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Archive for December, 2018

No-Spend Day

December 13th, 2018 at 05:51 am

Yesterday was Music Lesson Day. That ties me up from about 2 till 6, believe it or not. GS1 left his hat in my trunk, so I got an early morning call to look for it. Got it to him just as he was leaving for school. So glad his ears will be warm!

Today I will make jam. Cranberry orange. I hope it turns out. If not, well, I'll use it at home, rather than as a gift.

No plans to go out, at least until the boys are out of school.

Variables are at 73%, with almost two weeks to go. Gas tank is getting low and I have a trip coming up -- as well as groceries to buy for the brunch. Ack!

Another Day

December 12th, 2018 at 09:55 am

I went to the gym and then to Sam's this morning, where I spent $36 for groceries and household supplies. I will have to buy more groceries later in the week for the brunch, but some supplies were bought today.

I redeemed $7 in rewards from Discover and $28 from BOA. Soon I should start getting mystery shop payments.

I won't have time today to make jam, but hope to get it done tomorrow. Time is getting short.

The placemat project has been tabled (ha ha!). I will continue to work on them through the year, for next Christmas, but I won't have time to get them done for this year.

I'm feeling Christmas stress, but it will be better after the brunch is past.

And more Christmas prep

December 11th, 2018 at 07:05 am

Yesterday I made one of my Christmas gifts, a big batch of sweet and spicy nuts. I am not thrilled with the result, but the recipient will probably not complain. I used a recipe I got online, and I should have called my brother and asked him for his recipe, which is sweeter. This recipe is more savory. Oh well.

I got the candy thermometer yesterday, but I may not have time for making jam today.

I also got the scarf I ordered for my friend P. I was a little nervous about it, as I wasn't sure I would like the colors and texture in person, but I do. So I will be wrapping that today. I'll meet him for lunch on the 22nd.

I need to start thinking seriously about getting ready for the Christmas brunch on the 16th. I have developed a loose menu:

Egg casserole
Creamed chipped beef and biscuits
Bacon
Stewed Apples
Home Fries
Muffins
Fresh Berries
Punch & Coffee

I think that will be enough. The group is smaller this year than it has been in the past -- five adults and two children.

Today I'm obligated to do a mystery shop and to pick up the boys after school, so I'll probably do the shopping tomorrow.

And I'll have to do a company-ready cleaning, too, before the day. Ugh. My least favorite part!

The Christmas Program

December 10th, 2018 at 05:03 am

My grandson's chamber orchestra (about 15-20 kids) assembled in a bookstore yesterday to perform some Christmas carols. It was a pretty cramped space, especially when all the parents and grandparents crowded in to watch! From my vantage point, I could see my grandson, but not his head, which was hidden by his music stand. I was amused by watching a cellist whose bow kept catching the dress of a violinist standing near her. Neither girl seemed to be aware, and nothing embarrassing happened.

They played well despite the challenges, and it was a lovely concert.

Afterwards we all went out to lunch, where I contributed $20 to the bill.

In the afternoon we played board games, and in the evening, I left to go to my mystery shop in a nearby suburb.

Today should be a quiet day. It's cold. I probably won't go outside.

More Christmas prep

December 9th, 2018 at 08:57 am

I went to the grocery store yesterday and spent $19. Half of that was for Lindt truffles to have in the candy dish when Christmas brunch arrives. The rest was cheese and tomato paste for the casserole that I have not managed to make yet. Must do it today!

I also went to UPS and mailed my Florida Christmas box -- it cost $29 to mail. While there, I picked up couple of stocking stuffers for $22.

I'm creeping closer and closer to being done with Christmas shopping.

My candy thermometer has not yet arrived -- last notice was that it would be here on the 11th. So I can't make jam -- or at least, I don't want to until I have that tool. The last time I made jam it was runny.

I found .16 yesterday, and now I am only .70 away from reaching $100!

Today I'm going to a Christmas program my grandson is performing in. It's in a bookstore, so it has to be the chamber orchestra, or maybe even a quartet. We shall see!

