Saturday, April 30, 2016

Fun with the Teens ~ Saturday 4/30/16

Happy International Jazz Day!  I just found out there was such a thing and that it's celebrated on 4/30, thanks to Bing Rewards.  Well, darn it, if I had known in advance, I would have planned on going to watch a live Jazz Band! So instead I'm playing my son's senior recital on my Kindle Fire/BlueTooth speaker.  Yay!  I texted him as soon as I found out to wish him a happy International Jazz Day, but he never replied. OK, so it was 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday. So what?

Hmm, when I look at the events listed on their website,  it shows a Crawfish, Seafood and Jazz Fest in Oakland, FL (about 25 minutes from here) this afternoon but when I click on the link for the event, it shows that it's in Apopka (another 20 minutes away) and that they sold all their tickets.  Neither of my kids who still live at home like jazz or seafood so I don't have anyone to go with. Waaaaaa!

Where did April go?!? Wasn't it just last week that we were discussing Poissons d'Avril and the beginning of Spring?  Summer is pretty much already here in Central Florida!

Not sure what today will entail. I never got any response from the Historical Miniatures association president, but to be fair, I emailed him at 8 p.m. and he's at the convention himself, I would think, so he's probably busy.  I had told my son that we'd leave at about 9 a.m. and go with the expectation that we would probably not get in and he said "OK", but it's 8:35 a.m. right now and he's not even up... and now that I'm thinking that our chances of getting in are probably 1%, I don't really feel like going. So I'm not waking him up.  I'm not even showered myself!  We'll see what happens.

The Dragonboat Festival is going on in Clermont so I would like to see that. If we don't go to the Convention, maybe I can convince my son to walk on the trail there with me?

I also should get an oil change for the family car.  I'm not sure what other chores can be accomplished because it all depends on whether we drive down to Orlando or not.

Greg's driving home today but he won't get in until very late.


  • Greg spent the night his daughter's friends' couch because he didn't want to spend another $60 on the very out-of-date motel in town.  Between their dogs and the newborn who's awake all night, I hope that he got enough sleep to prepare him for the 9-10 hour drive home.  Me, I slept great!  As a matter of fact, I have slept great since he's left. Now I'm wondering if my waking up in the middle of the night is due to his waking up in the middle of the night and I just don't realize it?

  • I defrosted some ground beef for dinner.  If I don't feel like cooking the meatloaf that I ought to make, I'll just make burgers.

  • I earned my 27 Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks by doing minimal activities on that site.

  • After I was done listening to my son's senior jazz recital (for free, of course), I looked for jazz albums on Amazon Prime Music and selected the Jazz Samba album by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. I added it to my Prime music library so it's free to listen to it with our Prime membership.  International Jazz Day continues...

  • I collected water in the shower that will be used up for flushing the toilet.

  • While waiting for my youngest son to wake up, I chatted with my daughter.  Upon his awakening, we discussed whether or not we should try going to the Historical Miniatures convention and he decided that he didn't want to go.  So I suggested that we all go to Clermont to see the Dragon boats and have lunch somewhere fun.

  • My daughter and I are planning on going to visit my middle son near Daytona Beach on Mother's Day.  We had talked about going to brunch but since it'll be Mother's Day, everything will be expensive and crowded. My middle son had suggested we just eat at this apartment and my daughter volunteered to cook us all brunch.  Yay!  Time with some of my favorite people (I'm going to ask my youngest son if he wants to come along) and I won't have to lift a finger :)

  • I texted my neighbor to ask if his family's blackberry farm was opened yet. He replied "maybe next weekend".

  • The kids and I went out to lunch (see: Splurges), but I gave the waitress my loyalty card number and reached the threshold for earning a $10 credit so next time we go to that restaurant, we will be able to save $10. Woohoo!  Spending money to save money?  I'm pretty good at that, unfortunately :) 

  • My daughter couldn't finish her huge chicken tenders and I was once again full after eating the coconut shrimp and the battered fish, so I asked for a box and we brought the chicken tenders and my fries back home.  My son ate the chicken in the car and ate the fries later.  I was going to bring the coleslaw too since we didn't eat it, but I thought better of it after remembering that we were going to walk to the dragon boat festival and the box would stay in the car. It was very hot today. I thought the chicken would be OK but not the mayo from the cole slaw.  I was annoyed with myself to have to leave it there. Note to self: next time you eat out, bring with you one of the insulated bags that you take grocery shopping!  In this case we were in the family car and not in my SUV, where I keep all my grocery shopping bags.

  • After lunch, we parked the car at a free municipal parking lot alongside Lake Minneola and walked about half a mile to the waterfront park where the dragon boat races were going on.  We picked a team color (blue) and cheered "our" boat and they won the race that we watched. Woohoo!

You can see one of the dragon heads here pretty well.
  • The band shell was host to a few entertainment numbers:
  A Lion Dance performance...

My camera didn't focus well :(
And a Japanese Sword Demonstration.
This girl was only 14 and made cutting wet and rolled tatami mats very easy. But later on the teacher
attempted his own demo and kind of failed.  Ha!
  • There were a few festival tents erected for various charities and vendors.  We saw a man walking in a suit of armor advertising Medieval Times and my son was reminiscing about our last visit there, about 7 years ago and said he'd like to go again so I was excited that he wanted to do something for once and we decided to go back this summer.  At the same time, the Medieval Knight was walking behind us and heard us so he asked if we wanted coupons (heck, yeah!) and pointed us to his table where he invited us to grab a free reusable bag, a coloring book (which my son actually wanted, as a joke) and a 2-pocket folder for school. Freebies!

