Thursday, February 25, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Thursday 2/25/16

  • We had a "cold front" move in and the temps will be in the 60s (and 39 at night for a couple of night, yay!) for today and the weekend.   And the sun is up, which is great.

  • I was so exhausted last night (still recuperating from the 2 nights when I tossed and turned) that I fell asleep on the couch at about 10ish, so I didn't get to do any reading at all.  Unfortunately, I was up 1t 2:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. So I decided to make the most of it and earn the team points that I needed for today's Swagbucks 1-day Team Challenge. Done!  My team is the losing one (as it usually is...) so that means I'll get a 50 SB bonus instead of 100 SB but hey, it's 50 SB, right?   After I was done (took about an hour because I was groggy), I tried going back to sleep but I tossed and turned until 5 a.m.  Arrgh. I didn't want to wake up anyone by turning the TV on so I put Frasier on the Kindle Fire, grabbed my headphones, turned off the display and sure enough, I was asleep within minutes. So when Greg got up to take a shower, I slept.  He had to cook his own breakfast and pack his lunch. Now I'm very groggy and disoriented.  Ugh.

  • I made a to-do list for today but I think I'll start by reading some of my investing library book and then do some chores, otherwise I'll get distracted by other things and I'll never make any progress.  Then a little later on, I decided to try a different approach since my to-do lists seem to ramble on, making them a little daunting at times (ok, most days!).  Today I'm going to try to do one task in each of those categories. This isn't all I hope to accomplish today, but I want to strive to do at least one task in each category. I'll cross them off as I accomplish them:
    • Reaching out to someone: done, I emailed my oldest son's GF to propose we spend some time together without him to get to know each other better.
    • Household chore: done, I put the laundry away.
    • Investing: done, I finished reading chapter 2 of my investing book
    • Tax-related: done, I printed Greg's latest paystub and updated my 2016 tax spreadsheet
    • General finances: done, I updated my checkbook. I also took a Financial Readiness Test on my credit union's website and used the Life Insurance Calculator to see if we need to get more life insurance or not and updated my financial report with some info that had just become available.
    • Saving money:  done, I printed some coupons.
    • Gardening: planted thyme seeds, harvested tomatoes, surveyed the garden.
    • Health: 
    • Cooking: done. I made Dawn's Thrifty Lo Mein for my lunch(es)
    • Indulging myself: done! I lit a Bath & Body Works candle in the living room and semi-watched a couple of episodes of "Hot in Cleveland" on over the air TV although I don't particularly like the show.

  • Oh, and I saw this on Frugal Village right after I typed up the previous paragraph: The Top Ten Habits of Highly Productive People. It is true that if I stopped blogging about every little thing that I do, I would have more time to actually do things.  Vicious circle because the blog keeps me motivated in a lot of (but not all!) areas. But the bit about doing things before lunch?  So true, in my case!

  • After school, my 14-year-old went to talk to our children's librarian about starting a teen group to play Dungeons & Dragons at our library. I hope it went well!

  • Greg packed himself a lunch to take to work :)

  • Bing Rewards: while I was up in the middle of the night, I saw that they had emailed me a status report about my "Maintain Gold" counter.  They said it was a widespread problem but they had rolled out a solution and suggested clearing all the cache and cookies if it still gave me trouble but thankfully it was fixed on my laptop so I didn't have to bother with that. So I earned all my credits for today while I was at it.  I'm at 97% of my goal so I should be able to claim a $5 Amazon gift card tomorrow.

  • Swagbucks gave me a goal of 100 SB today and then proceeded to kick me out of every survey I attempted. Since I was up for a while, I earned my 200 team points for their 1-day Birthday Team Challenge and set my phone to play SBTV for the rest of the night.  I've reached 96 SB at 9:15 a.m. so they can keep their stinkin' surveys :)

  • SavingStar credited me with the $1.00 for the York Peppermint Patty.

  • A comment that Laura left on my post from yesterday reminded me that I had forgotten to ask my daughter if she would like to attend the Coloring for Adults event at the Clermont library in April so I texted her to ask and she said yes. Yay!  However, I've been trying to call the library to register for it for the past 20 minutes and they're not answering their phones.  The event isn't listed on their online calendar so I can't register online either, although they're handing out brochures with the event listed. Pet peeve of mine.  It's a large library, it's during business hours, the phone should be answered.  So I finally got through after 45 minutes past their opening time.  The person who answered said he needed to check if it was listed on their online calendar (even though I told him it wasn't) and since he confirmed that it wasn't, I was told I'd have to check back probably next week because apparently you can only register online.  Pet peeve #2: if you advertise an event, then open your registration at the same time.  Now you've just created a lot more work for me!  Can you tell that I'm cranky because I didn't get any sleep? Yeah, that's my excuse. I was nice on the phone though, don't worry :)

