Thursday, March 31, 2016

Last Day of March: Thursday 3/31/16

Shaking things up again, going back to the "stream of consciousness" narrative for today!

I had trouble falling asleep last night again but it's all Seinfeld's fault: one of the over-the-air stations shows an episode at 11 p.m. that I very much enjoy watching, and then I switch to NYPD Blue on another station and there are 2 episodes of that... and I start reading blogs while it's on because everybody's in bed by that time and I don't want to wake them up so I turn down the sound very low and then I can't hear anything anyway. I've tried turning the captions on but it's just too annoying to read, so I "read" on my laptop instead... and then it's 1:00 a.m. or later and I'm not sleepy anymore, lol.

So I fell asleep at 1:30 a.m. and this morning the accumulation of 3 short nights was deeply felt!

For my morning coffee I used another K-cup, that I got for free from Walmart, in my coffee maker.  I picked the "Donut Shop" variety today, which is just plain coffee.  I made the mistake of using a Dunkin' Donuts hazelnut-flavored creamer cup, which once again made my coffee taste very bitter. Now I'm wondering if it's interacting with my stevia sweetener. Maybe next time I'll use honey or sugar to sweeten it to see if it still tastes bitter. It's ruining any enjoyment of the hazelnut flavor, that's for sure.

I cooked Greg's breakfast and packed his lunch, and then set the breakfast table for the kids. My daughter was dragging this morning too and my son fell back asleep so I had to go get him out of bed at 8:15!  This is validation of why I'm still a SAHM, lol.

Today it is bright and sunny. It's supposed to be 89F.  Ugh.  It felt hot upstairs last night so I lowered the AC to 75F so Greg and my daughter would be more comfortable overnight, and I put it back to 76F when they got up.

I remembered to go pick up the newspaper from the driveway but it's 10:30 now and I still haven't read it.  Will do that this afternoon. It's yesterday's news anyway.

Plans for today include finishing my grocery shopping at Save A Lot (to see if they have any meat no clearance, i should hurry to get there!), Publix and Walgreens, as well as stopping by Ace Hardware to pick up my AC filters.  Oh and I want to top off my gas tank too and redeem a RaceTrac freebie survey code. All the shops are on my end of town so it shouldn't be too bad.

I have dishes to do (didn't do them last night, bad habits are hard to break!), and I want to make some kind of a cake with the plain yogurt. I need to freeze all that chicken that I bought yesterday too.

CVS sent me a 20% off coupon that I uploaded to my card. It's only good for the weekend but if I drive to Mount Dora on Saturday I'll be passing a couple of them, so better be safe than sorry.

I'm resisting the deal of the day on Bath & Body Works,which is a free full-size item with a $10 purchase. Nice deal but then I'd have to pay for shipping and I don't need anything although I could do with another 3-wick candle added to my stash!

At the end of April, I'm planning on taking my son to the Historical Gaming in the South convention that will take place in Orlando. I think he would enjoy observing people playing their games and definitely meeting the vendors. Their website is woefully low on useful information for novices so I emailed the Convention Director to ask if we could just observe without participating and how much it would be. I'd rather buy the tickets at the convention center than in advance because, as with the Toy Soldier Show that he decided he didn't want to attend after all, you never know what can happen with a moody teenager, so I hope that's an option.

I was thinking about having to cook a meal with that "top secret" ingredient that I'm test driving for Shopper's Army and not wanting to have to buy a lot of ingredients that I didn't have on hand, so I found a  recipe that would allow me to buy only a couple of items instead of a whole bunch. I bought them later on at Save A Lot so my "freebie" "only" ended up costing me about $4.  Grrrr.  I'll make sure to include that in my feedback.

Well, I'd better get going if I'm to score any meat on clearance!  A toute à l'heure!

I collected water in the shower that will be reused for flushing the toilet.

So after I was duly clean and dressed, I went to run my errands:

  • I did drive to Save A Lot and was rewarded by finding lots of meat on 50% clearance!  I left the pork chops since I have some in the freezer and they're not Greg's favorites but I couldn't resist grabbing 10 lbs of ground beef (73% "lean") priced at $1.09 a lb!  I wanted to grab more but I didn't think I could fit it all in the freezer, especially since I also grabbed a beef bottom roast on clearance at $2.49/lb and a couple of beef bottom round steaks on clearance @ $2.84/lb.  Woohoo! I love having options when I draft my menus, lol.  I also bought the last 3-lb bag of Halo clementines because it was priced at $2.99 and I had a $0.50 insert coupon from last week's Sunday paper.  So I have now officially made a $0.49 profit off my newspaper subscription since I paid 1 cent for it!  The ingredients that I needed for that "secret" recipe were shredded Parmesan cheese ($2.49) and spinach but when I looked at the cans, the canned spinach contained way more sodium than the canned mustard greens so I bought the mustard greens instead, which ended up being cheaper anyway. So my OOP was $26.14 and I paid with my Amazon Visa card (1% in Rewards).

