Thursday, December 29, 2016

Feeling Less Antisocial ~ Thursday 12/29/16

Writing my personal goals for 2017 last night helped lift some of the gloominess (ah, the power of hope!) and I feel more ready to interact with people once again so I'm reopening comments for good.

Please don't let this pressure you into commenting. I'm serious. I have no expectations of anyone commenting, even if I leave a comment on your own blog.

Greg got up with little biddy red eyes this morning and sniffling. We think he's suffering from some kind of allergy attack... and hopefully it's not the cats!  It started when he was working on fixing the cabinet doors and has gotten worse.  I had opened the windows already and asked if he wanted me to close them but he's enjoying them being open too so we're keeping them open.  I unearthed a brand new bottle of Visine Advance Redness + Irritation Relief that I had gotten for free after rebate a couple of years back and he's using that for now. The antihistamines don't seem to be doing anything.  I wish he'd go see a doctor to get prescription strength allergy medicines because each year he goes through this. He's also exhausted because Tabby Kitty kept on trying to cuddle with him as he was sleeping and he claims the kitten woke him up every half hour.  He was too tired to get up and close the door, which I understand, I've done that myself!

I slept pretty well.  Every time I woke up to use the bathroom, I'd find Explorer and Princess in bed with me.  Explorer is my lover boy, he always sleeps on my pillow to my left, just above my head.  Once in a while I'll pet his very soft fur and he'll start purring, and then I nuzzle his soft belly and he wraps his paws around my head and then we stay like this for a minute before I have to move because I just can't sleep like that, lol.

This morning the kittens woke me up a couple of times: once by throwing my Kindle down to the floor (wood floor, oh the racket!) and sending my glasses flying across the room ("Are you UP yet?!"), and the second time, at 8:00 a.m. by playing on the duvet.  They always manage to drag it off me while I'm sleeping and then they jump up and down on it, because they love the noise.  They run from across the room and pounce on it, then chase each other under the bed (where I store a spare mattress that's covered in a plastic sheath so it makes a lot of noise!) and under the duvet, and then climb back up in bed under the duvet and walk or run across my bladder (ouch!) and then finally I get up.  I tried filming their duvet shenanigans this morning but as soon as they noticed the camera, they stopped. Arrgh. Here is a bad picture though.

It's not a bed, it's a kitten playground, that's what it is!

At 10:20 a.m. now, the sky is blue and the temperature is still coolish (74F/23C). Our high today will be 79F/26C) but tomorrow's high will only be 60F/15.5C and it's going to be in the low 40s for 2 nights in a row. Woowoo!  Greg and I had said we'd go hiking tomorrow when it's cool, but with his allergies, I don't know if he'll be up to it.

This morning I'm trying to reach my 1st daily goal in Swagbucks and running the videos on my laptop. The goal is 50 SB so it's feasible, although I'm not even at the halfway mark yet as it didn't occur to me to do this until after 9 a.m.  One thing that I have noticed with the new laptop, is that I don't have to keep on closing old windows opened by the ngage videos. Whenever I restart the activity, yes it reopens a new video screen (that I minimize) but the old one has been closed automatically. With the Windows 7 laptop, it would just keep on opening new videos without closing the old ones so if I didn't pay attention, I'd have tons of windows all running videos, which really slowed down my laptop a lot.  So not everything is bad about Windows 10.

CVS emailed me a coupon for 15% of my purchase for this weekend so I uploaded it to my ExtraCare card but there isn't any shopping planned.

Speaking of shopping, I'm a little peeved that a lot of places seem to be offering larger KitchenAid mixers for cheaper than what Greg paid for the mini, now that Christmas is over.  Many years ago, I had suggested we actually celebrate "Russian Christmas" because the Russian Orthodox celebrate in January, I believe.  It would allow us to shop the after-Christmas clearance and save money! But we've never done that. Yesterday, I suggested that in 2017 we just put pictures of what we intended to buy for everyone on the mantelpiece, and then go shopping for it after Christmas. It would save us the time and expense of wrapping the presents too, think about it!  I'm only halfway joking, too!

Overdrive notified me that my two library e-books were due in 3 days so I requested one of them to be renewed. I read some of it last night and I'm enjoying it.  I think I'm going to re-download it to my Kindle e-reader and turn off the wifi (something that I don't want to do on my Kindle Fire as I use it to watch Netflix when I do the dishes, for instance) so the book doesn't get removed from it (in case someone else put it on hold and I can't renew it). But first, I have to charge it because it went dead in my purse.

