Saturday, September 19, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Saturday 9/19/15

  • I was so comfy in bed that I didn't get up until my middle son slammed a door at 9 a.m. and still, only guilt over having slept in so late kept me from staying in bed longer! The temperatures have dropped so it's been much more pleasant upstairs (also, I turned the AC down to 74 before I went up).

  • It's overcast again this morning... I need to finish my mulching but right now at 10 a.m., I not feeling a ton of motivation. Plus I'm sore from yesterday.  I should go, though, because it'll be hotter tomorrow.

  • So I have figured out that my laptop battery definitely charges ONLY when my laptop is plugged in but closed (sleeping or off). That isn't normal but at least it's charging, right? Now I'm trying to decide whether I should cancel my return or still send it back.  The thing is, I don't leave it plugged in at night anymore because I'm afraid it will catch fire if it's plugged in for hours and the battery reaches 100% and tries to keep on charging and overheats...  This weird behavior isn't inspiring confidence.  

  • Despite not feeling like doing much today, I changed into my exercise clothes and went out into the garden at about 11:15.  I laid down cardboard and finished mulching the area that I had started yesterday and thought that I was done.  Then I looked at another area near the self-watering bin and decided to just make my gardening area into a big rectangular space so I went back on all fours and once again pulled weeds.  Then I laid down more cardboard but I ran out once again and I was desperate to finish today, darn it!  So I sacrificed the 2 large and sturdy cardboard boxes that I usually use to hold some of my groceries in the trunk when I go shopping (I'll need to get more, they prevent the milk from falling out!). That still wasn't enough so I raided the recycling bin and grabbed every little bit of cardboard that I could find, as well as some newspaper (free local paper that comes in the mail) and even a little bit of that foam wrapping material that they sometimes use in packaging!  Finally I mulched everything.  Surely then I was finished, right?  Only, I had thought that I would also mulch the area where I had growing the hot peppers and eggplants.  Darn it.  I really didn't feel like pulling weeds again... and that area was outside of my big rectangle, but there was free space where I had just mulched...  I tried dragging the eggplant bin into the new space, but it's been outside for a year and a half and it just broke.  So after pondering my options, I went into Greg's shed and found 2 of the large bins that I had ordered back in the Spring, drilled an overflow hole in each bin, and then worked on transferring the self-watering parts of the old bins into the new ones as well as the plants and the soil.  I also mulched those 2 bins and the 2 tomato bins that needed to be mulched because weeds kept growing in there.  I threw away the 2 broken bins.  The garden does look much better now!  I asked Greg to come look and he agreed.  He offered to do the edging for me but I told him I'll try to do it myself first and if I run into trouble, I'll ask him to do it.  I'll probably work on that on Monday because tomorrow I just want to plant seeds.  Anyhoo, all of that took me almost 3 hours. I was exhausted but I'm glad I've done so much progress on my project, finally! It got sunny while I was working outside (hence the header picture above) but it wasn't oppressively hot.

  • Two couples of Sand Hill Cranes came to visit our front yard while I was gardening.  We sat there, staring at each other for a while, and then they moved on to the neighbors' front yard.

  • Apparently, I am very sunburnt on my back, as I was wearing an exercise tank top each time I spent several hours in the garden this week. I'm not in pain. Yet.  I guess I should cover up when I go back out tomorrow!

  • I earned the maximum of daily Bing Rewards credits. I'm now at 70% of my goal (a $5 Amazon gift card, of course!).

  • I mixed 1/2 a gallon of water with 1/2 a gallon of whole milk to stretch it.

  • I forgot to mention last night that after dinner I boiled some eggs for Greg's snacks and saved the water for my indoor zombie plant/seedling watering.

  • While picking the eggs to boil, one of them was apparently stuck in the carton and broke as I tried to pull it free.  I emptied the rest of the carton, and poured the yolk and white into a cup to keep for Greg's breakfast this morning. Only we forgot about it and didn't use it this morning. I'll use it when I bake something this afternoon.

  • I was reading an email from Kellogg's when I noticed that they advertised a bonus for Poptart codes starting on Monday.  Guess who buy Poptarts and who I know for a fact won't bother entering the code into KFR?  My middle son!  So I took a picture of the code inside the box that he bought himself and will redeem the code into my Kellogg's Family Rewards account on Monday to get the bonus. Yay!

