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Archive for September, 2013

A great conference and a great visit

September 30th, 2013 at 06:32 pm

The conference I helped to plan was a great success. Okay, we lost some money, but we expected to. Our speakers were rather costly this year. For the first time we engaged a speaker who actually charged a fee ($1600 -- her reduced rate for nonprofits). And the three speakers came from Florida, New York, and Colorado, so there were airline tickets and hotel fees for all. Not to mention outrageous taxi fares. We could sure save a lot of money for our organization if we sent someone to pick up the speakers at the airport!

However, they were all good, and I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed the conference immensely.

My personal spending that day was $4 for breakfast (I got there too early, so basically just needed to find a place to wait, which turned out to be a bagel shop). $12 for parking. Lunch was provided; and there was so much left over that my dinner was provided, too. Smile

My son's visit turned out much different than I expected. I thought there would be two major restaurant meals to pay for, but both of those meals were free. I was treated on Tuesday night, and on Saturday morning, we took advantage of the hotel's complimentary breakfast. However, I DID spend the money I had budgeted -- I took Friday off work, and treated my son's family at a children's museum, and then for a hamburger lunch afterwards. I also bought some diapers, bibs, spoons and socks for the baby. All together that was close to $100. And worth every penny -- it was a wonderful visit; we had some special moments.

After my son left I did my grocery shopping, sticking to my ten items:

Cat Food
Kitty Litter
Pork Cutlets
Sweet Potato
Sourdough Bread

$36 in total. Then two loads of laundry for $3.

On Sunday I made chicken enchiladas and took half to my other son's house. Their kids were laid up with strep throat, so I just dropped the food off and left.

I did some mending, some hand washing, a little cleaning. It was a laid-back catch-up day.

Monday came too soon!

Dinner was free!

September 25th, 2013 at 02:00 pm

My ex paid for the dinner last night -- he must have been feeling expansive! My DIL's aunt and uncle joined us and they were treated, too, so it must have been quite a bill.

So I have wiggle room in my budget again.

It was a great dinner. The restaurant only uses locally grown produce and meat. I had an "appetizer" of chicken and waffles, with a side dish of carmelized carrots, and I was stuffed to the gills. Of course, I had indulged a little in the batter-fried cheese curds that were ordered for the table, and I had a hard cider, too. When the group went for frozen custard afterwards, I didn't even want any.

My granddaughter is walking at only ten months. She is quite a headstrong and determined young lady. It will be fascinating watching her grow up!

Today my son is borrowing my car -- since I take public transportation, it only makes sense. He will bring it back tonight, as I have to drive into the city tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the conference. I got everything done yesterday except printing out the registration lists, which I will do today. Then I will have to remember all the stuff to take -- the lists, the name tags, the speaker gifts, the checkbook -- whew!

On Saturday I will go out to breakfast with my son's family and take them to the airport. Such as short visit, and they have so many other things to do and people to see! I will have to be sure to work visits to Florida into my budget!

Another stressful day

September 24th, 2013 at 05:04 pm

I'm so tired and stressed. My insomnia demon has been visiting in the wee hours of the morning. Today I was finally drifting off when the alarm went off....

I'm also getting ready for our conference -- so many last minute details flying at me! I'm feeling very nervous. I'll be glad when it's done.

I left my ticket on the train again this morning. That's a testament to how tired I am, because I said I WOULD NEVER DO THAT AGAIN! Once again, I was very lucky -- I got it back. I put a business card in the holder in case I ever do it again, so at least someone could contact me if they found it.

After getting my ticket back I caught a later train, but still was not very late to work. And I found a bag of trail mix and a can of cola on the train seat, both unopened in a plastic bag. Someone left their snack behind. I did not bother to turn it into Lost & Found; it would never get back to the original owner anyway.

And in the last couple days I found .15!

Tonight I'm going out to dinner with my Florida son, wife and daughter. My ex and his spouse will be there, too. (It's an okay situation; we are friends, of sorts). We're going to a restaurant called The Farmhouse, which has been getting rave reviews, so I'm excited! (Of course, excited to see the kids, too!) I didn't budget for it, however, so I tweaked the budget, setting aside $85 for dinner tonight and breakfast on Saturday. Hope it's enough. The rest of the budget is now: $40 for groceries, $18 for household supplies, $25 for pet supplies, $11 for parking, $20 for my train day with the grandsons, and $395 for my sister's airline ticket.

