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The old Polish proverb goes:

June 9th, 2015 at 08:42 pm

"Not my circus, not my monkey."

Flipside of that is:

"Not your circus, not your monkey."

In the event that anyone feels the need to offer unsolicited advice along the lines of "what I think you should do" or "I don't agree with you" - such comments will be deleted. I'm not asking for anyone's approval on or acceptance of what I or my family does.

You don't like how we chose to celebrate birthdays, move on and don't comment.

I try to afford people the respect that I would like to receive. Life is too short for such drama.

Smile

Money Tides Might Have Turned

June 5th, 2015 at 03:02 pm

Today is the first day of *the*frugal*summer. We slept until 9:30.

The goal for the summer is have at much free and frugal fun as possible this summer, with the goal being a nice trip to Florida in December (birthday and Christmas gifts for kids/funded with our savings and Christmas cash from grandparents). We've got everyone on board.

We are having our celebratory year end dinner out tonight at Portillos (minus daughter in FL). We've saved our change (and I will obviously supplement from the Consumables category). Managed to effortlessly save $32.50. (Everyone's change and my singles plus a random $5).

We have on our calendar of (almost free) things to do:
1) Visit Lincoln Park Zoo
2) Participate in library reading club
3) Free concerts in the park
4) Car show (free) on Friday nights
5) Trip to MSI where we have a membership already
6) White Sox game three tickets from rained out game for a different game
7) Volunteer at local humane society
8) Feed my starving children outing
9) $1 movie at our local theater - kids movies on Wed mornings
10) Use a groupon for a visit to the local pool (skipping a membership this year)
11) My girls are volunteering as counselors at three camps my church is running - one son is also a counselor for one camp, and several are attending various ones
12) Summer reading for upcoming grades starting in the fall

We're trying to calculate the value saved on some of these things and then using that to fund our account and keep it afloat.

And my oldest son hap opted out of BS Camp (that I just paid $280 for but should be able to get a full refund) to go on a "Boys' Outing" with my brother's new father in law, brother in law, stepson, and nephews. It sounds like a whole love of fun in a huge RV with camping, fishing, biking, etc. I secretly wish they'd invite me. Smile

So, all in all, heading in the right direction. Smile

Simplifying/Streamlining/Confession

June 4th, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Since the school work is winding down, I'm finding more time to tackle problematic areas in the house (yesterday was organizing my cookbooks/transferring out winter boots/coats from closet/tackling year end papers and supplies from the kids). Consequently, lots of things are going into the trash or donate boxes. Very satisfying to see progress with less.

That said, we're tending to value experiences over stuff. We don't need more stuff. I don't think we want more stuff. DH and I talked about a trip to FL in December as birthday/Christmas gifts to the kids (5 birthday from 8/23 to 12/22). Factoring in what we receive as gifts (cash from parents) it is probably do-able. Excited about that plan and putting it into action.

Streamlining: Just trying to work smarter, not harder. Tomorrow is payday and there isn't anything exciting or mind blowing about that. I was down to my last $8 (this appears to be the theme "Running out of money the Wednesday before Friday's payday". My mom lent me a trash sticker (cost $3.82 weekly for trash pick up) and three eggs. The kids ate left over and DH and I had scrambled eggs.

Confession: In going through my closet I found a black patterned tunic my husband bought me for Christmas. He let me know that the sales gal helped him out. I don't exactly like it very much. At all. My mother loved it and bought herself the exactly one. Twinsies with your mom who is nineteen years older than you: Not gonna happen. Good news is it has the tags on it, and I have the receipt. I can return in for a store credit. Back it is going, and is will be forever a distant memory, until I see my mother wearing it. Right? Wrong? It cost $73 with tax. (Side note: DH did get me beautiful earring, too, that I love and wear with regularity when I get a bit spruced up!)

And I'm going to see about selling two rings and diamond necklace. Rings were from the dating days when I wore them (and I believe DH purchased them from MILs friend who had her own version of a pawn shop) and the diamond necklace was a hand-me-down. My children have their own nice jewelry and these aren't sentimental items - in the least.

