Sunday, September 13, 2015

Frugal Successes and Failures: Sunday 9/13/15

  • It poured last night (the new road where there's been a lot of construction was under water in a couple of spots when we drove back from Publix) and I woke up to more rain.  By 9 a.m. it had gotten so dark that I had to turn the lights on!  The garden is loving this, of course.  I should have waited another day to water the plants, hahaha.

  • Greg is flying home tonight. I'll be taking my SUV to pick him up since the engine light is on in his truck and I don't want to become stranded on the highway in the dark with the kids at home!

  • My daughter quit her job today, with my approval.  I haven't had a good feeling about that place (letting teens close at night all by themselves) and they're not treating her nicely. Trust me,  I understand and agree about facing adversity, toughen up your skin, etc. but I know her: she's a hard worker and is giving them her all. There is no reason for her, at 17, to be working in such a hostile environment for a part-time job. I told her to not even give them a 2-week notice.  Normally, I would, but they'll just make her life miserable for the next 2 weeks.  She won't be able to use them for a reference but oh well.  Also, we don't expect them to actually pay her what they still owe her.  I looked up what the employment laws are in Florida and there's just nothing, which means that the workers can get the shaft if the employer so chooses, without much recourse.  So she's going to be applying at the local theme parks. They're far away from our house (at least 1 hour each way) but the environment would be much better.  I still want her to look for something closer to our house, but opportunities are very limited.

  • I went out in the garden in the late afternoon after it had stopped raining. The bins have collected about another 8-10 inches of water!  I sprayed the new wasps nest all around the house's eaves, cut the dead branches off the mint and vincas. The weather is a little cooler and my roses are blooming although the bushes are very leggy so they don't look great. Also, I sprayed them with wasp spray by accident so I hope it doesn't kill them!

  • Greg brought me back a bag of Jalapeño Taffy from Texas.  It's good!  It doesn't taste like Jalapeño at all (just sugar), but it stings your tongue like jalapeño.  This could be addictive and I don't think it's going to last very long, lol.

  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits.

  • I used some coffee grounds from a small bag of Ghirardelli Chocolate Hazelnut, that I had been given for Christmas several years ago, to make my morning coffee. It was good!

  • No one was up with me this morning as I printed my weekly coupons... ah, peace and quiet... and the TV in the background without feeling guilty, hahaha. Printing the coupons took a while because of the whole "Chrome doesn't work with Java anymore" problem, but I printed only a few anyway.  It should take me less time to clip and sort them so that's a plus.

  • I had remembered to check my menu list thoroughly yesterday and remembered to defrost bone-in chicken breasts for the crockpot today. So this morning I deboned them (froze the bones to make stock at some point), and threw them in the crockpot with salsa, 2 cans of black beans, and a can of corn kernels to make Southwestern Chicken Stew.  I'm still trying to decide whether to make corn bread or just use some of the Heat & Brown rolls that I have in the freezer.

  • The kids remembered to save me the cereal box and bag after they finished it (can you believe how much cereal we go through? This is why I keep such a large stash!). I also clipped the Boxtop For Education label and put it with the others for my son to turn in to his school.

  • I inventoried my fridge and pantry and devised a menu plan for the upcoming week.  This will be a week of no-brainer dinners, I don't feel like looking for "fancy" recipes. I'll post the menu tomorrow. You know, last year, I posted the list of the dinners that I had cooked the following week and I had photos.  I kind of miss that, when I look at my old posts.  Maybe I'll start doing that again (in addition to continuing with my dinner plans posts as they are since they help me avoid unnecessary expenses and waste).  I just need to remember to take photos of the dinners. The lighting is really bad in my kitchen so that's challenging, and then there's also my horrible memory.  Anyhoo, I was able to plan to use up several items that need using up and I don't have to buy anything for any of the dinners too!

  • My zombie celery plant is so cute!  But the stalks are tiny. Still, I harvested one of them to add some crunch to my egg sandwich.

  • So lunch was an egg sandwich, some potato salad from last night's dinner, an orange and a glass of Diet Coke from last night.

  • As usual, I zested the orange before peeling it and froze the zest.

  • After my spray bottle failure (see below), I checked my stash of upcycled containers and found an empty bottle of Shout that I refilled with bleach. We'll see if that works. I used masking tape and a Sharpie to clearly label it as bleach lest I spray it on clothing to remove stains, hahaha. I guess the stains would be removed alright!

