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March 23rd, 2018 at 06:17 am

I took the boys to music lessons yesterday. They were hungry for dinner afterwards, and I knew DIL was busy packing for their vacation, so I offered to take them to McDonalds. We got into heavy traffic, and then I noticed we could get off the main road and stop at a Culver's instead. Culver's is, of course, much better than McDonalds, but more expensive, too. The bill for the three of us was $19. Oh well, my son and DIL do so many things for me, I can't whine about it.

We are tentatively planning to meet for supper somewhere tonight, before they leave town, but with a snow warning, I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to get on the road earlier.

I washed the sheets and mattress cover again yesterday. Iggy threw up again. I'm wondering if I should cut out the dry food (because I see it in the vomit), though I'm sure he would drive me crazy begging for it all the time. He eats very little wet food. If I put out more than a spoonful it just dries up in the bowl. But maybe if there was no dry food available, he would eat it. I am almost at the bottom of a bag of dry food, so I may just try it out when the bag empties.

Variables are at 86%, with five days to go.

Expensive Day

March 22nd, 2018 at 06:26 am

GS2 got his braces on yesterday, and I took him out for frozen yogurt to celebrate. Yogurt for the two of us was $9! (Mine was dairy-free, though, so that was great!)

GS1 was in orchestra when we went out, so afterwards I got him a shake ($2) to even the score.

Then I went out to the librarians' dinner. I spent $33, more than I intended. But I did have a great time. It was a fun group.

I had taken the El to the restaurant to save money, but when it was time to go home I was reluctant to take it after dark. Several others were walking home, close to my neighborhood, so I walked with them. I ended up walking three miles. My legs aren't used to that and they were throbbing when I got home. Still, I felt a sense of accomplishment, and my Fitbet was very pleased.

Today I'm taking the boys to music lessons. Tomorrow I'm going to have dinner with the family before they take off for spring break, so there will be more spending.

Right now my variables are at 83%.

BFF is coming on Monday for a couple of days. I will have to be very careful to keep my spending down if I want to come in under. Pay day is on Wednesday -- when she will be leaving.

Free Dinner

March 21st, 2018 at 06:14 am

Got a free dinner last night when I sat with the boys. Papa John's, yummy!

GS1 has chosen to go to a different school next year. It is bigger and closer, so he can walk there. He's currently at a magnet school; the new one is a traditional middle school. It has a better orchestra and better sports. I hope this is the right decision; he won't be with any of his friends, and I think it might be more of a jolt than he expects.

They are all going away for spring break starting on Friday evening, so I'm going to be on cat duty for the following week.

After I voted yesterday, I walked to Walgreen's and bought a bottle of fine wine for $5. Smile Unfortunately, my candidate for governor did not win the primary, but I didn't expect that he would.

I'm having dinner tonight with the librarians group at a Mexican restaurant. It is a local place that is fast-casual and has very good food. I'm really looking forward to it.

Other than the dinner out, I'm not expecting to spend anything today. Hoping I will get around to making the granola, which I haven't done yet. I did, however, make some really good refrigerator soup yesterday. It was the balsamic onions that made it so good. I'll have another serving of that today. I also made carrot-cake pancakes for breakfast, and there was enough batter left to have more today. Yum!

Election Day

March 20th, 2018 at 09:06 am

We have state primaries today. My polling place is a short walk away and I'll make that soon. I'm so glad Election Day has arrived because I'm so sick of the unrelenting negative ads.

I spent nothing yesterday.

I made two loaves of bread. Since I also had after school care, I had to interrupt the rising process by putting the loaves in the fridge. When I was free again, I put them back in a warm place. They rose just fine. (In fact, they rose a bit in the fridge, too). Actually, I think they are the best I've made yet! I'm going to give one loaf to my son's family. I'm babysitting tonight while they go out for their anniversary. I'll get a free pizza dinner! I hope they order from Jet's!

I RSVP'd to eat with the librarians tomorrow.

My BFF is coming up to visit next week. We had a long talk on the phone last night. She has been in a mode of giving money to her DIL, and she has always been somewhat defensive about it. Apparently, her gut finally told her to stop, and she said no to a request to fund a weekend trip. Just for the DIL, not even for the family! Her DIL said, "I'll never ask you for money again!" (If only!) I'm afraid BFF is going to have to deal with some hard feelings, but it's very good she has finally cut this off. Her DIL doesn't really care for her, she is only using her as a bank. The DIL has a gambling problem and a credit problem; really a sad situation.

