I gave in and bought an alarm clock to replace the one fried last week. I was holding out, but in reality it was driving me mad not being able to see what time it was from my side of the bed so I went to Best Buy and bought one for $24. Nothing fancy beyond REALLY BIG numbers.
I sold one of my daughter's sweaters on eBay today and after shipping and fees I made $9.55, so that brings my challenge total to $11,080.43 and the Vespa fund to $31.28. (I think I might have enough to buy a spark plug for the Vespa now....)
I have a bunch of other eBay auctions coming to a close this week, though, so those amounts should change quickly.
Viewing the 'Shopping' Category
I gave in and bought an alarm clock to replace the one fried last week. I was holding out, but in reality it was driving me mad not being able to see what time it was from my side of the bed so I went to Best Buy and bought one for $24. Nothing fancy beyond REALLY BIG numbers.
It's sad really. Other people go to church or take the opportunity to sleep in. But, not me.
No, I get up at 6 a.m. every Sunday to clip coupons in anticipation of Gil the Grocer making his weekly delivery to my house later in the day.
I do manage to get some work done for the booming side business while clipping coupons, though, so it does make for a productive morning. I call it multi-tasking while my husband calls it insane....
Gil the Grocer just made his weekly stop here and I ended up with $102.54 in groceries for $63.38 (including delivery) after coupons. Most of the stuff ended up in the basement mini mart since it was on sale, but not necessarily what we needed for this week's meals.
I am, however, having Gil redeliver a bag of things that he overlooked while unloading the truck, which is one of the negatives of having groceries delivered. At least if I'm doing the shopping and delivering, I have a pretty good chance that all my groceries will end up in MY house and not someone else's.....
My mother-in-law sent me $50 for my birthday, so I'm putting that toward the challenge -- and some clothes. The new total is $4,285.84.
I took Mini Me to see Horton Hears a Who since today is the first day of spring break. I had $9 left on an old gift card, so only had to pay 50 cents to get into the movie. However, we did get popocorn and drinks, which were the equivalent of the entire fiscal budget for a small island nation. I really should remember to sneak my own drinks and snacks into the theater next time we go. ...
On the way home, we stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new shower curtain and towels for my husband's bathroom. He's been asking me to redecorate it for a while, so I've been hording the Laundry Fairy "droppings" to put toward it. We did get a good deal on towels that were 40 percent off.
(Yes, I have moved the spring cleaning into the bathrooms and let me tell you there is nothing worse than cleaning under a sink that hasn't seen the light of day in 10 years. If you should hear of an ebola outbreak in the U.S., you can assume it originated under my husband's sink.....)
My mother sent me on an errand this afternoon. She wanted two cases of bottled water from Costco, but can't lift them so she asked me to get them and deliver them to her house when I return her dog, "Spud," who is staying with me while she jets off to Vegas this evening to gamble away our inheritance. ("Our" as in me and the dog's. And let's not get into the whole bottled water discussion. My mother is nearing 80 and isn't about ready to change her ways.... )
Being the good daughter that I am -- and in need of vinegar and baking soda for a massive project I'm tackling -- I went off to Costco for her.
While I was wrestling with the water, a guy was cleaning up his table where he had been giving out samples of liquid Tide. Apparently, he didn't want to pack up the samples because as I staggered by clutching my back he threw about 10 of the samples in my cart. Anyone who has priced Tide lately knows these little babies are the equivalent of liquid gold!
Back to that massive project I mentioned... I was inspired by the freaky mom at this site to do some spring cleaning. Of course, I'm a week behind her detailed "to do" list but I did spend an hour cleaning my refrigerator out today. (Exciting stuff, I know....)
I've never cleaned with baking soda and vinegar before, but I decided to give it a go. So far, I've only done the baking soda bit, but it worked wonders.
One would think all of this would be a moot point since I've got Hazel the Housekeeper covering my back, but alas I have decided that when I quit my job in May I will also let Hazel go -- unless I pick up a few more clients between now and then for the booming side business.
I haven't discussed the letting go of Hazel with my husband yet. It'll be interesting to see what his response will be when I hand him a mop and tell him to clean his own d*^# bathroom. ....
