Saturday, January 30, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Saturday 1/30/16

  • I can't believe that we are at February's door already.  Time flies!

  • I love my husband and he loves me but we definitely sleep better apart... I elected to fall asleep on the couch last night and he elected not to wake me to up go to bed (thanks, honey!) so we each had a good night.  Aside from the fact that I experience a huge hot flash and all I could think is that I was so glad I wasn't in bed under a comforter, a sherpa blanket and next to Greg who is like a furnace at night!  It was in the 40s last night but we didn't turn on the heat.  I'm in the living room with a T-shirt on and Greg comes down complaining that it is freezing down here (it was 64 at the time, now down to 63) and goes to put on mittens!!  Then our son got up and had his sherpa hoodie on with a furry hat too. He said it was freezing and he couldn't find his robe.  What is up with my men?!

  • It's going to be lovely today: sunny and 70 for the high.  We're going to the Civil War battle reenactment this afternoon, which we are looking forward to.  My daughter begged off because she has studying to do.  So yesterday Greg said he was looking forward to the kettle corn and I said "no-uh, I'm making kettle corn at home and we're bringing that, we're not standing in line and paying $8 for $.25 worth of popcorn!" so he said that "frugality was taking the fun out of the weekend", but he was joking. We had a good laugh about it.  I need to get my butt off the couch, go do the dishes and make the popcorn too!

  • Bing Rewards: aaack!  I forgot about Bing!  Brb. Ok, done.

  • Swagbucks: 1st goal of 100 SB.  I did qualify for a 50 SB survey so that helped.  I had a "Discover" offer in my inbox that didn't expire for 7 more days according to my calculations (as of last night the expiration date was in 8 days) so I was planning on redeeming it today; It was for 15 SB to print some kind of coupon for Superbowl Sunday. Well, wouldn't you know it that today it showed "expired"!!  So I emailed Customer Service. I didn't have a screenshot from yesterday showing the expiration date, so I took a screenshot of today's inbox, we'll see if that helps at all.  I told them that if they're going to make the offers expire at other dates than the stated expiration date, then why bother posting an expiration date at all?!  That really annoys me.  Update: they credited me with the 15 SB.  Yay!

  • I'm making a Spanish Omelet for dinner tonight and a salad.  The original plan was to make an omelet and roasted potatoes, but since I found out that I have O'Brien potatoes that I can add to the omelet, I don't need to roast them separately.  I might make rolls when I come back from the Civil War reenactment, I'm not sure. Or maybe corn muffins from a Jiffy mix that I had gotten for free. That's more likely.

  • I discovered that Greg, when he took his team out to lunch on the company's dime both last week and this week, wasn't able to use his business Amex because the restaurant in question didn't accept it. So he used our Mastercard and will submit for reimbursement. We earn 1% in Rewards on that card so we'll make a small profit. Sweet!  However, he was upset that the cheat-sheet that I gave him indicated that we should use the Amazon Visa card at restaurants since we earn 2% back with that card, but that he doesn't have an Amazon Visa card. I hadn't added him as an authorized user on that card when I applied because he already complains that his wallet is bulging... and why would he be in a restaurant without me?  lol.  I offered to get him one but I was right, he doesn't want another card in his wallet.

  • I reached my 1st Swagbucks goal before 11 a.m. Woohoo!

  • Upromise sent me an email about what I earned in 2015.  I didn't think I had earned anything since I mostly used SavingStar (they share the same offers) but apparently I did earn a little over $20.  I logged in to my account to see how much I had accumulated since the last time I had cashed in (YEARS ago) and I had a little over $137 available!  So I requested a check for it (i really never use Upromise anymore) and I'm considering opening an E*Trade account with it and investing it to see how well I might be able to do (or a Vanguard account, I need to investigate the costs and minimum amounts for purchases).  I would use that money for our youngest son's higher education since that had been the original intent with Upromise.  It should take about 45 days to get the check, apparently.

