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Archive for October, 2011

Exhausting weekend

October 30th, 2011 at 09:40 pm

I babysat my grandsons on Friday and Saturday. Their mom & dad were home both nights, but I stayed overnight because they wanted to do some late nights as well as run a marathon on Saturday morning. The boys are just at the ages, 4 and 2, where they are fun but a LOT of work. Add to that I didn't sleep well on my Aerobed and it made for an exhausting weekend. Still, I was happy to do it and there were many precious moments.

My son paid back my loan to him, so I am feeling much better about my savings. I knew it would be soon but didn't expect it this weekend.

My only spending was $4.97 for a McDonalds meal on the way there. It turned out I got there in time to have supper with them, but you never know with Friday night traffic in the Chicago metro area. I took along a shepherd's pie to have on Saturday, which was a big flop with the boys. There was about half left, which I meant to bring home for lunches, but forgot. Maybe my DIL will find it, and at least the grownups can enjoy it. It was delicious! But as my grandson, said, "ALL THAT FOOD ALL MIXED TOGETHER! UGH"

I also left my phone there! Oh well, I'm not much of a phone-talker, and most everyone who knows me will email me or call me at work if they're really trying to get hold of me. I guess I will meet my son in the middle some time this week to get it back.

The girls' weekend downtown is on. One of my friends booked a room at the Marriot for $129 and we will share. Tomorrow I'll see if I can book tea at the Drake Hotel, though it's doubtful this late in the season.

I just baked some brownie bites for the Halloween party at work tomorrow. As long as they come out of the pan okay after cooling, all went well. I made Parker brownies from the Fanny Farmer cookbook. They are extra rich, very yummy.

I'm supposed to wear a "funny hat" to the party tomorrow to compete for prizes. I don't really have any funny hats and I'm not going to buy one, so I think I'll take my baseball hat from Cheers, just to show them I'm in the spirit.

Just general stuff

October 28th, 2011 at 03:47 pm

Paid another medical bill - $62. On the BCBS website there are quite a few hanging out there, but many are showing $0 owed. Maybe I've finally hit the cap. I still have $29 in my FSA, so I need to figure out how to use that.

Our girls' weekend in Chicago is falling apart. I sent the other two the info about the Groupon for $100 at the Allerton. One said she wanted to check with her son, who could get a family rate at Sofitel. By the time she responded that his rate was higher, the Groupon was sold out. Now the other is suggesting the Sheraton for $143. No response from the Sofitel mom. I'm frustrated. I found a great deal and they blew it! I should learn to just be more bossy.

This weekend I'm baby-sitting for my grandsons. I'll go up there tonight; then Mom & Dad will leave in the morning and will return on Sunday. In the late afternoon we will trick or treat. I'm looking forward to it, but a little cautious. I am still not completely recovered. I'm tired, and still sore in the belly. But I promised, and I will do it.

I thawed a shepherd's pie this week which was given to me while I was sick. I thought it would thaw faster than it did. It's now ready to cook, so I'll take it with me. Not sure the boys will eat it, but I'll give it a try.

Lots of expenses coming up -- the girls' weekend, Thanksgiving (always involves travel & food gifts), two birthdays, Christmas, of course. I usually go to Florida in January or February; I stay with my cousin but the real reason is to see my elderly aunt & uncle. I'm always afraid this time will be the last time. They are the only people left in that generation of my family, and they are special, besides. But I just hate to spend the money when my retirement is looming so near. It's either airfare & car rental, or a long trip with a hotel stay and food stops. Wish these decisions were easier!

Booth woes

October 26th, 2011 at 01:19 pm

Yesterday I sent my booth rental -- $83.50 -- for September. Since October is almost over and I still haven't received a sales report, I am assuming that nothing sold in September. It seems they can't do a sales report when nothing sells, although my previous "landlord" could. I tried repeatedly to call them, but they didn't answer, and their voicemail was full. I am sensing big trouble. I may have to go down there on a moment's notice and get my stuff out. Sigh. This was supposed to be the solution.

