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Un-Fall Like Weather & The Garden

October 19th, 2014 at 11:37 am

Beautiful weather here. Some hot days in the last two weeks - many around 90F!
It was 78F yesterday and going to be about the same today. This weather makes it perfect to be outside doing just about anything.

Yesterday I pulled the old, dry cornstalks out of the garden. Then DH and DD arranged them in bunches out in front of the house for Halloween decoration.

For me that is the definition of Frugal! Big Grin

I also harvested a zucchini and several tomatoes. All the tomato plants are still producing and the sun is getting those green ones to ripen up nicely.

Here is some earlier garden pictures I had meant to share...

DS helping water.

Some of our bountiful cherry tomato harvest.

I'm thinking about planting a few things for a winter garden, but haven't decided on anything yet.

DD's Honey Harvest

September 6th, 2014 at 04:34 pm

As I've previously posted we have a bee hive in our backyard. This is a 4H project that our DD participates in.

This year her hive produced enough excess honey she could harvest it.

The whole process is so fascinating. It is amazing to learn how bees "operate", the proper way to work with bees and the steps to harvest honey.

After you pull out frames of capped honey from the hive boxes you cut the wax caps off with a Hot Knife (electric knife that gets hot and cuts/melts the wax). Then you load the extractor.

This is the Extractor in our kitchen (you can see some of the wax caps on the top of the strainer).

The local beekeeping club allows 4H members to borrow the club owned electric extractor at no charge.
It works by flinging the honey out with centrifugal force.

Frames loaded inside the extractor.

Frames spinning.

DD filled jars after letting the honey drain from the extractor into the bucket for about 30 hours.

Almost two gallons of honey collected.

Most of these jars will be given as gifts.
A few might be sold - DD's project leader has customers willing to buy local honey for $20/pint.

Post Fourth of July Post

July 6th, 2014 at 09:53 am

We had a busy week here. DH and I decided we would host a BBQ for a few families. I think it has been three years since we invited more than just our family over for a meal - ha!

DD was away all week at 4H camp (which was the BEST ever! Big Grin)
DH and I had to pick up her chores as well as work on getting the house and yard ship-shape. I also had to pick her up from camp Friday midday. So we worked on party preparation a little bit every day of the week. I squeezed shopping for food and supplies on Tuesday afternoon - my half day of work.
We made it a potluck, so that saved some money. I didn't feel embarrassed about asking and everyone was happy to bring something.

Party supplies were:
$ 2 - red plastic tablecloth
$ 3 - blue star paper dinner plates
$ 2 - blue napkins
$ 3 - plastic cups
$ 3 - plastic shot cups
$ 1 - glow-n-the-dark bracelets
$16 - kiddy pool
$ 3 - sidewalk chalk
The last two items are for DS to use all summer. If we are gentle the pool should make it for next summer too.
Total: $33

As far as food goes I wanted to make kabobs. We have never made them before even though I have wanted to many times. I bought 36 boneless/skinless chicken thighs at $2.50/lb. I used fresh zucchini out of our garden on the skewers also.

Food spending:
$23 - chicken thighs
$14 - Kabob produce (bell peppers, onions & pineapple)
$38 - (2) six packs of beer, (2) bottles champagne, (2) bottles sparkling juice
$ 3 - bamboo skewers
$16 - Avocados for guacamole
$ 2 - Tortilla chips
$16 - Huge watermelon
$ 3 - Whole Pineapple
$ 8 - Strawberries & Raspberries
$ 6 - Ice
$ 3 - lime jello
Almost all the fruit/veggies were organic.
Total: $132

The kabobs were a hit. Smile
I even had a few extras that I threw in the freezer - maybe dinner next weekend?

DH crafted a watermelon "basket" filled with the fruit. I should have taken a picture (I think he did) it looked great.

His guacamole was a huge hit as usual.

I had the idea to make jello shots. I saw this really cute idea to make red, white & blue layered jello cups. Well that gave me the idea to make jello shots. And then the idea to make Margarita jello shots.
(Let me say I have only had jello shots once before and I have never made them.)
They turned out really good! I will make them again as they were such a fun little adult item to have. Smile

DH and DD hit the fireworks stand and bought $25 in fireworks.

We all watched our city's fireworks from our house. It is nice to not have to drive anywhere.

It was a really enjoyable party. I would like to do it more often than once every few years. It's one of those things where you keep asking "Why am I doing all this?" and then you have such a good time you feel like "I am so glad we did this!" Smile

Spendy Friday & Using the AmEx

May 24th, 2014 at 04:00 pm

Yesterday afternoon I had an eye exam and ordered six pairs of contacts. $275.

