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Archive for April, 2018

Getting Ready

April 29th, 2018 at 06:37 am

I stocked up on pet supplies yesterday to the tune of $66. I got two bags of grain-free dry cat food, 2 containers of kitty litter, and some fish food.

There were two baseball games yesterday, which I attended and stuck through despite the bitter cold. The second game in particular was an exercise in misery. The wind cut like a knife. And I was wearing four layers, a hat and gloves! This weather is crazy.

In between the games I bought a cheap dinner at McDonalds for $2.

I also gave $1 to Miseracordia.

In the morning, I went to Walmart and spent $5 on a squeeze bottle and a new phone charger for the car.

Variables have jumped up to 17%.

Today I have a violin/piano recital to attend, and I have to go to the library to return materials and check out some audiobooks. I also need to do a bunch of laundry and just basically get ready for vacation. I will head down to BFF's some time on Monday -- whenever I am ready.

This is the part of vacation I don't like -- the getting ready -- as well as totting up the spending at the end!

This and That

April 28th, 2018 at 06:26 am

I spent $17 yesterday on a haircut, pushing my variables to 8%.

On the entertainment front, I attended a play in which my grandson had a small part. Today I have two baseball games to attend -- and it is cold today! I plan to really bundle up, as the baseball field tends to be the coldest spot on earth.Smile

I'm going to go to PetSmart today for dry cat food and kitty litter. And I'll be doing some laundry.

Apparently I strained my leg muscles when I did my strength training a few days ago. I was aware that I overdid one of my leg exercises -- just lost track of time and kept going when I shouldn't have. Boy, am I paying for it. I'm going to the gym today, but will just do some gentle spinning.

I'll be leaving for my New England trip on Monday rather than Tuesday. I'll spend the day at BFF's and we will do some planning. That said, it's going to be a very laid-back trip; we will wander and go where the mood strikes.

I'm going to check out some audiobooks today, just in case we want to listen a while rather than talk.

I also downloaded nine free books from Amazon to my phone.

I called UnitedHealthcare yesterday and reported that I never got my Walmart gift card. They said they would send another.

I created a spreadsheet for my mystery shopping. I think I successfully captured the information for shops already done. Having this sheet will enable me to track what shops are planned, what shops are completed, payment amounts and dates, and will also separate reimbursements from payments, so I can track real income.

Second Place!

April 27th, 2018 at 05:45 am

My grandson won second place in his division in the Invention Convention contest. He and his friend created a manual machine for making slushies. It didn't actually work, but I guess they were rewarded for the thought and effort that went into it.

I was so glad for the happy ending, because the day before he was in tears because parts kept breaking, or getting stuck, and then yesterday, his project disappeared before the contest and was found in the trash! He was very upset. So the win was very validating for him.

I completed a mystery shop at Five Guys, so that was a free dinner and $8 to come.

Today I'm going to get a haircut, and then I'll go see my grandson in a play in the afternoon.

No spending yesterday. I'm continuing to hold off on grocery shopping. As long as I can keep throwing meals together, I will.

I've done two surveys for Pine Cone in the last few days, so that's another $6 coming in.

I still haven't received my $15 Walmart gift card from UnitedHealthcare, so I guess I have to call and complain about that!

This and That

April 26th, 2018 at 08:06 am

Yesterday, in addition to the tollway pass fee, my assessment fee was withdrawn from the bank. No other spending. It's unusual not to grocery shop on pay day, but I just don't really need anything yet -- my freezer is full -- and I have a vacation coming up, so I don't want to stock up on food.

I had a longish day with the boys yesterday. I picked them up at 2:30 and did not take them home till 6:00. From 4 to 6 they were playing in the park with their cousin; some kind of a high-energy dodge ball game. They were having too much fun to cut it short.

Today will be busy. GS2 will be showing an entry in "Invention Convention" -- sometime in the afternoon; he was not clear on times. Then tonight, there is a baseball game for GS1 -- and I have committed to a mystery shop (restaurant) sometime between 4 and 11 pm. To which I cannot take a child.

I made a fresh batch of granola yesterday, using up all my oatmeal. Today I'm going to make chicken barbecue sliders.

Variables remain a nice, low 5%.

