Home > Archive: January, 2011

Archive for January, 2011

Blizzard approaching -- but still fifteen items

February 1st, 2011 at 12:40 am

I grocery-shopped tonight with everyone else in town. They were stocking up for the upcoming blizzard. I stuck to my guns and got just 15 items.

Wine - on sale
Cream of chicken soup - on sale
2 cans kidney beans - house brand on sale
Can of corn - house brand
Club crackers on sale
Hamburger buns - house brand
4-pack Activia - on sale
Bag of yellow onions - on sale
Green pepper - on sale
Honey wheat bread - on sale
Olive oil - rebate - $1.50 cost to me (17 oz)
Detergent - house brand
Cupcake papers
Cat chow - on sale

Total cost - $54.96

Since I AM a little scared of this blizzard-in-waiting, I also filled up at the gas station: $33.48.
I was down to a quarter tank, and I don't want to take any chances.

I also took a book I sold to the post office.

AND -- for the lunch challenge people --

Today I brought some leftover pasta with spinach and asiago, a clementine, and baby carrots. And for my afternoon break I had a bag of kettle corn.

I hope the snow will not be as bad as they are saying. I remember well the blizzard of '67. I was actually out walking when it hit -- I had ice in my hair when I got home. I really don't want to deal with a mega-dump of snow. But I don't have any choice, do I?

Did my taxes

January 31st, 2011 at 03:12 pm

I did my taxes last night. I was going to do them on paper, but I realized I'm too out of practice to be confident using the forms, so I went through the IRS website and found 1040NOW, which did my federal taxes for free, and only charged $17.95 for state. Much better than last year with TurboTax.

I must be doing better financially, because I'm getting much less of a refund this year -- only around $750 (can't remember exactly) as opposed to more than $2000. And I have to pay $123 in state tax! Well, I suppose that's because Illinois is in such a financial mess.

Anyway, it's all done, and I still cleared something to put in savings.

Planning a new trip

January 30th, 2011 at 07:46 pm

A new trip is starting to take form in my head. Yesterday I spent the day with my son and my grandsons. He asked if I wanted to come along this year for the walk/run for the National Brain Tumor Society. They have done this every year since our dear friend died of a brain tumor, and I have always wanted to participate, but the timing was never right. This year I'm going to make it happen.

The event is in Washington DC on or around May 1. I also need to go to North Carolina to close down my antiques booth, so I think I will try to do that at the same time. DC and Asheville are not very close together, but they are closer together than either is to Chicago! So I'm going to commit to this. I can go to DC first, do the run, and then stop in NC on the way back. I'll need to take some time off work, of course, but I can probably do it in 3 or 4 days, since the run is on the weekend.

I went to Goodwill this morning and spent about $25. I bought a gadget container for my son (new in the box), some fun jewelry for my grand-nieces, a very cool piggy bank for my grand-niece (new in the box), a silicone turkey lifter (new in the box), a new spaghetti spoon and some gift bags. I'm really enjoying building up my gift stash for so little.

Oil change deluxe!

January 29th, 2011 at 02:17 pm

I got an oil change on Thursday night. It was due, and I found a coupon for $7 off at JiffyLube, plus a bonus of two tickets to Shedd Aquarium. It was only good on their "signature" oil change, but I felt my car could use some TLC. All told, it cost me $109.47. The service itself was $52.99, which included changing the oil and filter, checking the air filter, wiper blades, washing the windows and vacumming the floors, checking and topping off all the fluid levels and checking the tire pressure. I had the air filter replaced, all the wiper blades and a parking light -- all these brought the price up. The service guy gave me $10 off instead of $7 and didn't charge for one of the wiper blades (I have three) because it was chewed up and under warranty. I'm not sure what the tickets are worth, but they will go to my son as part of a birthday present. So over all, I am pleased even though it was a lot more than I usually pay. I am no good at taking care of the car myself, and am not about to do things like vacuum the floor in zero temperatures. So this time I was happy to pay for the extra services.