At least once a year, I'm forced to dress up in something either than jeans and a t-shirt, and be my husband's Trophy Wife at a black-tie event related to his work.
In the past, I've gone shopping for gowns in January, which is when you'll usually find such things on sale. I've always lucked out and have never spent more than $100 on gowns that were originally much more than that.
Last year, I actually lucked out and came down with dysentery or some other cleaver excuse not to go (the exact nature of which currently escapes me). And, this year, I figured I would be off the hook since my husband switched jobs last summer.
Boy was I wrong. I now have two prom-like-events-for-the-geriatric-crowd coming up in the next month that require "formal" attire -- both of which involve me having to sit at a table with the same people, so wearing the same dress to both events won't work....
Aside from the fact that I didn't bother with my usual January gown shopping outing this year or last year, I've also put on a few pounds so I now either need to shed some weight fast, suck it up and invest in a new dress, or just suck it in and hope that nothing "pops."
The things we do for love.....
After a month of stealing the neighbors' newspapers (kidding....), I renewed our subscriptions last week at the much lower rate and while doing so signed up to get two Sunday papers for the coupons. Today was the first day they came and after spending way too much time clipping and filing coupons, I've decided not to clip them from now on until I actually go to use them.
I've been storing them in baseball-card holders inside a notebook, but now I'm going to dig out an expandable file and just mark the date on the entire bundle of coupons each week and then take it from there.
My grocery savings this week were pretty much a wash because the Grocery Game folks said I would find two coupons in the paper today that weren't there so I ended up paying full price for the items -- plus I bought Tide on sale, which is like buying any other detergent at full price
I'm not sure if it's the time change or the slight cold I've got, but I ended up getting a whole lot o' nothing accomplished today. I did book the beach vacation early this morning, but from there the day went downhill as far as productivity. I got very little work done on the booming side business -- mainly because I was redoing something that someone else worked on before me and it was a mess that took forever to fix (GRRRR....) Of course, it probably didn't help that the whole family laid down for a nap after a late lunch and the nap turned into a two-hour snooze fest for my husband and I while the kid and dogs bounced on the bed every few minutes while watching Monsters Inc. for the 50th time this weekend. (Please don't send me any nastygrams for sleeping while my child and dogs were running amok. We were all in the same room, sober and watching/listening to a G-rated movie -- not exactly "quality time" for Mini Me, but I'm sure she'll get over it....)
This cold is just annoying enough to make me want to lie low for a few days, but I have a bunch of commitments this week so I don't think that's going to happen.
I promised I would put in a few appearances at the "office" this week. In my line of work, it's usually a bad thing to go in if you're sick but I'm not so blatantly sick that I should stay home (then there's the whole no play/no pay deal I agreed to, so financially it's at least to my advantage to "suit up" and show up for at least a couple minutes every now and then).
Mini Me's also got a "gallery opening" that I have to attend this week. Yes, at the tender age of 7, she is having her first art exhibit.... I don't know how it happened since her kindergarten teacher once questioned her artistic ability (to which I reminded the wench of Jackson Pollock and others who looked at the world through a different lens). But no matter now, because the little Picasso's artwork was chosen for a display at a local gallery -- a real gallery as opposed to the gallery on my refrigerator.
To give you some idea of what we're talking about, here's a self-portrait that she did, which I thought was so good that I got it framed and it's now hanging in the area between the kitchen and living room.
A few weeks ago when we in the middle of a huge snowstorm, my neighbor and I discussed how we could afford a snowblower. We decided we should chip in with another neighbor to buy a used snowblower.
The first neighbor is a mechanical genius and is always fixing things around the neighborhood and loves his "toys." The other neighbor is a widower who travels a lot and has a bad back, plus he has alots of extra space in his garage to store the snowblower. All I bring to the equation is myself, a husband and a kid. My husband and I will help "man" the snowblower when the first neighbor isn't around. And, one day when we're all too old and decrepit to run the snowblower, we will teach Mini Me how to use it.
