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Archive for October, 2011

a brief day history of clearings

October 29th, 2011 at 09:47 pm

We resumed our decluttering today: the earthenware casserole pot my mom gave me went, as did the steel jug for frothing milk for cappuccinos, lattes.

Hubby announced this morning he was buying a DS (used) from someone. I hadn't budgeted for this, and I do get twitchy about $$ by the second week of a payperiod. I was going to spend $150 on food for the week but managed $48 for weekly lattes and bakery teats, and for meat at a discount meat shop.

We shopped at Goodwill for our first time ever: found a good condition assignment/year organizer for my child and two binders for a dollar each. My kid racked up some fines from the library. Our family novel title should be: A Fine Balance.

My cousin in her e-mail to me mentioned her slow cooker: I rustled up some photocopied Show Cooker for Dummies recipes and plan to organize them in one binder.

Hubby warned me during "Open Enrollment Season" we'd have to open a health savings account as the deductible would be very high ($5000). I don't know how to go about doing that.

Splurges: veal chops for dinner, two glass bottle Fentiman's carbonated/sugar drinks of Mandarin Jigger and Victorian Lemonade. Nearly went in for a shandy -- that or a claret would go with an Evelyn Waugh novel.

I picked up an Edward Gorey novel today ('tis the season!) but that calls for absinthe... also picked up a Nathanael West two-novel book: his nephew lives in an urban Seattle neighborhood!

week update

October 28th, 2011 at 03:43 pm

Splurged on halibut tacos at Lowell's down in the Market, with a friend from the old country. I was leaning toward chowder yesterday, then fish'n'chips because I hadn't had any since July, then when I saw the halibut tacos offered I seized my chance. They were delicious. Maybe not $18 delicious, but Lowell's has waterfront views, plus the TV (silent) had a five-minute Buster Keaton montage, which started us talking about National Film Board classic short film "The Railrodder."

The rain here cries for tea: I'm having chai

Bought $76 worth of silver today. My Certificate of Deposit matures -- surprised to learn the CD interest rate is higher than the money market account. I'll be taking some money out of the market account to add to the CD, and into my son's savings account to grab some interest.

Bought gold ETF shares yesterday.

I did not do a lot of decluttering over the last few days -- campaign data mining. It makes me happy to see comments favouring the challengers in response to the "we're anti-union or anti-Seattle or really high on this good weed the Bellevue millionaires scored for us" editorials in the daily paper.

I wanted to do some shopping downtown but I always lose track of time in the library: it's a treasure hunt for me, and then I have to control myself or else I take out eight books, lose one, mislay three and overdue fines accrue, etc. It's a sickness.

Days Five and Six of 27-Item Discard

October 25th, 2011 at 09:01 am

Oh yesterday was not good: my Attention Deficit Disorder was acting up as I tried to finish a book due back today at the library, followed up on some blog posts regarding the challenger I'm campaigning for, wrote a press release, did some exercise, did some grocery shopping, supervised DS's homework, took boy to downtown to campaign with the campaign manager (he volunteers for this -- he likes it!), rewrote a press release, and talked for fifteen minutes with a neighbour down the street who was doorbelling us for my candidate.

I try to go with "What is no longer useful nor beautiful, nor used in a year, throw it out." It is my hope that throwing out these scraps and aborted ideas for better living will help me arrive at a better definition of who I am and determine a focus and corrected vision for my life.

Purge Day 4

October 23rd, 2011 at 05:36 pm

I've FreeCycled some items. Still working on making the 27 item list. It's hard: I'm getting help from the spouse and the child.

Second-to-last weekend for Chinook Book coupons -- I used one to buy presents for people. I went to the west part of the city to use one for a used bookstore, but the same "back in ten minutes" sign we saw at 2:30 was still displayed at 3:25. I feel more flush about buying gifts when I use coupons and I know some won't be mailed, and the ones which are small don't cost huge sums to mail (flashback to spice bag and quinoa and yerba mate care packages sent to Japan).

Learned that our local CD store accepts second-hand and used DVDs and CDs for sale.

My kid started Faith Formation classes and got a book which he promptly mislaid twenty minutes afterward. I thought maybe at a coffee house. So I have to pay for another book and have it shipped by air. I was distracted by talking to my County Councilmember about the extremely untimely death of a state senator with whom he and I both worked.

On Saturday afternoon we went to the credit union to deposit a cheque sent to my son. He doesn't have an ATM card and the credit union doors were locked, although all the waiting area seats inside were full with customers and the staff were busy. The ATM queuers told us to wait in line for the ATM, but I wasn't having any of that. I waited for someone to leave the credit union so we could brush past them to write a deposit slip and drop it in the express box. Even though the credit union hours had passed, I know writing a deposit slip and inserting it with a cheque in an envelope takes less than two minutes, and there were nine customers in there. We would not be the last ones to leave.

