Today I Am . . .

by Katy on January 28, 2014 · 38 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Trying to find cheap flights from Portland to Washington D.C. My hard working husband is receiving a national award in D.C., which comes with airfare, accommodation and stipend for two people. However, it’s during spring break, so we’re figuring out how to bring the kids. Unfortunately, spring break means that flights are stupidly expensive.
  • Planning to tack on a NYC trip, where we’ll stay with my sister. I see that the Chinatown Bus service is just $22 per person between the cities. Woo-hoo!
  • Playing fetch with my cat who goes insane for a coiled up pipe cleaner.
  • Pleased that I was able to construct light night’s dinner from leftover lasagna ingredients that weren’t enough for an entire lasagna. Rigatoni pasta swirled with marinara sauce, herbed pureed cottage cheese, (cheaper than ricotta) and jack cheese. Super delicious and I threw it together before I went to work!
  • Planning a day of thrifting and lunch with my mother.
  • Happy.


Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Megyn January 28, 2014 at 11:35 am

-Baking away since schools are closed due to ice on the roads
-Getting Valentines ready for our boys. We made crayons from old crayon pieces and chalk from a box of plaster of Paris I found at Savers. I’m also making the bags out of parchment paper, so I don’t have to buy anything!
-Enjoying this lazy day off
-Wishing for warmer weather


Markie January 28, 2014 at 11:54 am

Please don’t take a Chinatown bus. Look into MegaBus or the other one that I can’t remember the name of. There have been too many bus accidents with off brand bus companies.


Jane F January 28, 2014 at 5:21 pm



Thrifty Writer January 29, 2014 at 4:50 am

I agree – as someone who used to take Chinatown buses to DC and Boston (from NYC) and now takes Bolt bus, Bolt is far safer and more comfortable. Chinatown buses tend to speed dangerously, for one thing. Plus, at least in Boston, whenever anyone heard of a bus accident, they automatically assumed it was a Chinatown bus. And yes, Bolt has outlets at all seats except for the front most ones, and wi-fi for all. The drivers can be really great – when a passenger once told the driver that he had seen something about a delay on the route we were taking, the driver phoned HQ, which gave him an alternate route which got us in slightly ahead of time. And this was without speeding:-)


Thrifty Writer January 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the prices are quite comparable with Chinatown buses, esp. the further in advance you buy your tickets.


Katy January 29, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Good information, thank you!



Liz February 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

Agreed, agreed!! I take Bolt Bus, Megabus, or when leaving from Arlington instead of DC – Tripper Bus or Vamoose Bus. I actually suggest the latter two, especially when you’re traveling with people you want to sit with. The lines for Megabus and Bolt Bus can get a little crazy, but when leaving from Arlington (right by the Rosslyn metro stop), I think the buses are a little saner…

Brooke January 28, 2014 at 11:55 am

May want to check Jet Blue for plane tickets. I think they are having a current sale.


Markie January 28, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Bolt bus is the other discount bus company. The buses have power outlets and wi-fi. Very reasonable round trip tickets or one way. I live outside of NYC in NJ and I have only hear one bad thing about this company. A bus broke down and it took about 1 hour for a replacement bus to get there to pick up passengers. As I travel up and down the east cost I see these buses often.

I feel that these two bus lines are much safer than any other “off brand” bus companies. Have fun!


Maureen January 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Congratulations to your husband on his award! This is exciting, I hope it works out to a wonderful, fun, thrifty and enriching trip for all of you.


Vivian January 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Relearning how to use my sewing machine in order to patch my son’s jeans.

Washing all bedding and vacuuming both mattresses.

Decluttering my son’s clothes.

Tossing out complete junk.


Betsey January 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

1.Planning a move from a 4 bedroom farmhouse to a 2 bedroom apartment
2. Starting week 2 of the Daniel diet. I think this time I will lose the weight.
3. Enjoying the sun!!
4. Making out a grocery list of healthy foods and going through my pantry getting rid of stuff I can no longer eat.


Maureen January 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Here’s hoping everyone gets to DC to see your husband get his award. That would be wonderful. DC is chock full of free things to see.

