This week's 15 items:
loaf of bread -- on sale
hot chocolate packets -- house brand on sale
2 cans tomato sauce -- on sale
2 lbs. bacon -- BOGO
wedges of Asiago & Parmesan -- on sale & $1 coupon
3 Lean Cuisines -- on sale
DiGiorno pizza -- on sale
bag of spring mix lettuce -- on sale
8-pack of Activia yogurt
18-roll pack of toilet paper -- house brand on sale
I am planning to make pasta carbonare, thus the bacon and parmesan. Because of the deals, I ended up getting two bacons and two cheeses. Even then, after fulfilling my "musts" I had room for more. I chose the tomato sauce just to have on hand, and the pizza and Lean Cuisines for easy meals in the future. Lean Cuisines help me keep the calories down at lunchtime, and make packing my lunch easy, so I do like to get them when they're on sale. The pizza, too, will mostly be for lunches after I bake it for the first time for dinner.
I also got my 1-cent frying pan. I needed only one sticker to finish my "book," so when I went through the line, I handed my extra's to the man behind me in line. He was so delighted! It's fun to do stuff like that.
My new pan is very nice. 10-inch Thomas brand; nice finish on it. I will enjoy it.
Archive for December, 2010
This week's 15 items:
Today I decided I was going to spend some of my gift cards, before they ended up forgotten.
My first stop was Border's. I had a $25 card. They were having big sales, and after a lot of looking, I picked out seven books and came in $5 over. Most are fiction, but one is Jean Chatzky's "Ten Commandments of Financial Happiness." I'm not expecting a lot out of it, but it doesn't look bad. The other books I will read for pleasure and either pass to friends or sell on half.com.
Then it was on to Macy's. I needed boots. It took me a long time to figure out they just didn't have what I was looking for -- but then I found a pair that I decided I liked even better than what I had in mind. They are London Fog, short, with fleece and fur lining, not leather but some kind of waterproof material, quite stylish in cut, low heels. They were half-price, $44.50 down from $89, and with my $25 card I got them for $22.95.
I was starting to get tired, but I carried on to TJ Maxx. I had $25 to spend and not much idea of what I wanted. I kept picking up things for other people, but I was determined to shop for myself for a change. Finally I found (another) book that I had seen on the Today Show, "Happy for No Reason," and that got me rolling. I ended up also getting a nice, thick exercise mat and an oven glove. These weren't marked down any more than usual, so I was $14 over, but I decided I wanted all three things.
I kept thinking how hard it was to shop for myself. I remember how I used to shop and just yearn for the things I saw. Now, it's very hard to find anything that interests me. I supply so many of my needs at thrift stores and garage sales that retail stores now seem silly and overpriced.
But I was happy with all my purchases, and then I came home and dropped!
I made a reservation for a taxi to take me to the airport for my Florida trip next week. $37. I can't get over how much it costs, but I can't ask someone to give me a ride at 4:30 a.m. And I can't drive and park, as I am leaving from Midway but arriving at O'Hare.
I may have to pay for a taxi in Fort Myers, too.
The one thing I will REALLY try to do is to pack in one carry-on bag. It's only a four-day trip, and I'll have a washer/dryer available on the other end.
I'm off work till the 10th of January, though I am on call. I am the only researcher on staff, so I can never really get away. Someone always ends up needing something. It's frustrating.
I just bought a $5 Groupon for two movie tickets. Part of my plan for my time off is to see some of the Oscar-nominated (or at this point, Golden Globe-nominated) movies. I hope I don't have to use the two tickets at once though. The last time I got a Groupon, it just came in the form of an email document to print. I hope they can figure out how to split it for two movies, not two seats. We'll see.
Today I'm going to get my fifteen items, pick up a prescription and browse Goodwill. I'm planning to shop Goodwill all year for gifts. I realize I missed out on some good opportunities this past year.
My son made me a friend on MyFitnessplan.com, so that is how I am tracking my food. I've had one day under goal and one day over, but the calorie count they set for me is really low. I will probably go over it a lot but still be in the neighborhood of my personal goal.
I had a great Christmas -- I will spare you all the details, but it was definitely one of the good ones!
I got quite a few gift cards, so one of my challenges will be to make the most of them. Macy's, Border's, TJ Maxx, Dunkin Donuts, and AMC Theaters. Hmmm, I must be hard to buy for? No matter, I LOVE gift cards!
The day after Christmas is like the start of the New Year to me, so I made my resolutions.