I was well overdue for an exam - it had been two and a half years since my last one.
And my contacts are *supposed* to be disposed of monthly - but, I only ordered six pairs last time and they lasted me this long (30 months). I take extra care to clean them and treat them gently so they last me - I can't imagine throwing good lenses away every 30 days. Rolleyes

Unfortunately, the office doesn't take AmEx so I couldn't use the new card. Frown


My co-worker needed to pay her PG&E (gas/electric) bill in person with a check. I offered to put it on my CC using online and she could pay me. My thinking was to get the $107 charge on my new AmEx. Unfortunately, they don't take AmEx either. Frown


Late last night I made a major grocery run so I wouldn't have to go during the long weekend.
$252 that I did get on the AmEx. Smile

End of the Week & I Was Bad

March 21st, 2014 at 09:40 pm

Another payday with short paychecks.
(Next week will be golden as neither DH nor I had short days this week.)
But, yeah, $206 less income this week than what I budget/estimate/plan/project for. Frown

I have $60 of cat care cash that I was planning to put toward a cc.
In fact, this week I decided to make this particular card my main focus and commit any *extra* to its payoff no matter what.

Now, I either need to stick to that plan OR use that $60 cash to help cover the usual expenses. No matter which option I am still going to have to transfer some from savings to cover outgoing bills.

It is feeling very one step forward; two steps back.

& I was bad this week...
I don't know if it was the nice weather making me lazy, or the "special" time of the month, or the feelings of stress over weeks of lower income, or some sadness/reality over unexpected deaths (there was a horrific car crash where a pickup truck crushed a car all the way to the front seats. Killing two women - mother/daughter. Happened on a road I frequently drive.) Sicily, the weird missing plane and some other upsetting (child abuse) news stories..
But I ate lunch out four days and as a family we ate dinner out once and had fast food dinner once.
$30 - lunches out
$46 - dinner out
$21 - family fast food

And I completely feel like I am shooting myself in the foot - while taking those two steps back!


Costco Visit

March 6th, 2014 at 08:20 pm

I suppose we are "luckier" than most - a Costco trip is hassle free for us (if easy shopping is "lucky" Wink).
I might have mentioned the store closest to home is right off the highway between the city I work in and the city I live in.
The store is always super clean and has a large parking lot and is rarely crowded during the week.

This afternoon I stopped in for gas and some *stuff*..

Gas was $3.53/gal.

Here are some of the highlights...

$ 9.59 - 3lb bag Frozen Organic Blueberries
$ 8.99 - 6lb bag Frozen California Strawberries
$16.79 - 2.5lb Fancy Unsalted Whole Nuts (I love these! Almonds. Cashews. Pecans. Pistachios. NO cheap-ie peanuts!)
$ 9.99 - 12ct Happy Squeeze Pouches (Tasty fruit & veggie puree - excellent snack for DS.)
$11.99 - 80ct Cascade Dishwasher packs
$19.69 - Jumbo rolls of TP

I also bought rawhide chews for our dog. Canned tuna. Two cases of Izzy juice/sparkling water (special lunch treats for DD). Good clumping cat litter - 35lbs for $8.59. Ice cream sandwiches. Frozen burritos. Crackers.

As you can see I picked up some staples and some favorite treats.
What's your favorite item at Costco?

Soggy Weekend Doings

February 8th, 2014 at 03:55 pm

We are getting a super good, soaking, rain storm this weekend. It is so wonderful to hear the rain on the roof and watch the creek by the house fill up.

I did venture out this morning to take DS to a birthday party for one of his preschool buddies. On the way there we drove past two separate accidents. Solo spin-outs.. people going too fast with standing water on the highway.

DS enjoyed the party and we gifted a small toy truck that I had bought on sale months ago and tucked away. It was nice to not have to go shopping and the toy cost $4.

DH offered to go to the grocery store today. Big Grin
He likes to spend the time hanging out with DS. I was thrilled with having the option to take a break from going out. I did write up a big list for him. DD left with them to visit a friend, so I have the house to myself. Watching some 'Downton Abbey' without interruption.

Rainy Day - Hooray! Hooray!

February 2nd, 2014 at 10:57 am

Woke up to rain this morning - YAY!
I was so excited. Which I know sounds silly, but it has been so sunny and dry here. Plus, on a rainy day it gives me reason to cozy inside all day - sunny days I feel guilty when I stay inside all day.

DH cooked up a delicious breakfast of eggs with cheese, brown sugar sausage links and biscuits. He had to run to the store for the sausage and biscuits. I also had him get a gallon of milk and fresh French bread to go with dinner tonight, but nothing else. We need to wait for the cc to end its billing cycle on Tuesday before any more shopping. If we can push our grocery run to next weekend it will have been three weeks since I made a big store trip.

I am going to work on our taxes today using FreeTaxUSA website. I have used this site for many years. It will cost me about $10 to file both federal and state.

This is another reason I love my Quicken. It makes tax time easy-peasy. Of course I double check my receipts and statements, but in case I forgot something my Quicken reminds me.

The other items on my To Do list today are:
laundry - including bedding
roll change
cook dinner

We will watch the Superbowl later today.
Hope it'll be a good game and if not, hope we enjoy some of the commercials.

Abundance of Produce. Two Soups for Dinner.

January 16th, 2014 at 03:30 pm

We get local, organic produce delivered to us by two different companies. We get them once monthly. I try to set it up so that a box shows up every other week.. Well, things got screwy with the holidays and we recieved both our boxes on the same day.

