Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Frugal Successes & Failures: Wednesday 5/25/16

I turned my laptop completely off last night and it started fine this morning, is detecting the charger and hasn't turned itself off.  The wi-fi back-up software is working on an ongoing basis (I made sure I was logged in to the proper drive) so if anything goes wrong, at least I'll have the latest version of my documents on the external drive.

I'm also on the patio, and since I realized yesterday that the patio woes had been caused by a tripped outlet, I'm happy to report that this morning nothing is tripped and everything seems to be working fine. Knock on wood.

I was outside so early this morning that the moon was still up.  It was 7 a.m.,  I think. I stayed outside until 8:30 p.m.

A couple of articles of note that I read earlier this week and wanted to share, in case anyone could benefit from the information:

Rant of the day: 4:38 p.m. There's a Channel 9 news helicopter hovering over my neighborhood, including over my house and that's never good news... so I'm wondering what the heck is going on.  I checked their website but I don't see anything. I'm going to check their Twitter feed...they don't report any breaking news out of our town so I don't know. But they're loud and disturbing me and not leaving.  Grrr.  4:57 p.m. they're still here!  I just checked their lead-in for the 5 p.m. news and they didn't bring up my town at all.  Now I'm going to have to watch their stupid newscast to find out what's going on... ugh.  I wouldn't if my son was home but his school bus is supposed to be driving back from Tampa right now so they're starting to stress me as I'm thinking that maybe something's wrong at the school? Now here come the fire truck engines...  ugh.  What is going on?!!  Oh, they just talked about it: they're a sinkhole that just opened at Hardee's.  It's not huge for now, but it's right off SR 50 which is a major highway so that's not good.  They really don't need to keep hovering over the whole downtown for 30 minutes just to show a shot of the sinkhole, though.  What a waste of fuel and a public nuisance.  I'm wondering if the sinkhole will cause problems with the water main again, as it did last summer. Remember when a sinkhole opened about 0.5 a mile from my house and we were under Boiling Water Advisory but City Hall never even informed us until 2 or 3 days AFTER the order had already been in place?  We have a bunch of clowns in power down here, I'll tell you.  And they're all fighting and pointing fingers about a whole bunch of thing and they should all be thrown out of office, including our City Manager.   Just checked the website and there's no info.  I'd like to trust that no news is good news but as I said... a bunch of clowns.  Update: the helicopter hovered for a whole hour.


  • Greg worked from home so no gas or toll expenses.

  • My daughter took a packed lunch to school.

  • I cancelled dinner tonight so we're saving a boat-load of money.  I'm defrosting chicken legs that I plan on grilling on the barbecue, and I'll make a salad.

  • SavingStar credited me with the $0.75 I claimed yesterday for the box of Cookie Crisp cereal that I bought.
  • I forgot to mention yesterday that MobiSave and Checkout 51 also credited my accounts for the rebates that I claimed.

  • Since I took a bath last night, I didn't need to shower this morning. I'm also not watering the garden today. And I "let it mellow" all night, as I do every night.

  • I've already done my shopping for the week but I might stop by Aldi again on Friday to grab more hot dog buns (since we ate some last night) and a watermelon for the weekend.  I checked the new Aldi and Save A Lot ads online this morning and noted the following sales.  I'm hoping to find coupons for the Kraft barbecue sauce!  They had the same sale last Memorial Day (or was it Labor Day?  No matter) and there were $0.75/1 off printables that reset so I had been able to stock up on $0.13 a bottle BBQ sauce.  I used a lot of it since so I'd love to be able to restock.  Right now has lots of Kraft coupons but none for the BBQ sauce :(

Aldi produce sale this week
Save A Lot sales I like this week
  • I earned my daily Bing Rewards credits and a few Swagbucks. I'm at 96% of my goal for Bing Rewards and at 1,665 SB. Yes, my grocery shopping isn't as exciting now that I don't have those SB gift cards anymore, but honestly my quality of life has improved as I don't stress over doing all their activities every minute of the day.

  • I reused paper I was going to throw away to pick up cat barf.

  • I found two 25 KFR codes hidden in an email from Kellogg's and also printed a coupon.

  • I've been remiss in tracking how much I spent exactly on groceries last week and this week, since I didn't blog about it. It freed up a lot of my time but I still needed to input the info into my spreadsheets. I did that this morning and I'll be posting about my May totals early next week, but for now here are the totals by categories for the past 2 weeks. The first line is for last week, when I stocked up for hurricane season, and the 2nd line is for this week, but I might still go to Aldi again to get more hot dog buns.

  • I also updated my price book with the help of my receipts from the past couple of weeks.

  • I took two RaceTrac consumer satisfaction surveys and earned two survey reward codes for free 16 oz coffees.

