Monday, March 28, 2016

What I Did This Past Week

A little white lie, but when I first started thinking about last week, that's how I felt.

With apologies and thanks to Jess from Mama Wolf in Kentucky, I'm borrowing her "The Bad, The Good and the Frugal" format because I love that her weekly posts follow that format (and I read them all, even though I don't always comment!) and I'm not feeling very creative this morning... and also I don't want to subject anyone to the very long post I had started reading enumerating all the things that I didn't feel like doing, hahaha.  So hopefully this will be more streamlined and also provide a record for myself of what I was up to last week.

So let's start with... the Bad Stuff.

Insomnia.  Really bad LAST Sunday night. I barely slept a wink then. Kind of bad last night but mostly it was because I drank green jasmine tea late at night and then I was enthralled by a blog written by a Brit living in Angola with stories that made me think "Why are you still living there?! Get out!".  Finally I went to sleep at 3 a.m. and all I want to do is get back to his blog right now so keep reading backwards. Some people's lives are unreal.  I guess I shouldn't complain that mine is boring.  I'd rather live a boring life in Florida than his life in Angola, trust me.

Ennui.  I wasn't motivated to do much.  I didn't just lay on the couch all week but there was a lot of that.  A Lot.

Depression. And then, it set its hooks in me. I cried all day on Friday because of a joke that Greg made. He apologized but I just couldn't get over it and I finally went to bed at 7 p.m. after cooking dinner.  Well, I didn't sleep, I had brought my Kindle and my iPhone upstairs with me so I listened to Smooth Jazz and tried reading blogs in between crying jags and finally fell asleep at about 11 a.m. and had a fitful night in that bed where I have barely slept in months. It was stuffy and despite having the fan on, I just couldn't get comfortable. But in the morning I felt a little better and going out on our outing yesterday afternoon helped a lot too.  It's definitely a hormonal problem, I think, but also there are underlying issues that never get addressed because I think addressing them would cause more hurt than do any good so I just let them lie until they bubble up again. Yes, I know it's not healthy but in my own twisted way, I believe that's for the best.  So I will continue to fight that demon by isolating myself for however long I need to and getting it out of my system.  I'm so anti-drugs for myself (not for others, I believe every one should do what is best for themselves) that there is no way that I would ever take anti-depressants or anything else and I don't believe in "natural" remedies either, so for now that's how I'm treating it. Having a spouse that would think twice prior to making certain "jokes" would help a lot too but no one is perfect. I'm not so I can't be casting stones (too often), right?  I feel much better today, thanks to all of you who expressed concern via comments, I appreciated your thoughts very very much.

Ate out twice.  I took the kids out to lunch to Hardees on Wednesday and, despite using 2 coupons one of which was for a BOGO sandwich, our total was still $21. Arrgh. When I took my son shopping with me on Thursday, we also ate out instead of just eating at home before we left.  But we went to Racetrac so it wasn't too bad (we redeemed survey reward codes for our desserts): $10 for the 2 of us, including drinks.  Could have been cheaper if we had picked roller grill items at $1.25 or $1.50 each instead of sandwiches at $4-5 each!

Greg also ate out twice. But once was a social occasion.

The total for "Eating Out/Ordering In" in March is approaching $300. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  That is preposterous.

Also preposterous: I had to throw away a lot of food that didn't get eaten or cooked because I'd been too lazy to do anything about it.  I can't even remember everything that I threw away but it was the most food waste since I've started blogging, I'm sure.

Didn't redeem a 100 pt KFR code in time and it expired.

Didn't work on Bing Rewards or Swagbucks.  Alison asked me what happened to all my gift cards and I'm afraid that my weekly grocery posts aren't going to be all that exciting anymore because without double coupons and gift cards (apart from my CVS gc), I'm going to be paying higher OOP.

Haven't heard from my 2 older sons despite my texting them and emailing them items of interest.  Not even a thank you or a "got it" or a "stop sending me this". Nothing.  I'm getting very annoyed, on the verge of being angry. I get that they're busy.  But I'm their mom.  The first thing that always come to my mind is "crap, I did or said something and now they're pissed at me and I don't even know why!" but invariably, it's just that they were "busy" (but they have plenty of time for the GFs, go figure!) and I'm just not on their radar screen.  I guess I should get used to it.  I don't communicate with my own siblings and mom often but I do respond to their emails on the rare occasion that they do email and send them very long ones a couple times a year!