My son taking a nerdy pose next to the knight.
I told the knight, who was sweating "You look hot in suit!" and he replied "Well, thanks!"

Our freebies
  • My daughter was angling for me to buy them ice cream from the Ritter's Frozen Custard truck and I was going to until I realized that a milkshake was $5.  I told my daughter that I had free coupons for soft serve ice cream at RaceTrac so she exclaimed "Well, let's go to RaceTrac then!" so we walked back to the car and drove to the coolest RaceTrac station in the area... and the only one that actually has soft serve ice cream. I had never been there because it's a little further down from Walmart and I never drive down that way anymore, but I might have to start going there because it's awesome. 

  • I realized that I still had my April "Prince of Pastries" coupon for a free 32 oz soda, and my son and I had brought our Sodapalooza cups.  So I gave my Sodapalooza cup to my daughter who got herself a lemonade, and my son got a drink as well.  Then they each used a coupon for a free soft serve ice cream cone (the coupons came with our Sodapalooza cups) and I redeemed my Prince of Pastries coupon for a free 32 oz caffeine free Diet Coke.  So our OOP was absolutely zero.  

  • Then we drove to Panera so I could redeem my last reward for a free bagel.  I picked a cinnamon crunch bagel.

  • From there we drove home because I didn't feel like waiting for the car's oil to be changed. I might take the car tomorrow for a bike ride and I'll get the oil changed then.  We first stopped by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they might have a sunshade for the family car because my daughter was complaining that it was very hot when she got in the car after her classes, but we didn't find one.  I'll look for one at Goodwill.  When we got home I tried to enroll the kids into watching an old Disney movie on Netflix with me but they had had enough of enforced time with their mother (!) so they begged off.  I just turned the Jazz Samba album back on my Kindle Fire and enjoyed that. For free :)

  • Greg took a different road home then he had on the way to North Carolina and apparently was lucky in hitting several RaceTrac stations where he got free soda refills with his Sodapalooza cup.  Yay!

  • I realized that, unless I ordered a Swagbucks gift card today, I would lose the 40 SB Swag-Up that I had earned with the last team challenge since it expired today.  I only had about 850 SB available, so I redeemed 500 of them for a $5 Walmart gift card.  My 40 SB was credited right away. I have a few Shop & Earn Swagbucks that should be credited today as well.

  • I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock and realized that it was 6 p.m.  ALREADY?! Silly me, I has set the sprinkler on and the BBQ is right into its path so I was mulling over cooking the burgers on a wet BBQ.  I had just read a blog post where the writer had said she had made spaghetti and meat sauce so I decided that I should make the same. I mentioned to the kids "I think I'm gonna make spaghetti for dinner..." as I was walking to the kitchen and, oh my, you would have thought I had announced that we had won the lottery!  That's how excited they were that I would make spaghetti.  My son declared "I don't think I've had spaghetti in the last 3 months!".  What?  So that's what's for dinner here tonight.

  • I browned the pound of ground beef that I had defrosted. Since it was 73% "lean", I drained the melted fat into a jar that I keep on the sink for that purpose. I have learned my lesson with blocked drains and kitchen pipes!  Once the jar is full, I just throw it away.  I dumped the rest of the tomato basil pasta sauce that I had opened yesterday for my daughter's meatball sub in the frying pan and slowly warmed it up with the ground beef mixed in it.

  • After dinner, my son walked to the nearby park to get some swinging done (and steps for his fitness class to log in) while my daughter and I watched "Hercules" (Disney animation) on Netflix. This movie always finds me in tears before the opening song is even over because it was my oldest son's favorite movie when he was little and we used to watch it together and sing all the songs together in the car on the way to daycare in the mornings. I even still remember all the words that he mispronounced.  Sob. I cannot watch Hercules without a box of tissues being by my side.


  • AC: my daughter doesn't have any plans to go anywhere today so I'll leave the AC on at 74F for her all day. 

  • Lunch.  Since my son and I didn't drive to Orlando (so no tolls expense), didn't spend any money on convention tickets or merchandise or having lunch out, the kids and I decided to have lunch in Clermont and my daughter suggested going to "the restaurant where Greg and you eat all the time" so Lilly's on the Lake it was.  We got the table that I wanted on the porch overlooking the lake again. It wasn't too hot in the shade and the weather was cloudy.  I was hoping we'd see the dragon boats from there but they were further down at the Clermont Waterfront Park, where we walked to after lunch. Lunch was much more expensive than it would have been at a fast food place, but you pay for the location.  The kitchen must have been understaffed because it felt like our food took a long time to come, but my daughter and I always find things to talk about so that was fine.  My son was being taciturn again but that's the way he is. However, it made me think twice about spending more money to take him to Paris next summer... I don't think I could spend a week with him if he's always going to look mad or bored and has nothing to say!
Yeah, that beats any old sandwich I would have made at home.

  • Water: I set the sprinkler to water the vegetable garden for 20 minutes in the evening.


  • Hmm, nothing? Well, I guess we could have gone to a cheaper restaurant. But then again we could have eaten at home too. What's the fun in that?!

  • Made our bed
  • Put the laundry away
  • Watered the garden
  • Sprayed wasps nest around the outside of the house

While walking on the trail to the dragon boat festival, I spotted the following wildlife:

Two Pied-Billed Grebe. It looks like a peaceful scene but there's actually something going on. Let's take a closer look...
♫♪La di dum, di dum♪♫

"Hey Phillis! You got toilet paper stuck to your tail!"
Male Blue Jay
The Birdie Hotel was full today!

