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Archive for December, 2014

Shopping, a movie, and turkey dinner in the works

December 29th, 2014 at 03:21 pm

I went to the grocery yesterday and bought 10 items. I will have to go back in a few days to get more things I need for the brunch, but I hope I can hold it to 10 again. It's so much easier to carry up only 10 items. I spent $22 and I bought: 2 bottles of Sprite, napkins, crackers, canned pineapple, pineapple cake mix, plastic cups, granola, white bread, sourdough bread. The Sprite is for the punch; the pineapple items are for the pineapple upside down cake.

I also gave $5 to a very nice man who often sells Street Wise magazine outside the store.

Today I went to the movies (Penguins of Madagascar) with my grandsons and their other grandmother. She treated for the movie, so I bought edible treats: $12 for popcorn and drinks.

I also spent $1.50 on laundry.

I'm feeling a little off today -- kind of achy and tired. I'm also really suffering pain in the mouth; my gum is inflamed and also, I have a popcorn husk stuck in my throat. Agony!

My bargain turkey I bought before Christmas is now thawing in the fridge. I will cook it tomorrow when it is fully thawed, and will have the family over for dinner. I'm getting kind of low on sides, but I can serve mac & cheese (for the boys), couscous or rice, and vegetables. I COULD make dressing, too, but I don't know if I want to use up my sourdough bread. I'll have to investigate my pantry to see if there are other options.

Anyway, I'll have to feel better tomorrow than I do today to take on making a dinner.

I'm really enjoying reading The Goldfinch, so that's all I plan to do with the rest of the evening!

Can it Be?

December 28th, 2014 at 05:40 am

I think ... I think ... I had a no-spend day yesterday! Except for bills that came automatically out of my account, no money passed out of my hands!

I did not make that walk to the post office. Since it was Saturday, I thought it might close early. And I was quite busy with home things. One accomplishment that feels good -- I finally got through the mountain of mail! 99% of it was junk, but I had to look for the few items I need to keep, or act upon. I also organized and put away all the gift wrap I had dragged out. Then I also did ordinary things like laundry and vacuuming and such.

My tree and decorations will stay up through December 6, the Feast of Epiphany. Mostly because my house looks its best in Christmas finery! I just enjoy it.

It occurred to me in the middle of the night that I didn't get my January train ticket when I was last at the downtown station. I still have a few days, so I may just make the free trip down to buy it. It's either that, or buy a one-way ticket on January 5 to get downtown. That's $4.75, which seems a waste. On the other hand, I'd much rather put the ticket cost on my January Discover bill!

I don't think I mentioned before that I broke the temporary crown again. It is mostly intact, but some pieces came off the back. I don't think it is worth going back to the dentist; I'll just wait it out till my appointment for the real one on January 8. But it is uncomfortable. I'll be SO SO glad when this is all over.

Today's plans -- I think I will be lazy!

Yesterday's Doings -- and Today's

December 27th, 2014 at 09:41 am

My son's family came over yesterday. He set up the TV and he also got my Bose connected to the TV and my phone. Now I can play Pandora on the Bose, which is delightful! I'm listening to the James Taylor station now.

My DIL helped him a bit with the wiring, and she also put up new pictures of the grandsons and fixed some cranky doorknobs. I told them I got quite a deal! Afterwards I played Sushi Go! with the boys.

My son had me order a DVD player and some cables, which came to about $38 on Amazon. He didn't think I needed to get a Blue-ray, since I only use the player for Redbox and library loans, and Blue-ray rentals are more expensive on Redbox.

If it hadn't been for that order, it would have been a no-spend day.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to buy groceries for my New Year's brunch and keep it within 10 items. I'm tentatively planning to serve an egg casserole, home fries, fruit salad, Cheddar Bay biscuits, Monkey Bread, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, punch and coffee. It looks like I will have everyone -- my son's family, my nephew's family, my ex and his wife, and my DIL's mother.

