Saturday, March 21, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Saturday 3/21/15

The view from my chair at lunch time.

HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:
  • I have been feeling very uninspired this week.  I hope I'm getting out of this rut soon. I'm not cooking the meals that I had planned on cooking... consequently I have lots of veggies in my fridge, waiting for me to do something with them (cook'em, freeze'em, something!) and my collard greens, lettuce, spinach, and even cabbages are ready or getting ready to be harvested too.  I think the heat is getting to me. I feel like doing nothing!  I have laundry baskets full of clean laundry to fold and put away, coupons that have been clipped that I need to file in my organizer, lots of piles of "stuff" to declutter around the house.  Of course, the longer I wait to do any of this, the longer it'll take to do it since things tend to accumulate.  Argh.

  • Greg went to buy us cypress mulch in bulk in the morning.  We decided to get a double load this year, since we always end up going back for more anyway, so he had to go back twice.  Well, almost 3 times actually, because, as he told me as he was walking back into the house, I "forgot to remind him to bring his wallet and his phone" and he didn't realize that he had neither until we was already a few miles from home.  LOL.  I remind him to take those items with him every morning when he leaves for work and I always get a "yeah, yeah, yeah, I've got them!" answer (same as the kids when you ask them if they have their keys or homework and they say "yes" without checking and then it turns out that they didn't have them. Nothing pisses me off more than that!) so that was pretty funny and we laughed about it.

  • We now have a mountain of mulch.  I want to lay cardboard on the "berm" that he built last year. separating the backyard from the back porch, so the weeds are reduced, and then spread mulch over it, like I did in my garden. It does help a lot.  Also the berm protects the house when we get torrential rains during storms.  The water tends to run down the top of our backyard (we're at a slight incline) towards the house. In the earlier years, we'd get floods (and had some in the back of the laundry room and into the kitchen last summer but that was due to holes alongside the foundation which have now been plugged), especially the year we had 4 hurricanes in just 1 month.
This is what $100 worth of mulch looks like...

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • Snap by Groupon credited my account for the $1.50 Dole juice rebate (finally!).

  • SavingStar credited my account for my Kohl's purchase back in February... only $0.36 but better than nothing.

  • I earned 25 KFR points by entering bonus code SPRINGISINTHEAIR in my Kellogg's Family Rewards account.
  • I took a Driscoll's survey on the raspberries that I purchased on Wednesday and earned a couple of $0.75/1 coupons since I'm still at the Silver level.  I need to take 9 more surveys to reach the Gold level and then I'll get the $1.00/1 coupons. I haven't been buying many Driscoll's berries recently as our local strawberries have been much cheaper (and that's what our local retailers are stocking instead of Driscoll's) and the raspberries have been too expensive (again, Aldi stocks cheaper raspberries, once in a while).  Consequently, my Super Target shopping has dropped because I get the Driscoll's berries there and they're a major reason why I bother going to Super Target. What a symbiosis, right?!

  • I lost the little bread tag that was holding one of my gardening flip flops together... no problem!  I now keep all extra bread tags in a basket in the kitchen so I only had to ask my son to bring me a new one and I was good to go :) I got the flip flops for free but I won't replace them until I absolutely cannot wear them anymore.

  • I set about watering my garden this morning since we won't get any rain until Monday and it was supposed to get to 90 today (so read "over 95", with the heat index!).  The bin collecting the water under one of the 2 leaky faucets was almost full (the faucets only "leak" when the connected hoses are turned on and nothing will fix the problem short of replacing those ancient faucets which would be pretty expensive so putting bins under them is my frugal solutions!) so I filled up as many upcycled cat litter jugs as I could with it.  Then, when I was done watering with the hose, I finished filling up the rest of the jugs. Forget Spring, it's Summer here!  My self-watering bins had been refilled 2 weeks ago but all of them needed about 1-2 inches more of water today so that took a while.  I'm now rewarding myself for all this hard work (!) by sitting in the shade on my back patio with a cup of coffee, a library book, and the laptop. Yeah.. nothing else was accomplished today as I enjoyed the loveliness of our patio (which Greg redid for me last Spring) all afternoon :)  That's what the weekend is for, right?

