Friday, January 29, 2016

Frugal Failures and Successes: Friday 1/29/16

  • Happy Friday!  The rain finally stopped here and we should have a cloudy day with temps in the mid 60s.  I'll take it!

  • My main goals today are to vacuum and sweep the house, put the laundry away, and read some of my investing book. If I could get around to finally finishing my Financial Report, that would be awesome.  I almost stayed up all night to work on it, but I recognized that 2 really late nights in the week wasn't a good idea so I went to bed.  OH MY... I just realized that I never pt the Christmas stuff away and it's still strewn about the spare bedroom... aaargh. Well, I guess I know what I'm doing first!

  • Hey!  It's Friday and I don't have a Food Waste Friday post going on because... we didn't have any food waste!  Woohoo!  Oh wait...

  • My son informed me tonight that he doesn't want to go to the Miniatures Show in Lake Worth on Sunday.  I'm very disappointed!  He wants to spend the day at home because he and his dad are planning on playing Bolt, a military strategy game.

  • We haven't had the air or heat on for several days now. Sweet!  I peeked at the weather forecast and we're supposed to have a couple of days in the 80s next week so we'll see if we can get away with not turning the air on.  It might get muggy though because it's supposed to rain the previous 2 days.

  • Greg and his team are going to try to go out to lunch today, paid for by their boss as a reward for finishing a project.  However, he asked me to pack him a lunch anyway, as a back up.  I packed him leftover Alfredo pasta with Shrimp, 2 hard-boiled eggs and a yogurt.  Update: they did go out to lunch so he brought his packed lunch home and we put it back in the fridge.

  • I packed the Thai Green Chili that I cooked yesterday in a freezer bag and stuck it in the chest freezer. I never did make rice to go with it, but rice is quick to cook in the microwave so it's OK.

  • I defrosted a loaf of bread since we were almost out and replaced it in the freezer with 1.5 loaf of chocolate chip banana bread that I baked yesterday.  I left 1/2 a loaf out for my youngest son's snacks. He promised he would eat it. I reused cereal bags to freeze them and sealed them with a piece of masking tape.

  • The kids packed their lunches to take to school.

  • My 1st Swagbucks goal todays is a measly 50 SB.  Woohoo!  I wish that would happen on Sunday, the last day of the month so I would need to meet my goal that day to earn the last bonus, because I'm going to be away all day.

  • I earned the maximum of daily credits for Bing Rewards.

  • Redbox emailed me 2 "Rent 1, Get 1 Free" codes whereby I could actually get 2 free movies this weekend, so I texted my middle son to let him know, in case he wanted them.

  • I forgot to mention, in yesterday's post, that my youngest son once again attended the free Algebra Tutoring session offered at his middle school after classes. He stayed for the whole thing and once again came home enthusiastic about it since he was able to do his homework and ask questions/get explanations at the same time.  He was planning on attending again today but called me after school to ask if he could skip it today since he doesn't have any math homework. Hmm... I said yes.

  • So thanks to my daughter (not... see "Failures"), I got to save yet another inner cereal bag to reuse as a freezer bag.

  • I reused water saved after boiling eggs last week to water my indoor plants. Let's see how they're doing...
    • The zombie celery is regrowing again (the "again" is redundant but conveys the fact that it's the 2nd time that it grows from that particular root!)

    • The basil cuttings aren't growing any roots but they started to flower!

    • The pineapple that has been regrowing roots for several months still hasn't been potted and I think there are 3 tops in there now.

    • The newest pineapple top is indeed regrowing roots. Yay.  I'm going to be so in trouble if all those pineapple plants end up making actual pineapples because I'm the only one who really eats them!  But it would be so awesome. I have several plants who turn 3 this year so I should have a pineapple crop this summer, according to my calculations!

  • I have some dishes to do but not nearly enough to fill the dishwasher so they'll sit there until tomorrow morning and I'll do today's dishes at the same time.  Running a full dishwasher is more water and energy efficient.  Washing dishes by hand isn't very water efficient (and why do manual work when I have a machine that can handle it and is better at it than I am?)

  • Dang it, I did it again!  I navigated to another tab while my Swagbucks Search was loading (it can be so s-l-o-w sometimes, it drives me bonkers!) and almost missed out on the 5 SB that I was awarded. Luckily I came back to that tab before the CAPCHA expired. Phew!

  • I ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom. It was so humid in there that it took a full hour to go down to 55% humidity on  the HIGH setting!  When it was done, I had to dump the water down the toilet because I didn't need it for anything.

  • I cut up and peeled the butternut squash that I was going to use to make soup for dinner, but realized that I had forgotten to defrost homemade chicken stock so it's defrosting right now. 