Tomorrow is first full day of summer when I won't have to be a responsible parent to get up and say good-bye to a school-bound child. Last day of finals for younger daughter. She had a tough, tough time with Spanish -- thinking about dropping it for next year and doing Latin.

ETA: $4.81 impulse purchase (shirt from Sam's) going back. Will count that in my "smart money" too.

Random observation:

June 2nd, 2015 at 09:44 pm


It costs more money to eat whole foods, but I'm thinking that it is totally worth it.

10-day green smoothie cleanse turned out profitable; weight loss of 8.5# for me, and 15# for DH. I am pleased to say that I followed to a T with the exception of 1 small cup of 1/2 caff coffee in the morning. (I hate to say what I was drinking pre-cleanse). I've also managed to kick the sleeping pill habit. It's been a rough go, but I think I'm finally finding equilibrium with wake/sleep times natural to my body.

The kids are getting way less processed snacks. I've yet to become totally reformed, but we've said good-bye to soda (opting for lemonade/ or Arnold Palmers). We've said hello to healthy bytes and home-made cookies. Less bread, more chicken. (Like 7# of chicken in one week - with seven eaters).

Went out to eat today with my mom and daughter at Egg Harbor. (Not sure if those are around the US or just Midwest?) And I had a fresh fruit crepe, passed my English muffin on to the others, and drank water. Smile

Today I spent $68 at the grocery store for the next few days. Save $6 in coupons and got a free milk.

Calling it a wash --

May 28th, 2015 at 12:36 am


On my way into Walgreens, I was approached by a gentleman who appeared to be in need. His minivan was an older model, and we had made eye contact, I smiled and nodded. (My new thing is try to always be positive, I caught a glimpse of all the tired parents in the car line after dropping their kids off at high school and no one particularly pleasant - I'm trying hard at that).

His request was very specific - he was in need of some type of fluid for his car - I am bad with motors and I can't say that I'd know which fluid it was - his debit card had been turned down and he needed $6.10. It was broad daylight and I wasn't too weary or concerned because he seemed legitimately in need. I told him that I'd see what I could do.

In Walgreens I was buying items on sale and with coupons for maximum savings since my funds feel somewhat depleted. My coupon savings was $8.00. I had to take $10 cash out over my total (wouldn't allow me the $8 that I saved), so one my way out I handed it over to the gentleman. He was quite appreciative and we blessed each other.

He said he'd pay it forward. I'm thinking that small acts of kindness like that can make the difference.

Feeling happy with the outcome.

Calling it a wash --

May 28th, 2015 at 12:36 am


On my way into Walgreens, I was approached by a gentleman who appeared to be in need. His minivan was an older model, and we had made eye contact, I smiled and nodded. (My new thing is try to always be positive, I caught a glimpse of all the tired parents in the car line after dropping their kids off at high school and no one particularly pleasant - I'm trying hard at that).

His request was very specific - he was in need of some type of fluid for his car - I am bad with motors and I can't say that I'd know which fluid it was - his debit card had been turned down and he needed $6.10. It was broad daylight and I wasn't too weary or concerned because he seemed legitimately in need. I told him that I'd see what I could do.

In Walgreens I was buying items on sale and with coupons for maximum savings since my funds feel somewhat depleted. My coupon savings was $8.00. I had to take $10 cash out over my total (wouldn't allow me the $8 that I saved), so one my way out I handed it over to the gentleman. He was quite appreciative and we blessed each other.

He said he'd pay it forward. I'm thinking that small acts of kindness like that can make the difference.

Feeling happy with the outcome.

Interesting observation:

May 26th, 2015 at 06:59 pm


As the reality of having little to no extra funds until next payday (extraneous category was totally depleted and then some), my sudden whim for wants increases.

< in money, > in wants ?!

What is that about?

