Monday, August 31, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Monday 8/31/15

  • Last day of August... now if only the temperatures would drop, we could actually have a Fall!  Fall here tends to start when the lovebugs make their twice-a-year appearance and I spotted some in the Winn Dixie parking lot yesterday so I guess we're almost there.  You wouldn't know it from the temperatures though!  It's so humid it's unbearable.  I'm so glad we have air conditioning!  I went in my garden this morning and my iPhone wouldn't register my keystrokes (because it was so humid) and my camera lens kept on getting all fogged up...and my glasses too, which was very annoying :)

  • The Swagbucks Team Challenge starts at noon today so there's not much use for me to try earning Swagbucks before then... but I'm so used to running multiple screens on my laptop all day long (and my phone as well) that I'm at a loss!  So since I don't have to click on something every 30 seconds this morning (Ngage!),  I took the time to email my mom, tour my garden, and I'm even planning on exercising on my recumbent bike while I clip the coupons that have accumulated and also some recipes from the huge pile of free magazines from the library's donation pile (collected over the past few months) to see what I can cook this week.  Did you join the Team Challenge?  Which team are you on?!  It'd be funny if we were on the same one :) I'm on team "GT Offers".

  • The CEO of Netflix wrote a blog post yesterday justifying their ending their Epix contract saying that they would rather have "brand new, original" content such as the 6 projects that Adam freaking Sandler (can't stand him) is developing for them, as well as a sequel to Pee Wee Herman?!  I had to pinch myself and check to make sure it wasn't April Fool's Day.  Anyhoo, I'm already rarely watching Netflix anymore (and Greg never watches it unless I do and our son doesn't watch anything unless it's YouTube on his PC... although he has a Kindle and the Netflix app with our login so I ought to check if he's watched anything recently. Don't mind me, I'm thinking out loud!), so I'm really thinking about cancelling and saving $8.54 a month. My daughter does watch it while she exercises though so maybe I shouldn't. I just remembered that.  Our Amazon Prime membership will end in January and we're definitely not renewing that. Decisions, decisions... maybe I can ask her to pay for half since she has a job and is the only one using it right now?  Would that be petty?  LOL.

  • Mid-day I received an email from the Florida Virtual School where my daughter takes her French class. It's free virtual public school for Florida students... it allows them to take any classes that they would want to take but that are not taught at their school (like French!) and still earn their credits for graduation.  A lot of homeschoolers use that option too.  Anyhoo, it seems that their system recorded an out-of-state change of address for my daughter so they were telling me that since she no longer was a FL resident, we'd have to start paying for the class. Whaaaaaat?! I logged in to her profile and nothing had changed so I called them and they verified a couple of things and said to disregard the email.  They about gave me a heart attack! Anyhow, does your state offer free virtual school?  Ours is K-12. My daughter had thought about going completely virtual this year but then she changed her mind.

  • I did complete my Bing Rewards tasks for today and I'm at about 69% of my goal ($5 Amazon gift card).

  • The Swagbucks Customer Service did credit me the 100 SB that I didn't get (once again) for completing a survey yesterday, but they did so after the Survey Soiree event had ended, I think, and it would have been my 5th completed survey so I should have been able to qualify for a Swag-Up Reward if they count the C.S. survey credits.  I should email them about that.

  • I collected water in the shower while it was warming up and used it to flush the toilet.

  • My daughter drove herself to school, saving me time and money (one fewer roundtrip).

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work and the kids also packed their lunches. I would have thought that my son would go back to his usual "I'm buying lunch on Mondays" routine, but he had packed it, so good for him!

  • I finished the box of Aldi rice squares for my breakfast and I'm almost done with that box of yucky Publix rice flakes (I mix them up with fresh strawberries so they're actually edible).  My daughter finished a box of Special K as well.  I kept the boxes and added them (along with a 3rd that was in my recycling bin) so my stash of cardboard to lay down in the garden.

  • Then I thought about the bags that hold the cereal that we usually throw away... and about all the plastic zipper bags that I tend to throw away if they've held meat (I'm on the fence about that one but I usually err on the side of caution, although it's probably silly since I wash dishes that had raw meat on them so why not bags?!).  Anyhoo, I decided to wash them and reuse them for freezing meat next time I have some. I'll use some of the many rubber bands that I rescued from my daughter's bedroom last week to seal the bags.  We'll see how that works.