The two neighbors have been looking for a used snowblower ever since I had my discussion with the first guy and I've been setting aside money in our household fund for the anticipated purchase. Yesterday, they found the "dream snowblower" on sale at our local hardware store for $240 and came knocking on my door to tell me all about it. We all chipped in $80 and got a mammoth snowblower that can clear a small parking lot! I am not kidding -- even my husband was impressed when he saw it.
Now, of course, we're betting it won't snow again ever; but it's nice to know that if it ever does, we're prepared....
Debt Kid, who I just adore and want to fix up with my hottie niece (if only they lived in the same city), is having a contest. He wants to know about the dumbest purchase you've ever made.
Well, as a compulsive debtor and reformed compulsive shopper, I know all about dumb purchases.
There was the $400 bowling party for Mini Me that I fessed up to yesterday (which was probably more like $500 when all was said and done).
Then there was the $5,000 piano purchased in hopes that one day Mini Me would become Mini Mozart. (Not gonna happen, folks....) The piano is beautiful, though; and works great as a dust and fingerprint catchall in my living room.
Then there was Beauty (not her real name), who I bought while seriously depressed and suffering from a serious physical ailment a few years ago. (I won't reveal the price because I don't want to incite a riot...) She might be cute, but like I said before: she'd eat your face off in a second -- then she'd go poop on the floor just to show you she can. My husband has often said that if she didn't cost so much he would have gotten rid of her by now. His nickname for her: Ka-Ching!
Oh, but the absolute dumbest purchase was the $200 car seat for Beauty. Yes, I succumbed to the thinking that Beauty would only be happy in the car if she could sit in her own little perch and look out the window. Of course, Beauty had other ideas. Instead of sitting obediently in her car seat, she would jump out of the car seat and try to sit with whoever was driving the car. As if that wasn't bad enough, she was strapped into the car seat and would end up choking herself as she dangled halfway out of the dog seat and halfway in the driver's seat. This would then send the driver into a fit of panic, causing said driver to slam on the brakes at inopportune moments (say like when cruising down the highway at 80 miles an hour....). The doggie car seat has since been sold at a garage sale for $1 and Beauty has been banished from the car for life.
(Obviously not a picture of Beauty....)
I got a catalog-like thing from REI yesterday in the mail. I started to throw it away and then decided I would flip through it to see what summer outfits might be in it since I need some things for my beach vacation in May. I tossed it on the stack of stuff to be read on my nightstand and finally got around to going through it in the middle of the night. Good thing I didn't toss it. Inside I found my dividend check for REI members.
The check was for $41, plus there was a 20 percent off coupon for members. I'm hanging on to both and next month I'm going shopping for some shorts and t-shirts. My birthday is coming up and I will inevitably get a check from my mother (who doesn't believe in shopping for gifts). My plan is to use the check and the dividend check and the coupon to score some deals.
A while ago, I started seriously clipping coupons to make the most of my grocery money each month. A friend referred me to the Grocery Game and I've been hooked ever since.
Each Saturday afternoon, a new list of my local sale items is posted along with detailed instructions on the quantity to buy using which coupons. I print out the list and based on what's on sale and what I already have, I make up a weekly menu. Then I go shopping. (In my case, I shop from home and pay $10 extra to have my groceries delivered since this virtually eliminates impulse shopping, which is huge with me; plus there's the time factor, which is also huge with me.)
For our family of three humans, two dogs and a fish, I try to keep my spending at about $100 a week (including food, cleaning products, and personal care items). Most weeks I come in way under that amount. (Just to give you some idea of the savings, in my pre-couponing days,I could easily blow $200+ a week at the grocery store.)
A lot of serious couponers will buy multiple papers just for the coupons and they'll make multiple shopping trips to multiple stores to buy large quantities of sale items.
Sorry, but I'm not that much of a savings freak. I get one paper each Sunday and I make one shopping "trip" a week to one store, plus an additional stop every two weeks at Whole Foods for dog food and tea. And one stop a month at Costco for things like soymilk and Starbucks coffee for the caffeine fiend. (By the way, after I started shopping with coupons elsewhere, the Costco bill went from $300 a month to about $100 a month.)