If I have to pull out my stuff, I think I will try selling on eBay and then have a big yard sale in the Spring. I need to plug this leak, no matter how much fun it is to find the treasures in the first place.

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I got up and did online surveys. I can spend a good deal of time on Outpost(?) and never get to an actual survey. I am not a demographic that anyone is very interested in. And I don't buy much of anything. I'm really just trying to get enough done so that I can get a check; then I'll let that one go. I like Pinecone better; I know I will get $3 for the time spent, and it comes to Paypal like clockwork.

Yesterday I got a groupon for a reduced rate at the Allerton downtown. I forwarded to my friends who want to do the girls' weekend. One said we should talk about dates, the other just said "count me in!" I don't know whether to go ahead and get the deal. It will go away soon. Hopefully, I will get more input today.

I think I can do another grocery "skip" this weekend. I am going to my son's on Friday night and will babysit there all weekend. I've got lots of food. All I really need on my list is cat litter.

No more purging -- I'm too tired at night to even think about it. But I will try to be more mindful of it, a little at a time.

Life is good

October 25th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

As I'm logging in, I'm thinking, I really don't have anything to say.

I'm in one of those phases where it feels like nothing is happening financially. Or at least nothing good.

My net worth is down by $10,000, mostly due to the drop in the stock market and an outstanding loan to my son.

My money keeps trickling out for medical bills, although it seems they are finally slowing down. I haven't been able to put anything in savings, other than the $125 that goes in automatically.

I'm just kind of stalled.

I have to concentrate on the little things.

Like, even though I've been pretty bad on my diet, I haven't gained weight!

And, my Christmas cactus is starting to bloom.

And, I've gotten a good parking space all week so far!

And, I made some awesome chicken salad last night and I get to finish it up for lunch today! And tonight I'm going to make a broccoli-pasta-cheese dish that I'm sure will be awesome and very cheap!

And, while decluttering, I found a necklace I have loved for years, and I'm wearing it today!

Life is good.

The challenge, and my weekend

October 24th, 2011 at 01:48 pm

I'm not really in the challenge, as I purged 27 items only one day this week. I got rid of a bunch of frames I was going to use "someday", a sweater, a sweatshirt, a pair of sandals, three purses, a cross-stitch pillow cover that only reminds me of my divorce.... Most things went to Goodwill.

My laundry sorter broke -- it was already on life support, but this time an important joint just disintegrated. I went to Wal-Mart to get a replacement, which I didn't find, but I found something better. They now have slender individual plastic hampers called sorters. I bought four -- for darks, lights, colors and reds. I'm very happy to have a sorter for reds -- I wear red a lot, and it doesn't wash well with anything else. Plus, I will throw pinks and purples into that load. The four sorters were $28. While I was there I also bought some margarine and CoQ10 -- $2 and $25 respectively.

I did not grocery shop, other than the margarine.

I went to Goodwill to look for corduroy pants, which I didn't find. I bought five Blue Willow bread plates and bowls for $1 each. It's not the kind I collect, but I will resell them in the booth (for a lot more!) I also found a brand-new in-the-box drying rack from Target for $5. It had to be assembled, which went well for a change. I also found some bangle bracelets for my grand-nieces' Christmas jewelry boxes.

I went to the zoo with my grandsons on Saturday -- a beautiful day! Spent $10 on McDonalds and $25 on gas. Came home exhausted and had to take a pain pill, but it was fun!

Food, food, food

October 21st, 2011 at 06:48 pm

Last night I wanted to use up some chicken, and I got creative. I decided to make mini pizzas with Grands biscuits, cheese, a homemade tomato-teriaki sauce and chicken . I pressed the biscuits down into flat discs, spread them with a sauce made of ketchup, teriaki marinade, and chopped garlic, added a layer of cheddar cheese, then topped them all with chicken cubes and a little more teriaki sauce. Sounds good, huh?

