Home > Archive: February, 2016

Archive for February, 2016

Day Nine

March 1st, 2016 at 12:27 am

Came in at 1412 calories today.

Egg casserole
Coffee w/creamer
Toast w/butter & marmalade
Red Vine pizza
Peanut soup

I had veggies on the pizza and in the casserole. If I get hungry later I will have a serving of veggies, but right now I'm feeling about right.

I did my February recap:

Taxes: $942
Housing: $677
Utilities: $162
Vacation/Travel: $122
Gifts/Charity: $106
Groceries: $86
Fees/Services: $84
Phone: $52
Eating Out: $41
Entertainment: $31
Medical/Health: $29
Household Supplies: $13
Vet/Pet Supplies: $11
Personal: $11
Laundry: $11
Grand Total: $2378

The taxes are my first semi-annual payment of property taxes. I'll be paying my state income tax next month.

Fees/Services included I-pass fee, tax prep fee, and my passport picture. Next month I'll pay for the actual passport.

Everything else was nice and low. My variables percentage was 66%, even better than I thought.

I was planning to go to the dentist tomorrow, but I called to reschedule. Heavy snow is predicted for tomorrow, and I don't want to drive in it. My dentist is more than 20 miles away.

Today was the fourth day in a row that I haven't had heat. I think it is finally coming on tonight, though I have had enough false alarms, I'm not sure yet it will stay on. All I can say is, I'd better get heat tonight; the temperature is plunging.

Our association president shared an email he sent to the property managers. "Three days without heat. HELP!" I suspect they really believe they can turn off the heat when it gets into the fifties outside, because "it's so warm!" Yeah, it's warm for February. Still cold. They should live here.

I wish my suffering were translating into lower costs, but it doesn't make any difference at all. I pay my assessment fees just the same, whether I freeze or burn up.

Okay, I'm done complaining! Looking forward to a toasty day tomorrow while I watch the snow fall!

Day Eight

February 29th, 2016 at 12:18 am

It was a good day. 1441 calories.

Egg casserole
Coffee w/ creamer
Red Vine pizza
8 oz. Sprite
Chicken patty on bun w/lettuce & mayo
Green beans
1 square dark chocolate

The red vine pizza is a specialty from Blaze Pizza, made with sauce, soft mozzarella, basil and cherry tomatoes. I had lunch at Blaze with my son's family. I picked up the tab for all; $39.

I brought home two pieces of pizza for lunch tomorrow.

I took a 45-minute walk to the grocery store, where I used a coupon to get a free yogurt.

I spent most of the day with the grandsons; in the park, at lunch, and watching them play videogames. I came home late afternoon, and now I'm watching "Places in the Heart" and loving it.

Wrapping up the month tomorrow. Right now my variables stand at 69%. May be a bit higher when I do the final reckoning, but in any event, I've done well.

Day Seven

February 28th, 2016 at 02:23 pm

I went to sleep last night before making an entry for Day Seven. I went to bed early to read, because I was so cold, and fell asleep. I'm looking forward to the temperature outside diving; that's when the radiators come on.

I also had a bad headache and just had to baby myself.

But one good outcome: I accidentally skipped supper, and calories for the day were only 783!

Food consumed:

Coffee w/creamer
Toast w/peanut butter & jelly
Cream of veggie soup
Greek yogurt w/ honey
1 square dark chocolate

In the morning I went to Aldi, planning to buy only 10 items. As often happens at Aldi, I got more, but the groceries still fit into my two totes, so in a way I kept to my plan. And I got good diet stuff.

My purchases:

Almond Milk
Frozen Brussel Sprouts
Iceberg Lettuce
Frozen Broccoli Florets
Frozen Asparagus
Frozen Green Beans
Canned Broth
Canned Black Olives

Let me explain about the chocolates. In the discount bin, there were Russell Stover valentine boxes marked down to $2.05. Since I keep myself on my diet by rewarding myself with little hits of chocolate, I thought it was a good idea to get a box for that price.

The total bill was $22.