  • I collected the "crumbs" at the bottom of the bag of rice squares and I will use them to top a yogurt later on today.

  • I emptied the countertop composting bin (a steel canister with a clear lid that I had found at my local thrift store last year for $5-$6, I think) into the large composting bin outside (bought at Aldi this spring for about $50, it replaced my Rubbermaid bin that I had been using).  I cleaned it and relined it with scraps of paper from when I clip the coupons that I print. I have a huge bag of those that never seems to go down since I keep on printing coupons!

  • I did 2 "super" loads of laundry on cold/cold, using vinegar for the softener.  I will try hanging the undies/exercise clothes/socks/cleaning cloths and cloth napkins indoors since it's so humid outside and it's supposed to rain a lot today anyway. The cotton clothing and bath towels will go in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting (I showed my youngest son how to use that setting yesterday since he does his own laundry and I'll need to show my middle son as well).

  • I used a piece of scrap paper (leftover from coupon clipping, again!) to write an inventory of my fridge to work on a menu for this week. 

  • I used another piece of scrap paper to make a list of to-do for today. Honestly, if I don't do that early in the morning, I won't be as productive.  I have alarms on my phone, reminder emails from my Google calendar, and I tend to ignore all of those.  I like having a written list that I can cross off, call me weird if you'd like.  Or a troglodyte.  The older I get, the more I'm reverting to "lo-tech" methods.

  • I had a chicken breast that I had defrosted last week but not used so I got another one out of the freezer and threw them both in my crockpot.  I used 2 partially used bottles of barbecue sauce that were in my fridge and also put a little bit of water and shook them to get all of the barbecue sauce out.  I'm cooking those on low all day long and I'll shred them tonight and serve them on the leftover hamburger buns that we have, along with a salad.

  • My middle son came down and said he was going to Publix to pick up some groceries for himself. I tried to convince him to go to Aldi instead but he wanted to go to the closest (and most expensive!) store. Grr.  I considered asking him to pick up the kefir for me but thought better of it since he was in a rush and I wanted to look for a coupon.  I did give him a couple of coupons for things he was planning on buying (I have tons of men's body wash and deodorant that he could have for free but he insists on his "own" brands!) and also told him to input my home phone number at the register so he could get any digital coupons that I might have clipped.  Then I rushed to my Publix digital account and uploaded as many digital coupons as I could for items that I wouldn't usually buy just in case HE did, lol. He's a very stubborn child who always wants to do things his way even if they're not the most beneficial ones so it's going to be a frustrating 4 months, watching him waste his money.  Arrgh.  But he did take the coupons and wrote down the home phone number (nobody knows it because we never use it!) so maybe there's hope?! Update: when he came home, he said that he realized in the driveway that he had bought a lot of frozen food and that his mini fridge that he had bought only had a tiny freezer compartment and that I never have any room in my freezer so he drove back to Publix and returned all the frozen food.  Then, while we were speaking, he admitted that he forgot to use the $2 coupon I had given him for his body wash.  I told him that if he went back to Publix with his receipt and the coupon, Customer Service would give him the $2 back. He was surprised and happy to hear that.  Later on I was looking through all his purchases and he not only purchased items for which I had coupons (Barilla pasta, Ragu Alfredo sauce...) but he also completely missed the items right next to them that were on BOGO promotion this week (Ronzoni pasta, Prego Alfredo sauce).  ARRRGH. I tried telling him to take everything back and buy what was on BOGO but he had just realized that he wasn't off today like he thought he was and that he was supposed to be at his job at Universal Studios in about an hour so he left very fast and didn't even leave me his receipt so I could do that for him.  Arrgh, arrgh, arrgh. It's so frustrating to be the very frugal mother of a stubborn, unorganized child who is not frugal at all...

  • On the other end, I told you we were charging him rent, right?  $200 a month and I also had him give me a $200 "security deposit" because I just repainted that room and the desk that is inside, we replaced the windows as well. This is the child who left me a room with gum stuck under the bed, a mess, and drawings on the walls when he moved out after graduation and who is famously messy.  So I wanted to be strict.  Don't tell him but if all goes well (no damage and he respects our rules), I'll give him the money back at the end of his stay. But, shhhh.  He paid me the $400 this morning.  This is also the child who refused to mow the lawn once a week, which was the only "rent" I wanted to charge him after graduation, so he moved in with his dad.  Where he didn't have to pay rent and everything was given to him but where the rules are wayyyy stricter than here. He didn't bat an eye when I told him he'd have to pay $200 a month to live here, LOL.

