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Archive for February, 2016

Day Nine

March 1st, 2016 at 12:27 am

Came in at 1412 calories today.

Egg casserole
Coffee w/creamer
Toast w/butter & marmalade
Red Vine pizza
Peanut soup
Crackers

I had veggies on the pizza and in the casserole. If I get hungry later I will have a serving of veggies, but right now I'm feeling about right.

I did my February recap:

Taxes: $942
Housing: $677
Utilities: $162
Vacation/Travel: $122
Gifts/Charity: $106
Groceries: $86
Fees/Services: $84
Phone: $52
Eating Out: $41
Entertainment: $31
Medical/Health: $29
Household Supplies: $13
Vet/Pet Supplies: $11
Personal: $11
Laundry: $11
Grand Total: $2378

The taxes are my first semi-annual payment of property taxes. I'll be paying my state income tax next month.

Fees/Services included I-pass fee, tax prep fee, and my passport picture. Next month I'll pay for the actual passport.

Everything else was nice and low. My variables percentage was 66%, even better than I thought.

I was planning to go to the dentist tomorrow, but I called to reschedule. Heavy snow is predicted for tomorrow, and I don't want to drive in it. My dentist is more than 20 miles away.

Today was the fourth day in a row that I haven't had heat. I think it is finally coming on tonight, though I have had enough false alarms, I'm not sure yet it will stay on. All I can say is, I'd better get heat tonight; the temperature is plunging.

Our association president shared an email he sent to the property managers. "Three days without heat. HELP!" I suspect they really believe they can turn off the heat when it gets into the fifties outside, because "it's so warm!" Yeah, it's warm for February. Still cold. They should live here.

I wish my suffering were translating into lower costs, but it doesn't make any difference at all. I pay my assessment fees just the same, whether I freeze or burn up.

Okay, I'm done complaining! Looking forward to a toasty day tomorrow while I watch the snow fall!

Day Eight

February 29th, 2016 at 12:18 am

It was a good day. 1441 calories.

Egg casserole
Coffee w/ creamer
Red Vine pizza
8 oz. Sprite
Chicken patty on bun w/lettuce & mayo
Green beans
Wine
1 square dark chocolate

The red vine pizza is a specialty from Blaze Pizza, made with sauce, soft mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes. I had lunch at Blaze with my son's family. I picked up the tab for all; $39.

I brought home two pieces of pizza for lunch tomorrow.

I took a 45-minute walk to the grocery store, where I used a coupon to get a free yogurt.

I spent most of the day with the grandsons; in the park, at lunch, and watching them play videogames. I came home late afternoon, and now I'm watching "Places in the Heart" and loving it.

Wrapping up the month tomorrow. Right now my variables stand at 69%. May be a bit higher when I do the final reckoning, but in any event, I've done well.

Day Seven

February 28th, 2016 at 02:23 pm

I went to sleep last night before making an entry for Day Seven. I went to bed early to read, because I was so cold, and fell asleep. I'm looking forward to the temperature outside diving; that's when the radiators come on.

I also had a bad headache and just had to baby myself.

But one good outcome: I accidentally skipped supper, and calories for the day were only 783!

Food consumed:

Coffee w/creamer
Toast w/peanut butter & jelly
Cream of veggie soup
Greek yogurt w/ honey
1 square dark chocolate

In the morning I went to Aldi, planning to buy only 10 items. As often happens at Aldi, I got more, but the groceries still fit into my two totes, so in a way I kept to my plan. And I got good diet stuff.

My purchases:

Crackers
Almond Milk
Butter
Frozen Brussel Sprouts
Iceberg Lettuce
Frozen Broccoli Florets
Frozen Asparagus
Frozen Green Beans
Carrots
Canned Broth
Applesauce
Flour
Canned Black Olives
Chocolates

Let me explain about the chocolates. In the discount bin, there were Russell Stover valentine boxes marked down to $2.05. Since I keep myself on my diet by rewarding myself with little hits of chocolate, I thought it was a good idea to get a box for that price.

The total bill was $22.

After lunch I went to see "The Big Short" (which I obviously didn't see the other day when I said I was going to!) It cost me $7. I thought it was a pretty amazing movie; certainly clarifying about what went wrong in the housing market, and a little depressing to think about the level of greed that fueled it. I loved Steve Carell's speech at the end about how fraud never works; I wish those in power really believed that.