That's a low number for groceries, but I seem to have plenty of food on hand, and I'll probably take home a nice doggy bag tonight. And I'll be fed at the conference. We'll see.

A Busy Weekend

September 23rd, 2013 at 01:45 pm

A busy weekend, spending-wise, and just busy in general. On Saturday I took the train downtown and met a friend for a visit to the Art Institute. They were having a fabulous show called "Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity" which featured impressionist art that focused on the fashions of the times. Real dresses that either resembled the paintings, or had been worn by the models in the paintings, were displayed in showcases. Really exquisite. I enjoyed myself enormously, especially since I got in free on my friend's member pass. We had lunch at Pret A Manger across the street ($14) and then went back to look at the museum shops. They were having a 20% discount for members, so once again my friend loaned me the advantage of her membership. I bought an umbrella and a bracelet for my DIL, spending $40. The umbrella was a bit of a splurge, but I lost my last one on the train, so I needed it. This one is a Frank Lloyd Wright design. I love it! I cannot lose it on the train! Luckily it is collapsible and fits into my train bag.

On Sunday I paid my son $10 toward a lunch he had bought me earlier in the month, and I also spent $36 at the grocery store, once again mistakenly getting 11 items. Am I losing my ability to count? Here they are:

Granola Bars
Chocolate Syrup
Ice Cream

Sunday was also my grandson's birthday. He had a donut party, with a stack of donuts for a cake, and donut-themed games. My gifts were a bag of art supplies and a Ninjago figure and watch. Of course, they paled beside all the other stuff he got, but I've learned to expect that, unfortunately.

My meal plan this week: I'm going to make chicken enchiladas tonight, and also fry some bacon for BLT's. I have carrot soup, sloppy joes, and lasagna in the freezer, and plenty of cheese and crackers.

Tomorrow my Florida son and his family are coming into town. There will be a gathering tomorrow night - plans not set yet - but I will get my real time with them on Saturday morning, when we go out to breakfast before taking them to the airport. They are staying with DIL's mom.

On Thursday I am going to another conference which I have helped to plan. I am hoping all goes well - it is always a little nerve-wracking. It will be downtown, so while I will get a free breakfast and lunch, I will have to pay for parking. I have too much to carry to take the train.

So that is how the week ahead is shaping up! Now I have to refigure my budget, since the Art Institute day cost more than I estimated, but I don't think I am too very far off track!

No Spending Day

September 20th, 2013 at 03:03 pm

Yesterday was a no-spending day, not really planned, just happened!

And I made $3 from Pine Cone.

I've been checking daily to see if my mortgage check was cashed and was starting to get a little concerned...finally today I found the sealed envelope in my bag; guess I meant to stamp and mail and never did! Luckily, I pay about a half-month ahead of time, so it will still get there before the deadline.

I really do need to get that payment automated, but I like to have the freedom to add as much as I want to the basic payment. I more than doubled my payment this time, as I usually do.

I got the luxury of a free ride home from the station last night -- a very late train forced me to take a train that didn't stop at my station. An acquaintance who also rides my route had the same problem, and he was without his phone, so couldn't tell his wife. I loaned him my phone, and when his wife came, they gave me a ride home! That saved me two miles of walking!

Yesterday I was peeved because I had to throw out my yogurt lunch which was too old to risk eating. Funny how things work out -- there was a TON of cheese, crackers, and fruit left over from a reception, so I didn't have to buy a lunch after all. In fact, there was still some this morning and I had a free breakfast, too.

Tomorrow I'm going downtown to meet a friend for lunch and visit the Art Institute. She is very kindly taking me as a guest, but I still have to pay for lunch. I've budgeted $20. I'm planning to use my regular train ticket (which will force me to walk a little, but that's okay). So I think $20 will be adequate for the day. I haven't been there in a while and I'm really looking forward to the special impressionism exhibit.

Then on Sunday we are celebrating my grandson's 4th birthday. My gifts are bought; just a matter of wrapping now.

Treasurer's Duties

September 19th, 2013 at 01:38 pm

I am the Treasurer for a professional organization I belong to. These past few weeks I've been handling the registration fees for a conference our group is putting on. Yesterday I hit a wall.

A big university wants to send ten staff members, but needed an invoice for their business office. (Most registrations come through PayPal). So I created an invoice -- I understand the demands of a big university. I got a call from them -- neither the name of the organization nor the address on the invoice matched what they had on file. Well, the address changes every time the Treasurer changes -- we have no real address. But the name change was a bigger problem. I was aware that the bank account was under an old name, but everything seemed to be working, so I let things be.