Lots of produce!
(aka bounty of California agriculture)

Just the fruit...

The pears are AMAZING! Like candy. DS and I have already shared three this afternoon. Big Grin

I have several more butternut squashes from last month.
I am getting up right now to go make a big pot of butternut soup. I am also using my fabulous leftover pot roast and the DIVINE broth for a beef, veggie and barley soup.

I have sourdough bread to go with both. Can't wait - Yum!

Vacation, then Christmas, now nearly New Year.. Oh My!

December 28th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

Our trip was great!
Really my only complaint was that it was 75F-80F (terrible, hu?) and made the Disney parks a bit more crowded than we were used to. (We always plan to go at "non-peak" times to save money and avoid the crowds. We usually wait 15 minutes or less on the really popular rides and less than 5 minutes for everything else.)
I shouldn't complain, even waiting twice as long as we're used to is better than a lot of people deal with.

It was so enjoyable to watch DS's enjoyment.
This is him on the Toy Story ride which he kept referring to as the "yellow glasses ride".

I used a hotel we hadn't stayed in before. While the hotel was nice and the beds very comfy it was too much of a walk to get into the parks. We walked back and forth twice each day in order to take an afternoon nap, so it was a lot of walking.

Yes, there is a circulating bus/shuttle, but I didn't want to pay the extra money, plus you have to wait for it to pick up and drop off. I prefer to walk, although this time it meant some seriously sore feet by day end.

We did pretty well with food spending. Snacks in the car and hotel room. Eating out *only* twice daily was easy to manage.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for $12. I had $100 gift card (credit card reward) that almost covered the "splurg-y" meal.
A character breakfast included with our package at n/c was a great treat.
I had my special treat in Disney - a Monte Cristo - that was filling enough for two meals.
We also ate at the Mexican restaurant in Frontier Land which I have found to be nearly the same cost as Mexican food anywhere else. You can also get free soda refills there. That meant my DH bought a soda with six trips for refills. Big Grin

We rented a car. A 2013 Ford Focus.
It was good for us. I had calculated that we would be about even driving our own gas guzzling car vs. renting a fuel saving car. Additionally, no wear and tear on our aging vehicle (we drove 1370 miles).
With the costs tabulated we saved a little money by renting the car! Smile

Here it is in Las Vegas at the Excalibur - where we stayed.

We splurged on the Tournament of Kings dinner show. It's where you eat with your hands while watching knights battle. I had seen a similar show while in high school so knew what to expect (good for a three-year-old!).
My family really enjoyed the show. As predicted DS was glued to the action. Big Grin

DH and I hit the blackjack tables both nights, but alas, didn't win big. We have found that we can play blackjack for hours on very little money all while drinking *free* beer. Smile

Vacation Spending:
$1414 Disney package (4 nights/(4) 4-day hopper tickets/pkg extras)
$310 Food
$200 Cash for gambling/souvenirs/misc.
$181 Rental car
$159 Dinner show
$146 Gas
$ 94 Vegas hotel (2 nights @ $29+taxes/resort fees)

DH's boss gave us DH's $500 Christmas bonus early so we could apply it to the trip if we wanted.
(I used the Sapphire for almost everything and will use the bonus money toward the bill next month.)

Both DH and I used paid vacation time, so no lost income.
We saved a few bucks in daycare costs.
My dad stayed at our house so we didn't pay anything for house/pet care. As a big plus, my dad totally spruced up the front and backyard - mowed, raked, swept.. That was nice!

This trip was our Christmas gift to each other. Tiring, but good family time and some funny memories made. I'll tell you it was nice - no shopping, no wrapping, no extra crap!


Christmas was comfortable and low-key.
Santa brought a $25 dump truck set for DS.
Santa used Amazon credit (from selling back the EMT textbooks) for DH and DD's gifts. They cost $0.
Stocking stuffers included personal care products and trip souvenirs.

I got coffee and chocolate from almost everyone. Smile
My boss gave me a nice, crisp $100.

Only my parents were here with us (Yay! no drama!).
I made a nice ham dinner, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, rolls, pie.

This year I feel like I figured out the best way to warm a ham without drying it out!
I used a roasting bag and set the oven for 275F.
About 10 minutes/lb.
Nice and warm throughout - no dry slices!

I bought a 10lb ham for the extra leftovers. I froze the ham bone for later use and a dinner's worth of slices for a future meal.


Kids are visiting the in-laws until tomorrow. DH and I have been basking in the quiet laziness the last 48 hours.

Next week will be pretty easy. Work one and a half days, then another paid day off. Big Grin
Then.. WOW.. 2014!

Grocery Shopping Success

September 28th, 2013 at 02:52 pm

Went to the store this morning. Some good savings on things we consume regularly. My next trip to the grocery store shouldn't need to be until weekend after next.

One was getting two packages of Starbucks coffee for $6 each. I also picked up a third bag to redeem my Groupon with. Additionally, because I bought two bags before October 10th I earned a store coupon for a $5 gift card on my next visit.