I'm rather disgusted with myself and should never meander around Sams during the early hours when they let Business Card holders in. I actually stopped at looked at $89 Coach sunglasses (?!) and a three-tier tray made of galvanize steel for $24.99 (?!) (One decorating blog I follow does sinfully delicious home vignette decorating in one of those - Why couldn't I?). And an orange yard stool (heavy glass maybe)down to $19 from $39 (but, it would match the colors in my neutral and drab family room!)

I really don't know what do say to myself. I am literally stretching my dollars and turning in my pennies for solvency (I could use credit cards or transfer from my savings in the event of a "real" emergency). Where is my fortitude?

Wow, I am feeling really off-kilter and out-of-whack.

Watching the dimes ...

May 24th, 2015 at 12:47 pm


I tracked the spending - and while it has been within realistic realms - I added up the amount spent on snacks and trips to Wendy's after sports practices. And DH's obsession with premium beef jerky while filling up his car. That adds up quite quickly to a family meal out at Portillo's.

There is a soccer tournament going on this weekend (Sat/Sun) with at least ten most likely 12 games for three players. I did yesterday's run, DH is doing today's. I had to be there at 7:00 AM yesterday and DH's start time was 8:15 (its about a 45 min drive). Anyhow, I let everyone know that there is a family dinner out on the calendar to celebrate the last day of school for the last remaining student 5 (on 6/5). At Portillos, (their new favorite place) and that is where all the "snack" money is going.

This meant that I packed healthy snacks and drinks yesterday, and sent more snacks AND sandwiches today. My thrifty Boy Scout made a comment about those dimes will turn into dollars. That made me laugh.

DH and I are doing a raw food/green smoothie cleanse for 10 days. That wasn't as costly as I thought since it used frozen fruit and fresh greens. I did have to go to the health food store for ground flaxseed. I am hoping to lose 6-8# and am sticking just to walking, actual bike riding, and using the recumbent bike at the Y.

It's busy, busy coming up these next two weeks with my own school work, kids' final projects, DH's work schedule. Etc. My first inclination is to run to the prepared foods (i.e., packaged and processed) but I'm not doing it. I'm making home-made mac and cheese plus something in the crock pot, and I've got ingredients on hand for homemade cookies. I also have a recipe for no bake energy bites which I can finally make since I have the ground flaxseed.

Hope everyone has a restful weekend. And if you know a veteran, say "thank you."

I know that several of our SA family are military families, so I thank you for supporting your loved one as they make this country as great and safe as it is. Smile

Meet Flo, my new best friend

May 20th, 2015 at 12:28 pm


The renewal of the insurance policy on the rental property went up to $1,042. That was roughly $120 increase across the board.

I happened to get a flyer from Progressive. After a quick (HA, not really, rather longish) phone call Flo, I was "outsourced" to another provider who deals with rental properties.

My replacement coverage was raised to $220K for the dwelling and my policy dropped to an overall cost of $795 annually. I paid the $130.34 for the policy to go into effect on 7/19. I will then make ten payments starting 8/19 for $65.67.

I'm pretty pleased about that. Once I have my other paperwork for policies in front of me, I'll call back for a quote on the primary/cars.

Small (positive) money blips

May 19th, 2015 at 04:42 pm

1) Opening a savings account in DH's name with Discover. Minimum required to open account is $25, with $50 bonus credited.

2) Opening a checking account in my names with Citibank. Will maintain the minimum and make one bill pay for two consecutive months for $125 bonus.

3) Being much more diligent with spending and couponing. I managed to save 50% of items we use regularly by matching up CVS coupons and manufacturer coupons. Definitely spending smarter.

4) Will have enough money left at month's end to throw some crumbs into my IRA. At least $100, hopefully $125.

5) Volunteering to work the used book sale at younger daughter's high school. I will first dibs on her books for next year, plus a discount!

6) $5 free dollars at Old Navy will be used to purchase a new uniform polo for my son. The light blue color just doesn't allow any survival rate as do the older grade's dark blue.

7) Also decided on adding a specific item to my wardrobe. I will be replace two or three different old and faded items. The cost is $34.95 at American Eagle. If I wait until the 24th, there is $10 off of $40. I can always through a pair of socks onto the purchase to get the discount.