  • I ran a very full load of dishes in the dishwasher and washed the pots and pans by hand. I borrowed my son's portable speaker and watched an episode of "Battle Creek" on Netflix to make the time more enjoyable.It worked!  I used my homemade pot scrubber (made from saved mesh bags) to wash the pots and keep my dish scrubbers free of gunk.  I used the last of the Ecover Rinse Aid that I had so my next project is to make my own. I have a notebook of DIY cleaning product "recipes" so I'll be perusing that.  Update: well, I didn't have a recipe but I did find several websites that recommend just putting white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, and even suggested putting a drop of food coloring in there too so it's easier to see when you need to add more (smart!). However, a few people commented that the acid in the vinegar will damage rubber compartments (newer dishwashers apparently have rubber parts in their rinse aid dispensers) and rubber seals.  One suggestion was to just put a small cup of vinegar in the top rack of the dishwasher but that doesn't help the seals.  Our dishwasher is almost 15 years old, but I don't care about replacing it any time soon and I rarely have room for a cup of vinegar in the top rack.  So I guess I'll just be buying rinse aid at the store.  The Ecover was left over from when my friend ran an organic and all-natural co-op so we got great prices from Frontier due to doing group orders. But that co-op folded so I'm stuck with regular stores.  I'll start printing coupons for Jet-Dry, I guess :)  Our water is pretty hard so my glasses are coming out with a white film on them. Ugh.  I'll plan on buying it from Target since I had invested in a $300 gift card (that cost me $270) back at Christmas time.  So that money has already been spent anyway and was meant for purchases such as these.

  • I popped 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels in the air popper and mixed it with melted coconut oil (Trader Joe's brand, ftw!) and 2 tbsp of sugar.  I have been keeping bread bags throughout the year so I unearthed 3 bags come hamburger/hot dog buns (wide openings, not as deep as loaf bags and they still had their bag clips on them) and split the kettle corn between the 3 bags. That gave us about 4 cups each, which isn't a ton but I think is enough.  I put those and 3 bottles of water (that I had bought for hurricane season last year) in a string bag that I'll bring with me this afternoon.

  • In refilling a plastic jug of popcorn kernels with kernels from an Aldi bag, I spilled about 1/4 cup of kernels all over the floor... on ceramic tiles so they bounced everywhere!  Sigh. I hadn't swept yet so I got on all 4 and picked them up kernel by kernel, while my male cat watched with an interested look on his cute wittle face because he thought it was cat food (again).  Then I popped those kernels (my 2nd batch) and turned around to deal with the coconut oil.  Somehow the air popper managed to turn itself slightly at the end of that batch and I ended up with kernels all over the unswept floor. Dang it!  I picked up the largest ones (no dirt on them that I could see) but the rest will have to be swept with the rest of the dirt/cat hair.  Arrgh.

  • I gave Greg the choice between the Alfredo pasta with shrimp that he hadn't eaten for lunch yesterday and the beef stew leftovers and he said he didn't care so I had the Alfredo pasta and the rest of the cantaloupe.  Our son had the Monterey Chicken roll and Nacho Cheese TasteWorks chips that I had gotten for free on Wednesday and that he had completely forgotten about.  I asked my daughter to make sure to finish the grilled chicken strips that I had cooked for her last weekend and that she never finished.  There's also chicken left over from last night and lunch meats (turkey, ham) to make a sandwich.

  • I brewed myself a cup of tea by reusing the teabag from Greg's breakfast.

  • Greg downloaded a free e-book from Amazon to his Kindle.

  • We drove to Renninger's to attend the Battle of Townsend Hall reenactment. Greg and our son are big Civil War buffs and even more so since I have researched Greg's ancestry in my genealogy research and discovered several ancestors and cousins who fought in the Civil War, on both sides of the conflict, with some of them being quite known.  Greg and our son and at times myself have visited several of the actual battlefields and forts in several states.  We always listen to Civil War songs in the car on the way to the battle as we bought a CD from the band who always plays before the battle and also narrates the battle (the 97th Regiment String Band) 13 years ago.  We sing along to the songs and have a great time before we even get there!  It takes us about 45 minutes to get to Mount Dora, where Renninger's is located.  This is a fictitious battle as no civil war battles were fought on Florida soil (that I know of).  This was our 14th year to attend and every year the event is different.  We had a great time!  The weather was gorgeous, we got a great spot despite the crowds and the organizers did a great job to ensure that spectators all over the perimeter of the battle field would be able to see the action.  