  • I hadn't done the dishes this weekend so I ran a very full load. I forgot to mention that I found 2 packets of Finish dish detergent behind my fridge when I cleaned back there on Friday. Score!  I put them aside as "emergency" packets in case I ever run out.

  • I took 2 Driscoll's surveys from berries that I had bought back in July and earned 4 more $1.00/1 printable coupons for this week's shopping trip :)  I think the raspberries are on sale at Target for $1.99 this week and I also need 2 more quarts of strawberries for a special cake that I'll be making for my daughter's birthday.

  • I clipped coupons and recipes while I was biking on my recumbent bike and watching an episode of Law & Order SVU on Netflix.

  • My lunch was a bunch of leftovers and food saves: a wrap made with one of the Flatout Spinach wraps that I bought last week for $0.19 for 2 packages (my daughter doesn't like them!), the meat pulled from 3 small drumsticks from last night's dinner, a little bit of cheddar cheese, and some sliced olives from a can I opened last week. A small Caprese salad with 2 tomatoes that were going soft, the rest of the mozzarella that I bought 2 weeks ago and that was starting to turn, some basil harvested from my garden, and a cup of yogurt topped with the rice squares "crumbs" salvaged earlier today.

  • I joined the Swagbucks Team Challenge at a little bit after noon and an hour later I had already reached the 200 TEAM points to get the 150 SB Swag-up rebate, woohoo!

  • Greg's stomach has been hurting so we decided that I'd get him some kefir (the probiotics have helped him in the past). I found a $1.00/2 printable coupon on and looked over what else I had wanted to buy at Publix this week. 

  • When my daughter came back from school, I took my SUV to run some errands, all within a 4 miles radius:
    • I first stopped at Racetrac and redeemed a survey code for a free hot dog and condiments (my lunch tomorrow).
    • then I went to Publix and got the Kefir ($2.59 for just 24 oz!  It used to be about $2.79 for 32 oz just a year and a half ago!) and other items.  I didn't find the marzipan that I needed. They had almond paste that I almost got but it was a little more than $7 a tube and when I looked up the difference between that and marzipan on my phone, comments said it wasn't the same thing at all so I left it there. I might try to find it at Target or Michael's on Wednesday.  I got unflavored gelatin because I need it for the cake. For years I've had envelopes of the stuff that sat untouched in my pantry and now I can't find them. I'm afraid I got rid of them last time I had pantry moths?!
    • My next stop was Walgreens to get the Arizona Tea that my daughter likes and that is on sale this week (I forgot to pick it up yesterday) for $0.50 a large can. Yes, I should just brew her some green tea and put it in a to go cup. I need to look up copycat recipes for it.
    • My last stop was the library where I picked up a free magazine from the donation pile (more recipes, ack!) and a book that was waiting for me.  I met the new head librarian, a  male, who confirmed that he would continue (and "improve") the teen program that the previous librarian has run.  Yay!  He wants to poll the teens to see what they would like to do so I told him my son likes Dungeons and Dragons and is interested in video production and IT classes.  The librarian's background is actually IT apparently so he was happy to hear that.  I hope something great comes out of it!

  • My youngest son stayed after school today since cross country practice starts this week.  Of course, this is free to us, yay!

  • I earned 5 KFR points by entering bonus code KIDS-LOVE-COLORING  in my Kellogg's Family Rewards account and then another 100 KFR points by entering code SAVI-NGSR-EWAR-DS4U. Also, heads-up, they'll be having a special bonus during Labor Day:

  • I entered my exercise into Walgreens' Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 100 BR points, which takes me to 4130 points. When I reach 5000 points, I can redeem them for $5 off my purchase!


  • Gas: I needed to run to Publix to get some kefir for Greg who think he's developed some kind of an ulcer, so I did my Publix shopping for the week while I was there and I won't need to go there on Wednesday.  I also stopped by the library to pick up a book that was waiting for me.

  • I had some food waste, which I will explain on Friday during Food Waste Friday.  Poop.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!

