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Where is Contrary??

September 24th, 2008 at 01:17 pm

Anyone know? I still have her frugal gardening site in my favorites, but there has been nothing since October 2007 posted and nothing here.

Settling back into life. Made a huge casserole (will we ever be able to NOT make a huge casserole) with pasta, the last of the homemade tomato sauce from FIL's garden last year, nonfat ricotta and low fat mozzareela and some leftover roasted veges along with turkey italian sausage. I ended up giving a bunch to my mother. So it ended up being two dinners for DH and I and 2 lunches for me.

Today I am making a crockpot dish from the crockpot365.blogspot site. Mongolian beef. I am using the linked recipe since I did have Hoison sauce in the frig.

DH is being very cooperative with my frugal/healthy cooking (well okay healthy for us). I am making a brown rice pilaf to go with the beef and steamed cauliflower. I made nonfat milk instant choco pudding last night so we will have that for dessert.

I cut up a small watermelon for snacking, but need to run to the store today to get lunch meat for DH's lunch. He normally eats out lunch every day so this is a huge change for him. Safeway is running their deli meat in California for $4.99 a pounds, well a few of them anyway including turkey, which is what I will be purchasing.

Payroll work is finished for the day, the front is watered, dinner is in the crockpot, time to get back up and start cleaning. Being gone for 6 weeks means dusting and mopping are needed desperately even though DH did pretty good on keeping up with house pick up and sweeping doggy hair.

Beautiful sunny Northern Coastal California day!

Back to Real Life

September 20th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

Okay one of the biggest events of life has happened, we enjoyed it (probably a little too much) and it's time to get back to financial reality.

I spent 6 weeks in North Carolina enjoying my new granddaughter and spending way too much money (rented a house on the sound side and another on the beach side of the outer banks, rented a car, tried to economize on food, but did eat out some.

The sunsets in North Carolina were beautiful.

DH flew out twice because he was convinved the baby was going to come early so he had to fly home and then back a week later. Okay he didn't HAVE to, but how could he miss the birth of his first grandchild?

Our older daughters came to. It was wonderful. Yes it's true, this 6 day old baby girl smiled responsively.

The first thing I did when I got home was download and balance our checking accounts and AMEX account. I paid all our bills on line. DH would call and tell me what had come in the mail. He is worthless on a computer, so that was the easiest.

Next thing... clean the master bathroom. Nothing further needs to be said. Luckily DH is deer hunting so I have 5 days to reoriente myself to Pacific Standard Time. I woke up the at 4:30 this morning, which was better than the 3:30 a.m. the day before. Trying to stay up past 8:00 p.m. is tonight's challenge.

So for the rest of the year... no spending, well except for Walgreen's for photos. If you order online by tonight and put "half" in the coupon code box, your photos are half price, but you must spend at least $10.00. I had over 200 photos to print.

One of those rare days on the North Coast

April 11th, 2008 at 06:06 pm

of California... over 70 degrees today. And what was I doing? Running errands in town. Went to lunch with DH, took a thank you gift (brownie bites from Costco) to DH's insurance agent who helped me get his Cal-Osha Injury Prevention Plan done.

Then I went to the fabric store to find something to make latest Ally quilt more girly. I found some lavender flannel gingham to put in between the rows. I used a 50% off coupon to get the backing for the quilt in the last post. I am spluring and having that quilt professionally quilted by a fabulous artist who uses a machine, but she is very good with the machine!

Tomorrow is a sock knitting class I plan to go to, but in the meantime, we have a dinner invite at our neighbor's house.

Suze Orman....

March 31st, 2008 at 08:50 am

Today is the last day to open an Ameritrade account and get your bonus $100.00 after a year with minimum $50.00 deposit each month. I am still trying to decide whether to do it. I am considering actually opening them for my three daughters too. That would be $200.00 a month. It would be Christmas presents for them, which is a little more than I normally spend for them, but it might be a good idea to encourage them to save.

Mmmmmm what to do, what to do? All three already have accounts at ING.

Bad Things Come in 3's Right?

March 29th, 2008 at 10:34 am

First it was the freezer, then Friday morning I had a french toast casserole that had sat in the refrigerator overnight. I turned the oven on, stuck the casserole in, turned on the timer for 30 minutes and went back to work. 30 minutes later.... the oven is still cold. Great! Luckily it worked the night before when I made swiss steak and a batch of healthy not fat oatmeal cookies.