Season 5 of Game of Thrones sucked.  Seriously.  We "enjoyed" (and that's a loose term) 2 episodes out of 10. Greg has sworn it off. I want to subscribe to HBO Now this year just so I can watch Season 6 as it is broadcast, much like I go to read the last few pages of the book I can't bring myself to finish just to see how it ends.

Brussels Bombings. 'Nuf Said. Yes, there have been bombings in other places too, but none of my family live in those places.  Some of my family lives within 5 miles of Belgium, and some of my ancestors were from Belgium.  A bomb killed people in the subway and one of my brothers works in the subway in Paris.  Again, enough said.

I didn't feel like doing anything so I didn't take advantage of my daughter being home the first part of the week to take the family car in for an oil change that it needs.  So now I need to figure out how to do it... I think I'll have her drive my car one day so I can take "hers" and get it done. It would have been much easier if I had just gotten it done last week...

We also didn't work on her taxes. She's getting just a few dollar bills back but I really should show her how to do it.  Sigh.

I used the dryer for all the laundry last week, instead of taking 10 minutes to hang the clothes on the laundry racks.  Much like not working on Bing Rewards, it was a little task with a pretty big pay-off so definitely a failure. Oh well.

I tried making Waffle Iron cookies by substituting vegetable shortening for the margarine or butter that I usually use.  Bad idea.  They stuck to the iron and tasted horrible.  I finished baking them as regular cookies in the oven and my son actually liked them so they didn't go to waste... or to my hips. So maybe I should be moving this to the "good" section?! #neverusingvegetableshorteningincookiesagain

On to: The Good Stuff!

I finally read!  I read purely for pleasure so it was all fiction and all "Murder and Mayhem" (which probably helped, but in a non-helpful way, get me all anxious and depressed during the last part of the week but that's besides the point).  I read 1 physical book and 6 e-books.  I felt like Alison from NOVA Frugal Family, truly!  Most, if not all, were books that I had already read at some point, but it usually doesn't bother me because, as I've explained before, that's one of the perks (and probably the only perk) of rather a really, really bad memory.  I still have 3 e-books from the library on my Kindle, that "Quiet" book that I really need to finish and another hardcover library book that I haven't even cracked.  So I guess I should add "read" to my to-do list for the week.

I have awesome kids who worked on their school projects over Spring Break without my having to prompt them. Well, for the most part. I did have to prompt my son to check with the interim H.O.P.E. (virtual P.E., basically) teacher to see what he needed to do.  The real teacher is back today so he's gonna have to get to it and start putting in 1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity every day, which is why he wasn't in a rush to get started and I don't blame him.  This is for a high school credit (he's finishing 8th grade right now).  Every day my son did homework. He had told me he had "some" homework over Spring Break but boy, it should look like more than just "some"!  He had to do a whole project on the Greeks, was working on math, on science... He had a whole to-do list that he had written out and taped to the chair next to his computer desk and he did do the work. I'm so proud of him, especially since I did nothing myself.  I'm not being a very good example these days. My daughter signed up for her summer and fall college classes (which will all have to be changed if she does get accepted into the summer coding camp for girls, but she needed to sign up for classes before the deadline) and worked on her art projects while at her dad's, they were due for her AP Art class.

My awesome youngest son also cleaned his room this weekend without my only having to mention that I would like him to clean it before the end of Spring Break.  Neither of my older sons ever EVER did this without me having to repeatedly ask them, then tell them, then YELL at them!

We learned that the Optimist Club decided not to have a District Competition this year and instead they're sending the winners of the local club competitions directly to Regionals.  I think this increases the prizes, probably (?!) but more importantly, it seems to mean that the next competition won't take place on April 9, which was going to conflict with the ACT, the trip to Universal Studios and a few other things that she'll have to miss anyway.  So for now she's still planning on taking the ACT that day (and I didn't have to cancel and reschedule it so it probably saved me a good $90!) and she is still planning on going to Universal Studios with her younger brother in the afternoon with our free tickets from Greg's employer.