Well, I will eat them, but I don't think I will ever serve this recipe to anyone else. Perhaps if I had cut down the teriaki it would have been better -- the flavor is very strong. Furthermore, the biscuits didn't stay flat, but rose up so that they look like cinnamon rolls rather than mini-pizzas. But, as I said, edible. I will eat them.

Today I packed a Lean Cuisine, yogurt, an apple and a clementine for lunch, as well as a bacon biscuit for breakfast. After I ate everything I still felt hungry - so much so that I went to the cafeteria and bought two cookies -- something I almost never do. I wonder if I am hungrier than usual because I am recovering? I just can't get over how hungry I am all the time.

I did not purge 27 items yesterday. I will probably do most of my purging on weekends. I've already purged a lot, what with my moving around, downsizing, and a recent cleaning out of my closet. But I know from experience there is always more. My papers are particularly in a mess, so I guess that is the place to start.

Blah day

October 20th, 2011 at 01:43 am

It was cold and rainy today. And windy! Lake Michigan is pummeling the shoreline -- you may have seen it on the national news. I hate this kind of weather. I was really unmotivated at work, and though I tried, I didn't accomplish much. I couldn't stay on task. So I came home feeling yucky because I was such a washout at work, and didn't even really enjoy my evening.

AND I'm really off my diet, taking in the comfort food like I'll never see it again.

I suspect the real problem is that I am still not back to normal after my surgery. My belly button hurts, and I am tired and drained, even though I am sleeping fine.

What does this have to do with finances? Nothing. But whenever I get low like this, I worry like crazy about money. It doesn't help that the medical bills are forcing me to exceed my income. It doesn't feel good.

I got another bill today, $51. It seems like they will never stop.

It's surprising to me how expensive the anitbiotics were. Thousands of dollars. And of course all the radiology was outlandish, too. I certainly hope this is the last medical episode I will have for a while.

Sorry about all the complaining. I'll feel better in the morning, I know.

I did find a penny today, so it's not all bad! Smile

Saw the doctor

October 19th, 2011 at 12:28 am

Had my post-op appointment. He said everything is ok, but tonight I'm feeling discomfort in the navel area. Probably because it's the first day I've been without the thick, protective bandage. Anyway, I hope that's all it is.

Ironically, two of the co-workers who were so helpful to me are now having their medical troubles. One had knee surgery. She came to work today but couldn't make it past eleven. I drove her home and bought her a sandwich for lunch. And my other co-worker just had gall bladder surgery this morning. I sent her flowers. I'm glad I can do a little something to pay back, but not glad that they are suffering! Our office has been hit hard by medical emergencies. Another co-worker had an appendectomy a couple of weeks ago. This is nuts! It's not a big office!

Just got another bill from the infusion center for $213. I'll have to check -- the amount seems familiar. I may have paid it already. Glad I have that notebook of receipts.

Couldn't stick to 15 items today

October 16th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

Too many deals to take advantage of...

10 packages Green Giant frozen vegetables -- on sale
5 packs of yogurt desserts -- on sale
4 Grands biscuits - 3 coupons $1.10 off -- on sale
1 Pillsbury crescent rolls -- on sale
Wine -- on sale
Box of 4 bakery muffins -- $1 off coupon
Body wash - on sale
Bread -- on sale
Milk -- on sale
2 boxes Russell Stover chocolates - BOGO

Total: $49.80
Savings: $29.11

The chocolates are for a co-worker who helped me out a lot when I was sick.

The yogurt desserts, biscuits and crescent rolls were part of a General Mills promotion -- got $5 off for buying 10.

I thawed and cooked a pan full of chicken medallions this morning which I will use throughout the week.

My fridge and freezer are unusually well-stocked. I might try and skip grocery shopping next Saturday.

