Thursday, March 3, 2016

Frugal Successes and Failures: Thursday 3/3/16


  • I slept like a rock last night, even woke up thinking that it must be 5 a.m. at least but it was... 12:30 a.m.!  That was great news as I felt very tired, lol.  Pollen levels continue to be very high today so I might stay indoors again.  As soon as my son gets out of the bathroom I'm going to get an allergy pill, though, because the symptoms aren't improving on their own.  Update: in a completely irresponsible manner, I skipped taking the pill (I don't like taking pills) and set up "shop" outside because I need to start enjoying my patio, darn it.

  • An Orlando Sentinel article this morning reviews Josh Groban's Orlando concert that took place last night. My son is mentioned albeit in a non-committal way, which is better than getting a bad review though, so yay!  And with this, his brush with a celebrity ends.  School is keeping him very, very busy.  I realized yesterday that it's a good thing that Greg and I aren't planning on attending his company's Family Day at Universal Studios because my son has his senior recital that same afternoon and I'm not missing that :)

  • One of my childhood BFF emailed me yesterday (the same one I reconnected with last summer when I visited my hometown) and asked me about the presidential elections over here, and about the candidates.  Ugh. What is it with French people wanting to discuss politics all the time?!  I hate talking about it in English so I'm not really wanting to discuss it in French because I'm much more eloquent in English nowadays.  So I'm dragging my feet replying her. The truth is I'm filled with dread about this election. Personally, I dislike every single candidate and there's not ONE that I would feel good voting for, forerunner or not. Call me a traitor to my gender for not being excited about a woman probably being on the ballot, I don't care. I think people should be elected purely on merit, not because they're purple or female or love dogs... or because of their religion.  And I'll tell you one thing: if I were elected president, I would promise a return to Windows 7 for everyone!

  • I'm not feeling very motivated today.  My period should be starting (start already, darn it!) so my energy level is still down and I'm crampy.  In order to motivate myself to do something, I just promise my youngest son that I would make brownies for his afternoon snack.

  • An hour later... I have decided to enjoy some sunshine and moved my laptop and coffee mug to my back patio.  Dusted off the patio furniture cushions, set out the umbrella... it's a beautiful day and I mean to enjoy it as much as I can :)

  • Single tasks accomplished today:
    • Reaching out to someone: emailed the Orlando Sentinel article to Greg and the kids
    • Household chore: cleaned the bathroom sinks
    • Investing: I read (OK, I skimmed) the prospectus for one of our investment funds
    • Tax-related: 
    • General finances:  I recorded the cost of our phone bill in my checkbook spreadsheet
    • Saving money:  I earned freebies by taking surveys
    • Gardening: watered some of my outdoor plants
    • Health:  Alison posted a yummy recipe for biscuits and I resisted baking some Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Layers biscuits right there and then because I would have eaten the whole batch.
    • Cooking: I made potato salad for the first time
    • Indulging myself: enjoying the sunshine on the patio for a few hours and ignoring the house chores

  • I packed leftovers in Greg's lunch.

  • The kids packed their lunches for school.

  • I mixed 1/2 a gallon of water with 1/2 gallon of whole milk to stretch it.

  • I had clipped perfume strips from a brochure that Kohl's had sent me so today I added them to my undies drawer. They might as well be put to "good use" :)

  • My daughter finished a box of cereal so I recycled it and set the bag aside to rinse it so I can reuse it to freeze the last pound of ground beef bought on clearance on Tuesday.

  • My daughter is coming home right after school today so no extra gas will be spent on going to the gym and since I'm not driving anywhere either, it'll be a frugal gas day for our household.

  • Swagbucks: Ngage is once again not in the line-up.  My goal is 90 SB but I'm only working towards it because I want to reach 2,500 SB before the end of the month to order another gift card (i'm at 833 at 9 a.m. so I have a ways to go) and then quit.... at least for a while. I'm starting to worry about my lack of motivation in any area these days.

  • Bing Rewards: completed the activities, successfully maintaining my Gold level, and I'm at 40% of my goal.  Woohoo!

  • CVS sent me a $5 off $25 coupon that I would need to use by Sunday. I sent it to my ExtraCare card "just in case" but I have no intention of shopping at CVS before next week.

  • I collected water in the shower. I'll reuse it later on to flush the toilet.

  • I poured the water collected in the dehumidifier in the bucket that's collecting water in the downstairs shower so I'll be able to reuse it to flush that toilet.

  • I reused water that I had collected in my rain bins and stored in old cat litter and milk jugs to water some of my outdoor plants.  My thyme seeds haven't germinated, but that's because I should have started them indoors in a "greenhouse" setting, darn it.