After lunch I went to see "The Big Short" (which I obviously didn't see the other day when I said I was going to!) It cost me $7. I thought it was a pretty amazing movie; certainly clarifying about what went wrong in the housing market, and a little depressing to think about the level of greed that fueled it. I loved Steve Carell's speech at the end about how fraud never works; I wish those in power really believed that.

I didn't do any significant exercising, though I did some running around, and parked far away from my destinations. I got to Aldi about 15 minutes early and walked around in Home Depot waiting for Aldi to open.

I found a penny. So far this year, I've picked up .97 off the street. I've also earned $15 from Pine Cone. Every little bit helps.

Oh, and in the interest of transparency, I gave $5 to a homeless woman. It was right after the movie, and I was feeling very un-greedy.

Day Six

February 26th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Now I've done it. I knew this day would come. It's only 4:30 and I've already eaten 1522 calories. I'm going to really try to make it through the rest of the day drinking water. My food choices were not great. My excuse? The boiler is off, and I'm freezing. The urge for comfort eating was undeniable.

French toast sticks w/butter & syrup
Black coffee
2 tortilla pizzas
Popcorn w/ butter (1/4 cup unpopped)
1 square dark chocolate

No walk today; it's too cold. I'll do the stretching exercises tonight.

I watched a good movie today from Xfinity's streaming service: The Lucky Ones. It's about three soldiers who bond on a car trip while on leave. I'd never heard of it before -- it may be an indie movie.

I watched it while lying on the couch, covered in blankets, with my cat lying on top of me. And I was still cold. The radiators have come on briefly, but go off again. I don't know what's up, but I wish they would fix it.

Financially, all is well. It was a no-spend day, except for one load of laundry. Tomorrow I'll go to the grocery again; my list has reached ten. So I'm not done for the month. Variables spending is at 60%, so I'm bound to come in under.

Also, my property tax was about $250 less than expected which gives me a little boost in savings.

March will be a little different. I will have a dentist's appointment on the first (which is out of town), and at least three potential eating-out events. I'll have to work harder to make ends meet.

Day Five

February 26th, 2016 at 12:56 am

Coming in at 1416 calories today. Food consumed:

Coffee w/creamer
2 eggs over easy
Lightly buttered toast
2 clementines
Chicken parmesan sandwich
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup French onion soup w/cheese bread topping
5 oz. wine
1/2 cup frozen yogurt

I also took a 1/2 hour walk.

I had two financial surprises today. I paid my Discover bill and realized that I was charged $40 to renew my I-pass (for tollway fares). No problem, but I was charged in January, and I never counted it then. So it goes into February expenses; I'm not going to go back and change everything. That pushes my variables spending to 59%, still very good.

Then, looking at last February's expenses, I realized that I paid the first installment of my property tax last February, but I hadn't yet received a bill this year. So I got online, and saw that it is due on March 1! I was able to pay online, with a $1 fee, but I'm sure glad I looked. I looked all over, and I don't believe I ever got the bill. I remember that I got an application for my senior exemption, but the actual bill -- no. Not unless senioritis has really set in.

That said, I really have to get better about my paperwork. I hate it, and I'm bad at it. I'd like everything to be electronic.

I had to take $1100 out of my slush fund. But that's what it's for.

Day Four

February 24th, 2016 at 11:48 pm

I figure as long as I stay under 1500 calories per day, I'm doing well, and today I had 1485 calories. Here's what I ate:

Blueberry pancakes
Coffee w/ creamer
French onion soup w/cheese bread
Piece of dark chocolate
Turkey/veggie fried rice

The blizzard that was so loudly predicted didn't materialize to much of anything in my neck of the woods. We've had snow in the air, but nothing really sticking. Further south, and to the east, there has been heavy accumulation. Even so, I stayed in. It is windy, and may be slippery, too.

I did a load of laundry today ($1.50) and paid my mortgage. It's pay day for my Social Security. The amount is still showing as "processing" at the bank, so I'll wait until it is processed before I pay the Discover bill, which is $1165.