  • One of the vine tomatoes I had bought on Monday at Aldi was badly bruised so I cut it all into my salad at lunchtime.

  • I mixed a new batch of my homemade vinaigrette.

  • My son finished emptied a jug of cat litter last night and set it aside for me to reuse to store rainwater. 

  • It occurred to me that since I'm not using the top of the rain barrel as a planter, it would be way easier to refill the jugs by dipping them into the barrel (it was about halfway full at that point), than to wait for them to refill at the spigot so I watered the herbs on my berms, as well as the roses and other potted plants with rainwater saved in some cat litter jugs, and refilled the jugs from the top of the barrel this time.  Huge time saver!

  • The cardinals have been hanging around in my tomato plants (I swear my mind was thinking tomato and I typed potato just now... I wonder if that kind of mistake is significant?  I have a real fear of developing Alzheimer, although no one in my family has had it, that I know of...). Anyhoo, since I saw one of the females with a worm or small caterpillar in her beak as she was amongst the tomato plants, I'm hoping it means free pest control for me! Eat my little cardinals, eat!

  • Several weeks ago, I bought a pair of PJs at Aldi that ended up having a large unfinished side hem along the outside of one of the legs.  I kept on putting on and then washing the PJs but forgetting to mend them (because they're so comfy that once they're on, I'm not taking them off again, lol! Today I remembered to mend them. Yay me!

  • Then I realized that I had a whole basket of clothing to mend so I went to get it an d spent the next hour and a half sewing buttons back on and mending lots of holes in T-shirts and pants and PJs pants. Some of the thread that I used was bought at a thrift store, and the rest was from a sewing kit I bought when I first got married... 27 years ago.  Clothes are cheap nowadays and don't last long (although now that I'm using a lingerie bag for my bras and drying all of my own clothes outdoors, I'm hoping they won't get ruined as fast!), but it's not a reason to throw them away just because there's a hole or a button is missing. Especially if, like me, you stay home most of the time anyway. There's no one to care whether you look "patched up" or not.
My mending basket
  • One of the items I was hoping to mend was my favorite cashmere cardigan, but the holes left by the moths or silverfish were too numerous so I just decided to pitch it.  I'm so sad, it was so comfortable and soft!  I saved the buttons, though you never know.

  • I thought I was defrosting chicken legs but I defrosted chicken thighs.  I'm grilling them on the barbecue. There is a lot of smoke.  I made a salad with spinach, tomatoes, olives, cucumber slices and croutons to go with them.
See all my jugs of water?  I have more around the corner of the house. Very white
trash but I don't care :)
  • I finally remembered to add rice to one of my salt shakers since the salt in there was all caked.

  • I entered a receipt in my checkbook, balanced it, and archived the past months.


  • My youngest son spent the day at Busch Gardens in Tampa with his 8th grade class. I wrote a check for the $80 cost of the trip several months ago, and yesterday I gave him $40.  I usually get irritated by field trips to theme parks because they're not educational in the least and they're far too expensive, but this time I encouraged him to go because it's 8th grade and it's a reward for having been on the A-B Honor Roll all year.  He told me and 3 other friends had planned on going and being in a group together, but in the end the other 3 friends didn't participate (either didn't give the forms to the parents or the parents said it was too expensive) so now he's in a group with two girls who are in one of his classes. He called them "two other friends" and he seemed enthusiastic about the day and even talked about wanting to try some roller coasters, which, until now, he's resisted, so I'm excited for him and I hope he has a great time.  Update: he had an "ok" time.  The lines were very long so they only rode one rollercoaster but twice and the bumper cars. He wasn't impressed by the animals - or the park, for that matter.  It didn't sound like he had too much fun.

  • I had bought 2 mangoes last week and was letting them ripen. They look perfect on the outside. I cut one for lunch today and had to compost half of it as it had turned brown on the inside :(

  • Last night I had to throw away the bread leftovers from the loaf I had baked last week. I never did make French toast this weekend and forgot to put the bread in the fridge or freezer. I remember saying recently that I never had any breast waste... well, I was wrong.

  • Took the recycling down the curb for collection late last night
  • Set the breakfast table for the kids
  • Ran the dehumidifier in the downstairs bathroom
  • Input the details of all the grocery receipts from the past 2 weeks into my spreadsheets
  • Researched and printed coupons
  • Updated my pricebook
  • Took customer satisfaction surveys
  • Mended my PJ pants
  • Backed up more pictures from my external drive. Now all the 2015 photos are backed up.
  • Watered the garden (refilled the self-watering bins, watered the pineapples by hand, watered potted plants)
  • Cooked dinner
  • Balanced the checkbook and archived past months


  • I'm wearing my insoles.  My foot actually hurts more when I walk with them in my shoes than when I walk barefoot and I'm not sure if that's to be expected. I should research that. It's not excruciating pain, it's kind of a nagging pain.  It definitely feels better when I don't take a 2 mile walk!

