Monday, August 24, 2015

Frugal Failures and Successes: Monday 8/24/15

  • Back to School Day for all my kids today!  NPR posted an article today about a book that details how, in the author's view, our schools are neglecting the brightest students and failing to motivate them. I completely agree and have for years.  I think it's very telling that both my brightest students are less than enthused about going back to school this morning. I remember being sooooo excited about starting school again, each year. New teachers, new things to learn, seeing my friends again, getting older... I loved it all.  I'm guessing French school (back then) did a much better job.  Although,  I do admit that part of my enthusiasm was also for getting to spend time away from home where I was bored to tears. Nowadays kids have the internet so they can be more challenged and entertained at home than they were when we were kids. Still, neither of my kids is particularly excited about any classes on their schedule (well, my daughter is happy to have AP Art) and that makes me sad.

  • There still wasn't any information about the water problem on my son's school's website this morning but one of the local newspapers reported that the School District had posted on their website that they were looking into alternative ways of providing food service at the school. So I'm guessing that means there will be school.  The school district's PR blog has NO information whatsoever.  Our city's website only says there's a water boiling alert for our area but nothing about the school.  So I subscribed to their RSS feed and hopefully in the future I will get the alerts for such things!

  • In the meantime, I decided to wait until tomorrow to do my laundry since I wash everything in cold water.

  • I did run the dishwasher since it gets very hot.  I'm thinking it'll be OK.

  • Thankfully I had a case of water bottles stashed somewhere (note to self: buy more for the next emergency!) so we were able to avoid drinking tap water.  Once again I was happy to have the electric kettle that I got for $5 from the thrift store last month.  Since Greg drinks tea in the morning I boiled twice the amount of water for his tea and I used instant coffee instead of the coffee maker.

  • After spending a very indulgent weekend of not doing much of anything save watching TV and reading a book, I have a lot of chores that have piled up so I need to get going this morning! I made a list on a scrap piece of paper, that's a start, right?

  • For the first time in ... EVER, I completely forgot to take pictures of my kids as they headed to school on their first day of the year.  Arrgh.

  • My daughter had spent a long time making sure her high school schedule was correct before school even started... when she came home this afternoon, she was very frustrated because when she showed up in her last period class, she was told that she wasn't on the class roster and that the class was only Horticulture 2 not Horticulture 2+3 like she had been told (she needs to take Horticulture 3).  That meant she had to change her whole schedule around.  She filled out the form, had me sign it, and I told her we should go back to the high school right away to see the Guidance Counselor and explain what had happened. So we did, and the Guidance Counselor told us the teacher had been wrong (new teacher) so my daughter didn't need to change anything. Phew. Hopefully someone will set the teacher straight tomorrow morning.

  • Update: just checked the news website at 11:15 p.m. tonight and a report filed at 6:30 p.m. indicates that the sinkhole has doubled in size to 80 ft wide and could be as deep as 130 ft!  And apparently our boil-water order has been extended to 48 hours.  Do you think anyone actually contacted us this time? NO! And nothing has changed on the city's website either, which is just a short statement stating that our area is under boil-water notice. No explanations, no end date or time, nothing.  Arrgh.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg's lunch today.

  • Both my daughter and my son packed their lunches for school.

  • I spent 45 minutes in the garden before it got too sunny.  I planted 7 or 8 more pineapples in ground (I lost track!), pulled weeds, and replanted a guest tomato plant and 3 tomato seedlings in a bin that used to contain lettuce since theirs was really falling apart. I also moved another, sturdier, tomato bin into a new location to consolidate my bin area.  All of this exertion will count as my exercise today (I was sweating buckets despite being in the shade!).  

  • I also was able to reclaim 7 or 8 pots that I will use for future pineapple tops and other plants.

  • I collected the "Nathalie's Mix" from the bin that was falling apart into the wheelbarrow, as well as the drain pipe lengths and the plumbing pipe that I had used to make the self-watering bin.  I will reuse them in a future bin.

  • I reused a decorative "lattice" thingie to provide additional support for my guest squash plant that has started growing in another direction. I really hope all those squashes will turn into something delicious that we can actually eat! I'm thinking they might be acorn squashes?