I passed off the casserole to a friend who doesn't like to cook and who's two older kids are home from college this week. They called this morning to say thank you.

In the meantime, with trying to regain my lost skills, I dug out a half made quilt, set up my ironing board, turned on my iron, waited a few minutes and started to iron the slightly wrinkled quilt squares to get started on the borders. Well my iron starts spitting out some gritty stuff while water came dripping out the bottom!

Great, so that's the freezer, the oven and now my iron all in one week. I hope that's it for a while.

After reviewing irons at Amazon and a couple of other places, apparently all irons need to be replaced 4-5 years as they all start this "spitting out water" problem. Ugh.

DH called from Costco, they no longer have the Rowenta we saw there, but a Sharp Steamer. My MIL volunteered to go get the Rowenta that is on sale at Joann Fabrics and DH will pick up on his way home.

Okay at least I don't have to go into town today! But I do guess I have to clean house and do laundry instead of sew until DH gets home from work!

Oh and the repair man will be here Monday between 8-12 to see if the oven can be repaired. I really didn't want to buy another oven until we remodel our kitchen. Our cooktop and oven are separate. We just dodged getting a new cooktop when DH took a paper clip (unwound) to the place the gas comes out. Now our cooktop works better than it has in a long time.

Grieving my Lost Skills

March 20th, 2008 at 05:53 pm

First I want to say thank you for all the well wishes on Baby Ally.

Which brings me to today's post. I learned to knit when I was 10 and sew when I was 14 or so. My skills progressed so that I made all my nieces and nephews who were born before my own children sweaters. I made so many of my own clothes as a teenager and my DH's flannel button down shirts when we were first married.

I hand smocked and made my oldest daughter's first Christmas dress and then later a smocked pinafore dress for daughter #2 another Christmas, with another cute dress for daughter #1. By the time daughter #3 came along, I did manage to crochet her a blanket and that was it. So through the past 20+ years I made one halloween costume for YD when she was about 10 and made a few quilts, but have not quilted even for a few years.

So I had some time today after meeting with our tax accountant, dropping off K-1's and decided to run into town to look at patterns and fabrics. I went in with high hopes and came out so depressed. I feel like I am starting over again. I look at fabric and can't picture the actual item (like I used to). I'm not sure which sized pattern to buy. I feel like I don't know anything!

I made buttonholes, I lined vests and made cuffs.... what happened to me??

So I'm going to stop sniffling and start easy, just start getting to know my sewing machine. I bought it after 9/11 and my oldest daughter has probably had it more than me because she started quilting and had so many coworkers and friends having babies.

There is so much I want to make and do and I feel totally incapable at this point....

So back to my plan...I want to try and sew something every day, just a straight line, change up the stitching, whatever.. just familiarize myself again and see if I have anything left in me.

How could I have let myself lose the skills I had?? sniff, sniff....

I Hate Costco....

February 29th, 2008 at 06:40 pm

What is it about getting a rebate check that makes one spend money or is it just me? I was getting ready to go to town Saturday when I spied the mailman. I had just viewed our Amex statement on line and thought maybe we would get our rebate. We did and I had the nicest fantasy that the $171.00 plus change would be all I spent that day. HA!

Add in the new coupon book and disaster strikes! We ended up spending $334.46 subtract the 171.59 and we ended up spending $162.87. Okay I admit I bought a bag of dahlia bulbs and DH bought his "blue tooth" with a $10.00 off coupon for his cell phone. The law goes into effect in July here in California that your cell phone in the car must be "hands-free" for the driver anyway.

I also purchased cigarettes for BF's son who I was packing a care package for, along with jerky and Crystal Light individual little thingees for your water.

Zip lock bags, laundry soap, DH's deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc, etc. Some of this stuff will last more than six months so I am trying to keep it in perspective that we will save money over the long run.

February was expensive for us, spending almost $1500 over our usual budget for new work boots, a garmin navigator for both MD and us (MD's Christmas and birthday present). Dog toys, Advantage, cell phone over $200.00 in extra minutes since I was out of town for 8 days and used it constantly to talk to DH (stupid, stupid, stupid), shipping two boxes to North Carolina....

Anyway, glad it's over and on to a fresh new month.

Another 3 months has gone by...

