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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
read
nap??
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.

Warm, Dry Weather. Cash Mondays.

January 21st, 2014 at 04:23 pm

It is a lovely 70F day again. The news folks are starting to refer to the month as JUNEuary. To be honest, there are days in June that are not this nice. We need rain badly - it is so dry! I just hand-watered the back yard lawn because it needed *something*.

DS has a slight cold and just was complaining that his right ear was hurting. I gave him some Advil and a pudding cup. Hopefully we can get him to feel better soon!

Last Monday and yesterday I made the "standard" $80 for the care of the old cat.
$160 Two weeks.
-$20 DD needed PE sweats. She kept the change for school lunch.
-$20 Cash for my wallet.
------
$120 deposited to checking

Total YTD side work: $180

Really Need Rain Here...

January 8th, 2014 at 07:27 am

We are so dry here in California this winter. It is so bad - we had one day of rain in December and the news keeps showing how the reservoirs are at their lowest point in like ever?!

Not much snow pack up in the mountains either. Frown

So, while nearly the entire country is in full-blown, hard hitting winter we keep seeing the sun. We have been below freezing overnight, but into the 60s during the day - drastic temp changes.

This is the type of weather/time of year that makes for nice beach days. Sunday morning we drove out for some play time with friends. You might remember that we bought a county park pass in September, so there wasn't any fee. It is 28 miles from our house and a very enjoyable drive. I figure it costs us under $10 for gas. We pack food from home so we aren't too tempted to go to one of the several seafood restaurants along the coast.

This is the sandcastle the kids were working on.. they tore it down before they finished it. Smile





Here is Cleo!




Hope all our SA friends are keeping warm and safe out there in the *Artic Vortex*.
If you head this way bring some of your snow with you! Wink

Goals

January 4th, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I was not good about posting progress on my goals throughout the year or updating my sidebar much. I find that sometimes I add money or make a transfer and *want* to post about it, but when I finally get time to make a post I either forget or it seems like it happened SO long ago.

At any rate as of 12/31/13..

$5K EF
[$4,820]

$2K New Auto Savings
[$1,000]

Reduce CC Balances
[$13,000]
Diverted more cash to savings than to cc payments. Silver lining - almost all of this debt is at 0%.

Lose 20 lbs
[lost/kept off 5lbs]


I want to do a better job of tracking my snowflakes, cc rewards, side money etc this year.

Feeling optimistic about 2014!
Smile

Happy New Year from California!

January 1st, 2014 at 08:26 am

Happy 2014 everyone!
May this year be filled with health, wealth and love.

I am kicking off the new year with a cup of coffee and the Rose Parade (those floats are always so amazing!).

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!

Cost of the Plumber. Dry Fall Weather.

November 24th, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I realized I never finished recounting our plumbing tale.

The plumber came on Tuesday evening. (During our only rainstorm we've had in two months.)
He had to get on the roof to rotor through the vent. He didn't find any major clogs - guess the Drano had done all the work by that point. He did clear out a few small roots and discussed with DH some sort of relief pipe that would prevent backups into the house. We paid $150.

So, yes, we ended up getting a bit of rain last week. It was very nice. We really need more - so dry here!

The majority of days in the past 6-9 weeks have been sunny and mild.
It is hard to think of December when it feels like spring.
Cold overnight and in the mornings so the furnace has been running.

We've had a few nights with a fire in the fireplace. Burning chunks of the old shed from the backyard makes the house cozy with free heat. Big Grin

I took this picture two weeks ago of the trees by my parking lot at work. Gorgeous fall colors.
However, after the rain we had big wind for two days. These trees are totally naked now.

Christmas Cards Look Cute

November 20th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Okay, first I got to look through our pictures again when I picked them up yesterday afternoon. And, actually, I didn't look *that* bad in the family shots. Embarrassment (Thank you for the supportive comments there.)
I feel better about them. Not so good that I will be getting a print for the wall, but I do have a small print and did use one of them on our card.