Last night, at the final dinner for Homecoming, I missed my chance for another free meal. After the guests were all seated, our alumni director told me I could go home. (I had been there since 3:30). I started putting on my coat, and the waiter suddenly arrived, delivering salads to the working staff! Well, I felt funny saying, "Oh, I think I'll stay for the meal!" when I already had my coat half on, so I left. Truthfully, I was glad to go; I was very tired and ready to sleep. I came home and had some chicken noodle soup and conked out for the night.

Whew! I'm tired!

October 15th, 2011 at 04:11 pm

I worked at Homecoming registration after a full day of work yesterday, then went in and worked a couple more hours this morning, after a very poor night's sleep. I won't get any extra pay for this, I'm salaried. But it is pretty much expected.

I did get a free dinner last night, and there was coffee and donuts this morning, but I had already gotten breakfast at McDonald's -- $4.26. I didn't know if I would be fed, and didn't want my stomach rumbling.

I have to go back this afternoon for more of the same. The reason there is so much registration work is that there are many different reunion events taking place. Very fun for the alumni; they seem to be having a blast.

I got paid and paid my bills. I had to transfer $800 from savings to cover all the extra medical bills, but that's better than I thought it would be. Now back to building up my EF again.

Conference & homecoming

October 14th, 2011 at 05:05 pm

Went to my conference yesterday. My GPS did a crappy job of directing me -- told me I was there, when there were still miles to go. Wasted a lot of time and gas finding the right location.

Had two nice meals, met some really nice people, and got a free tour of a new museum exhibit. Oh, and the sessions were good, too.

Chicago certainly looked the "city of big shoulders" with industrial gray skies and smokestacks spewing steam (?) into the foggy sky. I loved the drive.

I had the urge to stop for fast food on the way home, but overcame it. Instead I had a nice meal of crackers, hummus, clementine and a cheese stick, and was perfectly satisfied.

Tonight I am working at Homecoming. I may get some free snacks/dinner -- then again I may not. You never know if you're going to have the free moments, or if there is too little, so "family hold back."

Got my samplers

October 13th, 2011 at 12:51 am

My samplers were ready today. I left from work a little early and went straight to Michael's. For once, I drove there and back in traffic that was moving! I guess earlier is better.

The samplers look great, though they are bigger than I expected. But I always have that reaction when I have something framed.

I found a quarter in front of the store.

Someone left a (wrapped) muffin in the break room. I'll have it for breakfast tomorrow before I get on the road for my conference in the city. Breakfast and lunch will be provided (but since the drive may be an hour, I'll need to eat before I get there).

Parking will be $18! I can probably have the college reimburse me, but I don't think I will ask. Since it is my job to raise money for the college, I like to help them out in little ways. No, I won't get credit for the $18, but still, it's $18 the college can use for something else. They are already paying for the conference.

I sold a book on today. It was the second one this week. One was 4.99 and one was 3.99, so I'll be getting that plus postage in my account. I always make a little money on postage -- the rate is lower than their estimate. And I am very creative about the way I wrap the book. Not that I would ever do a bad job of it -- but I try not to buy mailing bags, which would just eat up the profit. I save small boxes and mailing bags that come to me, or that come to work, and if I have neither I wrap the book in bubble wrap and heavy paper, well taped. That's what I did this time.

I must say I am a bit surprised whenever I sell a book. It seems to me that Kindle will eventually make deep cuts in the used book market. But I suppose there are others, like me, that like the physical book. I, however, prefer to get my books free, whether passed on from friends, or borrowed from the library.

That reminds me, I need to take some books to one of my co-workers. She is good about passing them along to me, and I need to reciprocate. I think I have a sense of what she likes. I'll scour my shelves.

My to-do list

October 12th, 2011 at 03:02 pm

I've started something new with my to-do list. I used to make a pretty long list, putting down every thing I could think of, and then crossing off the few things I actually did.

Recently, I've been putting my to-do list on one of those mini post-it notes and attaching it to my DayRunner. There is room for only about six lines. It forces me to choose what REALLY needs to get done. The next day I make sure I've done them all and throw away the note, and make a new one. I may be no more productive, but it feels like I am!