And now, something sad to report. No more quests on Candy Crush! I got to level 185, and it looks like going on quests to get to the next level is no longer an option. They want me to link to Facebook and ask friends for "help." That does not appeal to me. And of course I'm not going to pay!

Later today I'm going to walk to the post office, which is a bit longer walk than my usual one to the train station. I need the exercise, and I have to mail a hairbrush to one of the girlfriends, who left it here. I'm also mailing in a $3 prize claim to the Illinois Lottery! The lottery ticket was a gift -- I don't buy them as a rule!

Edit: I forgot about the pineapple-upside down cake! I think I will substitute that for the monkey bread. It was my brother's favorite dessert, and I always think of him on New Year's Day, the day he passed. It would be a nice way to honor his memory.

The Day After

December 26th, 2014 at 08:39 am

I kind of like the idea of calling this Boxing Day, even though I don't celebrate Boxing Day in any way! Since I am 7/8 English, I should look it up and maybe add it to my traditions!

The kids and I had a lovely day yesterday. Gift opening in the morning, which my DIL wisely allowed to be rather long and drawn-out, so the little ones could play with the gifts they opened. At noon we had a lunch of Chicken Lo Mein and Shredded Pork with Peking Sauce. Then for dinner, we had pork tenderloin with all the traditional trimmings. About midday I took a walk with DIL's mother beside the beach.

I had my usual Christmas paranoia about having spent too much, and having spent too little. Wacko! Next year, I will either be entering into retirement, or already there, so spending will have to be ruthlessly re-examined.

My kids bought me a new TV, which really humbles me. I hope they got a great deal! I think they were just sick of looking at my old tube TV, to tell you the truth! My son will come and install it today.

I will have to get a DVD player now, since the old TV is a combo set. I've heard I can get them really cheaply -- I'll look around.

Today I'm just puttering -- putting things away, doing laundry, catching up on little tasks. Loving the leisurely life!

Merry Christmas!

December 24th, 2014 at 08:07 am

Adding my best wishes for a wonderful Christmas to all my SA friends!

Wrapped up my Christmas shopping yesterday ($93) and bought a poinsettia as well ($6). It's a little droopy, it turns out -- it's been sitting in the shop too long, no doubt!

All my gifts are wrapped. Tonight I will go to my son's house for French bread pizza and a movie, and then tomorrow morning, back again, to see what Santa's brought.

I have Mannheim Steamroller playing on my new Bose, the Christmas tree lights are sparkling, my dining room is beautifully decorated, and all is well.

Peace on earth!

It's all good!

December 22nd, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Girls' weekend - done.
Tree up and decorated.
House decorated and Santa collection on windowsills.
Christmas shopping ALMOST done.
Most wrapping done.

Girls' weekend went really well, even though I wasn't feeling the greatest. I think I had some sort of mild bug that kept me tired and headachy. We went to lunch at a popular restaurant called "Farmhouse." I had eggs benedict, which is apparently becoming an addiction of mine. I took home a doggy bag of spicy potatoes and a biscuit (already consumed for breakfast this morning). I put $40 toward the total bill, though I think it was a little more than I owed.

We did some shopping, mostly at Barnes & Noble. I found some more gifts for my grandsons, the best one being a reference book on owls -- yes, my oldest grandson is very much into that kind of stuff! I think I spent $98 all together. I still need to get one more gift for my younger grandson, to even the value level, and also something little for my son and DIL.

We had chili at home for dinner, and just basically had a great time talking and catching up. The following morning we walked along the beach and then went to breakfast at a local coffee shop that serves wonderful pastries and breakfast sandwiches. I think I spent $8 there.

As soon as my friends left on Sunday I slept the day away, and I feel much better now.

I invited my kids over tonight to finish the chili (there's tons of it) but they haven't responded yet.

