Friday, June 30, 2017

An Unusually Socially Active Day for Me ~ Thursday 6/29/17

I was going to name this post "The Laziest Day Ever" but then I did a couple of chores so I guess I wasn't lazy enough for this title :) It's 8 a.m. and I have no inspiration, we'll see what the day will bring.

I didn't read my book in a bubble bath last night. Instead I made a new page on the blog to centralize the resources that I have found so far for the Diabetic Exchange Program, in case someone is looking for this.  You have to go to the blog to find it and it's at the top right under "pages".

Then I went to bed and fell asleep watching an episode of "Forensic Files".

Greg had told me he has a business lunch scheduled for today, so I warned him that I probably wouldn't get up before or even with him since there was no lunch to pack. He always encourages me to sleep in so he was fine with it.  I slept OK last night and then of course some cat made a terrible racket at 6:45 a.m. which woke me up anyway.  I laid in bed, petting a kitten, checking my emails and news on the phone, and then, since I wasn't falling back asleep, I earned the mobile Microsoft Rewards. Might as well!

Then I indulged in a long shower, put away the laundry and cleaned the upstairs litterbox.  So much for not doing anything today :) Which segues me into my To Do List.

  • Plan my food intake for the day   DONE
  • Exercise DONE
  • Record today's food intake into MFP DONE
  • Do the dishes DONE
  • Prep onion and zucchini for breakfasts DONE
  • Post trip pictures on French blog
  • Write and mail postcards to my mom and great aunt
  • Back up all pictures to my external drive
  • Figure out where I was in the process of backing up my external drive!
  • Pull weeds  IN PROGRESS
  • Make hummingbird nectar
  • Find two books to donate to The Little Library when I go to the eye doctor
  • Balance the checkbook
  • Put the laundry away DONE
  • Cut up Greg's old sheet for rags
  • Iron Greg's business clothes for his trip next week
  • Vacuum the downstairs
  • Sweep and mop kitchen
  • Clean upstairs litterbox DONE
  • Mend some items from the mending basket
  • Draft an email reply re: daughter's FL Prepaid/Scholarship ongoing saga ON HOLD, waiting to receive the "card" that's coming her way
  • Take Youngest Son driving
  • Vacuum fridge's coils
  • Go through mortgage pay-off statement and make timeline
  • Reply to Tara's message DONE
  • Email my mom DONE
  • Email my brother DONE
  • Text my BFF DONE
  • Cut my bangs
  • Finish trimming the backyard (by AC unit and shed, around trees)


  • Greg is getting fed for free at work today, hooray!

  • We have more rain in the forecast for this afternoon. While my garden is saturated, we're still behind our yearly rainfall and our lakes and water table need it.  Of course, I'm delighted that I won't have to water the garden today :)

  • I earned the Microsoft Rewards for today and I'm playing JunGroups videos in Swagbucks. No nGage or nCrave videos are available this morning, I hope they're available later on as my 1st daily goal is 97 SB. Update: at the 11th hour, I was able to finally surpass my 1st Goal and I'm just 6 SB away from meeting my 2nd goal so I'm running nCraves again, trying to meet it before I finally go to sleep!

  • I remembered that I had that free 24 oz cup of French Vanilla coffee from Wawa in my fridge before I brewed a pot this morning, hooray!  I love their coffee.

  • Dinner tonight will be turkey meatloaf so I'm defrosting a pound of Jennie-O ground turkey that I had bought on 50% off clearance at Save A Lot.  I considered defrosting 2 lbs to make a larger meatloaf, but the leftovers aren't getting eaten as fast as they used to now that I don't eat them for lunch so I'll just make a small one.  I'll use a bunch of collard greens (still from the huge bag I bought at 50% off 2-3 weeks ago now!) instead of spinach.  I'll make some mashed potatoes to go with it and serve some of the dinner rolls that I bought at 50% off yesterday.  I need to pre-cook all of this so I can watch the Vanguard webinar for which I signed up, that starts at 7 p.m.  7:00 p.m. is usually when I put dinner on the table!  Greg will pick up Youngest Son from the library on his way home and they've been instructed to start dinner without me. I'm putting an alarm on my phone to remind me to precook everything.