  • I reused free cardboard boxes, newspaper and wrapping material in my garden mulching project.

  • My lunch was the free hot dog from Racetrac yesterday, topped with homemade zesty pickles and ketchup and I made a caprese salad with the rest of the grape tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella that I bought at Publix yesterday, basil from my garden (added after I took the picture) and balsamic vinegar that I had bought on clearance at Publix last year.  I also had a banana and enjoyed a large can of Arizona Green Tea & Ginseng.

  • Dunkin' Donuts sent a message advertising $0.99 Iced Coffee for DD Perks members until late September and I might treat myself to one of these at some point :)
Hmmm, that looks so good right now... I should go make myself one!

  • Greg exercised with equipment that we have at home, while watching college football on broadcast TV this afternoon.  Free exercise for him and free entertainment for me as I was ogling my honey getting into shape, lol.

  • Alison from NOVA Frugal Family posted a yummy recipe for Cherry Coffee Cake yesterday and Greg's been asking me to make it for the past 24 hours...  so I made it.  Well, I didn't have any cherry pie filling, just a can of dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup, so I drained them,  put the cherries on the cake, then I added a cup of confectioner's sugar to the syrup, along with 2 teaspoons of corn starch to thicken it and nuked it for 3 minutes.  That wasn't quite thick enough. I should have added corn starch at this point, but I just dumped it on the batter and cherries (I'm not patient!), spooned the rest of the batter on top of the whole thing and baked it for 45 minutes. I warned Greg that it would probably turn out to be more like a pudding than a coffee cake, we'll see...  Update: it actually baked into a cake, not pudding :) I spread the rest of the cream cheese icing that I had made almost 3 weeks ago now and it was good with it but not too sweet. It wouldn't have been sweet at all without the icing, though, so I'm glad I added it. Greg really liked it.
We had a piece right out of the oven so it was pretty crumbly.
  • I received the $3 rebate from Bayer's for the Natria.

  • I also received my copy of Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida that I got used (and for free after Discover Rewards redemption) on Amazon.  Since this was the last package that I was expecting, the mystery of the package box key in my mailbox without a corresponding package won't be resolved any time soon.  I suspect that it was a mistake from the mail carrier. Today, I had a bunch of mail that was meant for the house 2 doors down so I think she might need glasses.

  • We also got 2 copies of magazines that my kids no longer read so I put them in my donation pile to take to the library next week.

  • I took 3 Racetrac surveys and earned 2 survey reward codes for free roller grill items.

  • My middle son is working Halloween Horror Nights so he's not home for dinners and my daughter went to a birthday party that lasted longer than she thought so it was only three of us for dinner. I wasn't inspired to cook anything  but I didn't want to order in either so I made us grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with soup: tomato soup for my son and I and chicken soup for Greg. The soups were canned soups.

  • One of Greg's wool socks developed a big hole on the heel and it's not the kind that can be darned.  I kept the sock. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I'll find a use for it... eventually. Maybe to make patches for the other wool socks? Any suggestions?

  • I logged my gardening activity into Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices and earned 20 Balance Rewards points.

  • I washed 4 cereal bags by hand and set them to dry and I threw 2 ziploc bags that had contained meat into the dishwasher when I did the dishes so they get better disinfected. I will reuse the cereal bags to freeze meat in the future.

  • Water... I took a bubble bath after my gardening stint :)  There was a reason why I kept on renewing the last mystery that I still had from the library but never finishing it... it was just horrible and the author is a co-chair of Creative Writing at a southern university. Wow.  How did he get this job?  The good news is that now that I can finally return that book, I can turn my attention to the Small-Batch Preserving Book that's been on my coffee table for a couple of weeks!

  • I had some food waste: I forgot the jar of pickles that I grabbed didn't close tightly so I spilled it (again!).  I was able to save most of the pickles and this time I just squeezed them into the other 2 jars that I had made. Those lids are tight!

  • I also had to compost 3 half baked potatoes that had gotten slimy in the fridge. I'm really disappointed that they didn't last longer.