Also, when I first started using coupons, I was buying a bunch of crap that I normally wouldn't have. This happened once or twice and then I realized the money I was saving on junk food wasn't worth the resulting heart attack that was sure to happen if we ate it all. So instead, I started stocking up on healthy things that I knew we would use.
For instance, the last two weeks my grocery store has had a sale on beans -- kidney beans, great northern beans, black beans -- they were all on sale for 44 cents a can. Since we eat a lot of beans, I bought 24 cans of them over the last two weeks. I then stored them in the basement Mini Mart (or as my daughter calls it, "the snack aisle"). They joined a case of soup, which my daughter loves; a bunch of tuna; cereal; fat-free popcorn; and various varieties of canned tomatoes -- all bought at drastic discounts or even free in some cases. (And, yes, I still buy the occasional box of Pop Tarts. Man, woman and child can not live on healthy food alone. ...)
In addition to the basement Mini Mart, we have the upstairs drug store. At last count, I had 20 bottles of shampoo, 12 tubes of toothpaste, and enough deodorant and feminine hygiene products to last a lifetime.
So that none of the food stuff goes bad, I make sure to rotate the older stuff to the front of the shelves each week. I won't buy sale stuff even if I know we'll use it if my shelves are already full. And, at least once every month or two, I try to skip grocery shopping entirely and plan our meals based solely on what we already have in the house.
The system isn't perfect. I know there are others out there spending a lot less on grocery shopping (like this woman). But it works for us....
The grocery store had a deal on beans, so I restocked the basement mini mart shelves with them today. I also bought 12 cans of diced tomatoes that were on sale so I'm thinking black beans, rice and tomatoes will be on the menu in the next week or two....
The original bill came to $166.19, but after coupons I ended up paying $110.18, which includes the delivery fee.
I've decided I need to lighten things up here, so I'm going to write about two loving family members who could care less about whether I pay my debt off -- my dogs, Beauty and the Beast (not their real names.)
Beauty and the Beast are polar opposites.
Beauty is a purebred Bichon Frise show dog (except she's never been shown).
The Beast is a mix between a warthog and rabid hyena.
Beauty is 2 years old and the Beast is beyond ancient even if you're counting in human years (which we are).
And, to really illustrate how opposite they are, the Beast is the type of dog to sit loyally by your side for weeks when you drop dead and your body is left to decay undiscoverd in your basement while Beauty would eat your face off should you dare to lay down in a prone position with your eyes closed even for a second.
When we got Beauty, the vet told us that Bichons were prone to allergies and tear staining (the red streaks you often see under the eyes of white dogs). He suggested we feed her an all-natural diet and stick to bottled water for her.
So, while Alpo was fine and dandy for the Beast, I went in search of a low-cost natural diet to feed Beauty. I ended up choosing Wysong Synorgon chicken and rice canine diet. At $5.99 for a 4-pound bag, it was only $2 more than what I was paying for the Beast's food. (And, best of all, it's supposedly made of human-grade food so I could eat it should I be forced to eat dog food in my old age.)
As for the bottled water, well, what's the difference between bottled water and water from the filtered tap???? I say absolutely nothing....
Now I've got two dogs and two diets. Anyone who has two dogs knows feeding one the equivalent of Doritoes for dogs and the other organic health food is not going to work. Beauty turned her nose up at the good stuff and went straight to the Beast's bowl for dinner every night.
To solve the problem, I've now got two dogs eating an all-organic diet. Every now and then, I swear the Beast looks up at me with his sad little eyes and pleads "Where's my cheap junk food? This healthy stuff is for the dogs!!!!"
The $82 I spent on "medicine" yesterday after going to the doctor for the rash on my eyelids included $50 in jumbo size containers of Cetaphil facial wash and moisturizer.
According to the dermatologist who diagnosed the severe eczema on my eyelids, Cetaphil is the best way to combat the severe dry skin that people experience in this climate. The other $32 was for cortisone cream to combat the eczema when it flares up and Aquaphor healing ointment, which is suppose to clear up the scaly lizard look I’ve been sporting the last two weeks.