Yesterday I went out to Subway with my boss for lunch. I don't go out for lunch very often, but I do go if someone asks. It was $6.81.

Today I am cooking up a storm. I'm making potato soup from scratch, and the buzzer just rang for my breakfast casserole. Later in the day I will make pasta with spinach and asiago. Now that I am doing my grocery shopping (usually) on a Monday, I think I will make it a rule to use up all my perishables on the weekend. Doing well so far!

Hairy Adventures

January 26th, 2011 at 04:26 pm

Got my hair cut last night. After all my angst about not wanting to give up my expensive haircutter, it turned out I didn't even like my last cut so much. So I went to the Hair Cuttery. I really liked the stylist I got. She listened and she gave me what I wanted. It was $18 including tip.

So this morning I noticed that the sides are a little too wavy -- it's just the way my hair is. And I thought for the thousandth time, I need a flat iron. Well, today I bought one! (Now that I'm saving so much on my hair, tee hee). I researched the best at the best price, which turned out to be Solia Tourmaline. I was going to get it on Amazon, but the site said it would come from Folica. So I looked up Folica and got it for a little less, plus no shipping, and a free warranty and pouch. The total price is $84.99. High, I know, but I have been warned by my DIL to get a good one. I'm excited! Sleek hair, here I come!

Fifteen items

January 25th, 2011 at 11:38 am

Went to Jewel for my 15 items last night. Unlike most trips, I had a short list, and my decisions were all about how to get the best deals with my "extra" slots.

Garbage bags - house brand
Apple juice - house brand
Shredded cheddar - house brand on sale
Oatmeal cookies - house brand
5 Michelina frozen entrees - on sale
Jello mousse cups - .50 off coupon
Bag of spinach
Special K crackers - on sale
Milk - on sale
Sour cream

Grand total: $33.66

This is working. I have plentty to eat -- salad, tuna sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, pizza, soup, pasta -- all on tap for dinner. Lunches set for all week, and treats, too. Extra chicken in the freezer for future meals.

I think the part I like best is being able to carry everything in at once. That matters, when it's cold and snowy and you have to park in a parking lot and unlock two sets of doors to get inside.

In other news, I finally got my w-2 forms yesterday. I usually do electronic filing, but I'm thinking of doing paper this year. I'm in no hurry. Last year I ended up paying to file because I clicked the wrong buttons on Turbo Tax. If I file on paper, that won't happen. My taxes are so simple, there is no excuse for paying.

A nice weekend, after a scary start

January 24th, 2011 at 02:10 pm

I had a great visit this weekend with my BFF in Indiana, but getting there was terrifying. I didn't know how bad the roads were when I set out. On the tollway, I must have seen 40 cars off the road. One spun out and hit the wall right in front of me. I couldn't stop without endangering myself. The good news is that it appeared that all the accidents were minor; just fender benders and slide-offs. I just gripped the wheel and kept saying to myself, Not me, not me. My friend asked why I didn't turn around. Well, I was convinced I would drive out of it, and that was preferable to going back over the same treacherous roads again.

I got there safely, and we had a good time. Saw Black Swan ($6.50), went out to dinner at Applebee's ($17), shopped at Walgreen's and Goodwill ($44). I stopped at drive-thru restaurants there and back ($6). I bought gas ($26) and got a (badly-needed) car wash ($10).

My Goodwill and Walgreen's shopping was almost entirely gifts. Some of my good finds: an adorable "gift package" cake pan, two jewelry boxes, jeweled frames, a drawer organizer, and Christmas decorations. I'm really enjoying my Christmas-shopping-all-year strategy.

My friend also took me to a new antiques mall. I am very tempted to move my booth there, as the rent is low and and the atomosphere clean and bright. They seem to have good traffic, too. However, it's a three-hour drive away from home. Better than NC, yes, and I would have my friend there to keep tabs on it, but I would rather have it closer.

Phone interview done

January 20th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I had my phone interview this afternoon. I feel that it went well; I was very comfortable talking to the interviewer and felt I had good answers and questions. But who knows? I am sure there is a lot of competition for the job.

