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Home > Archive: October, 2006

Archive for October, 2006

no trick-or-treating

November 1st, 2006 at 02:43 am

Ds1 was feeling better, but still tired. He went to bed at 5:30 last night and slept until 5:30am - tonight we were planning to go to a few friends and relatives houses (we are too rural to go house to house here, so we get in the car and drive), but he fell asleep at 6pm. I decided that waking him up, besides being near impossible, would be more for my benefit than his, since he really does not even know what trick-or-treating is yet, so we let him sleep. We'll go next year. My younger son is too little to care at all.
We had a grand total of 6 trick-or-treaters tonight - all neighbors. We don't have to spend too much on candy 'round these parts. At about 6pm, my brother (in a village) had already had 100 and was still going strong.
I spent today at a training on autism - pretty interesting, although not too much info I can actually use in practice (a lot of theories). I did receive a nice free lunch out of it (free to me - my agency paid for my registration). I stopped at my favorite discount store on the way home and they are celebrating their anniversary. They had a cart full of goodies at the check-out with a sign saying "Free- take one per family". It felt weird to pick something up and walk out of the store without paying! I selected a bottle of apple juice for my boys - it's their favorite.

Lunch - retail value: $8, my value: $1
apple juice - retail value: $1, my value : $1

Updated values:
retail value: 1125.48
my value: 334.45

When will these kids get better???

October 31st, 2006 at 01:54 am

I am writing from the house of the perpetual runny nosy. Stop laughing, 'snot funny. Teehee. But at least I'm not sick, yet anyway. I have never held my own against a houseful of germs this long. I'm usually the first to get sick.
Today I stayed home from work with my boys because I couldn't take them to daycare with runny noses. (another dilemma - I have no formal payment arrangements with my day care provider, which is actually a pre-school. Should I offer to pay even though the boys didn't go? The center is not full, so it's not like they would have taken another child in my kids' place...not sure the proper etiquette). I thought I might actually enjoy playing hooky from work today, but the boys were pretty miserable still. Ds1 fell asleep on the couch at 5:30. We put him to bed about an hour ago. I'm not sure how well he will sleep since he missed dinner...or how early he will get up. I might be miserable tomorrow too Smile
I did manage to get quite a bunch of little things done.
-I called back a prospective client and set up an appt. to show houses on Wed.
-I took an online course in a new lead generation program my broker is offering. Basically, whenever someone visits out website and asks for more info, the details are forwarded right to our cell phone. We are supposed to call them back within 15 minutes. Good concept, we'll see how it works.
-I left messages for two other clients who I have had a hard time reaching - just wanted to let them know that I was still available.
-I made the arrangements to switch my Janus Roth IRA over to my Ameritrade IRA. I have had the Janus for close to 10 years (my parents opened them for us with $500 in the late 90's as a gift!). I contributed an additional $200 and after all this time I have...about $600. It's been awful. We are doing a lot better in our Ameritrade Roths, so that's where the money is going.
-I cancelled my membership in Travelers Advantage after receiving my $25 AM Ex gift cheque.

I've been on the phone a lot. Especially with my new prospective client, an older gentleman who sounds very nice, but perhaps a bit lonely. I think he appreciated my time Smile

Tomorrow I head off to Rochester for a conference on autism. My agency is paying for it, but the conference has not received the check yet. I guess there is the possibility that they will turn us away at the door...that would be a wasted trip. But I think as long as we have our agency approval form, they will allow us to register. Anyway, I'll be gone all day to that. I am going with a co-worker, so we'll try to make a fun day out of it. 'Course, after today, I'm just happy to get out of the house Smile
Oh yeah, forgot to mention my happy news - I am going to open not only a Health Care Savings Plan, but also a Dependent Care Savings Plan so that I can use my money pre-tax to pay for those things. The best part? Just for opening the Dep. Care acct, I will get a $500 contribution from my employer. This isn't even a match, so I technically don't have to put in ANYTHING to get $500 for free! I had to call to confirm this as it just seemed too good to be true, but it is! free money, free money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is so much sugar in the house

