Home > Archive: March, 2013

Archive for March, 2013

Blackened Sloppy Joes

March 30th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

It's been a pretty lazy weekend so far. My grandkids are at their other grandmother's. I may see them on Sunday night, but I'm not sure.

I grocery-shopped today - still trying to stick to 10 items. I ended up getting 14, but since four were special items for Easter baskets, I figure I stuck to the plan. Regular groceries purchased: almond milk, Kraft mac & cheese, hamburger buns, paper towels, toilet paper, granola, straws, 2 bags of oranges, and butter. (The straws and mac & cheese are must-haves for grandchildren.) In addition, I bought two boxes of mint meltaways for the Easter baskets, and two Easter toys. All together it cost $48, but I had $13 left on a gift card, so I only spent $35.

My savings were reported to be $24. The two boxes of candy and the two bags of oranges were both BOGO's. I also got specials on the granola, the almond milk, the butter, and the toys.

Yesterday I did four loads of laundry - $6.

I discovered Mahjong Dimensions on Swagbucks and I've become obsessed! I just have to make myself stop. At least I earn a few Swagbucks while I'm playing.

Yesterday I was cooking sloppy joes, but while I was letting the mixture simmer, I got interested in watching "To Kill a Mockingbird" on COZI-TV. Before I knew it, too much time had gone by, and the stuff had burned. Then I did exactly the wrong thing, and stirred the pot. Well, I wasn't about to throw it out, so I picked out the worst charred bits, and then I had a meal of blackened sloppy joes. It wasn't terrible, but I sure wouldn't serve it to anybody. There was quite a bit left, so I looked up what to do with burned food, and one site suggested adding peanut butter. Figured I had nothing to lose! Well, now I think the sloppy joes will have a new life as Indonesian satay -- that's what it tastes like. I froze what was left, but will serve over noodles instead of on buns. The slight burned taste actually seems okay -- like it was meant!

I did a minor cleaning of the fish tank today -- just took out about a gallon and added a gallon of clean, treated water. Everybody's still alive, so I guess I did okay!

Getting ruthless ...

March 28th, 2013 at 01:53 pm

about those pennies on the ground.

Yesterday while on the train, I hear a jingle when a coin hit the floor. I could see across the aisle that someone had dropped a penny. When the train came into the station, I waited until everyone else was out and grabbed it. The day before, I spotted a penny in front of the ticket machine. I waited in line, pretended to view my choices when it was my turn, and then picked up the penny!

It's not that I need those pennies, it's just so much fun to see how they add up!

Today I have another free lunch on my calendar. However, it's a "customer appreciation" lunch for a product that we didn't buy, so I'm not sure if it's really going to happen. Kind of weird. Also, only my boss and I were invited, and she's not in yet. Me going alone would be doubly weird. We'll see.

I've started spending more time on Swagbucks, watching SBTV, doing searches, doing the poll. I think 10 points a day is a reasonable goal for me. I don't really care to do the surveys, as I would rather do Pine Cone surveys, and that is enough!

And MyPoints is getting near 3,000. However, I won't cash that in until Christmas, so it should be pretty high by then.

I get tomorrow off! Every year I forget that I get Good Friday off here, since it is a church-affiliated school. Whoopee!


March 27th, 2013 at 04:04 pm

I rarely do this, but I overslept this morning. I must not have even set the alarm. I got ready as quickly as I could, but taking the later train means a wait of one hour at the downtown station, so I didn't get to work until 9:30. I texted my boss, but she didn't get it, so she sent out a message to the office that I was at a board meeting (which WILL happen next week; she was confused). So when I get to work I have a scolding message from the secretary about not letting her know about my meeting. Yikes!

But I am here and all is well.

During my hour in the station, I spent $5 on breakfast at Caribou Coffee.

Things are pretty quiet, so I guess it was a good day to be late.

My lunch out yesterday turned out to be free. I was fully expecting to pay for it, but the office picked up the tab. It was only a small group of the departee's special friends, so I was surprised, but happy not to pay! And we had a very good time.

I am on track so far to be able to pay my taxes without getting into savings -- I think I will be able to cover the rugs, too, but, of course, I DON'T HAVE THEM YET! Crazy.