The same old view from our table at Lilly's on the Lake, but I never get tired of it :)

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Lazy Housekeeper's Lament ~ Friday 4/29/16

I was able to chat with my middle son for a while last night since he did come home before I went to bed.  He is not working until 6 p.m. tonight and his girlfriend is free until 4 p.m. so they're going on a picnic but she wanted to come visit here for a little bit first.  I love her, but I said no.  My house isn't in shape to receive a visitor, even if she claims she doesn't care, and honestly, I don't feel like having people over.  I think one should have the prerogative to refuse visitors if they don't want to have them.  So why am I feeling guilty?

So it might be that I stop typing all of a sudden and start cleaning.  However, I was looking forward to sitting outside for a bit and also to possibly going on a bike ride.  Well, I can't do that since I told my son to park right behind me and he's probably going to sleep in for several hours.

It's the end of the month and I should be posting recaps of my goals and how I did.  I might not do that. It'll be easier than admit total failure. However, this blog has always been meant to be a way for me to challenge myself and be accountable, thus inspiring myself at the same time.  Lately, I feel that I have failed at that.  Despite the humdrum of listing bullet points of frugal successes and failures, it really was the format that worked best for my goal. Over the past couple of months that I have mostly abandoned that format, ImperfectlyFrugally has turned more into a diary than a tool for self-improvement.  It's fun for me to write and even more fun to re-read later on, but I've found myself becoming less and less focused on frugality, and less and less inspired.  Yet, at the same time, it's been freeing to throw away those orange mesh bags that I don't need (since I have a whole stash of them) and not feel guilty about that.

But the results of my lack of inspiration can't be argued with: our eating out/ordering in has ramped up by a lot. My grocery shopping has been under budget but more than I would like it to be.  I have put on weight instead of losing it, our portfolio is probably hemorrhaging money and I won't even pretend that it inspires me to investigate and possibly rectify the situation. I don't remember what 99% of my goals were for 2016 and I'm dreading re-reading that post because it will mean that I will have to come face to face with many failures.  Arggh.

The days seem too short for what I should do/want to do: gardening, those darn dishes, those pesky housekeeping tasks that keep on having to be done over and over again (didn't I just clean the bathrooms 2 weeks ago?!), the laundry that needs to be foled, the bike that I should ride while it's not horribly humid outside, the books I said I would read, the letter to my great aunt that hasn't been finished, the phone call to my mom that I ought to place, all those projects that I started and let petter out.  Arrgh. I have no motivation.

Logic says "start one baby step at a time" but that doesn't account for the cyclical nature of being a housekeeper, does it?  As soon as you've completed a task, it just pops up again.  It's not like I can clean my bathrooms and cross it off my list forever.  And no, I don't find any joy in doing the dishes, even if I do watch an entertaining show on my Kindle Fire while I do them.  It's a chore that I hate no matter what.

Well, that didn't really work as a pep talk, did it?  LOL.  So this morning I'm reverting to the good old bullet points and writing a reasonable to-do list that I'm going to try to undertake.


  • The kids packed their lunches to go to school.

  • My daughter took both Sodapalooza cups with her and will get herself a "free" refill and her brother a "free" frozen drink on the way home from school.

  • I turned the AC back up to 75F in the kitchen part of the house once she went to school.

  • There was still half a cup of French Vanilla coffee in the coffeemaker, left from yesterday morning, so I drank it mixed with some fresh brewed one.

  • I earned my 27 Bing Rewards credits for the day.

  • I took the daily poll and NOSO path (again, Capcha code without to flip through any offers today, I like it when this happens!) on Swagbucks and I'm running the same 2 min video from my Swagbucks inbox over and over again until it doesn't give me any more SB.

  • I reused water used to boil eggs a couple of days ago to water my indoor plants.  I saved the rest in a pitcher for future watering.

  • I cut up and froze the six large multi-colored peppers that I bought at Aldi this week.

  • I cup up and froze the last 12 lbs of ground beef I bought on 50% clearance at Save A Lot this week. I reused 12 cereal bags to freeze them as 1-lb bags.

  • I washed 4 cereal bags and hung them up to dry.

  • Instead of reaching for a paper towel, I used some newspaper sheets from my recycling bin to pick up the food that one of the cats had barfed up.

  • I took a shower, collected the warming up water in a bucket and turned it off altogether when I was soaping up.

  • I sat down to fold the laundry while I watched some episodes of Seinfeld on DVDs that we have, but my train of thought went as such:
    • I could be folding the laundry right now, but I would really like to be outside.
    • I can fold the laundry at night but a bike ride needs to be done during the day.
    • But it's lunchtime so I could first drive to Panera, use a voucher to get a free meal on top of my free bagel, and then drive back to the trail head. jerryrig something on my bike so I can carry my lunch, and bike to the nice benches under the trees along the lakeshore where I could sit, read my book and enjoy my lunch.
    • But that would mean that I would eat in about an hour at least, spend money on gas, and the book I want to read is on my Kindle, which is completely dead right now.
    • So I will plug my Kindle charger on the back patio, and eat leftover salad from a couple of nights ago, along with some cantaloupe and an egg salad sandwich. I will drink the free Ocean Spray PACt that I still have in the fridge. Cost: zero.