October 29th, 2006 at 01:46 am

and I can't have any of it! I took my older son to a Halloween party tonight. I was surrounded by yummy food that is definitely NOT on the South Beach diet (ziti, garlic rolls, all kinds of chips and snacks, pizza, cookies, cake, even rice krispie treats coated with chocolate!). But I did good...mostly. I had a half slice of thin crust garlic pizza with a salad and fresh veggies. Anyway, ds brought home a sack full of candy. Oh well - it's only once a year. This is the first year he has cared at all about Halloween, although the Buzz Lightyear costume might have something to do with that Smile
I ran out to the discount grocery today and had a ball - too much of one. Spent $59 when I only planned to spend $40. I spent $9 on three cans of Planters Deluxe (no peanuts!) mixed nuts, another $10 on three packages of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders ($1.49/lb. - I stock up on chicken breast when it's under $2!), two pork tenderloins for $1.49/lb, and tons of fresh veggies. I got slightly bruised cukes for $.10 each, two broccoli heads for $1.49, I could go on and on. I love that place. Sure, you have to check the expired dates carefully...but most things are good past the date anyway. Today I bought cheese (cheddar and cottage) that were past the date - we'll see how they are (the cottage cheese was $.50 a carton, cheese was just over $2/lb.). Anyhoo, definitely done shopping for the month (all three days of it!).
Made the car payment yesterday - have a few cc payments to make. Otherwise, no huge bills on the horizon...oh yeah, 'cept Christmas Smile

Ewww...cold germs

October 28th, 2006 at 12:44 am

I have now been wiping noses for three days and am still not sick. Is it due to the new diet I am following? Or perhaps dumb luck? I have no idea, but I am going to keep knocking on every piece of wood that I pass that this cold passes me by. It all started with my niece next door, passed on to ds1, then to ds2. So far, the adults in the household seem to be immune. I have been washing my hand with a frenzy that is causing my severe eczema to go nuts - meaning I am slathering on my dermatologist-recommended hand cream constantly too. I hope this is over soon. Oh, and did I mention that the boys are so cranky that not even 6 hours of Sponge Bob and Dora settle them down (they are normally only allowed a half hour a day!).
Here's hoping we are well enough to attend a Halloween party tomorrow that we have been looking forward to...
So, I never left the house today, although I would have LOVED to. I did make a pot of soup, balsalmic-glazed veggies, and crockpot turkey breast for dinner. I figured that a little cup of soup right before dinner might help control the hungries. It was good soup - beans and greens, but made with lefotver tomato sauce (and sausage) as a base instead of chicken broth alone. This "lifestyle change" (as South Beach is not a diet, as the author would say) is working out okay, but I can't wait for the end of next week when I can start having fruit and grains again.

More freebies to add: $25 Am Ex gift check in the mail today for trying out Travelers Advantage, value $25
coffee I mentioned yesterday: $.50

Updated values:
retail value: 1116.48
my value: 332.45

too much to catch up on...

October 27th, 2006 at 02:33 am

Just had to add a few pics to show off my and DH's ingenuity - this is what you get when you combine a toy tractor, two toothpicks, mini marshmellows, and a little boy who loves anything to do with farms. He played all night, except when he stopped to yell at his little brother for eating the "hay bales".

Hey - what the HECK?? That's not my picture! Weird. The right picture shows up when I edit the entry, but not on my blog...whose picture is this??

Wow, it seems like forever since I have posted. Here's a summary:
-attended Oktoberfest at my SIL's house. An day of great food, family, and friendship...and a night of no kids (thanks Mom!), some refreshing beverages, and a chocolate fountain. A wonderful time. Although we spent way too much money - dinner on the way down (me and the kids) and on the way back (DH), grocery shopping trip for supplies, alcohol run before the party. Ugh.
-So that leads to the next big development - we are all back on the South Beach diet. I have only gained 5 pounds, but it's enough to make my pants just a little too snug - and I REFUSE to get my bigger pants back out after I worked so hard to drop a size. So it's back to the Beach for us. We considered the Oktoberfest party to be our last "fling" with food. Time to tighten up the belts - literally!
My mom is on the diet with us this time - she's had some weight she wanted to lose for a while now, so she decided to take the plunge. She spent $120 on groceries the other day, and I spent $70 today. It's not cheap to eat healthy, although it certainly would be a lot cheaper if my garden were still producing. I guess I'm just not used to buying this much fresh produce after the summer bounty we had. Plus I bought a few things, like fish fillets and turkey bacon, that I normally don't.
-I received another free sample from Folgers today - even though I only signed up once! I'm not complaining though...got to add that to my freebies, but I am too lazy to look up my totals tonight.
-I spent quite a bit of time tonight organizing my photos and e-mailing them to family and friends. I took a cue from Kashi and wrote to an old friend that I have not talked to...well, I think I was pregnant last time I saw him (ds2 will be 2 this December). So, that's pretty pitiful. What's even sadder is that we live fairly close. I hope he will write back and we can get together.