Totally stealing CB's thunder with this quote: these are all bricks to building my financial empire. Smile

How the other half shops ...

May 15th, 2015 at 04:57 pm


DH took the day off to watch the boys' Spring Sing at school. We then had a $25 gift card to spend at the upscale grocery store (foodie organic Heaven, apparently).

I understand the importance of making wise food decisions for one's family; I'm embracing some small changes this week forward.

We wandered aimlessly before deciding the funds must be spent because we wouldn't be returning (we've had the gift card at least several years).


We looked for ginger and ground flaxseed- no luck on either of those. Frown Here is what we spent:

$10.99 for take and bake organic pizza
$2.99 x 2 Lentil soup mixes
$6.99 on honey roasted peanuts
$2.50 for a protein bar

OOP was $1.51.

What I am doing this week for healthier living:
1) smoothies x 3 mornings breakfast
2) home made no-bake energy bites
3) salads x 3 lunch/dinner
4) making homemade air freshner w/essential oil
5) only 1 2L of soda to go with pizza.

Passing the buck ... rather keeping the buck ...

May 13th, 2015 at 01:10 pm


Every year my kids' school (elementary) has the VIP Show - complete with each grade singing a song and then the spectacular finale at the end with a school-wide sing. I've been at these for nine years now, so I'm nostalgic, but no longer so gung-ho.

I actually recall perseverating about "the" right outfit for each child for several years running. We were always outshined by the one mother with seamstress talents who could sew specific items. I stopped competing and it got to be a bit more fun.

The school then did the "VIP logo-themed t-shirt" a few years back - an art contest with the winners work onto a t-shirt ... available for purchase at $12/each. I did that one year and spent $40 (they were $10 three years ago). No one every wore the t-shirts again, saying they were itchy, ugly, etc.

Since then I stopped buying those, and simply put the kids in a solid-colored t-shirt coordinating with their grade's color. Saving my money. Worst case scenario, I have spent $3.50 on a T shirt at Michaels (and that's before using a 40% off coupon).

Tomorrow is the VIP show. We've got all the required-color T's, and this year I've saved myself $36.

Oh, if I had only been wiser back then ... live and learn ... and keep your bucks ...

Final cost for prom (Temporary picture included)

April 27th, 2015 at 03:28 pm

My daughter purchased her own ticket ($100 - included dinner at a local upscale suburban events place, transportation by luxury coach to and from the boat in Chicago, 3.5 hours on the luxury cruise liner that went up and down the lakeshore). She also gave $30 for her dress, paid for her own French manicure ($19) and some bracelets and fancy flip-flop gladiator sandals ($20).

I paid for balance of dress $39xx (but ended up with a $10 coupon for JCP). $25xx for slip, undies, and mascara. $75 for hair/make up. (The $75 was under what we would have paid at a salon, and a fellow seminarians wife did a wonderful job for that 2 hours worth or work)


Picture will self destruct in a bit.

Dreading the numbers ...

April 19th, 2015 at 01:32 pm


And not the numbers you think!

Calories. I'm in the middle of trying to cook for someone who needs to gain weight (daughter has 6 weeks before a nurse check to see that she has gained 2.5 pounds) and who needs to lose weight (husband just had physical and his doctor told him at the rate he is gaining, he will 300 pounds in 5 years - he is a stress eater and clearly has lived a stressed life lately).

Scored some deals this week: Nutella for daughter was only $6.xx at Sam's. She also eats the full-fat mac and cheese from Trader Joes which is $2.98/serving but yields 600+ calories. Jewel has vegetables (frozen in bags) for $.88. So I'll be back to stock up on those for husband.

The rest of us are sort of blobbing along with our regular menu. And we're now back to running in 18 different directions most nights, so the crockpot needs to kicking into high gear.

Breakfast: I am doing better with having muffins vs. Poptarts. We also froze some waffles left over from a dinner. We still go through tons of yogurt and fiber bars. I should try to find a recipe for the fiber bars online and make myself, but time is really short here. (Insert excuse: School is way harder this time around).