So after work I went to the nearby bank branch, and filled out paperwork to update the name and address. I also made a new invoice with the correct name. I have my fingers crossed. The change won't be official until our President signs off on it -- which won't happen till next week at the conference.

The check will be for more than $1K, which I think is the reason it caught someone's attention.

Having to go to the bank got me on the road pretty late. It was raining, to boot. So the trip home was a traffic nightmare. I didn't get home until 7. I had to stop on the way and get a sandwich -- at least I had a $1 off coupon for Steak N Shake, so that's where I stopped; spent $5.

I didn't do anything I had planned to do in the evening. Just earned my 11 Swagbucks and then went to bed.

I had a UPS notice that my packages were not delivered because they needed permission to leave them in the foyer. Never happened before, but what the heck. I signed the slip, and then left it on my desk this morning! Fooey!

I packed yogurt for lunch today, but have since figured out it is too old, so I'll be throwing it away. I hate to waste food! And now I'll have to buy a lunch. Fooey, again.

It's a rainy, gloomy day, and I'm glad it's Thursday, because Thursday is better than Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday!


September 18th, 2013 at 02:42 pm

I guess I didn't set the alarm last night. I woke up at about the time I should be leaving to catch the train. Well, I've learned that taking a later train makes me MUCH later, because of the lag time at the downtown station, so I drove. I hate to waste the gas, though.

I got breakfast on the way for $5. Luckily, I had food leftover at work yesterday, so no need to pack a lunch.

I've done this commute for almost a year now, and it's not getting any easier! And of course, with winter coming, it will get harder for a while.

I did a load of laundry last night ($1.50). Just got another doctor's bill for $11, so I'll be taking care of that today. I still have enough in flexible spending to cover that small amount. Looks like it was a charge for a followup visit, mostly covered by insurance, but heck, it used to be that followup visits were free, back in the old days. To encourage people to actually come back!

I took another look at my budget for this month. I'm planning on spending $106 for my train pass, $75 more for groceries, $20 for household supplies, $25 for pet supplies, $55 for phone, and $25 for gas (I'll do that today). Then I have my special events: a train trip with the grandsons ($20), a breakfast with visiting family ($55), Art Institute & lunch ($20), and a $10 donation to a Chicago Marathon runner. That will leave me about $300 to put toward a plane ticket to get my sister here for Thanksgiving. She is turning 70 at the end of October, so it would be a good present for her milestone birthday. I'm not sure how far $300 will go -- I'll have to find a good deal.

Home Again

September 17th, 2013 at 03:36 pm

I'm glad I made the trip -- everyone seemed so pleased that I had made the effort -- but I'm really tired today!

I spent less than expected -- budgeted $70, but spent $36 on gas and $14 on food. So I'm going to recalibrate the budget.

I got home about 10 and went to sleep pretty shortly. So I didn't really miss much sleep. But the trouble with the trip home is that the hard part -- driving through the city -- is at the end of the trip, when I'm already bone-tired!

I missed my free flu shot, and I'm hoping that it will be available on another day.

This weekend I'm looking forward to an excursion to the Art Institute, where I will meet my friend who lives in Hyde Park, and, on Sunday, my youngest grandson's birthday party. This is shaping up to be a busy month.

Traveling Today

September 16th, 2013 at 02:57 pm

I put in my last post that I would send flowers for my DIL's grandmother's funeral. I've been going back and forth in my mind since she died, but now I've decided for sure I'm going to travel to the wake instead. It just meant so much to me that people came when my mother died. I want to be there to pay my respects.

So I won't send flowers, they will get my presence instead. I have budgeted about $70 for the trip.

It will be a lot of driving -- about 3 1/2 hours each way. But I haven't had a road trip in a while. I'll enjoy it.

I got my Capital One bill this morning, and that charge from zBiddy was still there! Even after cancelling my card and getting a new one. So I called, and I hope this time I got in taken off for sure. They got a rep from zBiddy on the line, and I did something I never did before. I angrily stated my case instead of just taking it! And I refused their offer for "discounts" "gas vouchers" "more bids", etc. I just kept saying, "Can't you remove the charge?" Well, they finally did, and gave me a confirmation number and a phone number to call, so I hope it's for real this time. Hey, it was $79 for something I didn't want and was tricked into buying. It wasn't even the money, it was the prinicple of the thing.