Goals update

October 25th, 2006 at 01:13 am

DEPRESSING!!! I had forgotten that we still had $1200 left to pay on DH's (last!) tuition bill, so the cc balances went up instead of down. BUT - we are all done now with tuition, so we will just chip away at the balances now. It's all going to get better from here!

1. Pay off Discover $367 balance -> this went up to a $417 balance, which was paid off this month. Unfortunately, we had to put $800 back on from the tuition. Balance now stands at $893.99 (also spent $78 on groceries/coffee maker). This will be paid off from savings next month.
2. Pay off American Express $4552 balance (0% interest until 8/07) -> balance is up to 4897.28 (added $400 from tuition, $100 payment, plus a few small expenses)
3. Pay off car loan, $1085 balance, 3.75% interest -> no progress this month as I was ahead on payments and opted to skip one
4. Pay off my student loans $6122 balance (about 4.6% interest) -> down to $6044
5. Pay off Dh's student loans $15145 balance (in deferment) -> no change

Overall, like I said, a bad month. Here's hoping next month is better!

Tracking my freebies...

October 25th, 2006 at 12:34 am

It's been a few days and I have more to add. The woman who runs the day care where my boys go gave me a bag of clothes yesterday - including a very cute Halloween costume Smile The timing was perfect, as I spent some time looking for the toddler cow costume ds1 wore but couldn't find it - meaning I had no costume for ds2.
Retail value: $30
My value: $6
Also received a free sample of Folger's gourmet coffee (already made and drank by DH): retail value: $.50, my value: $.50
Rec'd two hand-me-down knitted sweaters from an aunt at a family gathering this weekend: retail value: $10, my value: $0
We were sent home with several very large pieces of cake from aforementioned party: retail value: $0, my value: $1
Total freebies: $287.45(retail value: $998.48)
Two bags of Malt O Meal cereal, on sale for $1, and I had $.50 coupons (doubled): retail value: $2, my value: $2
I realize now that I neglected to count my other Halloween freebie, ds1's Buzz Lightyear costume. I wrote to thank the person who gave him the Buzz pajamas, and she offered me the costume too. Retail value: $50, my value: $10

Updated values:
retail value: 1090.98
my value: 306.95

Updated my links

October 20th, 2006 at 02:52 am

FINALLY got around to doing this. I wanted to keep tabs on my favorite blogs. I tried to limit myself to 10, but there are just so many I like to read! I settled on 11 of my very favorites, although it was very hard. I wanted to put everyone's blog up, but that really would have defeated the purpose Smile I will continue to check on the entries daily, but I will also keep this quick reference in case I need to find out how lrjohnson stared down spendthriftiness at work and won (always a tough spot for me), what rebates mjrube uncovered this week, what coupons flash found, what else could possibly be going on in contrary's house this week, what new things perkys and robins kids are doing today, and on and on. And, of course, I have to check in with our two representative males on the forum, Broken Arrow and PricePlus (Bookie, just when are YOU going to start a blog??).

I was trying to think of other links I could add that might be of interest to others, but the only sites I visit regularly are here (of course!), my two e-mail accounts, and my banking site. But then again, I usually end up on recipezaar.com at least once daily, so I threw that on there too. It's a great site for any budding cooks out there.