I don’t feel bad about spending that much on the non-prescription stuff because a few months ago I got sucked into buying a bunch of overpriced facial stuff from a woman whose son goes to school with Mini Me. The woman, who we shall call Julie, is the pit bull of Arbonne sales ladies. After months of saying I wasn’t interested, she hounded me until I finally gave up and bought a bunch of her lotions and potions at a supposed drastic discount.
But, even after her drastic discount, I paid tons more on the Arbonne gunk than I did on the truckload of Cetaphil I brought home today.
Plus, the Arbonne packaging drove me nuts – there was a lot of packaging and very little product, and the pump thingy kept flying off a couple of the bottles. I also had an issue with the scent of the stuff since anything smelly tends to give me a headache and this stuff spelled like a Florida citrus orchard.
The dermatologist thinks the Arbonne stuff probably contributed to the sudden appearance of eczema on my eyelids and told me to go the simplest facial care route possible to avoid having more problems – thus the bulk purchase of Cetaphil products yesterday.
Here’s hoping the lizard look goes away real soon….
My trip to the doctor for the rash ended up costing me a $40 copay plus $82.44 in medication.
I went to Macy's afterward to shop for some sweaters on sale. I've been wearing the same two green sweaters every day for two months and I was worried my husband was going to start referring to me as "Kermit the Frog," so it was time to remedy the situation. I ended up spending $89 on two sweaters and a long-sleeve shell to wear under them. I have an issue with itchy fabric touching my skin, so a long-sleeve t-shirt or shell is mandatory when sweaters are involved. If I had bought the three items when they were not on sale, I would have spent $300 so I think I got a good deal.
I also pre-purchased some makeup. Wednesday they start giving away freebies if you buy a certain amount of makeup. It just so happened that I was out of concealer (for the bags under my eyes) and blush, so I paid for the items today ($59) and will pick them up along with my free stuff on Wednesday. I have not bought lipstick for years by using the free lipstick that they give away -- who cares that it's usually neon pink ....
Somewhere between Macy's and my volunteer gig and the OT office, I managed to lose my very nice and pricey earphones. They were in my purse and fell out along the way. I'm hoping that they show up in the car tomorrow, but I have the feeling they are gone. I'll have to wait until next month to replace them. Ummmm... maybe someone will buy me some for Valentine's Day!
My dermatology appointment is this morning. I had myself convinced that I could save the $50 copay and skip it because my eyelids were looking better, but then they started itching again. Plus, my excema on my hands is flaring up, so I think I'm going to just bite the bullet and go.
I'm volunteering at the insane asylum that Mini Me attends this afternoon, then she has OT (which will cost $75 out of pocket....). Tonight is the first of the three-part class I'm taking on women and investing, so I've thrown together a tuna casserole in the crock pot that should be done by the time we get back from OT so I can inhale my portion before running out the door again.
Assuming I get done at the doctor's office in time, I'm also going to swing by the nearby Macy's to buy some sale sweaters that I desperately need. I've been wearing the same two green sweaters for months now and I'm afraid my husband is going to start referring to me as "Kermit the Frog" if I don't find something else to wear.
I hate shopping, though, so I should be in a great mood for the kids this afternoon...
The grocery guy came. I got $86.23 in groceries for $65.25 and that includes delivery. Not bad.
I'm still not feeling great. The quesiness has subsided, but now I'm dizzy. Of course, that could be the remnants of the Advil PM that I took last night for my headache.
I promised Mini Me I'd take her to see the Hannah Montana movie today (even though she went to the concert), so we're headed off to lunch and a movie with my sister and brother-in-law. That ought to do wonders for my health....
The grocery guy just came. After coupons and sale prices, I got $128.31 in groceries for $88.57.
The person who did my shopping at the store did substitute breaded tilapia for non-breaded tilapia, which throws off my menu a bit this week. But it's still doable.
I can always tell if someone who cooks from scratch is doing the shopping. Those who know how to cook from scratch always substitute things that really can be used to make the same dish. Those who don't cook from scratch just throw whatever into the order. (For those who don't have their groceries delivered, you have the option of accepting substitutions if the store is out of what your ordered. They are supposed to get you the same item, but just in a different brand. However, this doesn't always happen, as witnessed today......)
