Friday, September 11, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Friday 9/11/15

  • A weird thing happened last night: I woke up to use the bathroom and thought to myself that it probably was almost time for my alarm to ring (it was set for 6 a.m.).  I checked the time and it was only 2 a.m.!!! And instead of being relieved, I was ticked off because I felt like I had slept a long time already (we went to bed past midnight!) and I didn't feel like lying in bed for another 4 hours!  Then of course I went back to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and now, at 10:15 a.m., I feel exhausted and ready for a nap.  Weird.

  • It's been an "UGH" kind of morning.  First of, it's 9/11, always an emotional day for me. Second, Greg flew to TX this morning, on American Airlines. He's attending an ROTC unit reunion. Third, I drove him to the airport in his truck and on the way home his engine light came on and stayed on.  Fourth, I arrived home to see that my youngest son (who apparently had just left for school), didn't eat breakfast, forgot his lunch at home and didn't feed the cats. I guess someone overslept. Then, of course, dirty dishes were waiting for me since I didn't do them last night.  Ugh, ugh, ugh... More details on all of this below...

  • It hasn't rained for a few days and, lulled by the daily storms that we'd been having for a few weeks, I haven't been checking on my garden at all.  I should water today, my squash plant looked horrible last night, but rain is in the forecast this afternoon and weekend so maybe I should just wait for nature to do its thing?

  • I bookmarked 3 cars that I might be interested in for my daughter last night.  Greg doesn't know more than me about cars (and honestly, if I were to guess who knows more and is savvier when it comes to car buying, I would say it's me) but I don't like the idea of going to shop for one without him.  My daughter and I will go tomorrow anyway just so that we can get an idea of whether any of those are actually interesting, if the dealerships provide maintenance history (hopefully obtained from the previous owners but I'm not holding my breath), etc. but I'm not going to go with the idea of I have to buy a car that day. It's been a looooooong time since I've bought a used vehicle (1997?) and obviously there are more questions to ask and things to check than when you buy a brand new one. Greg and I already agreed that we will go together next weekend if I can't find anything this weekend.

  • Consumerist reports today that Aldi is planning a big expansion in the US (they own Trader Joe's, did you know?) and that Lidl is also poised to enter the American market.  Woohoo!  My dad almost exclusively shops at Lidl, back in France.  He told me it was even cheaper than Aldi.  The article also refers to the effect that both Lidl and Aldi had on other supermarkets in the UK (this note is for Tara and any other British readers).

  • I drove Greg to the airport so we wouldn't have to pay for 3 days of airport parking and I would have his truck this weekend (my daughter is working so she'll be using my car). So I used gas and tolls and I will again on Sunday when I have to go pick him up.

  • We had to leave by 6:45 a.m.  I made him breakfast at home and he brought a water bottle with him. He refilled it at a water fountain after he passed the security checkpoints.

  • I dropped him off at the departures area so I didn't have to pay for parking.

  • I exited the Florida turnpike one exit early (less money in tolls!) so I could swing by the Clermont Racetrac and gas up his truck. 

  • Gas was at $2.11/gallon this morning, woohoo! The truck needed more than 3/4 of a tank of gas but the pump kept on clicking "done" before the tank was full so I kept on pumping until I was satisfied that the tank was full.

  • Because I had grabbed my coupon organizer before leaving the house, I was able to redeem a survey reward code for a free hot dog and condiments. I also gained a new receipt with a new survey to take for a another freebie :)
This picture is from a previous receipt :) I love recycling/reusing
so much that I reuse old pictures too!
  • When I started the truck again, the engine light came on and stayed on.  I called Greg, who was still at the gate, and we agreed that I should stop by our favorite garage that was on my way home anyway.

  • At the garage, the owner was stressed because they were very busy. He started by telling me that he couldn't look at it, then that I'd have to leave it with him all afternoon.  They couldn't give me an appointment for tomorrow because they're closed on weekends. After I explained my concerns (need a truck I can drive back to the airport on Sunday, it's the only vehicle I have this whole weekend and I'm alone at home), he took a quick 5 minutes to drive the truck around and hook it up to the diagnostic computer where it was discovered that there was a problem with an oxygen sensor in the exhaust system. None of this would cause any damage to the truck and it could have been a fluke so he cleared the signal for me and told me to just call him if it came back on. He didn't charge me anything and I was back on the road (minus the engine light on!) after 5 minutes.  Thanks, Steve!