I'm going to be a lot more wary of the internet from now on.

Spending and Planning

September 14th, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Well, I lost an entry while I was trying to copy it. So I'll write a shorter replacement.

Went to a garage sale this morning and spent $2.75 on puzzles, a T-shirt, an ornament, a lunch bag, and decorative glass. Then went to the grocery and spent $31. My ten items: chicken, spinach, 2 cans of soup, cheese, wine, apples, buns, granola, and croutons. I also bought 2 sympathy cards, which I didn't count in the ten.

Things to budget for this month:
Funeral flowers for DIL's grandma
Pizza delivery to friend recuperating from surgery
Donation for marathon runner (lymphoma survivor)
Train ride for grandsons
Breakfast for son's family (briefly visiting from FL)
Plane ticket for sister (birthday present)
Afternoon at Art Institute and lunch with friend

That's on top of the usual groceries, gas, phone, train fare, laundry, pet supplies, etc. If I am careful I can keep it under $1000. Really careful. I don't have to buy the plane ticket this month, but it's time to start looking.

Pay Day

September 13th, 2013 at 02:00 pm

I transferred $150 to savings. Not a huge amount, but better than going backwards!

Hope I can do a little better next month.

I went with DIL to look at a condo for sale last night. We're scouting out places for her mother. This unit is rented -- I heard about it through a friend who lives in the same building. The owner was borderline rude to us -- very pushy about the "merits" of the place, which were pretty slim -- it's obviously been rented a long time; there's been no TLC. But we were polite. When we asked about price, she wouldn't say, only that she paid $170K, admittedly at the top of the market. She asked what we were looking to pay, and my DIL said her mother needed to find a place in the $100K area. The woman reacted very badly to that; said it was impossible and told us we had wasted her time. Hmmm. She wasted our time, too, by not revealing the price. But she will never get what she's dreaming of. It is shabby, no updates, a one-bedroom walkup on the third floor. There is another unit in the same building advertised for $107K, so we were not out of line for thinking her price would be in the same range.

Afterwards, we looked at a place in my building. Again, it was pretty shabby. Underloved. I would guess it was a rental, too, that housed a lot of CATS! However, it was priced right at $99K. Still, I don't think it is the place for DIL's mom. The bathtub would have to be reglazed, paint throughout, a new floor needed in the kitchen ... it is not anything like the condition my condo was in, and I only paid $111K. I know prices are starting to rise, but not that quickly.

We'll keep looking. Really, there's plenty of time, since she needs to get a job first! (She has a job, just not here!)

It really made me realize how much difference the owner's care and maintenance makes. My condo is a little old-fashioned jewel, and here in the same building -- a pretty yucky one.

Ceiling is Repaired

September 12th, 2013 at 02:53 pm

Yesterday, the ceiling in my bathroom was repaired. Very nicely, I might add, and no cost to me. The contractor who was responsible for the damage was professional and personable from beginning to end.

I spent $2 yesterday on a cheap lunch at the station. I also did some laundry - $1.50 -- and I can't remember if I already reported that I paid my annual condo insurance premium -- $157.

Since I had a few extra hours at home yesterday, I did some cooking. I made a skillet dinner from ground beef, peppers, tomato paste and rice. Didn't turn out the greatest, but I think it will be better today after the flavors have melded.

I turned off my air last night with the expectation of some cooler weather ahead. The highest electric bill I've had yet was last month's $50. Not bad -- I thought it would be a lot worse.

Tonight my DIL and I are going to look at a condo that her mother might consider buying. It will mean getting off at a stop where I've never been before, but hey, I haven't had a train adventure in a while.

Speaking of train adventures, we had a guy this morning who was headed to a meeting, but totally on the wrong train. He had just been told to get on at a certain track number, but they change the track numbers! He didn't know that he had to check the board for any changes. I and another passenger helped him figure out what to do. The best solution was to get right back to the city, so he could get on the right train, but the inbound train arrives almost immediately after the outbound train departs. I hope he followed my directions and went immediately to the underground tunnel and got on the right side of the tracks! It's so confusing for someone who isn't used to the system.

I think tomorrow is payday! It is supposed to be the 15th, but as the 15th is a Sunday, I think we'll see it in our bank accounts tomorrow. Sweet!

