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Archive for April, 2011

Dinner and trip preparations

April 28th, 2011 at 06:01 am

Last night I went to dinner with a couple of colleagues in my field -- it was just sort of a meet & greet thing, no agenda. It was fun, and I enjoyed my two dining companions very much. The restaurant was a upscale Italian place and I paid $29, and blew my diet as well. (The scale showed a gain of 2 pounds. That scale does not cut me a break!)

I also stopped and got gas - $42 -- $4.19 a gallon, the best price I've seen.

Now I'm behind the eight ball in terms of getting ready for my trip to DC. I still have laundry soaking in the washer, haven't packed, etc. Before I leave tonight I also have to put out lots of food and water and litter for the cats, empty the garbage, and make sure everything is ok in the fridge for a few days. Then I have to drive about 3 hours tonight to our meeting place in Indiana. I'm usually not this lax about getting ready, but it's been a busy week at work (and today will be a busy one, getting ready to disappear for a few days).

Hey! A dime!

April 27th, 2011 at 08:49 am

Just as I headed out this morning in the rain, I found a dime right in my path. Woo-hoo!

I felt like it was kind of a reward, because I got up at five to make a breakfast casserole to take to work. I didn't like it that I had to transport it in the rain -- especially since there was no parking near the building. I took a risk and double-parked to run it into the building, then moved my car to the lot. All's well, it was served hot, and everyone liked it. I didn't get too wet. And I have a dime for my efforts.

Tonight I am going out to dinner -- sort of work-related, but I have to pay out of my own pocket. With the weather as it is, I feel like canceling, but as there are only three of us, I hate to do that to the hostess. The planned restaurant is an Italian place, and I do have to say that sounds good.

Hey! A quarter!

April 26th, 2011 at 06:15 am

Headed out for a walk at noon yesterday and had to turn back after 10 minutes because it started to rain. But before that, I found a quarter! Nestled in the dirt, I only recognized it as a coin because of its perfect round shape. It's pretty grungy. I don't know if a washing machine or Coinstar will accept it (eventually) but it's going on my log! I've broken the $1 mark!

Tomorrow I've promised to bring in a breakfast casserole for admin asst's day. That's okay, I have lots of eggs and ham and milk I need to use up before my trip. I've also promised to go to a dinner in Naperville on Wednesday night -- related to the professional association I belong to. So more expense, more time. Can't be helped.

Easter etc.

April 25th, 2011 at 08:35 am

It was a good Easter. Lots of people, kids, food, laughter and plastic eggs. I was wound up (in a good way) when I got home and couldn't sleep. But I'll sleep tonight!

I took a package of Hawaiian rolls to the dinner and came home with a huge amount of ham and salad, so I made out pretty good! My ex always buys and prepares too much food, so it's usually a given that doggy bags will be handed out at the end.

On Saturday I grocery shopped (only 11 items!)

Snack-size baggies (house brand, on sale)
Splenda (on sale, $3 off coupon)
Lactaid (generic)
Freezer wrap
Butter (house brand, on sale)
Hershey's Bliss eggs (on sale, $1 off coupon)
Creamer (house brand)
2 dozen large eggs (on sale)
King's Hawaiian rolls (on sale)
Kitty litter

Grand total: $42.27

I also went to see Water for Elephants ($6). I couldn't overcome temptation, and I'm glad I went. It was a great book, and now a great movie, too. Highly recommended!

Now I'm getting ready for my weekend road trip to DC. I've got the cash, I've stocked up on kitty litter -- I just have to pack and take care of perishable food.

The holiday weekend

April 23rd, 2011 at 09:28 am

Yesterday I stayed in all day (and since it rained all day there wasn't much temptation to go out). I got quite a bit of filing done (my most dreaded task). I also did some reading, played some computer games and caught up on TV episodes I had missed. I was patting myself on the back for not spending any money.

