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Archive for February, 2011

Free breakfast week

February 28th, 2011 at 02:56 pm

As I mentioned in this morning's post, I am declaring this free breakfast week.

This morning I stopped at McDonald's and got their new fruit & maple oatmeal -- free with a coupon. It was actually very good!

I have my Starbucks gift card and some $$$ left on a Dunkin Donuts gift card. Both places now have breakfast sandwiches, so that's the plan! Free brekky, yay!

Busy Sunday

February 28th, 2011 at 04:39 am

I spent $11 yesterday to see "Gnomeo and Juliet" with my grandson -- plus I spent $1.07 on Gummi Bears. Then I registered for the Race for Hope -- $40.

Spent the day at my ex's house -- that's where my kids gathered; I didn't actually see much of my ex, so it isn't as weird as it sounds. Anyway, ate free all day -- pancakes for breakfast, pizza for supper and lunch was just picking -- for me it was bagels and nuts. I didn't mean to freeload, it was just the way it turned out.

Trying for a free breakfast all week -- I've got coupons and gift cards to use -- I'll keep you posted.

Fifteen items

February 26th, 2011 at 07:53 am

This week's fifteen items:

2 4-packs Activia yogurt ($1 off coupon)
3 lb. package stew meat (on sale)
Progresso minestrone (on sale)
can of mushrooms (house brand, stems & pieces)
bag of 2 sweet onions (on sale)
3 cans Grands biscuits (on sale for $1 each, plus .75 off coupon)
fresh blueberries (on sale)
fresh raspberries (on sale)
2 packages Buddig beef (on sale)
1 can tuna (on sale, house brand)
1 can mushroom soup (house brand)

Grand total: $30.99

Fun trip!

I've got beef stroganoff in the crock pot now. Tomorrow I'll have chipped beef on biscuits, mmmmm. Good comfort food on YET ANOTHER snowy day!

I WON AGAIN!

February 25th, 2011 at 04:16 pm

This is the third time I've won something this year! That is, within the last 12 months. Last summer I won $500 off my rent. Last week I won a $25 gift card for Papa John's pizza. Today I won a $10 Starbucks gift card! We had a drawing at work -- one of those employee morale pumper-uppers -- two people got to leave early, and one -- me -- got the gift card. I'm delighted. I don't much care for Starbucks coffee, but I will definitely use it for some scone breakfasts!

Hey, every little bit helps.

A little spending

February 24th, 2011 at 07:23 am

I haven't done much in the financial arena lately, but yesterday I did go to Wal-Mart and spent $5 on a prescription and $17 on pots and potting soil. My prescription used to be $10, but apparently on my new medical plan the cost is cut in half. Well, I don't mind saving $5 a month!

The pots and soil were for my office plants. They are all re-potted now and looking quite perky. I like the new pots, too. They are plastic but look like terra cotta -- they look good against the teal walls.

I also spent $16 mailing packages -- something I've put off for a long time. I sent a gift to a friend (it was supposed to be a Christmas gift, but I told her it's now a St. Patrick's gift) and I sent my sister and BIL some clothing bargains I found at Goodwill. The cost of mailing sort of cancels out the bargain, but my BIL is very large and has a hard time finding clothes his size. I grab 'em whenever I see 'em at Goodwill.

This was the first spending I did since Saturday.

Is everyone still in the lunch challenge? I have packed a lunch every day this month. Today it's leftover pizza -- my favorite!

Genealogy again

February 20th, 2011 at 06:59 pm

This isn't financial at all. I just had to pop in and giggle about what I found on ancestry.com today. I was tooling along, filling in my family tree, when all of a sudden one of the names that pops up is "Sir" John Savage. I think, well, that's interesting. I keep following his line back, and the line goes back, and back, and these names sound so familiar.... I got off the site and looked up the Savage family. Oh yeah, one of the Savages was Archbishop of Canterbury; arranged Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. I knew something was really wrong. Turns out I accepted a false lead from another family tree builder. I DO have an ancestor named Robert Savage, but he is NOT Sir John's son. He lived in Mucklestone -- where the family continued to live for generations -- and I don't think there were knights in Mucklestone.Smile

Too funny. But for a little while I thought it was very cool!

I do think it's cool that I can follow the line back to the 1600's in England. Now I just wish I could pop in and see what their lives were like!

Fifteen items

February 19th, 2011 at 02:39 pm

I'm doing my 15 items early to get back on a Saturday schedule again. Today I went to Target, so I could get my $15 rebate. I didn't need a lot of food, and it shows:

2 bags of Tootsie Rolls (for work)
Bag of Tostitos -- on sale
Chips Ahoy -- on sale
Salsa -- house brand -- on sale
2 Green Giant frozen green beans w/almonds -- on sale
Milk
"Magic Bumper" -- on sale
Photo Album
2 plastic plates for kids
2 coloring books
2 packages Always pantiliners -- special promotion (got $5 gift card)

Looks like I miscounted and got 16 -- oh, well, I've come in under a few times, too.