Before the battle started, we located the spot where we wanted to put our chairs and Greg stayed with our stuff while our son and I walked to the band.  We had decided to buy another one of their CDs. I had priced them on Amazon before we got there but they were almost $20 and Greg said we should just buy them directly from the band so they keep more of the money. When we got to the display, they were advertised for $15 each so we had already saved $5, woohoo!  We immediately picked a CD of Irish song (from the American Civil War) since our son is a huge fan of Ireland and its music.  Then I decided to get a 2nd CD and handed the attendant $30 but he told me the CDs were on sale today for just $10 each!  So I ended up getting 2 CDs for what I would have spent on Amazon. Awesome and we listened to one of the CDs on the way home.

We got there right before the battle started so we didn't visit the encampments. We used to do that when the kids were little, and we would ask questions of the reenactors and artisans. Now that our son is older, he's more into the spectacle of the battle than anything else. There was a mixture of infantry, artillery and cavalry and there were several Black americans participating as well, both in the infantry and cavalry, as well as women reenactors (also playing soldier roles) and a mixture of old and young.  

The battle raged on for almost an hour!  There were a couple of ladies sitting on the ground next to my chair who asked me if I had ever attended one of those events before so I explained that we have come every year for the past 14 years (I brought my kids before meeting Greg) and was able to give them pointers so they could make the most of everything. They were like little kids and had a great time too.  

At some point during the battle, a reenactor was helped by another to a nearby tree where he laid down. He was wincing while he was being lowered to the ground, and I thought "kudos to you, old dude, for acting so convincingly for our enjoyment!" and kind of forgot about him as the battle raged on in front of us, with several rebel charges and Yankee counter-charges happening.

Then the weirdest thing happened: one of the Yankee commanders told the Rebel forces that had crept next to them to back up.  So they did.  I was telling Greg "well, that's odd, why would he do that?!" but Greg had no clue.  Within a few minutes, a cease-fire was called and everyone started making hand gestures, telling the people who were still firing to stop firing and silence descended on the field.  Everyone was wondering what had happened!  Well, it was the old guy at the tree near us.  A medic appeared, then a firefighter from a neighboring county, and they were checking one of his ankles. Apparently his wincing hadn't been acting, he actually had gotten hurt!  They helped him off the field (he was right there at the edge of it so it was just a matter of them ducking into the rope, but and ATV with an Emergency worker arrived from across the battlefield and I guess they took him to the First Aid tent. As he was leaving the battlefield I clapped for him as we do when injured football players leave the field but no one joined me :( I felt bad for him that he had his fun ruined by a sprained ankle!

The battle resumed and the cannons were fired and soon we had "real" casualties on the field.  Little kids and adults alike were exclaiming with each explosion and manoeuver.  It's gruesome to make a spectacle of such horrible events but I guess it's not much different than a bunch of kids playing war on the playground and we all had a good time.

At the end of the battle (the Yankees won today, they always win on Saturdays and then the Rebels get to win the battle on Sundays), after the final cease fire was called, bugle played taps (everyone took of their hats) and then all the dead rose again!  Thunderous applause rang for the reenactors and their horses. A job well done!  We left to go visit a few suttlers then, but it is customary for all the reenactors to line up at the edge of the battlefield on the far side from where we were and to fire their weapons all at the same time. It makes a terrific noise!  We used to make sure to be there for that when the kids were younger but these days we just skip it.  We didn't buy anything from the suttlers.  Our son would have loved a canteen but decided that they were too expensive.  On the way to the car, I decided to treat ourselves to a funnel cake (since we're not driving to lake Worth tomorrow) so Greg and I got to eat a little bit of it with our human locust of a son eating the rest :)  It was delicious if pricey.  I completely forgot to take a picture of the suttlers or the funnel cake, though.

We played one of the new CDs in the car while waiting to get out (there was a lot of traffic exiting). As we were finally getting on the road, I saw that my daughter had texted me to tell me she was stopping at the RaceTrac station in Clermont to get gas so I texted her back that we were on our way home.  Then she texted me right back to say that she had just locked her keys in the car AGAIN while we was at the pump!  Thankfully this time she had her phone and her wallet with her, just not the keys. Arrgh!  She had already called USAA Road Assistance and they gave her an ETA of an hour.  I'll tell you, we're getting our money's worth, finally!  3 calls in a month.  I was worried about her standing alone at a gas station in the late afternoon so I told her to make sure to tell the attendant why she was there and told her that if I got home before the locksmith got there, I would get the spare keys and come meet her (we're about 15 minutes away from that station).  In the meantime, the attendant came out and offered her a free fountain drink and for her to wait indoors instead of outside. How kind!  I will note that when I take the survey from her receipt. By the time we got home, the locksmith had called her and said she would be there in 15 minutes so there was so reason for me to go meet them, and my daughter finally got home safely. 

