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Archive for November, 2006

Getting back to normal

November 29th, 2006 at 03:25 pm

Today I spent $1.65 on treats for our student workers, and .55 for myself -- all from the vending machine. Had I only remembered to bring something from home, that could have been avoided. (Treats for our students is an obligation at the end of each semester; my boss' idea -- I wouldn't mind so much if it were my idea!)

I also ordered a game online which I may use as a Christmas present -- that was $20.94 including shipping.

At lunch I went to the library and had to pay a library fine of .75. But I found .11 right afterterwards so the library gods were thanking me, I figure!

My sister left this morning and I am just getting back into my normal life after Thanksgiving. Normal except that I have a bad cold which is wearing me down. I really need to rest, and I will do that soon. I'm eager to dive into my four new books from the library.

I am a little blue, feeling like I will never improve financially. Thanksgiving was so expensive, and Christmas will be, too. My only other option is not to see family during the holidays -- what kind of choice is that? It seems like there is always something that pushes me over the limit, no matter how much resolve I have.

But maybe I am just blue because I'm tired and sick. That would be a good reason, wouldn't it? :-)

Meals today:

Breakfast: Toast, yogurt, cider
Lunch: Cheese pizza
Snack: Tortilla chips
Dinner: Chicken salad sandwich, orange juice

Home again

November 28th, 2006 at 04:06 am

I am back at home and it was back to work yesterday. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with my family -- not without its frustrations, but overall, a very good time. I spent a lot more than I wanted to, but that is just part of the equation. I had to get a hotel room AND board my dog. I contributed quite a bit toward the meal. At month's end I will recap.

The only non-holiday related spending was $5.30 for a sweater from a consignment shop. It was on the clearance rack, and it will go with a skirt I have that needed a top. So it was a good buy all round.

My sister is still here; she will fly back to NC tomorrow. She has held up her share of the cost -- paid for two days of the hotel, a tank of gas, and for a quite expensive lunch out.

Tonight my son is coming over and we will have chicken salad and corn casserole; then probably play a few last card games before my sister heads back.

December looks to be busy and expensive as well. On the weekend of the 16th I'm going to Chicago with friends, mainly to go to tea at the Drake Hotel, but to take in some Christmas atmosphere, too. Then, on the 21st, I will drive to Atlanta, meet my sister there, and we will spend the night and go on to Punta Gorda, Florida the next day. We'll spend about a week there with my cousins and aunt & uncle. I'll have to be back to work on the 2nd, but I'm not yet sure when I will come back.

The really nice thing about this Christmas is that I'll get to see my grandson again. He'll be in Florida, too. His first trip! With all this traveling, gifts are not a huge priority. I will give money to my kids, and a few toys and a bond to my grandson.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Pumpkin spice cake (leftover from Thanksgiving), coffee, milk

Lunch: Deviled egg, pizza appetizer, clam chowder, crab cake, fries, 1/2 piece truffle pie (restaurant)

Dinner: Roasted chicken, vegetable medley, mashed potatoes, milk

Almost ready to go

November 22nd, 2006 at 03:04 pm

Well, I've taken the dog to the kennel, two out of three Thanksgiving dishes are made, I'm sort of packed (because I haven't unpacked yet from last week). My sister, my son and I head up to Michigan at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

I bought a child's game to take to the gathering, since there will be four little ones there. That was $6.34. At noon, I went out with friends at work to an Irish pub; spent $6.54 on shepherd's pie.

Update on the shrink-wrapped hot dog -- you have to unwrap the plastic from the bun and the hot dog before nuking! More work than a regular hot dog! I'm chuckling inside.

I forgot to share some frugal victories yesterday. I was just on the verge on buying breakfast from the vending machine in the break room when I noticed that some kind soul had left bananas and pound cake on the table with a "help yourself" sign. Whoopee! I also found a quarter. Every bit helps! But the best thing -- I parked in a two-hour space after lunch, forgot to move my car at 3, walked out at 5, suddenly remembering I hadn't moved the car -- and there was no ticket! That's a miracle! The cops around here NEVER slack up on handing out parking tickets!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Meals today:

Breakfast: Bagel, cider
Snack: Tortilla chips
Lunch: Shepherd's pie, raisin bread
Dinner: Hot dog, yogurt
Snack: Granola with milk

Pre-Thanksgiving hubbub

November 21st, 2006 at 05:53 pm

I picked up my sister today. She arrived hungry, so we went out to lunch at a diner -- she picked up the tab. After I got out of work we went to the grocery to stock up for our Thanksgiving trip up north. She will do some of the pre-cooking tomorrow while I'm at work. That's only if she feels up to it. She has a bad back and today she is suffering after the plane ride and especially after a bumpy ride in the bus that brought her here from the airport.