first meal out in a while

October 20th, 2006 at 02:23 am

I ended up working through dinner tonight and grabbed a quick meal out. Dh and I are going back on the South Beach diet next week (after our big party this weekend), so I decided to head to the Golden Arches for one last hurrah. I told myself that I could get whatever I wanted - whatever the cost. So I pulled up to the drive-thru and was perusing the menu, when I noticed the three cars that immediately pulled up behind me. Being the notorious read-every-item-on-the-menu person that I am (which drives my two-cheeseburger-meal husband crazy as he ALWAYS gets the same thing), I wasn't quite ready to make the choice, but didn't want to be the cause of some horn-honking brawl in the McD's parking lot, so I moved forward and said the first thing that came to my mind - snack wrap with fries, no drink. $3. Whoa, big spender. What a way to whoop it up for my last fast food meal for a while. I should have gotten one of those yummy looking fried-chicken-with-bacon-heart-attack sandwiches. Or one of those fried-chicken-with-bacon-heart-attack salads. But I settled on a fried-chicken-with-mayo-mild-chest-pain wraps instead. Slightly better for you and slightly cheaper.
Tomorrow DH is off from school (he will be starting at a new student teaching site on Monday - about 15 minutes closer to home) and I am off from work. I have a lunch meeting with a mortgage provider (someone I might network with professionally - they invited me to lunch to explain their programs), then I will be cooking the rest of the day for my SILs Oktoberfest bash on Saturday. We are bringing chili, bierocks (aka "beer rocks" - rolls filled with hamburger, cabbage, and onion), pepper jelly/cream cheese dip, and pickled beets with eggs. It is an annual event for us and a ton of fun. They started holding the party about 5 years ago after they bought their house and we are on the VERY short list of people who have come to every party Smile

More free stuff to track: two cans of cat food my aunt received as samples, but won't use. Retail value: $1, my value: 0
Total freebies: $287.45(retail value: $998.48)


October 19th, 2006 at 01:16 am

Well, my mother just informed me that her cousin had already listed his mother's house for sale with another agent (it was my great aunt's house - she passed away only a week and a half ago). Whatever - I am disappointed, but primarily because I really believe she would have wanted me to list it. She kept my business card next to her telephone and passed my name on to others whenever she could. She even asked me a year or two ago to give her a rough estimate of her house's value. My mom is spitting mad over this. Turns out the other agent is a "friend from high school" of one of the cousins. I bet it's someone who saw the obit in the paper and called up - something I would never, ever do. I didn't even mention to the relatives that I could help them sell it - I mean, how tacky. I guess I am not pushy enough for this business. So I am disappointed that I was overlooked, but oh well - life is full of disappointments. It just makes me sad that they didn't even take my relationship with my aunt very seriously. We played cards together monthly, we always invited her over for poker nights or for her birthday - while her sons all live far away. For these past few years, she was like a grandmother to us (she was my grandmother's twin, and I lost my grandma several years ago), which is what made my mom so upset. But it's not worth holding grudges. My aunt's memory will remain the same, whether or not I had a hand in selling her house.
Does this sound whiny? I didn't mean it to be - I just think my aunt would be disappointed with a stranger listing her house when I knew it so well.

paperwork day

October 19th, 2006 at 01:07 am

Spent the day at home, doing odds and ends.
-Hunts rebate
-changed my name on my Janus IRA in preparation for rolling it over into my Ameritrade account. It's been in my maiden name all this time. I've only been married 6 years now Smile
-went through a lot of accumulated papers
-added all my receipts to my price book, which is getting pretty long. It's very revealing, though. I am also keeping a log of how much I saved with coupons or shoppers club on each trip. Some savings are as low as 0% (i.e. non-coupon stores) or as high as 56%. It seems I am hovering on my last few trips around 40%, which is quite an improvement from a few months ago (though I have to wonder what things I am buying now that I normally wouldn't...)
-cancelled a trial membership and a book club membership
-paid our LAST tuition bill before DH gets his teacher certification - although he will have one more class to take to get his Masters degree

Wow - no one cooks anymore?

October 18th, 2006 at 03:34 am

We were supposed to have a potluck office meeting this afternoon at work, so I made a huge batch of crockpot applesauce last night (10 minutes total prep time, 9.5 of that peeling and slicing!). Anyway, I was expecting some yummy dishes today at the meeting. I guess everyone else in the world (okay, just everyone who works in my office) was just too darn busy to throw something together. When I arrived at work, they were taking up a collection to order a sub tray. I declined, stating I had brought something in. The reply? "Oh, everyone else forgot" This was our lunch:
sub tray from local grocery store
three bags of chips, one bag each of prewashed, precut carrots and celery, two containers of store-bought dip, one box of store-bought cookies, one store-bought coffee cake, and one store-bought cake. Huh? This is what I slaved for 10 whole minutes over a hot crockpot for? Where are the brownies? Where is the potato and macaroni salads? Fresh fruit? Even a hand-cut veggie tray? Oh well. I'll bet you can guess who got the most compliments and recipe requests in that meeting Smile
(your truely, in case you didn't guess)

