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Archive for April, 2011

First Blogoversary

April 30th, 2011 at 05:11 pm

How fast a year goes!
Yesterday was the one year anniversary for my blog! Big Grin

In the past year:

- Added baby DS to the family!
- Paid down a small amount of debt, about $1900. (This year I'd like that to be a whole lot more!)
- Established an EF, $3925 balance to date.
- Refi'd the house to 4.75% 30 year fixed
- Got a $2/hr raise!
- Paid my auto insurance for the whole year in one payment. (cool!)
- Visited Kentucky. Great time with my mom, sis and aunt.
- Lots of enjoyment blogging with you all. Big Grin


In the coming year?

- More to savings.
- More debt payoff.
- Home improvement projects.
- More fun!
- More babies.
**lol**
***Just kidding about the baby!***

Thanks everyone for the great comments you've left me. And for all the interesting posts you all create that I enjoy reading.

Shopping Local - Helps Me How?

April 29th, 2011 at 12:56 am

Regarding my last post:

Q: What does it do for you to buy locally?

A: Supporting local business means keeping local people employed, sometimes people I know. They support the local economy by paying their mortgages, spending their money at places like where I work, etc, etc. Local businesses pay taxes and that keeps tax dollars in my town for services I can use (police/fire/parks etc.).

Anyone have other reasons?

Shopping Local vs. Online

April 27th, 2011 at 07:28 pm

Baby DS needs a new car seat. He's growing up and it's time to get a "big boy" car seat; no more infant car seat. I've been shopping and reading reviews and checking prices the past week plus. I know what I want and I've got a good deal going online at Diapers.com..

Thing is I want to support local business and economy and I feel a little bad about not buying local.
Does that happen to any of you?

Here's the story: I was checking all the seats online and narrowed it down to two. Same brand, two different models, $60 price difference, but online I couldn't tell any difference. SO, I stopped in at our cute, boutique-y baby store here in my town where they carry these Britax seats. I was immediately greeted by the sales lady; she was very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. She showed me the two models in question and also told me I could "test drive" the floor samples if I wanted. As soon as I could see and feel the seats I knew which one would be right for us.

I felt guilty for the time I was in there because I KNEW I wouldn't buy the seat there. Not when I can save about $80 and get it in the fabric I want in 1-2 days vs. 5-7 days.

**sigh**

On the good side when I order this seat I will be saving a substantial amount because I shopped around and now I am 100% sure it's what I am looking for.

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I am also in the market for some new workout/work sneakers. The brand and style I've been happy with for years has changed a bit I guess and my last pair started making my heel sore. Frown

So again, it seems I might have to see/try some in the local shoe stores just to end up buying online. Can't beat the selection and pricing at Shoebuy or Zappos.

Easter Spending & More Busy Weekends Ahead

April 27th, 2011 at 04:22 am

Let me start by saying I had a weak moment Friday evening at Costco.

I saw they had prime rib in for Easter and one jumped in my basket! Okay, it had a little help from me. Wink We had one for Christmas and it was so delicious I couldn't pass it up for our Easter dinner.

My parents and sister came Saturday. So we had our big dinner Saturday and then a tasty breakfast Sunday. Total spent on food and Easter "things" was about $118.

Time with my family and not traveling was wonderful.

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It's looking like all of our weekends in May are going to be full of activity. And money spending! Yipes!

This coming weekend will be a trip to my parents. Then my mom will drive all of us in her van to see my grandparents. We'll celebrate a late Easter (with a ham dinner this time!), early Mother's Day and an early birthday for baby. Hoping my cousin and her family will be able to join us as well as my BFF. It will be wonderful family time, but lots of car travel over a weekend. In fact I think I'll drive home from my parent's house early Monday morning. Too much car time Sunday coming home from the grandfolks to add on the two hours home. Cost? About $70. Gas only, but that is bad enough right?

Mother's Day weekend we'll host my FIL and MIL for a late Easter, birthday party for baby and Mother's day. Not sure what other activities for that weekend, but a car show is in town on Saturday and I heard DH say something about golfing with FIL. Cost? $20 to $100, depending on what my MIL pays for!

Weekend after is DH and DD's trip, with me and baby brother meeting up with them in Yosemite Sunday-Monday. Cost? $80ish. DH and DD have been saving $40/week for the trip, so I'm looking at my gas and the entry fee to the park.

Then Memorial weekend. DD is going to stay with my folks for a week. Cost? $30ish for gas to meet parents half way.

Weekend after that, Giants game for DH and me to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Cost? $60ish for ferry tickets and dinner afterwards. Tickets for the game are already bought and paid for.

It's all going to be fun. But...Whew! I feel broke already! lol!