Today I really want to go see a movie. There are two out now that I want to see -- Jane Eyre and Water for Elephants. I tell myself it doesn't happen often that I really want to see something in the theater. And it's only $7.50 for a matinee. I can see them when they come out on DVD, but it's never the same as the big theater experience.

Then I tell myself I made a promise that I wouldn't do any extra spending this month. GRRRRrrrr! I guess I'll let you know tomorrow whether the good me or bad me won.

My ex is hosting a big Easter dinner at his house. It will include not only my kids and grandkids, but his sister's family and his wife's parents. Even though I am a bit of a fifth wheel in these crowds, I will go, as that is where my kids will be. I will go up early to my son's house for the Easter Bunny events in the a.m., so I will have some private time with them beforehand. Anyway, I am now in the process of making deviled eggs to take -- if they peel nicely. If they don't, I'll have to think of something else cheap! Maybe a cranberry walnut tea bread?

Yesterday I met my 1300-calorie goal but was still not rewarded with a change on the scale. I have laid out my eating plan for today, and it should be doable. Tomorrow will be more difficult, but I am determined to stick to this. I am so tired of being chunky.

A little bit of income

April 22nd, 2011 at 08:04 am

I got a check from Mazola for a rebate: $6.49. And a Pine Cone payment of $3. I just joined Opinion Outpost, so I hope to have another little income stream soon.

The lunch I went to yesterday was paid for by the College -- that was a nice surprise. I didn't control myself very well on the calorie front however. I was so hungry. I ate a big gourmet hamburger with bleu cheese and carmelized onions and some of the big mound of French fries on the plate. While waiting for the meal to arrive, I ate two slices of buttered French bread. But that's not all! Back at the office, I ate 5 chocolates from a box of Pot O' Gold. I was just ravenous.

When I got home, I skipped dinner and exercised but couldn't undo the damage. Before bed I ate one slice of bread. Lord, what a day.

The scale didn't show a gain this morning, but the scale has been obstinately stuck for weeks now, the only motion being a pound gained, a pound lost, a pound gained, a pound lost. Today I adjusted my goal down to 1300 calories, since 1480 is obviously maintenance for me.

Late in the day I started fretting about money -- all the expenses coming up this month, and then I expanded my fear to HOW WILL I POSSIBLY SURVIVE AFTER RETIREMENT? I skipped the book signing because I didn't want to use the gas! I was in a state.

This morning I am calmer but determined to get a handle on both my weight and my finances -- and to do what I can and to LET THE REST GO! Jeesh!

Airline fare went down too late

April 21st, 2011 at 05:38 am

Just got a Priceline notice this morning that I could get airfare to Austin for $252. Darn! I paid $391 a few days ago! I hate it when I screw up.

Despite saying that this will be a low-spend time for me, I went out to lunch yesterday (my boss asked me; I couldn't say no). I also took the opportunity to treat her, since her birthday is coming up this weekend. $21. At least I paid cash, so it won't affect the bloated credit card problem.

AND, I'm going out to lunch today, because my other boss, who was fired, is here for her last day, and a bunch of us are taking her out for a final farewell. Couldn't say no to that either.

I'm going to another author talk/book signing tonight. It's become my new form of entertainment. The author tonight is Don McCaig, who writes Civil War fiction. I checked out one of his books from the library last night, and after reading a little bit I realized I had read it already. That's good! I just wanted to familiarize myself with his work.

Tomorrow I have the day off for Good Friday. So glad to have a three-day weekend! Now if it would just warm up!

Found money and a night with Caroline Kennedy

April 20th, 2011 at 06:07 am

I haven't reported much on my found money. I usually find a penny here and there, usually a very beat-up one in a parking lot. It's not a great source of income for me! Smile

But yesterday I was telling a friend about it, and she told me that shortly after her mother died, she started finding dimes everywhere! She didn't tell me what the association was between dimes and her mother, just that it happened often and she didn't think it was a coincidence. Lo and behold, as we were walking out of Border's, there was a clean, shiny dime on the floor! I spotted it first and claimed it, and we had a good laugh. She said her mother wanted me to have it.