The Magic Bumper is a set of stick-on pads to protect floors from furniture.

The total was $48.87, and $15 will come off the Discover card, and I got a $5 gift card, so the real total is $28.87.

I also made my Goodwill visit today.

Once again, great finds!

A brand new replacement coffee pot for my Mr. Coffee (my pot keeps losing the lid) - 1.99

A box containing 7 people and 2 trees for my DIL's Christmas village -- 2.99 (I'm pumped about this one!)

2 packages of Christmas wrap - 1.49

1 Christmas gift bag - .49

Pyrex standing spoon rest with spoon (looks new) - 3.99

Set of 4 Anchor Hocking ramekins, still in shrink wrap -- 3.99

Super cute jeweled bookmark -- new in package -- 1.99

AND -- that king-size sheet that coordinates with my dust ruffles was still there, still 12.99. This time I bought it. I figured there is so much material there, I can not only make pillow shams but do other stuff if I just think about it. That one sheet (still in package, by the way) was originally $70, so I guess it is a fair price.

So it's been a good day. I took a nap on the sofa, watched two episodes of "Wives & Daughters" and read some in my "Happy for No Reason" book. It's really warm and I should take a walk, but for some reason my ankle really hurts today.

I resisted eating out -- came home and had chili, milk and cookies for lunch, which all tasted so good. I also made a breakfast casserole this morning AND had a bagel with cream cheese -- so I've got 190 calories left for the rest of the day. But I'll do it!



A new hobby?

February 19th, 2011 at 05:58 am

I may have a new hobby. Genealogy! I love the show "Who Do You Think You Are" and it got me interested in looking into my own family. I know quite a bit about my mother's family, thanks to my cousin, but I didn't know much about my father's side, EXCEPT that we were rumored to be descended from an early President.

I got a free trial to ancestry.com and I was quite amazed at how much I found out in a few hours. First, of all, we are NOT descended from a President, but that line of the family goes back to pre-Revolutionary times. (And with a little more work, I might find a connection to the President's family, but we are not direct descendents.) Second, I found out that my grandfather grew up in a little town not far from here, so I'm going to make a trip (maybe even this weekend) to see if I can find the graves of my great-grandparents. Third, I actually found online some letters that my great-grandfather, who fought with the Ohio Infantry during the Civil War, wrote while he was in service. Amazing! I didn't even know he existed till yesterday, and here I am reading his thoughts as he sits by the campfire.

I can see how this get addictive. Once the free trial ends, the subscription is $12.95 a month. I don't know if I want to do that, but it is reasonable -- cheaper than some Netflix plans!

Yesterday I took a pot of chili into work to give to my boss, who is going through so much right now with her daughter's illness. However, she didn't come in, so I brought it home again. I guess I'll freeze it. It's too much for me eat, especially seeing as how I already have some I kept for myself.

I followed up on Petunia's post about -- oh, I can't remember the name -- the deal where you enter your credit card information and get instant rebates at the stores where you shop. I got three offers right away, and I activated two of them -- McDonald's and Target. I'll go to Target and do my fifteen items there -- I want to buy a photo album anyway, so that will work out well. For McDonald's I have to spend $10 to get $5 off. I don't ordinarily spend $10 at McDonald's, but I can use it when the grandkids are here.

DC trip, lunch challenge & counting my blessings

February 17th, 2011 at 11:39 am

Not much to report financially. Which is good; it means I'm not spending.

I'm re-evaluating my Washington DC trip. I'm still going, but I think I might just fly in for the weekend -- or try to grab a ride with one of my kids. I think I may wait to close down the antique booth until the end of June, when I go to Tennessee for my nephew's wedding. It's much closer to NC, and by that time my cousin will be back from her winter home and I'll have a place to stay. I'll also have another day of vacation to play with.

The lunch challenge is going great. I not only haven't bought lunch all month, I've had a few provided free. I had the pizza lunch at the vendor's fair on Tuesday, and then the last two days I've made lunch out of freebies left out in the break room. Someone brought in pepperoni and cheese (and put it out to share) and since I had crackers in my desk, I just snacked on those. The frozen entree I brought in on Monday is still in the freezer today. I've also been good about not buying lunch on weekends, which is my biggest downfall -- the time when I am most likely to think I deserve a little treat.

Last night I watched a Netflix movie, "Frozen River." OMG, what an eye-opener. It was about a single mother who was desperate to make ends meet and got involved in smuggling people across the Canadian border. Very realistic -- not an action movie; it was a character-driven movie. Sad and yet heart-warming at the end. It made me feel lucky.