Catching Up & Easter Weekend

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I've had so many thoughts I have wanted to post, but no time for any of it! This afternoon is quiet here at work so I'll make the most of a few moments.

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Giants won their game on Tuesday; lost on Wednesday; didn't play yesterday. Added $2 to the EF. Balance now at $3919.

They play the Braves tonight..

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I've been doing well with my working out and despite all the sweets here at the office (we're talking POUNDS of candy and sweet treats) I've lost a total of 7lbs in the past 6'ish weeks. Would've loved more, but very happy to see progress! Yay! Big Grin

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We are staying home for the Easter weekend and having the family drive to us. Smile
Although, I'm not sure we'll save much in the end since now we'll be doing the meal.
My mom and dad will be coming Saturday and my sister on Saturday night. The plan is a nice ham dinner Saturday and then using the leftover ham I'll make the breakfast quiche for Sunday. Tonight on the way home from work I'll stop at Costco for a few items. Then tomorrow morning early I'll make a run to Safeway and DH can spend a little time cleaning house and mowing the lawn. DD is at a sleepover tonight so we'll dye eggs tomorrow evening too.

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I've also been shopping for new shoes and a new carseat, but that's another post.

If I'm not back by Monday....
Happy Easter weekend everyone.

My Vehicle Makes Me Proud

April 19th, 2011 at 03:55 am

In my earlier post I had mentioned we met with the inlaws on Saturday. Well two comments were made about my vehicle that kinda tickled my funny bone.

First, my FIL commented to DH about how nice the car looked. "How much had we spent to have it detailed?" DH said it was a free wash with the oil & transmission fluid change. FIL told DH he didn't think there was anyway that I didn't pay for the wash because it looked so good. I had the receipt to prove it was a free wash. hehehe.

Second, one of FIL's friends we had met during dinner walked over to our car as we were loading up for home. He asked me what make/model it was and that he thought it was a very nice looking SUV. I told him it's a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder and we've been more than happy with it. Even better, I told him, we own it outright and the insurance for the year is paid in full. I was sitting in the driver seat so I showed him that it has close to a 178,000 miles on it. He couldn't believe it was that "old" and had "so many" miles. Big Grin

I luv u car!

Donation. Dinner with the Inlaws.

April 18th, 2011 at 08:55 pm

Quiet morning here at work so I've a moment to post, and catch up on reading other's posts. Smile

Last week we had the truck that picks up charitable donations come around our neighborhood. DD purged a large, black trash bag worth of clothes that didn't fit anymore and set them out on the sidewalk. Such an easy way to donate stuff; the convienince of living in town. Smile
Does anyone use this type of donation as a tax write-off? How do you figure a value?

And we are slowly gathering things together for a yardsale come summertime. I also need to get back to posting a few nice items to Craigslist.

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Saturday my inlaws were in the area for a spring motorcycle ride with a group they belong to. After the ride there was a large group dinner at the Hilton. $40 per plate! I had told DH we wouldn't eat with them for that price. We'd visit with them, maybe do breakfast the next day, but no way do $40/person. Not when that would get us a gourmet meal and not just cookie-cutter banquet food. Anyhow, the inlaws wanted us to have dinner, so they bought. Which was fine I guess. The food was better than average fare for that sort of thing, but we all could have eaten much, much better for the price. Oh well.. Rolleyes

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The Giants won on Saturday night. $2 to the EF. Total is $3917.

Money In. Then Out.

April 16th, 2011 at 08:33 pm

Giants won last night. $2 to the EF. Balance now $3915.

I am taking care of my kitty-sitting client this weekend. I went early this morning and was paid with a $100 bill! $25 more than expected. Smile
I've already put it to the cc debt.

I went grocery shopping this morning afterwards and spent $135. I bought a bunch of fresh fruit and veggies. Oranges, apples, pears, bananas, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, a sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, mushrooms. Also milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, bread, ground turkey, cereal, and on and on. Gatorade was on a good sale; $0.79/32oz bottle.

There was a photography company with a display inside the grocery store this morning. They were running a special deal on Sepia/old fashioned style photos. $5 sitting fee and one 11X13 for $10, additional prints and packages at regular prices. I signed up for DS and DD to have a photo together. Total price of $15. The hard part will be for me to ONLY buy the one specially priced photo and no others!

I just realized I hadn't posted our past two weeks of the $175/wk spending.
April 1 to April 7: We went over by $88.
April 8 to April 14: We went over by $48.

After shopping today we have $5 left for the rest of the week. Hmm..I still need to buy formula.

$550 Prom Dress

April 15th, 2011 at 09:26 pm

What would you pay for a Senior Prom dress?