  • Before I did any chores or even showered this morning, I opened up my "Bogleheads' Guide to Investing" library book and finished reading Chapter 2.  I thought I'd be able to skim through it since the title of the chapter is Start Early and Invest Regularly: we're middle aged so we missed that whole "start early" part. However, I ended up reading the whole chapter very carefully, taking lots of notes, and even emailing Greg a quote which was (under the "Pay Yourself First" paragraph, bold emphasis is mine): ""Reducing your spending is financially more efficient than earning more money.  For every dollar of earnings that you plan to save, you will likely have to earn $1.40 because you have to pay income tax.  However, every dollar you don't spend is a dollar that can be invested.  Once again, frugality pays." Dang it, I need to print this and tape it to every single credit card in my wallet so next time we (well, I!) think about ordering in instead of cooking, I can get reminded that I really should take whatever I was going to spend and invest it instead.

  • Frugal Village posted an article about 3 easy way to use up overripe bananas. There is of course the regular suggestion of making banana bread, but there is also a recipe for making super easy "banana ice cream".  Hmm, I have 2 overripe bananas right now but no room in the freezer to follow the recipe so I might try the 3rd suggestion which is making cinnamon banana pancakes.  Oh yummy.

  • I uploaded a couple of new offers to my SavingStar account, just in case. I have found that if I don't upload them right away and then try to upload them at a later time, sometimes they won't be available anymore (even though they still appear on the list of available offers in my app!) so now I just upload everything that might have a remote chance of appearing on my shopping list at some point.

  • I collected water in the shower that I will reuse to flush the toilet.

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

  • For lunch I made Dawn's Thrifty Lo Mein with the leftover spaghetti from last night, some of the carrot stick that I had cut up a couple of weeks ago and that no one is eating, and some mushrooms that I bought on sale at Aldi last week. It was good, thrifty indeed, and I have a leftover serving for tomorrow's lunch, woohoo!

  • Redbox sent me another code for a free movie rental.  There's just nothing that interests me.

  • I planted the 2 packets of thyme seeds that I had purchased from Dollar Tree (total cost: 50 cents) in a large pot on my berm.

  • I poured Susan's Thrifty Weed Killer on some of the weeds growing on my back patio.  I ran out of vinegar so I'll need to buy more next week.

  • I walked through the garden, took pictures, and harvested 2 tiny grape tomatoes!

  • So here's going on in the garden that I have been neglecting for month:
This is my oregano that is trying to escape. I haven't decided if I should pull it and plant some new one this year. This one
doesn't smell like anything, anymore, when you crush the leaves. But then again the one at the Home Depot didn't smell like
much either.

the pineapple plant have survived but they really need more water.

My Red Canna needs to have its dead stalks trimmed but it grew a new one on its own!

However my Cavendish Dwarf Banana tree died. Probably because I didn't water it and it's been
quite a dry winter :(

One of my Roma tomato plant is almost dead but still has this one tomato growing from it.

The serrano peppers need to be harvested!

My old lettuce bins are covered in moss but some lettuce had reseeded itself and is growing!

Can you spot the lavender flowers behind the red chiles?  It's my Ichiban eggplants.  There are
5 flowers on the 2 plants altogether right now.

I can't even remember what this is called, lol. I planted it 2 years ago now and it never did produce
the nice plump root that it's supposed to produce.  This is probably only 2 inches across.  Darn it,
what is it called? Oh well.

My wild Vinca reseeded itself, yay!

Oh my, FINALLY some broccoli!  It's only about 1 inch in diameter, though, lol.

Very spindly broccoli plants.

Only a couple of those flowers (Sweet Williams?!? I can't remember!) grew from the seeds that I had planted.  Better than none, I suppose.

Small kale plant.  The only one that actually grew. It might be enough for 1 batch of Zuppa Toscana.

Very very disappointing Collard greens. They are so puny this year. Last year's plant was magnificent!

One bin of strawberry plants reseeded itself, yay!  The few berries that it will produced will be devoured by the squirrels, though.

The 2nd bin, right next to it, was decimated.

The smaller pots are full of the runners that last year's plants had thrown!

No bird, nor squirrel, nor bee, ever decided to live in my Williamsburg ceramic bird house :(

I forgot to cut back the raspberry canes. They don't look like much.

This big pot had green onions in it last year and now it's been taken over by weeds.

At least the 3 remaining leeks don't look bad!  I planted those TWO years ago.
That's how long it took them to get to a respectable size!

This picture isn't very good, but it's to remind me of how much the sweet potato vine has grown!  It's throwing runners everywhere, although they're on top of the mulch and not putting roots down so I don't think I'll be getting sweet potatoes.

The pole beans reseeded themselves in one of the concrete blocks...

And there's another one in the middle of the old bean bed (with weeds, of course!).  

My miracle Supersweet 100 tomato plant is still surviving and has a couple of little tomatoes growing.