  • I looked at our Eating Out/Ordering In numbers for June and they're pretty darn good, considering that we spent $500 in both April and May...  we spent $118.87 in June.  Of course, some caveats:
    • It doesn't include any of the meals that Daughter and I had on our trip since that falls under "Travel - Food"
    • Greg and I had a date but most of it was covered by a $50 gift card that we had bought last year.
However, it does include:
    •  $52.57 for dinners that Greg and our son enjoyed when my daughter and I were away
    • $12.12 for 2 lunches that Greg didn't pack (he bought lunch at work)
    • $4.17 for when I had breakfast out with my BFF
    • $35.30 for when we took Greg out for Father's Day breakfast
    • $15.01 which was mostly the tip for our date dinner at Carrabba's
Since my June grocery expenses were down $107.10 compared to budget, it means that, for the first time in a looooooong time, we actually almost made the monthly Food Expenses budget of $400 ($411.77).  Woohoo!

  • The Betty Crocker's Diabetic Cookbook that I bought used on Amazon was apparently owned by smokers. Bleh.  The book smelled bad.  I read a tip online that resellers often put books in Ziploc bags with dryer sheets, and since the book is oversized, I put it in a clean kitchen trash bag, put a couple of dryer sheets in between some pages, threw a couple more in the bag and tied it in a knot. The trick said to leave the book in there at least 8 hours. I'm going to leave it in there for several days.  I'm skeptical that the smell will be completely gone as the paper seems to have been imbibed, including on the inside pages, but we'll see.  I've had the dryer sheets forever since I typically don't use those, and I'll reuse the trash bag when I'm done with the project.

  • Speaking of reusing bags, I reused a bread bag to carry the contents of the upstairs litterbox to the trash bin this morning.

  • And speaking of reusing bags part 2, I was reading a blog post recently in which the author said she had stopped bringing her reusable bags to the grocery store because the bagger only put one or two items in each bag, resulting in having to use plastic bags for the rest of the items anyway.  So now she's back to using plastic bags. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??! Why in the world would you not instruct the bagger to fill up your reusable bags?!  If I only brought one or two bags with me and I end up buying more than I planned, I tell the bagger to fit as many items as possible in the reusable bags and leave the rest unbagged. I always have tons of reusable bags (mostly received for free) in my car so I just bag the stuff when I get to the car.  I also carry (free) cardboard boxes in my trunk so if I happen to not have any bags, I put everything in the boxes and then bag the stuff when I get home to carry it to the kitchen (or just carry the boxes depending on how heavy they are).  It bears repeating: if you forgot your reusable bags at home and you used a car to go to the store, just put your groceries in your trunk and then place them in bags once you're in your driveway!  Having forgotten your bags at home is really not an excuse, just my 2 cents.   A good way to not forget your bags is to put them back in your car as soon as you've unpacked your trunk. If you're too lazy to do that, like me, then put your bags next to your purse so the next time you drive somewhere, you can grab them at the same time as your purse and put them in the car.  If you don't have reusable bags but would like to stop using plastic but are on a tight budget and can't afford to buy reusable bags, be creative!  Back when I was little and went shopping at the supermarket with my mom, we brought duffle bags.  French supermarkets don't bag your groceries and don't provide plastic bags (at least back when I was growing up). I still don't like it when a supermarket has baggers to be honest. I get that it provides jobs, but I like bagging my own stuff and I do if a bagger isn't at the register when I check out. Then I wave them away if they approach :)  You could also use pillow cases.  If you're self-conscious about bringing those into the store, again: leave them in your vehicle (if you have one) and then bag your own stuff once you get back to it.

  • I do end up with some plastic bags, sometimes, too, however. It's mostly either when I take Greg's or the Focus to go shopping but I forget to grab my reusable bags from my SUV before leaving, or if I go out with Greg and we end up doing some shopping. He has a pick-up truck so leaving the groceries to roll around in the truck bed isn't ideal (I'll usually put them in the back seat, but sometimes there is something else in the back seat).  I really need to hide some bags in his truck somewhere. I had put a couple of bags in the trunk of the Focus but they were never replaced after we used them.  When I do have plastic bags, I reuse them for the litter boxes most of the time, or my daughter uses them as trash can liners in her bedroom.

  • I downloaded free fonts to my laptop last night via Google Fonts.  I had been meaning to do this since I got this new laptop back in December. I wish Blogger (a Google product!) would let us use different fonts than those that come pre-installed with the templates, though.

  • SavingStar credited my account for the 30 cents off the La Libertรฉ yogurt and the $4.00 spent on Butterball turkey sausage. And then of course today they start offering a $0.75 rebate on the sausage, but I've already submitted my receipt and you can't submit receipts twice. Grrr.

  • Out of the blue, my left knee has started "twinging" on its own, usually when I'm just standing around. What?! I've lost weight, I've been exercising, what do you want, knee?!  It didn't hurt when I was heavier and hiking up and down mountains so I don't know why it's hurting when I'm just standing there on flat ground. Perhaps it's signaling that it would like me to resume hiking. I'd love to, as I miss going on hikes with Greg on the weekends, but it's just too hot and humid for me. It's not as much fun to hike when you're suffering!