  • I stopped by Publix to drop off the recycling (plastic bags and foam trays/egg cartons).  I wasn't going to go inside since my list had consisted of Armour meatballs (on BOGO and I had coupons) and string cheese and I had just overspent on meat at SAL. But I decided to get the string cheese anyway since I expected to be able to get twice the amount than I would have at Aldi.  Only once inside, I realized that I must have read the IHeartPublix post wrong: the Sargento string cheese wasn't, in fact on BOGO sale.  Argh.  I did grab 2 containers of Earth Balance spread instead since those were on BOGO and I had coupons for them too.  I bought a couple of them last time they were on BOGO and I have been enjoying spreading the buttery spread on toast once in a while. Also, it freezes very well. Lastly, when I bought it last year the only variety left was the soybean oil version which is good but that I don't think is good for me (!) so this time I bought 1 olive oil-based and 1 "soy-free" version.  So we'll see if they taste good too. I froze them when I got home.  The Reese's quartered artichoke hearts were on sale and I had manufacturer coupons and a store coupon so I bought 2 cans (plain, not marinated this time).  My OOP was $3.28 and I paid with Amex (3% Rewards).

  • From there I went to Walgreens. That experience was frustrating.   First, I mistakenly thought that my son's favorite cereal (Lucky Charms) was from Kellogg's.  You'd think that by now I would know that it's a General Mills cereal!  So it wasn't on sale and my $1.00/1 coupons wouldn't have applied anyway.  Arrgh.  Instead, I grabbed him a box of Cocoa Krispies, a box of Apple Jacks, and a box of Froot Loops, all on sale for $1.88 each.   My favorite cashier was working the register, which was a plus.  So my second mistake that forgetting that the Register Rewards aren't considered store coupons but manufacturer coupons and that you're only allowed 1 manufacturer coupon per item bought at Walgreens, meaning that if you want to use 4 manufacturer coupons, like I was, you need to buy 4 items and also they won't give you cash back on the coupons.  So the register wouldn't take the last $1.00 coupon (she had scanned my $2.50 Register Rewards first).  Arrgh. There was someone in line behind me so I just grabbed a Hershey bar.  Mistake #3: the sign said 2 for $1.50 so I was thinking that I would be spending $0.75 but of course it wasn't true and the sole candy bar rang for $0.99.  Oh well.  Then the cashier asked me if I wanted her to take off the candy bar once the coupon had been scanned, as a way around the coupon policy so of course I said "yes".  But then the register deducted the $2.50 RR again.  AAAARGH. The poor guy behind me was being a good sport (well, he had a city worker uniform on so I guess he didn't care, he was being paid to buy his cigarettes anyway!) so I asked her to void the whole thing and let him check out in front of me.  So of course she had to call a manager to clear the register. He got his cigarettes and we started again, with the darn candy bar. By now I had 4 more people in line behind me so I didn't want to spend more time trying to make this work and I told her I'd just buy the candy bar. Only it's taxable in Florida so I spent $1.06 on something that I didn't want to be able to use all my coupons. I earned 60 Balance Rewards points. I had expected my OOP to only be 14 cents, but it ended up being $1.20 Not bad, but their coupon policy still pisses me off, lol. I think I would have been better off buying another box of cereal on sale instead of a tiny candy bar! I was planning on giving it to my son, but when I got home I realized how cranky I was and I'm always wishing that Greg had a chocolate stash for me, so I hid the candy bar to start my own stash, lol. My son isn't deprived, I bought him Swiss rolls at Aldi yesterday and I'm planning on baking a cake.

  • While I was at Walgreens, I also picked up my free 8 x 10 photo reprint.

  • I stopped by RaceTrac to top off my tank since at this point I needed almost 1/4 tank.  Gas was priced at $1.99, which for once was the same price as in Clermont. Great!  The Pay at the Pump screen asked me if I was a "Rewards Member". What?  It never asked me that before and there wasn't any signage anywhere so I said no and paid with my Discover ($6.86) so I could get the 5% Bonus Rewards for the last time.  I went inside to redeem a survey reward code and decided to get a glazed lemon coffee cake for my afternoon snack.  I asked the store manager what the "Rewards" message was about and he said that if you had a smart phone, you needed to download the new RaceTrac app and starting tomorrow, you could start earning rewards each time you spent money at RaceTrac.  WOOHOO!  I'm going to download it and also get my daughter and Greg to download it. I sure hope it doesn't mean the end of the receipt surveys, though!  I need to let my sons know about it too.

  • From there I drove to Ace Hardware, where I picked up my air filters. No problems today!

Back home, I took photos, put everything away (well the ground beef is in the fridge because I have to cut it up in 1-lb chunks to freeze it) and got my lunch ready.

There were enough beef stew leftovers to 2 lunches so I put half of it back in the fridge, and then fixed myself a bowl of sweet & tangy pineapple salad and a bowl of cantaloupe chunks since they need to be eaten. I also brewed myself a cup of black tea by reusing the tea bag from Greg's breakfast.

MyCokeRewards sent me an offer to get a free melt sandwich at 7-11 on Monday with the purchase of a 20 oz Coke product.  I could treat myself to a Diet Coke and get a free sandwich... there isn't a 7-11 close to my home, but maybe I'll run an errand or go on an excursion?