    • Once outdoors: damn it! The neighbors behind me are using an electric saw and the idiot neighbors the next street over left their freaking dog to bark in the backyard again. *grumble, grumble*. Going back inside to get my headphones, I will be listening to my oldest son's jazz recital while enjoying my lunch since I can't hear the birds anyway.  Also: it's dang hot. Good thing I didn't go biking! Oh look, a handglider! 

    • A thought: I need noise cancelling headphones because I can still hear the freaking barking dog OVER the trumpet sounds of my son's jazz recital turned up as loud as I can manage.
    • I don't know how this is possible, but there is an 8 degree spread between Yahoo! Weather that claims that it's 81F and my iPhone's native Weather app, that claims it's 88F. I'm inclined to believe the latter because it's pretty dang hot outside.

  • 2:00p.m. and the temperature on my white paver porch is approaching 100F in the shade so I'm retreating indoors. I just saw white ibises flying pretty low over my house but too fast for me to whip out my camera. Darn! Not much wildlife, save for lizards and wasps. I had to spray my silk plant that I had set outside to get washed off by the rain many months ago and that has remained there as my patio table decoration: a bunch of wasps had decided to build a nest in it. When I took it to the berm to spray it, a toad jumped out.  Wouldn't the toad eat the wasps?! Inquiring mind wants to know..  Oh, and when I came out at about noon, I surprised a squirrel that was eating the seeds from my bird feeder.  I guess the pole didn't remain greased for long. Damn squirrels.  I'm thinking of getting into falconry...

  • My daughter came home as I went inside so I turned the AC back down to 74F for her.  She did bring a frozen drink for her brother. Yay!  Those Sodapalooza cups have paid for themselves already this month :)

  • I realized that I needed cash for the Relay for Life event tonight. My daughter is volunteering there with her NHS Chapter and my youngest son and I will go visit, do some walking and light up some luminaries to honor the people we know/knew who battle(d) with cancer.  Anyhoo, I didn't want to get cash from an ATM machine at night, even in a gas station, so I took the family car to RaceTrac to get cash in the daytime. Their ATM is from Fifth Third Bank and doesn't charge ATM fees.  I had my daughter pour her lemonade into a regular cup and I retrieved my Sodapalooza cup from her so I could get a caffeine free diet coke for myself. I also redeemed a survey reward code for a free blueberry muffin for my mid-afternoon snack.

  • As I got out of the car at RaceTrac, I found a penny in the parking lot. Score! Earlier, I had found a penny at home, sitting on the counter near where Greg usually leaves his stuff.  I put both pennies in my 2016 Loose Change Jar.

  • I snacked all afternoon so I wasn't very hungry for dinner. I did it on purpose because I had put meatball subs on the menu for tonight but my daughter, unbeknownst to me, had used up a bunch of them already. So I had to split 7 meatballs between the 2 kids.  I used one of the small baguettes that I had gotten on clearance at Save A Lot this week. My son didn't want any sauce so he only got melted Monterey Jack cheese on top. I spooned some spaghetti sauce on my daughter's.

  • I put the opened block of Monterey Jack cheese, along with an opened block of cheddar cheese in the freezer, since I found some unexpected food waste in my fridge (see "Failures").

  • I emailed the president of the Historical Miniatures Gamers' association, asking if my son and I will be able to attend the convention tomorrow.  Their website doesn't give any information about this and I'd prefer to avoid driving all the way there only to be turned away if they don't let non-members attend, even for a fee.  I had emailed their convention director a month ago with the same questions but never heard back.  I'm hoping the president will check his email tonight, but I have a feeling we'll have to cross our fingers and drive there anyway.

  • We were all set to go to the Relay for Life event, but my daughter came home just a few minutes after leaving, saying that the event had been rained out. Apparently there is a huge thunderstorm in Clermont, with lightning and thunder and lots of rain (and of course no rain here!). She'll still get the credit for 3 volunteer hours though. So instead of the luminaries, I lit my French Lavender candle and spent some time thinking about those people in my life who had/have cancer: my grandmother who passed from ovarian cancer, my stepmom who passed from pancreatic cancer, Greg's mom who survived breast cancer, Greg's dad who is battling lung cancer, and our very own Bless who is battling breast cancer herself.

  • Gas to go pick up my middle son: he and his girlfriend miscalculated how long they would be out.  She had picked him up in her car but had to go to work and didn't have time to drop him back off here so he could get his car to go to work.  So he called his sister to ask if she could pick him up with our family car.  When they came home, I gave him a little lecture about scheduling his time better next time because we we're not his personal taxi service. He apologized.

  • Water for the garden. Since it seems I can't trust the weather apps' accuracy (one called for 100% chance of rain today and we had blue skies and not a drop), I set the sprinkler for 20 minutes in the garden again and moved most of the herbs and pots strategically so they could receive water.Those who couldn't be moved were watered by hand, reusing rainwater that I had stored in cat litter jugs.  I need to get another hose because one of my two is too short to reach the fruit trees and yet I cannot unscrew the handle that's on it so I can't use it with the sprinkler either.

  • I think that my middle son just dumped the full bucket of water that I had in the bathtub instead of using it to flush the toilet. I realize that he doesn't know that it's what it's for, but I wish he had had the manners(?)/foresight (?) to ask why there was a bucket of water in the bathtub, you know? Of course, one could say that I should have had the foresight to tell him what the bucket was for.

  • I found a container of shredded cheese that had molded in my fridge. That hadn't happened in a long time as we had been using a lot of cheese. I need to get in the habit of freezing it instead of just leaving it in the fridge.

  • Ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bedroom
  • Did a load of dishes
  • Emptied out the countertop composting bin
  • Swept and fake-mopped the kitchen
  • Cut up and froze the peppers
  • Cut up and froze the ground beef chubs
  • Nipped the flowers off the basil plants and composted them
  • Swept the entry room
  • Swept the front porch
  • Went to get cash at ATM
  • Folded the laundry
  • Watered the garden (some by hand)
  • Cut back a "tree" that was growing in the middle of my jasmine
  • Cut back the invasive ground cover growing between our "good" neighbors' house and ours

  • Cooked dinner for the kids


Recap: Food Expenses in April

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.  My budget for April was $400.  I spent $294.46 out of pocket, including all rebates.  Please note: this only includes food and does not include any eating out/ordering in expenses.

Baking Supplies: $9.04 OOP

  • 1 bag brown sugar
  • 3 bags mini chocolate chips
  • 2 packages instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 1 5-lb bag bread flour

Beverages: $2.68 OOP

  • 1 12-pack ginger ale

Breads/Baked Goods: $8.50 OOP
  • 3 8-ct hamburger buns
  • 7 loaves white bread
  • 1 loaf Cuban bread
  • 1 loaf wheat bread

 Cereals: $2.15 OOP
  • 3 boxes Kellogg's cereals
  • 2 boxes Lucky Charms
  • 1 box Cocoa Puffs
  • 1 box Honey Nut Cheerios
  • 2 boxes Grape Nuts
  • 2 boxes Special K

Dairy: $47.93 OOP
  • 3 gallons whole milk
  • 1 16-oz container light sour cream
  • 26 cups yogurt
  • 3 8-oz blocks mild cheddar
  • 2 containers Earth Balance Spread
  • 1 container shredded parmesan
  • 1 lb margarine
  • 1 package string cheese
  • 2 cans whipped cream
  • 1 [package American cheese slices

Dry/Pantry/Freezer Goods: $22.45 OOP 
  • 4 jars whole grain mustard
  • 2 medium cheese pizzas
  • 4 jars Fit & Active Low fat mayo
  • 4 containers salt
  • 1 box Shells & Cheese
  • 3 boxes Mac'n cheese

Produce/Juice: $72.62
  • Fruit
    • 2 cantaloupes
    • 1 pineapple
    • 5 lbs strawberries
    • 5.69 lbs grapes
    • 8.99 lbs bananas
    • 3 lbs clementines
    • 12 lbs navel oranges
    • 6 lbs Red Delicious apples
  • Juice
    • 2 1/2 gallons OJ
    • 7 64-oz bottles organic apple juice
  • Vegetables
    • 4 heads Boston lettuce
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1 seedless cucumber
    • 1 lb grape tomatoes
    • 1 lb on the vine tomatoes
    • 1 lb Roma tomatoes
    • 6 green peppers
    • 2 cans artichoke hearts
    • 2 cans turnip greens
    • 4 avocados
    • 2 20-oz packages zucchini

Proteins: $60.86 OOP
  • 8.96 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 lbs Black Forest ham
  • 1 lb Black Forest turkey
  • 10 lbs 73% ground beef
  • 1.21 lbs beef bottom round steak
  • 2.18 lbs beef bottom round roast
  • 7 dozens large eggs
  • 10 cans light tuna in water
  • 1.62 lbs corned beef flats
  • 1 package mild italian chicken sausages

Snacks: $68.23 OOP
  • 2 bags potato chips
  • 3 boxes protein bars
  • 4 boxes Swiss rolls
  • 2 jars hazelnut spread
  • 4 packages peanut butter crackers
  • 2 packages M&Ms
  • 2 packages mints
  • 4 bags Easter marshmallows
  • 2 bags Beanie Egg candy
  • 1 Hershey with almonds candy bar
  • 1 bag Flipz pretzels
  • 2 pints Haagen Dazs ice cream
  • 4 pints Ben & Jerry's ice cream
  • 1 Chocolate raspberry chocolate
  • 1 Chocolate bunnies gift box
  • 1 Dove chocolate bar
  • 4 boxes Special K cereal bars
  • 1 box saltines
  • 1 bag baked chips
  • 1 bag corn chips
  • 2 canisters mints
  • 1 box energy bars
  • 1 bag cinnamon churros
  • 1 bag pretzel sticks
  • 1 bag cheese curls
  • 1 bag Snickers Crisper
  • 1 Snickers Bar


  1. While I underspent, I spent wayyyyy too much on snacks!  This is the first time that snacks creeps up in my top 3 expenses.  I don't like that, especially since we enjoyed free bagels from Panera and bakery items from RaceTrac this whole month!  My problem is that I project my anxieties on food.  I felt poorly about myself this month, so I overcompensated by buying the kids a lot of snacks.  They didn't complain.
  2. I was able to stock up on chicken and ground beef
  3. We really didn't consume enough vegetables.  This is another result of my feeling unmotivated this past month.  I cooked meals that weren't very healthy.
  4. We did well with the food waste, over all.  What it means, though, is that a lot of healthy and unhealthy food ended up as cellulite on my thighs instead of in the garbage so it might be a frugal victory but certainly not a healthy one.

I need to do better in May. I already went over budget for my first week (which was this past shopping trip as I'm counting it as part of May, although now that I think about it, it really should have been part of April, oh well).  I have frozen vegetables and fruit that I need to use up and tons of meat.  But mostly, I need to stay away from buying so many snacks and also I need to cook healthier.