Pay Day & April Recap

April 25th, 2018 at 05:54 am

Hooray! Pay Day! I always love it when the day arrives.

I paid my mortgage and my credit card bills (in full, of course).

My tollway pass was replenished, so that is a $40 hit on the new month's variables budget. 5%.

April Recap:

Housing: $713
Utilities: $171
Clothing: $90
Groceries: $85
Gas: $75
Eating Out: $66
Medical/Health: $57
Household Supplies: $53
Phone: $52
Fees/Services: $46
Gifts/Charity: $43
Laundry: $16
Personal: $10
Vet/Pet Supplies: $8
Furnishings/Equipment/Decor: $6
Car Repair/Maintenance: $5

Grand Total: $1504
Variables: 71%

I bought gas yesterday - $19 - so that went on last month's budget.

My lunch with P was a bit of a disaster, at first. The restaurant where we planned to meet was closed. Finding another place open for lunch (besides fast food) was a challenge. But we finally ended up in a brewery near the lake, and it was good. I brought home a doggy bag. A yummy eggplant pasta dish.

No-Spend Day

April 24th, 2018 at 05:06 am

Yesterday was another low-key, no-spend day. I went to the gym in the morning and picked up the boys in the afternoon. The weather was nice, so they played outside until it was time to go home.

Today I'm going to Indiana to meet my friend P for lunch. It will be about a 1 1/2 hour drive, but I'll allow two hours, since I'll be driving through Chicago traffic. Very excited to see him; I haven't seen him since just before Christmas.

I have about a half a tank of gas, and I think I will leave it that way and fill up in Indiana. Indiana always has cheaper gas than Illinois.

Tomorrow is pay day, and I've only spent 68% of my variables. And that includes buying shoes and a swimsuit! It's been a good month.

I made the chicken vegetable soup yesterday, but didn't have any. The pot is sitting in the fridge. I'll have a serving tonight and then freeze the rest -- if I can find room in the freezer! Considering that this is the end of the month for me, I am well-stocked with food.

A Quiet Sunday

April 23rd, 2018 at 06:19 am

I went to the gym yesterday and then to Food4Less, where I spent $8 on frozen vegetables, creamer, sherbet and red onions.

I'm planning to make chicken vegetable soup today. I'm finishing up some leftover mashed potatoes by making potato pancakes for breakfast.

I got paid by another mystery shop company -- $9 in reimbursement and $5 payment. I'm going to have about $40 to add to next month's variables budget.

This month's variables are now at 68%, with only two days till pay day.

I made the most of the free watchathon -- more movies I have watched include Miss Peregrine, Alone in Berlin, Book of Love, The Girl on the Train, and Sylvia. I think it's over today, which is good -- I can do other things!

I did manage to find time to clean the fish tank yesterday. It is getting dirty faster and faster as my pleco keeps growing. He really poops a lot. I have to think seriously about getting a bigger tank, which I really don't particularly want to do, but it's getting to the point that it's either that, or putting the pleco to death, which I don't have the heart to do.

Iggy ate almost all of the Wild Frontier food, so I'll get a big bag of that when the Purina Naturals runs out. Probably just a couple more bowlfuls of that.

Saturday's Report

April 22nd, 2018 at 06:23 am

I haven't gone to the gym two days in a row -- bad me! I must go today.

Yesterday I thought I would go in between the two baseball games, since PF is in the same area. However, I ended up taking GS2 to PetSmart to see the cats who were there for adoption. They were adorable, but we were just looking!

I also picked up a small free bag of Nutro Wild Frontier, a grain-free dry food for cats. (Which also had a $3 coupon attached for the next purchase!) I tested it on Iggy last night, and he has eaten some of it, so it may be a winner.

The first baseball game was held in an indoor arena, but the second was outdoors, and boy, was it cold! I wasn't dressed warmly enough. About 3/4 of the way through, my DIL needed to leave to get ready for work, so I drove her home. I was frozen through, and never really warmed up until I got under the covers around 8:30.

I learned that my nephew's family is moving to Oregon. (Actually my ex's nephew, but I still claim him.) This will be a jolt for my son's family, as they hang out with them a lot, and the kids love playing together. DIL is very upset, especially because she considers the move a bit reckless -- more for change and adventure than need. But I think it's mostly because she will miss them. She is more family-centered than they are. She would like everyone she is related to to live in the same town! And I think it is following too closely to the death of her mother; she doesn't want another loss.