Free Dinner

March 26th, 2013 at 01:36 pm

Yesterday I was bummed because I deliberately did not pack a lunch, thinking I was going out to lunch. The planned lunch was really a 4PM Happy Hour. Well, I had oatmeal in my desk, so I ate that for lunch. Someone had brought in cheese and crackers, so I had a few of those. Then, when 4PM rolled around, I went to the bar, where I had a free dinner (surprise!) out of all the appetizers that had been ordered. As well as a free drink. I didn't know it would all be paid for, though I should have remembered that from other occasions.

So today I AM going out to lunch with my friend who is leaving. A sad occasion, but good for her, as she is taking a much better job at a big university.

I added $6 worth of Pine Cone payments to my snowflakes.

I realized that in my musings yesterday about food I had on hand, I forgot to count a couple of cups of frozen spaghetti sauce and some frozen ground beef with celery, pepper and onion, which I will use to make sloppy joes. So I really have a lot of food; I just have to concentrate on eating it up!

Happy Monday!

March 25th, 2013 at 01:38 pm

I found a quarter yesterday -- right outside the basement door, so someone lost their laundry money.

I'm thinking about meals for the week ahead. I don't have an actual meal plan, since I'm not feeding a family, but I like to have a roster of possibilities in my head.

First, I have a leftover casserole to finish -- bean/tomato/bacon mixture topped with cornbread.

I have Italian sausage to cook, which I will serve with sauerkraut (cooked with apple, bacon, and brown sugar).

The leftover Italian sausage can also be served in rolls with spicy mustard.

I have leftover broccoli and two small blocks of cheese -- good makings for broccoli cheddar soup.

I have leftover macaroni & cheese -- good for a lunch.

I have a can of tuna for tuna salad sandwiches.

Plenty of eggs, for omelets or egg salad.

There are uncooked chicken breasts in the freezer -- I have not made a plan for them yet.

And there are ample lunches in the freezer, made from leftovers, already pre-packed and ready to go.

Today I did not pack a lunch, thinking I was going out for a good-bye party for a departing co-worker. Now that I look more closely at my calendar, I see that the party is actually at a bar at 4:00. Darn. I think the cafeteria is closed, too. It is Spring Break.

Speaking of Spring Break, I just looked out my window to see big flakes hurling down. We missed the big snow in the Chicago area, but apparently we aren't going to miss it completely.

Forgot to mention -- I finally earned enough Swagbucks for a $5 Amazon card. First time this year!

Exhausted Grandma!

March 24th, 2013 at 03:27 pm

I just packed up the grandsons and sent them home after a sleepover. As usual, I am exhausted and happy. If I could learn the trick of sleeping when they boys are here, that would help a lot! The only reason I know I slept at all last night was that I dreamed I was running away from a hurricane. (Which I've never experienced -- have never lived in hurricane country!)

Yesterday I went to the grocery store with the resolve to only pick up only ten things -- and I did! I bought bread, granola bars, mandarin oranges, ice cream, wine, almond milk, kitty litter, Italian sausage, potato flakes, and ginger ale. All the necessities, ha ha ha. Actually, I'm pretty well stocked for meals. The only new meal I will make this week will be sausage with jazzed-up sauerkraut. Total was $31. I also "bought" twenty dollars worth of quarters for the laundry.

And I only had to make one trip up the stairs, so that was good.

I did three loads of laundry yesterday but only paid for two dryer loads, because another resident had left her laundry in the other dryers. A lot of stuff came out wrinkled -- it wasn't a good plan. Next time I will move the stuff that others leave. Anyway, the total cost of laundry was $3.75.

Have I mentioned that I'm really unhappy with the material of my new couch? It's a pretty color, but the (woven)fabric is rough, and it is always full of static electricity, so every hair and piece of lint just flies onto it like there is a magnetic force. I am doing everything I can to combat the dryness in the room, and I even spray the couch with static spray, but I get nowhere. It always looks linty, even right after I've cleaned it. I just now covered it with a throw, which seems to be the only solution.

What really makes me unhappy is that I paid a lot to have it specially made, and I was planning to use this couch for many years. Don't know if I can stand it! I hope that summer humidity will help. Has anyone else ever had to deal with this?