If you're thinking "Wow, you still didn't do too badly!", consider that we spent over $300 in eating out/ordering in this month and the month isn't over. Greg is still on his trip and will be treating his daughter and son-in-law to several more (expensive) meals and my youngest son and I will be attending a convention tomorrow so we'll be eating out as well.   In my estimation, we did very poorly.  The good news is that we can afford it. The bad news is that the extra money spent on eating out could have gone to the mortgage or savings.  You can't always deny yourself, but that's a cop out.

Thinking of May:
My grocery-only budget for May is $500. Since I'm ramping down Swagbucks and coming close to using up my last gift card, my OOP expenses will go up.  I want to keep them in check, though.  As far as eating out, May is going to include Mother's Day, our 15th anniversary, the kids getting lots of awards/graduating... so lots of celebrations and we like to celebrate with food.  I want to be better at controlling how much we eat out because I don't feel like cooking, which happened on 5 different occasions last month.

Update: Gizmodo just published this article entitled "A Breakdown of How America Spends Every Food Dollar" and I guess I'm just part of a trend of people spending more and more on "Food Service". I'm reproducing the graphic here:

Food Waste Friday (4/29/16)

  • I had soaked a whole 1 lb bag of small red beans to make chili. However, my plans changed so the beans ended up soaking over 24 hours and let me tell you... they stank really badly.  So I threw them away. Didn't even think to compost them! (no picture)

  • I had to compost several strawberries that couldn't be saved, even by baking them :(  Oh well, the quart did mostly last 2 weeks in the fridge, far longer than I had expected it to.

  • I forgot to save the little bit of salad that was left after dinner on Tuesday night and when I realized it, it really didn't look good so I just composted it.

    • We ate leftovers all week.
    I'd love to hear how YOU did this week! Feel free to post links back to your own Food Waste Friday posts in the comments.

    This post was inspired by Kristen at The Frugal Girlwho started blogging about her food waste back in 2008.

    Thursday, April 28, 2016

    A Walk Through Leu Gardens and A Nice Lunch ~ Thursday 4/28/16

    Greg left for North Carolina this morning. He will be spending a couple of days meeting his first grandson.  He's planning on camping unless it rains a lot over there today, in which case he'll try to find a hotel since his daughter is still living with friends at this point.

    I cooked him breakfast before he left, and then he stopped by RaceTrac before leaving town to get his free Sodapalooza soda refill for the road.  There is a RaceTrac in Ocala, 45 minutes away from here, but then nothing for a long time as, for some reason, there aren't any RaceTrac in most of North Florida.  I packed him a leftover cheeseburger from last night for his dinner.

    Sodapalooza refill in Ocala!  I know that he also refilled in Atlanta, GA :)
    Good news: the $5 Amazon gift card is once again available from Bing Rewards, although it is no longer suggested as a reward.  Mine still showed as my goal so I was able to click on that to redeem it. Finally!

    I completed my daily Bing Rewards credits too, which are definitely down to just 27 a day.

    For Swagbucks I did the daily poll, NOSO path (which awarded me the Capcha code without nary an offer having been displayed, yay!) and there are short videos to play in my SB inbox that will earn me about 15 SB, so I'm working on that now.

    Thursday morning is the day when I get the extra Orlando Sentinel.  I will peruse it since I feel obligated to do so, although there is never anything interesting because I've already read most of the news that they print online the previous day.  Are newspapers becoming obsolete?  I guess not if you'd rather read your news in print and don't mind if they're a day late :)  However, I was happy to find a sheet of Hardee's coupons in there.  For some reason Hardee's only features a couple of coupons on their own site and you have to earn coupons with their Rewards app, which is kind of lame.

    Today won't be "productive" as far as chores are concerned: I'm planning on leaving mid-morning so I can enjoy Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando, then go to the UCF area to have lunch with my oldest son (yay!). I think I'll give him his graduation present today since I won't see him next week. I was thinking about riding my bike on the West Orange Trail on my way home, but now I'm thinking I probably won't. I also have to stop by the vet's to pick up the cat food and RaceTrac to get a refill on my Sodapalooza cup. Oh!  And I want to stop by Panera to get my free bagel!

    Dinner tonight is supposed to be Breakfast for Dinner so nothing to defrost or make in advance and the kids will be happy with my choice :)

    Girls Who Code sent me an email to promote their YouTube channel and on it I found a very interesting video about their Summer Immersion Program that I thought I'd share here.  Remember, if your teen girl is selected for it, the camp itself is completely free and they also feed them lunch. However, you have to arrange for your own transportation to the camp (and every day) and also your own lodging.  It's difficult if you don't live in or near one of the cities where they offer the camps. However they do have a need-based scholarship program that you can apply for to help defray these costs.  They have selected all the participants for Summer 2016 but you might know a girl who'd like to participate in Summer 2017!

    CVS sent me one of those 25% off your in-store purchase coupons (only valid on non-sale, non-milk products) so I sent it to my ExtraCare card.

    I took a shower and collected more water to use to flush the toilet later on and left on my half day of adventures.

    First, I stopped by RaceTrac to get a caffeine free Diet Coke with my Sodapalooza cup for the road and I also redeemed a survey reward code for a free giant chocolate chip cookie.