One nice piece of news was that, at the very least, it would be a $5,000 raise.

But if I don't get it, I will do my best at my current job and let it see me into my sunset years.

I went back to work today after two sick days. I really felt awful those two days -- it must have been a 48-hour bug. I am amazed at how much better I feel today. I never really appreciate my health until I am sick!

I haven't spent anything since Monday, and I'm not feeling any desire to spend. However, this weekend I'm scheduled to go visit my BFF in Central Indiana so that will cost something. Luckily, my BFF is never big on expensive entertainment -- we love to go to Goodwill together, and often end up eating at MCL Cafeteria. We may take in a movie. Other than that, it'll just be the cost of gas.

It will be so COLD tomorrow. I took out my garbage this evening because I know I won't want to take that walk tomorrow. When I relined the wastebaskets, I realized that I bought a box of 4-gallon bags. Darn! I need 8-gallon bags! I can use a free plastic bag in a 4-gallon basket! I guess I'll use them up, but I hate to buy something that I don't need.

I'm sick!

January 18th, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I hardly ever get sick. So much so that when I had terrible diarrhea last night, I thought it was from something I ate; and then I went to work this morning thinking I would feel better as the day went on.

I went home again almost immediately. I am dealing with aches, chills and general misery.

I hope I feel better for my phone interview on Thursday! If not, I will reschedule.

Oh, I'm miserable. Glad I don't get sick very much!

Phone interview scheduled

January 17th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

OMG, the place I applied to called me this morning and set up a phone interview for later in the week. I'm so glad I'm going to get a shot; I was afraid they would look at the year I graduated from college and put my application in the circular file.

Last night the carbon monoxide detector chirped all night. I didn't have a 9-volt battery on hand, so that forced a visit to the grocery today -- so I went ahead and got my fifteen items.

I spent $49.88 and saved $20.81.

My items were:

Cat chow ($1 off coupon)
Battery, house brand
Package of fresh soup vegetables (onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, turnip)
Bag of clementines
2 tomatoes on the vine (so counts as one!)
2 packages of Perdue chicken breasts (BOGO)
4-pack Activia yogurt
Healthy Life Bread (on sale, .35 off coupon)
Bag of peanut M&M's (on sale)
5 oz. fresh blueberries (on sale)
2 cans tomato soup (on sale)
Bag of shelled walnuts, house brand

I had milk and coffee creamer on my list but neglected to get either. I'll get them next week and make do.

In the afternoon I went to see The Social Network. After the Golden Globes, I decided I had to see it, and it was an excellent movie, even for someone who is not on Facebook, like me. I had a Groupon, but couldn't use it -- it's for two tickets and they have to be used at once. I'll have to figure out how I can use it -- maybe invite someone from work.

I also bought gas -- $28.46, or 3.09 a gallon. Pretty good price around here.

A better day

January 16th, 2011 at 05:53 pm

As I wrote in my comments, I'm feeling much better today, and I do so appreciate everyone's kindness. This is such a nice community. It's nice to know that every once in a while you can let down your hair and boo-hoo a little, and no one gets annoyed.

So far I haven't ventured out today. And I may not. This may just be a coccooning day. It's cold and dreary, and there's nothing I have to do.

I just sold another book on When I saw the email, I thought, I'll bet it's the one I just added. And it was! Funny how often that happens. I guess the ones that have been there a long time will never be in demand.

The nice thing about this book is that it sold for $4.99. Most of my books are priced at .75. This one, being a little more unusual, was listed at higher prices. It's called "Snow Country" by Yasunari Kawabata. It was translated from Japanese and not an easy read -- very literary. This book came to me in a bag of books from my sister, so it's total profit.

This morning I made a breakfast casserole of eggs, cheese, bacon and stale bread. Pretty good, and there's enough for tomorrow! Lunch will be salad -- I have a whole head of lettuce to use up so I'll have salads all week. And I still have leftover pizza for dinner. So it's going to be a very frugal eating day.