1. I will write down everything I eat.
2. I will walk at least 3 times a week, even if it's cold! I DO have access to two gyms, after all!
3. I will increase my net worth by $20,000.
4. I will do a better job of keeping in touch with my extended family. (That one is vague, but there is lots of room for improvement).
5. I will look for Christmas presents all year long.
That's about it. I like to keep it simple.
I used my Groupon for Nordstrom Rack. I bought two more Wacoal bras. I think now I have enough that I can retire my oldies but baddies. A Wacoal bra retails for $50-60, but, with the Groupon, I got these two for $15 each. That's my Christmas present to myself.
On Christmas Eve, I bought my fifteen items at Jewel. They were:
Apple Juice -- on sale
Oat Cereal -- house brand, on sale
18 eggs -- on sale
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
Butter -- on sale
Shredded Cheddar -- on sale
Dunkin Donuts coffee -- on sale
Dishwasher Detergent -- house brand
Jiffy Peanut Butter -- on sale
2 half-gallons Edy's Peppermint ice cream -- BOGO
2 packages of batteries -- $1 off coupon
After I finished shopping I got a call from my son, asking if I would bring wine for Christmas dinner. Since I didn't have an unopened bottle, I had to turn around and make a 16th purchase. But those things can't be helped.
Grand total -- with the extra wine -- $48.76
I'm going to try to do this all year -- see how far I can go before I have to break my rule!
Yay! My deposit from half.com was $14.40, which, along with two $3 payments from Pine Cone, will pay for the overage on the water bill.
Yay, again! I thought I had to work Christmas Eve, but I don’t!
Yesterday’s office Christmas party was great. In the Yankee Swap, I got a singing Hervey doll, which was a hit with my grandsons. The gift I brought in was a fancy frame from Talbot’s (which I got from Goodwill, not Talbot’s), and it was very much appreciated by the person who got it, who happened to be my boss!
The chicken & dumplings dinner with the grandsons et al was a hit, too. Maybe we’ll make it a Christmas week tradition!
Today our group is taking our boss out for lunch. It should be a fun day. Tonight I shop and clean, and tomorrow – laundry, and then I hit the road.
Don’t know when I’ll check in again, so everyone, have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
I went to Nordstrom Rack last night because they had a big sale and because I had a Groupon. Well, everybody else had the same idea. I never saw such long checkout lines – ever – in my life. I was looking for boots and didn’t find any. My next choice was underwear, but it wasn’t marked down any more than usual, so I decided to come back another time. I tell you, those people at the end of the line must have been clutching some REALLY good bargains!
When I went home I had to assemble an egg casserole to bring to work today. I let it sit in the fridge last night and baked it this morning. But in between I had a dream about it – that it had been in the oven all night, but was still soggy and unbaked, and I was in a panic. In reality, it turned out great, and I have already received a lot of compliments. If anyone is curious about it, google the Jimmy Dean Breakfast Casserole. I play around with the meats and the vegetables a lot, but it’s always good. This time I used bacon, red peppers, onions and mushrooms.
Then I cleaned up a little because my son’s family is coming over for chicken & dumplings tonight. I am proud to say that I have stuck to my fifteen items a week plan and STILL was able to take pie & a veggie tray to my weekend party, make the egg casserole today, and prepare the chicken & dumplings for tonight. I have to say, though, my pantry and fridge are starting to look a little bare.
No spending since Sunday. Tomorrow I go get my fifteen items – and then it’s Christmas Eve! It came so fast!
I’m looking out my window here at work and I see a tree full of robins. I don’t know why the robins are still here, but they look pretty against the backdrop of snow. There must be thirty of them! I wish you could all see the view from my window. My office looks over the football field, so at this time of year it is an unbroken expanse of snow. Then beyond the field is a row of small snow-covered buildings and the train track going parallel to the horizon. The trains are frequent, and from this distance they look like toy trains going back and forth. It’s a very pretty scene, a bit of Americana straight out of Charles Wysocki!
Today I’ve logged in $6.00 in Pinecone payments, and I’m expecting a payment from half.com soon. I love these little income streams, small as they are. I had a larger than usual water bill, so I’m glad to get a little bit extra to make up the difference.
I’m starting to look forward to getting my tax refund. I used to dream ahead about what I would buy. Now I’m excited that I will have a chunk of money to put in savings. How things change! Last year my refund was more than $2000, but I believe it will be less this year.