I've been finding a lot of free entertainment on broadcast TV lately. Today I watched "Awakenings" with Robin Williams, which I've seen before, but enjoyed again. There's a bit at the end where his character talks about the human spirit being stronger than any drug. It was quite moving, and I couldn't help but wonder why Robin couldn't get to that place himself. He brought so much joy to so many people, but he couldn't save himself. I wish he was still with us, and still performing.

No exercise today, but I'll do my stretching before bedtime.

Day Three

February 24th, 2016 at 12:18 am

I can't believe how well the diet is going, after all my procrastination! I consumed 1416 calories today, and did 10 minutes of stretching exercises.

The food:

Black Coffee
Oatmeal w/ blueberries & brown sugar
French onion soup w/ cheese bread topping
Half cup of frozen yogurt
Turkey stirfry w/ rice
5 oz. wine
Water all day long

I intended to get out and walk today, but I got so involved watching "Sybil," (Sally Field with multiple personalities) I never made it. It ran for about 4 hours. I think I had only seen bits of it before; it was interesting watching the whole thing.

I did do a load of laundry, and on top of cooking my meals I made a batch of poppy seed dressing from scratch, using up all my poppy seeds and some toasted sesame oil that needed to be used. I don't have any salad materials right now, but when I do, I'll be glad the dressing is already made.

Tomorrow we are supposed to get a heavy snowfall, so I'll probably regret that I didn't walk today.

Looking forward to my pants getting looser!

Day Two

February 22nd, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Well, believe it or not, I consumed almost exactly the same in calories today as I did yesterday - 1377. And I took a 35-minute walk.

My food intake:
Greek yogurt w/ honey
Coffee w/ non-fat creamer
Turkey sandwich
Blueberries w/non-fat "cream"
2 pizza tortillas
5 oz. wine

Right now I feel fine -- not hungry. The water helps with that.

I had ten items on my grocery list today, so I went shopping -- three different places. I bought kitty litter at PetSmart ($4). Then I went to Aldi (next door) and bought a dark chocolate almond bar, blueberries, biscuits, tuna, pizza sauce, vinegar, and frozen chicken patties ($13). Then I went to Jewel and bought a box of wine and a package of pantiliners ($17). My variables are at 54%.

The chocolate bar I can break into small pieces. It will help when I get sweet cravings.

I bought the kitty litter at PetSmart, because I had a $3 coupon. I bought a damaged carton which was marked down, and there was a $5 coupon on the package. That's why I got such a great price on the kitty litter.

It's been a good day. I watched last night's showings of Downton Abbey and Mercy Street. Mercy Street is over for the season and Downton Abbey will be done forever next week. Pain and sorrow!

Day One

February 22nd, 2016 at 12:35 am

I did well on the diet front today. I consumed an estimated 1355 calories, and I walked for 40 minutes. My food intake:

Coffee with no-fat creamer
Scrambled eggs with spinach & cheese
Turkey sandwich
3 clementines
1 small piece spanakopita
1 mini piece Mediterranean pizza
Pepper strips & hummus
1 small sausage roll
1 cup plain popcorn
5 oz. wine

The last six items I had at a birthday party/open house for a friend of mine. I made the best selections I could from the buffet. Passed up the cake and sweets.

I also kept drinking and refilling a water bottle all day.

I'm not feeling too hungry right now. I actually feel pretty good. But it's still early. We'll see how I feel in a couple of hours.

I also walked to the party, which was 20 minutes each way.

Just to keep this financial, it was a no-spend day, and I got a free dinner. I made a birthday card for my friend, rather than buying one. It's not beautiful, but I hope it is charming. I probably should have taken her a little gift, but I didn't know what to get her; I don't know her tastes or her needs very well.

Anyway, I'm feeling very encouraged, but, of course, it's day one!

Yesterday's spending -- and I'm ready for change!

February 21st, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Well, yesterday was a little more spendy than usual, but my variables spending is still more than fine at 50% -- and only 7 days to go!

I got my passport photo taken -- it was $14, more than I expected. And it's not a great picture. I won't look at it too often, to preserve my self-esteem!

