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Archive for January, 2013

Food Success

January 31st, 2013 at 06:46 am

I succeeded yesterday in not buying any food at work -- in fact, I only ate one clementine out of my "stash" because there were plenty of freebies -- co-workers brought in cheese, pepperoni, chips & dip and cookies -- no special reason, just cleaning out, I guess. It was good news for me.

I did remember to pack breakfast and lunch today.

The property managers sent out an email yesterday that the online payment site would not be up and running until next month, so I sent them my check -- $339. That was my only spending yesterday.

I would be tempted to do my January recap today, but I am going out to dinner tonight, so I can't make this a no-spend day. I will try to order something inexpensive -- or something that will provide another meal.

The brutal cold has returned, but I was warmly attired for my walk and didn't suffer too much. I briefly entertained the idea of driving, but reminded myself that there was really no reason to "spend" the gas unless it was really so cold that I absolutely couldn't walk to the already-paid-for train ride.

Well, the rain came!

January 30th, 2013 at 06:53 am

It rained all the way home yesterday and it's still drizzling this morning. They are promising it will turn into snow later in the day.

I left the house without my head screwed on this morning. I didn't pack a hat or scarf for the oncoming cold weather, and I didn't pack any food for today. I'm going to try not to buy any nonetheless. I have oatmeal in my desk, and I have a hard-boiled egg and three clementines in the fridge. I also have a bag of frozen peas in the freezer that I've never used. So I think I will have enough to get through the day.

My property management company is changing servers or something -- anyway, they have not withdrawn my automatic payment for my monthly assessment fees. I called the office yesterday, and I was told it might be resolved in a few days, but I could mail a check if I wanted to be sure. The trouble is, the automatic payment could still go through, and then I would have double-paid. She said the extra payment would go for next month's assessment, but I'm not sure I trust them to keep track of that. They seem a little disorganized. I'm going to wait for the 1st, and if it hasn't happened by then, I'll mail the check.

Tomorrow I am going out to dinner with members of my professional organization. It is in my new hometown, but a different neighborhood, so I will get off at a different station. It's been quite a month for eating out, much of it obligations, like this one. I hope next month will be quieter. That said, I'm looking forward to a good meal in a restaurant that's new to me but has excellent reviews.

If you buy an umbrella, it will not rain

January 29th, 2013 at 06:46 am

I bought an umbrella at the college book store yesterday because the weatherman cautioned that it would rain "during the evening rush hour." Well, when I walked to the station after work, the sun was shining! My umbrella cost $12.70 after the employee discount, which basically paid for the tax. I did not get the smaller mini, even though it would fit in the bag better -- I am interested in coverage. It is a pretty royal blue, since we are the "Bluejays."

But bigger financial news is that I got my first property tax bill -- and I've paid it already. It was $1958, which is 55% of the total for the year. However, our property manager has sent a notice that our second installment will be reduced -- don't know if that has been figured in already. The tax reduction comes at a price, too -- we will all get to chip in for the lawyer's fee through our assessment.

Anyway, my checking account is still in the black, but when the Discover bill hits next month ($3,283) I will have to take some money out of the slush fund. The bill is so high because it includes the cost of my new couch (minus the deposit) and half the cost of my new rugs, as well as my semi-annual insurance payment. That's on top of all my regular expenses, which all go to Discover and then get paid in full.

I should get some nice cashback rewards.

With all these big expenses out of the way, I should have a pretty frugal February. I will get hit with the other half of the rug payment, but after THAT -- I will try not to incur any more big expenses for a while.

The only unknown now is what my federal tax will be. I will try to start working on that this weekend.

Quiet weekend

January 28th, 2013 at 06:48 am

I stayed close to home all weekend, just a few errands on Saturday and in all day Sunday.

On Saturday, I got in the car to go to the grocery and set off my alarm. Puzzling, since I've stopped using the remote, which failed to work even after I replaced the battery. But on Saturday, the KEY set off the alarm. And I eventually turned it off with the remote, not even registering that for some reason it was now apparently working.

I went to the Toyota dealer thinking I should just replace the remote. I won't even tell you how long I sat in line, and how two cars weaseled their way in front of me. I'll only say, when I finally got to talk to someone, he said that it would cost $700 to replace the security system, since I had a "non-factory" remote (came with the car, which I bought used). But he demonstrated that the remote was actually working fine. Shades of Jeffrey's experience -- the car won't act up when a mechanic is looking at it.