I finally got around to completing a few rebates tonight - two for Rayovac (thanks mjrube!), one for Rite Aid. Those three will bring in $10.48. I'm still waiting for a $10 Wal-Greens and $10 Staples rebate. I just received a $3 Valvoline rebate (which my niece kindly write her name all over for me - in pen. I hope this doesn't affect the ability to cash it) I have one more rebate (Hunts) to submit, but ran out of steam tonight and wanted to update the blog before my eyelids drooped anymore. Oh, and I received a reimbursement check for my dental appt. last month. I had included the spending in the budget and completely forgot that my dental insurance does a partial reimbursement. So that's an extra $95 to make me VERY happy this evening.
Just to report on the spending front: went grocery shopping today. Granted, I used a few free coupons, but I still cut my $124 bill down to $67.
More freebies to add: three free bags of cat food (two pouches, one bigger bag) - retail value: $9.08, my value: $2
One free tub of Olivio spread - retail value: $1.99, my value: $1.99
I also got three more magazines from my SIL, along with a few toys her daughter doesn't play with anymore: retail value: $10, my value $0
Total freebies: $287.45(retail value: $997.48)

A side note - I checked my receipt after leaving the store and noticed that for items that were on sale (with the grocery store card), the cashier deducted the full price, not the sale price, when she took off for the free coupons. So I guess that counts as a little extra savings.

More free stuff to add

October 15th, 2006 at 05:55 pm

I have a few more things to add to my list of freebies:
-1 half quart milk and 1 half jug of apple juice leftover from a student's birthday celebration. The teacher where DH is student teaching was going to throw it away, so he brought it home Smile
Retail value: $1.25, value to me: $1.25 (since I buy both of these things anyway)
-sample of fabric softener - I don't even remember signing up for this one! Retail value: $.20, my value: $0 since I wouldn't buy this kind
-Parenting magazine from my SIL. retail value: $2, my value: $0

Total freebies: $283.46(retail value: $976.41)

BBB comes through again

October 14th, 2006 at 03:22 am

We had to file another complaint with the Better Business Bureau - and again they responded quickly and the situation was resolved Smile I love the BBB - their involvement has never failed to resolve a complaint. Sometimes all I need to do is mention their name and things get moving.
Another no-spend day. I froze swiss chard and green peppers. I never got around to canning the peppers and jelly, so that's first on my to-do list for tomorrow.
I have three new books from the library - two I am particularly excited about (the third is the South Beach diet - have to refresh my mind on some of the principles as I have not been a good eater lately - and I can feel it in my waistband- yikes). The other two are The Wealthy Barber, which I have heard so much about, and the More With Less cookbook, which I have wanted to get my hands on since reading about it in the Tightwad Gazette. If I'm not in the kitchen this weekend, I'll have my nose stuck in a book Smile

canning, freezing, and eating - oh my!

October 13th, 2006 at 03:01 am

I've got to get busy using up all the goodies I gleaned from the garden tonight before the frost sets in!

My plans so far:
blanch and freeze the swiss chard
make pepper jelly from the green peppers and jalapenos
can the leftover jalapenos
freeze the leftover green peppers
I haven't decided yet what to do with the banana peppers - maybe I'll can a quart of them along with the jalapenos.
Eat the tomatoes and broccoli Smile

This will do it for the garden, except for the beets. If the frost doesn't arrive, I'll be able to get a bit more swiss chard too.

happy dance - my raise came through!

October 13th, 2006 at 02:45 am

I took two civil service tests way back when (social worker assistant II and social worker assistant III) and got hired under the SWA II title. I recently found out that some of the service coordinators in the agency I work for who were on the list for SWA III were being promoted, so I started to ask around. Turns out, I asked the right person (my supervisor's supervisor). She put in the good word for me, followed up constantly for a few weeks, and the promotion came through. It's a difference of a few thou a year - worked out to almost $60 more in my paycheck. Ka-ching!