Thanks to the space heater I bought a while back, my office is the warmest room in the house, so the whole family has started gathering here.
Mini Me is playing a game. My husband is working on his laptop. The dogs are huddled at my feet. And I'm supposedly working.
Because Mini Me loves soup, I made homemade minestrone for dinner. It was delicious, but my husband has an aversion to any type of soup and only ate about three bites. His mother could possibly be the world's worst cook and I think he has bad memories of soup from his childhood. On nights I make soup, though, he just has to suck it up and endure because I'm not a short-order cook and soup is one of the best ways I know to get Mini Me to eat her veggies.
As a result of my husband not eating dinner, I was left with four Tupperware containers of soup that are perfect for Mini Me's lunches and even breakfast. She has been known to eat dinner for breakfast, which is OK since we've been known to have breakfast for dinner.
I did stop at Whole Foods after the postal drop/Taco Bell run and picked up dog food (yes, the dogs eat organic), some of my favorite tea, and a roasted chicken to make enchiladas with tomorrow. Mini Me has issues with meat, but will eat chicken nuggets so I told her she's just going to have to eat the chicken enchiladas tomorrow as well. (I have the feeling we'll be cutting up some tofu for the little midget tomorrow in addition to chicken enchiladas.....)
The grocer pulled up with the weekly delivery just as I was leaving to go to that office-like setting I sometimes hang out in. I didn't have time to do much more than glance at the contents of the order, but I was surprised to see 6 pounds of ground beef in one of the bags -- especially since I didn't order it.
The store didn't charge me for the beef, so my guess is it fell out of someone else's order in the truck and the driver thought it came out of mine. I didn't have time to call the store and tell them to come get it -- and I know from experience they just tell you to keep the stuff and they don't charge you since it's their mistake. But now I need to come up with more freezer space and some dinners involving ground beef.
To ultimately solve the ongoing freezer dilemma, I have started pricing stand-alone freezers. Before I purchase one, though, I need to clear out some space in the mini mart downstairs (thus the fire sale on dusty stained glass supplies currently going on via eBay....). I'm leaning toward an upright freezer for the ease of finding things in it and because they take up less space than the chest variety. Of course, then I'd have a hard time storing any intact bodies in it, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Back to the grocery store, I did get some good deals this weekend. Before coupons and frequent shopper discounts, the total was $120.49. After coupons and other discounts, it came to $72.77 (which included corned beef and half a ham -- in addition to the ground beef -- and a bunch of toilet paper that was more than half off). Tack on another $9.95 for delivery (aka My Sanity Saver) and taxes, and the grand total was $84.29 to feed and provide proper hygiene supplies to a family of three humans and two dogs.
The final eBay buyer came through with a payment this morning. You guys are good luck!
I posted some more items today and I have some auctions ending later today as well.
eBay's going to be deducting its share of the profits in the next day or two, so once that's done and I get stuff shipped I'll update the challenge money.
I had plans to go to a movie today since I have a free pass and my daughter will be gone this afternoon, but my husband now says he's got too much work to go with me. I still may go alone or stay home and work myself or go get a manicure since I have money set aside for that or go for a run or take a nice long nap. The possibilities are endless...
I spent the morning clipping coupons and fiddling around in my office. The groceries have yet to be delivered this morning so I'm not sure what my weekly savings will be there. However, I didn't need much this week since we're still eating from the freezer. Based on my meal planning, it looks like I might be able to eat from the freezer next week as well.
This week's menu includes:
* Mac and cheese
* Fettucine with brown butter sauce
* Stir fry with pork
* Barley and pinto beans with tortillas
* Pan-seared mahi mahi with creamed brussel sprouts
* One dinner out (tonight) with the Big Kahuna Sister
The grocery man just dropped off my purchases. I bought $63.46 in food. Using coupons and in-store promotions, I brought that down to $44.03. With the delivery fee and taxes, my total came for $55.41 to feed the three humans and two dogs for the next 7 days.