And not to add disappointment to what should be a wonderful time, I have to agree with Markie about the buses. My aunt periodically takes the MegaBus (which is a double decker bus) back and forth between NY and DC because she has 2 kids, 1 in each city. I also live in the Albany, NY area and the state government has been after those kinds of bus companies for quite a while trying to close them down for safety reasons.

So I hope you can plan your trip for everyone. Good luck!

And today:

Went to the doctor because of another sinus infection! Can’t wait till dinner so I can take my antibiotic since I have to take it with food.
Going to download 50 pictures to print that we got free when my husband purchased a new camera.
Have to look into our spring break vacation too.
Work, Work, Work, Work. But I am happy working as the OT is padding the bank account.


A. Marie January 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Must weigh in about MegaBus: There was an awful MegaBus accident here in the Syracuse area a couple of years ago (distracted driver who was looking for the bus station on his GPS crashed into a notorious, well-posted low railroad bridge; four people died). I wouldn’t take any of these low-budget bus companies.

That said, congratulations to your husband on his award, and travel safely!


Kristin January 29, 2014 at 8:42 am

This is precisely why my husband won’t let me take MegaBus anymore, despite the fact that someone hits that bridge at least once a year.


Vanesa January 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Try Baltimore! There’s a MARC train to downtown DC from BWI, which is usually cheaper than DCA.


WilliamB January 29, 2014 at 9:48 am

In addition to Baltimore, consider other cities on Amtrak such as Philly or – less conveniently – any of the NYC airports. Newark is usually the cheapest but it’s the least convenient to get into NYC to get a train. (Maybe one of the NJ stations is closer?)


jill January 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Congratulations – on the award and the free travel! 2 win-wins!

Today I am:
1. Waiting for Winter Storm Leon to dump snow on my very rarely snowed on area – since we ususally lose power for 3 or so days with snow, I have been keeping up with all laundry, dishes and all other chores that require electricity or hot water. I have learned from experience.
2. Made a big pot of Ski Soup with leftover italian sausage and veggies from the freezer along with broth. Used a leftover potato from a family dinner this weekend to fry up some hash browns with eggs for a breakfast for lunch thing, too.
3.Went to Goodwill yesterday for the first time in a long time – scored a University of South Carolina shirt for my hubby, and 4 items of clothing for me. All for $20. Now I’m gathering a bag of outgoing items to donate to offset the incoming.


marie January 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I always stash extra water whenever I Think power might go. We live off a well, and there’s nothing worse than waking up to no coffee


Valerie January 28, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Vanesa’s comment to try Baltimore is a great one. The trains are fairly easy to navigate but even if you got a shuttle at $40 a person, it still might still be far cheaper than flying in to DCA or IAD.

Conversely, I’ve taken the train from D.C. to New York a few times, and while not exactly cheap, it’s much quicker than a bus and easier than trying to fight the traffic on I-95 in a rental car. If your bodies are still on Pacific time, you can probably handle one of the later trains (leaving at around 10 p.m. and getting in around 1 a.m.) and you can usually get tickets somewhere around $50 a person for around 3 hours of travel time.

You’ll figure out a good solution, I’m sure!


Katie C January 28, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I live in NYC and I often travel on buses between NYC and DC and Boston. I highly recommend Vamoose bus company for NYC to DC and Bolt bus elsewhere. I do not recommend the Chinatown bus companies at all…just an unpleasant experience. Amtrak is also not so bad if you have triple AAA discounts and book early. You could also always take Amtrak to Trenton, NJ and then take NJ transit to NYC but that would add some time to your trip.


Jamie January 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Ditto on the Chinatown bus–having first hand experience with their poor customer service (our bus got a ticket for parking illegally, left with only half the passengers boarded–though we had everyone’s luggage, then picked up in NYC at the wrong location) it’s worth the extra $10 bucks to take the bolt or mega buses, plus, if you’re staying outside of DC proper, there is probably a pick up near your hotel.

Also, have you looked at alternative airports? Although it is 100% more convenient to fly into Reagan if you’re not planning to drive, with 4 people and luggage, you might save enough to justify a short term rental by flying into BWI or Dulles.

Have a great trip!!


Katy January 28, 2014 at 3:34 pm

We have to fly into Reagan for some reason. Thanks for the Chinatown info.