Spring has arrived in Central Florida!  The weeds are flowering!  I don't mind these, they're pretty!

I'm so relieved that the rose bushes are all coming back!  I had cut them back a lot and I was nervous that I had cut them too much!  This is bush #1,

bush #2,

and bush #3.

And the little basil plant that had seeded itself in one of my former Vinca planters is doing well.  I guess I'll transplant the cuttings that are growing indoors right now into the same planter.

  • I reused water collected from boiling eggs to water my indoor plants and cuttings.

  • I had an orange for snack and put the peels into the jar of vinegar that I had started yesterday.

  • Dinner was strictly no thrills: I cooked 2 boxes of Sriracha Mac'n Cheese from Aldi ($0.49 a box and I used margarine instead of butter) and a pound of ground beef and mixed it all up. My son and I had a slice of Everything French bread from the Walmart bakery clearance rack.  There was enough left to pack a lunch for Greg tomorrow.

  • I took 2 RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 survey reward codes for free bags of TasteWorks chips.

  • Nothing that I know of.

  • You know what?  I can't think of any failures today, woohoo!

  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Read some of my investing library book
  • Made our bed
  • Put away the clean laundry
  • Updated my checkbook
  • Researched financial planning options with my credit union
  • Used online tools to do some financial planning of my own
  • Printed Greg's paystub and updated my tax worksheet
  • Did the dishes
  • Swept the kitchen
  • Cleaned floor in front of the 2nd litterbox
  • Printed some coupons
  • Spoke with my daughter about saving and investing while she's young
  • Swept the breezeway
  • Planted thyme seeds
  • Surveyed my garden and took pictures
  • Harvested 2 grape tomatoes
  • Cooked dinner
  • Watched an episode of "Snapped" with Greg
  • Watched an episode of "Fargo, Season 2" with Greg and our son

  • Finished reading Chapter 2 of "The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing" and took copious notes

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of Bear Naked granola with banana and ~2% milk
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • canned pineapple
    • Lunch:
      • Thrifty Lo Mein, slice of French bread, donut
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • muffin, navel orange
    • Dinner:
      • Sriracha Mac'n Cheese and ground beef, 1 slice French bread
    • Evening Snack:
      • xx
  • Weight & Exercise:  Ugh.  Not today again.
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. So glad you tried the local mein! I'm sure there is a lot of room for improvement in that recipe but I like easy and quick meals. :)
    Thanks for sharing all your gardening pics! I didn't realize all of the things you grew in your yard. I am looking forward to doing some gardening this year, hopefully we can make the time to get some things started.
    I know this was not mentioned in this particular post but can I just tell you how happy I am that your son is playing with Josh Groban. It's been on my mind. You have so much to be proud of with all of your children, Nathalie!
    I hope you got more sleep last night and are feeling refreshed today. I am dragging because I decided to stay up late and read a book I started. I didn't look at the clock to see what time I finally finished it but I am guessing that I maybe only got 2 solid hours of sleep, if that. Early bedtime for me tonight.... maybe. :)

    1. I know exactly how you feel! I hope you get time to rest a little today. I had the rest of the Lo Mein for lunch today and it was even better the 2nd day. Thanks so much for that easy recipe, I'll make it again with spaghetti leftovers next time. I might add some chicken to it.

    2. Opened the Lo Mein page :) Going there next!! Library programs here only open 2 weeks before and it was so hard for awhile because the children's programs filled up quickly but then I set my calendar to go in at 10 am when they opened. Seems crazy that they don't even answer the phone!! Good luck :)

  2. And thank you so much for all of the nice things you said about my blog. That was so uplifting to hear. :)

    1. I really meant every single one of them :)

    2. Nathalie your garden is lovely, id live to see it in the summer when it is full bloom.

      Thank you so much for all the advise you gave Liam last night, he was thrilled and has been researching it all day.

      I hope your sons afternoon doing his Dungeons and Dragons club went well.

      Adult colouring is all the rage here at the moment and lots of people that I know do it in the evenings and find it really relaxing.


  3. Oh my gosh, I really enjoyed seeing those garden photos today. We still have so much snow. When we left the house this morning, it was -20 degrees C. with the wind chill. Those blog pictures of yours make me realize that Spring and Summer will come and I will be looking forward to working in the gardens once again. It really makes a difference in your attitude towards gardening when you get a long break from it, like we do here.

    You reminded me that I started working last year with certain goals in mind. I would look forward to accomplishing at least one thing in each of 5 categories....finances, crafting, cleaning projects, organizing and purging, and finally, maintenance and preparedness. I don't remember why I got off track. It tended to break up the day, and combined necessary to-do's with more fun things. Maybe I should get back to that.

    I love the quotation about "reducing your spending is more efficient than earning more money' It is a verification for me that what I try to do is very worthwhile. Thank you for that.


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