Ok, off to catch up on the bogs. Have a wonderful and restful day!

Nudging along in the right direction

April 17th, 2015 at 09:31 pm



Slowly, but surely.

We neglected our retirement contributions while we were in flux wondering about the stability of my husband's job situation, etc.

He received a 2% pay raise, and today I raised his percentage from 6% to 10%. I also sent $1,250 to my 2014 IRA on Wednesday.

I keep thinking "If only I did this in smaller dribs and drabs, it wouldn't be so painful." So not only have I paid the saving account first, but I have small goals for the May and June as far as throwing bits of money to retirement.

I do feel very good about upping from 6% to 10%. That will be significant in the long-run.

So, slowly creeping along in the correct direction.

Prom dress shopping = Done

April 15th, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I had a 20% off coupon that expired yesterday for a purchase at JC Penney's.

Older daughter purchased her own prom ticket ($100) so DH and I agreed to buy her dress and shoes.

All of her friends got dresses from Penneys, so we headed there. She tried on every single size 1 we could find - long, short, in between, sheath dresses, cupcake dresses, etc.

She ended up between two: the classic pale pink lace, strapless, long, with bead embellishments in a heart-shape on the bodice AND the other was a very elegant black lace number, reminiscent of something from the Roaring 20s flapper, open back with beading. She ended up with the first one because it screamed "prom".

I am not sure of the fate of the dress, whether she will keep it or exchange it. But the particulars of the purchase:

Original price: $138
Less 40%: - $54.01
Less 20%: - $16.00
Tax: $ 5.28
Total $69.27

My daughter contributed $30
My OOP $39.27

Also earned $10 off my next purchase due to their in-store rewards club.

Bringing my outlay to: $29.27


Pictures to follow.

Prom Time

April 14th, 2015 at 01:21 pm


My older daughter asked me for a check for $100 this morning for her prom ticket. I was a bit surprised because she had mentioned in passing she was going to go with a group of girl friends, it is at a local banquet hall and then they take a party bus to a boat ride on the Chicago River.

Before I could say anything, she added, "I left two $50s by your keys. It is probably easier just to pay by check. Thanks."

She is a good kid. She then let me know she'd like to look at the resale shop for a dress or see if there are coupons for Penney's because a friend got a dress there for a reasonable price.

DH and I agreed we'd cover the dress. All I remember about my prom, when I was a junior at the same high school eons ago, my dress cost $40.

Anyone remember incidentals from their prom?

Color Experiment

April 10th, 2015 at 12:44 pm


Hypothesis: If green is the color that you want to maintain, how long will you be able to avoid red?

I have a bad habit. I end-load my desired payments to whatever the day of payday. Essentially, if I spend more than what I am planning, the end-load payment is obviously decreased. Makes sense?

This two week period I've front-loaded the payment and am "Paying ourselves first."

And I was amazed at how my spending habits/patterns changed when we were down to our last cash this week after time away. We made it with $.30 to spare. The cupboards are a bit barer and we ate cereal for dinner last night.

Today I am taking my cash for the week out of the ATM. No debit card usage this go around. I am hoping to be pretty accurate on how much I target to spend.

So this week it is all GREEN. Inconvenience will be going into the gas station to prepay for gas. And that really isn't an inconvenience.

This week to save money I:

- Bought cereal on sale at Walgreens and using a coupon paid less that $1.50 per box. This is an area I'd like to improve on - boxes of sugary crap cereal should really be gone.
- Bought one of the required text books for my class and have requested the remainder through inter-library loan.
- Requested generic Flonase through the Pharmacy instead of paying 3x as much OTC

Hoped for outcome of this week:

Spending in the $150 to $175 range and putting an additional $200 toward retirement.


Synchronizing those winding down with those winding up

April 9th, 2015 at 12:46 pm

1) We started college visits this past Spring break with older daughter. Only seen a few, but she has a top contender that we both like which will be hard to beat. Small liberal arts close to home. She's opting to not live on campus and work from a Chicago-based agency, so I am hopeful all goes well for her.