I downloaded the RaceTrac Rewards app. The problem,  I realized, is that I'm the one who uses the least gas so I won't be earning many rewards at all.  Considering that Greg would probably never redeem any of the Rewards, I'm thinking that he and I need to be using our home phone number at the pump instead of our individual phone numbers. BUT: I think the rewards are then texted to that number (?), which then would mean that I would need a Smartphone for our home line... arrgh, this might not work for me after all.  I told my daughter to download the app and see if she can use our home phone number in her profile, as I used that in mine too.  I had emailed RaceTrac asking if they could credit me for my purchase this morning, but they did confirm that you can only earn points starting tomorrow (so not sure why the pump was asking for a Rewards number today?).

I uploaded my Walgreens receipt to Kellogg's Family Rewards.  According to a promotional email I received a few days ago, I should earn a 5,000 point bonus. I'll be monitoring my account to make sure this actually happens since I didn't see the offer in my account once I logged in...  Update: well what do you know?!  They did credit me with 5,240 points. Yay!

I spent a long time recording my receipts in my spreadsheets and composing the post about my grocery shopping while watching "Blue Bloods" on Ion TV (over the air).  This is the first time in a long time that I didn't have any rebates to submit to any of the apps... poop.

My BFF texted me that her major project (she's in charge of the yearbook for her school) was behind her so we agreed to meet for dinner in a couple of weeks. I haven't seen her since before Christmas!

KFR emailed me a bonus personalized code for 200 pt to "get me to 4,000 pts" but the website wouldn't take it, telling me it was a duplicate. I went to their "contact us" section and tried to email them but after I typed up all the info and uploaded a screenshot, nothing would go through and then eventually the Contact Us page stopped loading altogether. Arrgh.  So I contacted them via Twitter but not sure if I'll get an answer.  Update: they did reply to me a couple of hours later, asking me to send them my email address so I did. We'll see what happens.

I wanted to check the IRS's "Where Is My Refund?" function on their site to see what our tax return status is but Chrome tells me the encryption on that site isn't up to date so the data isn't private. Great... since I'd have to input one of our SSN in order to get the information, I decided to just be patient and wait until I get something in the mail.

I was really exhausted by the end of the day and didn't relish the idea of cooking dinner... but I did anyway. However, I changed my plans and decided to make chicken fajitas instead of Caribbean Chicken and then I made Spanish rice to go with it.  I used up a very old packet of fajita mix and 2 of the chicken breasts that I bought yesterday, some tortillas and I cut up a Roma tomato.  Greg put salsa verde and shredded cheese on his, and I put tomatoes and sour cream on mine. My daughter and my son put shredded cheese.  The Spanish rice was cooked in the microwave. I just added 8 oz of tomato sauce to 2 cups of water, 2 tsp of homemade taco seasoning and 1 cup of uncooked rice (cover it, cook on high for 5 minutes and then on 50% power for 15 minutes).  I had enough leftovers for Greg's lunch tomorrow.

The dishes will have to wait until tomorrow, there is no way I can do them tonight, I'm about to fall asleep typing this!

2 hours later, I was reading a new-to-me blog and the lady (who grows an impressive garden in Northern Minnesota) was saying in one of her posts that she wasn't a great housekeeper and didn't dust every week (imagine that!  lol. I dust... twice a year, I think), but that one thing she could absolutely not stand was dirty dishes left on the counter or the sink because it was slovenly.  Gulp.  So I dutifully shuffled to the kitchen and put a load of dishes in the dishwasher.  I still need to wash more of them tomorrow but 80% of them are done.

Sometimes it takes another blogger to shame you into doing what needs to be done, lol.

Grocery Shopping This Week (3/31/16)

My official 2016 weekly grocery budget is $100/wk for 4 people (2 adults, 2 teens) but I really aim to spend $50 or less.

This week I split my shopping between yesterday and today.  For the first time in a while, I didn't qualify for any rebates. Well, I might have qualified for a Checkout 51 rebate yesterday but I forgot to check before their produce rebates expired last night!  Oh well, it might have been 25 cents so not a huge loss.

This is my first shopping trip for April.  I spent way over what I was planning on spending because I stocked up on a lot of meat.  I also spent quite a bit on snacks and stocked up on some baking and pantry items.

Since I skipped going to Walmart this week, and I have curtailed my participation in Swagbucks, I only used a gift card at CVS so I didn't get a whole lot of freebies.

Let's see how I did!

Budget for the week: $100.00
Total OOP: $91.99
Rebates expected: $0.00
Total spent after rebates: $91.99
Money left in budget: $8.01

Baking Supplies: $4.87 OOP

  1. Chocolate chips are a food group in my family so we can't be without them :)
  • 1 bag brown sugar (Aldi) @ $1.29
  • 2 bags mini chocolate chips (Aldi) @ $3.58

Beverages: $0.00 OOP

  • None needed

Breads/Baked Goods: $2.55 OOP
  • 2 loaves white bread (Aldi) @ $0.85 each = $1.70
  • 1 hamburger buns (Aldi) @ $0.85