Dinners will consist of:
1. Broiled Alaskan king salmon, rice and fresh asparagus
2. Stir fry shrimp and rice
3. Tortellini with tomato mushroom sauce
4. Macaroni and cheese
5. Fettucine with sage brown butter
6. Pork chops with apples and rosemary, stuffing and lima beans
I'm getting hungry just thinking of it...
I decided to go grocery shopping in my own household store this weekend. I went through the freezer and basement mini-mart, and created a list of meals that should last us through the next two weeks.
I do need some things from the actual store to supplement the grocery list, but nothing that should cost more than $40 each week (that's for a family of three humans and two dogs). Part of that $40 will go toward sale items that I want to stock up on -- things like shampoo and aspirin.
Tomorrow is grocery shopping day -- although I don't leave the house to do it ever. I find it's best for me to pay the $10 fee and have the stuff delivered instead of risking my compulsive nature kicking into high gear at the grocery store.
One thing that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately is my car situation -- or, more accurately, my husband's car situtation.
He drives a '92 Honda Odyssey that we paid cash for in 2000. Every time we take it in for repairs, we expect to get a call saying it's not worth fixing. However, that has yet to happen despite semi-annual visits to the mechanic. This time, we both went so far as to start shopping for cars online. I'm pushing for another used car, while he's thinking of leasing or buying a new car. While we have yet to agree on what makes more sense, we have at least agreed on the model -- either a hybrid Toyota Highlander or Honda CRV.
But, once again, the mechanic put an end to our fantasy of driving something that isn't a rust bucket. Today he called to say the strange noise we've been hearing was a minor fix -- to the tune of $200 -- not enough to justify getting rid of it yet.
Being the frugal guy that he is, my husband was pleased by this, while I have mixed emotions.
A new(er) car would have been nice for all of us since the Odyssey resembles a rolling trash heap. Of course, the car payment we would have been taking on wouldn't have been so nice.
Ultimately, though, this means we have more time to save a bigger down payment, so I guess there's always that. For now, though, I'm going to invest in some of those new-car air freshners and hope that nobody notices the mold that has started to ooze out of the Odyssey's hatchback....
I just got back from two days of non-stop eating at my mother's house. She does a traditional Japanese dinner on New Year's Eve, followed by a full day of follow-up eating on New Year's Day. Then she sends all the leftovers home with us, so I won't be cooking or grocery shopping again until next weekend.
I've had a lot of financial stuff on my mind the last few days, so will hopefully be blogging a bit more as I share. But I now must go unpack all the goodies sent home by dear ol' mom.
As I was leaving the boudoir this morning, I slammed into the open linen closet door. Fortunately, my knee took the brunt of the impact. But unfortunately, it ripped the door right off the hinges and split the wood beyond repair.
I will now be shopping for a new closet door and possibly a new kneecap as well.
I thought briefly of just leaving the whole mess until after the holidays, but the man of the house is throwing a Boxing Day Buffet (even though we don't live in a country where Boxing Day is celebrated) and I'd prefer that the whole neighborhood doesn't see the messy state of our linen closet. The closet in question resides outside the boudoir/master suite and down the hall from the primary guest bathroom so it is very noticeable.
So much for being done with shopping....
I ordered half a honey-baked ham for Christmas and a turkey breast concoction for our Boxing Day party. It's the first time I've ordered a pre-cooked ham and/or turkey and I was a bit surprised by the hefty price tag. However, not having to stand over the stove Christmas Day is well worth it. (Fortunately, there was a $5 off coupon in yesterday's paper, so at least I'll get a little break.)
I still need to make the side dishes, appetizers and dessert, but I've got those recipes down to a fine art so no one should go home with botulism Christmas Day. (Boxing Day is another story...)
I have also come up with a detailed cookie baking list and am taking three days off to see how many of those little babies I can burn this year. Baking is not my strongest culinary area, but every year I try my best to make something resembling a Christmas cookie so Mini Me can have the illusion that her mommy is Martha Stewart, Oprah and the Queen Mother all rolled into one. So far I think I have her fooled.
