Monday, September 21, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Monday 9/21/15

  • Merry Monday! Now that we've passed September 20th, I will like we're in the last straight line of a race... the race to the end of September.  I have things I want to accomplish this month so I really need to get going: earn another Swagbucks gift card or two, finish planting all my seeds and edging my vegetable garden, post all my French trip pictures online for my French family to see, take pictures of my oldest son's baby pictures (darn it, I still haven't gotten started on that!), find a used car for my daughter to drive... Arrgh. Time is running out.

  • Add to this that we're getting closer to Christmas and instead of being in a panic that my Christmas shopping hasn't even started, I.don'  Seriously, I cannot muster one ounce of enthusiasm for Christmas anymore, including the shopping. Maybe even especially the shopping.  Trying to figure out what to give everyone is a PITA.  Now that the kids are mostly grown, it just seems like a hassle to me, a hassle that I could do without. I know, I'm a party pooper, especially as several of you are already deep into preparations and seem to be excited about it. I'll probably get more excited after Thanksgiving, once the Christmas songs start playing on the radio and I can decorate the house a little.  We'll see.

  • After my gardening chores, I rewarded myself with breakfast and coffee on the back patio. It was very nice in the shade :)  I didn't see any birds (save for some noisy crows) but there were lovely pale yellow butterflies fluttering about and big red dragonflies.  Lizards are everywhere!  They scurry about and take leaps from various heights.  Some of them have very long tails with thin black stripes the length of their bodies and blue bellies. I forget their name.  They like to run between the pavers of the patio.

  • The mail carrier brought my mail to my door today because she had a package from my brother that needed a signature.  I took the opportunity to ask her about the mysterious "non-package" issue from 2 weeks ago (package locker key in my mailbox but nothing in the locker and the door wasn't locked either) but she had no clue what I was talking about. She said she would check the other locker in case there was something in there for me and I asked her to just leave the appropriate key in my mailbox if there was. I'll go check later but I'm pretty sure I checked that locker since and it was empty and unlocked as well.

  • I hate change more than most people, I think.  Anyhoo, one of my favorite routines for several months has been to have local channel 27.1 (WRDQ) on in the afternoons because they had my very favorite line-up: Community from 1-2, Law & Order SVU from 2-3, King of Queens from 3-4, That 70s Show from 4-5, I Love Raymond from 5-6 and The Middle from 6-7.  Today I realized that they've completely changed the line-up and now most of the slots are taken by judge reality shows (kind of like Judge Judy, ugh!) and dumb game shows.  Argh, argh, argh!  The frugal side of things, I guess, is that I'm going to be making much more use of our Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant memberships due to that.

  • My brother sent me a DVD with a couple of French movies on it that I can't find here. Yay!

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work.

  • My daughter packed a lunch to take to school.

  • She drove herself to school, saving me time and money (one fewer round-trip).

  • Knock on wood but I think those acidophilus pills that I got for Greg might be working as he hasn't complained of his stomach once since Thursday, when I started giving them to him in the mornings. The bottle says to take 1 pill 3 times a day with food, but other brands said to take 2 pills with food in the morning (same dose of bacteria in the pills) so I'm giving him 2 pills at breakfast. He's had lots of coffee cake over the weekend and last time he had the red beans and rice that we had for dinner last night, they had hurt his stomach (same batch, I just froze the leftovers) and no complaints from him this morning, so I'm thinking it's working :)

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits and will only endeavor to reach my 1st Daily Goal in Swagbucks today (102 SB) so I don't break my stride of hitting that first goal every day this month (I'll get a 400 SB bonus if I make it to the end of the month so that's a big motivator!)

  • As soon as everyone went to school and work, I turned up the AC to 76 in both parts of the house. I'll lower it again this afternoon, at about 3:30 p.m.

  • When I went to brew fresh coffee, I realized that I had never had my 2nd cup yesterday morning (how can this be?!) so I nuked it and had it this morning.  I'm keeping Greg's black tea bag for breakfast as well, as I might brew myself a cup of it this afternoon.