On the ground coffee packages there are peel off stickers with "Star Codes". When I enter these codes to my Strbcks account I earn a star. Twelve stars and I earn a free coffee. So, I entered my three codes when I got home and now I have a free *fancy* coffee waiting on my card for me to use. Smile

I was also given a $10 off coupon for next time.

Apple Picking

September 15th, 2013 at 01:07 pm

Yesterday morning we had an outing to a local, organic farm. We picked apples there last year and now, again, this year. They also have berries, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins and flowers available to pick.

The apples were $2/lb.
My mom paid for the "farm share membership" and the apples, so this trip didn't cost me anything except the fuel to drive out. She is going to use the apples for applesauce, apple butter and pie filling. She left us with a dozen for eating. It's about 25 minutes from home and we can go out for more in the coming weeks (we can use her membership). Just the drive out and the walking around the farm makes for a nice, frugal family outing. You can munch on apples or berries while you stroll - free "tasting" is encouraged - or bring a picnic lunch out with you and stay a bit longer.

We had hot apple crisp with ice cream last night and I commented that the apples we were eating had been on a tree that morning. I love eating food that way. And I love teaching my family how great it is to eat food that is fresh.

I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful, bountiful area. We are so blessed here.

Heat Wave!

July 1st, 2013 at 08:48 pm

Uncharacteristically hot weather here this past weekend and more to come this week.
(The whole west coast is in a heat wave.)

It registered 101F on our gauge Saturday. The hottest it's ever been since we moved into this house. Sunday and today were 93F. The weather forecast says it's going to be near 100F tomorrow.
All this heat means we are using our AC much more than regular. Frown

My treat to beat the heat has been a few stops at BK for their $0.50 cones. I treated DD and DS on Sunday morning while running errands.
The cones were huge - great value. Big Grin

Thankfully by this coming weekend it's supposed to be back to the usual 80F - 85F summer weather. Then we won't need to run the AC, but I think we'll keep getting the cones. Wink

Have You Felt Like You Are Swimming in Molasses?

June 7th, 2013 at 02:58 pm

HA! I sure do right now - Ugh!

Financially there have been some setbacks. Now that we are halfway through the year it feels like some goals are so far out of reach it'll take years, not months.

I don't like feeling frustrated, and there are so many things I want and need to do that the best way to describe my position is that I am stuck in the middle of a pool of thick, sticky stuff.

Just gotta keep dogpaddling, right?

I've been so busy the past two plus weeks. I really, truly thought the end of May would be more relaxed than the start, but that ended up all wrong.

For starters work has been busy. Most days we've needed to stay late to finish everything up.

Memorial weekend was going to be quiet. We had turned down offers from friends for camping, daytrips and BBQ. The plan was just to stay home = no spending. Well, Thursday night our friends A & S called insisting that we join them camping. They were not taking "NO" for an answer. They argued that they had already bought enough food, paid for the site and would pay our fuel costs. How could we pass up a "free" trip??

DH and I discussed it and finally caved to our friends' request to go. I am happy we did too. The camping was fun. The weather was nice. And we went to a place we had never been to before - Big Trees State Park - home of Giant Sequoias.

The trip home Monday was where we ran into a problem. We stopped for lunch and afterwards when I started the truck it would drive a few feet and then die.
Hard to start.. Drive for several feet.. Die.
We were in a parking lot thankfully, but 90 miles from home.

Long story short, we had to tow the truck to a nearby shop. Good news it was in the same town as A & S live. The shop of course was closed. We had to leave it. Couldn't rent a car because all those places were closed for the holiday. Our friends graciously lent us their car to drive home in.

Tuesday DH drove their car back and picked up our repaired truck. It was a sensor that went out. Simple fix thankfully, but oh what a huge headache!
So, although we didn't spend much on the weekend (less than $100 on fuel and some food) we did spend money with the extra driving and the repair, which cost $192.

Thursday, May 30, DD had her 6th grade promotion. Big Grin
I can't believe she is old enough to be going to middle school/junior high!

You might recall DD had us running all around town looking for a dress. Eventually we found something she liked. It looked so cute on her and is something she will be able to wear again. I thought we did well spending just $21 on it.

Her graduation gift from DH and I was a cell phone.
She was thrilled - she has been wanting a phone and has been working hard at saving her money (I told her she had to buy her own).

I bought this used phone several months back and just activated it to my Ting account. This will increase usage to the next tier. I figure our cell bill will be about $27/month now.

I have been going to my hour-long Pilates classes each Thursday night. This was a Groupon deal. I have one more class. I really like the workout - let me tell you it is a total body workout. I am usually sore for three days afterwards.

The instructor offered me an additional five-pack of classes at a 20% discount. I'd like to do it, but just cannot spend that extra money when we have so many other financial obligations. Someday maybe....

The silver lining? I am going to try to apply some of the moves I've learned in the class and do a little, mini 10-15 minute routine at home. I just need to get into a routine of making myself DO it. Smile

The garden was seriously damaged by our hens. GRRR!
The hens ate all the leaves on our sugar snap peas - leaving pitiful, scrawny, 7" 'twigs' that dried up and died. They ate the tops of my carrots and all my baby spinach. In DH's box they worked over his corn stalks.