No-Spend Day

March 19th, 2018 at 06:56 am

No spending yesterday, other than laundry.

After eating another serving of soup and a veggie plate dinner, I froze the soup and the snow peas. There is just too much to deal with right now.

I also have a lot of carrots, but they will keep longer and I can plug away at eating them.

I'm planning to make mac & cheese today -- the kind you bake in the oven. I also need to make some more bread and more granola. Not sure how much I'll accomplish today, since I usually have after school care on Monday.

The kids didn't call me this weekend about seeing Wrinkle in Time, so I have a little extra money which I can use toward eating out with the librarians on Wednesday. I'll RSVP today. We're going to a taco place; it shouldn't be too expensive.

I keep checking my mystery shopping sites, but everything offered is just too far away to be viable. Speaking of mystery shopping, I haven't received any of my compensation yet. I know it takes some time, but at this point I want to make sure I'm actually going to get paid before I commit to very much more.

Another problem is that they send me offers for sites in Chicago. That's problematic, because parking in Chicago would cost about what the compensation would be. Plus, I would just rather not go to unknown parts of the city. So many areas are not safe.

Well, time to get to the gym!

Thai Soup

March 18th, 2018 at 06:57 am

Well, I tried out the next vegetarian recipe yesterday -- Thai Curry Vegetable & Tofu Soup. I don't think I will make this one again. It was expensive to make, and I wasn't crazy about the result. But I have about three more servings to eat. I also have quite a few leftover vegetables to use up before I move on to the next recipe.

I grocery shopped in the morning, not at Aldi but Jewel, where I was more assured of finding all the ingredients. I spent $42. That included the soup ingredients: veggie stock, tofu, green beans, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, and coconut milk. I also bought toilet paper, coffee, oatmeal, shredded cheddar and a Honeycrisp apple. And I supposedly got two free items, sparkling water and coconut water. However, I see I only got half off on the coconut water. I probably should have questioned that, but I assume I picked up the wrong size.

I used all the mushrooms and tofu in the soup, but I have green beans, carrots and snow peas left over. I'll have a veggie plate for dinner. And I'll have another serving of the soup for lunch.

No plans today except to go to the gym, but I may go with the kids to see "A Wrinkle in Time," if their schedule permits. I need to make bread again, but I may wait till tomorrow, when I know I'll have uninterrupted time.

Variables are at 77%, with ten days to go. So from now on I will only buy things I need. I think that may include laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.

My friend S has invited me to dine out with a group of her associates -- professional librarians -- this Wednesday. I would like to do it, but I'll have to crunch the numbers to make sure I can do it within budget.


March 17th, 2018 at 06:32 am

The concert last night was unbelievable! It's been a long time since I've listened to a very good professional orchestra. Every note was perfectly executed. Just amazing. We were treated to two symphonies -- one by Haydn, one by Mozart, and a concerto by Mozart, which was about as long as the symphonies. I wish my grandson the violinist could have heard it, although I know he would have been squirming before the night was over.

The reception beforehand offered a pretty good spread. I had chicken on a stick, brie on crackers, an egg salad mini-sandwich, carrots and broccoli. Also a little cheesecake parfait for dessert.

After the concert was over, I was still a little hungry, so I went through a McDonalds drive-through on the way home and spent $5 on an Egg McMuffin and a drink.

I also spent $22 filling up the tank, and earlier in the day, I spent $17 on a haircut.

Variables are now up to 72%. And I will be grocery-shopping today.

Busy Day Shaping Up

March 16th, 2018 at 07:20 am

Yesterday I went to the gym, and that was my only outing. I spent the rest of the day puttering around the house and reading.

I signed up with two more mystery shop companies. Now I hope I can keep them all straight!

I also signed up for a free trial of Netflix. My plan is to catch up on Stranger Things. I've seen the first four episodes at my kids' and now I'm hooked. I've also heard The Crown is worth watching.

I had a lot of red onions on hand (because I couldn't buy just one at Aldi), so yesterday I roasted three of them (cut in wedges) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They were pretty good. I have quite a bit left, and I will keep on eating them till they're gone.

Rignt now I'm baking a breakfast casserole with eggs, peppers, onions, cheese, bacon bits and milk.