This Week's Dinner Plans

Each week I peek in my fridge, freezer, and garden, to see what needs to be used up and I take a couple of minutes to think of ways to use up those ingredients in the next few days...

MONDAY:  Barbecue Shredded Chicken, White Rice & Asparagus
  • From the freezer: chicken breast
  • From the pantry: white rice
  • From the fridge: defrosted chicken breast, rest of the barbecue sauce that's already opened, asparagus
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  cook chicken in crockpot
  • Need to buy: nothing

TUESDAY: Chicken Sausages, Cabbage and Potato Puffs
* The recipe calls for kielbasa but I'll be using chicken sausages that I have in the freezer. I've made this recipe with smoked turkey sausage before and it was delicious too.
  • From the freezer: mild Italian chicken sausages, Alexia potato puffs
  • From the pantry: sugar, diced onion, red pepper flakes, seasoning salt, caraway seed
  • From the fridge: bacon fat,minced garlic, organic cabbage
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: bake potato puffs
  • Need to buy: nothing

WEDNESDAY: Almond-Lemon Tilapia with Green Bean, Spinach & Sweet Potato Couscous
  • From the freezer: tilapia fillets, lemon zest, sliced almonds, green beans
  • From the pantry: parsley flakes, EVOO, salt, pepper, tiny sweet potato from garden,couscous, lemon juice
  • From the fridge: Dijon mustard, spinach
  • Need to harvest: parsley
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: sweet potato

THURSDAY: Bacon-Cheeseburger Chowder with Rolls
* The recipe calls for Velveeta and I really don't like the stuff so I'll be using Cheddar instead.
  • From the freezer: ground beef, diced onion, turkey bacon, rolls
  • From the pantry: flour, potatoes
  • From the fridge: red pepper, minced garlic,milk
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  bake the rolls (with butter and parmesan on top)
  • Need to buy: beef bouillon granules, cheddar cheese

FRIDAY: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Carrot Coriander Soup
  • From the freezer: leeks
  • From the pantry: soup base, ground coriander
  • From the fridge: carrots, cheese slice, bread, butter
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance:  defrost chicken thighs for tomorrow!
  • Need to buy: nothing

SATURDAY: Yogurt-Curry Marinated Chicken Thighs with Scallion-Dill Potato Salad
  • From the freezer: chicken thighs
  • From the pantry: sweet onion, curry powder, EVOO, salt, crushed red pepper, potatoes,dill,salt, pepper
  • From the fridge: nothing
  • Need to harvest: green onions
  • Need to make in advance: marinate the chicken for 4 to 8 hours, make potato salad
  • Need to buy: 2 cups non-fat plain yogurt

SUNDAY: Salisbury Steak Supreme with Macaroni & Cheese
  • From the freezer: ground beef
  • From the pantry: sliced sweet onion, bread crumbs, salt-free seasoning blend, pepper, nutmeg, cornstarch,beef bouillon granules, box of mac & cheese
  • From the fridge: butter, milk, baby bella mushrooms
  • Need to harvest: nothing
  • Need to make in advance: nothing
  • Need to buy: nothing

My Daily Freebies: Monday 8/31/15

Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • A hot dog with condiments from Racetrac, after redemption of a survey reward code.

  •  The latest Sue Grafton detective novel, borrowed from our library system (free entertainment!) and since next Monday the library will be closed for Labor Day, I get an extra FREE day to read it. Woohoo!

  •  A magazine filled with recipes from the library's donation pile.

  • The emoji flashcards that I ordered (for free) from Domino's.  I'll give them to my daughter for her birthday (inside joke with her since I can never understand which emoji she sends or I send her because I'm blind as a bat and those things are tiny.)

  • A sample set of 4 Keurig K-cups (from Walmart, I think). I will use them in my French press :)

  • A 45-ct bottle of Mentos gum from Publix, free with BOGO promotion.

  • Swagbucks sent me the $25 Amazon gift card that I ordered 4 days ago :)

Did you get any freebies today?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Sunday 8/30/15

  • Erika might have dissipated but it rained a lot last night and today's weather was overcast and very, very humid, hence HOT.  I spotted the first lovebugs of the Fall in the Winn Dixie parking lot.