My grandsons actually decorated my tree for me, and helped me carry it and all the boxes up from the basement. It was so wonderful to have that help, and they did a very good job!

Now I'm just enjoying my first day of my two-week staycation. What a luxury!

This and That

December 19th, 2014 at 05:57 am

Last night, between trains, I dashed into a store at the station and bought a soft winter scarf for our boss. It was just four of us contributing $5 each, so I was glad to find something for $20 that seemed right, and so quickly.

This morning I drove and filled up the tank for $19. It was only about half-down, but when gas is so cheap, I can't resist!

In one hour I will go to the dentist to get this temporary crown fixed. It feels like a have a knife in my mouth! I can hardly wait to get it done.

My DIL came over last night to borrow a pie pan, and she was in a talkative mood. I just wanted to crash, but she did catch me up on all kinds of family stuff. The most interesting -- my ex's daughter from his second marriage is expecting. What makes that interesting is that he is basically supporting her, even though she is an adult and married. I wonder what this will do to the dynamics?

My DIL also offered to have her mother and her sons come over tonight after work and help me get the tree up and the house decorated. I said I would call to make sure I am not too tired to do that!

I did get some housework done last night, so I'm feeling a little better about the weekend coming up. Both girlfriends have emailed me that they are coming, so I just have to get my stuff together and then let myself enjoy the wonderful time I know we will have.

Broke my Crown Again!

December 18th, 2014 at 08:55 am

I was eating a bagel for breakfast this morning and suddenly realized that I was feeling sharp edges on my crown. Apparently I swallowed the pieces that fell off. Gosh, I'm tired of this. I just got the temporary crown yesterday. Why do they have to be so VERY temporary? I made an appointment to have it replaced tomorrow. Which means I'll have to drive again.

I guess I will have to eat VERY soft food until January 8, when I finally get the permanent one!

Got a free dinner last night at our office Christmas party, and there will be free eats all day in the break room. In fact, there is so much food in there, I think we will all have to take home doggy bags.

I brought in fruit kabobs, because I had signed up to do so, but I really wish we didn't do so much partying with food at this time of year. It doesn't feel festive, it feels excessive. Wasteful.

My girlfriends are not arriving till noon on Saturday, so I am feeling more relaxed, knowing I have the morning to get ready. After they are gone on Sunday, I can turn my attention to finishing up my Christmas shopping and wrapping. And then get ready for my New Year's brunch. Anybody have ideas for easy make-ahead brunch foods? I really want to simplify things this year!

A Spendy Day

December 17th, 2014 at 10:04 am

What a spendy day it was yesterday! The car repair cost $1102. I spent $9 on fast food. Groceries were $79. I also spent $33 on gifts. Then this morning I bought a cake for the office Christmas party tonight - $8, and breakfast for $3.

It didn't occur to me till it was all done, but I should have just taken my car home and scheduled the repair after January 1. Then that big expense could have gone on January's Discover challenge. As it is, I will overshoot December by quite a bit. But it's all done now, so I won't beat myself up.

More dumbness -- I bought breakfast on the way to work, forgetting that my boss was bringing in a free breakfast.

I just got back from the dentist, having a new crown mold made -- which is quite involved! Half of my face is numb. But I didn't owe any more, which I was relieved to know. The permanent crown will be placed on January 8. My temporary has to last till then.

With yesterday evening spent in the grocery store, I still have not had time to get ready for my girlfriends this weekend. The house is a mess, laundry needs to be done, the aquarium needs cleaning, and the Christmas tree is still in basement storage in a box. But at least I have the ingredients for the chili dinner! Hoping that Thursday and Friday evening will be enough to get ready.

I'm going to remember this next year -- not to schedule too many events so close together. I've been going full tilt since Thanksgiving, and I'm about ready to drop!