I had about four cups of milk in the fridge that was starting to get too old, or at least it was old enough to make me nervous, so I made it into white sauce and froze it in one-cup portions. I'll use it for chipped beef on toast and for cream soups.

I also went through my gift stash this morning and organized it a little better. My son's birthday is coming up at the beginning of February, so I wanted to be sure to pull some things out for him. It will be an odd assortment of gifts -- a Henley shirt, a set of juice glasses, a double set of corn cob holders and a drawing tablet! But I think they will all be appreciated. I also have some ornaments to give to him (they were saying at Christmas that they didn't have enough), but, I don't know, it just seems too early. Maybe I'll give them to my DIL for her birthday in June. Or I could wait until Christmas.

I will leave it to other members of the family to get whatever electronic toy is his fancy. Also, as is our custom, I will take him out to dinner.

Weather reports say that a big freeze is coming. That makes me worry about the outdoor cats. Two of them have disappeared already. MY DIL says, "Oh, they probably found homes." Well, no, they won't go near people. But it's possible they were trapped and taken to be neutered. That would be the best scenario. The worst I don't want to think about. But I'm doing what I can by putting out food every day. I just wish they could warm their tootsies somewhere.

Feeling sad

January 15th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Yesterday I transferred $300 into savings. I like it when I can do $300. Next month, I can see that I probably won't make it -- my utility bills will be too high.

I'm feeling blue today. I had a bad week at work capped by a really bad day yesterday. I have to face it that people at work don't appreciate what I do and I can't change that. (It's a combination of personalities and unreal expectations.) This is hard for me, because I've always taken pride in my work, and I got used to praise and respect in previous jobs. Something is really wrong here, and I can't put my finger on it. I've applied for another job, but between the economy and my age, chances are slim that I will get it. I have to get into the frame of mind that I am lucky to have a job, however difficult.

I'm also blue that I am alone. I have been alone for a long time, and mostly I am okay with it, but sometimes it hits me, and I think it is now because I don't really have anyone to talk to about how bad I feel. I have my kids, but they don't really want to hear complaining from Mom. My best friend is many miles away, and our relationship has been drifting since I moved away. I haven't made any strong connections here. I've lost my parents and a brother, and my sister is, well, difficult. My one "normal" brother is miles away, and busy with his own life. As I say, mostly I am okay being alone, but when I'm not feeling strong, it hurts.

But on to other things -- today I had a Bavarian clock informally assessed at an antiques/coin fair. I bought it at a garage sale for $10 but I knew it was worth something. The assessor said it was worth $100-200. I think that may be a little low, but it was good to get someone else's opinion. He was quick to say he wasn't a professional assessor, and his interest area was knives, not antiques.

Anyway, I had no interest in selling at that price. It ate up most of my morning. I still wanted to go to Goodwill, but it was noon, so I stopped at Steak N Shake and got a hot dog and fries. ($4.30) Not the healthiest meal, but I didn't want to spend much.

At Goodwill I spent a little over $50. I was in gift-shopping mode, and I found a bunch of things. My best finds were a soft "sueded" shirt for my son's birthday, and a new set of Legos (knights & castles theme) for my grandson. I also found a great porcelain house for my DIL (she collects them)and many other little things. For myself, I found a new Santa for my collection.

On Friday night I went to my son's for a pizza party. My other son's family was there, too, as well as my nephew's family, and my ex and his wife. Pretty wild -- a bunch of kids and a rowdy dog, and the biggest pizza I ever saw. (I brought home enough for two meals).

Speaking of pizza, today I bought a Groupon for Gulliver's pizza, one of my favorites. $10 for $20 worth; it's something I will definitely use.

I'm really glad I have a three-day weekend. I hope that on Tuesday everything will look better.