The grocery bill was $93.70, which was a bit of a shock. My sister gets the best ingredients, and doesn't consider price. If I had shopped alone from the same list it would have been a lot less -- but she is too choosy for store brands and she is compelled to get specialty items. I told her to be sure to get something to eat tomorrow while I'm at work. I noticed she picked up a package of hot dogs already in the bun and shrink-wrapped. What?? Why would anybody buy hot dogs like that? I don't argue with her, as it's only once a year. I know some of you may suggest I educate her, but she believes that I am the one that needs to be educated! I do love my sister, but we are so different from each other.

I also paid $4.31 online for pictures of my grandson from Walgreens.com, but I forgot to pick them up! I'll have to do that tomorrow. Also need to buy a game to take to our Thanksgiving celebration. We do not do Christmas gifts, but we've always had a small gift exchange at Thanksgiving. This year we're just bringing games.

Right now I'm tired and not looking forward to the holiday very much. I know my outlook will change, but right now -- bleahhhh.

Meals today:

Breakfast: Banana, pound cake, coffee
Lunch: Chili, 1/2 grilled cheese sandwich, 1/2 pork tenderloin sandwich, diet coke
Dinner: Vegetable soup, bagel, yogurt

Monday, Monday

November 20th, 2006 at 04:31 pm

First of all, thank you, everyone, for your kind words of congratulations on the birth of my grandson. It's wonderful to share happy news with such nice people.

Going back to work today was not too bad. I didn't have a ton of work to face so I could ease into the day. Nonetheless I came home very tired.

No spending today. I did arrange to have my dog boarded over the Thanksgiving holiday. It has been so long since I've used the kennel I had to make a trip out there during lunch to fill out paperwork, but it was worth it -- they were passing out free "goody bags" of feline Greenies, and various doggie treats and toys. I feel bad about having to board my dog -- he hates it so -- but there will be no one around to look in on him.

I have practically no food in the house, having just come back from a trip, but I'm leaving again in a couple of days, so I don't really want to buy any. The catch is, my sister's coming tomorrow, so I have to have SOMETHING around for her to eat. I'm too tired to shop tonight, so I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Meals today:

Breakfast: bagel & cheese, coffee
Lunch: Sante Fe rice & bean soup, tortilla chips
Snack: chocolates
Dinner: Chicken & vegetable pita, ice cream

The damage

November 20th, 2006 at 04:00 am

I'm back home again and getting ready to go back to work after a week with my new grandson.

I spent $95 on vacation costs -- gas, road food, etc. I spent $211 on gifts, which included baby supplies, groceries, pet supplies and flowers. So my gift budget is blown out, but I am glad I did what I did.

Also, while I was there, I spent $7 on personal items I forgot to pack, and, since I was near a Petco, $27 on pet food I needed to stock up on.

Yesterday was a long driving day -- plus I was exhausted from interrupted sleep and from a overflow of unexpected emotions -- yes, it was a very happy event but it also brought up a lot of buried sad memories. Strange....

Well, I have a day to get ready and then tomorrow my sister is arriving from North Carolina. We will go up to Michigan (along with my single son) on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. We are celebrating Thanksgiving at my brother's house, but we are planning on getting a motel room, so that's more money flowing out.... My sister will stay with me until next Tuesday. I'm very glad she's coming, as she was dragging her feet, and the holidays just wouldn't be the same without her!

In the spirit of getting back into the routine, here are my meals yesterday:

Breakfast: English muffin with pb&j, coffee

Lunch: 2 pieces fried chicken, 2 biscuits, diet coke (KFC)

Snack: Peanut butter shake (Steak N Shake)

Dinner: 6-inch roasted chicken breast on wheat roll (Subway)

25 Things About Me

November 16th, 2006 at 10:54 am

What fun! I just popped in again and you're playing this cool game!