I whipped our cards up online using Costco again this year. The hardest part is choosing which template I like best. I end up making two or three cards and then choose between them.
I think this is the sixth year I have made the cards there.

Made them early this year so that I could take advantage of their $5 off coupon that ended today. This really works well - I can address them next Sunday while I watch football and mail them out Monday 12/2.

$9.99 for 50 cards and envelopes.



Family Photo Flop

November 17th, 2013 at 02:23 pm

Yesterday morning we went to JCPenny photo to redeem the Groupon I purchased weeks back.

My plan was a nice family shot to use on our Christmas cards and to frame for our home.
Maybe even as gifts for MIL and my mom.

Unfortunately, I looked *scary* in every group shot.
Like scary, grinning-too-wide, deer-in-the-headlights type look. Ugh!

I can kinda laugh it off now, but yesterday I was in a disappointed funk the whole day. Frown

The downside is:
1. I will have to herd my less than willing family back in for another try in a few months.
(Not even going to go through the hassle of it again so soon!)
2. No family pic for Christmas cards.

Silver lining is:
1. SUPER cute pictures of DD and DS together. Also really nice individual ones.
That made the money spent on the deal more than worth it. Smile
2. The only money spent was $25 for the Groupon.


I know people who spend a small fortune on having professional portraits done.
A girlfriend and her family recently had photos done. It was a 2.5 hour sitting with like 600 pictures. They got some really nice shots, but I didn't even ask how much it was. I'd guess $200 - $400?? Maybe more??

I am sure we (me) would get better results by going to a private photographer who would devote that much personalized time, but at what cost? In theory we could get photos done *all the time* if I only pay $25 each visit.

Just still a little down that the picture didn't turn out like I hoped.
Oh well, it'll just be the kids on the card AGAIN this year.
*sigh*

Time Change. Clothes Shopping.

November 14th, 2013 at 07:20 am

Still not adjusted to the time change. It is actually a good thing for me because I am awake and out of bed early these days.
It is very relaxing to have the house to yourself in the morning. Smile

On the flip side, I am frequently falling asleep on the couch at 9pm. We call our couch "The Life Sucking Couch". Even without the time change if you lay down on it you fall asleep. It literally happens to everyone.

------
Stopped into Old Navy to see if I could find anything good on clearance. Also wanted a pair of jeans and thought I'd see what they had there. Last time I bought any jeans was about four years ago - maternity jeans. And before that? I can't recall. Six years maybe?

I ended up with five tops and a pair of jeans for $46.
The checkout gal was very nice and she helped me decide between two different tank tops to wear under a blouse. When I left and looked more closely at my receipt and saw she entered a code that gave me 10% off everything. That was a very nice surprise.
That made the tank top less than $3 and these two clearance shirts $4/each.

OMG! $1,000 Tip!

November 12th, 2013 at 06:12 pm

DH came home from work with a thousand dollar tip from a client! She gave him and his boss each $1k when they completed their job.

DH works in heating and air contracting. Sometimes he gets tips. Usually $20 or so for "lunch" or "beers after work". He has gotten as much as $100 a few times. But this tops them all! Wow!

It is his *extra* money so he chooses how it gets spent. He is spending some on a project he is working on, a little for vacation spending and the rest to remove a tree in the backyard (or something else the family/house needs).

I am still shocked by the amount... Amazingly Cool!

Financial This 'n That

November 9th, 2013 at 07:51 am

Called our cable provider for a lower rate. We have TV, internet and home phone bundled with Comcast.
I was all set for a tough negotiation and threats of leaving. Didn't need that at all! The CSR was super nice and I was all set less than 15 minutes later. Smile
Kept our same package and services for $120/month for two years.
A savings of $55/month compared to their *regular* rate! ($16/month less than the *low* rate we had been paying.)

DD lost/forgot her debit card. (While walking home with a friend she stopped for a fast food snack.)
An hour later our bank called - her card had been brought in by a good citizen. Big Grin
A good lesson learned.