  • I found a lettuce seedling that had finally grown in the "seed nursery" that I had set outside last fall, so I transplanted it to one of the self-watering bins that has some lettuce that reseeded itself.  Hopefully it'll keep growing :)

  • In an effort to motivate myself to start doing some gardening, I moved one of my "seed nurseries" back to the breezeway. I found 1.5 small bag of potting soil in my shed so I can use that to top off the cups that have leftover soil from last year.  The 2nd seed nursery is draining outside.  I'll move it back indoors at the end of the day.   I want to plant some lettuce and spinach, although I'm thinking that once again it's going to be too hot for it. I wonder if I should set some bins in the front of the house where it's shady most of the day. Would lettuce grow in the shade? Probably not.  It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I didn't refill the self-watering bins.  If it doesn't. I'll refill them this weekend.

  • I also moved my greenhouse shelves back into the house. That's where I'll set the seed nurseries once I sow the seeds.

  • Zinio sent me an email that the latest issue of Taste of Home magazine is available to read via my library and their app.  Woohoo!  I need to stop printing recipes, though. I'm a recipe hoarder. I have so many of them that it's paralyzing me when I try to think about what to cook for dinner. This week, I pretty much made my menu without looking through recipe binders or piles.  There's something to be said about no-fuss no-muss dinners too!

  • A blue jay female came to inspect my bird feeder and left, disappointed.  Sorry little bird, I've been a terrible hostess!  So I refilled the feeder with bird seed (I bought a huge bag of it years ago when I was still homeschooling my youngest) and put water in the bird bath/water dish too.  A little bit later a different bird came by.  He stood on the perch above the feeder for the longest time (and took a dump!) and then started singing a pretty song.  He didn't partake in the bird seed, though :(

  • I needed to boil more eggs for Greg's snacks... and then I realized that I needed 4 hard boiled eggs for my red potato salad too.  One of the benefits of not doing the dishes every day is that I still have the pan full of water from the last time I boiled eggs, so I just reused the same water (I added some more since a bit had evaporated).  I realized that I needed 4 hard-boiled eggs for the recipe after I had already cooked the 6 eggs so I'll need to cook some more and I'll reuse that water again. The way I boil eggs is that I let the water boil for 10 minutes, then put the eggs in and leave the heat on to boil them for 10 minutes, then turn off the stove but leave the eggs in the pan/boiling water until the water has cooled.  It saves a little bit of energy that way. I tried putting the eggs in the cold water and then just boiling it for 10 minutes with the eggs in it and leaving them to cool in the water too, but then the shell is really hard to peel so I stopped doing that as we were wasting 1/2 the egg trying to peel one!  How to do you boil your eggs?

  • For my lunch, there was a little bit of shredded pork left. I could have made rice in the microwave to go with it, but I'm craving carbs today so I decided to have it on a tortilla and then to make myself not one but two egg salad sandwiches too. I added a navel orange and a can of ginger ale to the lot and enjoyed it outside on my back patio :)

  • On the menu for dinner tonight: cheeseburgers and red potato salad.  I'm going to use up 4 hamburger buns that have been in my fridge since last week and 1 lb of ground beef from the last 2-lb chub that I bought on 50% off clearance on Tuesday. I'll freeze the other pound and reuse a cereal bag in the process.  For the potato salad, I used red potatoes that had grown eyes (and legs!).  I've never made potato salad before, is that weird?  It's just something that we usually buy at Publix when we get their family meal for take-out. I hope it turns out OK!

  • I was able to request a free sample (another?!) of Reynolds Baking Sheets from the Labels4Education e-newsletter.  I was also able to print several "exclusive" coupons.

  • Don't you hate it when, in trying to save money, you end up wasting some?!  It almost happened to me today: as I was about to transferring the potatoes from their pan of boiling water to a colander to drain them, it occurred to me that I could just reuse THAT water to boil more eggs.  In my rush to do just that, I ended up dropping the egg carton and the 4 eggs left in there shattered... luckily inside the carton!  

  • My brownie mix required 2 eggs and, luckily enough, I had another box of brownie mix in the pantry (hooray for BOGO sales!) so I'll just bake 2 pans of brownies instead of just one.  Win-win since I'll allow me to use the oven to bake more than just 1 thing (which is one of my resolutions for 2016, come to think of it) and I don't think the kids will mind having twice the amount of brownies to eat, do you?!

  • I checked next week's weekly ads for Walgreens and CVS and it looks like I'll be skipping both next week.  In the unlikely event that I'll need milk, it'll be $2.79 a gallon at Walgreens.

  • I also checked iHeartPublix's preview of this week's Publix ad to see if I needed to go there... maybe for 1 can of Pillsbury crescent dough and maybe for some Lipton black tea, if I can print the darn store coupon.