My boss is buying a $550 for his DD! (Yes, I am sucking in breath as I type that) And, yeah you all remember he's the one with money troubles and upcoming bankrupcy. I guess to be fair it's not up to him; his wife and DD made the decision. Rolleyes

My co-worker and I think that is a crazy amount. Especialy when you search prom dresses online and can find really cute ones for $40-$100.

I can rememeber shopping for formal dresses at discount or outlet shops. I had beautiful dresses always for less than $100. I never felt deprived.

Thank you to my Mom for never over induldging me and teaching me where to shop!

I wonder what sort of lesson will their DD learn from this?

Good News/Bad News

April 14th, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Good News:
The Giants won their last two games. Yay!
+$4 to the EF. Total now $3913.

Bad News:
I bought gas at Costco this afternoon on my way home. It's now $4.12/gal. YUCK!!
It has increased by $0.10 per week for the past four or more weeks!

Where will it end????

Adding to the EF. Tempting Sweets.

April 12th, 2011 at 06:28 pm

Our auto transfer to the EF posted yesterday and the Giants won Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately not on Sunday or Monday. Frown

+ $25 Savings Transfer
+ $4 Two Giants Wins
-----
$3909 EF balance

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Our weekend at the inlaws was very low key. DH cut down these two tree/bush Junipers they had in the front yard and was paid $150 - his motorcycle payment for next month. Rolleyes

We spent $80 in gas..**choke**

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Went for a lovely walk this morning with a girl friend, her baby, daughter and my DS. The weather is sunny and about 58F. Very nice for walking. I picked up a Starbucks for free using a Free Drink coupon given to me by a client.

It's super nice having clients who appreciate us!

However it's a double edge sword. Yesterday we were given about 6lbs of See's Candy from two separate clients.

Ugh..How can I lose weight around all that?!

Friday one of our other clients will be bringing us creampuffs. She owns a restaurant and bakery and we're always getting pies, cookies and now creampuffs from her.

What a problem to have, hu? Wink

Spending $ on the Automobile

April 8th, 2011 at 09:27 pm

I have a quiet minute here at work. We'll be busy again in about 20 minutes.

I just dropped my Pathfinder off for an oil change, transmission fluid change and a FREE carwash. I'll pick it back up when I get off work tonight. It's going to cost about $90.

Bought gas this morning at Costco. It's now $4.02/gal here. Frown

To top it all off we're heading to my inlaws tonight fo a weekend visit. Blah..I'd much rather stay home. Save the gas money and get some laundry washed! Big Grin

The Giants won their last game, so I added $2 to the EF. It's now at $3,880.

J4F. Best Gift?

April 5th, 2011 at 06:35 pm

All the beautiful weather has me thinking about being outside with the wind in my hair.

J4F Question:
Would you rather be a racecar driver OR racehorse rider?
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CeeJay asked about best gifts awhile back. (Sorry CeeJay I'm soo slow!)
I've been thinking about this and I have had a lot of wonderful gifts. Last year my DD gave me a set of notecards with matching envelopes that she had decorated with paints. They are beautiful and I haven't been able to bring myself to use them. My DH has surprised me with special dinners out and even an overnight getaway that I had no clue about. My mom gave me an antique cameo pin on my 30th bday that she was given from her dad on her 30th bday.

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J4F.
I do like speed, but I love riding horses, so I'll say racehorse jockey. Of course cars are going to be super fast, but the races are much, much longer and it gets hot in those cars. If any of you have ever full out galloped on a horse you know what a flying type feeling that is. It's Awesome. Big Grin

PG&E Payment. Free Food.

April 5th, 2011 at 06:10 pm

Paid our PG & E bill yesterday. $200. We have the new 'SmartMeters' on our electric and gas meters. They installed them a few months back. I know there have been studies to show they are accurate, but it does seem that our bill has trended up the past few months. I am trying to be fair and compare usage with last year and it is very close, but it is still slightly more. Hmmm.. Of course we could be using that extra; colder so more heat, Christmas lights, etc..
You can be sure I'll be keeping an eye on the usage in the coming months.

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Free meals this week! Big Grin

Yesterday my boss treated me and my co-worker to lunch out.

Tomorrow night my co-worker and I are having dinner with a friend/client, her treat.

Thursday I'm having lunch with my laid-off co-
worker. She's going to treat because I'm doing her a big favor. :

The drawback is all this yummy food is not helping my weight loss goals. Frown

Sunday Doings

April 3rd, 2011 at 07:27 pm

It's shaping up to be another beautiful day here. Sunny and mild.

DH and DD have been working outside doing some much needed yardwork. Yesterday the did the front yard and it looks wonderful. Now they are giving the backyard some TLC, seeding, fertilizing, etc.