February 22nd, 2008 at 05:24 pm

November came and went, traveling to Reno for Thanksgiving... then my 50th birtday with a surprise party that DH planned along with the surprise of YD and SIL arriving a week early for the party.... with the best surprise of all. DH and I are going to be grandparents to an actual baby, not another puppy or kitten!

YD and SIL were here a whole month, then MD went to visit them in North Carolina and I traveled back to Reno to dog sit. I came back to the North Coast after eight days of loneliness and isolation with snow all around. I now understand Jack Nicholson downward spiral in The Shining....

The dogs finally left and life is getting back to normal. I have taken over in the past week food. DH is having withdrawal and wants to know every day if I have dinner planned and what are we having.

I upgraded my YNAB to YNAB Pro and I am really liking it.

I have this in the oven right now made from a butternut squash we grew in our garden last summer. I think we have about 4 left:

As boring as my blog may be, I hope someone gets something out of it. I want to thank everyone who talked about reading and the library. I have become an avid reader again after about a 20 year drought. I go to the library and get 7-8 books at a time and just devour them. No more TV in bed for me! DH still watches, but I am able to tune it out and lose myself in a good book.

So thank you library fans!

Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2007 at 04:30 pm

I have not posted in months. Life definitely has gotten in the way.

Our house in Oregon did not sell, but we luckily rented it to a local family who has two boys going to the college my daughter went to.

I have taken a trip back to North Carolina, and DH and I sat down and actually made some written goals.

One of those goals was to not waste so much time on the internet and keep my nose to the grindstone during work day, which I have been doing!

I have continued to read the blogs as much as I can and something that struck me was people talking about blackberries. Here in Northern California, I actually picked more today, but only about two cups. The apples are ripening… it’s Halloween.

I finally feel like I am really getting back to my frugal roots. We have been using up every bit of food we buy and I have at least 12 frozen lunches from leftovers. One of our written goals…

Another was to each get $100.00 allowance each month to spend on whatever we wanted. I bought garden stuff, seeds, lettuce and leeks and some Dr. Earth fertilizer. I still have around $40.00 left. Yesterday I considered asking DH if he wanted to go to a late afternoon movie, then I looked in the newspaper and saw absolutely nothing I was interested in. Good thing as DH could not get away from work.

We had a very tiny garden for the first time in like 20 years (I’m telling you my kids sucked the energy out of us)…

We had a butternut squash, crookneck squash, zucchini squash and assorted herbs. My lettuce and leeks are coming up nicely in Supersoil (the gardening store said it’s the best for starting seeds) and I will transplant them when we finally yank out the squash plants. We actually picked a zucchini over the weekend and the butternut still has a few squash on it growing. The yellow crook neck was pulled already. Some of the herbs are still growing too. I can’t wait for next year. On the flower front, I went over and took 12 cuttings from mom’s perennials and planted in little clay pots to put into the ground next spring. I also took seeds from my assorted annuals (purchased in a complete idiotic spur of the moment in a roll base from QVC like thisSmile

I still have some roll to use next year, but dried all the little seeds and put in little plastic storage containers I found at the Dollar Store. I am also going to plan on planting tomatoes in 5 gallon black plastic containers. I saw someone at the garden store who did that this year and got lots of tomatoes (it’s a little cool here really for tomatoes). The South side of my house will be the perfect no wind, sunny area for them. I can’t wait for next year.

So after a summer, early fall of spending more than I would have liked, we have tightened up the belt, and it feels really good!


August 19th, 2007 at 08:32 am

Don't carry large amounts of cash. I lost a hundred dollar bill in July. First I tried to leave it as a tip along with three one's. DH found it before we left the table when I happened to check my cash situation. 4 days later it was missing and I have no idea where it went.

I have been MIA, busy with the summer and visitors. Hope everyone is doing well.

Trying Not to Count My Chickens Before They Hatch!

June 11th, 2007 at 08:44 pm

We accepted an offer on OD's home in Oregon, 98% of asking price with no contigencies. Realtor says it's the cleanest offer she has seen. So we will know on Friday if they qualify for their loan. The new owners want to close on July 15th. OD moves and starts her internship on July 2nd. So that works out great. This was our first experience of selling a home and it was kind of too easy. The house appreciated about 38% in the 21 months we owned it.

We also received dividend checks this week from two business that we are part owners of. Last year when we received the checks, we used them to pay for YD's spur of the moment wedding. This year no wedding to pay for so that all went into savings.