2) I am back in school today, officially a graduate student of the establishment I have attended as a SAL. A bit excited by it all, a very interesting track I am on. But also wondering since we've got lots of unknowns.

3) DH moves to the new location tomorrow in Itasca. He's serious about working remotely on the days he has classes (he starts in August). Sounds like a wise move on his part. I've made suggestions in the past, but he wasn't really ready to listen, so it is nice that he has a plan of his own.

4) We meet tomorrow with the person who may be able to advise us on pursuing an adoption from the country we are interested in. From here it is essentially a private international adoption and those plans were quashed right away, but this has the Church involved and the help of someone pretty high up. We remain cautiously hopeful and have decided to tell everyone what is going on so we have plenty of prayers covering us.

5) We went away for a few days over Spring break to an indoor water park in Utica, IL. Only an hour a way with tons of hiking options and plenty of indoor fun. We spent more than usual on a room, but it was a suite and there was enough room for everyone to sleep comfortably. Well worth the price.

6) We are officially down to our last $2.50. Payday is tomorrow and we paid for everything cash for our time away. Really nice to do that, first time possibly ever. But definitely making strides.

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2014 at 12:53 am

Half the celebrations are done, but we went to Mass and gift exchanged with my family. Tomorrow we host the meal and people come dressed in comfy clothes. From mine to yours. Happy holidays (we've got an extra this year) Smile


Merry Christmas!!

December 24th, 2014 at 03:56 pm


Wishing all my SA family a very Merry Christmas! I am thankful to be part of this little corner of the world where I am cheered on, propped up, and propelled forward.

This has been a year of uncertainty, and while our situation now has certainty, I am looking forward to embracing the future.

Thank you all. And Merry Christmas!!

Yes, I have it. And I don't want it ...

December 23rd, 2014 at 02:34 am


Well, today was a wash. Some things got done, the most important being a celebration for younger daughter's birthday that is today. Dinner ended up being orange chicken and egg rolls from Panda Express, and store-bought cupcakes from Jewel.

With some of us under the weather last night, we had Grandma over to watch "Saving Mr. Banks" and tonight birthday girl wants to watch "Frozen". This will be my first time watching it, and I feel rather thrilled to be joining a club of sorts. I know the songs, but other than that ... not much.

Tomorrow's to do list is short, and I should be able to accomplish it in a prolonged energy burst of 45 minutes or so.

I've medicated myself with daytime flu and cold stuff and it works for about 2.5 hours - not the four.

Confession: My family didn't send out Christmas cards this year. I might aim for New Years if I can pull something together picture-wise. Older daughter put together Elves of us at OM. I feel a bit saddened by it, having concluded that run now being OD. And an OM store in my area is closing. Well, we're ushering in a new era. Lots of changes on the horizon.

I'm tired of thinking of it. So I am off. To watch "Frozen" and most likely fall asleep.

Hope all is well with all of you, and you are finding Christmas cheer.

Alas, I think I've got it ...

December 22nd, 2014 at 03:53 pm


we had our flu shots back in October, but I've got the aches and pains, a raw throat, and a sinus headache. And it I have a million things to do today.

It is one daughter's birthday and I'd like to pull something together for a little celebration. And I've got to take care of delivering the signed paperwork to the council office for the cub scout charter.

Oh, I had hoped this wouldn't happen ... and I might of jinxed myself ... no on to cry to cause my mom is still down ...

Slightly overwhelmed, but it will be fine ... I think ...

December 21st, 2014 at 03:49 pm


My mom is pretty sick with something and is heading to the urgent care clinic. I hope antibiotics make a difference, she's been down for four days.

My 94-year grandmother is convinced she will get sick if she eats anything in a house with germs. Not good since she lost 12 pounds over the past several months (reason why she's staying between my mom in IL and uncle in CA). I don't there is much I can do to combat that thinking, except for maybe bringing take-out? A sack of burgers from White Castle or Arbys?