I didn't do any significant exercising, though I did some running around, and parked far away from my destinations. I got to Aldi about 15 minutes early and walked around in Home Depot waiting for Aldi to open.

I found a penny. So far this year, I've picked up .97 off the street. I've also earned $15 from Pine Cone. Every little bit helps.

Oh, and in the interest of transparency, I gave $5 to a homeless woman. It was right after the movie, and I was feeling very un-greedy.

Day Six

February 26th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Now I've done it. I knew this day would come. It's only 4:30 and I've already eaten 1522 calories. I'm going to really try to make it through the rest of the day drinking water. My food choices were not great. My excuse? The boiler is off, and I'm freezing. The urge for comfort eating was undeniable.

French toast sticks w/butter & syrup
Black coffee
2 tortilla pizzas
Popcorn w/ butter (1/4 cup unpopped)
1 square dark chocolate

No walk today; it's too cold. I'll do the stretching exercises tonight.

I watched a good movie today from Xfinity's streaming service: The Lucky Ones. It's about three soldiers who bond on a car trip while on leave. I'd never heard of it before -- it may be an indie movie.

I watched it while lying on the couch, covered in blankets, with my cat lying on top of me. And I was still cold. The radiators have come on briefly, but go off again. I don't know what's up, but I wish they would fix it.

Financially, all is well. It was a no-spend day, except for one load of laundry. Tomorrow I'll go to the grocery again; my list has reached ten. So I'm not done for the month. Variables spending is at 60%, so I'm bound to come in under.

Also, my property tax was about $250 less than expected which gives me a little boost in savings.

March will be a little different. I will have a dentist's appointment on the first (which is out of town), and at least three potential eating-out events. I'll have to work harder to make ends meet.

Day Five

February 26th, 2016 at 12:56 am

Coming in at 1416 calories today. Food consumed:

Coffee w/creamer
2 eggs over easy
Lightly buttered toast
2 clementines
Chicken parmesan sandwich
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup French onion soup w/cheese bread topping
5 oz. wine
1/2 cup frozen yogurt

I also took a 1/2 hour walk.

I had two financial surprises today. I paid my Discover bill and realized that I was charged $40 to renew my I-pass (for tollway fares). No problem, but I was charged in January, and I never counted it then. So it goes into February expenses; I'm not going to go back and change everything. That pushes my variables spending to 59%, still very good.

Then, looking at last February's expenses, I realized that I paid the first installment of my property tax last February, but I hadn't yet received a bill this year. So I got online, and saw that it is due on March 1! I was able to pay online, with a $1 fee, but I'm sure glad I looked. I looked all over, and I don't believe I ever got the bill. I remember that I got an application for my senior exemption, but the actual bill -- no. Not unless senioritis has really set in.

That said, I really have to get better about my paperwork. I hate it, and I'm bad at it. I'd like everything to be electronic.

I had to take $1100 out of my slush fund. But that's what it's for.

Day Four

February 24th, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I figure as long as I stay under 1500 calories per day, I'm doing well, and today I had 1485 calories. Here's what I ate:

Blueberry pancakes
Coffee w/ creamer
French onion soup w/cheese bread
Popcorn
Piece of dark chocolate
Turkey/veggie fried rice

The blizzard that was so loudly predicted didn't materialize to much of anything in my neck of the woods. We've had snow in the air, but nothing really sticking. Further south, and to the east, there has been heavy accumulation. Even so, I stayed in. It is windy, and may be slippery, too.

I did a load of laundry today ($1.50) and paid my mortgage. It's pay day for my Social Security. The amount is still showing as "processing" at the bank, so I'll wait until it is processed before I pay the Discover bill, which is $1165.

I've been finding a lot of free entertainment on broadcast TV lately. Today I watched "Awakenings" with Robin Williams, which I've seen before, but enjoyed again. There's a bit at the end where his character talks about the human spirit being stronger than any drug. It was quite moving, and I couldn't help but wonder why Robin couldn't get to that place himself. He brought so much joy to so many people, but he couldn't save himself. I wish he was still with us, and still performing.

No exercise today, but I'll do my stretching before bedtime.