I think I will plan to go nowhere today. A little cooking, a little reading, maybe one more load of laundry (sheets) will entertain me just fine! And a nap wouldn't be a bad idea either!


March 22nd, 2013 at 02:06 pm

Lost my entry. I'll try again. The short version.

Got a letter from the Condominium Association about my property taxes. They have been reduced. After the lawyer's fee, my savings will be about $200. Oh well, better than nothing!

I had leftovers for breakfast this morning (Reuben sandwiches and stewed apple). Not a traditional breakfast, but I managed to get past the bakery without giving in. Always a temptation, but especially on a Friday for some reason.

I have a Lean Cuisine in the freezer for lunch, so I think it will be another no-spend day.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Another no-spend day

March 21st, 2013 at 01:30 pm

It's becoming my new normal! I scratch my head and think -- hmmm -- I didn't spend anything yesterday. The weekends are a different story, of course.

I had a nice conversation this morning with a man who is making the same crazy daily commute that I am. He is actively looking for ways to end it -- moving, finding new work, retiring early. He was quite surprised that I was doing it deliberately but understood when I explained it was part of a long-range plan. Even though it takes off a big chunk of my day, there are good things about my commute. I get enforced exercise walking to and from the stations -- I've never stuck to an exercise program like this! I have quiet time to myself before and after work. I am getting a lot of reading done. I get to see a spectacular view of the city every day. I see all kinds of people. I have an excellent excuse to leave work at a certain time each day, no matter what's going on. I can use my train pass for recreational travel in the area. I find so much spare change!

He was also very set on leaving the cold weather. I complain about the weather, but it is not a deciding factor in my life. If I have to brave some snow and ice to be close to my family, so be it. I actually like the seasons, and wouldn't like to be in a tropical area where it's always the same. (I know some will say it's not always the same, but it's a very subtle variance -- I like beautiful flower-filled springs, hot and lazy summers, spectacular, colorful autumns, and crisp, snowy winters. So I am where I need to be!

Well, I hope he finds what he is looking for, but our conversation just made me realize that I am happy with my choices.

I am heroic!

March 20th, 2013 at 01:30 pm

Because for two days I have walked through nasty, cold weather to the train station when I really wanted to hop into my nice warm car. I can't justify it, though. Paying for gas on top of the train ticket is a ridiculous waste of money.

No spending yesterday, other than the $58 automatic payment to Comcast. It was a little more than usual because I bought a movie on Xfinity last month.

I did a lot of cooking in the last few days -- chicken & fruited rice, spicy bean soup, veggie-packed spaghetti sauce. Much of it has been frozen for future meals. I've been eating salads in the evening because I have to use up the greens before they go bad.

I have sauerkraut left over from my St. Pat's meal, so I think I'm going to jazz it up with apple bits and bacon bits and brown sugar, and buy some sausage this weekend to go with it.

Otherwise, I'm just waiting for sun, warmth, and rugs!

Forgot to say...

March 18th, 2013 at 01:06 pm

When I was at PetSmart yesterday I happened upon an Aldi's cart in the parking lot. (Aldi's is right next door.) My first thought was, now that was a lazy person, and then I thought, well why don't I put it back and get the quarter? Just as I was wheeling it to the store a nice elderly man came up and gave me a quarter to take it. I'm glad I checked to see that the quarter was in the slot -- wouldn't have wanted to stiff him!

I also found two pennies, so I added .27 to my found money this morning.

Today I will pay the mortgage and my Discover card, so I'll be updating my sidebar a little more later on.

A long and busy weekend

March 17th, 2013 at 06:14 pm

Well, I wrote a nice summary of my weekend so far, and it went kaput. So I'll try it again, composing in Word first.

Friday was a busy day – I took off from work so I could pick up my brother at the airport and then go visit my grandson for lunch at his school. Well, the airport trip was a disaster. In heavy traffic, I opted to go off the highway but went the wrong way and didn't realize it for a while. My brother and I were talking and I didn't pay attention. When I finally got back on track, we'd lost a lot of time (and saw parts of Chicago I never saw before!) So I missed the lunch – luckily, my grandson wasn't expecting me, as it was supposed to be a surprise. I'll have to try again. Maybe when I have to take time off when the rugs are delivered? If that ever happens?