We're braving the mall for shopping for our Advent Buddies. We're trying to work this around watching the Bears game. And they decided to bench Cutler after some mega-deal; had an interesting convo about mismanagement of funds in that decision.

My mother can't host Christmas Eve being sick with a small house. My brother just hosted a family dinner last night and I've got Christmas Day. I left a message for my brother that I'll do Christmas Eve AFTER Mass. Before won't work for me since DH is working. And I'm going to make a pan of baked ziti, buy a bottle of two or wine, green salad and garlic bread. And I'm not using my China. I'll buy holiday Chinet.

It feels a bit overwhelmed, but in managing my own brood, I've concluded that other people take their cues from someone. If I am calm and insist that this isn't a big deal, it isn't. Right?

My best friend is also having some relational issues with her new boyfriend. Oh, their romance is fine, but he's the parent of five children, one seriously ill - like residing a residential psychiatric clinic. If best friend thinks its bad now, I had to tell her just wait until this poor girl is reintegrated in the changing fabric of her family. Makes me a bit tired, but I listened and talked for 1 hour and 45 minutes last night.

Ok, time to adjust the game plan and make it all work.

Phew ...

I am so nosey! What's your Christmas menu look like?

December 19th, 2014 at 06:25 pm


I spent some time today looking at recipes for Christmas Brunch/Lunch/Dinner which I regularly host. This year for a group of 15 plus one or two. I've moved up the meal from 4 to 12:30 and this is what I am serving:

1) Spiral cut ham
2) Hashbrown potato casserole
3) Green bean casserole
4) Cornbread casserole
5) Raspberry/pineapple jello mold
6) Cinnamon roll casserole
7) Peppermint bark (that I make every Christmas morning with older daughter - tradition going on year 4)
8) Cranberry orange muffins

My MIL brings a shrimp salad, my mother brings bread pudding, and my brother brings wine. I don't know if his fiancée will bring anything, but that will be gravy.

Spending has been willy-nilly all over the board and I got bored tracking. I am starting today because this is the last payday in December. It was $135 short and I believe that is the 401K that I upped to 6% but thought it was being taken after 1/16 (suspended due to switch over, but apparently not really suspended).

I spent $133 at Aldi's on groceries for the week plus Christmas dinner. $17 was a ham and $4 was on a Secret Santa gift that younger daughter forgot about (a set of snowman mugs). I also filled up the gas tank for $40. This weekend and upcoming week we are eating light (lots of salad/sandwiches/and soup in the crockpot).

So, you've had a glimpse at what I'll be serving. How 'bout you?!

Found my Christmas Cheer

December 17th, 2014 at 06:24 pm


Really hadn't gone very far, just needed to look for it. I had a two hour window of time to myself, after returning from my leg of driving this AM.

I managed to get a load of laundry folded and put away, plus another one washed. Loaded the dishwasher and straightened up the general mess. And I put on Christmas music and the tree lights.

And since I picked older daughter up after a morning of finals, we stopped by my mom's for a snack with Grandma - starbucks hot chocolate and Trader Joe mint chocolate star cookies. And daughter and I then went past the grade school to see the little brothers at lunch and some other teachers. Daughter was a very good big buddy to several little girls over the years at the school and they all sort of clamored to see her. And then we stopped by to see the staff at the parish center (two of our favorites). I got some cookies and an annual cookbook.

Now I have time for a nap before picking up younger daughter. And dinner is leftovers.

So, the crash of the morning wave has passed. And I'm going to start working on Christmas dinner menu and meal plan. All good.

'Tis the season to be jolly ...

December 17th, 2014 at 02:27 pm


But not at my house this morning. No smooth sailing like usual - rather a tsunami.

Sick people hacking and coughing. Tired and cranky people who have to go to school and have finals. And forgotten paperwork and other, other stuff.

And the fickleness of people who change their minds. (Not in my house directly, but someone else's house) and volunteer work that isn't going well (for either husband or myself).

And ... sorry to vent ... and dump ... I'd better go and look for my Christmas Cheer because it went missing.

