and I came back from Singapore in Business class (fully flat seats, but after first class it was hard to come down).

Anyway, I used up all my points, even had to buy $200 worth of them to get my awards, so I started anew.

I don't travel for business, so all my points are earned now by credit card.

So this month I got:

1,460 From spending on AA card
1,000 bonus from AA card
1,000 points for watching video (AA promo)
3,900 points from aa shopping portal (now I check every time I want to buy something if there is a link through the portal)
1,000 points bonus points for shopping over 300$ through shopadvantage.

So, I will be earning $8,360 points. Which is not an insignificant percentage of 67,500 points needed for MileSaver first class award to Asia (hard to find, but I did it few times before already).

New miles balance - almost 32,000 points. By the end of the year, I should have enough for a one way first class ticket.

DH has enough miles in his account for 2 more first class tickets (earned for opening aa card with a special promotion of 100,000 for spending 3k a month for a number of months). So we are on the way to getting 3 tickets one way. At least this is enough for our family to go one way first class to Asia, in a relaxed and enjoyable way.

This year, we are flying to Scotland and Iceland, in economy, paid with money. But suffering 9 hours to Scotland and 5.5 from Iceland is better than 16+ hours to Asia. We will save our miles for that trip instead.

8 roommates

May 11th, 2015 at 06:32 am

While in a retail store in Williamsburg (a hip area of Brooklyn) I overheard a clerk telling his colleague about an argument between roommates regarding roommate responsibilities. From this, I learned that the guy has 8 roommates in their apartment. Not sure if it is a 2br or 3br, but they all share rooms.

This explains how people live on retail wage in the city. But they all also want to be here. It is a fun place for young singles - with plenty of inexpensive party digs in the outer boroughs and a night scene for all budgets.

Registered son for school

May 7th, 2015 at 10:11 am

It is pretty depressing. The school condition, the cafeteria, the teachers lounge... Everything screams "there is no money" and nothing was renovated since the school was build and feels kind of dirty. And the process of registration, with their outdated badly copied paper forms(how hard would it be to provide them online, so everyone can come with everything filled out?), waiting forever when staff goes some place else...

And this is one of the better schools, the "desirable" public school in the area.

I have not got to meet any of the teachers. I know this is the part that matters, but the whole public education system, now that we are going to be directly impacted by it, really raises a lot of concerns.

Our son tested into the New York City's "Gifted and Talented" program, but even for those who tested in, there is 1 spot for 3 applicants in the G&T program in our school, so he is unlikely to make it, even after after testing in.

What gift would you bring?

February 27th, 2015 at 07:59 pm

We are going to stay with friends in their apartment in Ft. Lauterdale.

We will of course treat them to dinner, but besides that, I think it is good tone to bring a gift for a people you are staying with for 3 days.

What would you get a couple in early/mid thirties living in a condo?

Vacation fund is gone - we owe 8K+, so need to come up with 14K before April 15

February 23rd, 2015 at 06:52 am

DH finished doing our taxes - we will owe over 8K. Parts of it is extra income, but parts of it is much smaller interest deduction from our co-op for this year. I think this had something to do with the underlying mortgage refinance, so we are not getting many thousands of interest deduction as we got last year.

So we need to pay over 8K, than we still have one IRA to fund (5,500).

Our vacation or maternity or "do something cool fund is gone). That 5,700 will be going to current needs. All of DH's teaching income, for teaching 85 students, will go to taxes, not getting us any further ahead (no paying of student loan, so saving for maternity leave).

Well, what can you do. Frown

"Fortitude", cheese and lychee martini. What are you into right now?

February 21st, 2015 at 08:19 pm

Anyone else hooked on this show? Love it. Pretty unusual and each episode leads to more speculation. Visually beautiful too.
Trailer if you don't know it:


To go with DH's and I weekly viewing experience, when buying vodka today I bought icelandic one to make my lychee martini. That will go so well with my favorite cheese. Yum.