  • Another store is switching to cage-free eggs exclusively.  Although we don't have Kroger in Florida, I don't see this as a win for customers.  Look, I don't care how chickens are kept if I'm to be 100% honest, as long as I can buy cheap eggs.  We eat their babies. We eat them.  I cannot have chickens at my house because of city regulations nor am I too eager for my neighbors to have some if I continue to be 100% honest.  They already can't keep their dogs in check, they sure won't take care of their chickens so they don't stink and cluck all the time.  Do I sound like a horrible person?  Well, maybe I am.  What next?  Are we going to be forced to buy organic produce because putting pesticides on plants is plant abuse?!  Pl-ease.  Keep on giving us the choice of buying whatever eggs we want!

  • My daughter came home from school, asked me about the brownie batter on the kitchen table.  She loves to bake so I "enrolled" (entrapped?) her into making the brownies, mbwa-ha-ha! She wanted to mix some caramel in them and I think we have a container of caramel dip in the pantry but I was leery of her opening it because it might go bad before we used it up so she dug a little further in the pantry and found a packet of caramel from a previous box of brownie mix that we hadn't used (probably from a box of mix that I had to throw away during the Great Pantry Moth Infestation of 2014) so she used one in half the batter.

  • Oh yay!  The RaceTrac survey freebie is now a free bakery item!  Come to me, delicious muffins, croissants, donuts and cookies, lol. Gotta be topping off my tank every week for the next couple of months ;)

  • So I took 2 RaceTrac surveys and earned a survey reward code for a free bag of TasteWorks chips and one for a free Bakery item :)  If it seems that I earn a lot of RaceTrac freebies, it's because we own 3 vehicles and gas them up pretty much every week!

  • I vacuumed the living room and the exercise room.  We have hardwood floors and a large carpet, along with smaller carpets and a cat litter box in the exercise room.  I hate my vacuum cleaner.  It barely sucks up anything.  I cleaned the rollers, made sure the filters were clean, the canister was empty, there isn't a clog in the hose... It's a Bissell Lift-Off Multi Cyclonic Pet vacuum cleaner. I bought it from Kohl's... maybe 4 years ago?  You all know I hate housework so it's not used very often, lol. Anyhoo, today was the last straw.  I'm sick of vacuuming but still finding dirt on the carpet and floors (and I'm not picky!).  It seems to be vacuuming hair and pet hair OK but crumbs, feathers, leaves, anything larger than a pet or human hair just doesn't get sucked up.  So irritating.  I hate cleaning so when I do, I want my tools to work and not cause me to have to spend more time doing the same task over and over again with the same lousy result.  

  • Thankfully, I remembered that one of the items I had picked up from the library's donation pile last year was Consumer Reports' 2015 Buying Guide. Yay!  I opened it to the vacuum cleaners section and researched several bagless upright vacuum cleaners there and cross-referenced them on Amazon. 

  • I quickly decided that I would get a Hoover.  I'm pretty sure I had one before but that's definitely NOT something I keep track of so I'm not sure.  I didn't like the fact that their bagless models didn't have a way to turn off the brush on bare floors (most of the house is hardwood flooring or tile) so I decided to check out the bagged upright models.  The Hoover WindTunnel Max was ranked 6th and denoted as a Consumer Reports best buy at about $180. However, Amazon had it for $127.... and as I scrolled down the description, I saw that there were deals on it in the Amazon Warehouse Deals section.  After establishing that I could buy 10 "Febreeze"-branded bags for about $12 with Prime, I decided that they were cheap enough that I could trade the cost of having to buy vacuum bags again for the satisfaction of getting a vacuum that actually sucks up the dirt.  So I ordered one of the "Very Good" vacuums from Amazon Warehouse. The only notation was that it was coming repackaged.  Cost?  $86 and change plus tax, with free shipping. I had a little over $2 in Amazon Rewards that I applied to it and I picked the No Rush Shipping option to get a $1 digital credit.  The vacuum was charged to my Amazon Rewards Visa card so I'll earn 3% in Rewards on my purchase.  I was going to buy the bags too but my Discover Rewards should be available in a few days so I'll wait to see if I can get them for free :)  Every item Amazon sells is covered by their A-to-Z guarantee and I've really gotten awesome customer service from Amazon, which is why I decided to go with them. I hope the vacuum works as well as the reviewers said!

  • The last issue of Equus magazine came in the mail today. I had bought a 2-year subscription for my daughter back when she was still into horses but she hasn't been reading it so I always take it to the library's donation pile.