Soon I will get my hair cut, and then in the late afternoon I will start making my way to the western suburbs to meet J and go to the CSO concert. Very excited about that -- and wondering how to dress. I think I've decided on black pants and a dressy top. I don't want to go overboard.

Scary Day

March 15th, 2018 at 05:09 am

Yesterday I was at school with the boys, waiting for them to get tired of playing outside, when I got a call from DIL. She said a shooter was on the Northwestern University campus, and I should come straight home with the boys. Well, NU is definitely not far from where we live, and I was rattled. The boys came with no argument, and we went home in a way that did not go anywhere near the campus.

Turned out it was all a hoax. Someone who wasn't even in the Chicago area called the police with a story about shooting his girlfriend and identifying a location in a NU dorm. The police responded fully with a SWAT team, but no shooter, girlfriend, or gun was ever found. The dorm room was unoccupied.

I'm glad that's the way it turned out. A real shooting incident would have been terrible. But what a waste of resources. The police, in full force, were tied up with this thing for more than an hour, and the students in the dorm were in lockdown. Not funny.

I tried to snag a mystery shop assignment for today, but someone else got there first. I'm going to follow Laura's suggestion from an earlier post, and sign up with a couple more companies.

Today should be a pretty uneventful day!

Oh, and there was no spending yesterday.

Loved the Tarts!

March 14th, 2018 at 06:28 am

I made the mushroom tarts yesterday, and they were delicious! But actually, I do like mushrooms, so that probably wasn't much of a test.

The recipe made four, so I still have three to eat the next few days. I also have leftover cheese, which will make some awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, and, of course, plenty of spring mix. So I won't be cooking a new recipe until I get through this food. The next recipe on the list is "Thai Curry Vegetable & Tofu Soup." Lots of ingredients I don't have on hand.

Yesterday the boys and I went to Starbucks after school for hot chocolate, which was $10. Yikes! It did hit the spot, though. It was cold and snowy. The snow really came down, but thank goodness it didn't stick. I'll pick them up again today, and that should be it for the week.

I learned that the reception prior to the concert will provide appetizers, so J and I will not have dinner beforehand. I'm really looking forward to it! I will have to fill the gas tank (it's a 37-mile drive) but I will at least be able to fill up out west in an area where gas is cheaper.

Looks like I have done all the mystery shops available in my area. There are many in outlying suburbs, but the compensation is so low, I don't think it's worth the driving. I'll keep checking. I could also add some new mystery shop companies to my list as well.

Trying to Like Vegetables

March 13th, 2018 at 06:58 am

I know they're good for me. I have no argument with that. I just don't like vegetables. I never want to eat them. I force myself -- and not often enough.

So, in an effort to like them better, I Googled something like "delicious vegetarian recipes" and found an article on RealSimple that listed 31 delicious recipes. I'm going to try them out.

Yesterday I got the ingredients for the first on the list, flaky mushroom and Gruyere tarts. I made some substitutions -- I bought regular button mushrooms (which were on special at Aldi) rather than shitake or something fancier, and bought red onions rather than shallots. I bought sharp white cheddar rather than Gruyere. Still, an expensive dish.

I spent $10 for white wine, mushrooms, red onions, Dijon mustard, and spring mix at Aldi. I had to go to Jewel to get white wine vinegar, frozen pastry puff, and the white cheddar for $14.

(An explanation here -- some of these ingredients are for a side salad with homemade dressing.)

I will make the tarts today.

Yesterday I had a free burger, fries and drink at my mystery shop, and in the evening I had the very last of that split pea soup that has lasted forever.

I had a really awful night last night. Couldn't sleep because 1) my legs hurt 2) I was too hot 3) I was thirsty 4) maybe it was that cup of tea???? Anyway, just a dreadful night. I do have to take care of the boys after school today, so I'm going to take it real easy this morning.

I had scheduled myself for a haircut yesterday, but it was a busy day and I didn't even try to get in. Now I'm thinking I may wait till the end of the week. My hair looks fine, though my bangs are little mangled from a self-cut. At least they are not in my eyes.

On Friday I'm going to a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert with my friend J, who lives in a western suburb. The concert is also in (another) western suburb; it is a benefit for a community foundation. J is giving me the free ticket, and there is a reception preceding. J is checking on whether there are appetizers at the reception -- if not, we'll meet a little earlier and have dinner together.