I was amused that one woman in queue was proud to share with strangers that she just joined the credit union. Lines at ATMs, full neighbourhood service centres, adjustments to be made when your credit union , fourth-largest in the nation, processes a 280% increase in new accounts. Next month it'll be "Occupy BECU."

I'll try making FreeCycle requests for some of my replacement items.

Purge Day 3

October 22nd, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Slacked off here today -- did dispose of things, but probably not 27. Yesterday's disposal trove went to Value Village today.

Discard items of note: decade-plus bottle of Tinactin. We got foot fungus after staying in a motel in Oregon after a Scrabble tournament. Also a 1979 Woman's Day magazine. I saved "Miss Craig's Abdomen and Thigh Spot-Reducing" article (Miss Craig! I'm surprised there weren't ads for Lydia Pinkham!) but had no problem tossing out the magazine I'd kept as a reminder of my mom. You don't have to read anything into that --- when looking for books to cull I pulled out one paperback on how to use guttural Japanese slang and an envelope of photos of my parents' first Christmas together was found. I kept those. And my kid looks like my mom in the eyes.

I actually have a Lydia Pinkham booklet but am not giving that up -- it is too entertaining. Lydia Pinkham had an herbal remedy, a patented Vegetable Compound, to handle feminine complaints. It sold particularly well during Prohibition, if you know what I mean. "I was feeling rundown and not-so-fresh at that certain time of the month, and then I took a 'vigorous swallow' of the fortifying Vegetable Compound. Renewed, I went for a run around Central Park, besting several horse-and-buggy carriages, and then KO'd Max Baer in the fourth round before racing off to rehearsal for George White's Scandals at the Lux Theatre and my post-show date with Jimmie Walker. At least that's what the nice police detective tells me. Thank you Mrs. Pinkham!"

Today's 27-item offering to Saint Chuck

October 21st, 2011 at 02:42 pm

Discarding the junk is literally uncovering items intended for my personal growth and well-being. Found a novena for employment, Steve Pavlina's book _Personal Development for Smart People_, a book for Attention Deficit Disorder strategies, two stamps for sending first-class letters to Canada.

I also found my receipt for June roofing, which I'll use with my HELOC statement to claim the home improvement interest expense on taxes.

It's like spiritual direction, this cleaning.

hooray for payday!

October 21st, 2011 at 09:03 am

DS might not like it, but I'm going to get him clothes for Christmas so I can knock off some of the replacement items. I don't have to be the "fun" parent 100% of the time, just the caring and supportive one.

Two months -- must spend carefully!
I have ten days to use this year's Chinook Book coupons.

The VISA account spirals upward. I sliced 25% off the balance today.

Precious metals at a 10% discount from last month.

My natural gas bill usage was 22% lower than it was at this time last year, with the same temperature.

Hubby's videocard on his laptop is dead, so he bought himself a new motherboard. I am okay with this -- it beats buying a new laptop, and most of the money he used came from his PayPal account.

Schadenfreude update - of the twelve properties I'm tracking, only ten of them have mortgage debt to property value ratios lower than the US average of 69.8%. They were purchased between 1999 and 2000, and although they had refinances and home equity lines of credit, the cash-outs were minimal, under 0.5% of the amount lent.


I don't know, doubt actually, that the $60 VEHICLE (I am not calling it a car -- I know this is going to include scooters and motorcycles) tab initiative will pass. Yet while listening to the talk radio discussion about the proposed measure, I pondered aloud what I can do to save $5/month.

My nine-day passport stamp to Cascadia Discardia

October 20th, 2011 at 02:31 pm

Cascadia - land by the Cascade Mountains.
Discardia - cutesy-wootsy name for my participation in the Nine-Day 27-Item Boogie Fling, that latter name trademarked/copyright by FlyLady. Now I'm no sugar-sucking, maggot-breeding drosophila suzukii: the FLY stands for "Finally Loving Yourself."

I am taking a cue from creditcardfree and throwing out stuff. I have way too much paper -- the eco-terrorists are better off setting fire to my place instead of some university's Horticultural library, I sure hope they pick a January day to do it if I can't clean this stuff up.

I have discarded pieces of paper from floors, mostly. Receipts, expired coupons, library return-date slips.

dig my masterful way of taming paper!

Today's Discard of note: Two giant tubes of Banana Boat Sunblock for Kids, SPFs 30 and 50. Why are giant tubes of sunblock even available in Cascadia? Do they think that we all go to Hawaii or Arizona in winter and stay long enough to use them up?

Keep watching the posts tagged "Baby It's Culled Outside" (there's a reason I'm not invited to be a guest blogger here).

pantry challenge night

October 18th, 2011 at 06:11 pm

$143 in chequing account now, because spouse filled up the gas tank. Not saying it wasn't due, eleven out of twelve gallons were replenished, but we could have made do with $15 worth of gas instead of $41 worth.