Day Three

February 24th, 2016 at 12:18 am

I can't believe how well the diet is going, after all my procrastination! I consumed 1416 calories today, and did 10 minutes of stretching exercises.

The food:

Black Coffee
Oatmeal w/ blueberries & brown sugar
French onion soup w/ cheese bread topping
Half cup of frozen yogurt
Turkey stirfry w/ rice
5 oz. wine
Water all day long

I intended to get out and walk today, but I got so involved watching "Sybil," (Sally Field with multiple personalities) I never made it. It ran for about 4 hours. I think I had only seen bits of it before; it was interesting watching the whole thing.

I did do a load of laundry, and on top of cooking my meals I made a batch of poppy seed dressing from scratch, using up all my poppy seeds and some toasted sesame oil that needed to be used. I don't have any salad materials right now, but when I do, I'll be glad the dressing is already made.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get a heavy snowfall, so I'll probably regret that I didn't walk today.

Looking forward to my pants getting looser!

Day Two

February 22nd, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Well, believe it or not, I consumed almost exactly the same in calories today as I did yesterday - 1377. And I took a 35-minute walk.

My food intake:
Greek yogurt w/ honey
Coffee w/ non-fat creamer
Turkey sandwich
Blueberries w/non-fat "cream"
2 pizza tortillas
5 oz. wine

Right now I feel fine -- not hungry. The water helps with that.

I had ten items on my grocery list today, so I went shopping -- three different places. I bought kitty litter at PetSmart ($4). Then I went to Aldi (next door) and bought a dark chocolate almond bar, blueberries, biscuits, tuna, pizza sauce, vinegar, and frozen chicken patties ($13). Then I went to Jewel and bought a box of wine and a package of pantiliners ($17). My variables are at 54%.

The chocolate bar I can break into small pieces. It will help when I get sweet cravings.

I bought the kitty litter at PetSmart, because I had a $3 coupon. I bought a damaged carton which was marked down, and there was a $5 coupon on the package. That's why I got such a great price on the kitty litter.

It's been a good day. I watched last night's showings of Downton Abbey and Mercy Street. Mercy Street is over for the season and Downton Abbey will be done forever next week. Pain and sorrow!

Day One

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:35 am

I did well on the diet front today. I consumed an estimated 1355 calories, and I walked for 40 minutes. My food intake:

Coffee with no-fat creamer
Scrambled eggs with spinach & cheese
Turkey sandwich
3 clementines
1 small piece spanakopita
1 mini piece Mediterranean pizza
Pepper strips & hummus
1 small sausage roll
1 cup plain popcorn
5 oz. wine

The last six items I had at a birthday party/open house for a friend of mine. I made the best selections I could from the buffet. Passed up the cake and sweets.

I also kept drinking and refilling a water bottle all day.

I'm not feeling too hungry right now. I actually feel pretty good. But it's still early. We'll see how I feel in a couple of hours.

I also walked to the party, which was 20 minutes each way.

Just to keep this financial, it was a no-spend day, and I got a free dinner. I made a birthday card for my friend, rather than buying one. It's not beautiful, but I hope it is charming. I probably should have taken her a little gift, but I didn't know what to get her; I don't know her tastes or her needs very well.

Anyway, I'm feeling very encouraged, but, of course, it's day one!

Yesterday's spending -- and I'm ready for change!

February 21st, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Well, yesterday was a little more spendy than usual, but my variables spending is still more than fine at 50% -- and only 7 days to go!

I got my passport photo taken -- it was $14, more than I expected. And it's not a great picture. I won't look at it too often, to preserve my self-esteem!

I gave $1 to a homeless man. I dropped a dime while I was taking out the bill, so I actually gave him $1.10!

I went to see Revenant with a friend. It was $7. The good news is I didn't have to pay for parking, because I figured out how to get my ticket validated.

Who has seen Revenant? I thought it was technically amazing, but terribly gory and a real downer for me. I could have passed. I had been warned about the bear scene, but that was only one of many, many bloody scenes. And there was no redeeming story to counterbalance, at least not for me.