  • I checked the nCrave page again before getting on my recumbent bike and I'm glad I did because the nCrave videos appeared and I was able to start the "All You Can Eat" automatic videos, yay!  Now I can earn SB while I'm biking and doing other things.  Woohoo! Oh crap, I just finished typing this sentence and the videos crashed :(  I selected another set of nCrave videos that seem to be able to play without me being there, although I don't think it's unlimited :(

  • A couple of hours later... it's 11:30 am.!  I got on the bike a little bit past 9 a.m. and got so busy that I didn't see time fly by and biked for  70 minutes and 13 miles. Woohoo! While I was biking, I did all this, in no particular order:
    • I tried planning my food intake for the day but I didn't have the recipe for the turkey meatloaf at my fingertips (it's a recipe I clipped from a magazine) so I couldn't finish it.  Only lunch and dinner vary every day and lunch only varies according to what I have left after planning dinner.  I'll work on it after I eat breakfast.
    • I caught up on blogs and emails
    • I typed a reply to a message I had received from Tara in MFP a couple of days ago (I kept forgetting to do that!)
    • I emailed my mom to ask her if she had gotten around to ordering the French instructions for the AC unit
    • I emailed my brother from Marseille to ask if he and his GF had made plans for their marriage and if the previous owners of their mountain home had moved out with all their animals (they kept a farm on the property)
    • My son's BFF's mom texted me out of the blue!  She's a former co-worker of mine from years ago. We had lost touch and then our sons ended up being best friends and our daughters played on the same volleyball team. Nuts, eh? Anyhoo she works for Disney and was sent to work in Disneyland Paris for a year so her family moved to Paris with her last summer. She told me they just came back (well, she has to go back for a month but her son and husband are back for good) and wanted Youngest Son's contact info for her son since he changed phones and had lost it.  We exchanged new contacts and made plans for she and I to have breakfast together next week. I'm so excited for Youngest Son who missed his BFF and to be able to catch up and ask her about her year in France!
    • I got an email from Wawa that Reward members are getting free coffee rewards every Wednesdays in July. Woohoo!  I go shopping on Wednesdays so that's perfect for me!  I'm going to text my BFF to ask her if she wants me to forward the survey coupons to her during that month since she's not a Rewards member (she has trouble with her phone so she can't sign up for the app).  Update: I texted her but I never heard back from her.
    • I read one Money Diary on Refinery29.

  • After I was done, I chatted with Youngest Son and Daughter who had both gotten up.  Daughter and I made plans to do a couple of side day trips when Greg and Youngest Son go camping.

  • I made breakfast (egg white omelet with onion, zucchini, mushroom and spinach, and a small banana). Today I'm going to try to drink more water and also to write down the liquid intake. I've been lax with this over the past week and I know I didn't drink as much as I should have, which is probably a reason why my weight has been going up again, I'm sure.  Trying to turn all of this into lasting habits is hard. But recognizing the pitfalls and acting before it's too late is key.  I'm also realizing, once again, that the whole blogging every day thing is once again turning into an excuse for me not to do as much as I should be doing.  So once again I'm thinking that perhaps I'll go back to more succinct and weekly updates... we'll see.  It's so hard to find the right balance, especially when I want my blog to be a diary for myself, you know?

  • Instead of throwing the egg yolks away, I made some "scrambled eggs" for Youngest Son with them, I added a little water and some shredded cheddar but without the whites the consistency was weird. I'm not sure if he ate them, I'll have to ask. (ps: i forgot to ask and he didn't mention it...)

  • I had to throw away some milk that had spoiled (Greg alerted me to it last night but didn't throw it away and was very proud of himself since I have asked him repeatedly to let me decide if I should throw it away or use it for something) and also a cup of Activia yogurt that was almost 5 months past its sell-by date (the consistency becomes weird and neither Greg nor I will want to eat it).

  • I cut up half the large onion and a zucchini for the next few breakfasts.  The rest of the onion went into a reused zipper bag that I have washed many times over.