  • Speaking of donations, I repurposed the cardboard box that the gallons of vinegar came in as my own donation box.  It sits in our entry room and I'll just collect whatever needs to go to the thrift store in there.  I like that system because I see the box all the time and when it's full, it's time for me to go drop off the donations.

  • Shopper's Army sent me a survey to see if I would qualify to get some oven-bake lasagna noodles for a survey and I did!  So I should get those at those point.  This is the program that I joined via Snap by Groupon back in November, I think, in order to get my middle son to try out Old Spice products and report back about them.  I thought it was just a one-time deal so I was surprised when they sent me that offer.

  • I changed my mind about freezing the 2nd pound of ground beef, and decided to just cook another 4 patties since Greg is on his "eat more protein" kick.

  • A new-to-me vacuum cleaner!

  • The bird feeder's water dish is made of plastic. It didn't seem like flimsy plastic but the Florida sun has claimed its latest victim nonetheless and part of the lip that holds it in place has broken off.  I'm going to need to think of a way to jerryrig something at the bottom of the holder so the bowl doesn't just fall through.

  • Our AT&T phone bill was a little higher than I had anticipated because Greg did place a couple of calls (to me) when he was in Canada (and sick and wanting some wifely comfort!) at $1 a minute beyond the $30 that we were already paying for him to be able to send unlimited texts and use 120 MB of data. Yes, I'm still annoyed that he won't try to expense that, darn it.  Also, it galling to me that our bill is a little over $200 for 4 lines: our "home" line is $20, our son's iPhone line is $25, mine is $25.  Greg's still under contract so his is higher.  But the rest is taxes.  So that's $98 for Greg's line and taxes.  Ugh.  How is that better, again, than when we just had one phone line for $35?!  Smartphones are a plague.  Handy, but a plague.

  • I still haven't harvested the oranges from our tree... or done anything with the oranges from the neighbor's tree, to tell you the truth.
Not quite the pretty oranges that Bless had in her backyard!
  • The red potato salad was... a complete waste!  I followed the recipe to cook the potatoes but mine must have been larger than the ones she used in the recipe because mine were seriously undercooked.  I forgot to defrost some celery so I omitted it but added celery seeds and I skipped the green onions since I didn't think Greg and the kids would enjoy them.  I tasted it and it was raw and gross.  So it'll have to be thrown away since there's no way for me to "save it".  Ugh.

  • Cooked breakfast for Greg
  • Packed his lunch
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Made our bed
  • Cleaned both bathroom's sinks
  • Cleaned downstairs bathroom mirror
  • Sprayed bleach in shower stall
  • Ran the dehumidifier
  • Watered some outdoor plants
  • Moved the "greenhouse" shelves and 1 seed nursery back indoors
  • Moved fishing poles from gardening shed to large shed
  • Set the outdoor umbrella and moved outside to enjoy my backyard!
  • Refilled the bird feeder and bird bath
  • Took a customer satisfaction survey 
  • Perused store ads to work on my shopping list for next week
  • Vacuumed the living room and exercise room
  • Researched vacuum cleaners
  • Cooked dinner

  • Hmmm, I guess I was a good steward of our money by checking out Consumer Reports before buying a vacuum cleaner and then buying it used.

  • Liquids:
    • 2 cups coffee
    • 1 can ginger ale
  • Food:
    • Breakfast:
      • bowl of granola with ~2% milk and sliced strawberries
    • Mid Morning Snack:
      • string cheese stick, 1 cookie
    • Lunch:
      • 2 eggs salad sandwiches, shredded pork on a tortilla, navel orange, ginger ale
    • Mid Afternoon Snack:
      • 3 brownies
    • Dinner:
      • Cheeseburger, mandarin
    • Evening Snack:
      • brownie
  • Weight:
    • too much
  • Exercise:
    • not enough
Did you have any frugal successes or failures today? Please do tell!


  1. When I saw your photo this morning of the robin, I suddenly realized that I have not seen my first robin this year. I always see them before the last day in February, but not this year. Of course all the snow in the yard might have something to do with it, but we have had snow before and they still come back. I wonder if they know something we don't???

    "I used red potatoes that had grown eyes (and legs!)" *snort* That is too bad that your potato salad didn't turn out. It is a favourite here as a summer treat, so I know they take a lot of work. What kind of dressing did you use? Good thing you doubled the number of cheeseburgers you were going to make.

    A new vacuum cleaner? How exciting.This coming Monday, you will be sure to capture the Domestic Goddess award. There will be no stopping you now.

    1. I couldn't remember the name of the bird so thanks for reminding me! In the past we'd get lots of them but this year we got much fewer... and now you say you haven't seen them yet. I hope this isn't a bad omen!

      The vacuum won't be in until next Friday so the Domestic Goddess shall not vacuum on Monday, lol.


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