I decided that I was tired of being a pack rat.  Yes, saving some stuff saves me money in the long run but how many mesh bags do I need in the immediate future?!  So I threw away a couple of mesh bags this week, along with 2 mugs that had been broken and glued back together but that leaked.  Other things too but I don't remember what. It decluttered one of my tiny kitchen counters a little and I felt a little better. I need to majorly declutter my house. A lot of the stuff is hidden in hidey holes but that only means that I don't even know what I have.  Case in point: I don't think I've decluttered the cabinets in the laundry room in several years.  I possibly still have my old stereo from my Honda Odyssey van and we haven't had the van since 2007 and Greg bought me a new stereo to replace that one back in... 2002?  Yep, time to declutter. My old homeschooling book supply has been decluttered a LOT over the years (I stopped homeschooling in 2010, if I remember properly, but there were books I was holding on to in case my son needed them as reference books for public school projects but with the internet, nowadays, he's never looked at them so it's time for them to go!  Should I try selling them? Too much work for very little pay, I think.  The library will probably get them for their next Book Fair).

Greg and I spent time together every evening from Monday through Friday, watching 2 episodes a night of Season 5 of Game of Thrones.

I slept in every morning.  I guess it might go in the "bad" section from Greg's point of view because it means that I didn't get up with him once last week, even though he wasn't on Spring Break. He cooked his own breakfast, mostly packed his own lunch and didn't complain even once. He actually told me he was glad I was getting to sleep in and that I should enjoy my Spring Break.  He's pretty awesome that way (I mean, I don't know if inside of him he wasn't grumbling and thinking "spring break from doing what?!" but he didn't verbalize it).

Mastercard credited us with the 5% gas rebate that we had been earning for a few months (until I realized that Discover was also offering 5% off gas in January through March so we switched to Discover during that period because I wanted to use the Rewards on Amazon) so we have a $57.62 credit on that account (since we didn't charge anything else to the card).  Aldi is supposed to have resin 4 x 4 ft raised beds kits this coming week for $30 so I'm thinking about buying a couple and charging them to Mastercard so they'll be free (or close to free).

I was able to reserve 3 FREE tickets to see my son and his Flying Horse Big Band in concert at the Dr. Philips Center for the Arts in Orlando in April.  I'm so excited because not only will I see my son perform, which is always a treat, but they're also going to be playing songs from the concert that I loved the most and T-Bone, the singer who had sung at that concert and who sings on their latest album, will be back. It's going to be awesome!  I booked 3 tickets so I asked my daughter if she wanted to invite one of her friends who is a trumpet player to come along. If she can't, then we'll bring my youngest son along.  I can't wait!

I had transferred the $600 that my daughter had won from The Optimist Club from our Checking account to her Savings account (so basically I bought the Visa gift cards from her) but I ended up entering the transfer as a credit to us instead of a debit. Oops. That created a $1,200 discrepancy in our account ledger.  Why is it in the "Good" column?!  Because I realized it the next day when I had a nagging suspicion that all wasn't right in the Kingdom of Nathalie because my projection of our daily balance was far healthier than it should have been!  So I avoided potentially and inadvertently bouncing checks (well, direct debits!). Phew!

Not sure if this is going to turn out to be a good or bad thing for us, but I'm leaning towards "good" because it will save me money on shipping: my daughter told me (and I confirmed!) that a Bath & Body Works store will be opening up in Clermont. Squeal!  I don't need anything from there but it'll be so neat to just stop by after going to Aldi when they had great sales on candles or when they send me one of those freebie coupons that I've had to forego in the past because the closest BBW was a good 30-45 minutes away from here! So, yay!  Go ahead, send me ALL the coupons, BBW, I dare you!

Even though I claim that I didn't do anything all week, I still accomplished a few tasks such as doing the laundry, doing the dishes, feeding the cats every morning because my son wasn't getting up until noon and the cats were having none of that, paid some bills, went grocery shopping and bought my son much needed business attire clothing, swept a couple of rooms, worked on my garden...