  • My mom replied that she looked at the instructions again and found the section in French. However they still haven't connected the unit because now the temps have dropped by 20 degrees Celsius (like in Canada!) and now she's back to wearing a sweater. But she told me not to worry because she's sure it'll get very hot again soon and the AC unit will turn out to be very useful :) However, all the controls on the unit are in English so she needs to familiarize herself with all the buttons. She doesn't speak English :) I'm going to suggest she asks my brother from Paris to translate all the buttons in French and stick little stickers all over the panel next time he comes to visit :)

  • My brother from Marseille replied to my email.  Oh my.  The couple who sold them the house was super nice and buying another house in another part of the country. They both quit their jobs in anticipation of moving away.  When it looked like their closing date on their new house wouldn't correspond with my brother's closing date, they asked if they might keep on living in the house that my brother had just bought for a couple of weeks past the closing date. Red flag all over the place, as far as I'm concerned but I kept my mouth shut because my brother is famous for thinking he knows better than everyone else.  Plus the previous owners had been very nice, introducing my brother and his GF to everyone in the village and being very patient with the sale of the house. Anyhoo, my brother and GF said "of course" and didn't have them sign anything or charged them rent.  So now, the previous owners have had some problems with their loan to buy their next house and so can't move and have nowhere to go. They still haven't gotten rid of the animals either, apparently. They asked my brother if they could store their stuff in the downstairs apartment and in the barn and my brother said yes, but he's telling me that he's getting more and more upset about the whole thing. My brother blows up quite easily so... it's not going to be pretty because he feels that he is getting the run-around (we're almost a month after closing now and the couple keeps on evading  him when he asks if they have secured temporary lodging anywhere else).  He has rented a truck to move his and his GF's stuff in this weekend and is bracing himself for some unpleasantness.  I told him that he needed to have them sign some official lease of some kind, even if it's just for a week, with a specific move date in there and have them pay rent.  I also shared with him that in the USA, depending on the state, people who live in your house at your invitation or with your knowledge can secure tenant rights even if they don't pay rent and then it can be very hard to evict them due to tenant/landlord laws so he needs to research the situation in France.  I hope everything turns out to be OK for them, though.

  • My daughter shared that Oldest Son passed the test he was taking in Gainesville this morning, which will allow him to be an elementary school music teacher in the Fall. I'm happy for him. I told my daughter to inquire (without telling him it came from me) whether he'll have the opportunity to sign up for getting paid over 12 months instead of 10 months. Sure, it reduces your monthly pay but it also allows you to not go without a paycheck over the summer when school isn't in session.  Not all school systems offer that option, apparently, but I've heard of it through online forums over the years and I think it'd be a great thing to do when you're young and maybe not very disciplined with money?  I have no idea if he and his GF are or not, I just think it's a good idea.

  • Amazon Prime Day will be on July 11 but they are already offering discounts on Amazon Unlimited Music and also Kindle Unlimited memberships.  Greg currently subscribes to Microsoft's Groove for music ($9.99 per month) and Amazon Unlimited Music would only be $7.99 per month for us and $0.99 for the first 4 months.  The Kindle Unlimited membership would definitely be an example of lifestyle creep but Greg reads only e-books and sometimes is frustrated by the selection of free books that interest him. He reads a lot!  We share the same Amazon account (not a Family account, we just both use the same login) and the Kindle Unlimited allows you to download up to 10 books at the same time, so we could both use the membership if it came to that. I prefer "real" books to e-books but at least it'd be something, like the Unlimited Music, that we could both use (although I use Pandora on the Roku or local radio stations via Tune In or IheartRadio so I wouldn't use the Music subscription).  I emailed him to see if he'd like to sign up for either/both at those good prices. The Kindle Unlimited membership is discounted by 40% if we sign up for 2 years.

  • I went outside to prune some roses and ended up pulling some weeds and then getting my electric trimmer out and trimming all around the berm (it was so overgrown) and around my vegetable garden patch. Also, behind the hedge and the house were it was so overgrown, I was afraid to end up stepping on a snake since that's the route they take. I felt bad cutting down flowering weeds because the bees and other flying insects seem to love them, but it was time. It was also hot and I was sweating buckets and since I was wearing my yoga capris, the lower end of my legs was getting quite a beating from flying weeds and stuff.  The worst was that before I even started, I had to untangle our super long extension cord, arrgh.  By the time I was almost done, the trimmer didn't seem to cut much anymore so I checked the plastic thread and it looked like I might be out. So after I put everything away, I cleaned the trimmer and took that assembly spool apart to look at what I needed to buy. I figured I'd order a spool from Ace Hardware for store pick-up (to get the Swagbucks!).  But after all that, I still had plastic wire in there, it just wasn't advancing on its own.  So I pulled on it, and now I have plenty. But I was hot and I had put everything away so I figured I'll go out again tomorrow if it hasn't rained.
I trimmed this overgrowth all along the berm today.
  • The extension cord had gotten tangled again but I was too hot to deal with it outside so I threw it in the Cat Room and moved to the Cat Couch to untangle it in the cool AC.  Youngest Son was sitting there at his PC and asked if he could help. I thought of it a second and asked him to come with me to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore because I wanted to see if they might have a spool for the extension cord but also because I wanted to buy a replacement couch for the Cat Couch (it's time, ours is 23 years old, disgusting and I'm stick and tired of the couch cover on it that nobody ever puts on nicely) and a long dresser for my bedroom if I found any of those. I needed the muscles. He agreed. I offered to buy him lunch in return at RaceTrac or McDonald's but he refused.