We were in Border's because we had just attended a book signing by Caroline Kennedy. She has edited a new edition of her favorite poetry for women. I didn't buy the book (they were all out of them anyway) and since I couldn't get in the signing line, I didn't get very close. All through her talk I couldn't see her at all -- only a few glimpses when the sea of heads in front of me parted in just the right way. Still, I enjoyed HEARING her. She was a very articulate lady and gave us a nice glimpse into her family life when she was a child. Afterwards I did get close enough to take a picture when my friend was getting her book signed. She was very pretty and VERY slim!

I've decided that this will be a low-spend month. I've already put a wallop into the credit card for conference expenses, and there will be more charges when I head to DC. So all other spending is on hold. I will not even do my fifteen items. I will buy only necessities until May 11, when my credit card cycle ends. The goal is to NOT dip into savings when the payment is due. We'll see how it goes.

Oh dear

April 19th, 2011 at 04:34 am

I don't know if I did the right thing...

I'm going to a conference in Austin, TX this summer. When I turned in my expense plan, I quoted the going rate for airline tickets -- $280. After the conference was approved I didn't buy the ticket right away because I was waiting for the billing cycle on my credit card to end. Yesterday I heard on the news that everyone should expect fare hikes this summer, so I thought I'd better get on the stick and buy the ticket. The best fare I could find was $391 after fees and taxes. I bought it because I was afraid it could get worse. But I feel really bad that I am more than $100 over my estimate. It's not money coming out my pocket (I'll be reimbursed after the conference in July) but I hate for the College to have to pay so much. I'll have to be very good on my other expenses!

The hotel has already charged my credit card for one night's stay in advance, so this is going to be an expensive cycle on my credit card. Granted, I will get a sweet paycheck in July, so I shouldn't stress.

I also have the race in Washington DC coming up the weekend after next. That will cost me some money, too -- gas, food & lodging. I'm afraid I'm going to have to tap into my EF before this is all over. It is a good feeling to know that it's there, and even if my credit card goes sky high this month, I can still pay it off in full.

Fifteen Items

April 18th, 2011 at 05:51 am

My fifteen items, purchased yesterday:

2 bags of disposable razors (1 free w/coupon)
Pecan Sandies (on sale)
Fresh strawberries (on sale)
Whole Wheat Bread (on sale)
2 bags premium cat chow ($2 off coupon)
1 bag generic cat chow
Greek yogurt
Wine (on sale)
2 bowls Bob Evans mac & cheese (on sale and $1 off coupon)
Milk
Bag of Rolos
Package of boneless skinless chicken breasts (on sale)

Total: $65.47

I also bought lunch for my son's family this weekend: $31.63. And I went back to Kohl's with my second coupon and bought two more pairs of panties: $4.59.

Since it was a spendy weekend, I didn't go to Goodwill.

Woke up to snow on the ground this morning! And my weight went up, even though I have stuck to the diet. Ugh. Bad mood all round.

$600 to savings

April 15th, 2011 at 06:09 am

It's pay day, and I transferred $600 into savings, left over from last month's budget. That's on top of my automatic savings of $125, so -- good month for saving! However, I have a car repair in my future which will probably eat it up. I had a fender bender months ago and didn't make the repair, thinking, oh, the car is old, I'll just let it go. Well, I noticed it is rusting a little -- can't have that. I'm going to fix it and probably should have done so in the first place. Sigh.

Yesterday I went out to lunch with some of my co-workers in a good-bye gesture for our boss, who was fired. Today is the official good-bye party from the whole office. A sad day. My share of the lunch was $17. I believe this afternoon's party is covered already.