Then in the evening I have another restaurant mystery shop, so that will be a free meal plus $11.

Variables are up to 68%. December is always a tough one.

A Bit of Income

December 8th, 2018 at 06:00 am

I did a mystery shop yesterday which will net me $10, and I earned $3 from Pine Cone. No spending.

I chauffeured GS1 to the library after school. I was so pleased that he wanted to go to the library, and then I learned they have a gaming room he wanted to go to. Oh well. His parents knew that was his aim, so I wasn't tricked, just a little disappointed.

I'm going to make a chicken penne casserole today. I do have to go get just two items: tomato paste and mozzarella.

I also have to mail the Christmas package to Florida, which I didn't get done yesterday.

I did a little catching up on my tracking, and variables are now at 58%.

Dead Battery

December 7th, 2018 at 05:50 am

Yesterday I was heading out to the gym when my car refused to go along with me. The battery was dead. I called AAA. It was about two hours before they could get to me, so I was glad this happened at home, and not somewhere I'd have to find a place to shelter. Once the technician arrived, he tested the battery and advised me to get a new one. He was able to sell me one on the spot. It was $132. It might not have been the most frugal thing to do, but I was glad to get it taken care of right away.

I am taking the cost out of savings, since it is clearly an EF kind of thing.

I carried on with my day, going to the gym, and then to PetSmart, where I bought a $5 "kitty" to go in the Florida Christmas box. Sometime today I need to close that up and get it to the post office.

Then I went to Aldi and spent $39 on groceries.

DIL's plans fell apart last night, so I didn't have to babysit. I was just as glad. I got into my pajamas and read.

I pulled a container out of the freezer last night, and it appears to be shredded chicken. I don't know what to do with it. I already have chicken chili and chicken barbecue, and I am kind of out of ideas. Maybe chicken pot pie, but that would mean going back to the store for more ingredients, and I'd really rather use it up somehow with what I have on hand.

I signed up for a last-minute mystery shop today, and it has to be done before 10:30 a.m., so I'm off.

Cocooning and Shopping at Home

December 6th, 2018 at 05:08 am

I had a nice, leisurely day at home yesterday. Didn't leave the house for any reason. I even took a nap in the afternoon.

My medical premium hit ($27) and I donated $4 to Wikipedia.

This morning I ordered a candy thermometer from Amazon ($9). I'm going to make cranberry-orange jam after it comes, which is supposed to be today! And I ordered a $20 scarf for my friend P, who I will see later this month.

I don't have after-school care today, but I will go over to DS' house at 5 to sit with the boys while DIL goes to an event. DS must be traveling.

Today I'm going to the gym and to PetSmart. I'm going to buy one doggie gift to put in my Florida son's Christmas box. Planning to spend $5. Then I think the box will be ready to mail.

Variables are at 43%, with 2 1/2 weeks to go.

More Goodwill Finds

December 5th, 2018 at 06:24 am

Yesterday, while GS2 was in his cooking class after school, I perused the nearby Goodwill. I bought two things -- a $2 figurine to put in BFF's Christmas bag, and a $3 duck decoy. I thought I would give it to XH, but after taking a look online, I will offer it on eBay instead. It is signed and dated by the artist. Prices on eBay are all over the place, from $50 to $325. If it doesn't sell, I can always give it to him next year.

In the evening I went to a free screening of "Second Act" with Jennifer Lopez. It was pretty formulaic, and I was glad I hadn't paid to see it.

No more after-school care this week, due to play dates and appointments.

I scheduled another mystery shop for Sunday.

Oh, and I got a message from Social Security that I will get a cost-of-living raise in January. I will get $30 more each month. Believe it or not, that makes me happy!

Condo Insurance

December 4th, 2018 at 07:26 am

Every year my mortgage company asks me to provide proof that my property management company is insuring my condo building. Last year was a disaster. Even though I did everything I could, there were mess ups in communication and the lender charged me $2400 for insurance. Well, more than charged me -- they took it from my savings account. It was finally straightened out, but it was an awful experience.