Our gas and electric bill last month was the lowest it has been all year (I think?) $80. Such mild days and nights in September/October we didn't need the heat or the AC.

Had to reorder checks. Totally ran out right before the first of the month. Rolleyes
Last time I bought them was March 2012.

It has been slow at work, so this past Tuesday my boss reduced my schedule back to a half day on Tuesdays again. (He is a total dork, but that's a different post.)
Darn it - I was liking that bit of extra income.
The silver lining is that I work in the morning, pick up DS from preschool in the afternoon and get home well before dark.
My work schd is pretty sweet: full day, half day, full day, half day, full day, weekend.

Might be able to switch DH's iPhone to Ting at the end of this month.
(Shhh..I got an email about beta testing..)
That could save us an easy $40 to $60 each month! Very excited!

Had a 0% balance transfer offer come up. A bit of quick math and I figured the upfront transfer fee would "pay for itself" after 3.5 months. We would not have the balance paid off by then. Prepaying a bit of interest now to reap long term 0% benefit will pay off in the long run.

I am continuing to earn $80/week with my quick, 30 minute, twice weekly trip to give an old cat fluids.
I also earned $140 by pet sitting some other cats five days last week.
This extra cash has been so awesome! Big Grin

Happy Halloween! + What We Spent On It

October 31st, 2013 at 02:23 pm

Here are our pumpkins we carved last night.



This year we were pretty lazy in regards to Halloween. We didn't pull out the "fancy" pumpkin carving stencils or anything else. Usually DD and DH decorate the yard with fake webs, some tombstones, strobe light etc.. It just didn't come together this year - other time commitments and lack of motivation.

As far as spending I'm sure we are on the low end of the American average again this year. Smile

$15 - Three pumpkins
$12 - Candy
$34 - Costumes for both DD and DS

DS had a party at his preschool this morning with games and crafts. The school asks that costumes be plants, animals or insects. No monsters, superheroes, princesses, etc.. It does make the celebration feel so much less commercialized and materialistic, which I appreciate.



I saw some wonderful animal costumes - lions, tigers, a hippo, some mice, a sheep...
A darling little redheaded girl as a ladybug. Big Grin
A boy dressed as an oak tree with fall leaves and acorns.

There is a costume "lending library" where you can donate costumes to it or borrow from it. I love that idea. Too bad there wasn't a boy appropriate costume in the box when I checked last week.

I am sure we will donate DS's elephant costume to the school.
Pretty sure it will be too small for next year - darn it.

Tonight we are having dinner with friends early in the evening then T or T their neighborhood. Our contribution to dinner is roasted baby carrots and fresh, organic grapes. Super easy for me - Yay!

May everyone get Treats instead of Tricks tonight!
BOO-HAA-HAA-HAA!! Big Grin

Snowflakes to Snowballs

August 18th, 2013 at 01:52 pm

We've been lucky to have some extra income and valuable coupons come our way lately.

Most recent was the 20% off coupon I mentioned I used buying new shoes. The coupon was online and I brought it up with my cell phone while checking out in the store. $26 savings.

In May I added DD to my Ting cell phone plan. It has increased my monthly bill from $16/month to $30/month. BUT, I've had two more referral credits come my way since then and that really helps cut the cost. $50 credit.

If you or anyone you know are planning to move service to Ting please, please consider using my referral link. It will give me a credit and you'll have $25 savings off your service or a phone purchase.
https://zlibcgmej.ting.com/

With Target moving into our town there is more competition among the stores. We live close to most the stores, so our neighborhood ends up with coupons that aren't distributed citywide - stores fighting over us I guess. On Friday we received this in the mail:



I'll take $30 in savings thank you very much. Smile


Now for a really cool snowflake ...
Our family was selected to participate in a survey program that pays DD, DH and I $25 every month! Big Grin



We each received an initial $10 bonus for signing up.
After our first month (last week) we each received $100 bonus checks!
After 90 days we'll each get a $50 bonus.
There are also weekly drawings for $250 and $500 and special drawings almost monthly for prize money ranging from $10k to $15k.