The dog dug up my lemon cucumber.
I planted another - it died - don't know why??
This morning I planted two new plants in new locations - Fingers crossed!! (I really like lemon cucumbers)

My tomato and squash plants are going gangbusters - they look awesome. Yay!! Big Grin

DS and I visited his preschool and turned in his enrollment paperwork. Ah, preschool... that deserves its own post.

Been doing a bunch of reading too. That has been keeping me up late. I am just about to start the fourth and last 'Twilight' book. Then I am going to watch the movies. Curious to see what the hype was all about. Smile

April Wrap-Up

May 1st, 2013 at 03:08 pm

April was a pretty darn good month! Smile

We Spring cleaned our yard and demolished the old shed in the backyard. 'Game of Thrones' season three started. DD got her bees. We planted our garden. Spent family time in the lovely weather. I read two fun, light-hearted books by Nora Roberts. We enjoyed a few visits from friends and family.

From April 1 to today I have lost six pounds. Smile
I had plenty of little "cheats" - ice cream, pie, cupcakes, cookies etc.. So I could've done a bit better. I feel really great about continuing on because I am happy with the results and not feeling hungry/deprived/unhappy with my meals.

There weren't any unexpected expenses *knock-on-wood* in April. And I got a raise. Big Grin

If you read me often you know food spending is a biggie at our house. April we managed to keep it just under $700. I don't remeber the exact amount because I'm at work and Quicken is at home. That was with a bunch of meat purchases too, so I am happy about that.

The "Early to Rise Challenge" got off to a good start at the begainning of the month and fizzled out toward the end. I think there were nine days when I was up an hour, or more, earlier than usual. I really did like the extra time on those mornings.

This month I just want more of the same. Big Grin

Happy May everyone!

My Day Off?? This & That

April 11th, 2013 at 02:27 pm

I have the day off today. My boss is out of town so he opted to just have the office closed.
I am happy to have a day to do what I want, but it doesn't feel long enough. Smile

I started by going to the grocery store this morning after dropping DD off at school. It was $176.
The total before discounts was $250, so I saved 30% which is what I average in savings when I grocery shop. I feel like that is typical, but maybe not. I could do better by using more coupons.
What percentage do you save on average?

After putting all the groceries away and clearing out the freezer (with DS's help) we worked in the garden.

We have four raised beds. I plant in two of them and DD and DH each have one of their own. This morning I "turned" the dirt in my beds and planted sugar-snap peas, purple carrots, spinach and a purple bell pepper in one box. The second box got a tomato plant, crookneck squash, two zucchini and a lemon cucumber.

The chicks are at least three times bigger than when we brought them home, but are still tiny compared to our adult hens. The chicks are still living in our bathroom. This weekend I think it will be time to move them to the more spacious dog crate. The crate will be in either DD's bedroom or in the livingroom.

Later this afternoon DH and I are meeting with a health insurance salesman about HSAs. The salesman is someone who is in DH's boss' business networking group. I am kinda *meh* about the whole thing. It is good to get information and I really like that my DH is making the effort to learn about financial things. Still, I'd rather be doing something else this afternoon.

Afterwards, DD must finish her final draft of her big report assignment.

Then a 4H meeting.

Then I can relax???

February Wrap Up

February 28th, 2013 at 04:58 pm

My cell phone case came today. It was $9.90 and had near perfect reviews. It is just what I have been wanting - not bulky and a simple blue glitter color. Even though it is thin I think it would have protected my phone if I had it when it fell last week.

I ordered my DH some work gloves at the same time so I could get free shipping. Then when I was checking out I saw I had $16 available Amazon credit on the Discover cc. I used that and paid $12 for both items. Smile

February seemed to fly by! The weather has been so mild for most of the month. This past weekend we took a drive to one of the neighboring towns to buy DD some beekeeping supplies. The drive was beautiful. Our area is very pastoral and with the sun shining, blue sky, green grass and trees blooming it's especially lovely. To be fair most of the year it is pretty here for one reason or another. My drive to and from work is highway driving, but alongside it are dairy cows in pastures and vineyards and great sunsets to look at.

We had a major *fail* in the grocery spending this month. $915. Plus another $120 in dining out.

The grocery spending was a lot of deals I didn't pass up on. We have a full pantry and freezer. I do not expect to buy much this weekend - I am going to stick strictly to my list. And I am going to work at being extra attentive to March spending.

The eating out was MIL's birthday visit, breakfast out when my mom came for a visit and a few fast food lunches (DH). It will be less this month by not having any birthday meals out.

Gas is now over $4/gal here. I paid $4.06/gal today when I filled up. Some stations have prices upwards of $4.30/gal. Ouch!

I spent $439 for gas this past month. Blah!

Sick this Weekend

February 9th, 2013 at 02:33 pm

It is a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day here.
I am sick and pretty much staying inside trying to rest up. I started coming down with it on Tuesday, it is not the flu or really bad, but I want to kick it as fast as possible.