So this year, when I got the notice again, my stomach tightened up immediately. The first notice I received said "Second and Final Notice," so I was already mad. Luckily, my property management contact responded quickly. She faxed a copy to the number provided, and she sent me an attachment which I uploaded to the lender's website. Today I called to make sure they acknowledged receiving it, since I never got an acknowledgement. It has been received. Whew. I think I'm in the clear, but with this gang, you never know. For this reason alone I can hardly wait to pay off my mortgage.

No more spending to report. No extra income.

I'm hoping to have a productive day and get a lot done.

This and That

December 3rd, 2018 at 01:10 pm

I've done two mystery shops since my last post -- one at a restaurant and one at a car dealer.

I went to see "The Favourite" yesterday ($7 for early-bird show) and I'm not sure what to say about it. I think I will say it was both amazing and outrageous. Not quite what I expected, but I'm glad I saw it. I think. Hmmm.

I did a load of laundry yesterday but ran out of quarters, so I ended up hanging everything in my bathroom and on the radiators. They dried pretty well, but they were stiff and kind of wrinkly. Makes me appreciate what a dryer does! I meant to get more quarters today, but I forgot -- darn it! Well, I'll have to go out again and get some, because I spilled coffee on my coat and pants, and they really should be washed soon.

I got some gas this morning, which was only $19. Love these prices! I haven't seen gas for $2.22 a gallon in years.

I stopped in at Goodwill yesterday, since I was in the area, and I bought a Haviland-Limoges plate for $5. It is from one of their series based on medieval tapestries. I wasn't sure if I should get it, but a quick look at eBay showed they were priced in the $20-50 range. Of course, I don't know if they are selling, but I love the plate and would be happy to keep it. It's part of their "Lady and the Unicorn" series, and it has a red background, so it almost looks like a Christmas plate.

Haven't progressed much on Christmas prep, but now that I have no more mystery shopping on my plate, I should have some more time.

Escape!

December 2nd, 2018 at 06:30 am

DS and the grandsons came over yesterday with an Escape game -- actually, I bought it for DS' birthday. We spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how to open the box that held the werewolf antidote. We did have to peek at the hints a few times. It was a good time, and I'm happy to report that none of us turned into werewolves.

In the morning I went to Jewel and bought some onions and peppers and got a free organic candy bar from their MyMixx program. Total cost: $3. Then I went to TJ Maxx and spent my $27 gift card, plus .92. I scoured the clearance area and did pretty well -- bought a fancy candle, egg tray, a cat mug and coasters as gifts -- and for myself, I bought a wire rack and a package of coffee that was deeply discounted because it was pumpkin-pie-flavored.

In the afternoon, before the fam came, I did some wrapping and just generally sorted out the gifts. I also ordered Amazon gifts for the Florida gang, which cost me nothing. My Amazon gift cards are pretty much used up now.

It rained ALL DAY yesterday. Which I guess is better than snow. Downstate there were many "possible" tornadoes, so I'm happy we escaped that as well. I hear there were no fatalities, so that's good. Hoping Frugal Foodie had no damage.

Yesterday's Spending

December 1st, 2018 at 05:51 am

Yesterday I spent $47 at Sam's for cat food and kitty litter. Large quantities of both, obviously. Iggy will be set for a while.

I did a mystery shop at a restaurant and spent $4 over the amount I will be reimbursed.

I did not go to the movie, but I plan to do that today. I won't be able to use the coupon for concessions, but it's not like I need them, anyway.

I got a gift card in the mail for T.J. Maxx as a settlement. It's worth a little over $27. I'll go there today to try to find a gift.

Two of my Amazon orders arrived, so I'm going to wrap them today. I plan to keep up on wrapping this year. Not that it will be that much, since my spending will be so much less. I surveyed my wrapping supplies yesterday, and I think I am well supplied to get through this Christmas.

I also plan to get to a grocery, maybe Aldi, to buy a few things I need for recipes.

Variables are at 32%, with 3 1/2 weeks to go.

I did officially change the Christmas dinner to a Christmas brunch.

Everything is going well.