But of course I believe anything goes with Pyrenees bethmale chevre (or sometimes called chevre de Pyrenees).

Just thought I'd share something small, because I am sometimes curious about specific things people in different parts of the country or world like.

What are you into right now?

Don't understand some people.

February 21st, 2015 at 11:42 am

I have a friend that keeps "liking" comments on facebook from crazy far right web sites. (the kind that refer to themselves as "patriotic Americans" and hate a lot of things very passionately.

The ironic thing is that she was an illegal immigrant, had a child out of wedlock, was on welfare for years, and after she got legalized had her education paid for by aid and so on.

Now, that she took advantage of all these benefits, got a chance for a decent life and has a good job, she is "liking" that sort of thing.

Does she not understand these people would hate her and her child and would have them deported back than if they had a chance? I wonder what the response on these sites would be if she posted her life story.

Car payment eyesore

February 19th, 2015 at 01:13 pm

I am waiting for DH's next teaching paycheck to make that last payment, and it seems like a forever wait. Now, the paycheck will hopefully come on 27 February - another 8 days to go.

I don't know why this is bothering me. I guess because I already emotionally have written it off as done, and yet, in reality, there it is.

Learning more about taxes, still haven't learned salary.

February 17th, 2015 at 07:32 am

This weekend was spend on taxes. Re-calculating MAGI, than learning all we can about IRA re-characterization, back door ROTH steps and dangers, etc... Well, my DH was doing that, while I was keeping our 4 year old entertained (which is also a job).

On the income side, we still don't know how much DH is getting paid for teaching 2 large classes this semester. The university is not very clear about that. Kind of depends by number of students, but not completely. There is no clear chart for in-person classes. The semester is well under way. It is kind of odd to be accepting jobs without knowing the salary. DH did not want to call them until it was clear that they misses the first paycheck - which of course they did, as always! That place is insanely disorganized, in spite of being one of the top universities. So I don't completely trust them to calculate salary correctly. If you are not on top of them, they would not pay at all.

I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to know what you are getting paid for working.

No perfect month

February 4th, 2015 at 08:43 am

I keep wanting to do a perfect month of tracking, to show how much money we can save (for purposes of knowing how much house we can afford, or how long I could stay home if I had a baby), but something always come up.

This month our child needs a new bed (he is really growing out of his toddler bed), of course a mattress, few sets of bedding, mattress protectors...
he dropped a glass blender and it broke so we need to buy a new one, my mom's milk frother broke, we gave her ours and now need to replace it...

Back from 2 weeks+ family ski vacation.

January 30th, 2015 at 10:40 am

It was awesome and even my MIL loved it. Not to mention the little one. He had a blast.

It cost huge amount of money, as we stayed in a house right on the trail for half of it, and slope-side most of the time.

Back to reality now. Vacation makes you think all sorts of things about changing your life, and having that kind of freedom more often.

Shake Shack IPO - did not happen for me

January 29th, 2015 at 06:15 pm

I was willing to risk our entire vacation fund, and transferred it in to put the bid for the IPO tomorrow. But, turns out my discount brokerage firm was not invited to participate, so I'm out of luck. Frown

It was a risky thing, of course, but with good potential.

Maybe I'll buy a beaten down GOOGL or BIDU option instead. I'm upside down in a few right now, but I think they are close to bottoming out. I do not see a solid reason why they are going down now.

2015 $20 challenge

January 8th, 2015 at 07:41 am

First contributions - Suddenly, we started receiving coupons for our favorite grocery store. DH got email for the $15 of $75. We split our shopping into 2 orders (one me and one him), and both used it, saving $30 on our trip. Plus, $4.80 for returned cans.

That starts out the year at $34.80.

Other 2 things I'm not sure I want to count

-- DH's side teaching income. He just got last check from last year.

-- We price matched equinox resort to Hotels.com and got a lower rate plus 10% off, for a very very awesome rate on the best hotel in that skiing area.

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