  • While I was weeding one of the bins, I found a small stray sweet potato that had grown in there :)

  • I defrosted a gallon of whole milk since we're running low and I wasn't sure we'd have enough through Wednesday morning.

  • I'm going to lay off baking bread for a while as both my daughter and Greg are counting their calories and I reckon I should do the same as I have regained a lot of weight. Bleh.

  • I took a Driscoll's survey and made sure that I used the correct email address this time, so I could earn 2 more $1.00/1 berries coupons for my Wednesday shopping trip.

  • My lunch was leftover mac'n cheese, an "egg salad sandwich", and the rest of the grapes.

  • I collected water from the shower as it as warming up and used it to flush the toilet.

  • Our property tax projected bill came in and if there is any increase, it will be tiny (less than $10).  Our property tax is about $1,330/yr.

  • My daughter and I drove to Ace Hardware where I picked up a large bag of peat moss since I was almost out of it and needed it to plant more pineapples tomorrow morning.  I was relieved that they carried it and I didn't need to drive 15 minutes to Home Depot in Clermont!

  • We stopped by the library so I could donate the pile of horse magazines from her room and return the books and DVDs that were due this week, and I picked up free coupon inserts from the donation pile.

  • After going to the high school, we stopped by Publix and got the SavingStar chocolate bar freebie which I gave to my son for his snack.

  • I worked on my dinner menu for this week, using mostly what we already have on hand. It should mean that I won't be grocery shopping this week but let's not get too crazy, shall we?

  • I earned 100 KFR points by entering bonus code KFRMOMSLUVPOINTS in my Kellogg's Family Rewards account. (thanks, Slickdeals!)

  • For dinner I used a box of penne pasta (abt $0.60 @ Target a few weeks ago), the rest of a jar of marinara sauce that was in my fridge, a bag and a quarter of meatballs and some Parmesan and mozzarella cheese to make Penne Pasta and Meatballs Bake.  I made a side salad too.  It was a nice way of serving pasta and meatballs that got my family much more excited than I thought they would be!

  • Greg got gas at Racetrac today so I took the survey on his receipt and earned a code for a free roller grill item.

  • Gas: My daughter to drive to school and back. Then when she got home, she and I drove to Ace Hardware, the library, and her high school. 

  • I had to throw away one of my self-watering bins (the bin only) that had shattered, as well as the last veggie tent since it also was all torn and looked horrible.  
I had bought both the low and taller sizes and they all
felt prey to the Florida sun :(

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


  1. Eventful day for you! I can't believe that the sinkhole has grown SO big! That's scary stuff!!
    I cannot even imagine having property taxes that low!! For my 1750 sq ft house on 1/2 acre in CT, I pay around 5.5K! (It's lumped in with my mortgage which is why I don't have an exact figure) To make it worse, my BFF who lives in the town/city over has an 1100 sq ft condo with no property and pay around 7K! So, if you ever hear CT people gripe about taxes you know why! LOL
    Also, just out of curiosity, what exactly happens to those pineapples that you planted? Will they all grown into trees? Probably a stupid question but hey I'm in New England where I doubt any really tropical plant/tree could survive our winters outdoors! =)

    1. Our house is about 2,500 sq ft and we have 1/3 of an acre.

      Low taxes and no state income tax is what attracts many people to Florida. Then they discover that the infrastructure and social services suck because there is no money to maintain (or implement) them and they whine that "up North..." and we all hate them and wish they would move back "up North", lol. Floridians pay more for food, gas, and other taxes & fees (which we also pass on to our many tourists) because of this. Also, the schools kind of stink according to popular belief and it's because they don't get enough money, also according to popular belief. Of course then you look at how much money they spend on administrators and sports and you realize that the more money you throw at them down here. the least the students (as in people who STUDY, not athletes) will benefit, at least that's my POV. As someone who'd rather not give the government huge amounts of money in taxes if I can avoid it, I like that we have something called the "Save Our Homes" amendment (I think it's an amendment, I should look it up) that guarantees that while you own your home, your property taxes will never go up more than 3% a year. The problem for home buyers is that when they look at buying a home and pull up the property taxes, they don't realize that their potential taxes might be much higher because once the house is sold (presumably at a large profit over the current owner's original taxable home value) then the tax appraiser starts charging the current tax rate based on the new appraisal of the house. So... people get nasty surprises although I still don't think property taxes are as high as they are in CT! Of course that is a separate line item from what they charge for ambulance services, fire department, public schools, city property taxes, etc. All of which get tacked on to our property tax bill. Ours is also charged to our mortgage company which rolls it into our escrow, but we do get a statement from the county once a year with the current numbers, the numbers if the proposed budget doesn't pass, and the new numbers if the proposed budget does pass. Historically the proposed budget has passed so that's what gets charged to our mortgage company in a couple of months.