So I left, and I will hope that the remote will continue to work. I sure don't want to sink $700 into this old car, especially for something non-mechanical.

After that I went to Aldi's -- first time in this area, but it is pretty much the same as the one I used to go to. I spent $22 on food and $4 on kitty litter. My favorite deal was a big red pepper for .49! I don't have my receipt, so I can't remember everything else I bought, but I'll try: almond milk, eggs, walnuts, frozen pizza, blueberries, canned mushrooms -- now I'm blanking out. There was probably something else.

I did some cooking -- made an invented chicken-pepperoni-rice casserole that was pretty good. I ate a serving and then froze two big servings. I also made English muffin pizzas and froze them. Then I made tuna salad, which I will not freeze, of course, since it has hard-boiled egg in it. Anyway, I'm very well-stocked for lunches and will have tuna sandwiches for dinner the next few nights.

Today I brought in one of the mini-pizzas, which I ate for breakast (I love pizza for breakfast) and for lunch, a green pepper-beef mixture to serve over rice.

It is very springlike today -- in a bad way -- ugly spring, with rain and mud and water on top of melting ice -- but warm. I do appreciate the warmth.

I didn't bring an umbrella, which I think will be much-needed. My "tote" size umbrella inverted on me before Christmas and needs to be replaced. I have a golf-size umbrella, but it is too big to take on the train. So I need to buy a tote-size umbrella. I'm going to check out the college book store today. It won't be a bargain, but a little boosterism won't hurt.

I just put $5 into a football pool. What the heck, I might win.

Oh, here's the receipt. I also bought bacon bits, cooking spray, flour tortillas, and Jiffy corn muffin mix.

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

January 25th, 2013 at 06:49 am

The walk to the station this morning was lovely -- just enough snow to make everything sparkle. It might not be so much fun on the way home, as it has not stopped!

There was a fire on a parallel set of tracks near the downtown station. Nobody but me seemed to be alarmed. I wonder if it is some kind of maintenance?

A long-time student worker is working her last day today. I was asked to contribute a little cash and perhaps bring a treat for a good-bye party. I had no cash at all yesterday, having given it all to the Thai restaurant. I was really too tired to go to the bank last night once I got home -- or to find an ATM -- or get in the car, even. I stopped at Walgreen's on my walk home, where I bought Tootsie rolls, and asked if I could get cash back. No. Then I remembered that there is an ATM in the downtown station, so I drew out some cash this morning between trains. Once I got to town, I stopped at a bakery and bought some muffins. (The Tootsie rolls were not for the party; they are for a communal candy jar that we all contribute to). I gave my co-worker $5 for the cash envelope, so I have done my duty, but altogether I spent about $25.

But I packed my breakfast, and I am hoping that there will be enough food at the party to serve for lunch.

I got a pledge reminder from my alma mater, so later today I will send them a $50 check.

Looking forward to my weekend! Hope you all have a great one, too!

Dinner and Taxes

January 24th, 2013 at 07:00 am

At the Thai restaurant last night I bought an appetizer and a salad -- and a beverage -- and paid $23. Whew! Part of that also went toward half of the appetizer that my friend ordered before I got there. I was very late; the train got stuck behind a freight train and it was the longest ride into the city I've experienced yet.

The important thing is that I had a really good time -- I am so glad we are maintaining our relationship even though we work in different places now.

And the walk home from the station was just fine -- in fact, it felt warmer than the morning did. Just a dusting of snow that didn't cause any problem at all.

I am collecting all my tax documents -- and somewhere along the way I realized that here at work we need to PROVIDE tax documents -- receipts for gifts given by payroll deduction during the year. The person who did that last year is gone, and nobody but me has realized that this has to be done (and it's completely out of my area of responsibility). So today I'm in the process of gathering the information I need. I'm sure there is a better process, but I'm just going to get the numbers and create individual letters. It's going to be a busy day.

The rotten thing is that my bosses (not my immediate boss, but the big ones) have no idea how much extra I do like this, on my own initiative, because they don't even really know themselves what has to be done. There is such a disconnect.

OH, here is the report. Off to work!