Just inconsequential stuff in the grand scheme ...

December 12th, 2014 at 02:38 pm


but mentionable nonetheless ...

1) Sold electric skillet (NIB) for $25. I posted it on a group in FB that one of my friends happens to belong to, and she's taking it. Smile

2) Mailed in rebate for $5 on a car engine product

3) Did well with no prepackaged snacks for the week; did quite a bit of baking using mostly from the stocked pantry, but need more vanilla and chips (chocolate and peanut butter)

4) My 94 year old grandmother arrived from California yesterday (to blustery IL). She's still spry, mentally alert and good spirits. Living with my uncle and aunt was a bit too constrictive (with hovering). She's moved in with my mom and stepdad. I went over with oldest son and we decorated with streamers (his idea). Looking forward to quality time as a family.

5) Fun weekend ahead! Caroling at the retirement home tonight with the Cub Scouts, tomorrow wrapping party with the kids followed by "Christmas Story" and lunch at Buca di Bepos, and then Sunday is the birthday party for the girls (nov/dec birthdays).

6) Money is leaving in small controlled portions.

Fuel Efficiency - What a concept!

December 11th, 2014 at 01:51 pm


I've come to conclusion that in order to function best, I was ignoring simple things like: knowing when I'm most productive during the day, have a to do list of everything doesn't mean that it all needs to be done, there are capable people who live in my household, and there are family members who can help out. Same concept with money: knowing what needs to be done, what you want to be done, and what needs to happen based on those.

I've had several days of productivity: all involving a list and also delegating to the kids. Confession: I used to care what my gift-wrapped packages looked like. Maybe not to the point of color-coordinated gift wrap and bows, but something close. This year on Saturday morning we are having a gift wrapping party and the kids are wrapping the grandparents/extended family gifts. AND we're using up the gift wrap stash of oddities. I already replenished the tape, got the scissors and we'll crank the Christmas CD.

And in years' past we've spent a lot of money on one particular outing, at Drury Lane to see "A Christmas Carol" and do a brunch with Santa. This year, for a change and to save some money, we're going to a local theatre's production of "A Christmas Story" and then doing a luncheon at Buca di Bepos. We've got a coupon and gift card and my parents are coming, so they'll most likely pick up the tab for the remainder.

So sometimes changing up the plan does allow for maximum efficiency. And far less stress. I have a list of 18 items to do/buy on my list today. At least half will easily be done, and I'm off to deal with the most time pressing right now.

BTW, I am inspired by my organized friend, who I send a whole-hearted "thank you" to!! You make it look all so simple. I've always had a way of making things more complicated. I feel like I've been my own worst enemy and hurdle. And with that realization it is easier to forge (happily) ahead.

Closing the Chapter on the Italian

December 10th, 2014 at 07:39 pm


Anyone recall the foreign exchange student we (briefly) hosted from Italy? Back in August at the beginning of the school year? The one that lasted four weeks. And ultimately requested a transfer because we were too chaotic of a household (we really weren't tolerant of underage smoking - albeit outside, or underage drinking - albeit at other high schoolers' houses (but poor unsmart girl posted to Instagram), and then the matter of the 20+ year old boyfriend who was coming from Italy and she expected him to either 1) be able to stay at my home, or 2) that she be able to stay with him at a hotel?

She ended up going to another family who was far stricter than we were. She had to adhere to a 10:30 curfew (we were at least midnight), and she was expected to attend Mass at least weekly, and the host family told her that she couldn't date the senior wrestler (she ultimately broke up with the Italian boyfriend to date Americans) more than once on the weekend. There was a huge argument between the foreign exchange student's parents who essentially challenged the authority of the host parents, drama, drama, drama.

Anyhow, turns out she requested a return to us twice. And she was sorry she left in the first place. Nonsense. Anyhow, I learned about the second request to return to us from the principal.

We are receiving a stipend payment in the amount of $400 (of the $1600) to be credited to our tuition account. So we close the chapter on the Italian who is going home on the 20th. My, what a crazy ride it *could* have been!!


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