This weekend I am going to finish updating my cc information with the last few auto-pay accounts. I am also going to call AmEx to cancel. I should call to see if two other cards can give me a better APR now that they have adjusted up from 0%.

DD has a friend staying over tonight. They are going to cook dinner for us (and maybe dessert too). Cheese stuffed turkey meatballs, tomato sauce, noodles, French bread. DH just left to run them to the store - needed breadcrumbs and pasta sauce for this dinner. Milk, bananas, tomatoes needed for the week and I wanted more ice cream. Smile

DH was instructed to keep it under $80 because I know he and DD will buy more than what was on the list I sent them with. This is fine because they need stuff for their lunches and what they pick out they will use up.

Rain. Paying the Cell Bills. World Series.

October 23rd, 2012 at 03:39 pm

We did get a pretty steady rain that started Sunday night. It rained sporadically through Monday and was windy too.

We lost power at work for over an hour when someone had a car accident and hit a pole. We lost power right when I was going to have lunch. That meant I couldn't heat my food up in the microwave and it wasn't something you would eat cold..Blah. So, I went out for lunch yesterday. I picked up soup and a cannoli from a local grocery store near my office. $6. They have the best cannolis and I really got lucky yesterday because the pastry counter man gave me a $1 off. Smile

Last night it rained too. Not as hard as Sunday night, but still a second night of rain.
I think fall has finally arrived.

I paid DH's cell bill today. $61. There was a credit from my phone line being cancelled and downgrading his plan. Too bad I can't expect a $61/mo bill for his phone. It will be more like $84/mo.

Thanks to FrugalTexan I don't have to pay my cell bill this month. She used my referral code and I have a credit on my account. Whoopee! Big Grin

Last night was so cozy inside our house while it was raining. We ate a tasty dinner while we watched the SF Giants win the final championship game and move on to the World Series! WooHoo!

Honeybees. Lunch Out. Gas Price. Sports Night.

October 18th, 2012 at 06:47 pm

Tuesday night DD had her first 4H beekeeping project meeting. Before the meeting she was telling me that she wasn't sure she was interested. I had originally urged her to check it out because I would like to have bees in the backyard someday. She agreed that she would see how she liked it after going to the meeting.

Well she must have really liked what was presented because when I picked her up she was waiting in front of the barn with a complete bee box (hive) setup. Luckily, the club had a bunch of used equipment donated for the kids. The project leader is the nicest older lady and she said come early spring the club will collect unwanted swarms so no one should have to buy any bees.

This afternoon DH and I had lunch together at a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich place we had wanted to try. I was able to print an online coupon for a free soda - we shared. Total spent $12.

It had been a really long time since we had gotten to have lunch together. We both decided it's something we need to do more often. Smile

I told DH that next month I'd like to go see the new 007 movie with him and maybe do dinner or dessert. I still have free movie passes from my girlfriend to use.

Filled up this afternoon and the price had dropped a bit to $4.32/gal. Even still it cost $84 to fill up. Frown

Tonight is a big sports night for me. I have to flip channels back and forth from the SF Giants playoff game to the SF 49er/Seattle game.

Come on guys!!!

Costco Spending

October 4th, 2012 at 04:25 pm

I made a Costco stop last night. We needed paper goods, meat and bag lunch items. I also needed gas.

The price of gas has shot up here. Many stations have it posted for $4.23/gal and up. I paid $4.07/gal last night at Costco. Last week it was $3.99/gal.

I spent $35 on TPaper and PTowels.

As for meat, I bought 10lbs of baby back ribs, 5lbs of New York steaks, 7lbs of ground beef and two 3lbs roasts. $117. We don't normally buy steaks, but those are for DH's birthday dinner.

For school lunches and snacks I bought 60ct string cheese, 36ct 100% juice boxes and 30ct assorted Sunchips. $28.

Slight spending fail: I bought a package of three KitchenAid non-slip cutting boards. $16. We have needed a new set in the kitchen for a long time. I did not *need* to buy them, but it was a reasonable purchase.

No Eating Out in Sept. & Gearing Up for Oct.

September 30th, 2012 at 03:00 pm

The No Eating Out Challenge for September:
I had fast food once for lunch.
DH had fast food three times (but he didn't know about the "challenge").
I bought ice cream out when MIL was visiting.
DD did the best and packed a lunch every day!
As far as a complete meal out we only had pizza delivered for dinner. That means only one family meal that we did not make ourselves.

There were several times we were tempted to order out or stop and pick something up, but my family was supportive of my wishes to not eat out. Smile

I say *Success* for September.

The goal for October will be to allow for one family meal out. I know DH will have a few fast food lunches, but he is committed to keeping that to once a week or less. I will allow myself lunch out once for the month.

I plan to continue grocery shopping only every other week. DH did pick up a gallon of milk today because we were not going to have enough to get us to next weekend. That was the only purchase. Hooray!

September's grocery spending came to $570.
There has been plenty to eat, so no one is going hungry in case you're wondering. Wink

Grocery Store Success

September 22nd, 2012 at 03:14 pm

I went to the grocery store late this morning. Major success on two points.