We had our first two rounds of gift opening this weekend, with two more to happen on Christmas Day! All these different working/vacation schedules in the extended family are making this Christmas strategically difficult. Still, it was a fun day – good dinner, lots of laughter, and the kids had a ball.
On Sunday I felt I had to go get a few more “fun” things to open on Christmas Day. My plan was to find stuff at Goodwill, but I got there too early. Even after I went out to breakfast to kill time ($12), it still wasn’t open, so I went to Target. I found some things there, all right, but I spent a little over $100. Then I went to Goodwill and found a few more things for $13 – and that included a pair of jeans for me. Of course, the Target stuff is going to be much more appreciated, and more useful, and I don’t really regret anything I bought. While I was out, I also got gas for $30.
Anyway, I hope I am really done now.
This evening I am taking another sold book to the post office, picking up a package that was left at the leasing office, and then I’m going to crash! I barely slept last night. I got myself into a dither about finances, and what I would do if I lost my job (which I don’t think is a real issue, but it seems that way in the wee hours of the morning). I just think all the reporting about the sad economy is getting to me. I couldn’t fall asleep. Today I am just dragging, but soon I will rest.
Tomorrow I’m planning to go to Nordstrom Rack after work to use my Groupon – NR is having a big sale – and I also have to assemble an egg casserole that I will bake in the morning and take to work for our all-day Christmas feast. Then in the evening, my son and his family are coming over for chicken and dumplings. The chicken is already cooked; it will just be a matter of putting it all together and heating it up. On Christmas Eve I will go to my son’s house to bake gingerbread for Santa, and after the gift opening there in the morning I will go to my other son’s house for more.
On Thursday or so, I need to make time to get my fifteen items at the grocery store.
Right now it seems like a lot to do, but that’s because all I want to do is sleep! Soon, soon…..
My fifteen items:
5 lbs. flour – on sale for 1.69
Bakery cookies – supposed to be free, but I paid 3.99
Bread – on sale for 2.00
2 bottles of ginger – BOGO – 5.39
Wine – on sale for 6.99
Cream of chicken soup (26 oz.) – on sale for 1.89
Whole fryer – 4.96
1 dozen large eggs – on sale for 1.99
1 can pumpkin – on sale for 1.69
Kitty litter – 8.49
3.5 lbs. cat chow – 5.79
16 lbs. cat chow – 12.49
Gallon milk – on sale for 3.09
I must have miscounted in my cart, because there are only 14. Which is a shame – I took back juice because I thought it was over the limit. (I did get a small bottle of OJ free at work, as well as a couple of oranges, so I’m okay on that front.)
My asleep-at-the-wheel snafu’s: I had a coupon for free bakery cookies, which I laid on the conveyer belt, but now that I look at the receipt, I see that it was not used. I sure wouldn’t have bought cookies for 3.99 otherwise. And I bought kitty litter with a peel-off coupon, but I forgot to peel it off and use it. That’s not so bad, I can use it next time. I don’t know what to do about that cookie coupon, though. I can’t prove that I had it. I guess I could plead my case to customer service and see what happens.
I guess it’s just as well that there were only 14 items, because I have to go back to buy a pie pan. I decided not to buy a pie, but make a pie, for my DIL’s Christmas dinner. I found a pumpkin pie recipe that uses a crumb crust, but I forgot I no longer have pie pans. I don’t make pies very often, and I usually use a frozen crust in a tin foil pan. I don’t think I have anything that will serve as a pie pan.
Getting only 15 items is forcing some adjustments. I was going to buy two cans of chicken breast for the chicken & dumplings, but bought a whole chicken instead. That will give me extra meat and broth, and it was only one item! After much deliberation, I decided to buy the two little bottles of ginger since I got the second one free, even though I don’t need that much ginger. Maybe I’ll make gingerbread for Christmas. I bought a gallon of milk, even though I don’t use it up quickly. I will have to freeze some of it. I bought a bigger bottle of wine, in hopes it will last two weeks! It is cheaper that way, too. Even when it came to buying the chicken soup, I bought the big can. What I don’t use in the chicken & dumplings I’ll save for something else – freeze it if I have to.
The cookie-baking was a bit of a disaster. I was in charge of the peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s kiss on top. Trouble was, the only brown sugar that was available had hardened to a rock. (The bag had split open inside the box.) No matter what I did, I couldn’t soften it. Finally I had to add water to the batter to break it down; then added flour to stiffen the batter; then added sugar to compensate – in the end, they were not very tasty cookies. But edible. We brought all the cookies to work this morning, and they have all been eaten up, so I guess they weren’t TOO bad. All the other cookies were fine. And we had a good time.