I was reading the local news online and specifically reading an article featuring a local family in need that's benefitting from donations made to the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund Holiday Drive.  I hadn't realized that "A donation to the Orlando Sentinel Family Fund Holiday Campaign helps fund youth education, hunger, homelessness prevention and child-abuse prevention and treatment programs. All expenses are covered by the Orlando Sentinel and the McCormick Foundation, which contributes 50 cents for every dollar donated, increasing your charitable giving." So I think I'll make a contribution because it really sounds that my buck would go farther than at some other charities. For instance St Jude's Hospital. I really like them and I think their mission is admirable, but they spend a lot of money on advertising. I didn't need the address labels and notepad. They're nice but wouldn't you rather have all of your money reach the people you're trying to help?  On that note, Shriner's Hospital for Children in Tampa seems to have lower overhead costs than St Jude's so I was planning on researching them.

Once again, we don't have any plans for today, which we actually like!  I have to finish inputting all the receipts from Christmas into my spreadsheets (plus a couple of weeks of grocery shopping, that'll take time since I track various food categories separately) so I have a clear picture of what we spent this year. It's the first time that I've actually tracked the detail of (almost) every penny spent so I think it will be eye-opening and hopefully will give me an idea of what a budget for all categories of spending (not just groceries!) should be in 2017 and beyond.

I read Laura's Winter Joy List this morning and she listed "Watch a LOTR Marathon" with her husband.  So I told Greg "Damn it, Laura and her husband are going to beat us at the LOTR Marathon if we don't put our butts in gear, Greg!" and he replied "Laura who?" hahaha.  So I explained and he said "well, we could start tonight and be done by Sunday" so we might do that yet.  She also listed "Harry Potter Marathon" on her Autumn Joy List and I did complete that one at Thanksgiving. Phew! I think I take more joy accomplishing something from someone else's list than my own.  I don't keep a joy list but I think that's a neat idea that Anne started. Maybe if I did this the depression wouldn't hit as hard?  I've already made lots of lists for 2017 so I'm going to hold off for now.  My list of Personal Goals (coming out on 1/1, along with my frugal and financial goals) is actually kind of a Joy List, or more accurately, will be if I actually accomplish any of it :)

I noticed that my Kindle Touch had enough charge to be able to execute commands on it, so I went ahead and turned the Wifi back on it so I could redownload my library book to it, and then I turned off the Wifi again. Now I have the book for as long as I want... until I turn the Wifi back on!

While I was logged in to my Amazon account, I saw a header entitled "New! Prime Reading" and I vaguely remembered something about that so I checked it out. So Prime members (not necessarily Kindle Owners) have access to books and magazines that they can borrow and read for free via that category.  I was perusing the list of books and noticed "Mercer Girls" that another blogger mentioned she was reading, so I borrowed it on my Kindle Fire. When I'm done with my current ebook, I'll start reading this one. It's about women recruited to be "Mail Order Brides" to men in Oregon, after the Civil War.  When I went in the fridge to scrounge up some lunch, I found... a whole box of mini cream puffs that I have shoved at the back of the fridge and completely forgotten about!  And no one likes them but me! Well, Greg says he does but he's lying.  It's like Christmas all over again! What? I need strength if I'm going to embark on a diet come 1/1, err, 1/10 (that's how long it's going to take me to finish all the food that needs to be finished or it'll go to waste!). But, as tempting as it may be, that wasn't what I had for lunch: I made myself a sandwich with some of the chipotle chicken salad that I had bought at Aldi several weeks ago. Yes, I still have some and yes, it's still good (although maybe it's not, I can't tell with the chipotle flavor!).

I printed a couple of coupons that Betty Crocker emailed me.

I decided to post my "2016 Found Money Earnings" today since the post is ready anyway. I doubt I'll get much in the next couple of days, but if I do, I'll update the post so it's accurate.

I reached my 1st Daily Goal in Swagbucks!  The 2nd goal is more than double that so I'm going to skip it.  I'm at 775 SB over all.

My Coke Rewards notified me that they had shipped my 2nd coupon for a free 12-pack, and I noticed, for the first time, that instead of my zip code, they show "00000". Hmm.  I got the other coupon so I'm guessing it's not a huge problem but I went ahead and updated my account nonetheless.  I'm wondering if their system had a hiccup as I can't imagine never noticing before that they don't have a zip code for me. If you're expecting rewards, you might want to check your account and see if your zip code is in there, I'm thinking.

I took an Advil because my upper right arm is hurting like I just got a bad shot. Ouch. It's probably due to having the fan blowing on me all night.

I finally got dressed at 12:20 p.m., made my bed, and cleaned the upstairs litter box. My daughter told me she likes it when I wear skirts. I have a lot of them but never wear them. Maybe I'll start wearing more skirts, although since I have to wear sneakers when I go out because of my bad foot, perhaps not on Wednesdays, eh?