  • The hose that I use to water the fruit trees at the back of our property is actually 2 hoses connected to one another and, of course, the connection leaks like crazy (we have old hoses and I'm too cheap frugal to replace them!  A new washer would probably do the trick but they've been connected for so long that it's impossible to disconnect them nowadays).  Anyhoo, I dragged the hoses and stretched them so the connection would be located at the base of my plum tree and I set about watering the other trees.  So the plump tree got watered by the leak. It saved me time and saved water since that water would usually just go to the weeds!  I wish I had thought of that sooner, honestly. In the past, I have also placed the connection part of the hoses inside a large bin so I can collect some of the water too, although a lot of it always splashes out. It's not perfect, but I try to make do and save as much water as I can.
After I took the photo, I moved it a little so most of the water
did water the tree.
  • Some bug or caterpillar ate ALL of the leafy greens from the carrots I had planted so I harvested them today. They look like Barbie-size carrots!  I've been very unlucky with carrots so far. I've tried planting them in-ground, in-ground with loosened-up soil, in containers, in self-watering bin UNDER a pop-up tent and IN soil mixed with perlite and peat moss and still I cannot grow carrots. I've planted them in every season too.  Grrrr. I've tried varieties recommended for Florida as per UF, or not, and I've been sorely disappointed each time.  Same with zucchini and cucumbers. Those are reportedly the easiest things to grow and I cannot, for the life of me, plant successful crops of those :(

  • My son needed a new pair of gaming headphones because there is a bad contact in the pair that he has and Greg isn't Mr. Fix-It when it comes to this kind of things.  I could have looked for some at the thrift store (and honestly, it didn't even enter my mind, I'm kind of disappointed with myself) but he found some very affordable (as in $7.95) ones on Amazon that qualified for free shipping with Prime so I ordered them for him, paid with my Swagbucks gift card credit and chose the "no rush shipping" option so we qualify for a $1 digital credit for the next time we want to rent a movie through them (or get digital music).

  • I was fast enough to snag the Ace Hardware paint sample kit of the day today (my 4th this month!). The color this time is "Garden Stone".  I need to find a bunch of small things to paint... and you know that I hate painting, lol. But I love freebies.  Tip for getting these: you need to load that website right at noon and type your name and address like the devil because many times I've gotten the "confirmation screen" but then it blinks and tells me that they're out of samples for the day. I think people are using those auto-fill thingies (I don't, I disable those for security reasons).

  • I emailed my crafty, artistic daughter the URL for printing a 60% off any regular-priced item coupon for JoAnn's.  You can use those at Michael's, as they accept competitor coupons! As it happens, her dad was driving them back home after her contest and she was passing a JoAnn's so she stopped and showed the coupon on her phone and was able to get a "very big sketchbook" for only $8. Later on she found a $20 Michael's gift card in her purse (she never uses her purse so she didn't know it was in there) and printed the coupon to use it at Michael's tomorrow.


  • I had lunch on the patio.  I cooked that microwaveable cup of Riceroni that was last weekend's SavingStar freebie and I improvised a lovely salad with spinach and cucumber from my fridge, those mini-carrots that I harvested this morning, the rest of the grape tomatoes from the fridge (a mixture of Aldi and harvest from the garden) and some of those fried wonton skins that come with Chinese take-out that we never eat and I always forget to tell them not to give us.  Nowadays I just stick the little packages in my veggie drawer because I use them in salads.  Not very diet-friendly but I can't bring myself to throw them away! Oh yes, and I used the rest of my homemade dressing too. I need to make more.  Greg and our son made themselves sandwiches since that is what they prefer.
Yummy, frugal, and quite filling, actually.
  • By chance, I found out from my ex that our son's big band wasn't playing at the UCF Jazz Festival tonight after all! They were playing at 2:30 p.m. but I didn't find out until 1:30 p.m. so there wasn't time to go (it takes an hour to get there, plus time to get a parking spot, etc...). That saved me $25 in tickets plus gas and tolls (another $20-30) so it's a frugal victory but I was really looking forward to hearing him play and, of course, going with my youngest son too :( Plus I wasn't going to cook dinner. I was going to pick some fast food up for my son and me to eat on the way up and let Greg fend for himself. But I ended up having to cook, even though I didn't feel like it... again.  