First, it has been two weeks since I've stepped foot in a grocery store. By having produce delivered, the garden and laying hens we really don't *have to* go to the store more frequently for perishables.

Second, I planned to spend $200 today and I spent $198.37. Big Grin

We are fully stocked with the staples, breakfast, lunch and dinner fixings. We have fresh fruit and veggies coming out the wazoo. The garden has been bountiful and with the bi-monthly produce boxes we are scrambling to get everything eaten before it goes bad.

Total grocery spending for the month: $566.

Sunny Saturday. Budget Juggle.

September 15th, 2012 at 05:37 pm

Right now I am sitting in the backyard. It has been a beautiful day today. Really, the whole week has been wonderful, mild weather. Still not having to use the AC or heat. Smile

I worked this morning for my co-worker who is sick. I don't mind working Saturdays occasionally because I get a few more hours on the paycheck, don't have to pay for childcare and don't have weekday traffic to deal with.

I decided to treat myself to Starbucks this morning and used the drive-thru. When it was my turn at the window they told me their system was down so they couldn't take my money, so my coffee was free! Smile

Free coffee was a very nice way to start my day.

Trying to juggle the budget because of the lower income due to DH being gone. He did get some of his time off as paid vacation. Even so, we are about a third short of what he would have made had he been home. In addition to lesser income he spent money while he was gone. A double whammy.

He has $800 coming to him from his side work with the fire department at the raceway, so that *will* help *when* it shows up. Until then I am dipping into the EF to cover the shortfall. Phooey!

Cutting back on the grocery spending is going to be essential now. There also won't be much progress on the CC repayment this month. Frown

DD had her first 4H meeting on Thursday. It was $33 for the yearly enrollment and another $32 to buy presale tickets for the fundraising BBQ. She has signed up for four projects. Her first project meeting is 'Canning & Preserves' and it meets tomorrow afternoon.

Just This 'n That

September 9th, 2012 at 03:24 pm

DH is coming home this evening. I am planning to make the hash brown quiche that everyone loves so much. I'll add either a fruit or green salad on the side.

I paid DD her new higher allowance today. $20/two weeks and $5 for mowing the front and back yard.

I also set DD up with her own email address. She was thrilled.

I went to the grocery store this morning. $157. I bought five boxes of cereal because they were $2 each and I had a $2 off 5 boxes coupon. I like cereal, it's good for breakfast, snacks and sometimes dinner. Wink I don't plan to go shopping again for two weeks.
Going to get that grocery spending down this month. Smile

My BFF had her baby girl this morning! Big Grin

The weather has been fabulous here the past week. Mild. I haven't had to use heat or AC. I love that! Big Grin
Right now it is 80F and just beautiful.

I checked my $1k that I invested in my ROTH a few weeks back and it is up $14. Smile

Getting excited about all our favorite shows as the new season starts up. I so enjoy curling up on the couch on cool fall nights and watching TV.

Had some corn from our garden two nights ago. It was not quite ready, but still very good. I've also been getting lots of green beans and I need to pick more today. Getting plenty of zucchini and summer squash. Enough for us and anyone we know. DD's pumpkins are thriving. I bought more spinach seeds so I can replant that area. I've had several lemon cucumbers and a bell pepper. The tomatoes are really taking their sweet time getting red. I've picked one red one and the puppy pulled one off and the chickens ate two almost red ones. There are *tons* of green ones.

The Amazon seller that we ordered DH's book from offered to refund my shipping *IF* I change my feedback (3 stars). The shipping was $7. I don't know if I want to change the rating; they should do a better job. Still, $7 back in my pocket.....

Off to watch the second half of the 49er game. When it ends it'll be time to switch to the SF Giants game.

Zero Eating Out. Nice Family Visits.

September 8th, 2012 at 09:39 pm

I wasn't "officially" working on the No Eating Out Challenge, but we have not eaten out. Not a meal anyway. I did buy ice cream when MIL visited last weekend. As I said before, it was a nice visit. MIL was way more relaxed.

The last four days my mom and dad came and stayed. With DH gone to Alaska it was wonderful to have the extra help. They drove DD to and from school, watched DS while I was at work and fixed dinner each night. So very nice for me to not have to drive kids around or make dinner after work. I know that helped keep me from eating out or getting food delivered.

On Monday, DD picked 65 apples off our neighbor's tree (with permission of course) and she made three pies. Two 9" and one 6". There were still a lot of apples left so my mom made apple cobbler or an apple crisp the past four nights. It was such a tasty treat to have it fresh and warm topped with ice cream each night after dinner. Big Grin

The visit with my parents was really great. They are so funny.


We did a little shopping this morning. DD had a $10 gift card for Old Navy and $10 in "Old Navy cash". She shopped the clearance racks and bought three really cute tops (clearance) and a hoodie (regular price) and grandma paid the difference of $13.