I earned the daily Microsoft Rewards.  I asked Greg whether he bothered earning his yesterday and he said no. He hasn't earned any since redeeming that $10 gc last week. Grrr, he irks me. It really only takes like 5 minutes tops.  I can't earn the rewards on his phone for him because he always has it, but since it seems that he's locked in to the Rewards program on his desktop, I'm going to log in and earn them for him there as soon as he goes back to work :)

I'm entering my Christmas receipts into my spreadsheets and I'm livid. I shouldn't be "livid" but truly these things piss me off because I don't like people being incompetent and liars.  When I shopped at Aldi on 12/21 and my bill was huge, I was purchasing 1 trays of sushi that had been marked down to $0.99 each.  That sushi ended up being disgusting, by the way. Anyhoo, at the register, I ask the cashier, as she was scanning it, to make sure that it had indeed been marked down to 99 cents in the system (since you can't see the display) and she said "yep! it is!". Well, guess what?  Yeah, I got charged $3.29 per tray.  I'm super pissed.  I should have looked at my receipt in the store, like I always do, damn it. It's just that I wanted to get out of there so fast and I had a very long receipt and it totally slipped my mind. I think I was in shock that I had just spent $190 there.  Arrrgh.

Another failure on that trip?  I bought a frozen duck for Greg because he had duck at the French restaurant at Epcot and loves duck. I don't like duck. The kids won't probably eat it. I was charged $13 for the duck. I didn't think it was that much. I must have thought the price per pound was the price of the duck?!  It was $2.69/lb, which isn't too bad. I guess I just didn't look at the price of the whole thing because I was excited they actually had duck.

And then I suspect that I looked at the weight of the turkey that I bought at the same time (13.62 lbs), thinking it was the price ($17.57). Argh. Lots of failures at Aldi that day. Goes to show you, I need to stick to a list, take my time even if it's busy and always look at my receipt before leaving the stores!

Man, I'm really going to have to ramp up my reading because the library just emailed me that "Fantastic Beasts" is waiting for me there!  My son is going there for his D&D club tonight and we have to drive him since the light has disappeared from the bike, so I or my son will pick it up for me tonight.

It took a couple of hours but I'm finally done entering all my receipts in all my spreadsheets. Phew!
Earlier this afternoon Greg tried to get me to go walk today, but I really wanted to get this done and I'm glad it is and I can look forward to wrapping up the year's expenses.  I'll probably post them on 12/31, on the off-chance that we spend something else between now and then.  It's not going to be pretty but I look forward to it being eye-opening (for me!).

I replied to blog comments. Thanks so much for making my blog part of your day!

I cleaned out my "receipt bucket"... which means that I pulled all the receipts/invoices that I wanted to keep and I put them in a file to remember to put them into their appropriate files later on, and then I crammed all the cash register receipts into a large bubble envelope that I recycled from a recent mailer and wrote "2016 receipts" on it and I'll put it in a closet. I probably won't have to refer to it again but I'll keep it for a year and then shred everything. You never know.

My daughter realized that she had a free drink coupon in her RaceTrac app (but I don't) so she drove to the station near our house to get herself a freebie.  Then Greg drove our son to the library for his Dungeons & Dragons Club.

It's an new era in my house... Youngest Son asked me to throw away the LEGO catalog that showed up in the mail. Waaaaaaaahhhh. My baby is all grown up!  I remember a time when those were poured over for hours.  We have SO many LEGOS.  I could probably build us a home addition with all the LEGOS we have!  Maybe I should count those as part of our investments :)

I Heart Publix posted the link to print (2) copies of a BOGO Hopster coupon for StoneFire Naan bread and it happens that it's on BOGO sale at Publix this week!  So I guess that at some point I'll be going to Publix after all!  I printed my 2 coupons after sharing the link with my BFF and I texted her to give her a heads-up about it. She texted me back and we agreed that we'll try to get together next week. Woohoo :)

I made a Blue Plate Meatloaf for dinner.  I only defrosted 1 lb of ground beef and it calls for 2, so I stretched it with a little more cornbread stuffing than the recipe called for. I defrosted 1 cup of frozen green pepper chunks (bought when on sale at Aldi this summer and then cut up and frozen in a reused zipper bag) and half a small onion (enough flavor but not enough to seriously bother Greg's tummy).  Instead of frozen spinach, I used some of the fresh (well, now wilted!) mustard greens that I had bought last week. Unfortunately, I had to compost most of the bunch. I don't even know why I had bought it, even if I did think it was kale, haha. That was another failure :(  I had said I'd bake the meatloaf outdoors in the electric roaster but I didn't want to deal with setting it up out there so I'm baking it in our regular oven, oh well.

I checked the 4 ears of sweet corn that I had bought at Aldi several weeks ago and they're on the small side but don't seem spoiled so I'll cook them in the microwave for dinner and we'll have corn on the cob with our meatloaf.