I'm really excited; it's been a long time since I've been to a good concert, and, actually, it's been quite a while since I've since J.

I looked ahead in my budget and it looks like in April I will not have to pay assessment fees, because my pay day will come before they are withdrawn. That really eases things; otherwise it would have been a pretty tight month.

No Spend Day

March 12th, 2018 at 06:08 am

No spending yesterday. I didn't go anywhere, either, but DS and GS2 came over for a bit. DS fixed my ceiling light, but he didn't have time to hang my new shades.

So today I'm going to the gym, stopping at Aldi, doing my mystery shop (lunch) and going to the library to return a book. All this before school is out in case I am needed to pick up the boys.

My Discover account closed today, and I earned $4.27 this month. I'm transferring the money to my bank and adding to my snowflakes. I also have a $3 Pine Cone payment sitting in PayPal -- need to remember to transfer that.

Variables are at 64% and I have 16 days to go.

Ah, Leisure!

March 11th, 2018 at 08:42 am

I'm enjoying a very leisurely morning. One nice thing about being retired is that the daylight savings change makes no real difference at all. Just changing the clocks!

Tomorrow I'm going to do another mystery shop for the same chain restaurant, different location. I figure I'm already prepped for it, I might as well do it again! I'll get a free lunch this time. So far my mystery shopping earnings -- if they are approved -- are $28. That's not counting the value of the meals. I won't see the actual money till next month, however.

Yesterday I spent $2 on sponges at Jewel; also got a free stick of Toffifay candy and a free bottle or organic coconut juice. And I found a penny!

I also went to DSW to try on shoes. I was indeed awarded with a 500-point bonus (in the form of a card). I didn't even have to ask; a clerk came up and handed it to me as I was trying on the shoes. I will tell you I was very tempted to buy the shoes, but I knew it wasn't within my budget, so I put them back. I hope they are still there when I go back after pay day. However, there are lots of other options available if they are not. The particular pair I was trying on was 40% off -- but they were quite expensive in the first place. Nice shoes, though! I've always wanted Tretorns!

Back to my leisurely day....

This and That

March 10th, 2018 at 04:58 am

No spending yesterday, other than the spending I did at the mystery shop restaurant, and I will be reimbursed for that. The shop went well; it was easy work, as everything there was as it should be -- clean, efficient, friendly, etc.

I went to the gym after the 4 pm shop.

I had to wash the sheets again yesterday -- hairball in the bed. If only Iggy didn't hang out on the bed so much. If only he didn't throw up hairballs. Oh well, at least I have the luxury of clean sheets often.

I did a Pine Cone survey yesterday. So far this year I've earned $9, or one survey a month.

I'll be going to Jewel for two free MyMixx items today -- coconut water and candy. Neither one exactly a need, but free!

Free Dinner Tonight!

March 9th, 2018 at 05:52 am

No spending yesterday. I signed up for another mystery shop this evening, this time at a chain restaurant. I'll get an $8 payment and the cost of my meal will be reimbursed. It's not in my town, but it is in an adjoining suburb.

My new shades were delivered yesterday. Now I just need to get my son to put them up, hopefully this weekend.

Variables are at 64% with 19 days to go.

Tomorrow I'm going to DSW's "Sneaker Remix Party." Not to buy, but if I try on a pair of sneakers I'll get 500 bonus points (which I think translates to $5 off a future purchase). Might as well, since I do want to buy sneakers next month. Also, if I'm one of the first to attend, I'll get a free gift, a bluetooth speaker. Only 25 of those, so I doubt that I will get one. I'm not going to stand in line for an hour.

BFF is coming to visit at the end of the month! I am so ready to have some fun.

Yesterday's Fun

March 8th, 2018 at 05:09 am

Yesterday's spending was $14 at Aldi for eggs, butter, creamer, sugar and almond milk, $18 at Noodles & Company for lunch, and $2 for parking.

We missed the one-hour mark by one minute -- otherwise the parking would have been free!

At Noodles & Company I had coupons for two free appetizers, but the boys ordered full-size meals and drinks. They had leftovers, which I boxed up and sent home with them. I would have taken them myself, but I watched them eat. Yuck!

Next time I won't allow them to order the larger meals.