 Cereals: $0.14 OOP
  • 3 boxes Kellogg's cereals (Walgreens), on sale @ $1.88 each, minus (3) $1.00/1 printable manufacturer coupons from KFR, minus $2.50 Register Rewards from a previous trip = $0.14 and I earned 60 Balance Rewards points and 5,240 KFR points, wow! 
Dairy: $14.65 OOP
  1. I liked the Earth Balance spreads that I bought last year but they were the soybean oil kind. This time I wanted to try the soy free versions, although I didn't notice that one kind was more expensive than the other so I spent 20 cents more than I expected.  I froze both since I'm still finishing one of the containers that I had bought last year and frozen (they freeze extremely well, well, the soybean oil kind did!)
  2. The parmesan might have been cheaper at Aldi but I didn't realize until this morning that I would need some before I went back to Aldi.  It was bought for an in-home grocery product test that I have to use in a recipe.
  • 1 gallon whole milk (CVS), on sale @ $2.99 but FREE when paying with the CVS gift card earned with our American Express Rewards program.
  • 16 oz light sour cream (Aldi) @ $1.19
  • 10 cups yogurt (Aldi) @ $0.39 each = $3.90
  • 8 oz mild cheddar (Aldi) @ $1.89
  • 2 containers Earth Balance spread (Publix) @ $4.19 and $3.99 but on BOGO so minus $3.99 and minus (2) $1.00/1 printable manufacturer coupons = $2.19
  • 1 container shredded parmesan cheese (Save A Lot) @ $2.49

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $5.16 OOP 
  1. I love that whole grain mustard in my homemade salad dressing but it's a seasonal item so I stocked up when I saw that Aldi had it this week. It's hard to predict how often they have their seasonal items so I just grabbed 4 jars. Since I'm growing lots of lettuce, I figured we'd be using it anyway... and it doesn't go bad.
  • 4 jars whole grain mustard (Aldi) @ $1.29 = $5.16
Produce/Juice: $17.04
  1. I'm growing lettuce and I have already harvested some, but I wasn't sure I would have enough to harvest for this week so I bought a head of Boston lettuce. It's really delicious and I can reuse the clamshell... hopefully!
  2. The Roma tomatoes were on sale but pretty unripe so I also bought grape tomatoes to use in salads this week.
  3. I stocked up on green peppers. I will dice and freeze them.
  4. The turnip greens had way less sodium (25 mg per half cup) than the leaf spinach (380 mg per half cup!) so I'll be using turnip greens instead of spinach in my chicken and spinach lasagna recipe!
  • 1 cantaloupe (Aldi) @ $0.99
  • 2 lbs strawberries (Aldi) @ $1.49 each = $2.98
  • 1 Boston lettuce (Aldi) @ $1.39
  • 1 lb grape tomatoes (Aldi) @ $1.69
  • 6 green peppers (Aldi), on sale @ $0.99/2 = $2.97
  • 1 lb Roma tomatoes (Aldi), on sale @ $0.79
  • 2.92 lbs bananas (Aldi) @ 0.44/lb = $1.28
  • 3 lbs clementines (Save A Lot) @ $2.99 minus $0.50/1 insert manufacturer coupon = $2.49
  • 2 cans Reese artichoke hearts (Publix), on sale @ $1.79 each, minus (2) $0.75/1 printable manufacturer coupons, minus $1.00/2 store coupon = $1.08
  • 2 cans mustard greens (Save A Lot), @ $0.69 each = $1.38

Proteins: $36.62 OOP
  1. The only item really on my list was the ham for the kids' and Greg's sandwiches. However I couldn't resist the last 2 packages of chicken at Aldi and specifically went to SAL today to see if the end of the month would bring some meat clearances.  I wish I had more room because I would have bought more ground beef.  We'll be eating lots of tacos, burgers, and meatloaf in the next couple of months!
  • 8.96 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts (Aldi), on sale @ $1.49/lb = $13.35
  • 1 lb Black Forest ham (Aldi) @ $3.49
  • 10 lbs 73% ground beef (Save A Lot), on 50% clearance @ $1.09/lb = $10.94
  • 1.21 lbs beef bottom round steak (Save A Lot), on 50% clearance @ $2.84/lb = $3.41
  • 2.18 lbs beef bottom round roast (Save A Lot), on 50% clearance @ $2.18/lb = $5.43

Snacks: $13.95 OOP
  1. The potatoes will be served as a side when I make cheeseburgers this weekend. I find that we like them and I don't have to cook a side, which helps keep me from ordering in!
  2. You might recall that I recently bought lots of Valentines-Day themed marshmallows to make rice krispies for the kids but, ahem, I've been eating them.  What?!  I promise the kids aren't starving :) Anyhoo, I bought the Easter ones since they were on clearance this week and they looked so yummy.
  • 1 bag potato chips (Aldi) @ $1.49
  • 1 box protein bars (Aldi) @ $1.99
  • 1 box Swiss rolls (Aldi) @ $1.29
  • 1 jar hazelnut spread (Aldi) @ $2.29
  • 1 package peanut butter crackers (Aldi) @ $0.89
  • 2 packages M&Ms (CVS) on sale @ $0.88, minus free coupon from manufacturer coupon and $0.30 digital store coupon = $0.58 but FREE when paying with CVS gift card earned with our Amex Rewards program
  • 2 packages mints (Aldi) @ $0.99 each = $1.98
  • 4 bags Easter-themed marshmallows (Aldi), on clearance @ $0.49 each = $1.96
  • 2 bags beanie eggs candy (Aldi), on clearance @ $0.50 each = $1.00
  • 1 glazed lemon coffee cake (RaceTrac), FREE after survey reward code.
  • 1 Hershey with almonds candy bar (Walgreens) @ $1.06

Did you get any great deals at the grocery store this week?  Please link up or share your finds in the comments :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Short Garden Update (3/30/16)

I set a new pineapple top in water. Hopefully it'll grow root!

