Monday, February 15, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Monday 2/15/16

Red breasted birds in our backyard this morning caught the attention of our cats (they were all over the backyard!)

  • So my plan was to go grocery shopping today but you know what? I got up at 8:30 a.m., saw the gloomy weather outside (hey! It's supposed to be like 79F today but it was kind of chilly in the house and not very inviting outside, what gives?!) so I snuggled under my kitty blanket that my oldest son and his GF gave us for Christmas (it's my favorite blanket now!) with some cold coffee from last night and my laptop aaaaaaaaaaand I decided that maybe I don't want to do anything today!

  • Greg is off thanks to Presidents' Day so he slept in until about 11ish and our son slept until noon!  My daughter is annoyed at me because I keep on sending her emails with various links and suggestions to get her involved into computer science/engineering clubs and organizations, lol.

  • Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to blogs?  When I look around for blogs on frugality or financial independance, I always come across a certain blog written by someone in his or her 30s who uses the "we" exclusively and never EVER capitalizes anything, including the first word of a sentence.  I just cannot stand that.  So I'll never know if that blog is something worth reading because I can't get past the .... preciousness? pedantry?  I'm not sure what it is, but it's irritating as hell.

  • Damn it, you are not going to believe this!  So tonight our son came to tell us "something's wrong with New Kitty, she..." and he couldn't even finish the sentence when she came barreling down the hall like a bat out of hell.  She was running everywhere like crazy!  So our son finished "she keeps rubbing her butt across the floor like our Male Cat used to do..." so Greg and I grabbed the cat and I saw this long fettucine-like thing hanging out of her butt.  I figured it was a worm of some kind but Greg didn't want me pulling on it in case it was something more serious that would hurt her. However I got a piece of toilet paper to get it off but in the meantime the larger piece had fallen on the floor (ewwww...) so I picked it up with the toilet paper and put it in a baggie. Because, sigh, I'm gonna have to take her BACK to the vet's.  Seriously?!?  I did research online and we're pretty sure it's a tapeworm and apparently they get those when they ingest an infected flea.  She did have a flea or two in early January so I had treated her and the other cats with Advantage II but I only give the cats this stuff when we actually see fleas on them (I'm not keen on putting chemicals on them on a continuous basis) so I hadn't given her a new dose... and we haven't seen fleas on her or the other cats anyway.  So tomorrow morning, instead of going shopping, I guess I'm calling the vet's to see if they can squeeze us in, me and the baggie and the New Kitty, I guess.  Wanna bet how much it's going to cost us THIS time? I'm not sure that she can be on Advantage with the antibiotic that she is on right now for her UTI so I'll wait until the vet tells us what to do.  I'm pulling my hair out!
  • I hadn't finished my last cup of instant decaf coffee last night so I had that for breakfast this morning, cold.  Then I made hot hazelnut coffee with coffee grounds from Dollar Tree.

  • Bing Rewards: worked fine today and I earned all my credits.

  • Swagbucks: I woke up thinking "ugh, Swagbucks!" and then saw that my goal for today was 110 SB.  I tried several surveys and did one Peanut Labs survey for 65 SB, completed it, and THEN was told that I didn't qualify. I was so ticked off that the email I sent to Customer Service was in ALL CAPS for most of it and I used words like "pissed off" and "getting tired of Swagbucks" and all that.  Especially since they never replied to my email about yesterday's survey where the same thing happened.  Ugh.  Then I was able to do a survey for like 48 SB. Anyhoo, I reached my goal at about noon but that involved me babysitting the laptop all morning.  I'm at 2,152 SB at 12:45 p.m.  Update!  A Customer Service rep credited me both for the 65 SB from today and for the 55 SB for yesterday's survey so now I'm up to 2,284 at almost 2 p.m.

  • Today was the last day to be able to earn 36 SB via SBTV every day since they announced they're scaling it back to 10 SB daily to make it more "fair" (ugh), so I played it as long as I could so I could earn all of the SB possible.  Another reason NOT to go shopping today?