After lunch, I took the boys to the library. They checked out three books and I checked out two.

I had a brief conversation with DIL about summer plans. Both boys are going to various camps, but there will also be a lot of time when DIL works and I need to be on duty. We are discussing whether to get a beach pass or a pool pass or both. Guess I'll be getting a tan this summer!

A Spending Boost

March 7th, 2018 at 04:51 am

Yesterday my subscription to Ancestry.com hit my credit card. It was $189. I also ordered my window shades, and they were $87.

I picked up the boys after school and bought them BOGO shakes at Steak N Shake for $3.

This combined spending brought my variables spending up to 59%, with three weeks to go. Clearly, I am not going to be able to buy the shoes I was hoping to buy, but it's not an emergency. My Saucony's are starting to separate at the sole, but they will hold up for another month, anyway.

Today I pick the boys up at 11, but DIL should get off work around 2. I will get them lunch, but I have some coupons for Noodles & Company, and it shouldn't be too expensive.

The weather has turned cold again -- temperatures in the teens -- but we had only a dusting of snow yesterday and we have been spared the misery that the east coast is experiencing. I'm getting to that point where I'm really tired of winter, even though this one has not been too bad. It's just giving me the blahs.

Getting ready to go to the gym and to Aldi, to get the items I didn't get yesterday ....

Mystery Shop Accomplished

March 6th, 2018 at 06:52 am

My mystery shop yesterday went well. My mission was to pretend I was buying a TV from a big box store, and I had to be on the alert for certain kinds of technical information. I'll have to see if I answered the survey questions adequately. I made a couple of mistakes -- I didn't get the name of the first associate who spoke to me, and I didn't really notice what the associates were wearing. I also had to upload a receipt (I bought a frappuccino for $2.65). That was a challenge for me; I never do that kind of stuff.

The compensation is only $12, and between the shop and all the followup stuff I spent at least a couple of hours on it. Not to mention I won't be compensated for what I spent. But I assume I will get better. This was my maiden voyage.

After the shop I went to the gym. It was Pizza Day, so I got a free dinner. I was very pleased that they offered a veggie pizza this time.

Did another load of laundry for $1.50.

Today I'm going to do after school care, and tomorrow I'll have the boys for a half day. I have survey receipts for two free appetizers at Noodles & Co., so I plan to use those tomorrow.

I also need to go back to Aldi and pick up a few more things I'm running out of. I really like doing my shopping a little at a time. I don't buy more than I can use, and it's easy to carry it up the steps. And since it's near the gym, it's not out of my way.

Early Morning After a Late Night

March 5th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I was up late watching the Oscars last night. I almost forgot to tune in -- after seeing all nine Best Picture nominees! Then it seemed to take me a long time to go to sleep, but I woke up at 6:30 like usual.

I'm not going to the gym today. I'm going to take it easy this morning. This afternoon I have to do my mystery shop assignment, and I'm surprisingly nervous about it! There's so much to remember, and a certain amount of acting required. I'll have to see if I think this is something really worthwhile for the compensation.

No spending yesterday after my grocery shopping in the morning. There was an automatic payment to my Medicare supplement, which does not affect variables.

I made more granola yesterday, and it turned out the best yet. I think I finally have it figured out how much time to toast it in the oven.

My sister is considering moving back to the Midwest. More about that later, if anything comes of it. Considering her financial situation, I think it's unlikely she could make any kind of move. (Underwater in the house, hoarding situation, too many dogs, no financial responsibility, chaotic life. Oy.) I do love her, but she is a train wreck.

My Simple Life

March 4th, 2018 at 09:36 am

I went to Aldi after the gym this morning, and spent $20 on wine, maple syrup, bacon bits, poppyseed dressing and a bag of frozen chicken breasts.

Yesterday, Iggy (now I know it's him!) barfed on my bed. This time, the mattress pad was spared, but he got the comforter. It's a pain to wash. I washed the sheets yesterday and saved the comforter to wash today; I slept under my quilt, but I was pretty cold. The comforter is in the dryer now (where it will only halfway dry; it's too big. I'll hang it to dry in my bathroom.) That's $3 worth of laundry.

I've spent 23% of my variables.

I need to buy some honeycomb shades for the living room, and a new pair of athletic shoes. The shoes can probably wait longer than the shades can. I'll probably order the shades online, just haven't gotten around to taking the measurements and placing the order.