Yesterday I went shoping on Amazon. I know, dangerous. I bought nine books and a jacket for DD. Total $103. The jacket is for when she is riding on the motorcycle and the books will be gifts for Easter and for her birthday this summer. It is the complete set of the Rose books from the Little House on the Praire series.

The Giants won yesterday! Added $2 to the EF. Big Grin

This morning DH and little DS ran some errands and while out they filled up my gas tank at Costco. $72. Gas there is now $3.92/gal. Blah!

I am going to work tomorrow even though I took it off. I look and feel fine so I might as well save a paid day off for another time.

Sales Tax . Gas Prices.

April 2nd, 2011 at 06:40 pm

Yesterday the sales tax increased in several of the towns around us. It was voter approved, but still it hurts. The State of California has its base sales tax rate, then each county can have it's own on top of that and then each city on top of that.

In our town the sales tax rate is 9%. The town to the south of us is now at 9.5% and the two towns to the north of us are at 9.5% too. On the news they listed the cities that had increases and I think the highest sales tax on the list was 10.5%!

What's the sales tax in your area? If any.

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Gas prices?
The Chevron and Shell I drove by yesterday were both at $4.03/gal. for regular. Diesel holding at $4.49/gal. **blah**
Last week I bought gas at Costco for $3.82/gal.

What about your gas prices?

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Our weather here has been record breaking warm the past few days. 85F on Thursday broke local records. Last week record rain; this week record heat. Last week heat ON; this week A/C ON. Rolleyes

Today is shaping up for a mild, mid 60's low 70's, partly cloudy day. It looks a bit breezy out too. It will be a low key day here at home. Chores around the house, baseball game this afternoon and Suze tonight.

Remote Thief!!

April 1st, 2011 at 07:56 pm

I'm off work today, hence all the posting! Big Grin
I have Rosacea and had a little treatment on my face at my dermatologist yesterday afternoon. (Paid for as a Christmas gift.) It usually leaves my face swollen and busied, so I took today and Monday off. Today I hardly have any swelling and just a tiny bruise. The dermatologist has a new machine and they told me it works more effectively. It's great, this time my face doesn’t look like I had a terrible allergic reaction. Big Grin It seems like I will be totally capable of working on Monday if I choose to.

All of that to explain I am at home playing on the computer and playing with little DS, who is AKA The Remote Thief..


He is also getting into everything else! Big Grin

March Wrap-Up. April Goals.

April 1st, 2011 at 06:52 pm

How'd I do in March?

1. Get to the gym three times weekly?
Yes! Big Grin
There were three days out of the month I didn't go to the gym when I was planning to, but I did get exercise in other ways. And I tried out a once weekly Zumba class (free w/my gym membership) this past month and I like it.

2. Apply any "extra" money from regular paychecks to debt.
Unfortunately, No. Frown
This month we didn't bring in much extra. And any extra income covered extra expenses like the truck smog, dentist, etc..

3. Weekly budget amount for food and household and etc. spending cut to $175/week.
This was sort of a success. Wink
We never kept spending under this number, but we were very close one week! All of our spending was on the necessities. Food, baby care, household items like laundry soap and kitty litter, etc. etc. This is pretty much my version of the "No Spend Month", which I think is more like a "Low Spend Month" or maybe call it a "More Save Month"?

For April? All of the above.
And now that MLB season has just started (last night) I think I'll borrow from Ima her idea of adding to savings when her baseball team wins. I think that is a fun idea.
so..

4. Add $2 to savings for each SF Giants win.
If they only win half their games that would be $162.

Melting Chocolate Cakes -YUM!

April 1st, 2011 at 05:57 pm

Last weekend I had posted that DD was going to make these for our dessert. They're pretty easy to make and taste just about like the Chocolate Lava cakes that are served in restaurants.

These really cure your chocolate cravings and they're only 50 calories apiece!

Individual Chocolate Melting Cakes

10oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped.
(we used Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips)
4Tbls Unsalted Butter
5 Eggs
1/2cup Sugar
3/4cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
1/8tsp salt
caramel sauce
vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 325F. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Remove from heat once melted and smooth.

In another bowl beat the eggs and sugar on med/high speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and melted chocolate. Mix with a spoon until completely blended.

Divide the batter evenly into eight of the muffin cups. (our batch made 10)

Bake until the cakes have just cooked thru, about 14 minutes. The cakes will still look moist in the middle and on top. Let cool 5 minutes. (I found it easiest to "pop" the cakes out of the tin with a spoon) Serve warm with caramel sauce (You can make your own if you want) and ice cream.

They were delicious!


And
they,
unfortunately,
are not 50 calories..

April Fools!!!
Wink

But, they REALLY are easy and yummy!