I ended up bringing home the sugar, chocolate and nuts, but we did use up the flour, so it’s going on my 15 items list.
I’m going to do my shopping tonight. I have to buy cat litter and food for both my cats and the feral cats (my cats get better, more expensive food, so I have to buy two kinds), and I also have to get a pie to take to the Christmas celebration at my son’s house this weekend. I need staples like milk, eggs and bread, and I’m planning to buy the ingredients for chicken & dumplings, so keeping it down to 15 is going to be VERY challenging! We’ll see how I do.
Also have to get some gas. I’m under a quarter tank and I know that’s not good in cold weather. At least I don’t have to count that in my 15, as gas is not available at the grocery store!
My goals for 2011 are really nothing new. I want to continue building my savings. My overall goal is to increase my net worth by $20,000. That is a stretch, but I think I can do it, especially since the College will finally start contributing to my retirement fund in May. (I had to wait two years – even though in my previous job I had been invested for more than 20 years. I’m sure it was a cost-saving measure for the College.)
I will continue making automatic $100 payments to my money market fund, and automatic $25 payments to my savings account. I will also continue to shift the balance left in my checking account to savings every payday.
And, by the way, today was payday, and despite the heavy expenditures of this month I was able to put $100 in savings. Finally, my EF is again above $4,000.
Yesterday I said that I raised my NW by $13,000 this year. Well, today I checked my TIAA-CREF account, and gains in the stock portion have put the increase at $14,000. Woo-hoo!
Tonight I am invited to a fondue dinner and cookie-baking party. I asked the hostess if I should bring baking supplies, and she said I could bring small bags of flour and sugar if I wanted to. Well, I didn’t want to go to the store – not ready to get my 15 items yet! – and anyway, I would hate to buy small bags, it’s so cost-inefficient. So I am just bringing the flour and sugar I already had on hand, as well as some baking chocolate and walnuts, just in case those are needed as well.
Another snowstorm is predicted for this evening, so I hope I don’t get snowed in while making cookies!
Last year about this time I listed the top ten highlights of the past year. It's time again!
Number one, of course, was my son's wedding.
Number two, my recovery from a severely broken ankle.
Number three, conference in Anaheim & visit with my cousin.
Number four, trip to North Carolina to visit sister and cousins.
Number five, new computer and printer.
Number six, a new grand-niece!
Number seven, took my grandson to "A Christmas Carol."
Number eight, went to a Bears game.
Number nine, saw Billy Elliott & had a great meal downtown.
Number ten, lots of birthday celebrations and showers.
A pretty good year!
Also, it looks like I've raised my net worth by $13,000. Woo hoo!
Boy, I really didn't want to, but today I dragged out the big Christmas box and the tree. When I was about halfway through, I was exhausted, the house was a mess, and I thought I probably shouldn't have bothered.
But now it's all done and the house is cleaned up and -- like I am every year -- I am dazzled by how beautiful it is! I love my house when it's decorated for Christmas! Whatever "house" I'm living in (it's an apartment right now), it is always transformed by my familiar decorations. I feel so peaceful and happy.
I also finished ALL my wrapping. I honestly can't think of one more thing to wrap. The only thing I might do is buy a couple of stockings to collect the small gifts. But on second thought I could use gift bags for that and not spend the money.
My lazy days are over. Tomorrow it's back to work. But I have enjoyed my weekend retreat at home.
Oh, and I sold a book-on-CD on half.com and made $5.88! That's more than I usually make.
Didn't even get to the dumpster yesterday. Started to, but it was raining. Today, it's snowing. But I will get the garbage out there. It is still my big outing!
I got a few things done yesterday that I have been wanting to get around to. I sewed snaps on a winter coat with a broken zipper. It would have been quite expensive to replace the zipper, but snaps were economical and will close the coat just as well. It was a bit of a pain, though. Took longer than I thought it would.
I also refitted the outdoor shelter for the feral cats. The "shelter" is a big domed litter box. I put a thick layer of wood shavings in the bottom and put a fleece/canvas cat cube on top of that. Covered it with the dome and then wrapped a mylar "blanket" around that. Unfortunately, the mylar rattles noisily in the wind and I think I'll have to take it off. I think it will scare them away.
Other than that I cooked, did laundry, housework, read, watched movies, did puzzles. Altogether my kind of day.
Hoping to have another just like it...