Thai Dinner Tonight

January 23rd, 2013 at 08:03 am

I'm scheduled to meet my old boss for dinner tonight at a Thai restaurant which happens to be in the same building as the train station. It seemed like a good idea at the time we set it up, but I had one of those awful sleepless nights last night and I'm not sure how I'll be feeling at dinnertime. And of course it will mean walking home later at night in this cold weather. So while I look forward to seeing her, I am dreading other aspects of the evening.

I ordered a $50 gift card for Kohl's through MyPoints. I'll give it to my son for his birthday, which is two weeks away. I'm sure he needs new jeans or something, or maybe new shorts for his move to Florida? Anyway, I figured it was a good idea to get it through MyPoints so I can earn an extra 300 points.

I did laundry last night ($1.50). When I first went down, I saw that one machine was filled with wet clothes, one was filled with water, and the only free machine was the more expensive one. I only had three quarters in my pocket, so I moved the wet laundry to the top of one of the dryers. I am very diligent about moving my laundry once I start, but this person (I know her by her laundry basket)is always leaving her stuff for hours. So I didn't feel bad about moving it. I AM concerned about the machine filled with water. With only three machines, we really can't afford to have one out of commission. I was about to call maintenance, but then someone came and said they already had. So I hope it's taken care of soon. Since I am a laundry fiend.

I stopped at Walgreen's on the way home and bought a sympathy card for a co-worker ($3) some Mucinex D ($30) and deodorant ($2). I am hoping the Mucinex will start to clear this mucus in my throat and lungs; it's ridiculous how it's hanging on.

My walk to the station this morning was more comfortable than yesterday morning, and I didn't wear as many layers. It was 12 degrees -- downright balmy!

Baby, it's cold outside!

January 22nd, 2013 at 07:27 am

After our rather creepily mild weather we finally got hit with a blast of arctic air. I'm not sure what the temperature is, but I know with the wind chill factor it is well below zero.

I decided to try to walk to the station, since it is such a money loss to drive after already paying for a train ticket. I wore tights and a thermal undershirt under my clothes, and a turtleneck and cardigan on top. Teamed up with my down coat, squall mittens, infinity scarf and lined knit cap, I was prepared for the weather. Only my face got cold, and that couldn't be helped, unless I got a ski mask.

At the downtown station I got next month's train pass - $105.

I packed my breakfast - quiche - and lunch - turkey casserole. Just a matter of grabbing them from the freezer. I'm finally on a roll with food prep.

More laundry tonight. I won't try hanging it up wet again -- everything dried stiff as a board! It helps so much to tumble them even for a few minutes, but I have to pay full price whether I use the dryer for a few minutes or 40 minutes, so I might as well dry them all the way.

No-spend Sunday and Monday

January 21st, 2013 at 04:37 pm

Well, almost. I did a load of laundry this morning, but didn't dry it, so it was only $.75. I was in a hurry to leave the house and didn't want to wait for the dryer. And I figured that wet clothes drying in the bathroom would only help with the dry air problem.

Yesterday I just hung around home, reading, cooking, watching TV, playing games - just generally enjoying myself. I did go to the grocery to question a BOGO that didn't happen -- turned out it was "Buy 2 get 1 free" so that explains why I was charged for two. So asked for my free box, since I DID buy two, and I got it. While I was there I also bought a $1 bottle of diet ginger ale, so I guess yesterday wasn't really a NSD either.

Today I went to my son's house and played games with him and with the grandsons. I was there for breakfast and lunch -- finally pulled myself away so they wouldn't have to feed me supper, too! I came home and made a dinner of refried beans & cheese with Mexican rice and a side salad. Delicious and cheap.

Came home to find that my cat had barfed on my new couch. ^*^*%*%!!!! Well, I guess it's like getting a ding on a new car. It had to happen sooner or later. It cleaned up well.

I'm preparing for a freezing walk to the station tomorrow. I will bundle up, but I'm a little afraid of how cold it might be. If it's really bad, I'll turn back and drive to work.

Bought my rugs!

January 20th, 2013 at 06:38 am

They were quite expensive. I paid $2950 for two room-size rugs with pads, one 8 foot runner and two 2 X 3's. The cost does include delivery and installation (which means they will move the furniture, lay the pads, etc. -- basically do all the labor). While there were many bargains on the floor, none of them were right for my rooms. I ended up selecting the patterns I wanted and having the rugs made to size. My living room rug will be 10 X 10. The dining room rug will be 8 X 12. The runner and the small rug will be made from the material that is cut off from the main rugs. They will all be delivered in 2 or 3 weeks.