  • My daughter asked if she could drive into Clermont with her BFF as they wanted to go to Michael's and Walmart and asked if I needed anything there. I told her I didn't and yes she could go.  Youngest Son expressed interest in visiting Michael's so I offered to take him there tomorrow.  Date!

  • Youngest Son and I drove to the ReStore thrift store. It's only 5 minutes away from my house so it's pretty convenient! Of course I was busy chatting so I completely missed the turn and had to make a U-turn, hahaha. Also, I forgot my phone at home (that almost never happens to me!) so I had Youngest Son text my daughter to warn her I didn't have my phone with me.  What really bothered me is that I had just added something to my Thrift Store wishlist this morning and I was darned if I could remember what it was. And of course, I keep my list on my phone!  Arrgh.

  • Anyhoo, as soon as we entered the thrift store, I saw the green couch that Greg and I had eyed a couple of weeks ago when we went there. He thought it looked OK and had offered to come back with Youngest Son to get it after I measured the space to make sure it would fit, but back then the price was $120 and I decided to not rush into getting it.  Today, the couch was marked down to... $50!!!  I still hadn't measured the space at home (I had forgotten to do it before leaving the house, I don't know what's wrong with me today, I was just too impulsive in my decisions!) so I had Youngest Son lie down on it since I kind of know how he fits on our current couch. Human yard stick, lol.  He did it reluctantly because if there's someone who likes change even less than me, that's Youngest Son. We've had that couch there his whole life and he uses it as a foot rest, to cuddle with the cats, sometimes to play on the Xbox... he wasn't too happy that I was talking about replacing it. Well, tough luck.  I do carry a small measuring tape in my purse, so I measured the couch and the SUV to see if it would fit. It would have length-wise, but it was too tall.  So I asked if I could pick it up on Saturday and they said that I had 3 days to pick it up including today so yes.  Woohoo!  When I came home, I texted Greg and asked if I could borrow the truck tomorrow and have him drive my SUV since I thought he'd go fishing on Saturday morning and he's gone for HOURS, but he said he would go fishing on Sunday instead. So he and I will pick it up on Saturday. I put a reminder on my phone. We'll put the old couch out by the curb on Tuesday morning. I just checked our city's website and I don't even need to warn them.  They'll pick it up for free. Also, mattresses and I'm going to finally put that extra twin mattress that's been in my room for months out on the curb next week too, because...

  • I needed the room against the wall for the new-to-me 8-drawer dresser that Youngest Son and I picked up from the ReStore thrift store!  I paid $45 for it (down from $55).  Dressers don't seem to last long at that thrift store so I didn't want to take the risk that someone would buy it before the next price decrease. It's not perfect, there are finish issues and pieces of the "veneer" are coming off on the bottom of the sides, but I don't care.  Youngest Son and a thrift store volunteer loaded it into my SUV and then Youngest Son and I locked the kittens in the bathroom again at home, and carried the dresser upstairs after I cleared out the landing. He wasn't sure I'd be strong enough but I took out all the drawers first which lightened the load considerably (the dresser is mostly wood, only the back is particle board) so it wasn't too bad, even though our stairs are really steep and narrow. I went up first and had him carry "the bottom" so he did most of the work anyway. He's a strong young lad!
My new-to-me dresser, which matches my wood floor pretty well!
  • Then we let the kittens out and I set about cleaning the dresser with a rag and my Parsley Plus degreaser.  I like its smell.  I wiped the dresser down thoroughly and then placed 2 dryer sheets in each drawer. I'm going to leave the sheets in there for a week or so.  I should have left it outside, sanded it and then refinished it, but it's raining so often these days, I'll probably have to do it in the winter. However, now that it's in place, I probably will never do that, hahaha. I'll just put stuff on tops of the stains :)

  • One of the drawer pulls came off because the screw was too short to hold it in place. I looked for a replacement screw in my catch-all "tool box" where I keep the odd screws and nails and other hardware that we collect from things we throw away and found something that works alright. Woohoo!