  • I had breakfast on the patio: large mug of cinnamon coffee, cup of generic honey nut cheerios with some dehydrated apples and 1/2 cup of milk.

  • I took the other sample of gummy vitamin that I received in the mail a couple of days ago. This one is for "Hair, Skin, and Nails" and didn't taste good at all with a bad aftertaste too.

  • I had a Fit & Active Caramel rice cake for mid-morning snack.

  • For lunch, I had a salad of spinach, tomato, cucumber and a hard-boiled egg, topped with 1 tbsp of my homemade dressing.  I added a Wasa sour dough cracker with a wedge of garlic & herbs spreadable cheese (Aldi brand, utterly forgettable, won't buy again), half a mango, and a tall cup of icy cold yumberry-blackcurrant herbal refrigerator tea.  I enjoyed it on the patio.

  • I recorded my food intake into MyFitness Pal.

  • I think my exercise for today will be sweating on the patio during the whole day :)

  • I had a banana mid-afternoon.

  • I wasn't hungry for dinner so I just had a yogurt. Later on, I had 2 slices of bread and a hard-boiled egg.


I made it to the backyard at 7 a.m. this morning and I was rewarded by a cardinal pair in the feeder, soon joined by another cardinal male, and once they left, a pair of Tufted Titmice flew in.  I didn't get a good shot of them because someone came on the patio at that exact same time and the noise of the door opening scared them away.

Right now (9 a.m.), I'm being entertained by the acrobatics of two squirrels in my bird feeder.  As I said before, I'd rather they eat the bird seeds than dig through my veggie bins so I'm leaving them be.

One of my nectarine trees, seen from the patio, is reminding me of Bless's "Dr. Seuss" plant!

Later on in the morning, I spotted the cardinal female in one of my tomato bins. Apparently she found a small worm or caterpillar or something. I'll need to inspect the plants tonight when the sun goes down.  And then the male showed up too later on!

Mid afternoon, I saw a large blue jar in one of our trees and at the same moment a hummingbird came to visit the hummingbird feeder.  By the time I could photograph either of them, they had flown the coop.

I think that female cardinal has a hormonal problem... it's come to the feeder so many times today!  Of course it could be a different one each time...

This is for Susan since we were talking about those in the comments yesterday...


  1. Sounds like you had a pretty good day. Glad your laptop is working well again, without any problems. Very pretty photo of the moon in the morning sky. Loved the photos with your acrobatic squirrels and pest controlling cardinals, too. That one squirrel hanging upside down looks as if he might be smiling for the camera! And look! You've got your own Dr. Seuss plant! :D

    Too bad about the mango. :( The mangoes are picked for shipment while still too green and rarely ripen properly. I am always disappointed when I buy mangoes. Even when they look perfectly ripe, they don't taste so good.

    You did well getting all your mending done! Sorry about your favorite cashmere sweater, though. But good of you to save the buttons!

    1. Yes, I did think that bottom squirrel looked like he was smiling too. He first did a flying leap from the nearby bench onto the pole of the feeder... and missed and landed in the ferns at the bottom. I was laughing! Then he climbed up the pole and instead of jumping this time, he streeeeeeeetched until he could reach the feeder and for a while he looked like he was afraid of letting go of the pole with his hind legs and he was going to stay like this. So I laughed even more. Finally he let go and was in the position that you see and I think his expression showed that he was pretty proud of himself to have made it, lol.

  2. Love the squirrel pic. 7 kids at once would be so hard, kudos to them. I couldn't imagine.

    1. We raised 6 kids but they weren't of the same ages and my 3 oldest were at their dad's half the time while the 2 who came from Greg's first marriage were gone sporadically. It was very challenging and I'm glad it's over and we only have 2 left at home :) The McCaughleys got a lot of help when the kids were little, I don't know how they could have survived all this without the support of their community!

  3. Thank you for the special horticultural lesson just for me. Wax begonias tolerate shade very well, so it is often seen in shade gardens along with impatience flowers. I love the flowers of the lantana plant. No danger of it being invasive here. In Egypt, they were grown as hedges and kept clipped. Beautiful.
    I am glad to hear that the squirrels entertained you this morning. They are quite comical when they are not digging up your garden.

  4. We actually have the same Aldi sale on produce this week!! I laughed that I went and checked and saw the same thing because we never seem to have the same pricing or items. I have two zucchini that I have to use up and I did throw out some rolls and rice the other day because I forgot to freeze....I thought of you!! It is so hard to stay on top of all these things.


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