My boss is out today because her daughter is rejecting her transplanted heart, and one of my co-workers is losing her house, so I'm very aware today that there is a lot of pain out there. I'm counting my blessings.

Great day!

February 15th, 2011 at 04:19 pm

First of all, it's payday, and, thanks to my tax refund, I was able to move $1050 into savings.

Then, I went to a vendors fair at work and got a free lunch -- pizza, Sun Chips, an ice cream sandwich and a Rice Krispie square. OK, not very nutritious, but free! I also got a chocolate bar but I was able to resist eating that right away.

Then, in the afternoon, I got an email telling me that I won a $25 gift certificate to Papa John's in the raffle. Woo-hoo!

So, since I was feeling so good, I went to Jewel and pleaded my case about the coupons that I didn't get credit for. The customer service assistant was perfectly lovely. She refunded me the cash and even apologized. And she was just taking my word for it.

So, great day!

The only bad part was that I went over my calorie limit, but I'll get back on track tomorrow.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, even though it was TERRIBLE MEETING day, the meeting was just fine!

Boy, does this tick me off!

February 14th, 2011 at 04:31 pm

I went to the grocery for my 15 items tonight. I was really tired, because I slept very poorly last night. But I needed stuff. Now I'm home, and looking at my receipt, I see that not one coupon was credited to me. The cashier didn't even swipe them. If I hadn't been so tired, I might have noticed.

I figure I only lost about $3; no huge deal, but I just the thought that I took the trouble to go through a pile of them ahead of time -- oh, it burns me. What can I do? I can't even prove that I ever had them. I'm just going to have to remember to always watch to see if the cashier follows through.

Here is what I bought:

Two gallons of apple juice -- house brand -- BOGO
Kettle Korn -- on sale
Kitty litter
Oatmeal cookies -- on sale
Cat Chow
Iced tea mix -- house brand
Hummus -- on sale
Oatmeal
2 packages of Activia yogurt
Bagels
Brown sugar -- on sale
Bread
Wine -- on sale

The only reason I bought two packages of Activia was to use the coupon. And I had coupons for the cat chow and kitty litter. Okay, I know the cashier was a kid and didn't mean to stiff me. I just wish I'd been paying attention.

The hummus was an unexpected addition to my list. It was marked down to 1.99 from 3.99, so I couldn't pass it up.

I was also planning to buy three greeting cards to get a free Teddy Bear for my grandson -- I had a coupon -- but there were no Teddy Bears in sight. I don't know if they had run out, or if this store never got on the bandwagon. Anyway, the coupon wouldn't have been used. Smile

I was already mad because I have to throw out my casserole.

Not having a successful frugal day!

Can't believe I left out the casserole

February 14th, 2011 at 05:52 am

I made a casserole which contains cottage cheese/sour cream/cream cheese, as well as ground beef in tomato sauce. I had a serving for dinner, then left the thing out all night. I put it in the fridge this morning, but I guess I have to throw it out, don't I?

Man, I hate that.

No spending yesterday. I went up to Evanston to babysit and resisted fast food both on the way and back (a big failing of mine).

Today I used a gift card and brought in donuts from Dunkin' Donuts for our Valentine's party.

I am redoubling my saving efforts, any way I can!

Goodwill and Happy for No Reason!

February 12th, 2011 at 05:09 pm

Looks like I'm going to be a weekly Goodwill shopper. I just can't resist going on Saturday morning!

Today I spent only $8. Best find was a Pyrex deep-dish pie pan for $4. Great find for me because I really need a pie pan -- I don't think that's the greatest price on record, but it's a really nice pan.

I also bought a Baby Bjorn bib and a sippy cup to have on hand at my house, some children's books, and a few stocking stuffers for next Christmas.

Today I'm reading "Happy for No Reason" and I'm really enjoying it. I'm feeling happy!

I started making a casserole -- I call it lasagna casserole -- it is layers of ground beef in tomato sauce, pasta, and a central layer of mixed cottage cheese, cream cheese and sour cream. I only got as far as making the ground beef in sauce. I'll finish the rest tomorrow. I had to stop because I realized I didn't have enough calories left today to be able to have a serving, and I don't want to have to pass it up when it's warm and fresh. I had to settle for soup and crackers for dinner, but I stayed within my calorie goal.

I resisted buying any fast food today, which is often a big temptation for me on weekends.

Tomorrow I get to babysit the grandsons! Whoopee!

The condo

February 11th, 2011 at 04:06 am

Yesterday I seriously looked into what I would have to do if I purchased the condo in Evanston. I found that I could, for sure, put down $50,000 out of my CREF stock. With that large a down payment, my mortgage payment along with taxes and community fees would be less than what I'm paying for rent now.