  • I also found a package of felt pads that I had bought on clearance at CVS many months ago so I put a pad under each corner of the dresser so I could adjust its position without scratching the wood floors even more than they are now.

  • I'm very pleased with the dresser!  I'll be able to store clothes that are in the tiny closet that I rarely access because it opens up to a tiny crawl space under the edge of the roof and I'm paranoid that one of the cats will decide to jump in there to go explore (Princess jumped inside the dresser while I had taken the one drawer out to fix the pool!) and also because that closet isn't insulated at all so when I open the door, it's like the door to hell has been opened because it's so dang hot in there (I made a door draft stopper with cat litter in an old pantyhose leg, encased in a sleeve that I sewed on my sewing machine out of an old bedskirt and that helps keep the heat in the closet without the room becoming hot as well).

  • The thrift store didn't have any spools for the extension cord.  I was going to order one from Ace, but now I'll wait until Saturday. Since we're going back, I'll check again then.

  • After all that, it was past 3 p.m. and I still hadn't had lunch!  I made myself my turkey wrap, ate 12 cherries and my strawberry shake.  I didn't have a salad today, I'll just have it tonight.

  • Youngest Son walked to the library to go animate his D&D Club, since it wasn't raining. Greg will pick him up on his way home.

  • I just realized that my Trash pick-up day is Tuesday and it'll be July 4th so I called City Hall to verify that the trash will be picked up Wednesday instead. It will, so I wrote a reminder on my Google Calendar with an alert to put the couch and mattress out on Wednesday morning instead.

  • After all of this, do you know what really stinks?! The fact that I'm pretty pooped and that I still have to precook dinner now and also do the darn dishes.  Crap.

  • Earlier today, Produce For Kids emailed me an offer to print up to $3.75 in produce coupons to use at Publix so I was pretty excited. But when I tried accessing the coupons, I got a blank screen. So I emailed them and this afternoon their director of digital marketing reached out and asked me to email her some screenshots so she could see what the problem was. I did and she said she'd contact the coupon company to see if they could troubleshoot it but in the meantime, emailed me a direct link to the coupons, which I was able to print that way.  Come to find out, the coupons were distributed via SmartSource, and I haven't been able to access SmartSource via Chrome for months!  I've had to access and print their coupons via Edge.  So I told her that and maybe someone at Smartsource will be able to fix the problem later on?  Anyway, I was pretty impressed with Produce For Kids.

  • 5:45 p.m.: I collapse in a heap on the futon!  I've baked the meatloaf and rolls, made mashed potatoes from scratch, and done all the dishes.  I watched a little more than one episode of The Great British Baking Show on my Kindle Fire while doing all that, which really helped me keep up the pace. I'm exhausted now, though!  My Vanguard webinar is in a little more than an hour.

  • The automatic nCraves stopped for me several hours ago and I'm only at 81/97 SB right now. Aaack. I need to earn about 20 to go over my first goal.

  • A Slickdealer alerted me to the possibility of having an offer on our Amex for $5 off a $20 purchase (statement credit) at certain local small businesses designated as "Members' Favorite".  Greg's account had it so I unlocked it and 3 of our favorite and very local restaurants, for once, are included.  Woot!  Date night coming right up!

  • While I was logged in, I realized that we had over $100 in Rewards available so I redeemed them for yet another CVS $100 gift card, which will allow me to keep our groceries under budget since that's where I buy our milk, cereals, and Greg's Diet Dr. Pepper :)

  • At 7 p.m., I listened to the Vanguard webcast entitled "Do You Need a Financial Advisor?" and at the end of it and after discussed it with Greg, our conclusion is that yes, we definitely do need a financial advisor, and we're going to sign up with Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services.  Here is a link to the Vanguard library of past webcasts, btw, which I believe is accessible to anyone.  Here are my take-outs from the webcast tonight, in case anyone had been wondering the same questions:
    • All Vanguard Financial Advisors are Certified Financial Planners and they all operate with a fiduciary duty (which means they look after your interests, not their own personal interests). Vanguard's mission statement is "Do right by all clients."
    • They are interested in helping you write down an investment plan and then advise you on how to achieve the financial goals that you have set in your life such as paying for college or retirement or estate planning.  They can also help you figure out how to spend your money during retirement because it's complicated.  It might be more to your fiscal and/or tax advantage to first use funds from taxable accounts vs. non-taxable accounts, when to take Social Security, and all that good stuff.  Greg and I definitely need help with the tax aspect of the beast!
    • Some financial planning firms use financial planners who work on commission and personally actively manage your investments.  Those firms typically charge at least 1% (or more) of the funds they manage, per year, in fees, and typically also a commission based on transactions.  At the other end of the spectrum, you have so called "robo" financial planning which only uses technology to manage your investments and typically their fees are the lowest (because no humans are involved).  Vanguard uses a hybrid approach of heavily using technology to keep their costs low but also using human financial advisors to answer questions, provide guidance, and manage your investments if you so chooses.
    • The cost of this service is 0.3% of the value of any managed asset, per year for portfolios worth at least $50K all the way up to 5 million dollars.  This includes their reviewing your portfolio every quarter, based on your sign-up anniversary date, and rebalancing services should they be necessary. You can call them at any time to ask questions, etc. 