That will be my "fun" spending this month....

The weather is nice today, so I'll probably try to fit in a walk later.

Mystery Shop

March 3rd, 2018 at 08:03 am

I signed up for my first mystery shop. I signed on to the service months ago, but never accepted an assignment because I got sick, and C was dying, and I was caring for the boys after school, and there was just too much going on.

But now I think I can handle it. I have an assignment on Monday which will pay $12. There seems to be a lot of detail to it, but I suppose I will get used to it.

Yesterday I spent $13 at Aldi on peanut butter, California Medley veggies, cheese puffs (to have on hand for the boys), frozen pizza and crackers.

I also spent $5 on Girl Scout Cookies.

This morning I spent $34 on gas.

I am baking bread today. It's in the oven now and it smells great.

I did manage to clean the fish tank yesterday and it looks better, though not perfectly clear yet.

I have my last movie to see today: "Call Me By Your Name." It's been fun, but I'm also a little relieved. That's a lot of movies in one week!

I'm sending a $100 check to my cousin for his wedding, which is going to take place in one hour, in fact!

Believe it or not, my son is pursuing a job at the museum where I did contract work last year! I was able to provide him with a contact name, and I am hoping his conversation with her went well.

Light Spending

March 2nd, 2018 at 06:38 am

Light spending yesterday. I spent $12 at Aldi for flour, salad, cheese dip, croutons, and walnuts. The walnuts were half the cost! But I always like to have walnuts on hand, and I use them in salads quite a bit. In the late afternoon/evening I had two movies to see (3 Billboards, Phantom Thread) and I got a snack at McDonald's in between for $2. I also did a $1.50 load of laundry.

I really need to make bread, but I was tired yesterday and I didn't get it done. I hope to do that today, after gym and another small shopping trip. I also need to clean the fish tank. I noticed the filter had slowed to a trickle the other day and the water was cloudy. I installed the new filter I had on hand. The flow is much better, but the water still hasn't cleared up. I know it is probably bacterial bloom rather than dirt, but cleaning can only help.

And I have more laundry to do.

Funny how all these little things fill up your day when you're retired.

Two more movies today, starting at 4 pm: Lady Bird and Dunkirk.

Great Day

March 1st, 2018 at 05:32 am

I had a great day with my friend K yesterday, but it was more expensive than I expected it would be. Lunch was $27, I spent $2 on coffee, and I gave $20 to a panhandler! Oy! Not quite sure how that happened but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. At least I didn't pay anything for transportation or parking -- I took the El. And of course admission to the museum was free because of my membership. And K got in free as my guest.

K gave me a hoodie with my alma mater's logo on it, which delighted me! She got it free herself, from a friend who was getting rid of a lot of clothing.

In the evening, I went to see Darkest Hour -- my fourth movie in the Oscar series, and I loved it! The others I have seen so far are Shape of Water, Get Out, and The Post. I have really enjoyed them all.

I've been parking in a garage near the theater which honors validated tickets. But last night, even though I had validated my ticket, the reader wanted to charge me $3. Well, that ticked me off. A parking attendant came (since I wasn't proceeding through the line) and after seeing my validated pass and my movie stubs, let me through without paying. Well, it was only right.

Two more movies today -- Three Billboards and Phantom Thread.

I really have to do some grocery shopping now, but I'm going to try to do it a little at a time. One bag is all I can comfortably carry upstairs. Going back to the store often isn't a problem since all the stores I shop at are on the way to the gym.

I got a free packet of cat chow in the mail yesterday, which was nice. I had ordered it online, but had forgotten about it.

So, I'm off to the gym!

Pay Day & February Recap

February 28th, 2018 at 05:57 am

It's pay day. Hooray! The deposit is still pending, so I'll wait before I transfer money.

My February recap:

I spent 99% of my variables budget. But it was an expensive month.

Housing: $1105 (because of double assessment fee)

Taxes: $911 (combination of property tax and state income tax)

Vacation $395 (includes double payment of $85 ground transportation to O'Hare)

Utilities: $251 (double electric and gas)

Vet/Pet Supplies: $234 (includes $150 for euthanasia and cremation costs Frown

Medical/Health: $95 (includes $50 copay to kidney doctor)

Gifts/Charity: $85 (includes son's birthday)

Fees/Services: $76 (tax prep fees)

Phone: $52

Personal: $43 (includes haircut)

Gas: $42

Entertainment: $37 (Oscar movie week)

Groceries: $35 (How about that!)