How did this happen? I opened something that looked like junk mail and it had $1 inside and it just went from there.

Everyone gets to do what they want with their money.
My money is going into the EF. $125 this month.


Last, but certainly not least, is some steady cash coming from some "cat care" I'm doing. This involves me "visiting" the cat twice weekly to administer subcutaneous fluids. (Owners can do this themselves, but this daddy chooses not to.) He pays me $40/visit.
I have done this for three weeks now - tomorrow will be the fourth week.
Starting this week this cash will head to the EF. $80.

I am feeling blessed and lucky to have these opportunities.
Going to pack these snowflakes into chunky snowballs! Big Grin

Summer Coming to a Close

August 15th, 2013 at 08:21 pm

We have been enjoying our laid back summer. We've been keeping busy on relaxing. Big Grin

We spent most of our time close to home. I did go kayaking with girlfriends three times this summer. It was good girl time and lovely on the river. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful, temperate place. (One girlfriend is really pushing for a fourth trip.)

DD had a week at 4H camp. It was a deal at $225 and then her club paid $50 toward her registration. $175 was a steal for a week of super fun sleepaway camp, meals and activities.

Last weekend we camped at a state park sharing a site with friends. It only cost us $8 for the additional vehicle fee. It is right across the road from the ocean so we all had fun on the beach as well as a nice hike among the ferns and redwoods.

Next week DD starts junior high (7th grade). Tomorrow we will get her schedule and see if she got zero period PE. That would mean she would go to school about 45 minutes earlier than most. The school allows 40 students to do this. I would love it because DH could drop her off in the mornings. The other advantage would be the absence of all the crazy drop off traffic. Fingers crossed...

In two weeks DS starts his three days per week at preschool. And then September starts.
Phew.. the summer sure flew by didn't it?

Financially it has been smooth sailing here. *knock on wood*
We haven't had any unexpected expenses and regular expenses have been lower than usual. Yay!
Not doing anything different in particular. Things like..
Having mild weather so not having to run the AC.
Sticking close to home.
Clearing out the fridge and freezer for meals.

Hope we can keep it up. Smile

Auto Repairs. Registration. Smog.

July 21st, 2013 at 12:21 pm

The last two weeks we've spent a chunk on my vehicle. This is our 1999 Nissan Pathfinder that currently has just under 220k miles. It's yearly registration was due and it needed to pass the bi-annual smog (emissions) test. The "check engine" light has been on and it was well overdue for a tune-up.

We had our neighbor, a mechanic, do the work for us. Which was super convenient because I didn't have to drop the car off anywhere. He just walked over and picked it up when he had time to work on it. Plus, he charges $30 - $45 less per hour than a usual shop.

The money spent:
$763 - complete tune-up (plugs, wires, filters etc..), replaced a fuel injector, O2 sensor, a couple fuses, new brakes..
$ 95 - yearly registration
$ 53 - Smog test & DMV certificate

It runs so great now and passed it's Smog test easily. Should've had the work done sooner, oh well, I am very happy with the results now. Smile

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.

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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

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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

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

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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

Catching Up

May 19th, 2013 at 10:54 am

It has been a busy start to May. The remainder of the month should be a bit more quiet - Phew!
It has also been a more spendy-than-expected month. I am feeling frustrated with lack of progress.

Here is what I've been up to lately:

- DS had his third birthday and my in-laws visited. We did not have a party with other guests. Just take & bake pizza, cake and ice cream. I bought a few small cars and a pair of shorts as gifts for him for $16.

- "Cleo", our 1yo.German Shepherd woke me up at 2am on Wednesday, May 9th with vomiting. There was a good amount of blood in it and I didn't feel like she should wait until I went into work seven hours later. So off to the emergency hospital. $262.