So today, as the roast was not completely thawed, we had Pantry Night Challenge. A southwest-us style cold bean/corn/red pepper/lime salad; lukewarm soba noodles with some homemade dressing; apple-walnut kale. And enough of everything for either leftovers or making more.

out of: lime juice, tamari sauce.
makes me sad to run out of things when the account balance is low.

I wish the lads were more into zucchini frittatas, because I could have made that! Later in the week I make 'em eat kasha and potatoes.

Debut of Untamed Budget

October 17th, 2011 at 12:46 pm

DS did some literal budget cuts: I reused a print-on-one-side sheet of paper for a monthly budget, and the boy chopped it up with scissors to get pics of "Trailer Park Boys" and Hugh Dennis from "Mock the Week."

$211 in chequing until Friday, $11 in my pocket. No eggs in refrigerator.

Considering doubling boy's current savings account, and transferring half the interest into our account. He's getting 6.17%.

Wrote my first press release. Have more communications things to distribute, plus a list of local online media to mail and fax said press release. Wonder if I can ask the candidate to cover fax expenses or if I can fax via my computer. (Can't fax from printer.)

At least though I have my cash reserves. Which means I can stop my liquid savings, reduce debt and accumulate winter comforts and replacement items.

--Paulette the laundry tamer and iconoclastic procrastinator
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one of these days I'm going to make a page on the formatting keystrokes we can't use on these Blogs. Like quotation marks in the Entry Title field, and arrows using less-than key and hyphens.

The horrors came two weeks early

October 16th, 2011 at 10:07 am

So the time I allotted for worrying has officially arrived: the market value for my house has nosedived.

I ate too much sugar last night woke up in the middle of the night and despite counting down several times by seven from 1498 and entreaties to my invisible friend, who is now downgraded to imaginary friend because I go by "a friend in need is a friend in deed" I was awake for four hours. That friend was probably looking over some Kansas City reverend's shoulder at some verboten computer images. Because that's more rewarding than dealing with a soul in pain.

My computer is on the fritz. This is a pity because I made PNG files showing the major contributors of the school board director incumbent's 2007 campaign, who live in another city and would not send their children to public school let alone public school in this city, are also the ones who gave heaps to defeat Initiative 1098, an initiative for an excise income tax on state residents earning more than $400,000/year. The father of our wealthiest citizen was FOR Initiative 1098, the man the wealthiest citizen left in charge of his company was not for the initiative. The latter man funded the incumbent.

I'm supposed to be doing a walkaround blitz in my legislative district. That'll be fun with no sleep.
I am very sour on US politics now. My councilmember running for Attorney General, my state representative, my state senator are not going to get $ from me. "No, you chose to endorse someone who wasted money our schools desperately need. I am assuming you knew what this man did for 3.5 years before you endorsed him. Nobody told me in Immigrant Class that voters are supposed to elect people who misappropriate their funds and sit on big financial scandals without telling their fellow elected representatives. Why don't you put that in your campaign materials if American voters are so okay with that."

My husband took a deserved break from us this weekend, taking the scooter out to the peninsula to Neah Bay and Port Angeles. All that was fine but he didn't have to tell me how much he enjoyed it.

Meanwhile I am trying to get my kid to write poems as directed by his teacher for weekend homework. He is defaulting to Dorothy Parker variations: "if I had an AK-47" "if I had a howitzer". I am attempting to show him Wendy Cope (UK light verse poet) poems about English weather and football so his teacher'll be impressed. How hard can it be to write a poem?

1. Think of a subject, topic or image. Like weather.
2. Brainstorm/word association. Preferably adjectives and nouns.
3. Use senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, smell.
4. Find words that rhyme.
5. Identify and use a meter scheme.
6. Put some truth in it.

Here are my images, for example, of Seattle Rain:
* Odin's stale gym sweat
* The inside of my eyelids
* colour of a prison door
* damp cold teabag

Example rhyme of truth:
This June I had to wear a sweater
July by leaps and bounds was better
...October is cold with mist
November we make plans to spend
The best part of December pissed.

To his credit he did manage a poem about the National Hockey League teams.

What I spent money on today

October 14th, 2011 at 05:22 pm

Halloween candy at Cash'n'Carry. Regular size peanut butter cups for 50 cents each. Trick-or-treaters think they've got something special with a full-size candy. Plus family-size chips, unsalted butter.

Husband is out of town tonight so boy and I are living it up. I have some Koji Yamamura short films to watch,

$94.03 after a $5 coupon at a supermarket. Half of that was one full Coho salmon cut up into four-ounce portions. I also bought some discontinued white wine from the bargain shelf. Everything else was vegetables and items for baking cookies.