I'm thinking of seeing The Big Short today; I think that might be more in my line. A movie about a financial crisis, what could be better? Smile

My clothes are getting tighter instead of looser, so I have to address my weight issue. Not only will it help my self-esteem, but it is a financial issue. I can't -- I won't -- buy bigger clothes. I have several bins full of smaller clothes. The mandate is clear. The only problem is I will have to do things I don't like to do -- like be hungry, avoid the foods I love, and exercise. I've done this so many times, only to wind up back in the same place; it's hard to get up any excitement about it. But as they say in the UK (and I've adopted it) -- needs must!

So my friends, I will bore you with not only my three meals per day, but I will share everything I eat; hopefully to shame myself out of it. And I will share exercise, too. So I will probably switch from posting in the morning to posting in the evening, when all the damage is done.

Now for good news -- my refund has already posted! I'm going to put it in my e-fund/mortgage fund, along with some money I've been carrying in checking for too long. (Always thought I would open a new account at Chase and get a bonus, but I never had quite enough to spare). I'll do that later today, and then update the sidebar.

Today is going to be a day of looking closely at goals and solutions. I'm in the mood to be more responsible -- to myself.

Wind!

February 20th, 2016 at 03:09 pm

Did you see our famous wind on the national news last night? Man! Was it ever windy. Unfortunately, I decided to walk to the bank -- I went out the door intending to drive, but it was so warm I thought it was silly not to walk -- and the wind, at that point, was pretty tame. By the time I got halfway there, I realized the wind was blowing tarps off construction sites, knocking over garbage cans and sending them barreling down alleys, basically picking up everything that wasn't tied down and throwing it around! I learned later that whole streets were blocked off because of the danger of flying objects.

I was fine, though sometimes I really had to fight the current to stay upright. It was so warm, that even with a high wind like that, my ears did not hurt.

I certainly couldn't stop at Walgreen's to get my passport picture taken, however. I looked like someone had used a mixer on my head.

So I got my quarters. I also bought a $1.49 coke on the way, mostly so I could stop and rest. And I gave $2 to a StreetWise vendor.

I didn't watch a lot of TV yesterday, because it was out of service for much of the day. Many people lost all their power, but mine stayed on, except for the cable.

Today I'm going to see "Revenant" with a friend after she gets off work. I think I'll try again on the passport picture. I just washed my hair and it looks pretty good today. Smile

Looks like my Florida son is finally closing on a house. Cross your fingers! He's had a couple of disappointments, so I'm hoping this one goes through.

Now about my menu. I STILL haven't eaten a turkey sandwich, even though it will appear today for the third time. When I went to make it yesterday, I realized the meat was still pretty frozen. I had a peanut butter sandwich instead.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Hot Turkey Sandwich
Dinner: Spinach/Cheddar Omelet

Still Stuffed Up

February 19th, 2016 at 05:02 pm

My congestion continues. I woke up with an awful headache this morning, but it's better now, after a couple of Advil. I'll use the MyPurMist before bedtime; that will help with sleeping. I used it in the afternoon yesterday, but right before sleeping would be better.

But good news! I logged into my credit union account and found that my account is already set up for the credit card I applied for! Perhaps the acceptance letter is in the mail -- or my mailbox, which I didn't check yesterday.

So as soon as the card comes, I'll start charging all my expenses to that. It should be easy to charge $2500 in three months, but if it gets difficult, there's always the grocery card trick. Or I could buy an Amazon card, which would always be useful for gifts. Then it will be $500 to snowflakes. Yay!

I'm doing a load of laundry now. I'm rethinking the walk to the bank. While it is warm, it is also very windy, and my ears are very sensitive. I don't want to add an earache to my woes. But if I don't walk, I will drive, and I'll stop at Walgreens, too, to finally get my passport picture taken. I really need to get going on getting the passport.

I watched Griffin & Phoenix on TV yesterday -- first time I'd ever seen it, and I enjoyed it despite the bittersweet ending. Then last night I watched Nothing In Common, which I've seen several times. For some reason it is one of my favorite movies; it just always gets me when Tom Hanks mans up to take care of his dad. This time, I really looked at all the Chicago scenery in the background. I wasn't a resident when I've seen the movie before -- it was really fun to identify locations that are familiar to me now. Several scenes were filmed right in my suburb.