I gave $1 to a homeless man. I dropped a dime while I was taking out the bill, so I actually gave him $1.10!

I went to see Revenant with a friend. It was $7. The good news is I didn't have to pay for parking, because I figured out how to get my ticket validated.

Who has seen Revenant? I thought it was technically amazing, but terribly gory and a real downer for me. I could have passed. I had been warned about the bear scene, but that was only one of many, many bloody scenes. And there was no redeeming story to counterbalance, at least not for me.

I'm thinking of seeing The Big Short today; I think that might be more in my line. A movie about a financial crisis, what could be better? Smile

My clothes are getting tighter instead of looser, so I have to address my weight issue. Not only will it help my self-esteem, but it is a financial issue. I can't -- I won't -- buy bigger clothes. I have several bins full of smaller clothes. The mandate is clear. The only problem is I will have to do things I don't like to do -- like be hungry, avoid the foods I love, and exercise. I've done this so many times, only to wind up back in the same place; it's hard to get up any excitement about it. But as they say in the UK (and I've adopted it) -- needs must!

So my friends, I will bore you with not only my three meals per day, but I will share everything I eat; hopefully to shame myself out of it. And I will share exercise, too. So I will probably switch from posting in the morning to posting in the evening, when all the damage is done.

Now for good news -- my refund has already posted! I'm going to put it in my e-fund/mortgage fund, along with some money I've been carrying in checking for too long. (Always thought I would open a new account at Chase and get a bonus, but I never had quite enough to spare). I'll do that later today, and then update the sidebar.

Today is going to be a day of looking closely at goals and solutions. I'm in the mood to be more responsible -- to myself.


February 20th, 2016 at 03:09 pm

Did you see our famous wind on the national news last night? Man! Was it ever windy. Unfortunately, I decided to walk to the bank -- I went out the door intending to drive, but it was so warm I thought it was silly not to walk -- and the wind, at that point, was pretty tame. By the time I got halfway there, I realized the wind was blowing tarps off construction sites, knocking over garbage cans and sending them barreling down alleys, basically picking up everything that wasn't tied down and throwing it around! I learned later that whole streets were blocked off because of the danger of flying objects.

I was fine, though sometimes I really had to fight the current to stay upright. It was so warm, that even with a high wind like that, my ears did not hurt.

I certainly couldn't stop at Walgreen's to get my passport picture taken, however. I looked like someone had used a mixer on my head.

So I got my quarters. I also bought a $1.49 coke on the way, mostly so I could stop and rest. And I gave $2 to a StreetWise vendor.

I didn't watch a lot of TV yesterday, because it was out of service for much of the day. Many people lost all their power, but mine stayed on, except for the cable.

Today I'm going to see "Revenant" with a friend after she gets off work. I think I'll try again on the passport picture. I just washed my hair and it looks pretty good today. Smile

Looks like my Florida son is finally closing on a house. Cross your fingers! He's had a couple of disappointments, so I'm hoping this one goes through.

Now about my menu. I STILL haven't eaten a turkey sandwich, even though it will appear today for the third time. When I went to make it yesterday, I realized the meat was still pretty frozen. I had a peanut butter sandwich instead.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Hot Turkey Sandwich
Dinner: Spinach/Cheddar Omelet

Still Stuffed Up

February 19th, 2016 at 05:02 pm

My congestion continues. I woke up with an awful headache this morning, but it's better now, after a couple of Advil. I'll use the MyPurMist before bedtime; that will help with sleeping. I used it in the afternoon yesterday, but right before sleeping would be better.

But good news! I logged into my credit union account and found that my account is already set up for the credit card I applied for! Perhaps the acceptance letter is in the mail -- or my mailbox, which I didn't check yesterday.

So as soon as the card comes, I'll start charging all my expenses to that. It should be easy to charge $2500 in three months, but if it gets difficult, there's always the grocery card trick. Or I could buy an Amazon card, which would always be useful for gifts. Then it will be $500 to snowflakes. Yay!