  • I uploaded the SavingStar freebie to my account.

  • I signed out and signed back into my MobiSave app and was able to see the new offers for the week. There are only 6 of them that interest me and they're all of "any brand" items.

  • I realized that we were almost out of bread so since I was thinking that I might not go shopping today after all, I baked a "rapid bake" loaf of white bread in the breadmaker.  So happy to have that option!  It only took a couple of hours and smells delicious. I've been starving the whole morning despite having wolfed down two bowls of cereal!

  • I found the last apple in our fruit bowl had started getting rotten so I set it aside. I will cut off the rotten part and eat the rest as a snack.

  • And because I'm frugal and I bought an extra bag of apples when they were on sale and I had stashed it in the fridge, our fruit bowl is once again filled with apples so I definitely don't need to go rushing to go shopping today!

  • I reused water collected in the shower to flush the toilet a couple of times.

  • The 1st year Engineering Advisor from UF who had introduced our UF College of Engineering Campus Tour last week replied to my email. Apparently they rarely get feedback on their tours, much less positive feedback so he was pleased that I had written and gave me a lot of great advice to pass on to my daughter as far as her application when she fills it out and resources that she can use to get started on coding.  She had already started on several of those but that reinforced the notion that she needs to find time to work on this since they're looking for students who love coding as a hobby too, not just as a class assignment.  So that re-energized me to try to find local resources that we might not have thought of. I didn't find anything via our library system, but did locate the list of clubs available throughout the various campuses of the state college she attends.  There are a couple of clubs that might be slightly beneficial for a college application to study computer science (a gaming club among others) and I also found the Lake-Sumter Computer Society that would be more something that she would join and participate in from a community involvement POV, but still something more related to her future major than Future Farmers of America, for instance.  I poked around the Society of Women Engineers website and found SWENext, which is for female teens ages 13 to 18 and is free to join so I sent her the link, and since they encourage parents to join too, I joined myself.  She is annoyed by the number of emails that I sent her, poor girl. She has so much to do just for her current classes and organizations and I know this can seem overwhelming because there was just so many hours in the day and she also needs to be studying for the SAT that is in a couple of weeks, finish her GirlsWhoCode summer immersion program application that is due March 1, work on the speech for the Optimist Club oratorical competition, etc.

  • For lunch, I made us sandwiches with the rest of the turkey that I roasted a week ago (well, there's one wing left!) and slices of fresh homemade bread.  We also had more of the pumpkin seed tortilla chips bought on clearance at Aldi several months ago.  The kids made themselves sandwiches as well.  They like to eat whenever they feel like it. We're definitely not formal for lunch!

  • Thanks to a Kellogg's Family Rewards code posted on IHeartPublix, I earned an additional 25 KFR points.  (AHOTKFRBONUS4YOU)

  • Walmart suggested I redeem what I had in the SavingsCatcher to an e-gift card so I requested the transfer. I was hoping it would be instantaneous in case I decided to go shopping this afternoon because I have almost ran out of SB gift cards, but apparently I have to wait 24-48 hours.  Hmm.

  • I did 2 loads of laundry on cold/cold.  Since there is a chance of rain, I'll just throw everything in the dryer on the auto moisture sensing setting.

  • My daughter gassed up the family car in Clermont where gas is cheaper. She charged it to my Discover card, whereby earning us a 5% rebate.  She also obtained a new receipt with a survey that I will take to earn a new freebie.

  • We're already almost out of the homemade bread (it's very popular!) so I checked my manual and saw that I can set the timer up to 13 hours in advance so I will prep the bread maker tonight and get it to bake bread right before we get up in the morning, that way the kids and Greg will have fresh bread for their lunch sandwiches.

  • Of course, we're almost out because some people (named Nathalie) luurve homemade bread and had themselves a snack: slice of homemade bread with 2 kinds of Stilton cheese from Trader Joe's and that apple... when I cut it is was more spoiled than it looked so those 2 small pieces was all I could save from it.