Her diagnosis was gastritis (a very irritated stomach)

She is 100% fine now. She was feeling much better just a few hours later after she had anti-vomiting medication, acid reducer and gastro protectant tablets.

- DD played the National Anthem on her trumpet in our town's Junior Philharmonic group at a San Francisco Giants baseball game.
She and I had a fun outing, but spendy - $35 for parking, $70 for game tickets, $22 for food and hot chocolate.

- Last weekend my mom and dad visited. My sister was able to take Saturday off so she drove down to join all of us too. We went out to dinner Saturday night to celebrate Mother's Day, DS's birthday and my birthday. We split the tag with my parents. $120.

Mother's Day we all visited the dairy goat farm. Which was free. Smile
The weather was so beautiful and made for such a lovely drive. DH made a full breakfast for us before we left. And he made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.

- This past week has been work, work, work (for me).
Unfortunately, my DH hurt is right knee on Wednesday morning and had to take the rest of the week off. He is slowly feeling better - Thank Goodness!
I'll tell you when he came hobbling in my first thought was "OMG, how are we going to pay for treatment, bills, etc.. Our EF is pitiful."
It was NOT a feeling I want to have. It illustrated how we have to work to get more in savings.

- The kids' health coverage is in place. Yay!
We did get hit with a higher premium because they hadn't had coverage in the past 90 days. It was $28 more and I'm thinking it will be that much more every month, but not sure yet. Additional expense every month, but I am so relieved it is done and in place. Smile

- DD is graduating sixth grade at the end of the month. We are buying her a new dress with a budget of $40. We have looked at hundreds of dresses so far ...oh life was so easier when she was younger and I could pick something out. The search continues today..

Her graduation gift will be the used cell phone I purchased a few months ago. I will add it to my Ting account. That will increase my cell bill by $6/mo for the second line and another $8/mo for increased minutes and texts I figure will be used.

- Today is cleaning, laundry, gardening, and online dress shopping. Tomorrow I am getting back on track with my eating and early rising plan.

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

May*Not be Good to Us

May 7th, 2013 at 10:25 pm

It doesn't look like May is going to be very good to us. Darn it!
Just too many little and big things needing attention this month.

Tried Pilates for the first time last Saturday morning. OMGosh I was so sore all over for two days after. Really a *total body* workout. My friend and I each bought a five class pack from Groupon a few months back. (My second ever Groupon purchase.) It is nice to be able to go to a class like that with a friend. I don't think I'll be taking more classes afterward because of the cost, but it's been fun to try it out.

The chicks are getting bigger.
The garden is well sprouted now.
DS had his third birthday last weekend and DD made him a super cute YogiBear cake.
My family is visiting this weekend.
I also have the two cats to care for over the weekend. (Yay! Some cash!)

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!

Time

April 28th, 2013 at 03:08 pm

I realized as I started this entry that tomorrow is my Blogoversary. Three years. It seems to have flashed past in a way, and in another it has felt longer (in a good way!).

Time has been the big topic around our house today. What started it was a conversation with DH about how long ago we had made a purchase of an expensive tool.

It was 2004? No, 2005? Or was it 2006?
It was before we moved to our current house.
Before the chicken house was built.
What year did we do that? What year did we get the hens?
(That brought on a whole other debate. I said 2008 and DH said 2006.)

It seems we mark time by important events in our life. Like "was it before we moved the first time?" Or "was that when DD was in preschool?" Or "it was after we bought the house."

Does that type of conversation sound familiar?

It brought up some good memories to think back on.
We had a good laugh thinking about when we brought our Lab "Maxx" home. It was December 2003. (Before the tool purchase and before the hens - Just so ya know. Wink )

And happy thoughts of back when we paid off our cc every month. (ugh, how did we let ourselves slip??)

And the not so great memories either. We recalled, briefly, several months in 2007 when our marriage was this close *(___)* to ending.

Ups and downs - that is life.

So, yeah all that history just trying to remember when a *something* was purchased.