I got a check from one of my mystery shopping companies. It was a reimbursement, so it doesn't affect my budget. I put in into savings.

I keep checking for new shops, but not finding any that are convenient enough to make it worthwhile. And now I am running into dates that run into my vacation, which will take place May 1 - 12. So I think I will be taking a break for a while. I have one scheduled for the 27th, and that's all.

Slow Day

April 21st, 2018 at 06:58 am

Yesterday I stayed in all day. No, I did not even take a walk. Just kind of happened, the day got away from me. I was not feeling great, sleeping is still difficult. I wake up in pain because I've gotten into a bad position. I do think it is time to have my hip x-rayed to see if a replacement is recommended.

But I got the chicken broth made, and the cheeseburger casserole, which I re-christened stroganoff casserole. It was not very good. The main reason was it was too salty. I used too much of the beef soup base, which is very dense and salty. So after eating one serving, I added water to the rest to make soup -- only thing I could think to do to cut the salt -- and I froze it for later. I think it will be edible, but maybe kind of weird.

I watched two movies -- "The American" and "Passengers." "The American" was quite dark and depressing, but it did feature George Clooney. "Passengers" was a sci-fi movie with a lot of improbable events, but I enjoyed the romance between Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

The previous day I watched "Day the Earth Stood Still" -- another sci-fi film, pretty engrossing.

Today is baseball day. Opening day for both of my grandson's teams. In between I'm going to try to get to PetSmart, which is having a cat adoption day. No, I don't want to adopt another cat, but part of the celebration is that they will give away free samples of food. I want to test Iggy on a grain-free dry food before I commit to buying a big bag. He is picky. Which is so surprising for a rescue cat, but there you go.

I am planning to meet my friend P for lunch on Tuesday. We will meet at the halfway point between our two homes -- so an hour-and-a-half drive for each of us. We've always met before when I visited my brother in Michigan. It's kind of a step forward in our relationship!

Friday Stuff

April 20th, 2018 at 08:49 am

I'm taking the day off from the gym today, but I plan to take a walk later. I'm planning not to drive anywhere today.

It's finally warm -- in the 50's. I'm going to call that warm, after what we've been through.

I'm doing some catch-up work in the kitchen today. This morning I flash-froze and then bagged the remaining strawberries to use in smoothies. I'm assembling a cheeseburger casserole -- made from leftover fries and burgers. Unfortunately, I don't have cheese for it because I discovered my shredded cheese was a bit moldy. I wasn't quick enough to get that in the freezer, so it went in the trash Frown. So I'm going to experiment with some kind of cream cheese sauce instead. We'll see how it goes.
I'm also going to strip the chicken carcass today -- there's still a LOT of meat on it -- and freeze the meat, stew the bones for broth. I'm just waiting for it to warm up enough to use my hands on it.

I took the boys out for dinner yesterday. As usual, they wanted to go to Steak N Shake. I got $6 off in discounts, but it was still $23 (including tip) for the three of us. But it was a jolly good time; I do enjoy making memories this way. And when I did my tracking, I was kind of surprised to see that this was the first time I ate out this month, not counting mystery shops.

I also did a load of laundry and I'm doing one today as well.

Variables are now at 65%.

Baseball is starting again tomorrow -- two games! One for each grandson. Hoping for warm weather -- sitting in those bleachers can be pretty brisk!

Update

April 19th, 2018 at 11:14 am

I returned to Sam's this morning and exchanged the soup base. I also bought two big bottles of body wash for $10.

I can see that there is going to be a bump in expenditure as I start buying bulk. It should even out as the need to replace items becomes less and less frequent.

Variables are now at 62%, with six days to go, so I am still doing well.

I've found places for all the bulk items I've bought so far. My last chore for today is to strip the chicken carcass, freeze the meat, and make broth. Actually, that might be a tomorrow thing, since I need to pick up the boys in about an hour.

Back to Sam's

April 18th, 2018 at 03:56 pm

After going to the gym this morning, I returned to Sam's to do the shopping I intended to do yesterday.