  • While I was waiting for the truck, I struck up a conversation with another lady who was waiting for her car. She told me that sometimes, when she puts too much gas in her tank, her engine light comes on and then eventually turns off on its own.  I bet you that's what happened!  Good to know.  I was able to relay all of this to Greg before his flight left so he didn't have to stress about his truck during his flight.

  • I stopped by the 2nd Racetrac station on my way home to redeem another survey reward code for another hot dog with condiments.  Both went into the fridge and will feed me for the next 2 lunches.

  • When I came home, I made waffles because 1) I hadn't had breakfast (too early for me!) and I was famished, 2) I was craving chocolate chip waffles and 3) dinner tonight was supposed to be Breakfast for Dinner anyway so now the waffles are made and I don't have to "cook", save for microwaving the breakfast sausages.  Win-win (except for my diet!).

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits.  Working on Swagbucks all day, My 1st Daily Goal today is 100 SB. I was late starting to earn them so I hope I make it to 100 :)

  • Swagbucks confirmed that I will receive 102 SB from yesterday's Kohl's purchase in a few weeks. I like receiving these types of email :)

  • I checked on my garden and harvested a yellow pepper and an Ichiban Japanese Eggplant.

  • I reused water left in a glass from dinner last night to water my indoor tomato seedlings.

  • Instead of using paper napkins, we use cloth napkins that I sewed from baby receiving blankets that I had bought at Goodwill (brand new, from Target!).  I was looking at washing the ones that are currently on the kitchen table (we leave them on the table in between meals) and realize that none of us actually unfold the napkins and place them on our laps.  We just use the side that's facing us to wipe our mouths or clean our fingers...  I realized that when I unfolded them to spray some Shout on the "cruddy" parts... so I just refolded them so the cruddy side would be on the inside, and they're good for another couple of meals...

  • Greg had poured his morning tea into a traveling mug to drink on his way to the airport (I had done the same with my morning coffee, love those traveling mugs!) but never finished it.  I poured it in a ceramic mug when I got home and added some sweetener (I don't like black tea!) and finished it for him. The mug I used is the one that's been superglued back together a couple of times... and it seems to be holding just fine :)  After reading all about my dirty dishes, napkins, and superglued mugs, aren't you glad that I have confessed that I don't like visitors and don't answer the phone or my door?  LOL. Part of being a hermit is that you really don't need to worry about such things so much. It makes life much easier, you know :)  If you're stressed about everything you have to accomplish, I highly recommend ditching as much human contact as possible :)

  • I started reading blogs via Feedly and thanks to a post from A Frugal Spinster about a plumbing repair at her house, I got the impetus to go unclog my bathroom sink.  It took me about 10 minutes (most of the time was going back and forth between the bathroom and the hose outside so I could hose off all the gunk from the pipes that I had unscrewed from under the sink.  I used old toothbrushes (that I store in an upcycled cereal bag) to push the big blob of gunk that was obstructing the pipe right below the drain and then the same toothbrushes went to work scrubing the inside of the piece of pipe that I couldn't unscrew (and, well, since I could clean it that way, I didn't bother trying to unscrew it, to be honest with you!). Then I put everything back together, cleaned the sink with cheap Bathroom Cleaner from Dollar Tree and dried up baby wipes that I had bought a few years back and never used and we're back in business for ZERO dollars.  Woohoo.
The tools of my trade... I actually didn't need the pliers :)
  • I found the old toothbrushes in my cleaning supplies cabinet in the kitchen and I also realized that the cabinet was pretty messy with my extra mesh bags just thrown in there.  So I gathered them all and put them in one of the bags and secured them with one of the rubber bands that I had rescued from my daughter's room purging a couple of weeks ago.  Ta dah!  Much better.

  • While I was emptying the under-the-sink cabinet to get to the pipes, I found this box of toilet bowl gel disinfectant that I had gotten free (after mail-in rebate) and completely forgotten about! I put one dose in our toilet and now the bathroom smells... disinfected :)

  • While I was in the bathroom, I noticed two things: first, we were out of foaming liquid hand soap.  I mixed a batch of grapefruit bergamot hand soap and refilled my upcycled Bath & Body Works Foaming Soap bottle (the bottle itself came from my in-laws' RV when Greg cleaned it up, I don't bother changing the label).