Eating Out: $30 (And how about that!)

Laundry: $15

Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $12

Household Supplies: $7

Car Maintenance: $16

Fares/Parking: $1

Grand Total: $3432

Such a short month, but so many expenses. I'm ready for a March reboot.

Today I'm going downtown to spend the day at the Art Institute with my friend K. It may be our last get-together before she moves to Minnesota. I'm sure we will go out to lunch, and it may be a nice one.

I also need to get on the stick and mail a wedding gift ($100 check) to my cousin. I don't know what to get him; I assume cash will be appreciated.

It's weird to have a morning without Mystery. I'm not sure whether Iggy has noticed her absence yet; so far he seems just like usual. I'm not planning to adopt a companion for him unless I think he is feeling anxiety. He may just be happy to be the only cat, king of all he surveys!

I Let Her Go

February 27th, 2018 at 09:11 am

I took my dear Mystery to the vet this morning. She agreed that it was probably time, and I held her in my arms while she went to sleep for the last time.

As you might expect, I'm unbelievably sad. She was a part of my life for so long! My son found her on the streets when he was a college student. She was pregnant, and we let her have her litter and found homes for all the kittens. My son still has one of her sons.

We used to kid that she was really a dog, because she was so outgoing and friendly -- and loving -- to everyone. The sweetest cat you could possibly imagine.

My son just texted me that she had the best life a cat could have.

As you all know, I am not tech-y at all, but I'll try to post a picture.

Two Assessments This Month

February 26th, 2018 at 05:30 am

My second assessment fee this month was withdrawn from the bank yesterday. It just happens that way sometimes. The withdrawal is usually around the 25th of the month, and my SS payment is the 4th Friday of the month, so the payment can fall on either side of the budget line. I was prepared for it, so it was no surprise. On an annual basis the fee is paid 12 times a year; it's just that some budget months it comes twice, and some months not at all.

I only went to the gym yesterday, and I did no variables spending. Variables spending stands at 84%.

I realized I should probably update about my cat. Last Friday, I thought perhaps I should take her to the vet, because she is clearly declining. But she seemed perkier, so I decided to give it the weekend. Over the weekend she has seemed pretty normal, though she obviously isn't eating much and weighs nothing. This morning I have the decision to make again.

She is getting around, doesn't seem to be eliminating outside of the box, and she can still jump on the bed. She has lost a lot of weight and doesn't seem interested in food. She is quite old; she has been in our family for 18 years, and she was an adult when she adopted us.

Her coat is getting raggedy, and she doesn't smell good.

She is very frightened and stressed by going to the vet, so I hesitate to take her there unless I am sure they can help her.

She still purrs when I stroke her, and she doesn't act like she is in pain (though I know cats hide it).

So I guess I am still on the fence.

And I suppose I am frightened that she will have to be put down immediately and I am having trouble facing it.

I guess the right thing to do is to take her in for an assessment. Clearly I need some help in making this decision.

Meals yesterday: Yogurt for breakfast, Spanish rice in a tortilla for lunch, popcorn for dinner. I continue to have little appetite for dinner. When I start buying groceries again, I am going to plan to have salads for dinner and make lunch the main meal.

Today my movie week starts. At 7 pm I'll see The Shape of Water, and Get Out shows at 10 pm. I don't know if I'll make it for that! But the only other showing of Get Out is also at 10 pm, so if I want to see it, it will mean a late night.

A Movie Day Before Movie Week

February 25th, 2018 at 07:27 am

My nine-day movie week is coming up, and I jumpstarted it by seeing "Black Panther" yesterday. I was invited to go with my son and the boys. It was really good, and I usually don't like comic book movies! Since it was a Saturday movie, and not at the earlybird time, it cost me $8.

I also picked up a free yogurt and a free container of flan at Jewel -- MyMixx deals.

Meals yesterday: Breakfast was French toast, lunch was cubes of Swiss cheese, walnuts, and dried cranberries, and dinner was Spanish rice, which I made by combining the leftover rice and burrito filling with a little more salsa.