I was finally able to take a follow-up survey on Swagbucks for an in-home product test that I had completed. I had been "fighting" with Swagbucks for a couple of weeks about it already when they had the nerve to email me to remind me to take the freaking survey and then when I took it, I didn't get credited the promised 300 SB, of course.  So after emailing Customer Service yet again, I finally got the 300 SB.  I have SB fatigue. I'm close to the 2,200 SB I will need come April 1 to order a $25 gc and when I reach it, I might just not do SB for a few more weeks. It was wonderful to be free of that yoke last week.

My son having to do physical activities for his H.O.P.E. class led me to think about playing racquetball with him (there's a free outdoor court at Park Pals in Clermont and we have the equipment already) and yesterday's outing on the General Van Fleet Trail made me long for bikes of our own so we can go on bike rides. I just got rid of our old bikes because my son's was way too small and mine was a cheap one whose breaks were beyond repairs so I think I'm going to be on the lookout for bikes at the local thrift store and if not, darn it, I might buy new ones. I'll need to get some kind of a shelter for them though, so they are somewhat protected from the elements since we don't have a garage.  I'm thinking maybe another one of the plastic sheds that are low profile? I'd have to get the bikes first to make sure they would fit.

Also, my depressed state of mind late last week and my attempt to cheer myself up by taking "a second look" resulted in my thinking about other outings I can take on my own during the week or on the weekends with my camera.  We have county parks, state parks, trails, botanical gardens, special events... I think I'm going to start venturing out in the world by myself again. A lot of the places were places I used to visit with the kids a lot when they were little because I wasn't a hermit back then... we went out pretty much every weekend and when I was homeschooling my youngest we went out every other day at least!  I just need to make sure that it's not just something I plan (I do love the planning phase) and then don't do.  Case in point: I had thought about going to the "Vintage Gardening" event at Renninger's this weekend but last night I started to think that maybe I should skip it since it's not really my style to have cutesy things in the garden.  But that's missing the point since the point is for me to go out and have fun on my own. I could stop by Mount Dora on the way home, visit the antique stores, have lunch in a quaint little restaurant while reading a book on my Kindle... yeah, I think I'm going to do that.  I created a list of places I'd like to visit or re-visit and that aren't that far from here (the furthest is 2.5 hours away but I can't let that stop me, gas isn't that expensive right now, I ought to take advantage of it!).  We'll see how many I'll visit.  I guess that for now I'll shoot for at least 1 solitary outing a month. It'd be nice to have 1 per week, but that might not be realistic, knowing me.

The Frugal Stuff

It was cool enough until Thursday that the AC didn't kick on at all. Yay!  Also: it rained. A lot. We needed it badly.

Borrowed 6 e-books from the library on my Kindle and immediately returned the ones I was done with so others could borrow them too.

Downloaded a couple of free game apps from Amazon Underground (Mahjong, of course, that's pretty much the only game I ever play and I finally found one that has pretty good candy-themed tiles, which are my favorites, hahaha). I actually downloaded 6 or 7 free apps but deleted the ones that I didn't like immediately.

The kids didn't want to go anywhere so we mostly stayed home and didn't spend money.

I have added water to the little bit of whole milk that was left in the gallon (I had set the other 1/2 gallon of 1% milk bought on clearance to defrost).

I saved several cereal bags.

I clipped several Boxtop labels and set them aside to donate to a school.

My daughter brought me back a 12-pack Coke product code from her visit at her dad's.

I stayed under budget with my grocery shopping, even though I spent more than I wanted to.

I cooked dinner all week, despite whatever mood I was in.

Frittata, BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Cheeseburgers and Grilled Asparagus were some of the dinners I cooked last week.
Greg only bought lunch twice and once was a social occasion.

HBO Digital reissued me the redemption codes that had expired for Seasons 1 and 3 of Game of Thrones so I could add them to my digital library on Google Play.  So now I can rewatch them without having to move Greg's Xbox One if he's not here or if I'm on a portable device.  We had bought Season 2 on DVD only so I'm shit out of luck for that tone though.