After a search I did end up finding the paperwork/user manual on the tool and it was late 2005 when we got it. I bet it was an early Christmas present for DH.

Seems like it was longer ago than that, but not all that long ago either. Ha - Time is a funny thing..

Updates

April 27th, 2013 at 05:04 pm

The days have just been flying by here. We have been having beautiful weather and the seeds we planted in the garden two weeks ago have sprouted up. When they get a bit taller I will take a picture to share.

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The chicks are much bigger now. They have almost all their feathers so no more fluffy downy fuzz. We let them out in the backyard every afternoon and they are so fun to watch. Once they are a little larger I will move the dog crate that is their home out to the coop and they can start acclimating to nights outside.

-----
I received two more referrals on my Ting account - $50 more credit. Big Grin
A big Thank You to the folks using my referral code (if youíre reading this.)
I am so very happy I switched to Ting. Great service and excellent value.

-----
Last week I changed my withholdings from 2 to 4 so I could squeeze a little more money into my weekly paycheck.

Then this past Wednesday my boss gave us each a brief review and a $1/hour raise. Big Grin Yay!

Now Iím worried with the raise I might not be withholding enough. What I will do is give it a few months then do a year-end-mock-up and see where we stand tax wise.

-----
The plan for this weekend is relax, relax, relax. Our calendar is full for the next two weeks once May starts, so we've got to rest up.

We plan to have BBQ dinners tonight and tomorrow, so no "real" cooking to do and I love BBQ'd food. Smile

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???

Eating Well. Waking Earlier.

April 9th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

So I am doing well at both "Challenges" nearly 10 days into the month.

Can anyone believe it's day 10 of April?

I weighed myself Monday and I have lost 3.5lbs in the past week. Yay!! Big Grin

I was thrilled to see progress. It really keeps me motivated. I have been very satisfied with the food I've been eating and have allowed myself some small treats too. Lots of veggies, fruits, nuts and meat. Staying away from grains and sugar. Limiting dairy. I'm not having as hard a time as I thought I would saying "No" to bread and sugar.

As far as the "Early to Rise" challenge I have been getting up at least 30 minutes earlier than normal every day. The best was an hour and 20 minutes earlier than usual twice last week. If DH goes to the gym tomorrow morning I'll be up about that early again.
The beautiful springtime weather certainly makes it easy to get up and going. Smile
The extra time has been used to put a sit-down breakfast together in addition to reading, coffee sipping, blogging or balancing Quicken.

DH is a Pain (sometimes)

April 6th, 2013 at 08:29 am

Sometimes my DH is so very frustrating.
Don't get me wrong I love him very much, but there are times when I don't know if I can stay married to him. Sometimes he is an immature ass. In truth he has gotten a lot better over the years, so I guess there is hope he'll "grow" out of it. Wink

There are things he needs to take care of and I don't understand *why* he doesn't just do them. One is his National EMT test. He did great in his class, he has had his EMT in the past for years. Just take the damn thing already!

He has a fondness for good whiskey. Last night he drank too much which is about a once or twice monthly sort of thing. Let me be clear here and say he is not abusive at anytime, verbal or physical. What I don't like is the lame comments, lack of rational thought and thus the inability to have a meaningful conversation. He knows I hate this and that I worry he could end up like FIL who basically drinks every night. Not to a drunken stupor, but alcoholism just the same. I could not stand dealing with an "altered" spouse nearly every evening.

He had to get up at 5:30 this morning and I didn't feel the least bit sorry for him. In fact I hope he really feels like crap.

He will apologize for overdoing doing it - I know and I am glad he will, but he doesn't change his behavior.

He is a funny, kind, supportive man. He loves his family and works hard. Lots of good qualities 90% of the time, why do I let the other 10% bother me? I am not perfect.

Wrapping Up March. Shopping Successes.

March 30th, 2013 at 01:51 pm

Again, I will say how fast this month went by!
It feels to me as if we should still be in the middle of the month.