Here are my 25. I'll try to find something interesting in my boring life:

1. I am a typical middle-class white lady but I worked in a Black Cultural Center for 10 years as a librarian.

2. I once sold a card idea to Hallmark.

3. I am descended from a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and so is my ex-husband. A friend once told us, "Gee, I'm riding in a Dodge Dart with the aristocracy of America!"

4. I once won second place in a televised "twist" contest. (For you young folks, that was a dance!)

5. In ninth grade, I won the "Best-All-Round-Girl" award. (Yeah, they used to give awards like that!)

6. When I was in college, I have twice had the experience of having my paper read out loud by the teacher as a good example to the others!

7. As a child, I was terrified that there were gorillas hiding in my bedroom.

8. I moved around a lot as a kid and lived in five different states.

9. I played the flute in high school and I still have it -- and still intend to play it again!

10. When I was in high school I was one of the "world famous" Klompen dancers at a well-known Tulip Festival!

11. I once walked home from my high school (three miles) in a terrible blizzard wearing tennis shoes and no socks. (Talk about terrible judgment! In my defense, it was only flurries when I started out.)

12. When they were children, my sons posed for a commissioned painting which still hangs in one of our local community centers.

13. One of my cousins is married to a cousin of Penn (of Penn & Teller).

14. I never developed any wisdom teeth.

15. My uncle served in Iwo Jima and for many years I believed he was "the one holding the flag." (He was pulling my leg.)

16. My father was way ahead of his time in his interest in foreign cars -- we were the only family in town with a Renault back in the sixties.

17. My sister has lived in Spain and Chile, and has traveled all over Europe and Hawaii. I have never been off the North American continent.

18. I wore braces for four years as a teenager, and then again for two years as an adult. I had to have my jaw surgically broken and reset as an adult to correct my bite.

19. I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, in the early years of my marriage, and my husband regularly went to work wearing white stockings!

20. When I was married, my husband's birthday was one day before my father's. My birthday was one day after his father's.

21. I work in an office of nine, and three of us have the same birthday.

22. I cannot turn my back on a stray animal.

23. I am passionate about never wasting food and my friends tease me that I am a reincarnation of someone who lived through the Depression.

24. I once correctly guessed eight numbers out of ten in a psychological experiment involving flash cards. (But no, I don't seem to be psychic otherwise.)

25. When I was a freshman in college, I won the lead in the theater department's Spring production. Yet I am very introverted.

Whew! That was hard! Trust me, I'm boring!

Grandson is here!

November 15th, 2006 at 08:08 am

Just a quickie!

Grandson has arrived after only six hours of labor. Eight pounds even and 18 inches long. Tons of black curly hair, dimples and a cleft chin like his grandpa. Absolutely darling, of course, the most perfect baby on earth!

Gotta go SEE him again!

Checking in from Kansas City!

November 13th, 2006 at 10:19 am

Grandson has not yet made any moves, so my daughter-in-law is checking into the hospital this evening, and labor will be induced tomorrow morning. Still doesn't seem real!

My trip here was quite cheap -- I spent $20 on gas (after having started out with a full tank). My DIL's mother, who came along with me, filled up twice on the way, but since I started with a full tank it came out pretty fair. I spent $3 on snacks on the way, and $8 on meals (McDonald's).

Once I got here, I spent $87 on food and things for the kids. Since we made a Petco stop yesterday I spent $27 on food for my pets. I also paid $3 for a toothbrush and deoderant, since I left my Dopp bag at home. Oh well, I think it's the only thing I forgot.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: English muffin, coffee, banana
Lunch: Vegetable soup, tuna melt, diet root beer
Supper: London Broil, new potatoes, green beans, salad w/ blue cheese dressing, diet root beer.
Snack: Candy corn

Lunch out, a new budget bill & prep for the trip

November 10th, 2006 at 03:59 pm

Spent $6.34 today on lunch out. My boss wanted to go out; she was determined to eat on that balcony. I could have pressed the point and declined, but I took the path of least resistance. The meal was good, and the balcony view was nice, too. It WAS probably one of the last days of the year we could do this.