  • While I was looking for the bleach, I found a spare hair catcher that I had bought several years ago as a spare and I put it in the bathtub. My daughter (who has long hair) has started showering there and the drain was more clogged than usual.  I removed a huge clump of hair from it and fit the new hair catcher in the drain. That should work to keep my plumbing clogged-free, at least in that part of the house.  Cost: $0. I also found an empty bottle of Shout that I reused for the bleach. (see "Failures")

  • I made crêpes for my youngest son's snack (and mine!) instead of having my daughter pick up something in town for us.  We topped them with Nutella (well, the knock-off brand from Aldi) and cookie butter (also from Aldi).

  • I had to compost one of my zombie leeks and the zombie lettuce because they had... zombified.  Yuck.  I moved the zombie cabbage and remaining leek to different containers and used tap water this time (the rainwater in the other container had turned very murky and full of algae).  I also changed the water in the basil cuttings container.

  • My son brushed the cats for 45 minutes.  I do pay him to do it every weekend (it seems to cut down on the cat hair in the house... somewhat) but it's still cheaper than to take them to a groomer.

  • I used the library system's website to renew a couple of  books that I wasn't finished reading yet and that were due tomorrow.

  • Dinner was Southwestern Chicken Stew and some Bake & Brown Rolls that I topped with melted butter, a little bit of salt, and some crushed dried rosemary from my garden.


  • Gas for my daughter to pick up a friend and go to Michael's to buy supplies for an FFA Officers activity... and go quit her job.  Then gas and tolls for me to go pick up Greg from the airport.  My honey is home!

  • A doughnut for my daughter. She was stressed about  going in to quit her job so I told her to get a snack afterwards.  A small pleasure after an unpleasant task.

  • I wanted to take the survey on my daughter's Burger King receipt from last night to earn a free sandwich (with fries and drink purchase) to give to my middle son, but once again that particular store printed the receipt with the survey code field blank, which means that I can't take the survey. Once again I contacted Corporate Customer Service, but I'm under no illusions since last time they didn't help at all. Still, a girl's gotta try...

  • Once again the (store-bought, not upcycled) spray bottle that I use to spray bleach on my bathtub's rubber mat is useless and won't spray at all.  Arrgh! In frustration, I just poured the bleach all over the mat (the little suction cups had mildew around them, yuck!) and threw the bottle away. I had paid $1.99 for that (empty) bottle, I think, so I was annoyed.  I have the worst luck with spray bottles!

  • False Failure Alert: American Express sent me an email alerting me that Greg had perhaps redeemed one of the offers that I had preloaded to his card... it was at an Exxon gas station and the offer was that we would get $5 back if he charged at least $25 to the card.  We never get gas at Exxon locally but I loaded the offer before he went on his camping trip this past summer, just in case.  We both had completely forgotten about it!  The "perhaps" was puzzling, though, so I checked the American Express site and there is a $50 charge pending.  $50?!? He rented a Toyota Corolla and he's in TX so I'm quite sure that a fill-up, even if his tank was empty, would be cheaper than filling up his pick-up truck in Florida!  I called him and he confirmed that he charged about $21. So 2 things: first off, I'm hoping the $50 is just a temporary hold (still, $50?!) and secondly, we missed out on a $5 refund since he only pumped $21.  But then again, it would have saved us only $1, really, compared to what he charged, since it's a rental car and he was filling it up before returning it so I guess it's not a failure? My head hurts :)  I'm leaving it here but adding "False Failure Alert" at the beginning of the post as a compromise!
    Update: well, darn it, I completely forgot about having that Plenti card now.  They sent me an email this afternoon reminding me of ways to earn points... what timing!  We could have earned Plenti points at Exxon!  I'll have to see if there's a way to submit the receipt afterwards.

  • So I went to get gas in my SUV on the way to the airport tonight and the pump clicked to say that the tank was full so I got the dispenser out of the tank, only the trigger was stuck and gas continued to dispense!  There was gas all over my car, all over me (I was drenched!), all over the ground and I was swearing like a sailor.  Finally I was able to put the dispenser back into the pump which stopped it pumping but the trigger was still stuck!  I grabbed a receipt (nice knowing that in the middle of what could be an emergency I still have my wits about me to get a potential freebie!) and ran into the station to alert the clerk that there was a very large amount of gas on the ground and that their pump wasn't working properly.  The young clerk, once again, had no clue of what to do and I had to leave because I was now late for my airport pick-up and I needed to go home first, shower and change clothes!  I seriously was afraid that my car would blow up because the whole side of the SUV had been showered in gas.  I decided to try to open my door with the key instead of the remote, but the key wouldn't work in the lock at all (wouldn't you know it!) and I was very nervous starting my car, thinking that it might catch fire or something. My shoes and feet were soaked with gas too so it stunk in the car and I drove home with all the windows rolled down. Thankfully I was at the station just a mile from my house!  Then the kids had fun laughing at me running through the house in my undies and bra, looking for clean clothes in the laundry room, getting in the shower only to realize that there was no soap in there, then discovering that I had grabbed a pair of Greg's underwear instead of mine.  Argggh!  Finally I was on my way to the airport, and despite the fact that his plane came in 30 minutes earlier than originally scheduled, I was passing by his baggage claim when Greg came out of the airport so my timing was perfect :)