  • I saved the seeds and I'm soaking them for a bit. Later on I'll spread them on a cookie sheet to dry and I'll season and bake them for Greg.

  • In the meantime, I decided to go empty the countertop composting bin into the larger one outside. I hadn't been in the garden for a while and with all the rain we have had lately, several of my pots and bins were completely under water, including my 2 remaining lettuce bins!

  • There is a draining hole in each bin but it got clogged up with dirt so I used a small bamboo stake to try to unclog them.  The one bin started draining fast, but the other was leaning the opposite way of the side where the hole was so I sweated and grunted and finally was able to position a brick under the opposite end, raising it so it would drain... or so I thought!  The dirt was just mud at this point so it just wouldn't drain.  I decided to harvest all the lettuce instead of letting it rot. Guess who's having salad for lunch and dinner?  Oh yeah. I got a big bag of it :)

  • I was also able to harvest 4 grape tomatoes and several serrano peppers that had ripened. Yes, Susan, I will process them today so they don't rot on my countertop!
OK, I lied... I'll process the peppers tomorrow!
  • While I was rinsing and spinning the lettuce at my kitchen sink, I noticed a yellow orb in the strip of grass between our neighbor Jeff's house and ours, down the hill from his small grapefruit tree. I have an open invitation to pick his grapefruit and oranges since he and his wife don't eat them so there I went, in my crocs and PJs, to inspect the grapefruit that had been knocked down by the rain yesterday.  It was just fine so I brought it home, along with another that I found growing on the tree and 6 plump oranges picked from their trees as well.   I was about to go harvest my own oranges when I stopped myself: I'll be gone this weekend so there's no reason to get them yet. I'll get them next week when I have plenty of time to make orange marmalade.  I also want to try and make candied orange peels this year so I have them to put in cookies and chocolate candies at Christmas time... and in the nasty Bear Naked granola that I bought last week (yuck that stuff is awful... and I have 6 bags to eat!)

  • I reached my 1st SB goal by 10:30 a.m. without having to mess with surveys, always a plus. Yay!

  • Zinio emailed me that the March issue of Kiplinger's Magazine is now available and it's... January 29!  I don't get that, but hey, I'll take free financial help!  I added it to My Magazine Collection so I can read it on my recumbent bike at some point.

  • I received my $100 CVS gift card from the American Express Rewards program. Yay!

  • I had heard this morning that the Great Clips locations in Ocala and Gainesville are having a haircut sale for $7.99 this weekend.  Greg is planning on getting a haircut this weekend so I told him to see if the sale was going on at our salon too because, if so, using our prepaid card would be a waste of $9.99!  He agreed and later on I got an email from Great Clips alerting me to the sale. So I forwarded it to him with instructions on which credit card to use.  $2 is $2.  I guess we should ask if they could just deduct $7.99 from the prepaid card... but I don't trust that the cash registers don't automatically deduct $9.99 from the balance when you run the card.

  • So I was looking around the kitchen, looking at tasks I could be doing and decided to crumble a thin heel of wheat bread that wasn't suitable for sandwiches and toast it into bread crumbs. I put the bread crumbs in the toaster, rinsed the butternut squash seeds and set them up to drain, and then decided to go put on my exercise clothes.

  • I went upstairs, put on my clothes, made our bed, put the laundry away, and unpacked one of Greg's new plaid shirts that had come in from Kohl's. I sent him a text asking him to make sure to try it on tonight without taking off the tags because if it doesn't fit, I'll need to return all 3 shirts. Update: the shirt fit great, yay!  I saved the silk paper to use as tissue paper for a future gift bag.

  • Leaving our bedroom, I smelled a burnt odor.  Weird.  I was not cooking anything!  As I went down the stairs, the odor became more pronounced and I started to feel my heart beat faster as my mind was going through the possibilities: did I turn the cooktop on by mistake?  Is it an electric fire?  What?!? and then I see that alllll the way down the hall, my kitchen is smoky..;.. so I'm running towards the kitchen, yelling (to no one in particular because what did I expect the cats to do?  They looked at me like I was an idiot!) "something's burning! something's burning!" and when I got in the kitchen... I realized that it was the toaster oven. I had completely forgotten about the darn bread crumbs and they were carbonized.  Ugh. But thankfully, nothing had caught fire!  So I opened the windows and turned the furnace fan ON.  The cats are loving the opened sliding door, despite the screen lol.  I swear, I get distracted so easily these days, it's pathetic.  I need to focus.

  • Otherwise... between that bout of running and the lifting the very heavy bin full of dirt and water... can I call this my exercise for the day?  No?  Darn it.