  • Instead of lounging around in my PJs for a bit while browsing the internet, I went to get dressed, started a load of laundry and went to set up the laundry racks on the back porch.  I'm glad I did that right away because it reminded me that, while it was humid, most of my vegetable garden was still in the shade and, at 8:30 a.m., it wasn't that hot yet, so I decided to work in the garden right away.  I left my cup of coffee on the kitchen table, closed the laptop and went to work:
    • Back in early summer, I had dumped a bag of potting soil that had gotten infected with large ants into a bin and smothered the whole thing in water. Now, months later, the water had evaporated, the ants hadn't returned and some weeds were happily growing in the bin. I pulled the weeds and carried the soil to my 4ft x 4ft garden plot. I had weeded it last week and put a length of screening material on top so as to prevent more weed growth over the weekend. It worked because I only had to pull a few tiny ones.  I dumped the potting soil in there.
    • Then I had a bag of cow manure that had been laying in the garden for maybe 2 years. The bag had cracked and the manure had spilled.  I checked and there were no ants in there, so I salvaged all the manure that I could (probably 3/4 of the bag) and also carried it to the garden plot, where I mixed it in with the original soil and the potting soil. I used a heavy rake to kind of hoe the surface of the original soil and remove more roots and mix everything in.
    • I used toilet paper cores (each cut in thirds) to make protective rings for the seeds I was about to plant.  This worked pretty well for me last year. 
    • In each core, I first transplanted 2 collard greens seedlings that I had started indoors, and I planted more collard green seeds in 2 other rings (seeds bought for 20 cents a Dollar Tree, I only used a few from the package).
    • I planted 3 rings of cabbage. (seeds bought for 20 cents a Dollar Tree, I only used a few from the package).
    • And lastly I planted 4 rings of kale (seeds bought for 20 cents at Dollar Tree, I only used a few from the package).
    • I laid mulch around the rings so as to minimize the weeding I would have to do later.
    • Since that plot is closer to the oak trees where the darn squirrel prolifer, I went to get one of the cattle fence hoops that I had fashioned last year for my cowpeas, and placed it in the garden plot.
    • Then I draped the screening material over the hoop so as to cover the whole plot. The screening material had been bought several years ago.
    • I had to cut a length of it to extend it and wasn't sure how I was going to get the 2 lengths to be attached.  I was thinking about using fishing line to sew them together, but then I realized that I could use binder clips to affix the netting to the cattle fence.  I gathered all the binder clips that I could find.  I'm so glad I thought of that because it works great!  They will rust, but oh well.  I have Staples rebates coming my way so I'll just buy more binder clips with them.
    • I just realized that I forgot to water the seeds... be right back! A nice bonus is that I can water my seedlings through the netting without having to take the whole thing apart every time.
    • I used bricks that we have laying around to hold the bottom of the screening material down (so the squirrel don't just duck under them). This should keep most of the bugs out too.
    • Then I transplanted some lettuce seedlings into 2 self-watering bins.  I'm not sure if they'll grow into actual lettuce, they look pretty leggy and pale.  We'll see.  I'll probably direct sew 2 more bins in a couple of weeks.
    • I went to get the 2nd cattle hence hoop (We had been storing those next to Greg's shed) and draped it over the 2 bins. I had more screening material that I was able to cut and drape over the hoop, again fastening it with binder clips.  I could use a couple more clips.  I'll work quite nicely to hold it and to keep bugs and digging squirrels out. I'm hoping it will hold in the wind too. I'm quite happy to have had that idea as I was able to reuse materials that we already have on hand, and also now have a viable alternative for those tents that I used to have and that were so expensive and didn't last long.
    • While I was out there, I mulched the green pepper plants since that bin always seems to get weeds.
    • I was playing with the idea of going to Ace Hardware today to buy more potting soil so I could plant radishes and carrots tomorrow but what's my hurry?  I have a Home Depot gift card (from our Mastercard Rewards program) so I will pick some up from there on Wednesday (along with more cattle fencing, I think) and I will plant them on Thursday.

  • I did 2 loads of laundry on cold/cold with cheap Xtra laundry detergent and vinegar for softener.  I hung the undies/socks/cleaning cloths/cloth napkins/exercise clothes outside on the patio and dried the cotton clothing in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing setting. Later on, I also washed my youngest son's bedding and hung it out to dry on the patio furniture.

  • I rinsed the bag from a cereal box (I recycled the box since I'm done with my mulching project!) and hung it to dry. I will reuse the bag to freeze meat.

  • My ex agreed to pay for half of our daughter's various FFA fees and dues so I added $35 to his side of our common child expenses spreadsheet.  

  • My daughter and I were talking about various school events this year (I saw that they're having a Junior Prom this year) and she mentioned that her friends are shopping for dresses for the Homecoming Dance. She has no interest in attending so we're spared that cost again this year.  She more than likely won't attend the Junior Prom either.