I got my gas bill. I am on the budget plan, and I was pleased to see that my monthly bill was reduced to $64 from $75. So my savings covered the lunch!

My washer and dryer are both running. The dog food is made and in the fridge. I need to load the dishwasher and run it. When the clothes are done I will pack. Then, try to get some good sleep before my trip tomorrow! Right now that seems pretty doable; I'm tired!

Meals today:

Breakfast: Granola and milk, coffee
Snack: Cornbread (free at work)
Lunch: Hot turkey sub with avocado and bacon, diet coke
Snack: Yogurt
Dinner: French toast & sausage, milk, OJ

Getting ready for the trip

November 9th, 2006 at 03:22 pm

I just refilled my Zetia prescription ($24) and picked up a gift card at Wal-Mart ($25). I'm making a heap of dog food now to last all of next week. I think I'll put off the laundry till tomorrow night. There should only be two loads.

Wouldn't you know it, just when I'm trying to wrap things up at work I get extra assignments? Nobody's fault, but it's frustrating.

Meals today:

Breakfast: Granola and milk, ginger spice latte
Snack: Popcorn
Lunch: Beef stew
Snack: Yogurt
Dinner: Ham sandwich, sweet potatoes, milk

My new coat arrived

November 9th, 2006 at 03:55 am

I finally got my new coat in the mail! Seeing it again makes me so glad I bought it. It's so pretty, and soft and warm. Now I can hardly wait for a special event to wear it.

I spent nothing yesterday. My boss wanted to go out to eat -- she's fixed on the idea of eating at a new place with outdoor balcony seating. However, even though it is unseasonably warm, it's not THAT warm. So we went instead to a cafeteria within walking distance. I brought my own brown-bag lunch. She seemed a little surprised, but I told her I was saving for my trip, which is true. After lunch we took a stroll through an art gallery, which reminded me how easy it is to entertain yourself for free.

After work I went to the gym, but didn't go through the whole routine. I did the treadmill and the weight machines, but left before doing the dumbells, crunches and stretches. I don't know, I just couldn't keep going. I was so tired.

I take to the road on Saturday (unless I hear the baby is coming today or tomorrow). Tonight I need to do laundry and start working on the dog's food. My son (my other son, not the baby's daddy!) will come to house-sit and feed my dog, but I'll have to have some food ready (he doesn't eat dog food). I also have to fill a prescription, so it will not be a no-spend day.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Granola with milk, coffee
Snack: Popcorn
Lunch: Ham sandwich, yogurt, orange
Dinner: Chef Salad, ice cream

Car repair & a walk in the rain

November 8th, 2006 at 03:45 am

I took my car into the shop yesterday to have the brakes worked on. I also got a flush and some filters changed, and the tires rotated. Altogether it was $235. That takes into account a $20 discount coupon I got from my entertainment book. Now I'm ready for my trip to Kansas City!

I also had some dry cleaning delivered -- $5.50.

Since I had no car in the morning, I walked to my polling place (in the rain) only to learn the district was split and I was in the wrong place. I still managed to catch the bus on time, but I think it must have been the wrong bus. I wound all over town, but got to work only five minutes late. I really should take the bus more often. It is a free ride. Oh, by the way, I did vote in the proper place after I picked up the car in the p.m.

I had to make quite a few adjustments in my budget for the car repair, but I think it will still work. My big concern this month is having enough for the trip and to buy groceries for the kids once I get there. Yesterday it dawned on me that my son's birthday is coming up, as well. He is not only becoming a daddy this month but turning a year older. So I have to get a birthday gift, too.

My boss wants to eat out today if the weather permits -- she has her heart set on eating at a restaurant that has outdoor balcony seating. I think I'll pack a sandwich just in case.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Home fries & sausage in pita pocket. OJ & coffee.