I spent $0 today. Smile

Starting September *Smiling*

September 1st, 2012 at 05:20 pm

My MIL is visiting until tomorrow. So far the visit has been very pleasant and low-key. Smile

This morning we went to a neighboring town and walked through the main street shops. I bought a birthday gift and card for our neighbor's son for $7. DD and DS are in the bouncy house at his party right now.
I bought two board books on sale for DS for $8.
I bought a pair of handmade copper hoop earrings for myself for $27. Which I thought was a very good price when compared to similar pieces in the same store, made by other artists/jewelers, were priced at $48 and $56.
And, I treated all of us to ice cream (the place that makes all it's own flavors) for $13.

Looking back in Quicken at August we spent $830 in groceries. My goal for September is to be as low-spend as possible in every category, but especially to work on the food spending. Our pantry and fridge are very full, so I do have something to show for that spending at least. September, October and November are usually pretty good as we settle into the school routine and just stick close to home.

Speaking of sticking close to home; how's the gas prices in your area? Ours have shot up. Like $.50/gal in the past three weeks. When I fueled up a few days ago it was $4.09/gal. Blah!!!

Wedding Spending. Shopping. Fair Spending.

August 7th, 2012 at 11:40 am

We went to wedding #2 this weekend. It was very nice and I'm glad it went smoothly. And I'm also glad it's over now. Smile DD looked lovely in her dress and really helped out by keeping the two young ring bearers in line. DH looked very sharp as the best man. I picked out the pink ties that he and the other groomsman wore.

Geez, I had no clue that ties were so expensive. I ended up picking the lesser priced ties and still they were $21 each. Pink looks nice on DH so hopefully he'll have an opportunity to wear the tie again.

We gave the couple a $25 Lowe's gift card and the least expensive cute card I could find. $27.xx total.

We stayed Friday night at a hotel and I drove home Saturday night. We didn't end up leaving until 9pm, but it was so good to be back home and sleep in our own bed. Also great not to spend $$ on a second night in the hotel!


Sunday was a lazy day. I had a $10 off $30 coupon for Kohl's. I bought myself a pair of yoga pants (I was combing thru all the clearance racks for a shirt and couldn't find anything I liked. Grr!) and a replacement plate and bowl that had been broken from my set. That came to $30.62. After $10 off and an additional 10% off I paid $20.80. Smile

I also went to the grocery store and used another $10 off $50 coupon as well as a few other "Grand Opening" coupons from the booklet they mailed out. I am also finally signed up and using the Just4U online coupons.

Last week I saved $62. My total spent was $72 on a bunch of groceries.

This week I saved $45. My total spent was $66.

I have two more $10 off coupons to use in the next two weeks. Smile


We are going to the county fair on Thursday. Our county has two fairs. This is the larger two week long fair with a huge flower show. I'll try to take pics to share.

DD wanted to see Miranda Cosgrove, the star of the TV show "iCarley". She is having a concert at the fair and the tickets were $20-$30! I told DD she would have to pay for the ticket herself. So, she saved her birthday money and a few weeks worth of allowance and she bought two tickets. She is taking a girlfriend with her. I also told her if she wanted to ride the rides she'd have to buy her own wristband too. I told her I'd drive them, pay for parking and pay for the admission, but that was all I was willing to spend.

I am very proud that DD didn't whine or complain about me not paying, she just figured out a way to make it work. Big Grin

Root canal. Garden Progress. Coupons.

July 28th, 2012 at 10:59 am

I can't believe I didn't mention in addition to all the other stuff bugging me I also need a root canal and a crown.

What I find funny is that since I forgot to mention it, all the other things I listed must bother me more than a root canal!!!

I have no idea how much that will end up costing.


Our garden looks like a jungle right now everything is large and green and blooming. I've been giving zucchini away. My lemon cucumber plant has about 20 flowers on it. I can't wait for those! Lots of baby, green tomatoes and flowers on the tomato plants.

Unfortunately, this morning I had our chickens out and they dug around my carrots. The Muscovy duck ate some of the carrot tops, a baby bell pepper and the beet tops! Grrr.. I'm pretty sure it was him; he is more of a veggie eater, while the hens do more digging and pecking.

The carrots might come back, but the beets are gone. Frown


Our local Safeway store moved into a new renovated space on Friday. It's in the same location, just moved from one end of the shopping center to the other. Because of this they have mailed out a bunch of coupons. One sheet is $10 off on $50 spent to be used once a week for the next four weeks. There are also many FREE item coupons. Smile
I'll be shopping tomorrow morning so I'll be using all the coupons I can.

How Our Garden Grows

July 10th, 2012 at 10:36 am

The garden is lush and thriving with the beautiful sunny days. We have flowers on the zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and bell pepper plants. On Saturday we put up a length of plastic fence for the snap peas and green beans to climb. I also placed a few stepping stones between the boxes and hope to get a few more.

@ FrugalTexan: Sorry I didn't post a reply earlier. Spinach is easy to grow. It's like grass. You can plant it in pots or the ground.

DS loves to go and pick spinach leaves and eat them while he is outside playing. He's so cute with his mouth full of green leaves. Big Grin I can't wait to show him how to pick and eat the snap peas when they're ready.


Peas on the fence

Summer squash flower

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