On the way home from work I stopped at Kohl's to use one of my $10 gift cards. (I got two in the mail, one to me and one to "resident.") I bought two pairs of panties. I thought they were 2 for the price of 1, and the one price was $9.50. I struggled to find something else and finally bought a card for $1.99. Come to find out the second pair was half-price, so I was already over. Oh well. $6.47 for two pairs of panties and a card, not bad. (The panties are an especially good-fitting style from Vanity Fair -- ordinarily I would hate to pay $9.50, but at this price, yes!)

With the second card I will either get two more or some warm-weather trouser socks.

Tonight, though, I head up to the North Shore to babysit for my grandkids. DS & DIL are running in a 3K tomorrow. Too bad, it will be a cold, crappy day, but they are still doing it, so good for them!!

File cabinet disaster

April 10th, 2011 at 07:01 am

I spent a good part of yesterday assembling the file cabinet I bought from IKEA. The instructions were about as minimal as could be and i made a crucial mistake -- put the wrong hardware in the wrong place. To make a long story short, I do have a file cabinet, but the top, shallow drawer is unworkable. I don't need to use it anyway, it just would have been more space for junk. The lower drawer, where the files will be is okay. And the cabinet looks nice. However, I don't think I will ever buy anything to assemble from IKEA again. I wish I didn't ever have to assemble anything again. Why can't you buy anything that's already put together any more?

Today's project is filing papers (and I've got a lot of them) but I want to get out and walk, too. It's a gorgeous day!

Fifteen items

April 9th, 2011 at 08:52 am

My fifteen items this week were purchased at Wal-Mart. I needed to fill a prescription and get keys made.

Nutella - $1 off coupon
Shredded cheddar - house brand
2 bags Easter candy (for student workers)
2 keys made
4-pack Greek yogurt
Fresh blueberries
Bag of 3 small green peppers
2 cans tomato soup (house brand)
Auto wax
Can of tuna
Aleve (generic brand)
Prescription

Total: $60.01

Looking over my register, I see that I was double-charged for two items. Rats! I have to go back. Also, one of the keys didn't work, so I guess I have to take that back anyway.

I hope the cashier made an honest mistake and wasn't trying to cheat me.

------

OK -- just returned from Wal-Mart again, and I was refunded $5.29 with no problem -- very pleasant customer service person.

I stopped on the way back to get gas ($37) and then at Ace Hardware to get the key cut again. While at Ace I found a mini-dolly that will fit in my car. Total cost: ($36) I just brought in the super-heavy box containing an unassembled file cabinet that I bought at IKEA. Wheeled it in slick as a whistle. I'm going to like this dolly!

Now I just have to check that this second key works....

So I have this afternoon's project -- put together that file cabinet.

New blind, and other stuff

April 8th, 2011 at 06:03 am

Yesterday I got the blind replaced in my bedroom -- apparently at no charge. My grandson had made a "window" by snapping off the ends of slats. LOL. He's only four; he had no concept that he was damaging property. The maintenance crew did it while I was at work (with my permission) and there is no bill or anything, though they left a work order. So I think it's no charge.

Tonight I go see "Nickeled and Dimed" at a nearby college theater. I'm really looking forward to seeing it, but it starts at 8, which, these days, is awfully close to my bedtime! (I'm an early riser.) I hope I don't nod off.

Yesterday I put $10 into an envelope going around to collect funds for a farewell gift for my boss. She was fired and her future is not clear (though she is talented, and I think she will land on her feet). Anyway, I felt like giving $10 instead of the usual $5 or under. Looks like everyone else felt the same way, because the envelope was full of 10's and 20's.

I was looking at Zillow yesterday and saw tons of foreclosures in the area in which I want to move. Has anyone here ever bought a foreclosed property? I know nothing of the procedure, but it's very tempting.

Just checking in

April 7th, 2011 at 05:59 am

Not much going on. I sent my BFF some templates for budgeting, at her request, but I haven't heard back from her. Hope she gets on board. She is good with her money overall, but she hasn't been tracking, and now that she is retired she is feeling a difference.