A Not-So-Refreshing Retreat

September 11th, 2013 at 03:20 pm

I was at a retreat all day yesterday so was offline. Came back to a BUNCH of email this morning. Some sad -- the President of the board I'm on is stepping down due to worsening MS. And my DIL's grandmother passed away -- not unexpected, but since she just entered hospice, it seemed quick.

The retreat was one of those typical team-building things. But I tell you, I swear I will never fill out a personality test again. I am always the quiet intellectual introvert, who has high standards and feels a lot of responsibility. I don't think any of that is a bad thing. But the moderator yesterday pretty much called our little group a bunch of anal prigs who don't like people. (Ha, ha) Later in the day, when we were discussing the difference between phone calls and email (and she was definitely pro-phone call) I pointed out that email was useful because it could sometimes document the trail of the conversation. WOW! She practically went into a rant about WHY would I want to document anything, and how I wasn't really meeting the needs of the customer by being so anal as to ask for any clarification or details. YIKES! At break, my boss actually told her that in my position I needed to document requests, and she privately apologized -- but not really. She didn't mean it. I think this woman actually took a disliking to me because of that stupid test.

For the record, I like people very much. I don't like to go to loud parties where no one can be heard -- I don't think that makes me a people-hater. And I do a darn good job for my customers and they would say so, too. That was really so NOT what I needed.

At least it was a day of free food, and a brief respite from work.

Yesterday I had a $5 coupon for beauty products at CVS, so I decided to stock up on some cosmetics. Revlon was having a buy 2 get 1 half off sale that I figured would sweeten the deal. But even with the discounts I spent $33. Whew! That bought an eyeliner pencil, a lipstick, two bottles of nail polish, and brow scissors and brush. (My brows are getting wild as I age!) I don't buy cosmetics very often, and I don't think I'll be buying them again any time soon!

A Spending Weekend

September 9th, 2013 at 04:11 pm

I did a lot of spending this weekend, and not on big stuff. It just all added up.

On Saturday morning I went garage saling with my DIL. I don't have the breakdown with me, but I spent $37. $20 of that was for a carved walnut panel that had been rescued from the Oak Park library building that was torn down in the 'sixties. It is carved in a repeating leaf pattern and looks very Frank Lloyd Wright! (No, I don't kid myself that it's his design -- just very much in the same school). I'm going to find a place to hang it on the wall.

The rest of my finds were bottles, toys, books, a cake stand, a wooden Santa, a game for my son ... too much to remember.

In the afternoon I went to the new Trader Joe's. I found it -- okay. It was a little small for my taste. I like lots of choice, I guess. But I did find my 10 items, and they were only $31.

Sourdough bread
Almond Milk
Tomato Paste
Spreadable Margarine
Cereal Bars
Ground Beef
Country White Bread

Two breads and two spreads! I like my sourdough for toast and most sandwiches, but I like white bread for grilled cheese. I just keep it in the freezer for that use only. And I like butter for baking and cooking and melting over popcorn, but I like the spreadable stuff for -- spreading. Smile

On Sunday I went to Home Depot, mainly to buy new flowers for the planters on my landing. The Martha Washington geraniums were shot. I bought six planters of mums for $20. I also bought some hardware and a watering can for $11.

On to PetSmart, where I bought an aquarium bucket for $11, and while I was there I picked up some kitty litter. $10.

Then to Target. I was intending only to buy a new bathroom towel. And I found the perfect one for $11. But I was distracted by a clearance display of school and art supplies. I decided to take care of my grandson's birthday, which is later this month, so I filled a $1 gift bag with pencils, notepads, sketch books, markers, crayons, dry erase board, you name it! When all was said and done, I'd spent $44 without even realizing it. I also bought a $20 Ninjago figure with accessories (which he'll probably like better than the art stuff, but the art stuff will last longer). I also picked up three cards for a total of $7, and toilet paper for $7.

So it was a bit spendy. Maybe next weekend I'll barricade myself inside!

I also went out for lunch with my kids and my nephew's family, and I owe my son $11 for that. It was a great old-fashioned Southern-type diner. I got a seafood cakes, eggs, home fries, and grits, and took home enough for a meal the next day.

The rest of the weekend's eating was centered around the free produce I had -- I made a tomato casserole and cucumber sandwiches which served for several meals.

Last night I cooked the ground beef and peppers for a skillet dish that I will assemble tonight. I still have plenty of leftovers in the freezer for lunches, and I'll be getting free breakfast and lunch tomorrow at a work retreat, so I'm doing great on food.