I've gone back to reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I told my man friend I would do this -- it is his area of specialty as a scholar. The trouble is, I just don't resonate well with fantasy. It's not that I look down on it or anything, but it doesn't engage me. I will catch myself turning pages and never taking in a thing, because I'm thinking of other things, making grocery lists and such. Then I have to page back and re-read.

The kind of books I really like are contemporary novels that show a hero or heroine working through relatable problems, or going through hard times. For instance, I love to read novels about the Holocaust, even though I am not Jewish, or about the Great Depression. I like to read about relationships and I like humor and irony, and mystery, too! But fantasy -- it's just too "made up" for me. I see the puppet strings. I want to lose myself, not be aware of the storyteller all the time.

So, anyway, that's my rationale for being so slow to get through this series. It's actually quite charming, but at the same time it feels like doing homework.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Granola w/almond milk
Lunch: Cornbread & salad
Dinner: Hot turkey sandwich

Yes, same as yesterday. That's the problem with being single; so much leftover food. I actually did not have the turkey sandwich yesterday, though; I had popcorn late in the afternoon and didn't feel like having supper. I have to learn to stop doing that.

This and That

February 18th, 2016 at 02:08 pm

I had a good day with my grandson. We shared some Star Wars cereal, and played Word on the Street, Upwords and Tenzi. The time went fast.

I thought I would just crash and nap after his mom picked him up, but I ended up staying up till I went to bed at 9 or so. I didn't sleep great, but better than the night before. I am still pretty congested.

Financially, everything is on autopilot. No spending yesterday and I don't expect to spend anything today.

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I forgot to do one of the main things I went there for -- get quarters! Actually, I remembered after I had gone through the checkout line, but I didn't ask for any cash back, and the customer service desk wouldn't let me buy quarters without cash -- checks or credit cards were not acceptable.

I have enough quarters for one more load. I don't need to do one today, but I will tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow, when it warms up, I will walk to the bank and get a couple of rolls. The bank is about a 35-minute walk away. Of course, I could drive, too, but I would kind of like to make this 1/4 tank of gas last through the month.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: French toast sticks
Lunch: Spinach salad and loaded cornbread
Dinner: Hot turkey sandwich

Checking In

February 17th, 2016 at 02:45 pm

Variables spending is up to 48%, which is still very good for this time in the month.

The movie cost $8, and afterwards I stopped at the nearby grocery store and bought my ten items: toilet bowl cleaner, kitty litter, Jiffy corn muffin mix, boxed mac & cheese, lasagna (pasta), creamer, coffee, frozen yogurt, baby spinach, plastic storage bags. The total cost was $29. I also scored 3 plastic bags, since it was a store outside of my very green city.

The movie, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be funnier, more of a send-up. And of course the plot was very altered to make room for the zombies, which I didn't mind, but I thought it was strange that they made Lady Catherine a good character, when, in the book, she definitely was not. Anyway, English Castle, I think your students would enjoy seeing it and it would generate a lot of discussion among people who are studying Austen.

I'm getting ready now to have my grandson over for a little while. His mom is going to the gym, and he is not yet ready for school. I'm scrambling a bit, because I slept in after a really bad, sleepless night. But we'll soldier through together!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Spinach salad & loaded cornbread
Dinner: Lasagna

An Uneventful Day

February 16th, 2016 at 02:36 pm

Nothing much happened yesterday. I am getting over a cold, and had mucus in my throat and a sinus headache. I took a generic Benedryl and it knocked me out. Not in a good way, though. I didn't fall completely asleep but just kind of went into a comatose state where I felt like my limbs were stuck in cement. It wasn't a refreshing nap.

Today I feel much better and I will stick to Mucinex.

The lasagna I made yesterday was really good, and I think I will get two more servings out of it. I had a bit more pasta than I thought. I really like the Greek yogurt filling, and this is how I will make lasagna from now on.

I didn't heat up the corn chowder for dinner, because by early evening I was in my out-of-it phase, and I just made myself a peanut butter sandwich.

My frugal activity of the day was to enter codes in MyCatPerks. I had five empty cat food bags, but only two codes were accepted. So irritating. It has happened before. I sent them a grouchy email with the codes that were rejected as "invalid" and asked them to credit my account. I'm only trying to get enough points to get a coupon, but having the system not work right is such a waste of time.