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


  1. Your poor daughter fancy being treated like that on her first job. Its disgusting people that take on youngsters should have a responsibility to treat them well. There are quite a few regulations in the UK about under 18's and what work places are allowed to make them do and how long they can work for. I was a little bit surprised when you said yesterday that she didn't have time to eat.I hope she finds a more responsible company that treats her well.

    You are not having any luck with cars and petrol stations at the moment are you. I did have a giggle about you putting on Gregs underwear ha ha. My brother when we were younger went on a school trip to Belguim and my mum packed her jeans in his case. He wasn't amused! But I was.

    Can you not save a shout bottle for your bleach spray. That's what I do. I use then for all sorts of things once I have washed them out.

    Have a great day xx

    1. Yes, I do keep spare spray bottles but one by one they all fail. There is always something wrong with the spraying end of it and I haven't been able to find a way to fix them. It's really annoying because I would like to stop buying those darn things (full of product or not!).

      Oh my, your brother must have been mad! I'll bet he didn't wear your mom's pants though. I went on a weekend trip to England when I was 15 and I was the only teen in a group of adults. No one told me to pack toiletries or a towel. We were staying in hotels and my mom and I assumed that the hotels would provide a towel, soap and shampoo. Only the hotels where we stayed didn't. The lady who had been assigned as my roommate had to lend me hers. She wasn't very happy and I was very embarrassed. We had a great time, though (Windsor, London) and I'd love to go back to visit England at some point. I'll bring lots of towels this time, hahaha!

  2. Oh Nathalie,
    I shouldn't laugh at all of your misfortunes, but you are too funny. You were in such a panic but all was well in the end. I hope you have had a good laugh with Greg about this. Or is he like my husband?....just rolls his eyes.

    Like House Full of Kids, I also caught what you said yesterday about her not eating because she was too busy. It is one thing to get so busy at home, you forget to eat; but at the workplace, that is not allowed. You have to take breaks. Sounds like she is doing the right thing by leaving. I also hope she gets some money for work done. I asked my husband about that and he confirmed that in some States, that is what happens. I hope she got tips at least, for the days she worked.

    1. Thanks to both you and Tara for the concern about my daughter! You ladies are way more protective than I am, lol. It was a 4-hour shift and she could (should) have eaten at home before leaving but she likes their food better :) That evening, evidently, they were very busy and the restaurant is never staffed with tons of people. It's just a small pizzeria, I think. I've never eaten there (nor will I, now that I know the temperament of the owners!). At that place, the food is ordered at the counter and then the staff brings it to the customers' tables. So I guess they don't leave tips, although there is a tip jar on the counter and the whole staff is supposed to split that. I hope she gets paid for her hours worked too but since she quit without giving notice, I'm not too optimistic. We'll see.

      Yes, Greg did laugh at the story although at first he was concerned that I had been splashed with gas. I didn't even tell you guys about the big rig that almost went off the road while I was passing it on the turnpike, going 80 MPH because another car was sticking to my butt and I wanted to pass the truck to get back in the right lane. So I'm going 80 (speed limit was 70) and my car is shaking (it always shakes when I reach 80, which is why I never drive at 80 MPH!) and the truck right next to me suddenly goes into the right shoulder (I think the driver might have been on his phone?!) and then overcorrects to come back into the lane. In a flash, it looked like it was either going to jacknife into me or at the very least its trailer completely topple over me. I was scared shitless. Then the driver was able to stabilize the truck. I got in front of it as fast as I could and sped up to get away from it, while all the cars behind me had evidently hit the brakes and stayed behind the truck, afraid to attempt to pass it now... I was very lucky that night.

      One thing is for sure: I'm never using those trigger holder thingies on the pumps again. No matter how painful my hands get, I will keep on depressing the trigger manually from now on!


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