Then I received my State Farm statement for our car insurance (after receiving the four rebate checks from them) and our car insurance is dropping another $20.00 a month, so it will be just about $104.00 a month to insure our three vehicles. DH 2005 Chevy Silverado is the biggest downward adjustment with my 1994 van dropping a few bucks too!

When it rains it pours in a good way sometimes too!

YD and SIL arrive home tomorrow for a visit. It may be his last chance to get home before his next deployment. So I know we will be taking them out to dinner, etc. Also high school graduation for the boy across the street and my friend's daughter, so that will cost a bit in gifts.

Yesterday I was doing a few admits and one patient was especially sad. I wanted to go out to breakfast and told DH. He got out of the shower and talked me out of it, which is funny because it was a total role reversal for us. So he made us some breakfast and we save some money! We really want to stay in frugal mode even though we are pretty flush right now. Of course the bill has not yet come for the new TV that we are enjoying very much! Love the DVR, so worth it.

In fact, I DVR'd Oprah on Friday that I rarely watch, but my sister called and said it was about money (she knows how obsessed I am because she is too). It was the follow up to the Debt Diet show she did about a year ago. Very interesting....

Then I DVR'd Big Spender on A&E on Saturday and watched it later in the day. That is always motivating... so I think the new TV and DVR is actually helping me SAVE money! Ha Ha.

Memorial Day Weekend Meanderings

May 28th, 2007 at 06:37 pm

Happy Memorial Day and thanks to Ima’s dad and all our dad’s or granddads, moms or grandmothers, brothers and sisters, husband and wives, sons and daughters, and in my case son-in-law. All those who have fought for our country.

These pictures were taken by my youngest daughter in North Carolina.

My brother, his Russian born wife (who became a US citizen last month) and their 7 year old son came down for their annual Memorial Day visit.

I started Friday out by taking a test for a position as an airport screener. It was very difficult and I was sure I completely flunked, but when I got home (1.5 hours from test site here in rural Northern California), there was an e-mail saying I had passed. I applied over a year ago and was surprised to hear from them. I guess feeling inspired by Ray and Sharon, I decided to go for it. Waiting to hear what the next step is. I live about 2.5 miles from the local airport so that would be great to get a job there with full federal benefits. But I am also happy working at home and so either way I am fine. There are advantages to both.

So with my brother and family, DH and I went to a local gem and mineral shop/museum that we had not been to since our girls were young. Very interesting, we had forgotten how much so. We yearned for a beautiful large landscaping rock from Brazil, can’t remember the name, but it was blue and white… $3.00 a pound, 45 pounds… ouch, no can do…. First we went to lunch and brother paid (we had made dinner for them the night before, carnitas, fresh pico de gaio, fresh guacamole, etc)… after we were done at the rock place, we went to the South Jetty of the bay and wandered around. It was windy, but the native plants were all in bloom and SIL is very interested in gardening, so she was taking many pictures. Then we stopped at a local nursery where brother bought my mother (who also loves to garden) some new plants since she lost some in our unexpected hard freeze this year.

Today was beautiful, not much wind early and we were at the beach by 9:15 a.m. with the dogs. They had a blast with Lola rolling in some undesirable stuff, which caused them both to get their second bath of the week. Then DH and worked outside in the yard. We marinated chicken (that DH thinks was a bit past the date they should have been kept frozen) in Soy Vey Teriyaki , DH made a dish with pasta, Classico roasted red pepper sauce, a little wine and some cheese he bought at Costco. The cheese was mozzarella rolled with basil and prosciutto. He also roasted cauliflower with a little olive oil and garlic. The chicken was very subtle because we used the last of the teriyaki sauce and there was not the usual amount for 6 pieces of chicken.

We don’t have Walmart or Home Depot, so on Friday when I drove the 1.5 to my test, it was in a town with both. I got there early so I could go shop. I didn’t buy anything at Home Depot, but got some good gardening/landscaping ideas. I did stock up on some stuff at Walmart and found some $2.00 a yard very cute bright flannel to make a baby quilt for YD’s best friend due next month.

It was difficult not to buy more yarn, but stopped myself. Oh and the Venus disposable razors are cheaper than the refills of just the cartridges. Why is that I wonder? I was a bit hungry at Walmart and I was due to take the test so I bought some Quaker Mini-Delights buttered popcorn flavor. They are horrible. I couldn’t even eat one little package. Thank goodness I also bought a big jar of peanuts for $3.97! Another mistake was I wanted some of that Jergen’s face moisturizer that also gives you a fake tan. It is making me break out and I’m almost 50! Oh well with three daughters, one of them will be able to use it.