  • I was craving something sweet this afternoon and suddenly remembered that Greg had given me a bottle of Bailey's for Christmas a couple of years back.  Since I had a cup of instant coffee ready to be drank, I added some Bailey's Hazelnut into it.  Yum.  At the time I had thought that it was a weird gift since I really don't drink much alcohol at all, save for one margarita a year at the most and sometimes some wine coolers, but today it was much appreciated!

  • Then I still craved something sweet because the weather was just gray and a tiny bit cold-ish (it never got to be 79F today, I'm pretty sure of it!) so I decided to make the cherry coffee cake that Alison had shared a few months back.  I had to look for the link on my own blog, but that post will link you to Alison's post (I also linked to Alison's post in my Recipes tab, that way it's easier to find next time I have a hankering for some!).  I used 2 sticks of margarine instead of butter and a can of cherry pie filling that I had bought at the Dollar Tree.  I don't have a cool Kitchen Aid mixer (and boy, I would love one but they're way too expensive and wouldn't fit under my cabinets, I don't think) so I used my semi-cool Cuisinart.  I like that I can use it as a hands-free (although it doesn't work great in that mode, you have to keep on turning the table by hand, sometimes!) or as a stand alone hand mixer.  

  • Anyhoo, I used the 2 margarine wrappers to grease the baking pan so no waste there. Yippee!

  • I read this morning that a new survey found that the cleaner your kitchen, the healthier your snacks...  Well, they didn't do too well with their survey as my kitchen was pretty darn clean today, thanks to Greg doing the dishes last night, and I still made cherry coffee cake! Also, I think this is a B.S. study designed to make those anorexic minimalists or minimalist wannabees feel better about their self-imposed spartan diets.

  • My son's science teacher sent a list of desired donations for an experiment they'll be making on heat transfer: they'll actually be cooking quesadillas, hot chocolate and microwave popcorn. Believe it or not, I didn't have any of the food ingredients desired  to donate as I don't use cooking spray or microwave popcorn and I don't have any extra sugar, cheese, milk, tortillas (we're out!), or cocoa powder but I did have a bunch of plastic forks and those were on the list so that's what I'm sending.  I wish they had asked for us to start stocking up on those at the beginning of the school year because  a couple of months ago I donated unused cans of cooking spray to my local thrift store (I use my Misto spray exclusively, it saves my pans and saves me lots of money!)

  • For dinner I made the Beef & Vegetable Stir Fry that I was supposed to make last night.  However, I had defrosted (2) beef chuck steaks and ended up using only one of them.  I think I might cut up the 2nd one tomorrow and marinated the meat to cook and put in a salad later on in the week.  Anyhoo, the stir-fry sauce recipe from the recipe book was delicious and the whole dish turned out much better than I had expected. I used up some beef broth from the fridge and since there was about 3/4 of a cup left, I used it mixed with water to cook the couscous.  For veggies, I used up what I had in the fridge: about 1 cup of steamed broccoli florets from a few nights ago, some of the collards greens from the bag I had gotten on clearance for $1 at Save A Lot a couple of weeks ago and a container of Baby Portabella mushrooms from Aldi that were starting to get slimy.  I served this with the rest of the homemade bread, which came to 1/2 a slice for each of us and I still have a small slice that I'll toast for Greg's breakfast tomorrow.

  • Speaking of homemade bread, the kids will be buying lunch tomorrow and I have leftovers for Greg's lunch so I don't need to make bread overnight after all. I'll go grocery shopping tomorrow and buy some from Aldi. Homemade bread is too delicious. It's cheap to make but we eat way more bread when I bake it than when I buy it!

  • I inventoried my fridge and pantry to start making a menu for the rest of the week.  I found a cup of ricotta but after the crockpot lasagna debacle of earlier this week, I didn't want to make it again.  So I searched "what to make with 1 cup of ricotta" and came up with this forum thread in which I found a recipe for Cherry-Vanilla Ricotta Muffins.  However, I decided to adapt the recipe to use dried cranberries instead of cherries since I have those readily available. So I will be making those at some point this week.