Tiny celery leaves are emerging

This picture didn't come out very well but I definitely have 2 rows of bush beans that are growing, protected from the squirrels!

Cute peanut plants are growing. I'm always excited when I grow something new!

Look at this one with its little peanut head, lol!

Ripening Supersweet 100 tomatoes

The squirrels can't get to the collard greens now, hahaha!

The pole beans are growing a little taller
New tiny broccoli florets are forming. They're teasing me with promises of actual broccoli heads but I know better...
At first, I thought this was a clump of weeds in my serrano pepper bin but I'm glad that I didn't pull it because now I think it's a bunch of serrano pepper plants from one of the rotten peppers that I buried back into the bin!

Over the last day, tomato flowers turned into Roma tomatoes! Amazing what a lot of rain will do for tomatoes, eh?
Zucchini seedlings grew bigger too. This is actually 2 seedlings growing (too) close to one another. I'm afraid to move one of them, though.
All that rain didn't destroy my blooming rose, although it already doesn't smell as nicely at it did yesterday.

But there's another one getting ready to open soon, yay!
That's it for today!

Did Some Grocery Shopping Today (3/30/16)


  • Happy Hump Day!  It's hard to believe that it's Wednesday (already?!) but it keeps coming back, doesn't it?  And that's a good thing :)

  • Wednesday is usually my Shopping Day but I didn't sleep much last night again, my coupons haven't been clipped and filed, so I may just do some shopping today and then finish it tomorrow.  No, I won't save on gas that way but oh well. Even if I do go today, I probably won't post my trip results until tomorrow. It's part of my April budget anyway.

  • On the good news front, I made myself do the dishes after dinner last night and I also took the recycling bin down to the curb so this morning was so relaxing!  It's as if I had known that I would be exhausted today...  it was very nice waking up to a clean and uncluttered kitchen sink and counter and not have to rush to take the bins outside in my PJs before the truck drove by at about 8 a.m.

  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone: asked my daughter to create a graphic for the blog
    • Household chore: ran the dehumidifier
    • Investing: 
    • Decluttering:  decluttered my phone!
    • General finances: worked on my shopping list after looking at the new grocery sales ads and assessing what I need
    • Saving money:  I decided not to get the raised garden bed kits
    • Gardening: watered my indoor seedlings
    • Health: you know you have to lose weight when you have to wear a skirt because you don't fit in any of your capris all of the sudden! 
    • Cooking:  Cooked beef stew in the crockpot
    • Indulging myself: I drank 4 cups of coffee... again

  • It poured last night for several hours so no need for me to water the garden today!

  • I reused the water from boiling the eggs yesterday and water collected in the dripping shower to water my indoor seedlings.

  • I packed leftovers for Greg to take to work and the kids packed their lunches to take to school.

  • Dinner is Beef Stew cooked in the crockpot. I used a beef bottom roast that I had gotten on 50% clearance, a bag of baby carrots that was on sale for $0.49 last week at Aldi, the rest of the first bag of Brussels sprouts from Aldi a couple of weeks ago (people on Reddit's Waste Less/Gain More forum were dissing Aldi and saying that the produce was horrible, the prices weren't all that great, etc. What a crock!  I have found that their produce, when probably stored, lasts very long, indeed, those Brussels sprouts were bought 2 weeks ago and are still as fresh as on the first day I bought them!) and a small can of mushrooms.  The broth was made with Better Than Bouillon Beef base and all the herbs mentioned in the recipe, including several that I had grown myself (marjoram, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano).  I'll serve it with the leftover mashed potatoes from last night so I didn't add any potatoes to the crockpot.  Since I probably won't be shopping tonight, I'll probably bake the last roll of Pillsbury crescent dough that I still have in the fridge. I came across a recipe to turn it into yummy breadsticks so if I'm inspired, I might try that. I love that it's 9:30 a.m. and dinner has already been taken care of.

  • I have to take my son to his dermatologist appointment in Clermont this afternoon after school and I warned him that I'll probably want to do some grocery shopping afterwards since we'll be in Clermont. We'll pass CVS so I'll go there to get my milk, I need to stop by Home Depot to pick up my screening material, and I want to go to Aldi.  I might wait until tomorrow to go to Ace Hardware, Walgreens and Publix since they're closer to my house.  This week I'm skipping Walmart, Dollar Tree, Save A Lot (although tomorrow is the last day of the month so they might have good clearances on meat?! I might go tomorrow just to see...).

  • We'll also stop by RaceTrac today to redeem a pastry survey code for my son's snack.  Tomorrow is the last day to earn the bonus 5% rebate on gas from Discover so I reminded Greg and my daughter to gas up today.  I just gassed up last week and didn't do any driving since, but if I go out tomorrow I'll top off my tank since I'll have put in some mileage today and tomorrow.