Yesterday we went to see the movie "Fracture" at the matinee after my brother had gone home to Washington State. We decided to see that instead of Pirates (since it was almost 3 hours long). That is the only money we spent this weekend...$11.25.

All in all a satisfying four days! Hope yours was too.

State Farm Bulletin!!

May 14th, 2007 at 02:51 pm

I received a second check today for $22.00. At the top it says 1994 Plymouth Voyager. I think the last one said 1989 Chevrolet.

So maybe you will get another check if you have more than one car insured.

My older (by eight years) sister came this weekend to visit her daughter and our mother and me. She looked great. She has lost 15 pounds since the beginning of the year on Weight Watchers. Great motivator for me! I swear she looked younger than me too!

So today I started Weight Watchers. DH picked up our side of beef Friday and tonight will be hamburgers and salad.

Work is busy so I am back at it.

Busy week!

May 11th, 2007 at 05:45 pm

Mother’s Day Weekend…. Waaah, I miss my daughters all being together at home.

It’s been a busy financial week starting with 3 more rebate checks in the mail from Verizon for a total of $90.00. Instead of putting it towards the challenge, we used it to buy plants for our yard and a new hose. DH spent last weekend planting including a half wine barrel herb garden. The seed mat is sprouting today after having two incredibly beautiful days, followed by three gray cool days here on the North Coast of California and I have a beautiful red hanging geranium outside my kitchen window.

My middle daughter is here visiting with her two dogs and have been here all week, makes for a pretty crazy house, two little 4 year old terriers and two big mixed breeds that are barely over a year old. They don’t know whether to play or fight!

Yesterday I went over MD’s budget with her, giving her a clearer picture of where she stands. She is self-employed like me (same job actually) and does well, but is much clearer about putting away for retirement and how much she has to spend on “extras”. She is very open to our discussions and I LOVE having them! Let’s face it, I love giving my kids financial guidance! I just would hate to see them make the same mistakes their dad and I have made.

Today I did a spreadsheet for myself (my first attempt), itemizing out my monthly gross earnings, deducting insurance, then taking out the appropriate percentage for taxes (40%) and retirement (20%), leaving me a VERY clear picture of my monthly net earnings.

I was able to talk DH about of going out to dinner Tuesday. We were both tired, but went in and cooked up some leftovers together. I had a “burrito” made with leftover tri-tip from Sunday and DH had leftover sausage from Sunday breakfast with some scrambled eggs.

DH is also humoring me in an attempt to use less paper towels. I got a plastic dishpan full of older “flour sack” dishtowels to use for wiping up spills and cleaning. I put them in the cabinet right next to the sink while held our toaster, so I moved that. We rarely use our toaster anymore. I have been doing really well cooking during the week with DH continuing to cook on weekends.

Unfortunately I did receive notice today of State Income Tax Due. I have been trying to call them. The check I sent them did not clear when my Federal check did and I called them. They told me not to worry, sometimes it takes up to 8 weeks for a check to clear. Then today I get this notice of owing $934.54. In the meantime, the check I wrote to the state did clear, but I have a hard time thinking my accountant made this big of an error on our returns. So I am not going to panic until I talk to them. Talked to them, it’s okay, they see the payment, mix up because accountant originally e-filed, but Federal rejected, so we mailed copies of both returns, but should have only mailed Fed.

DH is bringing home a side of beef he bought at the local university sports auction. Every year he gets something interesting…It is grass fed, raised and donated by a local family. I have not eaten much grass fed beef, actually have I ever? So hopefully it will be good. It’s home, we crammed it in the freezer, no eating out for a year!!

Middle daughter arranged a Father and Daughter day June 10th, with us all meeting in San Francisco with my husband and daughters all going to a Giants game. My husband has taken the girls several times over the years. Our youngest daughter will be coming home for two weeks during that time from North Carolina. Oldest daughter is flying down and back to Oregon in the same day so we will all be together. Well they will all be together at the game and dinner later. I will be back at the hotel, probably working!!

This is my first mother’s day as also a mother-in-law to a wonderful son-in-law.

I want to take the opportunity to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of us and to everyone’s mothers. I hope we all have a wonderful day!