  • As I was typing these notes, my daughter came down with her laptop (almost brand new since I just bought it for her in May after her former laptop crapped out following a Windows 10 update). Guess what?  A Windows 10 update had asked to install itself and she said OK and subsequently her laptop kept on getting the BSOD which means "the blue screen of death". Greg exclaimed that she must have downloaded something unsavory that put a virus in her laptop and didn't offer to help at all (he spent close to 48 hours trying to help back in May, but nothing worked, including trying to reinstall Windows 10).  So I had her tell me what she did, looked up instructions on the Microsoft website, we followed their instructions, and in the middle of this, we kept on getting the BSOD and then the laptop would reboot itself. Sometimes we'd get the BSOD just a couple of minutes after it had rebooted itself, sometimes after 15 minutes.  Nothing that we tried worked.  So in desperation, and based on an old forum answer, I looked for the Microsoft help desk and found the Microsoft help page where we could use a digital assistant to troubleshoot, and since nothing worked, it eventually offered to connect us to someone.  I gave my cell phone and they called me back after just 1 minute.  The tech, AJ, was so nice. He took control of my daughter's laptop remotely and tried to see what the problem was, but the laptop kept on getting the BSOD.  So he asked if I had an 8G flash drive, took control of MY laptop, and created a Windows 10 install "disk" on the USB drive. That took a while and he explained that the only step left was to completely reinstall Windows 10 on my daughter's laptop but that she wouldn't lose any of her files.  However, the "Level 2" of Customer Support are the ones to guide us through this so he scheduled for them to call me back to do this... tomorrow (Friday) at 8 p.m. Also he explained that since we're having the problem on a laptop that came with Windows 10 pre-installed, there wouldn't be a charge for the help we're receiving. Phew!  He also made sure to give me the Microsoft's phone number in case I need to call them with questions in the meantime.  It was a frustrating experience because he was stumped himself, but at least it validated that it wasn't a virus as he said a lot of people are having the problem but a lot of times it's worse than what my daughter is experiencing. I'm not sure if he said that to make us feel better :) Anyhoo, good thing that she wasn't in the middle of taking a test or anything!  She went to bed at 11:30 p.m. and I stayed up to make sure that everything was fine with the Windows 10 file being downloaded to my laptop. It just finished downloading and it's now close to midnight, so I spent about 3.5 hours trying to help her and I know she'd been trying to fix her own problem for a while before that.
Aaarggh, the fact that you included a sad face on your BSOD doesn't add any
humor to the situation, Microsoft!
  • Now I'm all keyed up and I can't go to sleep!  Meanwhile, Greg had his own work emergency that required him to get on his work laptop and fix a big problem, so it's just as well that he didn't try to help us or he would have been very grumpy.  He still had to listen to the whole thing since I had AJ on the speakerphone the whole time!

  • So I forgot to mention that after talking to Greg about the Vanguard webcast, we discussed whether or not signing up for the Kindle Unlimited Plan made sense and Greg concluded that it didn't so we won't do it.  However, he is interested in the Amazon Music Unlimited Plan if it means that we can save $2.00 a month compared to Microsoft's Groove, so we signed up for the 4 months for $0.99 offer, which will then start charging us $7.99 a month if we don't cancel.  

  • It's been a long day, but I feel that I've accomplished quite a bit, even though most of what I did do wasn't on my To Do List to start with. Life is like that, isn't it?

  • Greg had a business lunch at work today
  • 6 Sodapalooza refills between Greg, Youngest Son and me
  • A $100 CVS gift card was ordered by redeeming our American Express Rewards
  • Free Microsoft phone assistance with my daughter's Windows 10 problem

How was your Thursday?


  1. My goodness, but you were busy today! That is so nice that you are able to help your daughter with her computer stuff! It's quite the other way around at our house - I am completely clueless and it is my daughter who is the computer person! LOL. I hope your daughter's computer will be in working order again, tomorrow. As you said, good thing she wasn't in the middle of taking a test or something!

    I like your new dresser! It looks quite solidly made. You got it for a good price, I think.