  • We spent a few hours playing our weekly Family Dungeons & Dragons game last night with our son.  He took my feedback to heart and was much more descriptive, which helped my enthusiasm and interest level :)  I was exhausted by all the day's activities, though, and slept like a baby.  Still, I got up at 7:15 this morning because I love being the only one up on Sunday mornings :)

  • I printed a few coupons from my usual sources ( via Swagbucks, Smartsource (was finally able to print from there!), Target) and also uploaded digital coupons to my Publix and Walgreens digital wallets.

  • I didn't take a shower since I took a bath late yesterday afternoon.

  • Winn Dixie sent me an email to promote their 3-day sale and I started agonizing about whether I should go today or skip the sale altogether and have a No Drive Day.  TrayceeBee and Tara weighed in in the comments, thanks ladies!  I did end up going and maximized my trip in the following ways:
    • I looked at the regular sales flyer as well and realized there were quite a few good prices on meat and other items. I made a list of what I wanted to buy and looked for coupons too.
    • I stopped by Racetrac, got a free hot dog with a survey reward code, and also a free sandwich because I splurged and bought myself a Diet Coke. The cashier didn't give me a receipt at first so I asked for it because 1) I always want a receipt (for my own accounting purposes) and 2) I'm going to take the survey on the receipt to earn another free hot dog :)  I let the cashier pack my items in a plastic bag, something I would usually refuse, because I passed the plastic bag down to my daughter for her to use as a liner for her trashcan.
    • I stopped by Save A Lot and got more grapes @ $0.99/lb.  The sale ends on Tuesday and my kids looooove grapes so the ones I bought last Wednesday were already gone.  I also had printed 2 more Kraft barbecue sauce coupons from my son's computer so I got 2 more bottles for $0.24 each after coupon.  There weren't any empty boxes at the checkout area so I found my favorite cashier who was stocking shelves and asked if 
    • I stopped by Walgreens and bought 2 cans of olives with a coupon. Those were the only items that I wanted to buy at Walgreens this week and they were the last 2 on the shelf as well! I earned 10 Balance Reward points with this purchase.
    • At Winn Dixie, I stocked up on meat and fish: 2 lbs of tilapia (on BOGO sale), almost 7 lbs of pork loin (on sale at $2.00/lb), almost 9 lbs of bone-in chicken breasts (on sale @ $1.45/lb), and 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters (on sale @ $0.49/lb). I also found leeks on sale for $1.50/lb. I could probably have waited a few weeks and found them at Publix for $0.99/lb but I love my carrot coriander soup that uses leeks so I "splurged". I also got a couple more things with coupons.  I earned $0.05 in Fuel Perks (although I won't use them as the Shell station is way more expensive than Racetrac to start with!).
So I'll up my weekly grocery budget to its official $100 for this week.  Hopefully I won't go over it!

  • Back home, I took the time to "butcher" and repackage the chicken and pork (all but 1 of the zipper bags that I used to repackage those had already been used and washed at least once).  I ended up with 4 bags of 2 large chicken breasts each , 4 bags of (1) pork roast each , 2 bags of (4) pork chops each, 1 bag of (4) large drumsticks, 1 bag of (5) large drumsticks, 1 bag of (4) large chicken thighs, 1 bag of (5) large chicken thighs) = so 14 meals at least for $31.40 or about $2.42 per meal that will feed 4 people, probably with some leftovers.  Also, I will have lots of chicken bones to make chicken stock. Bonus!

  • I cut up and rinsed the leeks, put the "peelings" in the veggie bag that I keep in the freezer for when I made stock, and placed the 2 ends in a recycled take-out container filled with water to try to regrow some leeks (my previous experiment didn't end well as the heat and the squirrels destroyed my zombie leeks!).

  • My lunch (at 3 p.m.!) was the free hot dog from Racetrac, the leftover rice and veggies from Greg's dinner last night, the left over orange that my daughter had peeled for her fruit salad, and the Diet Coke that I had bought.  My son had made himself a sandwich and also ate the free sandwich that I got at Racetrac for buying the Diet Coke.  Teenage boys are locusts in disguise!

  • My daughter was worried that her bathroom sink was draining very slowly so I asked Greg to look at it (I was busy "butchering" the chicken!) and he was able to pull the stopper out and cleared some gunk that was stuck in there. No need to call a plumber, yay!

  • I ordered a generator (see: splurges).  I went through the Discover Deals portal and paid with my Discover card, which should give us 5% back on our order (or about $45) in Discover Rewards that I will be able to use on Amazon for future freebies, he he he. Hopefully the generator will come in before the next major storm ("Fred" is in the Atlantic right now!).