  • I couldn't sleep last night again (maybe due to the 4 cups of coffee that I drank yesterday when I usually only drink 2?!) so I set about decluttering my iPhone.  Next time I get a phone, I'm definitely getting at least 32G of memory because 16G is eaten up very fast and I don't even have a lot of apps!  Well now I have even fewer: I was down to just 300 MB of free space, which made the phone malfunction, so I went into Settings/Usage/Storage/Manage Storage, and I deleted a bunch of app that I wasn't using (I can always redownload them if I need them).  I deleted all of the peripheral Swagbucks apps and only kept the main SB app and SBTV.  Then I went through my SMS/IMessages and deleted all the photos/video that I had exchanged via texts since I got the phone last year (if you click on "details" next to the name of the person who sent you the texts, you get to a screen where all the attachments are displayed on one page and then you can select and delete from there. However, there is no "Select All" so you have to click on every attachment and then hit the trashcan icon).  So after doing all that, I have reclaimed 3G of space, woohoo. Still, it means that 9G is taken up by "stuff". But my phone is streamlined now :)

  • I used the rest of the free creamer cups from Dunkin' Donuts in my morning coffee, which decluttered my fridge a little. I don't think they need to be refrigerated, actually, but that's where I had been storing them.  However, my fridge got cluttered again right away as I realized that the Better Than Bouillon jar needed to be refrigerated after being opened. I had thought it would be a powdery stuff but it's beef "goop".   Sigh. So yet another jar in the fridge and I wonder if it'll remember that it's there.  This reminds me that I need to put beef bouillon granulés (not cubes!) to my Dollar Tree wishlist. I found them there once and I wish I had stocked up.

  • Bing Rewards: I'm at 55% of my goal.

  • Hoping to reach 2,200 SB today.  Update: done!

  • As seen on the Orlando Sentinel Frugal Force blog: "Free pretzels: Auntie Anne’s guests who sign up for the brand's "My Pretzel Perks" app will receive the choice of one free Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel, redeemable on National Pretzel Day (Tuesday, April 26th) through Sunday, May 1st.  Also, five lucky people will win free pretzels for a year! Consumers must download the Auntie Anne’s My Pretzel Perks App by Monday, April 25th at 11:59PM. Winners will be announced on National Pretzel Day, April 26."  I wonder if I'm eligible since I've had the app for several weeks...  I'm not planning on going shopping next Tuesday especially since my youngest brother will be live streaming his concert in Paris at 2:30 p.m. EST.  Well, poop.  I emailed the deal to my daughter in case she wants to sign up for it. Update: later on they emailed me that all Auntie Anne's app members will get the reward. Woohoo!

  • I had put a reminder on my calendar to sign Greg up for SlingTV for a few months because he had originally wanted to watch the NBA playoffs and tomorrow is the promotional deadline to get a free Roku 2 if you subscribe. However, apparently the NBA season has sucked and he just hasn't been interested this year so we decided to pass on the deal. We already have 3 Rokus anyway and we only use 1 of them regularly for now.  I was going to give the "free" one to one of the kids but they can access their Netflix and what not via other devices so they don't need one right now.

  • I unlocked a couple of new offers on Ibotta.

  • After finishing my 2nd cup of coffee, I craved another... and my eye fell on the free K-Cup samples that I had gotten from Walmart. I don't have a Keurig but it's coffee, right?  I picked the Dunkin' Donuts French Vanilla, opened the K-Cup, yep looks like regular coffee grounds, and dumped them into my coffee maker's filter container.  Added enough water to make 2 cups... voilà! Free flavored coffee.  I'm going to be using the others over the next few days because I need to declutter my kitchen some. Verdict: tastes like coffee to me!  I used the rest of the milk from my bowl of cheerios so there's more milk in my first cup than there usually is and the coffee is piping hot, but I think it passes muster.  I shall keep on ordering free samples of K-cups when they're available :)

  • I noticed that we were at the halfway mark in our gallon of whole milk, so I added 1/2 a gallon of tap water to it to stretch it.  And to think that all those years I was buying gallons of skim milk.  Ugh.

  • I was looking through my fridge (note to self: either DO something with all those bags of friend wontons from the Chinese restaurant or throw them away already!) and found a limp cucumber.  Argh, I have been forgetting to add it to my salads. However, I had a pineapple that had been ripening on my kitchen table since last week so I twisted off the head (more on that coming up), peeled and cut it up and added the cucumber to it. My goal: Sweet and Tangy Pineapple Salad. However, the pineapple isn't very sweet. Darn it.

  • So I headed into the garden to harvest sweet mint and green onions for the salad.  Done!  Note to self: I need to plant more of both.

  • I pulled the packets of seeds that I needed to remind myself to plant more herbs and some green onions too.  More notes to self: buy more mint seeds (check Dollar Tree).

  • I put the pineapple top in some water an upcycled jar of mustard that I had just washed, and placed it in my south facing windowsill.

  • The Frugal Girl posted a really delicious sounding recipe for Slow Cooker Japanese Pork and Ramen Soup... hmm, I'm going to have to try that. I don't buy ribs so unless I see them on clearance, I'll probably just use pork roast and I have rice noodles that have been in my pantry forever and a day so I think I'll be adapting that recipe next week! Plus: maybe using the fried wontons on top instead of the crispy noodles she talks about?  Yes, definitely a possibility...