I'm doing a load of laundry now. I'm rethinking the walk to the bank. While it is warm, it is also very windy, and my ears are very sensitive. I don't want to add an earache to my woes. But if I don't walk, I will drive, and I'll stop at Walgreens, too, to finally get my passport picture taken. I really need to get going on getting the passport.

I watched Griffin & Phoenix on TV yesterday -- first time I'd ever seen it, and I enjoyed it despite the bittersweet ending. Then last night I watched Nothing In Common, which I've seen several times. For some reason it is one of my favorite movies; it just always gets me when Tom Hanks mans up to take care of his dad. This time, I really looked at all the Chicago scenery in the background. I wasn't a resident when I've seen the movie before -- it was really fun to identify locations that are familiar to me now. Several scenes were filmed right in my suburb.

I've gone back to reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I told my man friend I would do this -- it is his area of specialty as a scholar. The trouble is, I just don't resonate well with fantasy. It's not that I look down on it or anything, but it doesn't engage me. I will catch myself turning pages and never taking in a thing, because I'm thinking of other things, making grocery lists and such. Then I have to page back and re-read.

The kind of books I really like are contemporary novels that show a hero or heroine working through relatable problems, or going through hard times. For instance, I love to read novels about the Holocaust, even though I am not Jewish, or about the Great Depression. I like to read about relationships and I like humor and irony, and mystery, too! But fantasy -- it's just too "made up" for me. I see the puppet strings. I want to lose myself, not be aware of the storyteller all the time.

So, anyway, that's my rationale for being so slow to get through this series. It's actually quite charming, but at the same time it feels like doing homework.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Granola w/almond milk
Lunch: Cornbread & salad
Dinner: Hot turkey sandwich

Yes, same as yesterday. That's the problem with being single; so much leftover food. I actually did not have the turkey sandwich yesterday, though; I had popcorn late in the afternoon and didn't feel like having supper. I have to learn to stop doing that.

This and That

February 18th, 2016 at 02:08 pm

I had a good day with my grandson. We shared some Star Wars cereal, and played Word on the Street, Upwords and Tenzi. The time went fast.

I thought I would just crash and nap after his mom picked him up, but I ended up staying up till I went to bed at 9 or so. I didn't sleep great, but better than the night before. I am still pretty congested.

Financially, everything is on autopilot. No spending yesterday and I don't expect to spend anything today.

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I forgot to do one of the main things I went there for -- get quarters! Actually, I remembered after I had gone through the checkout line, but I didn't ask for any cash back, and the customer service desk wouldn't let me buy quarters without cash -- checks or credit cards were not acceptable.

I have enough quarters for one more load. I don't need to do one today, but I will tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow, when it warms up, I will walk to the bank and get a couple of rolls. The bank is about a 35-minute walk away. Of course, I could drive, too, but I would kind of like to make this 1/4 tank of gas last through the month.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: French toast sticks
Lunch: Spinach salad and loaded cornbread
Dinner: Hot turkey sandwich

Checking In

February 17th, 2016 at 02:45 pm

Variables spending is up to 48%, which is still very good for this time in the month.

The movie cost $8, and afterwards I stopped at the nearby grocery store and bought my ten items: toilet bowl cleaner, kitty litter, Jiffy corn muffin mix, boxed mac & cheese, lasagna (pasta), creamer, coffee, frozen yogurt, baby spinach, plastic storage bags. The total cost was $29. I also scored 3 plastic bags, since it was a store outside of my very green city.

The movie, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be funnier, more of a send-up. And of course the plot was very altered to make room for the zombies, which I didn't mind, but I thought it was strange that they made Lady Catherine a good character, when, in the book, she definitely was not. Anyway, English Castle, I think your students would enjoy seeing it and it would generate a lot of discussion among people who are studying Austen.

I'm getting ready now to have my grandson over for a little while. His mom is going to the gym, and he is not yet ready for school. I'm scrambling a bit, because I slept in after a really bad, sleepless night. But we'll soldier through together!

Today's Menu:

Breakfast: Toast
Lunch: Spinach salad & loaded cornbread
Dinner: Lasagna