I'm staying in all weekend, barring an emergency. The only big outing I have planned is to take the garbage to the dumpster! Snow and cold is predicted, so I'm electing to be housebound.
This morning I created a breakfast casserole out of things I needed to use up. I chopped up three sausage links, an apple, two slices of bread, and soaked it alll in a mixture of 3 beaten eggs, milk and syrup. I have often made savory breakfast casseroles, but this is my first try at a sweet one. It turned out okay, but not yummy. Well, I'm going to be eating it for a while. Maybe next time I'll drizzle some extra syrup on top.
Later I will make some tuna salad, carrot soup, and applesauce.
I started a new book, Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. Really interesting so far; it's set in post WWI Germany and the main character is a dwarf. Once again, I am reading about people struggling with money. I love peeking in on other lives and cultures and generations and seeing how they deal with financial issues. Reminds me how lucky we really are.
Last night I was intending to see a free viewing of “It's a Wonderful Life,” but it started at 8 o'clock, and I was already in bed by then. Hope I can catch it sometime this season. It would have been nice to see it without ads.
Anyway, I hope to catch a bunch of Christmas movies on Hallmark. I haven't set up my Christmas tree yet – and I'm not really in the mood – but I know once I do it I'll be glad I did.
My only financial news – I got $8 from half.com, and I spent $20 on restaurant gift cards to give to my sons for Christmas. Mainly, I bought them to support the volleyball team, who is raising money to go to Italy.
This week I really had to make choices. As my stash in the pantry and freezer dwindles, it will probably get harder. But here is what I selected to buy:
Toilet bowl cleaner – on sale for 1.99
Kotex pantiliners – on sale for 2.89 (package of 64)
Sutter Sweet Red wine – on sale for 4.49
Bag of Tootsie Roll Midgees -- 2.99
Fresh Express 5-lettuce mix – on sale for 2.55
Jewel Kettle Corn, package of 3 bags – on sale for 1.29
4 boxes of Sweet & Salty bars – 1.75 ea.
2 boxes of DiGiorno 200-calorie pizzas – 2.99 ea.; coupon for $1 off
Crystal Light raspberry green tea mix – on sale for 3.99
Generic oatmeal cookies – 1.99
Jewel French vanilla coffee creamer (32 oz) – 2.50
Some of these choices may seem odd – for instance the tootsie rolls? I feel obligated to buy a bag every so often because I do help myself to the community bowl at work.
I got four boxes of the Sweet & Salty bars in order to get $3 off. Anyway, I love to have them to throw into my lunch bag.
I had to buy two boxes of the pizza to be able to use the coupon.
The Kettle Corn is something else I keep at work. My boss comes in every once in a while asking for it – she is very busy and sometimes misses lunch – so I try to keep stocked on it.
The creamer – I planned to use a coupon, but it turned out the store brand was a better deal. I don’t use a lot of creamer but I like it on weekends. This big bottle should last a while.
The wine – I sip a glass every evening for my heart health. My “constitutional” as my great aunt used to say. Okay, I like it, too.
Before I went to the store, I mailed a package at the post office (a sale on half.com). I bought a book of stamps. It occurred to me later that that may have been cheating a bit – since I could have bought the stamps at Jewel, perhaps they ought to count toward the 15 items. But it wasn’t a deliberate cheat, so I’m not going to worry about it.
Yesterday was an interesting day at work. I and several others had a meeting with our VP, in which we learned that 1) she is wildly disorganized 2) blames us and 3) is demanding that we redo reports/spreadsheets that were done exactly as she asked. Very frustrating. I don’t know how I will get through my last years here if she is here, also. But then late in the day we got word that a big 6-figure donation had arrived, so it was celebration time! We went out to a pub after work, where I spent $15 on wine and quesadillas. An unexpected expense, but I did want to be part of one of GOOD things that happen here!
Today the celebration is continuing, as there are free Panera bagels in the break room, so I guess that offsets my $15 a little.
In other news, I sold another book on half.com. I have sold about five or six since I re-started my account. It’s nice to have a little bit coming in, however small.
I may do my 15-items shopping tonight. I’d like to beat the snowstorm that is predicted, and just stay in this weekend, when the weather is predicted to be even worse. I’ve got lots of books to read, and lots of housework/organization to do at home.
Speaking of books to read, I just finished “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck. This is a good read for anyone feeling stressed about money. It’s a novel about pre-revolutionary China, and within the story are many lessons/insights about poverty and the down sides of wealth.