Wednesday, March 30, 2016

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




HAPPENINGS AROUND HERE TODAY:

  • 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

FRUGAL SUCCESSES:
  • 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 granulĂ©s (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... voilĂ ! 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!


WE SPLURGED ON:
  • A pill cutter.



HOWEVER, WE FAILED IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS, BUT LEARNED SOME LESSONS:
  • 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.

TASKS ACCOMPLISHED TODAY:
  • 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!

7 comments:

  1. That pineapple/cucumber salad looks tempting. I would never have thought of combining those 2 items!

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    1. It's really refreshing and delicious, one of my favorite salads to have when it's hot outside. Here is the recipe if you ever want to try it. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/sweet-and-tangy-pineapple-cucumber-salad

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    2. Thank you so much for posting the link to the recipe.

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  2. I've had to change my shopping day because of my new work schedule and it's got me a little mixed up. I am also planning on grabbing several packs of green peppers, I'm so happy for the sale! I picked up some mustard too and may get more -- I like that for certain glazes in addition to just using it on sandwiches. I guess people have very different experiences with Aldi, but I have always had very good luck with their produce (well, everything). I was actually not sure about shopping there initially because Save A Lot is completely different ball game and I had thought the two stores were similar. But I find Aldi to be on a whole different (and better, our Save A Lots tend to be...untidy to say the least) ballgame.

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    Replies
    1. I think national grocery store employees are probably posting rumors about Aldi because they're afraid of losing their jobs. To be fair, I would too. I switched 95% of my shopping from Publix to Aldi once I decided I liked it. I feel bad because I owe to be supporting a local company that gives jobs (a lot more jobs than Aldi!) to local people, but on the other end I look at what they want to charge me for similar items (usually double the price) and remember that none of my kids ever was able to even get just an interview at our local Publix so then I stop feeling bad, lol. I'm going there today to buy string cheese (BOGO with coupons) and... something else that I can't remember but it's just 2 items. I used to spend at least $200 a week there, back when I had all 6 kids at home.

      Our Save A Lot looks a little run-down because it's in an older building but it's comparable to Aldi as far as cleanliness. I get my meat on clearance there and sometimes their produce sales beat Aldi but not that often. My SAL cashier tells everybody she shops at Aldi! I'm thinking one day they're going to fire her because she's basically promoting the competition out loud to everyone, lol.

      Changing shopping patterns is hard sometimes, I hope it works out for you! I thought stores would be really busy since we were shopping from about 5:15 ish to 6 p.m. but maybe it was the lull before all the commuters arrive.

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  3. Yes, I agree with you about the wasteful mindset of healthcare workers when it comes to prescribing medications. Another area of concern is the number of tests that are re-ordered when a patient is referred to another specialist. The GP orders a cat scan or ultra sound and sends the results to a cardiologist (or other specialist) and they in turn ask for their own set to be done. What's wrong with the first one, or second one for that matter? And although health care is "free" to us, it really bothers me to see how wasteful they can be. It only serves to drive up the costs of healthcare, so that the positions of nurses and technicians are in jeopardy.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you, although here nurses are in high demand, especially ones with Bachelor's degrees. One of Greg's daughters has a B.S. in Nursing, just 6 months of work experience, and was hired as a nursing SUPERVISOR by a clinic because they needed someone with her nursing license on the books.

      In this age of electronic medical records, you'd think practitioners would be ordering fewer tests since they should be able to access your entire medical history online, right? Of course we all know that in practicality, well in the US at least, online records are a joke since not all doctors' offices and hospitals use the same software or even are on the same networks.

      As individual consumers and collectively as taxpayers, I think we're being fleeced. Honestly, I dislike doctors very much. On the whole, I have found them to be particularly ignorant and mostly useless and at times very arrogant in all their cluelessness. 5 times out of 10 you won't get a diagnosis just a "It may be a virus" and 4 times out of 10 it'll be the "let's get some blood tests and other expensive and utterly useless tests done" and then the 1 time out of 10 you might actually have a doctor worth his or her salt. Yes, harsh pronouncements from me but it's been my experience so far, I have to say, which is far less extensive than what you and your family have had to go through, I admit. I don't relish having to be seek medical care as I grow older.

      Many years ago, back in France, my grandmother used to routinely get her doctor to prescribe her certain medications because as an elderly person she got 100% coverage so the drugs were free but she actually gave them to my step dad because his coverage was only 30% (or about) and she actually didn't need those medications while he did. The doctor was completely oblivious and didn't care. When my step mom passed away from pancreatic cancer, my dad had tons of medical supplies and powerful drugs left over that they didn't pay for (her insurance policies covered them) and never ended up using. We contacted the pharmacies who refused to take them back but in the end Hospice took it all back although I think they said they were going to destroy the drugs (that were still sealed and had never been used). Such waste, everywhere. As you can tell, this really touched a nerve with me, lol.

      Another part of my rant that I forgot to write about is that, at the dermatologist, I had to ask many questions because information that should have been provided just wasn't. Such as "how long does he have to keep taking the Doryx?" (answer: "uuuuuh, one month?" seriously, with the unsure tone of voice at the end!), "So then do we stop everything or just the Doryx?" (answer: just the Doryx, keep using the creams), "When do we need to come back for a check-up?" (answer: at this point we don't need to see him again), etc. Practitioners need to put themselves in the consumers' place and answer all pertinent questions before they're even asked! I mean you wouldn't tell someone to put a dish in the oven without telling them the temperature at which it needs to be cooked or for how long, right? Arrgh. Then people think I'm bitchy. But "people" are incompetent!

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