  • My daughter called me to announce that she had won 1st place in a county-wide contest she entered. She had to write a speech about optimism (which is hysterical to me because I am the most pessimistic person you will ever meet!) and present it.  Her dad took her but she made him stay out of the room so she wouldn't be intimidated. I didn't know she was presenting it today or I would have gone... anyhoo, she won $300 in Amazon gift cards!  We are very proud of her!

  • A few days ago, I mentioned that our duct-tape repaired trash cans would probably need to be replaced soon... today, Greg, the Frugal Hubby, set out to repair it!  He sawed off the broken handle, used a piece of wood that had been sitting in his shed to fashion a new handle, and was about to tape it (with duct tape, of course!) to hold it in place when i mentioned that our hands would get really sore when it came time to pull the filled-up trashcan all the way to the bottom of our driveway on yard waste pick-up days because the piece of wood had sharp corners.  So I suggested he wraps some bubble wrap around the handle before covering it with duct tape. I just happened to have small spare lengths of bubble wrap that had come in some packages recently so I grabbed one for him. We didn't even need to cut it down to size and the new handle is now very comfy. And if the bubble wrap bursts, well... I have more!  So there you go, we're getting more mileage out of ye old trash can after all!

  • Greg washed his truck... that's actually not frugal at all because even though we're saving the $4 or so that the Clermont carwash charges, we're wasting lots of water (carwashes actually recycle their water so they're very efficient).  Thankfully he doesn't do it more than 3 or 4 times a year.  Today I placed that leaky hose connection inside a large plastic bin and it was halfway full after the first couple of minutes. Grrr.  So I placed a couple more bins next to it, as I was keeping an eye on it so I could replace the bins as he went. I'll be using that water for the garden tomorrow. So it's not really a failure after all.
    Update: right after I typed this paragraph, I had to switch the bins and noticed that my collard greens that looked so good this morning looked parched (even though I had watered them) so I decided to empty one of the cat litter jugs on it, and then refilled it at the bin and gave a 2nd watering to the herbs, potted and in-ground plants. They must have thought it was Christmas or something... if Greg had told me he was going to wash his truck today, I would have waited to water. Anyway... while I was doing that, he called out to me that I should just turn off the tap while he soaped up the truck. To tell you the truth, I wanted him to do that but I know my husband, and he had just spent several hours in the hot sun doing yard work and was tired... so not in the most receptive mood. When that happens, it's better if I wait until he can think he was the one who had the idea in the first place :)  If you're married, you know what I mean, right?  Pick your battles... So I dutifully turned off the water and then he took care of turning it off and on on his own, reusing the water from the bin to fill his bucket as well. Teamwork, people, teamwork!


  • I put a cookbook on hold at the library. I really don't need to be reading another cookbook (I have recipes and recipe books everywhere and still I haven't felt like cooking this whole week!) but I was intrigued by a "celeriac roast" recipe referred to in this blogpost from the UK (I've been reading that blog the whole day!). I looked up the book she is referring to but my library doesn't have it.  So I put "Jamie's Food Revolution" on hold instead.  I don't see celeriac here very often or when I do, it's pretty expensive. It was one of the cheapest vegetables in France, they would feed it to us at the elementary school cafeteria, shredded with dressing, like a slaw. I loved it.  I'd really like to try that celeriac "roast". Maybe I'll splurge on celeriac next time I see some.


  • I didn't feel like cooking but I did :) Instead of making the Citrus Thyme Pork Tenderloin that I had planned on making, though, I just marinated the pork tenderloin in some Mesquite marinade (I have several bottles of it in the pantry) while I made the Spicy Asparagus Sauté.  Those asparagus were very delicious, Greg said it was the best he had ever had.  The tenderloin was a little trickier as it was still quite raw after I cooked it in the frying pan for about 8 minutes, so I put it in the oven at 350 for about 15-20 minutes and it was quite good after that.

HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:

  • Hmmm, we spent $100 on mulch when I guess we could have gotten it for free from the dump... but the dump's "mulch" is really just people's yard waste that's gone through the wood chipper, whereas the mulch we bought was cypress mulch and it's much nicer. Since we bought it in bulk, there aren't any plastic bags to throw away and the mulch store is much closer to our house than the dump.  I'm rationalizing, but there are specific reasons why we decided to spend $100 on mulch :)

Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

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