  • Ace Hardware sent me an email advertising a 20% off sale on storage shed.  I had been wanting a small one to store gardening soil and other things that I have just left in the yard until now so I checked their website. However, I was unable to order the one that I wanted for some reason, so I priced similar items on Lowe's and Home Depot. Both were overpriced. I checked Amazon. I went through Swagbucks and noticed that today they were offering 4 SB per dollar spent in "Home Improvement". I did a search for storage sheds under the Home Improvement banner and found the perfect Rubbermaid 18 cubic foot shed for just over $100.  After applying the remainder of my Discover Rewards (I had a lot this month thanks to our purchase of a generator last month) and my Swagbucks and Bing Rewards Amazon gift cards, I only had to pay slightly less than the tax amount. Woohoo!  I should be getting 400 SB and also 5% back from Discover... but 5% back off $7.72 is only $0.39. Hey!  I pick pennies off the ground so I'll take $0.39 :)

  • I zested an orange that looked it like was getting soft and froze the zest with what was already in my freezer.

  • I had the orange for lunch, along with some grapes that the kids had left at the bottom of a bag, leftover spicy beans and rice from last night and half a chicken breast that I had roasted on Friday night.

  • I reused some of the water saved after boiling eggs this weekend to water my zombie celery, lettuce & tomato seedlings.

  • I prepped 4 rolls to bake later for dinner and a loaf of bread to bake for sandwiches tomorrow.

  • Thanks to Michelle at, I was able to take a peek at next week's ad and coupon match-ups.  What I do is open a Notepad document and just copy and paste those deals that I might be interested in.  Then I don't look at the Publix ad again. Why? because otherwise I would be tempted in getting items "just because I can get them cheap." Well, yes, but then I end up spending money that I shouldn't spend just to get a deal, which is how I wasn't frugal before I started this blog, despite thinking that I was!  Then on Monday or Tuesday next week, I will reopen the Notepad document and go down the list of the deals that I had earmarked. If I need anything off that list or if there are freebies to be had, then I will transfer those deals to my shopping list for Wednesday. If not, I'll let them go. Sales cycles are just that... cyclical.  So most deals come back again in a few weeks.  I can't tell you how much money I have saved not being tempted on buying things just for the sake of the deal hunt!

  • I received the $6.00 refund from Better Homes and Gardens since I turned down their offer of a free subscription when I bought the BH&G-branded shelves from  

  • I received the $100 CVS gift card that I had ordered from our American Express Rewards program.

  • Kohl's sent me a 30% off code this time and I got it when I was supposed to get it.  I really like those Fila exercise tank tops that I got this past time, they're very comfy and the running pants as well. I might order another pair of the pants and some more shirts.

  • I entered the code from the package of Poptarts that my middle son bought for himself last week on Kellogg's Family Rewards and earned the 100 Bonus that starts today, for a total of 160 KFR points :)

  • And then, something new happened: Kellogg's emailed me a 200 bonus code to thank me for being a great member. Woohoo!  I'm glad I emailed them a few months ago asking them why everyone seemed to be getting emails but me :)

  • And THEN TotallyTarget shared a 100 KFR points bonus code that I entered in my account (RADARLUVSREWARDS).  There is a promotion at Publix right now where you can get a $10 Publix gift card when you purchase 5 Special K products and the cereal is on sale for $2.50 each so if I could get (5) $1.00/1 coupons, it would make for a nice deal.  I need 4,250 points for 5 coupons and I have, with this latest code... 4,450. Yay!  I just ordered the coupons that I'll print for Wednesday's shopping trip.

  • Oh my, this is a Kellogg's day!  A Slickdealer posted something that made me realize that I had missed a 50 KFR points in another email they had sent me because it was within an ad for winning a trip to the MLB championship and since I despise baseball, I completely overlooked it!  Thanks, Slickdeals! (the codes are unique so look for your own code in a Kellogg's email that should might have received and that it titled "BJ's shoppers: Save $3").

  • I wanted to have a snack while I folded the laundry so I got a slice of homemade bread baked on Saturday and a cup of tea that I brewed with the tea bag that Greg used for breakfast this morning.  When it was time to watch something while I was folding, I thought "What would be better than watching the rest of "The Great British Baking Show" episode that I had started watching yesterday on the PBS app of my Roku... because it was the Breads episode.  I love that show. Love the accents, love watching people be so creative with their baking because I'm not creative at all! However, can the dark haired hostess make herself even more unattractive?  I don't think so.  She needs a makeover really bad. After I was done folding the laundry, I went on to watch the "Cakes" and "Desserts" episodes as well. Sigh. I really love this show :)

  • I received an email from the school district that from now on all school flyers will be emailed to us instead of printed and then sent home.  This, in theory, will save resources and money, but since I don't think they can discriminate against people who might not have access to email (we have quite a lot of homeless families in our county), I'm thinking the schools will probably end up sending printed flyers home anyway.  So I'm skeptical but optimistic. It would be nice not to have all the paper to deal with anymore.  Would have been nice for them to implement that back when I had SIX kids in the school district!