No, they are not wool, but they are very good quality. I am hoping that I will not have to replace them in my lifetime.

My DIL helped me pick them out, and her advice was invaluable. She really has remarkably good taste -- she should be a consultant! (Of course, she also had the good taste to marry my son!)

After we completed the shopping, we went to a rather upscale Italian restaurant for lunch. I think my DIL was enjoying a day without children, and we don't get much chance to talk alone. I ended up spending $22, but brought home enough lasagna and ravioli for three lunches.

I also grocery-shopped yesterday. I spent $36, but I have to go back and try to get $3.59 back. I bought two boxes of pantiliners, expecting to get one free, but I was charged for both. My spending on food was only $17 (the nonfood, besides the pads, was cat food and tp). For $17 I got bread, Kraft mac & cheese, Bumblebee tuna, granola, Townhouse crackers, almond milk, 2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts, a bag of mixed lettuce, and celery. I used a gift card that had $8 left on it, so it would have been $44 in total.

I hate to go back today, because it is very COLD outside and I would just like to stay put. Is it ridiculous to go after $3.59 after having spent almost $3,000? Nah.

I'm tackling the dryness in the house today with a big pot of water simmering on the stove, and a big bowl of water sitting in the living room -- as well as my little humidifier going full blast. When I shower, I'll put the stopper in and let the water sit in the tub for a while.

Yesterday I was tossing my garbage when I noticed a small Christmas tree by the dumpster. I could see something in its branches. Sure enough, there were three ornaments that had been overlooked, which I quickly claimed, having no idea who the owner might be. They are cute little wooden ornaments -- they'll look great on my tree next year! Guess I'm a dumpster diver now!



The couch arrived

January 18th, 2013 at 07:12 am

And right on time, too! I was surprised by it on two fronts -- it was smaller than I remembered -- almost the size of a loveseat -- and it is cherry red rather than red red. But I like it. It fits nicely in the room and it is nice and firm. The ottomans placed side by side make a very nice coffee table. I may get a couple of trays to set on top of them to create a flatter top.

DS1 came over shortly thereafter with his wife and daughter. We had a nice visit while I held my granddaughter. She is prettier every day and she's getting so alert. I got a couple of nice smiles.

In the evening DS2 came over with his wife and sons. We order pizza and had such a nice evening -- except that GS1 burned his arm on my bathroom radiator. It gets very hot and I had forgotten it was still turned on. I will have to be more careful about that.

Spending yesterday was $1.50 for laundry and $10 toward the pizza.

As far as I know dinner for all of us is still on for tonight, though the place hasn't been selected yet.

Next Wednesday I'm meeting a friend at the downtown station for dinner at a Thai restaurant.

I hope to find a rug tomorrow -- my DIL has agreed to come along and offer her opinion. I actually hope to find two rugs and a runner! I've been advised to go to a rug outlet near the mall. Hope it has LOTS of options, because what I have seen so far hasn't rung my chimes!

Waiting for the couch

January 17th, 2013 at 06:01 am

I'm at home today, waiting for the delivery of my couch and ottomans. Woo-hoo!

My son the helicopter pilot called a little while ago and is planning to get the family together for dinner (at a restaurant) tomorrow evening. He usually does this when he has an announcement, so I expect he will tell us that he got the job in Florida. I wish he would just tell me, but this is his way.

Anyway, that will be an unexpected expense, although I've gotten pretty good at selecting a cheap option.

I'm still battling the tail end of my flu/cold. I have a bad cough, and get worn down easily. Last night I went to bed early, and was almost overcome with feelings of gratitude that I had a safe, warm place to lie down and sleep. Not sure where that came from unless it is just seeing the homeless people at the downtown station. I usually just go from train to train and avoid the waiting area, but sometimes I see them anyway. I can't imagine that life.

Today I plan to do some cooking. I think I will make both cheese/tortilla soup and peanut soup, since I have some frozen white sauce to use. I'm also going to make crescent roll pizzas and freeze most of them. For dinner I'll have a sauteed chicken thigh and green beans.

I probably should change the sheets, too, so more laundry on tap.