I've been working hard to use up food in the fridge before it goes bad. I think I am still buying too much. At least, too much that is perishable. Last night I boiled some potatoes, which I will use for breakfasts and sides, and will add to some beef stew I made in the crockpot. (I won't put potatoes in the crockpot -- I've had some bad experiences.) I also made some chicken teriyaki stirfry. Those two meals alone will feed me for a while. I'll have to freeze some portions. I also have a bag of salad and some fresh veggies to use up. I may have to cook the veggies and make soup to preserve them.

I have been using myfitnesspal for several months now and I have been successfully staying under my calorie goal most days. But I haven't been tracking my weight, because I tend to get obsessive about it. Well, I finally decided to start tracking, and I'm glad I did. I'm starting to see little losses and it's encouraging.

Last weekend and some new experiences

April 5th, 2011 at 06:29 am

Had a really lovely weekend with my BFF. We went to IKEA, had two dinners out, went to an author talk/book signing (Alexander McCall Smith), went to a movie, shopped at Goodwill, and just overall had a good time talking and catching up.

Financially --

$131 at IKEA (big item was a file cabinet; still in my car in the box because it's too heavy to move)

$30 for meals out

$7.50 for movie

$14 at Goodwill (little household items and gifts)

Not bad at all, considering the biggest expenditure was for something I've been needing for a while.

My two recent author talks have encouraged me to get out more and do some mind-expanding. So last night I went to a free screening of "Constantine's Sword," a documentary by a former Catholic priest about Christian/Jewish interaction over the centuries. Very good. The author/filmmaker will be here to speak on Sunday so it was very good to see this beforehand. I will enjoy his talk that much more.

On Friday I'm going to see an on-stage production of "Nickel and Dimed." Maybe some of you are familiar with the book, about a journalist who went undercover and lived life as a minimum wage earner. The book made quite an impression on me and I'm eager to see how it comes across as a play. This will not be free, the ticket was $10.

Had a scare last night. I misplaced my keys at work and locked myself out of the office. When I had security let me in -- still no keys. I retraced my steps and finally found them in a building I had visited earlier. What a relief. It was after five and everyone had gone home, so I was picturing having to walk home and then run down someone at the leasing office to let me into my apartment. It's only a two-and-a-half mile walk, but I definitely wasn't in the mood!

Fifteen items

April 2nd, 2011 at 09:05 am

Today I bought:

Kettle Korn, 3-pack, house brand, on sale
Mucinex DM - on sale
Zyrtec - on sale, $4 off coupon
Greek yogurt - on sale
Teriaki marinade - $.50 off coupon
Kraft parmesan cheese - on sale
Fancy greens -- $1.50 off with purchase of cheese
Kettle cookers (stew vegetables)
2 bags fresh vegetable medley (BOGO)
Fresh raspberries - on sale
2 bottles wine ($5 off coupon)
Poppyseed dressing - on sale
Dishwasher detergent - house brand, on sale

Total: $70.48

I'm stocking up on Zyrtec whenever I can get it cheap.

Planning to make beef stew and chicken teriaki stirfy this week.

Cheap Vuitton Handbags! Just kidding....

April 1st, 2011 at 05:41 am

Actually, this is my March recap:

Rent -- 1100
Utilities -- 275
Entertainment -- 175 (includes Ancestry.com fee)
Gifts -- 101
Groceries -- 100
Business -- 92
Insurance -- 87
Medical/Health -- 85 (supplements & OTC drugs)
Personal -- 76 (haircut and Crest Whitestrips)
Gas -- 73
Furnishings/Equipment -- 64 (mattress pad, food scale)
Eating out -- 50
Vet/Pet Supplies -- 35
Clothing -- 29
Household supplies -- 26
Miscellaneous -- 3

Total -- 2381

I always aim to keep spending below $2400 so I'm on target.