  • Gas for my daughter to drive to her college class today. However, she will also go to the gym (close to her college) and take advantage of being in Clermont to gas up the car since it's way cheaper there. 

  • Not my failure but a failure of frugality: the Snap by Groupon app is getting phased out and accounts will be transferred into Groupon accounts unless you opt out by the end of February. I opted out since I already have a Groupon account. I didn't have any money earned via Snap anyway since I had cashed out a while back and they never seemed to have any offers worth anything to me.

  • Arrggh!  Do you remember me posting yesterday about all the credits we have on our Amazon account between the $2 in Amazon Rewards and the about $40 in Discover Rewards?!  Well guess who ordered an e-book from his Kindle today for $1.99 and didn't pay attention to how it was being charged?  I guess it gets charged to the default card automatically but I'm ticked off that they wouldn't apply (or ask if we wanted to apply) the Amazon Rewards first!  So I emailed Customer Service, asking them if they could deduct the purchase from my Rewards instead.  We'll see what they say.  (btw, it wasn't me, it was my better half.)  Update: well, they didn't change the means of payment but they said they are crediting my account with a $2 promotional credit that will be automatically applied to our next Kindle purchase.  Yay? I would have rather not have to pay for THIS book though.  I know, I'm still complaining when in essence I just got $2 for free... sorry.  And thanks, Amazon.

  • Fed the cats
  • Gave New Kitty her medicine
  • Made bread in the bread machine
  • Researched computer science clubs and activities for my daughter
  • Researched photography clubs and opportunities for my middle son and emailed him
  • Made lunch for Greg and myself
  • Corresponded with one of my brothers via email
  • Did the laundry
  • Made a coffee cake
  • Read some of my 2nd library book :)
  • Cooked dinner
  • Inventoried the fridge and pantry
  • Dealt with New Kitty's new health problem and gave her her antibiotic
  • Made a dinner menu for the week

  • In researching possible library resources for my daughter, I saw that there is going to be a free Personal Investing seminar at the Clermont library in a couple of weeks. It'll be hosted by the University of Florida (I think the Extension Office, probably) so it's not a scammy thing from a private consultant.  I think I'll try to attend just so that it jumpstarts my interest in investing again as I seem to be doing poorly on my own with this.

  • Liquids:
    • 1 cup decaff coffee
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 cup decaff coffee with Bailey Hazelnut
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup decaff coffee with Bailey Hazelnut
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • 1 bowl granola with 1 banana + ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • 1 bowl Post Great Grain cereal with ~2% milk
    • Lunch:
      • turkey leftovers sandwich, pumpkin seed tortilla chips
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • slice of homemade bread with 2 kinds of Stilton cheese
      • decaff instant coffee with a shot of Bailey Hazelnut
      • slice of cherry coffee cake
    • Dinner:
      • Beef & Vegetables Stir-Fry with 1/2 slice homemade bread
    • Evening Snack:
      • cherry coffee cake
  • Weight:
    • didn't bother weighing myself today!
  • Exercise:
    • Yeah, about that... didn't exercise.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. Your poor little kitty, she really has had a tough time and you an expensive one, I knew there was a reason I don't have animals, even though the kids would dearly love one. I'm not good with bugs of any kind.

    The bread and cake both looked delicious. I quite fancied a bit of each.

    You are doing so well in sorting out all the information your daughter needs for college, I'm sure she appreciates it even if it is a lot to take in.

    I'm glad you got a day off together today.

    Good luck at the vets, I hope it gets sorted.xx

  2. Despite your best intentions of not doing ANYTHING today, things got done. Holy Moly. Busy day. It feels good (doesn't it?) to have things baking in the oven. Even your sitting in front of the computer turned out to be very diagnosed the New Kitty and you found a free investing seminar coming to your library. You emailed family members, you did the laundry and you made up your weekly menu plan. That is more than I did for an entire week.


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