I haven't heard anything from the credit union about the new credit card, but maybe now that the holiday weekend is over, they'll get to it.

I have a committee meeting today (by phone) for my professional organization. I'm not the Treasurer any more, but I am staying on the program committee in order to keep in touch. Other things looming today -- I need to do a load of laundry -- my "reds" basket is full -- and I'd love to get out to see a movie since it is Senior Day. Maybe, on Thrift-o-rama's suggestion, I'll go see Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I'm a big Jane Austen fan, and I like the fun satires on her work as well. Since I am doing well on my variables budget this month, I think I have enough for a movie ticket! Now if I could just figure out how to park free....

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Granola w/ almond milk
Lunch: Corn chowder, biscuits
Dinner: Lasagna

Party Recap, and Today's Cooking

February 15th, 2016 at 02:32 pm

My grandson's Valentine Party was very sweet. He thought it up and planned it all himself. (Though Mom helped with the cooking.) We had a dinner of chicken noodle soup and turkey/cheese sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, with strawberry/M&M brownies (or pinkies!) for dessert. We played Uno and Dixit. Both brothers gave me and the other grandma handmade valentines. He said he was making a new tradition. I hope so!

It was a no-spend day for me. My frugal activity of the day was to make banana bread French toast sticks. Some time ago I made two loaves of banana bread and froze them. One I had cut into slices and the other I froze whole. Yesterday I thawed the whole one and cut it up into sticks -- basically, thick slices cut in half horizontally. I doused them all in egg batter and fried them, then flash-froze them on cookie sheet. A few hours later I transferred them to a plastic bag. I should be able now to take out a few at a time and heat them up for breakfast whenever I want.

Today I'm going to make lasagna roll-ups. I have two lasagna noodles (is that what they're called?) left, which is a perfect serving size for me. I found a recipe to use Greek yogurt instead of ricotta. I already have the mozzarella and the sauce. I'm going to add some minced veggies to the cheese filling.

My other big meal today will be corn chowder and biscuits. The corn chowder has been frozen (and is now thawing in the fridge) and there is enough to last for several days. For the biscuits, I have a can of Grands.

I'm reading a Ken Follett thriller right now, and I have to mention that a side character who was introduced as being an odd duck was described as "someone who makes her own granola." I guess that's considered odd. I've been making my own granola for quite a while! Glad I'm odd; it pays off.

We got snow yesterday but we are not snowed in. I don't have to move my car for plowing. I don't plan to go anywhere today, but I may take a short walk in the pretty snow. It's warmer today -- in the 20's! Heat wave! We will have a real heat wave later in the week when it gets up to the 50's.

I won't publish my menu today, since I've already described it.

Valentines Party

February 14th, 2016 at 12:59 pm

My grandson called me yesterday and invited me to a Valentines party today. Hmmm. I wonder what it will be. Probably snacks and valentines made at school. Cute.

Yesterday was almost a no-spend day. I did one load of laundry ($1.50).

I made a batch of granola, finished my mending (yay!) and reapplied for the credit card from my credit union. I got a message from them that my first application wasn't complete. Now I wait to hear from them. I can't imagine that I won't be accepted, with my high credit rating, but I do wonder if being retired will make a difference. I had to report a pretty small monthly income. Of course, I know I can handle a credit card just fine, but do they?

If I don't get it, no problem. I just want the $500 bonus. I'm doing pretty good with snowflakes, but I need a few big boosts if I want to raise $1200 like I did last year.

The deep freeze continues, but I am cozy inside. I love my radiator heat.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Eggs, toast
Lunch: Sloppy Gobbler, apple
Dinner: ??? Maybe provided at Valentine party? If not, spaghetti

Getting a Refund!

February 13th, 2016 at 02:26 pm

Wow! I sat down and plowed through my taxes yesterday and was amazed to find that I am getting a $2024 refund from the federal government! I was expecting to have to pay. I had to pay $472 to the state, though. Already did that. I also paid TaxAct for the higher-level service, since I was not sure how my contract work would impact my taxes. That was $30.

I'm going to count the $30 in variables, in the fee category. But the state tax will come from savings, which is a moot point, since the federal refund, when it comes, will go into savings.

So I'm feeling pretty happy today.