    Those of you who know that I pick up bottles on the side of the road for the MyCokeRewards codes won't be surprised to learn that when I saw the guy in front of me, outside of the store, throw away his empty Coke bottle in the trashcan and that I saw another one sitting there with its cap still on too, I was THIS CLOSE to reaching in and grabbing both bottles.  But I was too self-conscious and I left them there.  There were a lot of people hanging around the store. If not, I think I would have grabbed them.  Would you have grabbed them?  The trash can was full so they were just sitting on top, it's not like I would have had to pick through trash to get to them.

    On my drive to Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando, I called my middle son to chat a little and was surprised that he actually picked up the phone!  So we caught up and he asked if he could come spend the night tonight in between two shifts at Universal Studios.  I probably won't see him much at all since he'll come in late and probably sleep until it's time to leave for his next shift.

    I got to the Leu Gardens at about 10:30 a.m. As planned, I bought the annual pass for myself at $40. I was glad I got there when I did because the parking lot was still mostly empty and I got to park in the shade.  When I left 45 minutes later, the parking lot was much fuller.  The temperature was still quite nice (about 82F) and since there's a lot of shade on the paths of the gardens, it was very enjoyable.  The gardens have 3 miles of paved trails that you can walk and of course there are lots of different flowers, trees and plants to observe.  I didn't know what to photograph, there were so many interesting sights!  However, my digital camera decided not to cooperate today, and I'm not sure why. Maybe the Diet Coke wasn't so caffeine free because I kept on getting the icon that indicated that my camera was "jittery" so most of the pictures ended up being not as good as I would have hoped.  I'll have to go back after my photography class, although by then it will be very hot and humid and the flowers won't be blooming anymore, I don't think. Here are a few of the photos that did turn out.

    My time there was limited today since I had to meet my oldest son on the east side of town at noon.  So I visited the bromeliad area, the vegetable garden, butterfly garden and the rose garden.  I like that most plants were labeled so I could learn about them.  Of course, a lot of the pictures that did turn out OK are of plants that were either not labeled or for which I didn't photograph the sign.

    A view across the lawn to the lake bordering the gardens.

    This is a Dwarf Powderpuff (calliandra tergamina)

    "Blue Tango" spear mromeliad

    "Surprise" spear bromeliad

    "Fantasia" spear bromeliad

    Clustering Sugar Palm (arecaceae)

    This is a squirrel for Bless.

    Angel Trumpet. The sign with the exact name was obscured.

    "Cherub" Angel Trumpet

    The vegetable garden.  Their veggies were HUGE!  I asked someone who was talking to a group of old ladies how they water it.  They use pop up sprinklers, 20 minutes every other day. That's IT!?!?!  Oh come on!

    Purple pole beans. I forgot to take a picture of the sign showing the exact variety.

    Artichokes.  The plant was about waist-high and very wide across, at least 3 feet.

    I like how they grow they cucumbers. I need to try to make a net like this.  On the far end (not pictured), they were growing lima beans.  They use straw to keep the weeds down and the ground moist.

    There was a very large raised bed (raised a couple of feet off the ground) that mostly contained various kinds of beets.

    I thought those huge plants were cabbages...

    But they were collard greens.  Arrgh. Look at how HUGE they are! They reached my waist!  Variety: Georgia, from Bonnie's plants.  Planted October 2015.

    This massive bush was a bunch of celery! They were as tall as the collard greens.  Variety is called "Giant Red" and they bought the seeds from Territorial Seeds (planted in August 2015)

    I didn't see a sign identifying this tree but it was covered in bumble bees (do you see the black bumble bee's butt?) and bees.

    Banyan tree

    Fig Laurel

    Shady paths

    Small bridge over the brook. It was all very charming.

    I was going to use this picture as my header instead of the one I ended up posting.  I never did see the alligator, though.
    I regretfully left the gardens, thinking that I was going to have to try to come once a month at least.  Then I went to meet my oldest son for lunch.

    We had arranged to meet at Olive Garden.  I hadn't eaten there in almost 2 years! He told me that he wanted to buy me lunch as an early Mother's Day present, but I had thought about it on the way to the restaurant and predicted that he might do that so I thanked him and told him to keep his money because he was going to need it very soon and also because the best Mother's Day present he could give me was to spend some time with me.  So we agreed that I would pay. He was relieved, to tell yo the truth and I told him to go ahead and order what he wanted since it was his graduation lunch. The menu sounded delicious and the food looked good although it didn't taste great. But that's OK, I didn't really pay attention since I was busy chatting with my him about his future plans and helping him analyze whether he should go to grad school or not.  I just hope that he doesn't let too many people convince him to do something that might sound good but not make much financial sense.  I advised to decide what he wanted to do in life and make a plan to get there. It it is to teach, then yes, a Master's would be very helpful. But if his goal is to be a jazz musician playing gigs, then, personally, I don't see why he should burden himself with even more debt, especially since he doesn't have any jobs lined up right now. It seemed to make sense to him but he has a lot of thinking to do.

    My lunch.  Rosemary Chicken with garlic mashed potatoes. It was actually very bland.
    Too soon, it was time to him to go back to UCF for his afternoon class, so I drove back to Clermont.  Before we left the restaurant, I grabbed the last 3 breadsticks that were on our table and my son was laughing at me. I offered them to him but he turned me down. I think he was embarrassed.  Why?  I paid for the breadsticks, didn't it?

    I'm glad I had decided against taking a bike ride this afternoon as my cramps aren't lessening and the temperature was up to 91F.  I called the vet's office to see if the delivery truck had brought my cats' food but it didn't seem like it had so I told them I'd stop by next week.