Fifteen items

January 13th, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Last night it stopped snowing and I slipped out to the store. My fifteen items:

Charmin wipes, economy size
Small garbage bags
Cat litter, on sale
Cat Chow, on sale
Frozen broccoli/cauliflower, on sale
Head of iceberg lettuce
Bay's English muffins, on sale
Plum tomato
House brand spaghetti, 32 oz.
Croutons, on sale
Two Lean Cuisines, on sale
Wine, 1.5L, on sale
Bumblebee Tuna, on sale

I had two coupons to use, but the clerk failed to ring them up. I was sent to Customer Service, but no one was there. I gave up and decided to use them next time. Meanwhile, I went back for the tuna (the can I brought to checkout was damaged)and went through the auto line. Someone before had left a coupon for $2.50 off on next order. Score!

Oh, and the total cost was $42.56.

Lots of snow and a bacon sandwich

January 11th, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I was planning to go to the grocery for my fifteen items tonight, but the snow is really coming down, so I opted to go straight home and stay in. My stock is rather lean, since I didn't get my fifteen items last week while I was on vacation. But I'm ok. I made myself a bacon sandwich for dinner and it hit the spot. The cats have food and litter, and they are the ones that are really demanding!

I usually get paid on the 15th, but this month it's a Saturday, so I will get it on the 14th. That gave me a little thrill when I first realized it. A day early! I'm so silly -- it's not like anything exciting happens on payday. Almost all of my bills are automatically withdrawn. But on payday I make a transfer into savings, and I think that's the part that tickles me.

The meeting that I was dreading today was changed to tomorrow. So, while I was relieved today, now I have to dread another day. I'll be glad when this week's over.

Back to work

January 11th, 2011 at 12:13 am

Work was okay today, as much as I dreaded it. Unfortunately I dread it even more tomorrow, as it's meeting day. And meetings are awful here. I wish they were just boring. They are, in fact, painful.

My only spending today was a gift for a baby shower for a co-worker. It's a joint gift from four people and I did the shopping. I was very lucky to go to Kohl's and immediately find Eric Carle picture books and complementary stuffed animals for $5 each. I bought 3 books and 3 stuffed animals, a big gift bag and a card for $38. So it will be just $9.50 from each of us and, I think, a nice gift indeed. Especially considering that this person already has virtually everything on her register.

I got a large electric bill -- $56, when it's usually $38 or so. I don't have electric heat, so I don't know why the jump. I did discover when I came home that I left a light on accidently while I was on vacation, so maybe that's it? Oh well.


January 10th, 2011 at 01:18 am

I flew home today. It was a good, though short, vacation, and pretty darn thrifty. Today I spent $11 on airport food, $11 to top off the tank on the rental car, $5 for lunch at KFC once I got home, and $20 on a booster seat for my grandson to keep at my house. (My son and his family picked me up at the airport and stayed the rest of the day -- and GS needed a place to sit at the table. I should have got one a long time ago.)

I also logged the heating bill - $56, and I got a check in the mail for my booth -- $26. Made money for a change! In addition to some small items, two very nice stoneware jugs sold on Christmas Eve.

My son hooked up the Roku and I will now be able to stream Netflix movies and Pandora. I will have lots of entertainment now. I think I'll drop my Netflix subscription down to one DVD at a time. That will save a little.

My diet has suffered, but I'll get back on track now.

I dread working tomorrow. I know I'll get an avalanche of tasks.

I'm really tired -- I got up at 3 a.m. Chicago time and I've been going all day. Time to crash.

Yet another no-spend vacation day

January 8th, 2011 at 04:25 pm

Yesterday my cousin and I had a friend over for cards, and we had a blast! We could hardly pull ourselves away to eat supper.

Supper was a bit of a disaster. It was a crock-pot meal, a crab-cheese-rice casserole type thing, and it got overcooked. We tried to rescue it by adding cream cheese and mushrooms, but it was awful. It's getting thrown out today. I hate to see the waste -- if it were mine, I'd hack it up and put it in a cream soup, but my cousin would never go for that, and she doesn't have to worry about money.

Tomorrow I fly home, and all I have paid for is meals on the road and travel expenses. That is thanks to the generosity of my cousin -- and our willingness to just hang out and visit.

I have been checking emails from work, and it sounds like I'm going back to a bit of a mess, so I will just enjoy these two days to the hilt.