Trish January 28, 2014 at 2:31 pm

1. Trying to figure out what to do with a few heavy duty drop cloths I bought to protect the couch from the dogs. after several uses they begin to rip in a big way, and are not usable for this purpose any longer. I have enough rags, and so am wondering whether to donate them to Goodwill. the website says they recycle unusable cloth items.
2. Depressed – My neighbor is a very large farmer. I have watched him rip out several treelines along his fields, and today I noticed he started on one near our house. He has plenty of money – annual trips to Alaska or Hawaii testify to this. So much for biodiversity.


Kacy January 28, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I took the Chinatown bus in 2002 with some girlfriends and it was fine. An adventure but fine. I have also taken amtrak between DC and NYC more recently and that was nice. I think amtrak is nice and you may be able to get a deal if you book more than a month out.


tna January 28, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Early spring cleaning everything and gathering anything not wanted or used to donate.
You were mentioned on the John Tesh radio show today. He said your website was, are you moving?


Katy January 28, 2014 at 3:32 pm

No, not moving!



Jeanne January 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Have a marvelous time in DC. Flying into DCA is more expensive but there is good public transport from the airport. Try to avoid renting a car, driving in DC is a challenge even if you know exactly where you’re going, it can be a nightmare for tourists. Train transport, while more expensive, is more reliable than the buses whether it’s Bolt or Megabus. The 95 corridor can just be a nightmare. You can purchase a daily pass for the metro while you’re in DC which will get you to most of the fun spots fairly easily. The Air & Space Museum out at Dulles is worth it if you can get out there. The museum itself is free but you have to pay to park. Also, contact your congressional members office as soon as you know the dates of your travel so a staff assistant can give you a tour of the Capitol building (free!). Eastern Market on a Saturday or Sunday morning is worth a visit as is an early morning or sunset stroll around the tidal basin under the cherry blossoms. I highly recommend visiting the monuments like the Vietnam War, Korean War, and FDR memorials in the evening (more free stuff!). There are no crowds and there is something very moving about them in the evening light. Ben’s Chili Bowl on the U St metro is an institution. They’ve expanded around the city but the chili dogs/burgers are delicious. Try a half-smoke, it’s a regional specialty. Enjoy!


Markie January 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Oops! Congrats to your husband!
I’ve done the following:
started Shred Fest 14
put cloth bags and Goodwill bags in my car
emptied trash and recycling. That was enough outside stuff as it was so darn cold!
made dinner
called dr. to straighten out perscription issue
spent no money


Marti January 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Today I am

Making soup and using up leftovers
Trying to recaulk the shower, but the caulk wouldn’t come out of the tube
Trying to catch up on exercise, if that’s even possible


Kat C January 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Today I:
– worked
– stopped at the grocery store on my lunch break to pick up a few missing ingredients for dinner (I was in the area)
– made cookies, with ingredients on hand, for a potluck tomorrow at work
– enjoyed our beautiful weather while walking our dogs! (Back to below zero Celsius tomorrow)


Ellen January 29, 2014 at 6:06 am

congrats to your husband on his award!

today I am
-taking my son to soccer practice (inside since its so cold and we have snow on the ground!)
-trying to stay warm (it was 13 degrees on the way into work this am)
-needing to stop by target after said practice to pick one thing up
-later making a quiche for a work party tomorrow. (yea for having everything in the house to make it.
-wishing the weather would warm up a bit, I am over the cold.


Dawn January 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

My Cat ADORES pipe cleaners too! She fetches them also. Talk about a cheap & cheerful cat toy~!


Katy January 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

My cat is so funny, because she only brings the pipe cleaners to me. She knows no one else will play this with her.


H January 29, 2014 at 12:56 pm

We were also checking tickets from Reno to Washington, DC (for later in the summer). If you are doing any sightseeing could you share what you find?
Our Golden Retriever loves to chase a laser light around the yard in the dark. You just need to start shining it and she will run herself in laps.


Katy January 29, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I am looking forward to sharing about all our sightseeing, as D.C. museums are free!



Michelle H. January 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Congrats on your husband’s award. That’s awesome. My husband and I have only been to DC once as a teenagers (not together, lol), and hope to take the family once the kids are old enough to appreciate it. I look forward to hearing about the trip!


Katy January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

We’re very excited, especially since we haven’t been on a proper family vacation since 2005.



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