  • Second, that the toilet tank cover that I had broken earlier this year and that Greg had tried to fix with epoxy (making it look much worse in the process!), was really bothering me.  I had tried to find a new toilet tank cover at the Restore thriftstore, to no avail, and we didn't want to buy a plastic replacement cover (we can't find an exact porcelain cover, our toilet is old) so, in desperation, I covered it with contact paper that I found in a cabinet (I think I had bought it at Dollar Tree, a long loooong time ago). Two remarks: it doesn't look much better and someone who is a terrible gift wrapper shouldn't be doing "crafty" things with contact paper.  If I belonged to Pinterest, it probably would belong on a board about the "Worst Home Improvement Projects Ever".  So this might be taken off in a few days, we'll see. Plus the green of the paper is too green for my sage walls that have more of a blue hue than a green one.

  • My lunch was a free hot dog from Racetrac (topped with homemade zesty pickles!), some of the fried rice leftover from last night's dinner, a banana, and the tea that Greg didn't drink this morning.

  • I requested a sample of Tampico Lemon & Pepper Seasoning Blend (thanks, Coupon Pro)
  • Lowe's sent me some coupons, woohoo. That doesn't happen very often.  I think it might have been because I ordered items to be picked up in store before?

  • Frugal relaxation: light your favorite scented candle!  For me, it's settled, I love the Bath & Body Works candles and I'm going to stop feeling guilty about buying them.  Sure, $12 (on sale, otherwise they're $25, gulp!) is an extravagance, but I enjoy them so much better than the cheaper Glade candles that there is no comparison. I was feeling stressed this afternoon so I lit up the Fresh Bamboo candle that I ordered with my daughter's birthday present (B&BW bath products) that came in yesterday and... wow, the stress just melted away. It's amazing. I don't even believe in aromatherapy and that particular candle isn't sold as an aromatherapy candle, but smelling a fresh scent really helps me feel calmer.  Have you ever tried the Bath & Body Works candles?
Update: and you know it's gotta smell really good if my 13 year-old son walks by (well, in the next room) and exclaims "Wow, it smells really good in here!". Either that or it stunk in my house before I lit the candle. Let's just go with "that candle smells so good." Yes, it really does.

  • Lunch for my son... he evidently woke up very late, and rushed out the door without having breakfast, feeding the cats, or bringing the lunch he had packed with him.  The kid has money in his lunch account but forgot his lunch number, I hope he will have the foresight to tell someone that he needs to retrieve his lunch number so he can eat something.  He has cross country practice after school until 6ish so it would be too long without eating anything!  I really hope he's smart enough to get the lunch number.  A helicopter parent would bring his lunch to him since the school is just down the street. I won't. It will teach him a lesson in 1) making sure he wakes up in time, 2) making sure he keeps an eye on the clock (he did have enough time to take a shower so maybe I just took too long in there) and 3) only to count on himself because other people aren't always there to bail you out.

  • Since Greg is traveling 3 hours away from the airport where he is landing, he is renting a car.  He will use gas, possibly tolls, have to buy lunch, etc.  He is supposed to stay at a house that his old unit rented but as of his departure the person who was in charge of renting the house hadn't sent any information to anyone. I have a bad feeling about this whole thing, to tell you the truth. I hope he can find a hotel if he needs to (college town, home game this weekend!).Update: he called me before leaving the airport to say that he had the address of the rental house but it was still unclear as to whether he could stay there or not (originally he had said he wasn't going on the trip).

  • $15 NHS fees were due today for my daughter's membership. I wonder why she has to pay to belong to a club where they volunteer for others?! Especially since she already has to qualify with a high GPA and recommendation letters...

  • Not my failure but kind of:  So last week I took a bag of clothes that my middle son had designated as donations to the thrift store. I picked through the bag first (good thing that I did because some T-shirts were badly stained so I washed those and just cut them up into rags today, and I also found an exercise shirt that would fit Greg so I kept that one), and noticed that 2 of the T-shirts he was giving away were photography-themed T-shirts that I had given him for Christmas last year and that he claimed he loved.  I was a little disappointed that he didn't want them anymore but I thought that maybe they had shrunk in the wash (or he had lost weight, one of the two!) and he wasn't home so I didn't question him and took them along with the rest of the bag to the thrift store.  Earlier this week I was chatting with him and confessed that I had felt a little sad when I saw he was giving those away because I had spent a long time looking for photography-related gifts for him and he had been very appreciative since no-one else in the family had given him gifts with this theme although it's his passion.  He was taken aback to hear that the Tshirts were in the bag because he didn't mean to donate them at all, and yes he still wore them and he loved them.  Arrgh.  Because of his carelessness (he just throws all his clothes on the floor instead of putting them away if they're clean or in the hamper if they're dirty, ugh), he mixed clothes that he meant to keep with clothes that he meant to give away in the same bag, knowingly, when he moved out of his dad's, and didn't think to recheck the bag.  I guess he can go to the thriftstore and buy them again!  This kid is seriously driving me bonkers.  I should have put the donation on hold when I saw those shirts.