Went to Goodwill to find "business attire" clothes for my youngest son (he will need them for JNHS and for Dress-Up Days in his Intro to IT class) and paid about $8 for a very nice pair of light wool grey slacks (cuffed) and a very nice white cotton long-sleeve shirt.  Both of them looked brand new and would have cost me over $50 in a regular store, even with sales, so I was very happy about it, especially since his pant size is hard to find.  I got him a 30x32 so he has a little bit of room to grow into it too and he looks spiffy in it.

Also got a brand new 5" ring binder to replace my "Baking" recipe binder that had broken. From Goodwill.  Yay and it's larger than my old one so now I can put away more baking recipes. As if I needed more...

I did water my garden earlier in the week but then it rained a lot at the end of the week so that saved me time and money.  Bring on the daily rains, I say!  As long as it's sunny the rest of the day, I don't mind. I also collected water in a couple of bins and saved it in a few cat litter and milk jugs.

Greg and I "let it mellow" at night, he upstairs and me downstairs. While it saves us money in water and also helps keep me asleep (the flushing mechanism is quite loud and always wakes me up), it's also very unpleasant to climb the stairs in the morning and to be greeted by ammonia smells because he always forgets to flush as soon as he wakes up.  But we did save money that way so I'm not complaining.

I planted new seeds in my garden that I had bought from Dollar Tree for the paltry sum of 20 cents a package.  I planted: bush beans, jalapeƱos and green peppers, a 60 cent investment that hopefully will reward me in at least a couple of bucks' worth of veggies!

I harvested basil seed "kernels" and collected the seeds.

I got a tube of toothpaste "for free" at Walgreens last week.  I actually paid $2 OOP for it (after coupon) but got a $2.50 Register Reward that I'm going to use to buy 3 boxes of Kellogg's cereals this week (after using coupons) so it'll be as if I got a free tube of toothpaste for buying 3 boxes of cereal that I was going to buy anyway AND Kellogg's Family Rewards will give me a 5,000 point bonus if I upload a receipt between now and some time in April. Since Walgreens receipts need to be uploaded, that'll be a great deal for me!

I stocked up on butter at $1.99/lb at Aldi last week (I bought 6 lbs because that's all that would fit in my freezer) and eggs at $0.99 a dozen at Walgreens ( I bought 4 dozens, again because of space constraints).  Yes, I missed out on the 50% Cartwheel at Target on Friday but that would have meant me spending $8 in gas at the very least to get there so not a frugal proposition!  I haven't set foot in Target for weeks.  Good thing I bought at $300 gift card last Christmas, eh?

I received another coupon for a free chocolate candy bar. I had won it in an Instant Win game back in February.  Free chocolate FTW!

Collected water in the showers both upstairs and downstairs and used it to flush the toilets a few times.

Submitted a couple of rebates to MobiSave and Checkout 51.

I meant to take my SUV through the carwash last week when my son and I were out shopping but I changed my mind at the last minute because I realized that we had rain in the forecast. I'm so glad I didn't go because that would have been a waste of $5... it rained so hard that my SUV has been covered in tree debris and leaves every day since!

I switched our AT&T Automatic Bill Pay from direct debit from our Checking account to being charged to American Express, which will earn us $30 in American Express bonus credits and $20 in American Express Rewards (over 12 months).

Greg received an offer to get a $5 discount off his first Amazon purchase from his Kindle Fire app. He has his own Amazon account that he never uses (since the Prime membership is attached to my account and we haven't switched to the relatively new Amazon Family thingie yet) so he'll have to see if he can sign on to that account from his Kindle to use the discount.

I reused water from the shower and from boiling eggs to water my indoor plants.

I replanted a celery "heart" in potting soil to try to grow another zombie celery and upcycled an old annual pot for this purpose.

Zinio alerted me of several new magazine issues being available for me via our library system (Kiplinger's, Taste of Food...).

Ordered a free 8 x 10 reprint from Walgreens (code FREELARGE, expires today!). I wasn't sure what to get printed since the only good pictures I've been taking were of my garden, but I found a picture of my youngest son and daughter in the Alps last summer that I like well enough so I manipulated it a little in PhotoScape (free program that I love) to make the colors pop out a little better and uploaded it to be printed.  I'll need to find a good spot for it on a wall or shelf, somewhere...