In other news, I pulled up my Discover statement, which closed yesterday. It is $1784 -- maybe a new high. This includes $972 in medical, $276 to supermarkets (with a $40 cashover on one trip), $84 for services, $38 for gasoline, $65 to restaurants, $347 for merchandise (big chunk of that went to framing the samplers). So I can't completely blame medical, but without the medical it would have been a fairly typical month. I'll pay it off on Friday when I get paid.

My dryer is working. Hurray! So nice to have that taken care of with no cost and no hassle. Of course, I'm paying for it in my rent.

AND, I found a shiny new dime!

I caved

October 11th, 2011 at 10:30 pm

My cat sounded terrible last night, sneezing and wheezing. I called the vet this morning and took him in at noon. The vet diagnosed a probable infection or virus and gave him an injection and sent him home with a bag of medicinal treats. $136.

He was surprisingly docile, which I put down to how bad he was feeling. This evening he seems better, so I'm glad I did it. I grabbed lunch at McDonald's while I was out -- $3.61. And I mailed a package after work, a sale -- $2.82.

I spoke too soon. He just fired off another round of sneezes.

Another medical bill - radiology - $33.45. I think that should about finish up my FlexPro account.

I just topped off my leftover soup with salsa and finished it off. Now it's truly gone.

This and that

October 11th, 2011 at 02:33 am

I bought a book of stamps today -- $8.80. I'll send in my $123 medical bill tomorrow.

Got a free breakfast at work -- fruit (good) and sweets (not so good). But free is free. I've kept below my calorie limit, even with the extra sweets.

I made soup for dinner -- actually I just extended soup I already had, adding potato flakes to thicken and cheese to add protein. It was pretty good. There was a little left. Maybe I can extend it more tomorrow! It can be my endless bowl of soup.

My cat is sneezing like crazy. I suppose I should take him to the vet, but he is just awful at vet visits. And if they give me medicine, I doubt that I could get it into him. He is a wild and crazy guy. I am going to cross my fingers and hope it goes away.

Not much else to report. I am enjoying getting back into good health, and the beautiful weather isn't hard to take, either. I hear it will be cold for Homecoming this weekend. That's okay. I want to wear my "new" sweatshirt ($3 at Goodwill!)

Heading to work

October 10th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I'm off to work. I feel pretty good, though I haven't stopped taking pain pills. I imagine today will be tiring, but I'm glad to be back in action. I'm glad to have this whole thing behind me.

I checked my Discover account and it is more than $1700. I also put $300 on my Capital One card. I'll be making a withdrawal from savings to pay both of those off.

The medical bills seem be slacking off, so I hope this will be the worst month.

On Thursday I am heading to a day-long conference downtown, and this weekend I will work Homecoming -- usually that means working at a registration table somewhere, probably for several different events. I am certainly jumping back into the fray. Hope my strength holds up.

I didn't try to diet during this time at home -- in fact, I ate everything I wanted to. The scale didn't punish me this morning. I'm back to counting calories today. I can't outgrow my wardrobe!

15 items

October 9th, 2011 at 01:33 pm

I'm doing this now without even counting! Fifteen items seem to automatically fall into my cart. This week's items:

2 half gallons ice cream - on sale
1 dozen eggs - on sale
Bag of coffee beans - on sale
Greek yogurt
Bag of clementines
Can of nacho cheese - on sale
Granola - house brand
Crackers - house brand on sale
Bag of breadsticks
2 boxes oatmeal cookies -- house brand on sale
Cat Chow - $1 off coupon
Ground coffee (for work) - on sale, $1 off coupon

Total: $51.70
Savings: $16.77

I also got gas - $30.95

After this trip I was really ready to come home and rest, but I'm feeling better every day. Going to work tomorrow is now a plausible idea.

I got my new electricity bill - $40.