I had invited my son's family over for a St. Pat's dinner that night, so it was off to the grocery store. I expected to spend $50, but spent $62 on food, $6 on candy for the office, $6 on cat food, $5 on cleanser and lunch bags, $3 on corn remover, $11 on a mop, and $7 on a little saucepan.

Dinner was Reuben sliders (made with cocktail rye and Buddig corned beef – all the briskets were more than $20!) They were actually very good, and just the right size for the grandsons. Also served potato salad and sweet potato chips (because I knew the boys wouldn't eat potato salad) – and pistachio pudding for dessert. I managed to resist all the St. Pat's come-ons from the bakery!

On Saturday, I did some laundry ($1.50), got my watch battery replaced ($10), and bought fish food at PetSmart ($20). (Having fish will balloon my vet/pet budget!) Then I went to Carters with my $10 coupon and bought a shirt for my elder grandson (big shark on the front) – for free! He will get it on his birthday or for Christmas.

In the evening the boys came over to spend the night. This time we just had peanut butter sandwiches. We played games, watched Xfinity and Netflix shows, and they gave me numerous “messages” – mostly coin rollers stuck into envelopes, all of which they pilfered from my stationery drawer. Such funny little guys. They slept well together on the sleeper sofa, but I suffered through one of my insomniac nights. I will certainly turn in early tonight.

This morning my cousin called to tell me my other son, his wife, and baby had all visited her in Florida, and she was full of praise for all of them – called specifically to let me know what good kids they were and how I had done such a good job. So nice to hear! You never know, when you are going through parenting, if you're really doing anything right at all!

Oh yes, in other news, my email was hacked, and "I" sent a message to everyone in my contacts list about a weight-loss program. I think some of you are on my list, so rest assured, I have no opinions about anyone's weight except my own!

A couple of snowflakes for my little snowball

March 14th, 2013 at 01:26 pm

I found another penny this morning in the station. That along, with $8.50 this month in Discover cashback rewards, brings my snowflake total to $137.37.

Yesterday I had a hungry, needy day. Even though I brought my breakfast and lunch, I ended up buying a muffin and a pretzel (at different times). $4.

This morning I got going late and was only able to grab a Lean Cuisine before I walked out the door. So I had to buy breakfast. I remembered that I had a $20 debit card that was payment from doing a survey, so I used that, and breakfast, a bagel from Corner Bakery, was free.

My son send me a link to Spirit Airlines touting cheap flights to Florida. Turned out they were not as cheap once I drilled down into the real information, but the real kicker was that the only Florida destination for those low fares was Fort Myers, a pretty long ride from Tampa. So I decided to pass for now, but I will keep looking.

I got an email from the Drake Hotel this morning advertising Easter Brunch. Since I do so enjoy the afternoon tea at Christmas time, I took a look. $105. Delete. (I'm sure it's very good).

Tomorrow is payday. Basically the only thing that happens on payday any more is paying my mortgage and my Discover card. Since tomorrow is a vacation day for me (and I don't do financial stuff on vacation) I will probably take care of that on Monday. Everything else comes out automatically.

It's been a long time since I've actually put any money into savings. Buying the condo, paying all the fees, paying the property taxes, buying furniture and carpeting, paying the income tax -- all that has kept me working out of my checking account and slush fund. Once the income tax is paid, and the rugs are paid for, I hope I will be back on a saving routine. I'm not saying that I've lost ground -- my net worth is remaining steady -- but I haven't gained any. I'm looking forward to squirreling it away again.

My vacation day tomorrow will be spent picking my brother up from the airport (he will drive home after picking up his car from my neighborhood), visiting my grandson at school and catching up on errands so that I can have the boys for a sleepover on Saturday night. I'm kind of longing for one of those uneventful, nothin'-happenin' weekends, but that won't happen for a while!

A no-spender, and thoughts on minimalism

March 13th, 2013 at 01:28 pm

Yesterday was a no-spend day.

This morning I found what I thought was a dime on the stairs of the train. I think it is actually a Greek coin. I'll give it to my grandson for his "collection" as well as the Euro coin. Collection is in quotes, because he is not a coin collector, just a little boy who likes the jingle of coins in his bank. He is very proud of his two half-dollars, as well as his Sacajawea dollar.