  • Hey, Doc Martin is in the Netflix line-up again!  Once upon a time, Greg and I really enjoyed that show. So I added it to my list and set about watching episode 1 again while having lunch and clipping the coupons that I need for shopping this afternoon. I watched it on my Kindle Fire and used the Skiva blue tooth speaker. I really love that set up, the sound volume is great now and I can be very portable.

  • Lunch was the leftover rice from last week with the last of the chicken meat from 2 nights ago, leftover salad from last night and a small bowl of the sweet & tangy pineapple salad, which ended up sweeter than I thought it would be. It's so delicious!

  • I took two RaceTrac surveys and earned 2 surveys reward codes for free bakery items.

  • My son came home from school and we drove to his dermatologist appointment.  They were very busy and were 30 minutes late seeing us, which was annoying since I had planned on squeezing some grocery shopping afterwards and my son had a lot of homework waiting for him at home (he couldn't bring it because it all had to be done online). But they eventually saw us.  The great news is that my son's face has cleared up tremendously with the antibiotic that he is taking (Doryx) and the special soap and lotions that he is applying too. So he doesn't have to get on Accutane (I didn't want him to have to go on it anyway) and his antibiotic dosage has been cut on half for a month and then he can stop taking it altogether (but will continue to use the soap and creams/foams that he is using).  We also don't have to go back to the dermatologist unless his face starts looking bad again.  HOWEVER, I have a rant to make.  So his dosage of Doryx has been 100 mg a day.  However, the pharmacy that dispenses it gives us the 200 mg tablets so I've just been cutting them in halves for him when we get a refill. They're big tablet so it's pretty easy to snap them in halves. When the dermatologist said that he could go down to 50 mg a day, she said that she would send a prescription to the pharmacy for it.  I told her that I had a whole bottle of the cut up 200 mg pills so I would just cut them further into fourths.  Both  she and her assistant looked at me, puzzled, looked at our records, and insisted that they would send a prescription to the pharmacy "because the 50 mg pills are covered at 100% on your insurance so it'll be free!".  WHAT.THE.HELL?!  Do you understand now why healthcare is such a clusterfuck in this country?!?  First off, nothing is "free". I might not pay anything out of pocket but the insurance company is definitely going to pay the manufacturer for the antibiotic!  I don't feel bad for the insurance company because we all know insurers are blood-sucking evil companies, but the extra cost gets passed on to all of the policy holders in the form of higher premiums!  I have a whole bottle of pills that can be cut up and used up like that.  Why would I want to throw them away and then get another bottle of smaller pills?!?  This is madness. So I was quite adamant that I wasn't going to waste those pills and I didn't need a new prescription for my son so they dropped it.  But the more I think about it, the madder I get. Aaaaaanyway. My office visit co-payment was $20 and I charged it to our Health FSA debit card and obtained a detailed receipt that I will have to scan and upload to the FSA administrator's site in the next few days so the expense is approved.

  • Our next stop was CVS.  I found a pill cutter that a pretty nifty device. The full price cost was $6.79 + tax and I thought, for a second, that maybe, after all, I should have taken the "free" prescription!  Them I was tempted to forego the pill cutter and just try cutting them with a big knife. But you know what?  I had a 20% off any full price item digital coupon uploaded to my ExtraCare card, and I figured that the pill cutter would make the job easier because I wouldn't have to hunt pill quarters all over the place if the knife blade made them jump around and also, we're getting older and by the time we have to take lots of pills, who knows if we'll be able to afford healthcare?  We might have to cut our own pills in order to save money as I keep on hearing some senior citizens have to do so they can afford to feed themselves too!  So I splurge and bought the darn thing.  I ended up doing 2 transactions at CVS. One for groceries and the other for non-grocery items.  Here are the details:
    • Transaction #1: 1 pill cutter ($6.79 minus $1.24 discount), 1 box Total Home tissues with aloe lotion (on sale for $0.99 and used a $1.00 store coupon from the Minute Clinic Winter booklet so FREE!), 1 Colgate Advanced toothpaste (on sale @ $3.19, minus $1.00 printable coupon = $2.19 OOP and received $2.50 in ExtraCare Bucks!). My OOP was $8.35 and I charged it to my Amazon Visa card which will give me 2% in Rewards. I might be able to claim the pill cutter reimbursement from my Health FSA account but I think they would want documentation from the doctor's so I won't bother if they need that.

    • Transaction #2: 1 gallon whole milk (on sale for $2.99), 1 small pack of M&Ms (on sale for $0.88 and I redeemed a coupon for a free pack of M&Ms that I had won in an Instant Win Game so FREE) and another small pack of M&Ms (on sale for $0.88 and redeemed a $0.38 digital coupon = $0.50).  My OOP after tax was $3.62 but it was all FREE to me since I used my CVS gift card (earned from our American Express Rewards program).  I couldn't use the ECB that I had just earned on that transaction since they cannot be applied to milk. I should. however, have bought a couple of boxes of Lucky Charms with it since they're on sale this week. I didn't think about it! Oh well.

  • I found a penny in the parking lot as we were walking back to the car!  I added it to my 2016 Found Money Jar.