  • So I don't know if this is a failure yet but: the mail delivery person left a key to the package box in my mailbox (we have communal mailboxes).  Only, there was NO package in the package box.  So either she actually completely forgot to put the package in there (I'm expecting the book I ordered from Amazon), or she put it in there and didn't close the box properly and someone stole it.  I sure hope she only had a brain fart.  And speaking of brain farts, I'm trying to remember what else I ordered... well, the exercise clothes from Kohl's but that was yesterday morning so that wasn't that.  It could have been a freebie/sample that didn't fit in my regular mailbox although she does love to cram them in there.  Argh, it's annoying me that I don't know what that (useless) key meant...

  • Darn it... when I got the waffles out of the fridge for dinner tonight, one of the jars of pickles that I made yesterday fell to the ground and spilled out half it its contents. It's really a case of the jar being half full and half empty!  I'm usually pessimistic and negative so I would lament about the half that I wasted by being careless, but today (even though I'm posting it under "Failures", oh the irony!), I'm choosing to look at the jar half-full:
    • I still have the half that didn't spill
    • the jar that fell was the only one that was plastic.  Had it been one of the glass jars, it would have been a total loss and a bigger mess to clean up
    • my capris were completed splashed with turmeric-tinted, garlic- and serrano pepper-smelling vinegar but my white top wasn't spashed at all AND the capris were brown so I don't think the stains will show
    • the tiles in front of the fridge did need to be mopped anyway
    • I have a lovely scented candle that will mask the smell of vinegar that is clinging to me right now :)

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


  1. What is a helicopter parent? Oh no I think I might be one of those ha ha.

    I hate car shopping we keep thinking about getting a second car but the thought of going and looking really puts me off and I just think oh I am quite capable of walking or cycling. I don't go further than about three miles very often. I hope you manage to sort out a decent car for your daughter. My eldest hasn't passed his driving test yet so I don't really have to worry too much yet. When he does I might get one that we can share.

    I can't believe your son actually had a shower but not breakfast or remember his lunch. Wow! My thirteen year old I have to force into the shower and if it was a choice between shower and breakfast it most certainly would not be the shower that won. The child is a scum!

    I love lidl, you will love it too. I actually prefer it to ALDI, they really do have some great deals and at weekends they reduce certain things. I used to go there every weekend but I have got lazy recently but I would much rather shop there than anywhere else and they make there own fresh bread and rolls in store they are so yummy.

    We don't have bath and bodywork candles but we do have Yankee candles which smell lovely and seem to last all day. I haven't bought one for a while. I might have to treat myself.

    Well done with staying positive about the pickles, do you just slice cucumber and put them in vinegar? I always think they look so good on top of your hotdogs but wouldn't have the first clue how to make them.

    Have a great day xx

  2. I hope that we get a Lidl when they come to the US but it took us several years to get an Aldi so I'm not holding my breath.

    I tried a Yankee candle recently and I wasn't impressed. The scent was barely noticeable (although it got better as it burned down), but I also bought it on clearance so maybe it was just old. I was really disappointed because I know my BFF loves those candles so I had high expectations.

    I hate car shopping too. As a matter of fact, I just woke up and thought "Ugh. I really don't want to go shop for a car today!" but I promised my daughter that we would.

    As for the pickles, I posted the recipe here:

    They're our favorites! Of course, there is sugar in it (like any good American recipe) so that's probably why we like them so much. Seriously, though, give it a try.

  3. Good for you tackling that plumbing job by yourself. I admire your tenacity in getting the job done. Lots of people, men included, would probably not even attempt it. Do you realize the money you saved? And that job led to another, and another, until the bathroom was not only clean but redecorated. Ha.

    1. Hahaha, I love how you always link things up to create a story, Susan! You are right though, if Greg had unclogged the sink, the bathroom definitely would not have been cleaned and the toilet tank redecorated at the same time :) Yes, I think I saved probably at least $120 in plumber's fees! Does this mean I can spend $120 on something else? Just kidding!


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