    I stopped by Panera to get my free bagel.  The lady in front of me was buying something and the cashier said "You have a free bagel in April reward, do you want to get a bagel today?" and the lady said "no".  I almost said "I'll take your bagel if you don't want it!". Who refuses a bready freebie?!  That is insane. There are people who didn't get the freebie and would love it!  I picked the chocolate chip bagel when it was my turn.

    Before I got home, I stopped by RaceTrac to get another refill of caffeine free Diet Coke and I also got a frozen drink for my youngest son with his own Sodapalooza cup that I had brought along. I stuck it in the freezer when I got home since he wasn't coming home for a couple of hours. He was happy to find it after walking home from school!

    He left almost right away to go to the library. Tonight it the first official Dungeons and Dragons Club meeting, although I doubt anyone will show up since they didn't actively promote it beyond adding it to the calendar of activities they post in the library itself.  My son said no other teens showed up yesterday for the Teen Scene Club, so I'm not very optimistic about anyone showing up tonight. But I hope they do!

    I printed some coupons that Betty Crocker emailed me.

    At 5:30 p.m., I set up my own sprinkler on a stick in the middle of the garden and turned it on for 20 minutes. If it works for Leu Gardens, I guess it'll have to work for me.  The squirrels took advantage that I wasn't outside this morning to dig into everything.  They cut one of my eggplants down and started chewing on another.  They dug in all the bins, all the pots, all the in-ground plots.  I HATE them.  The sprinkler worked fine.  If I turn the water on full blast, I'm able to water the whole vegetable garden and half the herbs.  I'll water the others and the roses/hibiscus by hand tomorrow at  the same time as the fruit trees.  But my water bill is going to be higher, of course. I wish it would start raining so I can use the rain barrel.

    I put the multi-tiered planter that I bought at Aldi together.  Tomorrow I'll fill it with potting soil and transplant the strawberries in it.

    Walmart emailed me that their SavingsCatcher is going to refund me... $0.01!  The Banquet breakfast sausages were $1.24 at Winn Dixie but I paid $1.25 for them at Walmart.Woohoo!  Big money :)

    I made pancakes, scrambled eggs and maple turkey breakfast sausages for dinner tonight, and the kids went to town with the whipped cream on top of the pancakes :)

    My 14 year-old will be taking AP Human Geography in 9th grade and received the summer assignment that he has to work on. It is very involved. The first map is having to memorize the names and location of all the countries in the world, major rivers, mountains, etc, as well as capitals.  Now, back when I was in school, we actually had a geography class throughout elementary and middle school so we already knew most of this (if not all) by the time high school started.  But not here. My son had some geography when we were homeschooling and in elementary school, but it was mostly US geography. So he needs to learn all of this on his own this summer.  At the same time, he has to read a book from a long list of suggested books that deal with environmental and/or cultural issues that have a global impact, and write a very specific essay about the book, also creating a map illustrating what is discussed in the book. My son is a very good student, but it's going to be a very tough assignment, as it should be since the class would give him college credit.

    Several things had me howling, though. First of, the teacher mentioned that the student shouldn't worry about spelling for this assignment.  What?!?! Again, this is a college-credit class.  WHY wouldn't spelling be important? It's like telling a kid not to worry about not getting the equations exactly right when taking an algebra class, IMO.  This continuous lowering of the standards and accepting of mediocrity is crippling our country.  Secondly, and this is probably why she told the kids not to worry about spelling, the handout is riddled with typos.  Names of countries and capitals have juxtaposed letters, titles of books are misspelled, some of them aren't even underlined properly. It's a disgrace that a teacher and especially a teacher that is supposed to teach a more rigorous class, would be as careless as this. I'm not the most diplomatic person in the world. As a matter of fact, I'm not diplomatic at all.  And when I'm angry, I become very sarcastic.  But I don't want to alienate the teacher only because I don't want my son to suffer repercussions.  So I'm not sure how I should handle this. For now, I made corrections in the handout. I know that my son will know that "Egypi" was meant to be "Egypt" but at the same time, I don't want him to waste his time trying to locate  a place called "Egypi" on a map because he trusts that the teacher knows that such a place indeed exists.  But I am seething about this.

    I made sure that the spare room was ready for my middle son tonight and put a clean bath towel on his bed for his shower tomorrow morning. I know, I had said that I would move in to that room but I still haven't. I did warn my oldest son today that if he did end up working at his former high school with the band camp this summer, that he wouldn't be able to stay here overnight as I was planning on moving to that room. He was fine with it, he can always commute.

    My daughter told me that her dad went ahead and booked her flights to and from CA.  He got her direct flights between Orlando and San Francisco and her uncle and aunt will pick her up (and drop her off) at the airport so she won't have to worry about any flight connections.  I'm happy about that.

    I offered her my Sodapalooza cup to use tomorrow. She will stop by RaceTrac on her way home from school to get herself a drink and she will bring her brother's cup to get him another frozen drink that we'll stick in the freezer as well.

    Greg called from NC. None of the campgrounds were good options because of various reasons so he ended up in a motel from the 60s that is charging him $60 for the night, yikes. But he doesn't have much choice unless he wants to spend at least double that amount. His daughter lives in a very ritzy area so everything is priced accordingly.  I got the credit card alert for the cost of dinner since he took her and her husband out tonight and double yikes.

    I turned the AC back down to 74F for my daughter earlier tonight.  I had turned it back up to 75F when she went to school.