  • Dinner was Pumpkin Soup and Omelets.  I used the pumpkin puree that I had defrosted last week, organic low sodium chicken broth, half an onion (should have skipped it, it made poor Greg gassy!), tarragon and nutmeg and milk, as well as a Russet potato. Well, it was very bland. We had to add quite a bit of salt and pepper and then it still didn't taste like pumpkin. I don't think I'm putting enough pumpkin in it (I put 2 cups).  For the omelets, I used 8 eggs, some grated parmesan from the freezer and about half the slices of turkey bacon that I still had kicking in the fridge.  I need to remember to cook the rest for breakfast or they'll go bad.  The rolls were a little overcooked but good.

  • I diced the rest of the onion from dinner. as well as another one and froze them.

  • I also diced the bunch of celery that I had bought last Wednesday and froze it. The leafy ends went into the bag of vegetable ends and peels that I keep in the freezer to make stock, and the pretty large bottom part went into a dish of water where I hope it will develop into another zombie celery plant :)

  • I washed a gallon ziploc bag that had contained the spicy red beans and hung it to dry.

  • I entered my gardening exercise into Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 20 BR points.

  • I had emailed Swagbucks Customer Service yesterday because I had missed out on a 21 SB Capcha code when my computer was being slow and by the time I realized that I had to enter a code, it had expired.  They credited me with the 21 SB today :)

  • I ordered a $25 Amazon gift card by redeeming 2,500 Swagbucks and got 50 SB back from the StreetRacer Challenge Swag-Up Award :)

  • Greg did contact Travelocity who issued him a store credit for the full amount of the ticket (about $330).  He has 1 year to use it. However, when he does use it, they will charge him a $200 fee so in essence, he has a $130 credit towards a new ticket. Better than nothing, I say.

  • I took a Driscoll's Berries survey and earned (2) $1.00/1 printable coupons for this Wednesday's shopping trip.

  • It's Monday so our son bought lunch from school, as he likes to do on Mondays (we allow him to buy lunch once a week).

  • Electricity: I strongly encouraged my middle son to do his laundry before he went to work because from his room were emanating effluves that weren't pleasant. Also, he has to leave his shoes on the front porch from now on.  Good...ness.  Anyhoo. he did a very full load (he tends to just pick up anything laying around, whether it's already clean or not...) and I didn't feel like hanging it all outside for him (it was a lot anyway, it wouldn't have all fit on my 3 racks!) so I just stuffed it all in the dryer on the Auto Moisture Sensing sensor.

  • No failures today. Yay!

  • but: I just noticed that the Target 5% Cartwheel discount off berries has expired and wasn't renewed (waaaaaaaaaah!) and the 10% off discount of Post cereals expired as well :(

  • I did 2 loads of laundry.
  • I hung one load to dry.
  • I amended the soil of the 4 x 4 ft garden plot
  • I transplanted collard greens and planted more of them, along with kale and cabbage.
  • I transplanted lettuce seedlings.
  • I fashioned protective "tents" with cattle hoops, screening material and binder clips.
  • I watered all new plantings since it's not supposed to rain today.
  • I swept the kitchen and scrubbed stains off the tiles.
  • I sent an email to Greg to nag him about asking Travelocity for a credit in exchange for the plane ticket that he cannot use this week.
  • I dried my middle son's laundry.
  • I washed my youngest son's bedding.
  • I deposited the BH&G rebate check into our checking account.
  • I emailed my brother to thank him for the package that he sent my daughter and me.
  • I baked bread and rolls.
  • I folded the laundry.
  • I did the dishes! (yay me!)
  • I clipped and sorted the coupons that I printed over the last few days and worked on my shopping list for Wednesday.

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

1 comment:

  1. I am really, really liking your "Tasks accomplished today". Better than feeling badly about your "failure" to complete tasks on your To-Do list. Wow! You do a lot.

    Your DIY hoop houses are looking really nice in the garden. They should work perfectly, especially keeping the cabbage moths from laying eggs on your new transplants....never mind discouraging the pesky squirrels.

    Your rewards programs are really paying off lately. You seem to have found your rhythm. And I am so glad that Greg was able to recuperate a credit from Travelocity. It's better than a slap in the face.


Anything you'd like to add? Share away!