Catalytic Converter

December 16th, 2014 at 06:18 am

I got the call yesterday -- a new catalytic converter is needed. With parts and labor, it is more than $1000. I certainly hope this will be the last repair for a while. I know I am working with an old car, but it's hard when all the repairs seem to come at once. I sure don't want to buy a new car, and I don't want to give up the car yet, so .... needs must.

Work is nice and slow this last week before Christmas break. I have but a few tasks today, and yesterday I had plenty of time to catch up on the work that piled up during vacation. Meetings are being canceled left and right.

I did some Amazon Christmas shopping yesterday and spent about $88 out of pocket. All that's left to do is to fill some "goody" boxes (instead of stockings) and buy some little gifts to open for the grandsons. Also need to get a little something for the boys' other grandma (we are both at the gift-opening). Oh, and a little something for the girlfriends. I guess I'm not done at all. Sigh.

I'm Back!

December 15th, 2014 at 09:05 am

Got back from vacation last night. It was pretty thrifty for me, since my cousin paid most of the expenses (in return for driving her to Florida). I spent $155, most of which was for a hotel room and airline baggage fees. I also spent $275 on Christmas gifts for my son's family (and that's half of Christmas done for me! My cousin let me put $550 in expenses on my Discover card and wrote me a check, to help me meet this month's spending goal.

I had three bad surprises upon coming home. One, my son parked my car too close to a fire hydrant, costing me a $58 fine. (I'm sure he didn't notice, and he did a lot of pet care and cleanup while I was gone, so I'm not even going to mention it to him.) Two, my check engine light is indicating trouble with the catalytic converter (I'll find out today when I drop off the car at the shop). And three, our interim president at the college has announced a RIF. Nine faculty positions will be eliminated in January, but in March, even more admin positions will go. I'm nervous that I will be targeted as an almost-retiree. I don't want to retire in March!

Other than that, it's good to be home!

I will have a busy week, getting ready for my "girls' weekend" guests, but after that, I get to chill at home for two whole weeks. Blissful!

I still have Christmas shopping to do, but I think it will be an Amazon Christmas. Plus, my main gift to the grandsons will be contributions to their college funds, so, all in all, I don't think I'll do much mall-shopping. Hurrah!

Christmas program, check engine light, couch!

December 5th, 2014 at 05:47 am

Drove in today, so I can attend the Christmas program and not have to take a late train.

I noticed that my check engine light is on. In the past, that has usually been because of a loose gas cap, but I don't think that is the case now. I just refilled the tank, and the cap was tight. I put it back on tight, and the light remained on. I'll have to stop at AutoZone on the way home.

I bought breakfast at McD ($5) but I do have my lunch packed. I will probably have to buy dinner, as it will be a long day. I don't know what the gas cost; I forgot to grab the receipt. It will show up on Discover, however.

I got a message yesterday that my couch is ready to be delivered! Woo-hoo! Of course, they want to deliver on Saturday, when I will be babysitting all day. I will have to make the boys stay at my house until the delivery is made.

I did another load of laundry last night ($1.50). I think I will still have to do three loads on Sunday, but at least I am making progress.

Today's focus will be wrapping things up at work for a week's absence!

This and That

December 4th, 2014 at 06:49 am

I really just wanted to crash when I got home last night, but I forced myself to put in a load of laundry, then went over to check on the grandsons. My DIL's mom kindly gave me supper and then gave me a new Christmas tablecloth she never used. It's a red tartan plaid, very nice. It may not be long enough for my new table, but perhaps I can angle it over another cloth.

When I came home, I finished up the laundry and loaded and ran the dishwasher.

I still have so much to do before I fly out of town on Monday, and Saturday will be completely taken up with babysitting. But it felt good to at least get one load of laundry done and get the dishes cleaned.

This morning I bought a muffin and a banana at Corner Bakery for $3. Cheaper than a muffin and coffee! Why was I always buying coffee? I still have the banana for a mid-morning snack. I grabbed some pizza from the freezer, so I won't have to buy lunch.