In the middle of all that, right as I was texting her to stay safe, Greg had to hit the brakes hard and swerve to avoid the car in front of him who had almost rear ended the car in front of it when that one decided to make a tight right turn quite suddenly and without signaling!  We were so lucky that the truck's brakes are very good, that Greg was being vigilant and no tailgating anyone (not that he ever does) and that no one rear-ended us either! 

  • I checked the mail and found some more tax documents (greeaaat!  That's sarcasm, in case you can't hear it dripping from my words) and a box of samples from  I'll donate the cat food sample to my local animal shelter, Greg or I can probably use the ZZquil at some point, and the sample of fancy French oil... well, I just don't know what to do with it.

  • Close to dinnertime, Greg said he wasn't feeling good and wanted to drink OJ to head off a possible cold but we didn't have any so I decided to go get some at Publix. Greg just wanted soup for dinner and was craving hot and sour soup from the Chinese restaurant, so I decided to just pick up dinner for everyone. I got the kids subs from Publix, a couple of packages of Keebler cookies (on BOGO) and half a gallon of OJ for Greg.  I got him the soup he wanted from the Chinese restaurant and also food for myself.

  • On the way home I stopped by RaceTrac to gas up the truck and redeem the last survey reward code for a roller grill item. I got a Monterey Chicken roll for our son.

  • Greg and I watched the 1st episode of "Fargo, Season 2" on Amazon while we ate dinner.  I had purchased the season at Christmas time at a reduced price. 

  • Gas to drive to the Civil War reenactment (45 minutes away) and the entry fee for 3 "adults" ($18).  We drove Greg's truck since he loves driving it and doesn't like driving the family car (he drove a Ford Focus for years and he's still sick of it!) and my daughter wants to drive to the gym today anyway.

  • We bought funnel cake at the reenactment ($6).

  • I bought us all dinner since Greg wasn't feeling good and I didn't feel like cooking. We're way under budget for January so I thought it was OK to splurge a little.

  • No failures today, hopefully.

  • Fed the cats because New Kitty was begging for it
  • Shooed the male cat away from New Kitty's food
  • Put the cat food away (if you won't eat your food after 30 minutes, then you can wait until tonight!)
  • Organized the dirty dishes so it'll be easier to load up the dishwasher
  • Ordered a check from Upromise
  • Did the dishes
  • Made kettle corn for this afternoon's "field trip"
  • Attended the Civil War reenactment with my family
  • Picked up dinner for all of us
  • Gassed up Greg's truck

  • Hmm, I didn't do anything today.

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup black tea
    • 1 cup water
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 1/4 cup of granola with a banana in it, 1/3 cup of whole milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • nothing
    • Lunch:
      • Alfredo pasta with shrimp, cantaloupe
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • homemade air popped kettle corn, 3 small pieces of funnel cake
    • Dinner:
      • wonton soup, 1 eggroll, General Tso's chicken with rice, 2 fortune cookies
    • Evening Snack:
      • nothing
  • Weight:
    • I didn't weigh myself again, this morning.  What I ought to do is bring the scale downstairs so I can weigh myself when I want/need to without waking Greg up if he's still sleeping like he was this morning.  
  • Exercise:
    • Didn't exercise today, again.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Okay just ordered upromise check :) I only had $17.99 but still more money in my pocket instead of theirs. I used it for a little bit before saving star came out and I use that now since you can't add the coupons to both. You didn't used to be able to get a check so that is nice!! Thanks for the heads up :)

    1. No problem! I had completely forgotten about it too. I used to use it at Publix before SavingStar added Publix to their line-up but you had to use the Upromise card, it was a mess. So I just decided to just use SavingStar so at least my offers would just be in one place!

      About the check, though, I think the option has always been there but they didn't advertise it. I cashed my account in for over $100 a few years back (before my youngest was born, I think) and they had sent me a check.

  2. Greg's book looks like one my husband would read. The civil war reenactment looks fun!


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