    1. Don't worry, I'm plenty clueless too! I hope the Windows reinstallation works though. It's so frustrating. And then just now, when I turned my own laptop back on this morning, it made a loud grinding noise! It didn't happen again after I restarted it but it's worrisome. I only got that laptop back in December! So my stress level is back to being as high as it was last night, I might as well have not gone to sleep, hahaha. I keep on looking at my laptop with a frown on my face, expecting it to die on me at any time. Those darn machines! Why are we so dependent on them?! Life was more complicated and yet more simple back when we didn't have them!

      And yes, I think $45 was an excellent price for this sturdy dresser, I'm pleased with it. I would have paid less for it if I had found it at a garage sale because there is some damage, but I love the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, their mission and their staff, and you can't haggle anyway. Dressers seem to be very popular items in that thrift store, every time I've seen one that I liked in the past, it already had a "Sold" tag on it!

  2. Not sure what you mean by spools for extension cords, but for the smaller ones we use in the house, we fold them back and forth and slip them in an old toilet paper roll. This keeps them nice and neat and easy to store and use.

    1. Oooh, that's an excellent idea that I had read about before but kept on forgetting to implement. My loose indoor extension cords are too long for the hack, but I will keep that in mind, thanks!

      I guess I should have used the word "reel" instead of spool. The cord I was talking about it one of those very long outdoor ones, very thick, you know and I think it's either 75 ft or 100 ft long. We bought it for the generator but I've been using it for the electric trimmer too. I just checked the Ace Hardware website and they sell a reel that would help keep it tangle-free for $10 so if I don't find one at the thrift store tomorrow, I'll order one from Ace.

  3. Hi Nathalie - It;s been awhile since I've commented. You really did accomplish a lot today. You do have quite a bit crossed off your "to do" list also. I think the dresser was worth the $45.00, even with the slight damage. You could cheat and lightly sand out the top and just use a good furniture oil on it. Sometimes furniture just gets dried out and the marks and stains look more obvious to the eye. I've cheated with bees wax oil with great success. I wanted to tell you also, that I really enjoyed your pictures and details of your trip with your daughter. You seemed to have had a nice adventure without traveling too terribly far. I did miss you when you went to weekly, but I can see how it can be a big time thief. We've been lucky with our weather here. We're a little farther north, so we had highs in the upper 60's and lows in the high 40's for a few nights. It's starting to warm up again though. 70's and 80's and potential for 90's towards the end of the week. We've been lucky as far as the humidity, so far and more importantly, the mosquitoes haven't been too bad yet either. But as we all know, that can change in a few days time. Have a great weekend and a Happy 4th of July! Ranee (MN)

    1. Hi Ranee! Happy Fourth to you too!

      I'm always amazed by the huge difference in temperatures that you all experience up there from one day to the next. From the 40s to the 90s, oh my! Don't get sick!

      Thanks for the advice on the dresser. You're right, I should just sand the top. I'll have to see if I can get beeswax at Lowe's or something. I don't promise that I'll do it soon, but it's suddenly appearing to be more of a possibility than wrangling it back outside to sand it all over and paint it.

      I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

  4. Because the green couch was still there, and the price had dropped to $50, then it was obviously meant to be in your house. Love the "new-to-you" dresser. Can't beat the price.

    1. It was such a great surprise! And when I found the dresser too, I thought "Susan is once again going to say "every time you need something from a thrift store, you just go to one and immediately find what you want!"", hahaha. But in truth I had been keeping an eye out for couches for several years without ever finding one that both Greg and I would have liked and several weeks for the dresser. It was serendipitous that I found them both on the same day and that they were both on sale, too! I still haven't put clothes in the dresser, I'm still waiting for the dryer sheets to absorb any "old" odors. I'll probably get to it later on this week.

  5. I can understand what you mean by the horrible smell of cigarettes in a book! When we lived in South Carolina, we bought a mattress that was made at a local factory, and when it arrived it smelled like smoke. I aired it out for days, sprayed it with Lysol, etc. Eventually the smell went away. If that happened today, I would have returned it (and left bad reviews all over the internet). But this was over 15 years ago...I was more naive then.

    Ugh on the situation with your brother from Marseille. I hope that gets straightened out!

    And what a score on the couch and the dresser! You are the queen of bargain hunting.

    1. Ha, thanks!

      A smelly mattress... ugh that must have been the worst!

      Yes, the situation with my brother's house was resolved, apparently. I haven't talked to him much but they're there right now. There's no internet so I'm waiting for him to return from vacation and he'll tell me more about it, send pix, etc.


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