I had $16 left on my gift card, and I spent $56 above that.

I bought two jars of soup base. I meant to buy one chicken, one beef, but I ended with two beef. So I have to go back tomorrow and exchange one.

My other purchases were a big bag of frozen vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower & carrots), 12 lbs. of flour, 2 lbs. of yeast, 45 rolls of toilet paper, two packages of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and 80 pods of Cascade. Whew! Feels so costly. Although I know the unit prices were good. I'm just not used to buying so much of anything.

I had to get two packages of yeast because they were bound together. I understand I can freeze yeast, so one will go in the freezer. And apparently, I can use it straight from the freezer, so maybe both should go in there? I shouldn't have to buy yeast for a long, long time. Though I do intend to keep up on my bread-baking, and maybe even get into rolls.

I watched "The Zookeeper's Wife" on free HBO today. Yesterday I watched "The Book of Henry" and "A United Kingdom." Apparently, the watchathon will go on the whole week, so I'm going to keep looking for movies I wanted to see but missed.

I picked up the boys today, but didn't spend anything. I picked up GS2 first, and we entertained ourselves by looking at the pets at PetSmart until GS2 was done with orchestra. Then I took them both home. Any time I can get them past McDonalds and Steak N Shake without spending anything is a win!

Sam's Treasure Hunt

April 17th, 2018 at 09:50 am

So I went back to Sam's today to shop for the first time. I only needed a few items. But I ended up not getting them, because I had the new member treasure hunt to do, and I could see that was all I could handle right then.

For $4 (which I put on the gift card, so, really, free) I got a rotisserie chicken, 2 lbs of strawberries, two French bread baguettes, a large slice of pizza, a large fountain drink, and a sundae.

I had the pizza and drink for lunch. The sundae is in the freezer. The chicken and strawberries are in the fridge. Later on, I'll cut up the baguettes and freeze them for sandwiches and garlic bread.

This changes my meal plans, and thus my "needs" for the next few days. But I'm really delighted.

Yesterday my only spending was $1.50 for laundry.

I noticed last night that Xfinity was having a watch-a-thon, so I watched two HBO movies, "The Wilde Wedding" and "My Cousin Rachel." Not sure how long it will last, but I'll scope it out more today.

Got $11 in cash back rewards from Discover. And this morning I found a quarter in the dirt! At least, I think it's a quarter. I'll have to clean it up to make sure.

I'm planning to spend the rest of the day reading and watching movies. What a life, huh? My DIL is working shorter hours this week, so I don't have to chauffeur the boys, at least not till Thursday. I love to see them, but it does cut up the day. I love having a uninterrupted day for just goofing around.

Snow on the Ground

April 16th, 2018 at 05:47 am

Ugh. I'm so sick of this.

I didn't go to the gym yesterday, because I decided that one of the special pleasures of retirement is not having to go out if you don't want to. The catch phrase on the news yesterday was"icy grip." Today it is "spring snow."

But I will go out to the gym today. I'll probably have to bus the kids later, anyway, so I might as well go out and get the car brushed off.

I bought a swimsuit yesterday! I got it online from Swimsuits for All; they were having a one-day sale, so I got one for $40. I hope it will fit. I actually ordered a size larger because it always seems like swimsuits are too tight and skimpy.

I already have a decent swimsuit, but I think I will need two this summer. DIL has purchased both a beach pass and a pool pass for my summer care of the boys. I think we will be swimming a lot. And I can't stand to put on a damp suit!

I sprang for the suit because my variables are going well this month. Even with this purchase I am at 49%, and there are only nine days left till payday.

I finished watching Stranger Things on Netflix, and yesterday I started both The Crown and A Series of Unfortunate Events. My BFF has encouraged me to watch Frankie and Grace, too. And my son has encouraged me for a long time to watch Orange is the New Black. My free trial is going to be over soon, but I can see that it will be worth it to subscribe.

Oh, I forgot to say -- I ordered my OTC meds from OTC-Essentials yesterday. I get $50 worth of free supplies four times a year. This time I ordered Tylenol, Zyrtec, baby aspirin, aloe cleansing wipes, Dairy Aid, and a toothbrush. All generic, though. This program (through my Medicare supplement) is a great boost to my budget.