March didn't turn out nearly as bountiful as I was hoping. DH made less than usual and the unexpected trumpet purchase resulted in a "break-even" month rather than a "get-a-head" month. Phooey!

Well, on to April!

-----
I scored some nice deals this week.

I went grocery shopping this morning and bought a bone in ham for $0.80/lb. We will have some of it tomorrow (of course), ham/bean soup Tuesday and a ham/onion frittata latter in the week. The ham was $8.60.

I finally stopped at the mall and went to Victoria's. I had my $50 gc from cc rewards to shop with in addition to a $10 off and a free panty coupon. I left the store with a bra, a panty and a "secret reward" gc for use in April. I spent $0 and have almost $10 left on my gc.

While at the mall I bought seven hand soaps and two small hand sanitizers at Bath&Body using 20% off and free product coupons I paid $12.

I reloaded my SBucks card with $20 and received a $5 cash back credit on my cc. SBucks is an occasional treat for me, so $20 will last me six weeks. More if I buy at my grocery store where my club card gets me a grande for $2 for the next month.

Murphy Stopped By

March 26th, 2013 at 12:03 am

The troubles at my house in the past week..

* DD's trumpet was stolen out of my car.
It was sitting on the backseat. Seriously we do not live in a high crime town. Argh!
Pretty $h!tty when someone steals a child's musical instrument. A big negative in the Karma Bank!
After much searching, talking about renting and looking at used trumpets we ended up buying a new one for $220. DD will play in 7th grade and likely 8th grade, so renting doesn't make sense in the long run and the used ones that were worthwile were close to $300.

* Leaking pipe discovered in the wall between our bathrooms.
DH happened to be outside in front of our house when he noticed that when I turned the hot water on in our shower that steam was coming out from under the house. So he poked around and yes, when the hot water is turned on the in-going pipe leaks.

The options to get to this is tear out a plastic shower surround in the front bathroom or tear out some of the tile in our bath. *banging head*

Once there is money and time I think we'll opt to take out the plastic surround to make the repairs. Until then we will shower in the front bathroom.

* DH's work has been very slow.
This means less money coming in. Remember the "Yay, five payday month" I was chanting?
Last week his paycheck was $300 short. Phooey!


It is all manageable, it has to be. And in the big picture other people have much worse problems; we are blessed in so many things and ways.
Still..
Please Murphy, let me show you to the door...

Happy St. Patty's Day! More on Payroll.

March 17th, 2013 at 01:24 pm

It has been a wonderful weekend. The weather has been very nice and mild. We have been enjoying "hang out" time as a family both indoors and out. I have even had plenty of quiet time to read this weekend. Not much got done yesterday..*shrug*..who cares?!

Today it's laundry, dishes, general pick-up. DD and DH are getting the garage organized for a garage sale next weekend.

I'll be starting the corned beef soon. I'm going to make soda bread tonight because I have not had that in years. It is very easy to make - flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt.

After dinner I am going to a girlfriend's for dessert and a chick-flick with her and another girlfriend. Very likely I'll go over in my PJ and be comfy. Smile

------
My coworker got her check replaced in cash before anything effected her checking account (her account never went negative.)

I think that my check cleared because: (A) I put in the bank first or
(B) because he instructed his personal banker to pay my check before any other.

I asked the boss about doing direct deposit. He told me he pays the rent that way and if the account is empty the direct deposit is declined so that would not be a solution.

I know with certainty that our withholdings are okay. All our insurance and such is covered. He pays IRS like he should. Thankfully he does conduct his business legally. Unfortunately he sucks big time with money management, budgeting and so on.

When my coworker was talking to him about things she said he told her "the kids really *need* their cell phones nowadays" among other things.. Rolleyes

She told him she wasn't going to work this Saturday. She just didn't want to be there. A bit of payback, I think, because he had to have his family work with him.

I don't know if he really can't say "No" or he can't figure out what to do. It's frustrating!

Hey! It just occurred to me that I should duct tape him to a chair and have him watch a Suze marathon! Wink


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