House Poor

February 24th, 2018 at 07:18 am

Has anyone seen the program House Poor on Z Living? I am enjoying it. I like to see a show that actually encourages frugality and living within your means. That said, everyone on the show, that I've seen so far, is in pretty good shape and the frugality "assignments" are pretty easy.

Yesterday was another no-spend day. I went to the gym, went home, did chores, read a lot, and babysat the boys in the evening so the parents could go out. I did do a load of laundry, but I don't really count that as spending; it just needs to be done when it needs to be done, and I always have the stash of quarters on hand so it doesn't really feel like spending either.

Yesterday's meals: I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, a beef burrito for lunch, and for dinner I had granola and fruit. (The fruit was not from my own food stores; it was what the grandsons didn't eat.)

I have enough of the burrito filling to have another today, and about a cup of cooked rice to use up. I may make a veggie stirfry, but it will be only peppers and onions; that's all I have left. (Except for the sweet-sour purple veggies, which would not taste good in a stirfry!)

Anyway, my food is lasting just fine. It's amazing when you put your mind to it. I have only four days till payday now, and plenty of food on hand.

I was up pretty late last night, and I slept in this morning. I'm giving myself a skip day at the gym.

Unfortunately, GS2 had a bad cold and was running a fever when I put him to bed last night. I so hope I don't get sick again, but I certainly was exposed! Poor little guy, I hope he feels better today.


February 23rd, 2018 at 05:05 am

No spending yesterday, except for the Comcast and ComEd bills, which were drawn out of my checking account. They, of course, are not part of my variables. I do keep an eye on them to make sure they do not creep above $150 combined, and they did not.

I found .02 at the gym. Finding money has really gone downhill. I suppose I am just not out as much, nor in places that are highly populated.

Meals -- for breakfast I had my homemade granola. Lunch was a hamburger with Swiss cheese, and
a side of applesauce. Once again, I was not hungry for dinner. I had a snack of toast and and a glass of wine in the evening.

I checked out classactionrebates.com yesterday and found only one I was eligible for, so I sent in a claim. It won't amount to much, as I could claim only one package of Align. I spent $165 on Align at Amazon during the specified period of time. (And more at the grocery store, etc.) It never helped much, mostly because my intestinal discomfort was lactose intolerance. I will probably get about $20, which is better than nothing.

My elderly cat is showing all the signs of being in the dying stage. She doesn't act particularly uncomfortable, but I am thinking of taking her to the vet today. I know that cats hide their pain. I don't want her to suffer. On the other hand, I don't want to prolong her death with intervention, and I don't want to scare or upset her. So I am on the fence.

I talked to my friend K yesterday, who will soon be moving to Minnesota. We arranged to meet next Wednesday at the Art Institute. It will probably be our last get-together before she moves. I am sure, though, I will continue to see her, though not as often. She is one of the girlfriend group which gets together for fun weekends and getaways.

Stocked up on Pet Supplies

February 22nd, 2018 at 06:29 am

It turned out I had no kid duty yesterday, as my DIL had a short day at work.

I did some spending, though. I bought kitty litter, feeder blocks and algae thins at PetSmart for a total of $32. The register peeled out a $5 coupon for my next kitty litter purchase -- I was watching for that. Both the litter and the algae thins were on sale.

I also paid a $5 doctor bill that came in the mail. Must have been a copay I didn't pay at the office. And I did a load of laundry. One of the cats threw up on my bed. Luckily I only had to do the bottom sheet and the pad, since I hadn't made the bed yet.

I did the customer satisfaction surveys on our two receipts from Noodles Inc., so now I can get two appetizers for free.

I made some granola from scratch yesterday. I had almost given up on granola; I had so many batches turn out less than exciting. But this time I followed the Epicurious basic recipe, which is this: 6 parts dry (oats, seeds, coconut, etc.), 1 part wet (oil, honey, syrup, etc.) I added dashes of vanilla, salt, and brown sugar and then -- here is the secret ingredient -- an egg white, which helps it to clump. Bake at 300 for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. I baked it for 45 minutes, and I think next time I will go for 40 minutes, as it's a little brown. But other than that it's great -- tasty, crunchy, not burnt or sticky. Success!

My meals yesterday -- I had oatmeal for breakfast, and for lunch/dinner (about 3:00) I had pan-fried tilapia with a side of sweet-sour purple veggies. Before bed I had some toast.

Variables are at 83% and I have just six days to go.

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