The downside -- I would have a terrible commute to work -- which would also be expensive. And, when I talked to my son, I realized that it is really TOO close to them -- as in sharing a wall. Not something any of us really want. Another condo in the same building would be great, but we all want some degree of privacy. So I'm not going to pursue this one.

I hope that housing prices remain low, as I make this transition in the next few years. Everyone says the recovery is still far away.

I will continue to save my money. Maybe I can eventually pay cash for a condo if prices remain low!

Today my Discover card turns over. It seems I always charge in the neighborhood of $750 on it -- I charge everything except bills and some low-cash purchases. I would say I will try to keep it down this month, but I know I will be ordering wedding pictures for sure, and they will be costly.

Dinner out Italiano

February 10th, 2011 at 06:24 am

Went out with my son and his wife for his birthday dinner last night. We split the bill; my half was $37. We went to an Italian cafe that is halfway between my home and his, and they were having a great special -- $15 for an entree with soup or salad, wine, and dessert. It was very good food, too. I had so much chicken parmigiana and pasta that I think I can have four lunches out of the leftovers!

He seemed to like the gifts I got, which were all great deals from Goodwill (I didn't tell him that) or freebies, like the aquarium tickets I got with an oil change. I would guess that my outlay for his gifts was less than $20, and for that I got a brand-new Henley shirt, a new boxed set of IKEA juice glasses, a sketchpad, a new in-the-box gadget organizer for his car, and the aquarium tickets. And we had such a nice evening together to boot!

On the work front, everything is peaceful again (at least on the surface).

On the lunch challenge front, I have brought my lunch every day in the month of February. Yesterday it was leftover pizza, and today it will be leftover chicken parmigiana.

The other night I cooked up a big batch of asiago chicken tenders, which I will freeze in one-serving sizes tonight. I also cooked three pounds of ground beef and froze two. The other I will use in a lasagna casserole.

All of a sudden I have way too much food, and I'm only buying 15 items a week!

It's not just me

February 8th, 2011 at 04:35 pm

I always dread Tuesdays because of the horrible meeting, and I'm relieved when Tuesday is over. Well, today, one of my co-workers flounced out of the meeting in a terrible huff. I think she was leaving before she started crying. It made me aware that I am not alone in my misery, and that something is really wrong at work.

I, on the other hand, have been feeling better and feeling like I can stick it out for the few years I have left. We'll see.

I got onto irs.gov today and found that my refund is supposed to go into my bank tomorrow. Hurray! I can hardly wait to put it into savings. I remember when I could hardly wait to spend it. Funny how things change.

I got my sales report from the antique mall today. I only owed $23, which is good. The bad part is that the two big items that sold were my sister's. I took a 10% cut (since I'm paying the rent) and sent her the money. She wrote back, saying that she and her husband got some money from her father-in-law and they can catch up on their mortgage now. Sigh. I'm afraid she will never learn, but I always hope.

I let the mall owners know that I plan to move my stuff out the first week in May, so now I'm committed.

A little shopping

February 7th, 2011 at 05:21 pm

It started snowing again this afternoon, and my inclination was to go straight home and stay there. But I had plans... I wanted to go back to Goodwill, because I remembered there were other items in the same pattern as the bedskirts I bought... and I needed to go to the grocery store because I was almost out of cat food. So I went.

At Goodwill, there were two valances and two king sheets in my pattern. I didn't want valances, and they were too narrow to make pillow shams, which was my interest. The kingsize sheets were priced at 12.99 apiece. Too high, considering I only wanted to cut them up. So I passed on them. But while I was there I found a Giada apron for my DIL and a Purdue shirt for one of my sons. $8 for both.

Then I went to the grocery store. My 15 items this week:

A birthday card
Suave body wash -- on sale
Dish soap -- house brand on sale
Cat chow
Hershey's dark chocolate miniatures -- on sale
Green pepper -- on sale
Cream cheese -- on sale
4-pack of Activia -- on sale
Ground beef -- 3 lb. economy package
Box of 18 eggs -- on sale
Low-fat cottage cheese -- house brand
Whole wheat rotini -- on sale
Bag of clementines -- on sale
3-pack of romaine

Oops! Only 14!

Total cost: $46.23

Lunch challenge: I took leftover pancakes and a little syrup to work for breakfast. Heated them up in the microwave and they were quite good.

I took leftover pizza for lunch, but put it in the freezer when I realized someone had brought in bagels. I made a cheese bagel with veggie cream cheese my lunch, along with the craisins I brought.

For mid-afternoon break I had a chocolate cupcake, no icing.

Dinner was interesting. When I came home from the store and was putting the groceries away, I dropped the bag with with eggs in it (of course). Four eggs were cracked, so I immediately scrambled them and that was my dinner. I wouldn't normally have four eggs for dinner, but since I had a pretty carb-heavy day, it probably wasn't such a bad idea.