  • I couldn't find Greg's tea bag anywhere so I texted him to find out if he took it to work by mistake (he usually doesn't finish his large cup of tea so he packs it in a travel mug to drink on the way to work), He doesn't remember what he did with it either; so instead of brewing myself a cup of black tea this morning, I used a tea bag from a box that a friend had given me a couple of years back when she was cleaning her pantry:  kiwi/peach green tea.  It smells lovely but doesn't taste very good. No matter,  it's still free. I don't think I'll be able to get a 2nd cup out of it but I'll try. Update: well, I didn't try. The first cup was just too bad.  I may have left it to brew a little too long.

  • My lunch was the rest of the Alfredo pasta with shrimp from last night. I absolutely HATE cooking the Barilla Pronto pasta, it might save time and electricity but it wastes food and actually I spend more time scrubbing the pot because all the pasta always sticks to the non-stick pots!  Last night, I scrapped all I could and that's what I'm eating today.  I also made myself a salad with some of the lettuce that I harvested, the 4 tomatoes that I harvested, some more grape tomatoes from Aldi, some cucumber from Walmart and some not-so-fresh mozzarella from my fridge that was starting to turn orange around the edges (I cut off those parts).  I had some Chinese Cabbage Salad dressing in my fridge that I had made weeks ago and it smelled fine so I used some of that instead of mixing some vinaigrette.  I finished the meal with the last 2 mandarins.

  • With the windows open in the kitchen it got pretty chilly so I closed the windows and moved to the living room.  It still smelled like burnt toast in there so I lit up one of the new Snowflakes & Spruce candles from Bath & Body Works. We'll say that's the one we're giving each other as an early Valentine's Day present :)  We just love the smell.  I should be productive but I've found the blog of a Florida family who moved into a camper trailer due to unemployment so I've been reading that while sipping on my tea.  Yes, I know, I know. I need to put the Christmas stuff away, vacuum, exercise.... argh.  There is still time :)  I put KUSC on so I have lovely classical music playing in the background and New Kitty is happy because she gets Greg's chair while he's gone and has company with her in the living room. I had to yell at her because she keeps on trying to do her claws on the carpets even though we have MANY scratch posts and cardboard scratchers throughout the house.  Rascal!  Good thing she doesn't hold a grudge.

  • I did nothing but read a blog for a couple of hours and then I went to put the Christmas stuff away. I went through all the boxes and threw away what was broken and pulled what we weren't using. I now have a large trash bag full of Christmas-themed stuff to donation to the thrift store. Won't they be happy to see this coming in February... not!  But I don't have any storage for it either.  Everything fit neatly in one of the small closets of the guest room, which is so much better than to have them in the under the eaves cramped space that we call our "attic" because it's all the way on the other end of the house.

  • I put the spare twin mattress back on the bed (we don't have room to store it either so I just plop it on top of the bed mattress when no one is using the room), made the bed and swept the room. I should dust it too. The upstairs gets so dusty.  Our ducts are horrible, probably full of holes too since they're in the crawl space.  

  • In sweeping the room, I kept on finding change!  I ended up with 13 cents, which I deposited into my 2016 Change Jar. Cash-ing!  I also found food wrappers behind the furniture, grrr, some things never change!  There is a trash can right in the bedroom!

  • I had to dice an onion for the butternut squash soup so I used half of it in the soup and I froze the other half.

  • For dinner, I remembered that I still had the Publix rotisserie chicken that I had gotten for free, in the fridge. So instead of making the paninis, I warmed up the chicken and served it with the butternut squash soup. I offered oyster crackers to add to the soup since I didn't have any bread to serve on the side, and everyone liked that.

  • I went through the Crockpot's Slow Cooker Recipes library book and made a note of which recipes I want to copy and eventually try.  There were several. I really liked that there is a picture for each recipe.

  • Nothing today

  • My daughter finished the box of Special K Red Berries that she just opened yesterday morning!  When I questioned how she had eaten a whole box of cereal in 24 hours, she said she had had it for snack yesterday.  I'm very displeased about this because, forget the fact that I shop the sales, use coupons and gift cards: a box of Special K Red Berries costs on average $4 at most stores.  In less than 2 years she will be living on her own and managing her own food budget.  She needs to learn now that eating a $4 box of cereal in 24 hours is untenable when you are on a budget. We have many other options for snacks (fruit, PBJs, popcorn, to name a few) so I pointed this out to her.  This is exactly what I feared would happen if she saw how many boxes of cereal I have in stock.  So I guess I have to find a way to hide them from her from now on.  It's irritating to have to do this but it's a lesson she's got to learn for her own financial well-being!