  • I spent almost 3 hours weeding, laying down cardboard, mulching, and transplanting plants.
  • I made coffee cake.
  • I moved the photos from my phone to the external drive so I could free up some much needed space on my phone! This really was overdue.
  • Then I did the same thing with my camera's SD card.
  • I did the dishes tonight, yay me!  My daughter came home "late" from the birthday party and declared that she was tired so I figured I would give her a night off :)

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


  1. Nathalie, I am not a big gardener but I think your garden is looking great. I would really like to start growing some vegetables and have an area in the garden that I would like to use so can you tell me what you do in your garden with the cardboard and mulching because I have never done anything like that before.

    Mmm the cherry coffee cake looked really good, not that I should be eating things like that I have really put on weight recently.

    Its nice to have a lie in sometimes. You should have laid there and had a cuppa before you got up.

    1. Thanks Tara. I'm not a great gardener either! But I was tired of my garden area looking like crap. I'm also lazy and pulling weeds is the worst, especially since my whole backyard is weeds. It might look like grass, but until a couple of years ago we had a large oak tree in the middle of the backyard and nothing grew at all, it was all sand and dirt and leaves. Since the tree had to be cut down (it was rotten), the weeds have taken over, which is great for erosion (we're on a small incline) and makes the yard look great when it's mowed, but when you look at it closely, it's just crab grass and various ground cover weeds. So it makes it hard to control them in the vegetable garden area. What I started doing a couple of years ago was pull the weeds around the garden beds and lay down cardboard. It acts as a weed barrier, preventing the weeds from growing in the soil since there is no sun reaching it, and is also biodegradable, which means that I'll have to redo it every so many years. But in the meantime I have much fewer weeds to pull. I put mulch on it so it looks nicer, it's cheaper than other options, and it's also natural (so no chemicals). The mulch further prevents the weeds from growing but sometimes seeds fly around and land on the mulch and grow anyway. Still, it's much easier to pick them out one by one when they appear (although I'm not too good with that!) than to have to pull large amounts of them at a time, which is what happened when I just put the mulch on the ground without the cardboard. So it's not fool-proof but it's been working for me OK.

      Thanks for commenting about the coffee cake, I had forgotten about it and was wondering what I should have for breakfast... cake it is!

      Have a great Sunday, Tara! (although yours is already halfway over by now, sorry!)

  2. Yay Nathalie. You are finished the heavy work of organizing the garden, and it looks great. Three hours of gardening, followed by baking a coffee cake? Who are you? I trust that you will take a day off today.

    Our weather is sunny today, but the temperatures are more seasonal for September (chilly). My husband and I are driving to Cobourg (about an hour and a half away) to visit with my mother and her partner at her Retirement home. I haven't seen her in ages.

    1. Ooh, a road trip on a chilly day sounds very nice to me! I hope you have a good visit with your mom and her partner, Susan!

      I'm contemplating what I'll do today. I print coupons on Sundays and it's 10:30 a.m. and I haven't even started yet. It takes a while so I should get to it. The only gardening I'll do today will be planting seeds so that should be fairly easy. It didn't rain yesterday so I should probably water the squash plant too.

      Greg wasn't feeling great yesterday and is still feeling out of sorts today. He asked me if I wanted him to install the edging around the vegetable garden but I told him to rest (there's football on all day anyway!) since he's supposed to be driving to his parents later on this week to help them with their move. His dad has lung cancer so he won't be able to go if he's feeling sick, which wouldn't be good. This reminds me that I need to nag him about calling Travelocity to see about a credit for the plane ticket that he won't be using after all...

  3. I vote for still returning the battery. We have had quite a few laptops over the years (remember I think I said G2 used to break them?!?!?!) and have NEVER had the issue. I don't know what brand you have but we have had Toshiba, HP, Dell, and I even use an cheapy Acer Netbook right now. They always charged while being plugged in and being used at the same time. I agree with you about the whole leaving the computer to charge overnight - I worry that it will overheat and catch fire too! Anyway, that's just my two cents. Good luck with your decision and get some aloe on your sunburned back!!

    1. Yes, you're right, I know you're right! But last night I forgot to unplug it and so it charged to 100% and didn't catch fire. Phew! I did research the issue online yesterday and I found several complaints of other HP users (I have an HP Pro Book) who were having the same issue and several solutions were proposed by other users but I haven't tried them yet. One of them concerns updating something in the BIOS, which kind of makes sense ( I haven't updated anything in a while), so maybe I'll try that before ordering another new battery and possibly having the same problem. Otherwise, when it's charged, the battery is working great and not overheating or anything. Argh, it's so annoying. Why can't things work right the first time?!


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