      In Clermont (the largest city in our county, just 10 minutes away from where I live), property owners might have to pay up to 45% more in their city property tax (and also start paying a fire tax) this year because the leaders of that city have been spending all their reserves on extravagant purchases recently without increasing their tax rate (a popular thing to do in this mostly Republican county): a $10 million police station, $6 for a former mega church that they turned into an art & recreation center but that is bringing close to no revenue to the city, etc so they're out of money to even meet their basic responsibilities. I'd hate to be a homeowner down here facing such a huge increase in my taxes. After all, our main employer is Walt Disney World. Most people here are the working poor who work in the service industry, usually 2 or 3 jobs, and barely make ends meet. I don't know how those people are going to be able to withstand that increase. The scary thing is that it probably will happen to us soon too because our city manager and city council seem to have been involved into some hijinx, waving hundreds of thousands of dollars in various fees to "attract new businesses". Still, I think it'll take a while for us to reach $7K in property taxes (thankfully!). Off my soapbox now :)


    2. The pineapple plants won't turn into trees :) They remain as spiky bushes from which a pineapple grows from the center. Not a stupid question, I had to look it up when I started thinking about growing them too! I haven't grown a pineapple yet but a former friend did it on her back porch all the time so hopefully my patience will be rewarded. I just hope they will survive the 2 or 3 nights of freezing temps that we'll get in February. Last year I brought all the pots indoors, but this year they'll be stuck in the ground, lol. Another thing that's weird to grow is asparagus. I don't know why it never occurred to me that they would grow out of the ground like that, like... spears! I'm not sure how I thought they grew, I just never thought of it and the first time I saw a photo, I thought the person had staged it with asparagus stuck in the ground to play a joke on the readers, hahaha. I don't think they grow in Florida and my son HATES them so I don't bother growing them.

    3. Yes, asparagus DOES grow weird - and that I have seen up here in CT! LOL We all like asparagus and I would love to grow it but, I have been really lazy about it. I used to have a friend who grew asparagus and said it takes a few years before the plant will really start to yield anything - too frustrating for me. But, for asparagus lovers, not much can beat a fresh minutes ago picked batch of it!
      Keep us posted with the pineapples! I would love to see what happens! Good luck!

    4. And, as for the taxes, they give me such a headache! LOL I completely agree with you about the money that schools get and how it is distributed! I live in a "sports town" where the focus is heavily on all sports for both boys and girls (lacrosse, football, softball, soccer, track, etc) The worst offender is the swimming teams -- A year before we moved here a "community pool" was built at the park across the street from the high school. Truthfully it was built for our swim teams. In our last town the community pool was actually FREE to townspeople ( just show your valid id with your address). THIS pool just gives you "the town rate" as opposed to "out of town". We haven't had a family pass in many years but back then (at least five or six years ago) the yearly pass was over $300! To make matters worse, this pool has a special bubble that they took off for the summer to make it completely open - which has FAILED TWICE in the eleven years we have been here. When I say FAILED I am talking having to be completely replaced for $$$$$$$$! And, now they have decided to make it a fully enclosed year round pool for even more tax payer money! They claim it's for all of us but really it's for the swim teams and maybe for the seniors who are prevalent in the town and use the pool too. But, you know, put more money towards maybe real math teachers?!?! Now, I am talking crazy I guess! L:OL
      The kicker for me is that TIME (at least I am pretty sure it was TIME) magazine rated MY stinking town one of the BEST places to live in all of the USA! I saw that and had to laugh! =)

  2. I laughed at the graphic you used for the first day of school. The first day for us is this Tuesday...the day after Labour Day. That will be the day that I will seriously feel the need to get organized and get down to business. It will be a fresh start to a new year.


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