Random Acts of Kindness

September 6th, 2013 at 04:29 pm

Yesterday while I was waiting for the train home a young woman suddenly started screaming and running around the station in a panic. I recognized her as one of our special students. We have a program here at the college for college-age young adults who are developmentally disabled. They don't earn a degree, but they take classes in life skills (practical information to help them be independent)and they earn a certificate. It's a great program.

I had trouble understanding what she was saying at first, as her speech is slurred, but it turned out she had left her wallet at the college. I offered to help her and she asked me to go with her to find it. Begged me, actually. There was a taxi sitting at the station, so she and I took it (I wasn't sure she could walk to the college -- she has a bad limp). And anyway she was in such a panic, I don't think she could have walked for that reason alone. Long story short, after checking two different buildings, she actually found the wallet. The taxi driver could see the situation and was very kind about waiting for us as we looked. The charge was $9 and I gave him a $2 tip.

It was hard to make the girl understand that we missed the train and that we would have to wait for another one, but when she comprehended, she called her mother to tell her she would be on a later train. I must have asked her a dozen times if her mother would be there and she said yes. So I just have to believe she eventually got where she was supposed to be safely.

Her only response after she was all settled down was, "Do you have any gum?" But I know there is a mother somewhere thanking me.

The funny thing is, I came to someone else's rescue again this morning! There was a man on the train who had a ticket, but it wasn't for the right zone. The conductor told him he would need to pay more to get to his destination, and he said he didn't have cash, just the ticket. I was sitting right across the aisle, so I asked the conductor if it would help to take a punch out of my ticket (which is just an extra that I purchased the day I forgot my monthly pass). Basically I was donating one of my rides, but since it is only a back-up ticket for me it didn't feel like I was losing anything. I was glad to help.

So call me superhero! Seriously, I do like to do random acts of kindness, but rarely get the opportunity two days in a row. It's a nice warm fuzzy feeling!

There was no other spending yesterday besides the taxi, and I brought my breakfast and lunch today.

I've made an appointment with the contractor to fix my ceiling next Wednesday.

The weekend is almost upon us, and life is good!

A Little Discombobulated

September 5th, 2013 at 01:56 pm

I woke up with the alarm this morning, but closed my eyes, and, behold! It was 15 minutes before time to leave!

My first thought was to take the later train, but that gets me to work a full hour after everyone else is there. After my half-day yesterday, I didn't want to do that. So I skipped the shower (don't tell -- I did wash the important areas, though!) threw on some clothes, fed the fish, grabbed a pack of granola bars and a pizza slice from the freezer, and left. Made the regular train in plenty of time, but I do feel a little discombobulated.

I even thought today was Friday for some reason.

So I find that today is our secretary's birthday, and she is a BIG birthday person! Luckily, I had a card in my desk that was actually perfect for her. She brought in an array of treats, so it's too bad I ate the granola bars on the train! I'll be hungry later, though, and then I can indulge.

My gardener friend brought in more tomatoes and some cucumbers. I'm sure going to miss the veggie freebies when gardening season is over.

Yesterday I stayed late at work to make up for the missed morning. That meant that I was HUNGRY on the long drive home. I stopped at Culver's ($7) and then immediately felt guilty afterwards. I do need to get a handle on the fast food. But I'm not going to beat myself up, because it seems to be a side effect of this crazy commute. Just need to work harder on planning ahead.

Today I paid a radiology bill associated with my cat scan ($17). Hope to make it a no-spend day otherwise.


September 4th, 2013 at 07:53 pm

The plumber came and fixed the toilet for $130, which I didn't think was too bad, considering the prices I had seen on discussion boards. He was very nice, too. He fixed my kitchen faucet for free.

I'm not going to know what to do with all the quiet in the house now that the toilet is no longer flushing!

Spent $5 on the way to work to pick up lunch at KFC. A nice person in line gave me a coupon for $1 off.

I'll have to work late but can't stay after 6 -- the free lot closes then. This is the first day I used the free lot, trading in my $100 parking sticker for a short walk through the park.

So -- my August spending recap. Ta-da!