I had a good day with my grandson yesterday. He was definitely under the weather, but we enjoyed playing video games. I think he enjoyed beating me time after time. We also played Uno and watched some episodes of "Uncle Grandpa," which I thought were pretty awful, but he enjoyed.

Today it is really cold, like much of the nation. I'm only going out to do laundry and take out the garbage. I don't really go "out" to do laundry, but I have to go down on the outside staircase. It is recessed, so pretty protected, but it is open to the air.

Other plans today are to do the mending (I'm going to keep mentioning this until I do it!) and do some filing, especially getting my taxes records in order. And once I get that done, I am "allowed" to work on my novel.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Sloppy gobbler, veggies
Dinner: Mexican deviled eggs

My Errand Day

February 12th, 2016 at 01:51 pm

My errands were completed in a northern suburb, where I had to go to return the CD to Cracker Barrel. There are NO nearby Cracker Barrels! Makes sense, since they seem to always be on highway intersections.

So I went to Cracker Barrel, returned the CD, and was reimbursed for all but $3 of the expense. I didn't finish listening to the book, but I can get it at the library.

While there, I bought a My Little Pony flying unicorn for my granddaughter, to give her for her birthday or Christmas. It was 40% off. However, it wasn't a good deal, because I saw the same thing in the grocery store, cheaper. Oh well. It was $4.

Then I went on to the grocery store, where I spent $37. This included two valentine cards and two little boxes of candy. Other than that I bought ten items, returning to my old system which worked so well. My ten items: Honey, brown sugar, toilet paper, oregano, eggs, paper towels, shredded cheddar, almond milk, and Greek yogurt.

I found a nickel, plus, at this grocery store, I paid a lower tax rate, and I got plastic bags, which I need for cleaning the cat pan! But it's not worth it driving that far on a regular basis.

I still had to find a post office to mail my packages, but I was very hungry. So I looked for a Chipotle. Using a gift card, I got lunch for only $1. And the burrito was so large it served as my dinner, too.

Then I went to the post office, where my packages cost $17.

Wasted a quarter on my way home, when I stopped at my library branch, only to remember too late that it is closed on Thursdays. The quarter was for the parking meter.

But all in all, a successful day.

Once home, I applied for an Alliant Credit Union credit card, which will give me $500 for spending $2250 in three months. I also signed up for the Peak Usage program with my electrical provider. If I can reduce my usage during peak times, I will get a credit on my bill.

I did not get to the taxes, or to the mending.

Today I'm going to babysit my grandson from 9:30 to 2, so my DIL can get some errands done herself.

Got a nice early surprise -- my $275 stipend from the College has already been deposited. It is scheduled for the 15th, but I guess President's Day affected that.

Variables spending is now at 38%, with 42% of the month gone. So I'm doing good there.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Banana bread French toast
Lunch: Will scrounge for something at son's house
Dinner: Sloppy gobbler, Refrigerator soup (didn't have it yesterday)

Tonsillectomy

February 11th, 2016 at 01:47 pm

My grandson's tonsillectomy went well. I went to visit him after he got home, and he was tired and uncomfortable, but doing well. He even ate some pizza. I took him a Beanie Boo for comfort, a $6 expense for me. My only spending yesterday.

I had pizza myself, so it was a free dinner for me.

Today I'm going to run some errands. It's cold outside, but it's only going to get colder, so I might as well get them done. I'm going to get groceries and mail some packages. I also need to get some last-minute Valentines for the grandchildren.

I have my W-2 form at last, so I will start on taxes today.

While I was in Florida, a button fell off my capris, so I'm going to sew that back on before I put them away for the winter. I'm going to try to be more prompt about mending; I can procrastinate to a ridiculous degree.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast, stewed apples
Lunch: Refrigerator soup
Dinner: Sloppy gobblers

Home from Vacation

February 10th, 2016 at 04:34 pm

I'm back from vacation. It was altogether a low-key event. My cousin was unwell much of the time and I ended up taking her to the doctor twice. My kids couldn't make it down because my granddaughter was sick. It was cold, and I spent a lot of time wrapped up in blankets. But it was still a break and a change of pace.