  • I ordered a battery for the generator (also see: splurges) from a site that Greg researched.  They didn't charge us tax OR shipping (woohoo!). I looked for a promotional code on RetailMeNot but couldn't find anything.  I charged it to our American Express (which offers the best reward percentage, generally).  Upon completing my order, the confirmation page was displayed. I read the small print and there was an offer to get $20 back on our order if we liked them on Facebook or Google+ and wrote a review on a site called TrustPilot. I'm not on Facebook but I do have a Google+ that is completely private (only used to communicate with my brothers) and that I actually don't use anymore because both my brothers and I actually hated how it worked.  So I took screenshots of the review and of the "now following" screen from my G+ account and emailed them to their customer service department and I hope that they'll credit me the $20!

  • I entered the code from my Diet Coke bottle cap in MyCokeRewards and earned 3 MCR points.

  • I took two surveys on my Racetrac receipts from 2 separate gas stations and earned two reward codes for a free roller grill item each.

  • Home Depot sent me a $5 off $50 coupon for subscribing to their emails.  The thing is... I was already subscribed?! I'll take the coupon, though.  It doesn't expire until 9/20.

  • Inspired by TrayceeBee from Just Keep Swimming, Mama Fish!, I took the surveys at the bottom of my Walgreens and Winn Dixie receipts, and joined (for the umptieth time) the Save A Lot Smart Shopper Club.  All of those enter you in a different sweepstake to earn various amounts of gift cards. I never win at those things but you don't win if you don't play, right?

  • I skipped dinner since I had eaten lunch at 3 p.m.  My family had the planned Ten Things Farm Chicken Drumsticks and the Porcini-Filled Tortellini.  We ended up with leftovers for Greg's lunch since I didn't eat. Yay!  We also had 3 extra drumsticks so I pulled the meat from those so I can make myself a chicken wrap tomorrow for lunch.  My daughter reminded me that I wanted everyone to keep me their bones by asking me what she should do with hers.  Smart girl!  I froze everyone's drumstick bones to make chicken stock later on this month.

  • Sometimes the easiest solution is the smartest... the plastic drawer cabinet that I use for my spices is on wheels and fits perfectly under my little kitchen island so it's out of the way.  I noticed tonight that one of the wheels had come off and when I inspected it, it appeared that the casing that the wheel nests into had broken. I tried fixing it with duct tape (didn't work), the old Sugru (didn't work, too old), superglue (didn't work and got it all over my fingertips so now my iPhone doesn't recognize my fingerprints anymore, arrgh) and was really frustrated so I finally got out the glue gun.  Only that didn't work either. ARRGH.  Greg asked me if it was finally time to buy a new one. Nooooooooo!  I was stumped for about a minute until I realized that the solution was obvious: remove all the wheels!  Now it just sits on the floor, which, actually, is fine. Dirt won't collect under it anymore and I rarely (if ever) wheeled it around my kitchen anyway.  Woohoo, "fixed" it for free!
Not a crafter... and I ended up with glue all over.  All my spices!
I keep them organized by making labels that I laminate and glue
on the top of each jar with my hot glue gun. It's worked very well
for me!


  • A 20-oz bottle of Diet Coke at Racetrac.  $1.79 but I got a free sandwich ($3.69 value) with it by using a store coupon.  My son ate the sandwich as his "2nd lunch" (teenagers!).

  • Gas to run all those errands!

  • Wood to make a shelf: my daughter asked to borrow my glue gun and when I inquired as what she had done with it. she showed me this shelf that she made for her bathroom.  Apparently she stopped by Michael's before work yesterday and bought herself wood to make the shelf. Ingenious, but we do have free wood in the shed!  Anyhoo. I was tickled pink that she made it herself so I told her I'd refund her for the supplies (about $5).  Hopefully next time she will think to ask Greg or myself if we have something that she could use for free, or go to thrift stores to see what is available.

  • A generator.  Greg spent time researching the generators that interested him and presented me with 2 choices from the Home Depot website.  I agreed with his top choice, which is $100 cheaper than the one we would have bought on Friday and is more versatile (works with gas and propane).  Cost: $897 + tax but priceless if a storm comes and we lose power for more than 2 hours! Yes, I am a delicate flower :) We also need to order the battery separately, and get a special funnel and motor oil. We picked the curbside delivery for an additional $55 instead of picking it up at the store for free because it's 200 lbs!  