I'm defrosting the salmon fillet that I bought on my huge shopping trip last week so we'll have that for dinner tomorrow with white rice and I'll harvest some lettuce from the garden and use the tomatoes that I've harvested and the rest of the cucumber that I had sliced for Christmas to make a salad.

So now I need to figure out what to make for New Year's Eve but it's not a big deal for us, we usually don't even stay up.  I have a feeling that some neighbors, who've been firing fireworks for no reason at all, throughout the year, might keep us up, though. For New Year's Day, I'll plan on making Black Eyed Peas since, in the South, it's thought to bring good luck if you eat Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Day. Greg didn't know that, I just educated him.  I've known about it but I can't remember if I ever cooked them on New Year's.  I think I have black eyed peas in my pantry... now that I think of it, maybe I don't. It would be a good time to experiment with my electric pressure cooker that I still haven't used once! I'll probably serve them with smoked turkey sausage that I'll grill in the toaster oven.

For Saturday, I'll have to see what I have in the fridge that really needs to be used up.

I read on Slickdeals that some people got emails from Staples with a $10 voucher in it. I had unsubscribed from emails from Staples so I didn't get anything. I logged into my Staples Rewards account to see if it might be there. I noticed that I'm $6.82 short of the $30 in ink or toner purchase in the past 180 days necessary to be able to receive $2 per recycled ink or toner cartridge so I was worried that I might have to run to Staples in the next couple of days to buy an ink cartridge that I don't really need yet. However, I researched my purchase history (which, conveniently, they have on their site) and noticed that I bought the ink back in mid September, which leaves me about 3 more months to spend the $6.82. I'll make sure that I do.  In the meantime, no $10 Staples gift voucher for me as it isn't in my "wallet" either :(

My meatloaf smells delicious and I checked my pantry and we do have black eyed peas, woohoo!

Greg went to get our son from the library and I finished cooking dinner and set up the table.  The corn on the cob ended up being delicious!

I emailed my brother from Marseille because it occurred to me that I had never heard from him at Christmas.  I hope everything is OK.

Working on totalling our expenses for the year. Greg decided that he didn't feel like watching LOTR so we're tabling the marathon for now.


  1. I'm glad you are feeling less antisocial, Nathalie. I hope Greg's allergies get better, soon. I'm looking forward to seeing your year-end spending recap!

    1. Thanks, Bless. I worked on calculating our expenses last night and that took way longer than I thought because I realized, at report time, that I hadn't set up my spreadsheet properly. So I had to do a whole lot of work that I thought I was sparing myself throughout the year, hahaha. Live and learn, hopefully my 2017 report will be a cinch... it was a little depressing to see the numbers, but then I had to remind myself that we had saved 61% of our income too, so that made it a little better.

  2. I have an instapot multi function pressure cooker. I am terrified to try it! Maybe this week...... I will reread the manual. Happy New Year!

    1. So glad I'm not the only one! It's terrifying isn't it?! I don't know why as my parents both use theirs daily and I grew up with them around. It's just that no one ever taught me how to use one and all I remember is them admonishing me to stay away from it so I wouldn't get scalded. So now I'm truly terrified I'll do something wrong and blow us all up to smithereens!

      I had no idea Instapots even existed until last week! I read a heads-up on Slickdeals that there was a free recipe book for Instapot being offered (the offer has expired) so I had to look up what it was. It sounds like an amazing piece of kitchen equipment! I wouldn't want to spend the money on it now since I have most of the appliances it replaces but I'll have to keep it in mind for a future gift for my daughter once she has her own place (or give her my appliances and get myself an Instapot, ha!)

      I need to reread my manual too and also I think I had downloaded some ebooks last year that contained step by step instructions as well. I tried searching my blog for a post I would have written about the research I had done, but I guess I didn't list my sources anywhere. I did find, however, quite a bit a posts where I state "I'm terrified of using my pressure cooker!" and "I need to figure out how to use my pressure cooker!". I guess that should be a goal of mine in 2017.

      Good luck! Let us know how it worked!

  3. I just have to say that I love the picture of the turtle coming out of the egg. It is perfect.

    1. Thanks for saying this. I also thought it was PERFECT as soon as I spotted it! I only wish I would have taken it myself :)

  4. ...just put pictures of what we intended to buy for everyone on the mantelpiece... <-- OK, this made me laugh out loud!

    Ooooh...I have the InstantPot, too (last year's Christmas present)! There is a Facebook group that has tons of advice and great recipes. I seem to remember your saying you don't do Facebook, but here are a few blogs recommended by that group with recipes:

    And youTube has a few videos, too, on how to use it (and also how to make your own yogurt with it).


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