My trip home was excruciating. I woke up at 3AM (after having slept VERY lightly for 2-3 hours). I decided to get up, since the taxi was coming at 4:30. When I got on the plane at 6:40, I was able to sleep, lightly again, on the plane. Don't feel like I was ever all the way out. At the Indianapolis airport, I had a long wait for my ride, who was stuck behind an accident on the highway. But I didn't dare stop looking for her, so I couldn't sit down or go to a restaurant or anything. When she finally came, I had a 1.5 hour ride to her house, and then a 3-hour trip home from there. I was bone-tired. I stopped on the way and bought a large Coke, which helped keep me awake. I was VERY glad to get home safely.

I pretty much crashed at home. I forgot to charge my phone overnight, and had to really work hard to bring it back to life this morning. I don't know if it's the phone or me, but when the battery dies, it is very hard to get it going again.

This morning I'm doing laundry and getting back to normal.

My grandson is getting his tonsils out in one hour. Only parents are allowed to visit, so I'm just there in spirit. Poor guy, I hope it all goes well, and I hope his throat isn't too sore when he wakes up. He is only six.

Okay, the money part. I've spent $167 on vacation -- $52 on food, $57 on gas, parking and taxi, and $48 on renting a book on CD from Cracker Barrel. I'll get most of that back when I return the CD, so I'll adjust my tracking then. I just had to have something to keep me awake on my drive home.

I've spent 24% of my variables budget, with 35% of the month gone. Of course, I'm going to have to do some catching up with groceries and such, but I hope it will be a low-spend month.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Yogurt, stewed apples
Lunch: Cheese quesadillas, salsa
Dinner: Egg salad sandwich, refrigerator soup

Checking in

February 6th, 2016 at 05:44 pm

Well, my son can't come. My granddaughter has a bad cold, and is too fretful to travel. So my cousin and I are having a lazy day. I have a check roast with veggies in the crock pot, and I'm doing laundry. It has turned quite cold. I'm wearing my cousin's sweatshirts to get by!

I spent $15 at the grocery store this morning and about $10 yesterday. I also put a $50 birthday check in the mail for my son.

Tomorrow we will watch the Superbowl and on Monday we'll play cards with friends. Exciting times!

Florida is good for coin hunting. I've found .29 so far!

In Florida

February 4th, 2016 at 07:59 pm

Trying this on my phone! I'm in Florida. I had a good flight. I spent about $30 on gas getting to the airport -- half to fill up my tank and half to fill up my friend's tank in payment for taking me the few last miles. Also spent $12 on food so far. Today we are just hanging out; no spending. My son and family are coming on Saturday, so tomorrow I'm going to grocery shop and cook. My cousin has been very talkative and I've learned some family gossip. So much drama I never knew! Glad my own life is pretty drama-free. Relatively speaking. I think this will be a pretty cheap getaway!

February 1

February 1st, 2016 at 02:29 pm

First day of February! And the last day before I head south. I am very relieved that the big winter storm they are predicting will be well north of the direction I am heading.

I have some leftovers from yesterday's meal that I will use up today. My DIL did not come for lunch -- she is dieting -- and I think she wanted to take advantage of some time alone. She came later with low-calorie mini-muffins. The kids and my son and I had a good time playing DixIt and Sheriff of Nottingham. A pretty cheap day's entertainment.

So today's goals are to use up the perishables, clean up, and pack. I am only allowing myself one on-board bag (which has to fit under the seat.) So I'm packing only three outfits (capris and T-shirts) and one pair of sandals and one pair of pj's. Planning to do laundry in Florida! I'm only packing items in "middle colors" -- so they can all be washed together -- and every top wearable with every bottom. The sandals are neutral and will go with everything. Wondering whether I will need my hair care items (dryer and flat iron) or if I should just go natural! I'll bet my cousin wouldn't mind me using her hair dryer if I need it.

I'm going to put my boots in the car in case I come back to snow.

I hope it's warm there, because that's what I'm counting on, but if it isn't, my cousin will loan me a sweatshirt.

Since I am staying overnight at my friend's before the flight, I also have to pack (separately) an outfit to put on that day -- something warm enough for the Midwest and cool enough for Florida! Whatever I wear on the trip down to Indiana will stay there till my return.

Getting excited!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Mac & cheese
Lunch: Veggie/cheese quesadilla
Dinner: Hamburger