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed his lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Froze the Thai Green Chili that I cooked yesterday
  • Froze the banana bread that I baked yesterday
  • Took a short survey about the YMCA after school program offered at my son's school
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Harvested some veggies
  • Made our bed
  • Put away the laundry
  • Went through and put away the Christmas stuff.
  • Set aside Christmas items to be donated.
  • Made the bed in the guest room
  • Swept the guest room
  • Cooked dinner
  • Finished our Financial Report

  • We received our tax documents from our mortgage company today.  Interestingly, there was a section at the bottom of the documents showing that, were we to want to prepay our mortgage right now, we would need to give them $80,024.87.  I say "interestingly", because our latest mortgage statement shows that we now owe $77,767.01 on our mortgage.  That's a difference of $2,257.86.  Of course, the monthly statement always makes sure to tell you that it is NOT a payoff amount, but still.  Today's notice states that the amount of $80,024.87 "includes principal interest, penalties, late charges, advances, any other charges related to the loan, and any foreclosure or bankruptcy expenses incurred to date under the mortgage."  Elsewhere in the document it also states that we can prepay our mortgage without any penalties.  We don't have any foreclosure or bankruptcy, we didn't take any advances, never occurred any late fees.  So this leaves the nebulous "any other charges related to the loan."  After the fiasco with the MPI last year, I'm not surprised that greedy USBank is once again screwing us over.  I cannot wait for our mortgage to be paid off.  Cannot wait.

  • I completed our Financial Report so now I have an idea of our Net Worth and how all our investments are performing (not well!).  Now we have to take action, either on our own or trust a professional to help us.

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup green tea
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup decaf coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola with skim milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • Hmm, I think I ate something but I can't remember what. Oh yes, a slice of chocolate chip banana bread!
    • Lunch:
      • salad with mozzarella cheese, leftover Alfredo pasta + shrimp, 2 mandarins, slice of focaccia bread
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • Popcorn with coconut oil and sugar
    • Dinner:
      • Butternut squash and rotisserie chicken
    • Evening Snack:
      • 2 small slices of marzipan stollen
  • Weight:
    • I didn't weigh myself today.
  • Exercise:
    • I didn't exercise either.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. So how are the peppers doing today? Still sitting on the counter? Ha.

    You had to burn one of your new scented candles. I certainly understand that, having burned a bag of popcorn the other night. It smelled like burned popcorn in the kitchen for three days. I mean, I really burned the popcorn. I turned off the microwave just before the bag burst into flame...I'm sure. The puffs of popcorn were a molten mass of black carbon. It was disgusting.

    Kudos for finishing your financial report.

    1. No comment on the peppers. Hahaha. I know, what does it take to process the small, what? 5-6 peppers that I harvested?! Apparently it's too much work for me. I'm telling myself that I'm letting them breathe like good wine, right now. They're developing their full flavor :)

      Ugh, burnt popcorn smell is the worst! It happened to us several years ago and I think the fix was to microwave vinegar with lemon juice several times, but I don't trust my memory too much so you might want to look that up if it still stinks. You're really lucky you didn't start a fire either!

  2. Blimey I'm staying away from you two, burning things must be catching!
    I can't believe your daughter ate a whole box of cereal in one day, I moan at my son for eating half a box for breakfast. I guess the only bonus is its healthy.
    I love the bedroom, its really nice.
    Earlier Ben thought I was in the shower but I was picking up the sweet wrappers and rubbish from my sons bedroom. They are all the same!
    Fruit teas always smell so good but when you taste them they are really bland.

    1. It's oddly comforting to know that kids are slobs and eat way too much cereal no matter where they're from, isn't it? That's one of the things that makes us feel closer as moms! But seriously, what is it with kids just leaving their trash on the ground when there's a perfectly good trash can just a couple of feet away?!

  3. I finally figured out the pronto pasta deal!! I figured that everyone would have figured this out and I was the only one out there still cursing it because it was stuck to the bottom of the pan. Put the water and the pasta in just like the directions say and throw a little olive oil on top. Stir in and you have a great pasta and no sticking!! Promise. I did it with spaghetti and penne and it worked amazingly well. Glad I can pass on my tip!! I scrolled down to post this immediately so I need to go back and read the rest of the post :)

    1. Oh thank you, thank you! I guess you and I are the 2 dingbats that follow the instructions on the packaging, right? It's so irritating, every time I burn the bottom of the damn thing. Also it never looks like there's enough water to cover all the pasta so I had been adding some but then I had to drain it anyway, it was a mess. This time I just added the amount that they said and it was enough. I will remember your advice next time!


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