A co-worker gave me a small bag of dried fruit that her kids didn't like. I don't know why she doesn't want to eat it herself (maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!) Anyway, I ate some, and the rest I'm going to chop up and put into rice, and serve with honey-glazed chicken. I love building a meal from free food!

I read an article yesterday about minimalist living. The writer was young and wealthy, but lived in a small apartment with few possessions, and spent his money on travels. I am interested in the minimalist lifestyle, but I wonder if it's really doable for most people, and if it really transfers into big savings. I live pretty small -- my condo is about 900 SF. I don't have a LOT of stuff, but I have stuff. I don't think there would be much value for me in getting rid of, say, my dinnerware and making do with eight shallow bowls. I'm also glad that I have enough furniture so that people can visit and expect to sit down -- even sleep. And I will always have a toy chest for my grandchildren -- well, until they get into college, I guess. Smile I suppose I'm not a minimalist, but scaled-down compared to most people. I certainly feel strongly that paying long-term for storage for your extra junk is ridiculous. If you aren't using it, let it go! But maybe I've never really had anything truly valuable.

A short day

March 12th, 2013 at 01:05 pm

I left work a bit early yesterday because some kind of technical problem crashed our internet, our database, and our email. That left me with pretty much nothing to do, I suppose I could have tidied up (heaven knows my desk is a mess) but I was very tired after my short night's sleep and I opted to leave early. I wasn't able to catch an earlier train, however, so I spent some time in the station reading.

I had enough energy when I got home to wash the bedding my brother had used ($3), and I think that was my only spending yesterday. Oh no, I forgot, I bought a snack at the cafeteria - $2 for some trail mix.

So a warm, rainy weekend made me think that winter was over, but today there is snow on the ground. Not much, but it definitely feels wintery today.

So, I did an unintentional grocery skip on Saturday. I was thinking I would make a run some evening, but actually, I think I can eke it out till next Saturday. That will save a little money, when so much is flowing out (the tow, the dinner, the looming taxes and rug payment).

And, speaking of rug payment -- still no rugs. I have talked to the store twice and they assure me that everything is okay and yes, they DO have my phone number! Maybe after all this time they will offer me a discount! It was supposed to be 2 or 2 1/2 weeks and I think we're looking at a month and half, at least.

Happy weekend

March 11th, 2013 at 02:41 pm

I had a good weekend with my brother. We went to a very nice restaurant with my son's family, played some card games and board games, had Chinese for lunch. He had to spend some time working (he never seems to get away from it), but overall, it was a good time.

The financial damage, for me, was $62 for the fancy dinner, $16 for the Chinese, and about $3 in tolls and parking. After the dinner we all figured we could have ordered the salad and dessert and saved a bundle, and we still would have been full. Oh well. I have leftovers for lunches this week.

The change to daylight savings time was rough. I was just beginning to see morning light on my walk to the station, and now it's gone again. Add to that, my cats decided to have some kind of a mouthy argument at 4 in the morning, so I didn't get as much sleep as I needed. Uh. I just have to get through this day.

I spent $6 on laundry on Saturday morning, but never made it to the grocery store. I did have enough food on hand to make breakfast on Sunday morning, but my fridge is pretty bare! I don't know when I'll get to the store now. It's hard to do it after work, and I won't even try tonight, as tired as I am.

Spendy day

March 8th, 2013 at 04:27 pm

After paying for the towing ticket yesterday, and treating myself to breakfast, I went on to get a haircut ($16), get gas ($20) and buy myself dinner ($7). I COULD have done without buying dinner -- the problem was I was stuck in heavy traffic on the way home and getting awfully hungry. It seemed too long a wait to get home and then make something. I stopped at Culver's and got a butterburger and a mint chip shake. That should satisfy my shamrock shake craving I get every year at this time.

Tonight I'm going to my son's house for make-your-own French bread pizza. Tomorrow I have to get up early and do laundry and housework before my brother arrives. I should grocery shop as well, but I don't know if I'll get that done, even though it will only be 10 items.

Work has been crazy the last few days, with all kinds of problems popping up. I'm awfully glad it's Friday.

I did learn that I will not have to work at our big scholarship dinner/event this year. I'm not complaining. I've spent my fair share of time at the registration table and I'll be glad to sit this one out.