Snack: Popcorn

Lunch: Beef stew, baked potato

Dinner: Turkey & lettuce in pita pocket, ice cream, milk

Doggy problem, car repair, and a pledge

November 7th, 2006 at 02:35 am

The night before last my dog peed in the bed. I think he had just had to hold it too long, and he's getting old. I hope that's all it is. It wasn't a big spot, more like a leak. I washed all the bedding and went to bed last night crossing my fingers. I had walked him (which I've been pretty bad about lately, putting him out on his chain instead). I also let him out as late in the evening as I was able to stay up. He jumped up in the bed at 4:30 a.m., and I immediately started feeling around for wet spots. I decided to get up and let him out, which confused him, but the bed is dry, and now I have a couple extra hours before work! I'll probably pay for it later in the day, but what the heck. I was having bad dreams anyway.

I took my car in for brake work yesterday evening, so I have to catch the bus this morning. I was not delighted to see that it is raining, but maybe it will let up by the time I have to go.

I didn't spend anything yesterday, but I did make a $175 pledge to my alma mater. It won't come out of my budget until I set up the payments. I may have them take it out of my checking account monthly, mainly because I don't want to eradicate the gift budget this month. I am planning to buy my son and his wife some groceries next week after they bring home the baby.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Scrambled egg & sausauge in pita pocket, orange juice, coffee

Lunch: Barbecue sandwich, salad, cookie, diet coke (free at work)

Dinner: Turkey & lettuce in pita pocket, ice cream, milk

Soulmates at the recycling center?

November 6th, 2006 at 03:38 am

No spending yesterday. I went to the gym, made a trip to the recycling center, visited a friend, and even mopped and vacuumed my floors (my most hated chore).

While at the recycling center I noticed two woman checking out the cans and tearing off labels. I wondered if they were looking for coupons or if they were collecting labels for a rebate. I didn't get a chance to ask them, as there were others around, and the women were obviously trying to look inconspicuous. Perhaps feeling a little embarrassed. I hope they found what they were looking for!

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: French toast, sausage, coffee, milk
Snack: Granola and milk
Lunch: Turkey and lettuce in pita half
Dinner: Beef stew, milk
Snack: Cookies

An excellent shopping day

November 4th, 2006 at 04:04 pm

I did very well grocery shopping today. I intended to keep to $50 as closely as possible. I spent $55 and my savings were $36. The only thing I'm kicking myself for is that I forgot to get a rain check for a Tyson whole fryer at .79 a lb. Oh well, maybe I will swing by tomorrow and see if they're still out or if they're restocked.

I filled up my tank for $26 -- gas is up to $2.19 now, which isn't bad, considering where it's been.

While I was shopping I became very, very tired. Well, it WAS hard work, because I was trying to make every coupon count -- I had to spend certain amounts in dairy, and at the deli, to use dollars-off coupons, but I wanted to make sure that what I selected were good values as well. Anyway, I came home and collapsed on the couch and slept for a couple of hours. I think I'm coming down with a cold, which really ticks me off! I don't want to be sick when I go to KC for my grandson's arrival.

In the mail I had several free Poise pads from Wal-Mart and my electric bill, which was $4 less than usual, even though I have budget billing. It's not my settle-up month yet. Apparently I got some kind of credit for a "power management program." If I signed up for it, I don't remember!

Anyway, I am pleased to have the $4 extra.

I forgot to report, when I was doing my October totals, that I saved over $194. That was for grocery specials, clothes and gifts on markdown, and my free oil change. I was quite surprised at the big total!

Meals today:

Breakfast: Toast, orange, grits, coffee
Lunch: Nachos w/cheese and salsa
Snack: Granola and milk
Dinner: Peanut butter & pickle sandwich, milk

No gas, no spending

November 4th, 2006 at 05:55 am

Yesterday turned out to be a no-spend day, even though I was planning on buying gas. I got to the gas station; then realized I didn't have my pursewith me. By the time I went back home to pick up my purse, it was too late to do anything but go straight to work.

This morning I will have to remember to get gas first thing. I will also do my Kroger shopping today. I got a coupon in the mail for $5 off on $50 worth of groceries. I plan to make $50 worth of good choices (but no more). That way the coupon will be at its ultimate value. I really need to do some stocking up anyway. I also got a bunch of other coupons, some of which will be useful, and some that won't.

I found .26 yesterday -- a penny on the ground, and a quarter in the car I used from the motor pool!