  • A battery for the generator. It wasn't strictly necessary as you can start it with a pull cord, but Greg knows that I hate pull cords (I don't have much upper body strength!) so he thought it'd be a good idea to get the battery so I could just push a button to start the generator. Ok by me! It was an additional $79 so definitely a splurge,  but, as I said earlier, I hope to get $20 back.

  • The scale that I bought at Aldi last week (marked down to $6.99) is really a piece of crap.  Both my daughter and I tried it and it records our weight with a 5 to 7 lb difference each time we step on it!  I don't think Aldi will refund it since I can't go back until Wednesday.  There isn't a phone number listed for the store either so I emailed their corporate customer service with a copy of my receipt and a picture of the scale. Based on previous interaction with them, I'm skeptical that they'll agree to refund me.

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

My Daily Freebies: Sunday 8/30/15

Here is what I got/found for free today!

  • A hot dog and condiments from Racetrac, free after redemption of survey reward code.

  • A Turkey and Swiss Sandwich from Racetrac, free with redemption of "Buy a 20 oz Coke product, Get a free sandwich" store coupon that had come with one of our Sodapalooza cups earlier this summer. (I did spend $1.79 on a Diet Coke).

  • A trunk load of cardboard boxes for my gardening project, free from Save A Lot.

Did you get any freebies today?


Do I drive to Winn Dixie to take advantage of the $2/lb pork loin 3-day sale (today through Tuesday only and I only have access to my SUV or Greg's truck today...) OR do I skip the sale and add a "No Drive Day" to my 2015 tally?

Cons of going today:

1) It's a good sale but the loin has been $2.29/lb at Aldi so not an incredible sale.

2) Winn Dixie is about 10-15 minutes away from here. I drive a gas-guzzler. It'll cost me about a gallon of gas for the round-trip, which means about $2.14 expense.

Pros of going today:

1) I save $0.30/lb on pork loin, something that I do need to stock up on.

2) I could stop by Save A Lot too and get more $0.99/lb grapes before the sale ends on Tuesday AND try to score more free cardboard boxes, which I need for my gardening project.

Other possibilities:

1) I think my teen daughter is driving to the college tomorrow, and if so she could stop by Winn Dixie for me (on the way) and practice finding the correct cut of meat, using my Winn Dixie card to get the discount AND paying with our shared credit card... I'd have to make sure she packs it into one of the cooler bags that I keep in the car since then she'd be at the college for 90 minutes?  Also, I could ask her to see if there are cardboard boxes available in front of the Winn Dixie Liquor store right next door (they usually pile them up in front of the store on Monday mornings and they're free for the taking).  But I'm not sure if she would have time to do this before her lab and I don't want to go there when it's dark because I don't feel that it's the safest part of town for a teen girl to be after dark. With my car. She definitely wouldn't have time to go to Save A Lot too. So no grapes and no extra boxes?

2) Or I could ask my middle son, who I think is off tomorrow and planning on going shopping in Clermont with his GF, to stop by the Winn Dixie liquor store to see if they have free cardboard boxes  But, he's not all that reliable.

Hmmm, I think I'm talking myself into driving there myself today... I can't do all my shopping today since my fridge is still kind of full and I wanted to go on Wednesday to take advantage of the new Aldi deals anyway. Plus I haven't worked on my menu for the week yet so if I go before doing that, I might need to go out again on Wednesday anyway. If I went today and scored more cardboard boxes, I could finish my mulching gardening project before the end of the week, possibly.  Argh, I can't make up my mind! 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Saturday 8/29/15

  • TS Erika became weaker and is now a Tropical Wave (as of this morning) and shifted to the Gulf of Mexico so that should be dissipated over Cuba so it's great news for us in Central Florida!

  • My middle son moved back in today. We did a walk-through and signed a lease, he moved his stuff in and then left because he had photographic assignments to do for his homework (he's a photography major).  We'll work out the food portion of the stay as we go.  He wanted to buy his own food and keep it separate, but that might not work all the time. I told him to just tell me what he wanted and if I could fit it in my budget, I'd just get it from Aldi for him when I go shopping and he wouldn't have to pay me.