Housing - $1039
Gifts/Charity - $250
Medical/Health - $224
Utilities - $108
Fares/Parking - $107
Groceries - $103
Eating Out - $94
Clothing - $80
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor - $79
Entertainment - $60
Phone - $55
Vet/Pet Supplies - $45
Gas - $30
Household Supplies - $28
Fees/Services - $22
Laundry - $18
Personal - $15
Car Repair/Maintenance - $3

I spent $250 on gifts and there weren't even any birthdays! Some of that was helping out my son, an Amazon card for a hospitalized friend, garage sale finds for my gift stash, treats for work, cards and wrap.

The medical included my share toward the cat scan, a doctor visit, and a prescription.

I usually don't spend $80 on clothing, but I stocked up on panties and socks -- also found a garage sale purse, and Goodwill tops and capris.

In the furnishings category, I spent $24 on a great desk and chair, and also bought a step stool, picture frames, and cookware.

My entertainment included the entrance fee for my family's annual football pool, buying a raffle ticket for a local charity, toys for the toy box, and my Netflix subscription.

The fees: that much-lamented late fee to Macy's.


September 4th, 2013 at 03:31 pm

I'm home today, waiting for the plumber. He's supposed to come some time between 8 and 12. He has two more hours to keep his promise!

I did my August spending recap but left the results at work, so I'll post it later. I remember that the total spending was in the neighborhood of $2300. I like to get nearer to $2000, but there were a few medical bills, a few gifts....

I did my ten-items shop at the grocery store -- mistakenly picked up 11 items. I don't have my receipt at home, so let's see if I can remember ...

Kitty litter
Sandwich bags
Ice Cream
Kraft Mac & Cheese

I spent $29 on the above. Most of those items I wanted to have on hand for the grandchildren's visits. I also got free tomatoes and peppers at work from a gardener with too much produce.

I made lasagna this weekend, and cooked a frozen pizza, so I will be eating both of those for lunch and dinner all week. Welcome to Italian week!

I have been told that the plumber will charge $89 just for the visit, and that will not include any charge for the repair. I picked a plumber that advertised experience with vintage plumbing. I hope he will be worth what he costs.

So, with that, I will go back to waiting....

My Awful, Awful Truly Horrible Weekend

September 3rd, 2013 at 04:09 pm

Well, I hope you can tell from the exaggeration that nothing really tragic happened. But it sure was frustrating.

On Saturday morning I woke up to a bathroom full of water and the ceiling bulging. I called the property manager's emergency number (it being a holiday weekend of course -- when else do accidents happen?) Turns out that the remodeling being done upstairs resulted in a nicked pipe. The neighbors aren't living there while the work is being done, but I was able to get the contractor on site, and he came and checked it out, stopped the leak, and promised that he would fix the ceiling at no cost to me.

So, despite the mess, I wasn't too upset.

I got going on my laundry, as I had four loads to do. I had two in the washers, and two in the dryers. I went down to check on them and found all machines stopped, and the four loads sitting there in various stages of wetness.

I called the property manager again. He advised that I find the fuse box. Well, the basement is FULL of fuse boxes -- and most of them are not well marked. I finally found the right one and flipped the switch. The machines started working again, but they cut out five more times -- and I reset five more times -- before I got the laundry done. There are three washers and three dryers in the basement, and I always assumed that that meant that all of them could be run at the same time. Apparently not. Apparently four is too many.

So that was a grueling laundry session.

Then on Sunday, I turned on the faucet in the sink and nothing happened. My grandsons were there, and they said there was a sign about water in the vestibule. I went down and checked -- a brief note that the water main for the whole block would be shut off for four hours. (I later checked my email and found a message there as well).

Well, I wish I had had more warning, but we made do. We went to the park and spent quite a bit of time there before coming back to find -- the toilet flushing. Nonstop. The water was working normally otherwise, but the toilet was flushing on its own, and there was no way to stop it. (It's an old flush valve toilet -- no tank.)

So I called the property manager again, feeling like the most jinxed person on earth. I got a person who carefully took the message but said that since it was not an emergency, it wouldn't be handled till the next day.

All day yesterday no one called back. The toilet flushed all day. It flushed all night. It is flushing now, while I sit here at work. I sent an email to the property manager this morning, hoping that will bring a better response.

You know, it's their money. I don't pay a water bill, but it does bother me that gallons and gallons of water are flushing through my toilet.

Those are the big three things that went wrong, but it seems like a million other things did, too. It was a weekend of water spilt, dishes broken, toes stubbed, grandchildren acting up, plans screwed up, sleep lost -- I can't remember such a lousy, unsettling, three-day weekend.

I'm almost grateful to be back at work!