We went on a frugal outing yesterday, as a family, to the Richloam Wildlife Management Area and the General Van Fleet Trail.  It wasn't the most exciting outing but we did see a couple of turkeys, a gopher tortoise, lots of butterflies, and I learned to recognize new flower species thanks to the pictures that I had taken and my Audubon Florida Guide Book (not the actual title but close). It only cost us the gas to get there and since it was only about 10 miles from home, it wasn't a huge expense.

I did redeem a 25 pt KFR code.

Right as I'm talking about decluttering my house, I decided to start keeping the Boston lettuce clamshells because I think they might make pretty good "seed nurseries".

I received my 3 personalized free samples of Twinings tea bags. The Pure Peppermint went to Greg and I kept the other 2 for myself.  The Green Tea Jasmine is the one I drank late last night and that I'm blaming for not being able to fall asleep.

I cut up the leeks that I had harvested and froze them, and I also cut up the celery that I bought on sale at Aldi last week and froze it as well.

So that's pretty much what I was up to last week, in a nutshell. Well now it's noon and I have barely done anything today so time to get to it!


  1. I am a little amused that your post about everything you didn't do...was really about lots of stuff you did accomplish. ;) I could never do the swagbucks thing, much as I am a bit envious of the gift cards. I get very stressed out over programs like that, to the point where I am actually kind of anxious and panicky just thinking about them! So I can imagine that taking a break every once in a while is a nice treat.

    I also need to go on a major de-cluttering spree -- that photo of my house featured pretty strategic angles, let me tell you.

    Your pictures of your meals look really yummy!! I love pulled pork. Hope this week brings you better sleep and a happier outlook! <3

    1. Try as I might, I don't have any "strategic angles", lol. Maybe I can learn from you :)

      I have to confess that as I was looking of photos of whatever dishes I had remembered to photograph this past week, I was annoyed that my pictures were nowhere as pretty as yours, lol. I need some nice dishes and to make a lightbox because the lighting in my kitchen is horrible. But that's one thing to say that and another to actually make it (even though I have bookmarked instructions somewhere) so I think I'll just keep on posting my crappy pictures. Maybe one day I'll actually learn how to use the better camera that my son gave me. Or make better looking recipes :)

  2. That was a very good recap of your week! Enjoyed reading it.

    1. Thank you, Bless, I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I always feel like I haven't done anything until I start thinking about it and realize that if I truly hadn't done anything, I'd still be wearing my PJs from a week ago, the family would be starved and Greg would be complaining that he doesn't have any clean undies, lol. I think women are trained (train themselves?) to underestimate themselves and I know I'm guilty of it.

  3. No problem :-) I enjoy writing the weekly list, it works well for me. I need to declutter my house too. Sometimes I'll start to save something, knowing I may use it later, then i'm like screw it, I have too much stuff and trash it. I've been planning on doing more decluttering, just been a bit lazy there. The real issue with that is the husband though. Now that man is a pack rat! I get very upset with him when he makes any kind of remark about not having enough room or having nowhere to put his stuff. I remind him (not always nicely) he has an entire bedroom full of his crap (really piled full with his stuff that you can't even walk in it), a corner in the bedroom full of his junk, and the garage is also all his! Not that I haven't secretly removed a few items here or there and he, of course, never noticed :-)

    1. You are devious! LOL. I did that with my ex-husband, I would go through his drawers and get rid of all the Tshirts that he would never EVER fit in again. He would get mad though because he was keeping them for "sentimental reasons". Ugh. I used to think he was the messier one in our couple because he was always working on some project so we had stuff everywhere too but Greg would say that I'm the messiest one. That's probably true although I just threw away a pair of earbuds that he broke about 2 months ago and apparently just put on the floor next to his recliner (sad testament to how often I clean back there!) instead of just throwing them away. Greg has his shed but he keeps it very well organized. I have a tiny shed and everything is pretty much piled up in there because it's very narrow so I can barely get in there anyway.

  4. We are our worst critics. Of course you accomplished much, though you may not feel it at times. I am so sorry your mood is down right now. ((((HUGS)))) I hope this will pass soon.

    1. Thank you, Susan, I feel better now. I appreciate the hugs very much :)


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