I realized yesterday I will miss the big (interdepartmental) holiday party at work. I don't mind so much except that it is always a wonderful brunch. I never win any of the awesome raffle prizes!

Our unit is pretty lackluster about holiday parties, so I'm lucky in that there is no gift exchange or carry-in to worry about. I will bring food for the food bank drive, however.

Tomorrow is the College's Christmas concert. I do believe I will try to make it to that. I don't think there is any other inspirational program on my docket this year. And, of course, it's free!

Crownless!

December 3rd, 2014 at 06:08 am

I spent a half-hour plus in the dentist's chair yesterday, but nothing was accomplished. He wasn't satisfied with the way the crown fit, so in the end he had me make appointments for a new mold and fitting. Now my temporary crown has to last until January 8!

I do appreciate that he is such a perfectionist. I know that when I get my crown, it will be perfect.

I paid him $74 yesterday to settle up what the insurance didn't pay. I do not think there will be another bill, but we'll see. I hope I will not get charged for more office visits.

Since yesterday was Giving Tuesday, I sent $25 to my alma mater.

I also paid my professional association dues, but I will be reimbursed for that by my employer.

I bought dinner on the way home at Arby's ($7) and bought lunch at the cafeteria ($5). I am really out of the swing of packing meals. However, today I managed to bring breakfast and lunch, and I should be home early enough today to make dinner at home.

That's all my spending! Today I'm going to reserve a taxi for my airport run next week. I got an email for a preferred-customer discount from the company I use most often.

I sure hope to get some laundry done tonight. Last night I went over to the grandsons' and checked on them, but they are very happy in their other grandma's care, and while they were happy to see me, nobody seemed to particularly need my help. I may go tonight, but I'll make it brief.

A Busy Time

December 2nd, 2014 at 05:45 am

I just dropped my sister off at the airport, then drove the rest of the way into work. I treated her to dinner last night at a local restaurant ($30) and I got myself breakfast on the way in ($5).

I will get my crown put on this afternoon, and I will stop to get gas before going home.

I have a ton of laundry to do! But tonight I need to check in on the grandchildren, unless I am too sore from the dental procedure.

I can hardly imagine right now that I will be flying out to NC in a week to begin a road trip to Florida. And then getting ready to host friends as soon as I get home. And I have NOT done any Christmas shopping or decorating!

This is a really busy time for me. And just think, next year at this time, I will be getting ready to wrap up my career and retire. Sounds awfully good to me right now!

The End of Vacation

December 1st, 2014 at 07:57 am

My last day of vacation was spoiled by getting sick. My sister came down with the bug first, and I got it the day after. Mostly stomach cramps and "digestive issues." It was an awful drive home, but we arrived safely, and it was good to sleep in my own bed. This morning I woke up feeling fine, so I went to work.

First order of business -- I summed up my November spending:

Housing: $677
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $674
Medical/Health: $442
Gifts/Charity: $184
Groceries: $175
Utilities: $131
Eating Out: $107
Vet/Pet Supplies: $106
Clothing/Accessories: $100
Vacation/Travel: $90
Fares/Parking: $83
Fees/Services: $75
Phone: $51
Laundry/Dry Cleaning: $32
Gas: $20
Entertainment: $9
Personal: $9
Grand Total: $2965

The big items were buying the Bose and making a big payment on my crown.

This morning I was shocked to realize it was December 1 -- and I did not have my December train pass. I had to pay $4.25 to get to the downtown station, where I bought the pass ($76). Missed the train while standing in line, and had to take the later one. Not an auspicious way to begin the month!

This evening I am taking the grandsons out for dinner -- mainly to give their other Grandma a break. She is babysitting while the kids are in Mexico on a second honeymoon. (Really, the first, just 10 years after their wedding!)

Tomorrow I take my sister to the airport, then I'll drive to work, so that I can leave early and get my permanent crown put in.

On Wednesday I may be able to rest!