  • My son and I ate the M&Ms as our afternoon snack. They were delicious :)

  • We drove to Home Depot (right across the street), where I picked up the roll of screening material that I had ordered yesterday. The attendant had a little bit of a hard time finding it because it wasn't where she expected it to be, but she did find them. There wasn't a line so it didn't take us much time.  There was a pile of booklets titled "Let's Clean Up This Spring For Less" that each contained $45 in store coupons for cleaning supplies. I flipped through one of them and saw that it included a $4 coupon for a Rubbermaid Roughneck trash can and we do need new yard waste trash cans, so I grabbed a couple of the booklets. I'll have to price them.

  • Our next stop was RaceTrac. I didn't need gas so we just redeemed a survey reward code for a free pastry. My son picked a very large oatmeal raisin cookie, which we split in the car.
Look at that HUGE cookie!
  • Then we went to Aldi.  I was dreading that it would be very busy because it was already 5:45 p.m. and I figured people would be shopping for dinner after work, but actually it wasn't bad at all!  There were only 3 family packs left of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts at $1.49/lb so I grabbed one. Then a lady came running and it looked like she was going to buy the last 2, but then she changed her mind and just got one. So I grabbed the last one. I'll freeze the breasts individually so I should be able to tuck them around the freezer in nooks and crannies without too much trouble. Well... I hope! I also stocked up on whole grain mustard (I use it in my homemade salad dressing. It's a seasonal item so I bought 4 jars of it because we were down to just 1 jar in the pantry). They were only $1.29 each so it wasn't bad. I also bought a jar of hazelnut spread since my son had just finished our last jar of Nutella, stocked up on green peppers (on sale for $0.99 for 2 peppers so I grabbed 3 packages that I will cut up and freeze) and other produce. At the register they had Easter egg-shaped marshmallows on clearance for $0.50 per bag so I got 4 bags, and also packages of milk chocolate beanie eggs (chocolate eggs filled with chocolate covered "beans") on clearance for $0.50 each so I got 2 to give the kids as a belated Easter bunny present. Plus my regular shopping.  My total OOP ended up being $70.19 but that included 2 jugs of cat litter. Still, I will definitely be over $50 again this week! Remember that I'm not done with my shopping, I still have some stuff to buy tomorrow at Publix and at Walgreens.
Hmm, they were so good (my son shared one with me), I should have bought the whole stock!
  • I did look at the 4 x 4 raised gardening bed kits since they had them at my store, but they didn't seem to be made of resin as I had hoped they would be. The box said they were "composite wood"and indeed, the picture made it look like cheap laminate wood. That stuff would fall apart in a jiffy in the Florida weather so I didn't bother getting any. I was really disappointed, though.

  • Then we drove home and were close to our house when Greg called to say he was leaving the office. Since I didn't have to cook dinner (crockpot!), I had time to take pictures of the groceries and to put everything away.

  • Both Greg and my daughter gassed up their vehicles today so I have 2 more receipts with which to take surveys and earn freebies. Also, we will earn the 5% back from Discover (expires tomorrow).

  • I gave my daughter 2 RaceTrac survey reward codes so she can get herself free snacks over the next couple of days.

  • In the mail, I received a "top secret" product to try as part of the Shopper Army program.  It's a food item that I will need to use in a recipe within 7 days so I'll have to work it into the menu early next week.  It's kind of annoying that I have to buy other specific items to use with it so I think I'm going to look up a recent recipe that I made using that kind of product and make that instead, because then I don't think I'll need to buy those special items.

  • Dinner was delicious. I didn't bother with rolls at all and we didn't miss them.  I had enough leftovers to pack a lunch for Greg tomorrow and for my own lunch too, and since there was a lot of liquid left, I packed it into a container and called it "beef broth". I wanted to freeze it but all my containers have been used for chicken stock or soup so it's in a temporary container in the fridge right now. I have a 32 oz container of plain yogurt that needs to be used up tomorrow so I think I'll look up a recipe to bake a yogurt cake tomorrow (my mom used to bake such a cake when I was little) and I'll upcycle the container to freeze the "broth" then.

  • Then I helped my son register his MovBand and sync it to his Florida Virtual School account so he can start keeping track of his physical activity automatically.

  • Back when the Americans, Season 4 started streaming on Amazon Instant Video, I tried buying the Season's pass so I would get the episodes as they became available. However, the Roku interface just charged me for the 1st episode (it's more expensive per episode if you buy the episodes individually) so I cancelled the order and placed a new order for the whole season, from my laptop.  I was expecting to get my $1.99 in digital credits (that were used to pay for the lone episode) credited back within 3-4 days, as per Amazon's guidelines, but when I checked my account tonight, it still hadn't been credited and there was no record of my ever having cancelled the order!  So I emailed Amazon and a couple of hours later, they had refunded me. Yay!

  • A pill cutter.

  • I had to compost the following because I'm guilty of not having kept a close enough eye on them: 3 rotten apples, a bit of mushy cucumber.

  • Cooked Greg's breafast
  • Packed his lunch
  • Set breakfast table for the kids
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the bathroom
  • Made our bed
  • Watered the indoor seedlings
  • Cooked dinner in the crockpot
  • Worked on my shopping list
  • Made pineapple salad
  • Took my son to his dermatologist appointment
  • Did some grocery shopping
  • Documented my grocery trip

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