My son called last night tell me that if his wife has not delivered by November 14, they will induce labor. So he told me to plan on coming next Saturday, unless the baby comes before then -- in which case I will head out there right away. Nice to have a plan.

It's real! I will have a grandson in my arms by November 14!

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Toast, orange, coffee
Snack: Nutty bars (free at work)
Lunch: Lean Cuisine (cheese ravioli), brownie
Dinner: Peas, bread & gravy, milk

A frosty day in the office

November 3rd, 2006 at 03:14 am

I racked up another no-spend day yesterday. So November has been a no-spend month! That will change this morning; I must get gas.

My office continues to be ice-cold. Yesterday morning it was actually pleasant, but the other side of the building was hot, so they adjusted it back. The hot people always win! Today I will wear three layers and take in a blanket -- and a thermometer. I do not believe it is 70 degrees in there.

I went to the gym last night. I do believe I will let my membership go at the end of the year. They are changing the leadership structure and letting the two managers go. A faculty member will take over. I think they are trying to save money and that 1) fees will rise and 2) services will be cut. It's already expensive (for me, that is -- actually it's a good deal as gyms go), and I think now that I am in the habit I can keep it up on my own. The only tricky part will be the strength training, but I will read up on that.

A friend encouraged me to join Nanowrimo -- basically it's a pledge to write a novel in the month of November. I wrote 1400 words yesterday. I have to write 50,000 by the end of the month to qualify. Obviously, it doesn't have to be good! It's just an exercise to free up writer's block. I had fun writing yesterday at lunchtime. Today I won't be able to, I have to pick up a car from the motor pool and drive to Indianapolis for a meeting. When I woke up this morning I was dreading it, but then I realized I can set the heater however I like, so I won't freeze ALL day!

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Toast, coffee
Lunch: Lean Cuisine (chicken dijon, green beans), brownie
Dinner: Peanut butter & pickle sandwich, milk

October recap & November goals

November 1st, 2006 at 05:21 pm

Forgive me if this is a repeat! This is my third try to add this entry!

October was good. My spending was less --$224 less than September. I put almost $100 more on the CCs. My net worth went up more than $4,000.

I was diligent about keeping up my spending log, and I think that helped. I also didn't try to get anything done on the house, so that save a lot of money. Unfortunately, it's got to be done eventually.

I did have some unusual expenses -- a new coat, a high chair for my grandson, annual checkup and vaccinations for my cat.

My November goal is to continue to keep up the spending log and to stay within my prescribed budget for the month. I already have a problem -- I have $15 budgeted for garbage pickup (that's been the monthly average) but I have to pay $52 for the next three months's service. I'll have to steal it from some of the other accounts. Eventually, this will work.

Meals today:

Breakfast: garlic bread, orange, coffee
Lunch: Lean Cuisine veggie pizza, brownie
Snack: Halloween candy
Dinner: Mashed potatoes & gravy, peas, milk

Temptation is always there

November 1st, 2006 at 04:33 am

I had a really different Halloween this year. I opted not to stay home and pass out candy, because the goblins coming to the door really freak out my dog. It is never a pleasant evening. I figured I have done my part over the years, but this year I will just spend the evening away from home.

First I went to the gym, and spent an hour there. Then I went to Border's and picked up a book from the bargain section to read. It was "The Lady and the Unicorn" by Tracy Chevalier, who is one of my favorite authors. I can't tell you how pleasant it was to sit there in a comfortable nook, immersing myself in medieval France, every once in a while looking up to see a butterfly or a ghost or a mummy glide by.

I was very tempted by two things. First of all, I wanted to buy the book. I started rationalizing. "It's a bargain book; maybe my Border's card will make it even cheaper. It's a good author. I'm already into it.... blah, blah, blah." But I had promised myself I would not buy anything -- it would be a freebie night out. I also wanted to go next door very badly and get a latte. In the end I resisted both. I can get the book at the library, and I survived without a latte.

Later I will go over October's totals and my goals for this month.

Meals yesterday:

Breakfast: Toast, tomato juice
Snack: Carmel corn (yes, it's still there)
Lunch: Lean Cuisine (meatloaf & mashed potatoes), brownie
Snack: Various Halloween candy at the office
Dinner: Clam chowder, toast