All but one gift has been bought and I have my sister working on that one so I don't have to venture into anymore stores. (Praise Allah, the Lord and the FED EX guy!!!!) I do have a few gifts left to wrap, but for the most part I'm ready for the big guy in the beard and red suit. (And I'm not talking about my husband.....)
Gil, the grocer, delivered today.
Even though I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I partook in all the holiday deals and ended up spending $133 on $218 in food.
I bought stuff I know we'll definitely use in the coming weeks, plus a few things we'll only use if the grocery stores all close down and it's a toss up between eating over-processed chemical-laden foods or chowing down on toasted terrier and barbecued Bichon.
As long as I'm talking deals and the end of the world, I'll also share that I went to my local beauty supply store to get some shellack for my hair. That and some goo stuff that makes it look less like a football helmet and more like ... well ... a bad toupee.
The store was having a deal that if you buy two of a certain product line then you got one free. It just so happened my "beauty" products were part of the deal, so I ended up with an extra bottle of stuff to throw on the 'do.
I now have enough hair product to last me through Armageddon as well.
I doubt this is what the brains behind the "How I...." contest had in mind when they came up with the idea, but play along with me here....
I started my Christmas shopping back in June when I spied something I knew my husband would just love. Without going into too much detail (since I know he keeps abreast of developments on the homefront by reading this blog), I promptly bought the item in question and told Mini Me not to spill the beans. That I know of, it still remains a secret.
Then, about two months ago, my sister called to say the Discovery store was going out of business, so I rushed right over and bought the three pesky teen-age nephews who we rarely see and barely know a gift. Yes, ONE gift for all three of them. It's a game that they can all play together and I got it for $20, which was 75 percent off the original price. They need to do something as a family that doesn't involve spending time in family court or vegging in front of the TV.
As for the other nephew (half brother to the above-mentioned hooligans who also happens to be someone we rarely see and thus barely know), next week is the school book fair so I plan on getting him something there. (Perhaps a book on how to survive a bad upbringing????)
I'm also relying on another school fund-raiser for gifts. I bought a bunch of $9 ornaments with Mini Me's artwork plastered all over them for the various aunts and uncles. And, for the grandparents, I spent $19 on two calendars with inserts for more of Mini Me's artwork. The school gets a percentage of all the sales and I get quick-and-easy Christmas gifts. Can't beat that....
Because she did give birth to me, I decided to splurge on my mother this year. She mentioned that she wanted a new deep-fat fryer. This threw me for a loop since my mother needs a deep-fat fryer like she needs a heart attack. But, as my sister points out, it's better just to get her what she wants because she will just go out and buy one herself if I don't. After the hellish half-day of school last week, I stopped at Williams-Sonoma and bought a high-end fryer that's sure to clog even the best of arteries. It was not cheap, but the poor woman was in labor with me for days so I guess she's worth it.
As for Mini Me, I told her Santa could use some help this year so she should circle items she was interested in from the various catalogs we had lying around. After I ruled out the $1,000 ride-on Jeep, the Christmas-blooming bulb planter and the lacy bra-and-panty set from Victoria's Secret that she circled, I headed over to Target this morning. My first stop was the Starbucks counter because I needed my caffeine and something to toss on anyone who got in my way.
Surprisingly, nobody was there to get in my way, though. I don't know where all the other mommies were hanging out, but I had the store to myself. I was able to get everything on my list and even used coupons and a gift card to bring the price down considerably.
Tomorrow, I plan on getting my sister's gift at a kitchen store next to my mechanic, where I'll be taking my car for an oil change. I also have arranged to "draw" my sister-in-law's name since I've already picked out a gift for her as well.
So, the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done. I did not break a sweat doing it -- or break the bank (or even a nail, for that matter).
I made the seafood pasta dish from the Quick Fix book tonight and it was YUMMY! It was the same dish as my favorite pasta from Buca Di Peppo -- and just as good. The whole family loved it, so I bought it used tonight online. Well worth the $8.84 (the book plus S&H).
On another note, I actually bought just the right amount of candy to give away for Halloween tonight, so no leftovers lingering around for the next year. However, my daughter brought home a full bag of treats after making her rounds with my husband, sister, mother and Elvis (YES! THE KING LIVES!!!)
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