I poured the melted wax into the third candle and then waited a little for it to harden and put (what I thought were) the wicks from one of the candles into it.  Only... I realized afterwards that there weren't any wicks anymore, just the metal wick holders. Doh!  So I'm going to see if I can find wicks at Walmart when I go there on Wednesday.  (For another 9 things you can do with your crockpot that don't involve food, check out this article!)

  • My lunch was the cheeseburger (topped with my homemade zesty pickles) and sweet potato fries left over from last night. I also cut up the last mango. My son and Greg made themselves sandwiches.

  • I used rainwater to water my indoor seedlings and zombie plants. Have I shown you how big the zombie celery has gotten?  Look!

  • Greg mowed our lawn this afternoon (no professional landscapers allowed here, lol!).  I spent several hours weeding and spreading more mulch between my garden beds.  I need to get more cardboard boxes now because the areas that I want to mulch are thick with weeds.  So I'll work on weeding them between tomorrow and Wednesday and hopefully will get more cardboard boxes from Save A Lot on Wednesday.

  • One of my little acorn squashes is getting larger and I hope it will survive!

  • It poured at about 4:15 p.m. for a while so still no need to water the garden, yay!

  • My son got caught in the storm with his digital camera so to be safe, he used the 4 lbs of rice that I had left in a bag to dry it off and make sure no moisture got into it.  I'm thinking I'll still be able to use the rice for cooking.

  • Greg reused the tea leaves that he used last night to brew himself another cup of tea. He admitted that he was partly being lazy but mostly being frugal (hahaha!).

  • Dinner (see "Splurges") came in polythene containers so I rinsed them and will drop them off in the "egg cartons" recycling bin at Publix next week.


  • Since the storm isn't coming after all, I figured I might as well garden this weekend so we splurged on a load of mulch ($50).  

  • I also asked Greg to pick me up 4 rolls of edging from Lowe's.  I have a $5 off $50 coupon for Home Depot but I can only use it for in-store purchases and they were out of the edging that I wanted when I checked on Thursday.  I wanted to try and install it before the next time I go into town so I made my peace with not using the coupon. I wish Lowe's took competitors' coupons, darn it!  I looked up the price online while Greg was traveling there and saw that it was on sale for $18.98 a 40 ft roll. I sent him the link and asked him to check if they would match their website if it rang for $19.98 (their regular price).  I **should** have ordered it online for store pick-up so I could have earned rewards on the order for shopping online AND gotten the sale price automatically, darn it.  Arrgh. So this is technically a small failure.

  • Gas for my daughter to go to the college for her math "lab" requirement, and later on to go to her job.

  • Water!  I took a long bath with a book after my gardening session left me dirtier than PigSty.

  • Dinner. I'm not counting it as a failure but as a rewards... I am more than $200 under budget in groceries for the month of August and we only ate out once at the very beginning of the month.  So we got to order Mexican food and eat it at home.  A good thing too because that restaurant was crowded!  The food was OK. I don't really like that place but Greg and our son do.  We have a limited choice of take-out places in our little town, which is actually very good for our wallet, lol.

  • We didn't have any failures today!

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

You guys! There's a baby alligator in one of my rainwater bins!

Everyone knows that if there is a body of water in Florida, chances are an alligator lives in it. Fact of life.

Our house is located within 1 block of two small lakes.  Alligators definitely live in those lakes. I have seen some.

So why was I surprised this morning when I went to collect rainwater from one of my bins and saw this baby alligator swimming in it?!

I called my son to witness this.  My calm son told me baby alligators aren't that small. I retorted that I had never seen a lizard that looked like that in our yard. I should know, I watch the lizards all.the.time. Also? I spent a lot of time at the Florida Aquarium with them when they were little, and even went to Gatorland once.  So, ahem, I know alligators, son.

He was still skeptical.

And then this happened:

... and I thought: if alligators start being able to climb walls like Spiderman, we're in big trouble!

So I caught it in a jar and brought it to our expert for his opinion.

He decided it was some kind of a lizard and got very excited and tried to open the jar. But he's a cat so he couldn't.

Meanwhile, my son and I looked it up in the National Audubon Society's Field Guide to Florida and decided that I had indeed caught:

Well, I still think it's a gator.

But I released it outside.  I hope there's not a large mommy gator gecko waiting for me somewhere...