I am worrying about my short-term memory. It is blitzed. It has relocated to "Whattawa, Zontario." I don't even have alcohol or drug use or medication to blame for it. Today I went to a library I thought would have my book club selection -- this is the second time the online catalogue claimed it was available but turned out not to be so. Then I thought I'd visit another branch on my way home, but I stupidly neglected to WRITE the address down, instead I went by memory and veered everywhere like a trapped buzzing fly to get to the library. Then I had, on my list, to visit the supermarket but I pull up to a third library, after getting my book from the second. In the parking lot I thought "Uh I shouldn't be here. In fact I wonder if I am in a condition to drive."

I couldn't remember the name of Thomas Love Peacock's short Romantic Era rip of his friends ("Nightmare Abbey" I kept thinking "Crochet Castle" and "Northanger Abbey") nor the name of the Indo-Canadian author who wrote A Fine Balance, I was thinking Raj Viswanathan, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, and not at all about Rohinton Mistry.

I wonder if I need a heavy metal detox, or a nootropics concoction. At least I went with a WRITTEN LIST and a PLANNED MENU for the week to the supermarket, with a coupon. At least that.

10-10 or X-X

October 10th, 2011 at 05:23 pm

$10 to Sacred Heart Shelter for homeless women
$10 to St. Martin de Porres shelter for homeless women

It's World Homeless Day or World Mental Illness Day or something: I gave $10 to each. I also gave $10 to a food bank earlier, and now that I know our PTSA banks at a credit union, I renewed membership so $25 there for a couple membership.

I need a monthly challenge: maybe learning to distinguish wants from needs.

Found neat coffee place en route to curling: it's a church-run coffeehouse, with Stumptown roast beans. It's a hit with the small one because of the games, puzzles and music; it's a hit with the spouse because he and a barista both ride their wives' motorbikes to work.

Made 39 butter tarts for DS's class to commemorate October birthdays: apparently there were other birthday children but they didn't contribute anything. My son devised a Canada trivia quiz heavy on hockey content [mother rolls eyes--they come up five and three!] to which few including the teacher could come up with an answer. Thus I had eleven left over by the end of the class, and five left by the time I left the school, as other students took them. To their credit, they asked.

Philanthropy Moment; or, we're back!

October 6th, 2011 at 08:22 am

Philanthropy for reals: Yesterday Starbucks stores and kiosks in our county handed out $10 gift cards good for funding DonorsChoose.org school projects. My son's school is a "high poverty" one, and I saw five projects yesterday for which our school teachers requested funding. The art supplies request was funded within hours probably because it was the first project mentioned in the PTSA e-mail and because everyone's child takes art, therefore it's immediate bang-for-the-buck; the special education middle schoolers and preschoolers, especially the latter, are still looking for funding. We funded the special ed projects, because there's never enough one can do for special ed.

We took two $10 cards, as there was supposedly a limit of one card per donor. Then I found that two females took about a dozen cards between them to fund projects. The end justifies the means, I guess. We also visited the Scholastic Book Fair and donated $19.68 worth of books and taxes to our son's class.

Today I give $10 to the local food bank.
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Server outage: Now I am wondering if SavingAdvice.com shares server space with Bank of America.

I will say this for Bank of America: it doesn't send us stupid mailers like "Open an account with $10000 and we'll give you a $150 bonus!" because everyone who hasn't banked with Chase has ten thousand smackers kicking around, right? "Oh I could go to a credit union I guess, but why not take out all the money in my mattress right now and head to JP Morgan Chase? It's obviously a successful company with integrity!"

And everyone who banks with Citibank has $4500 extra in their wallet or hidden in some home safe waiting for the now present moment when Citibank ratchets its fee-free checking account minimums to $6000.

This is why I don't bank with banks: I simply do not have the clairvoyance that bank account holders are expected to have: I'm supposed to know in advance how much to save and when to put it into an account to avoid fees when new terms and conditions kick in. Sorry, not gifted in that department.

child's birthday week poor time for frugality

October 2nd, 2011 at 05:54 pm

HELOC: $15764.14
Mortgage: $118675.67

I have been reviewing our debt group diary and nine months ago I thought I was going to have $10888.23 paid off, from $138488.77, by the end of the year. I'm at $134439.81. If I hadn't missed one mortgage payment (interstitial) and taken $3500 out for the roof, I'd be on track.

I paid for three weeks' curling lessons for my child and enrolled him this morning. Say what you like: there were three other children sharing dual citizenship status taking lessons along with him.

Also Tuesday night is supposed to be heavy wind and rain with possible power outages, so I bought from Value Village (secondhand store) a coat for the boy, and went to JC Penney to pay for some waterproof winter boots.

I went to Big John's Pacific Food Importer to get prepared tart tins for butter tarts (class birthday celebration on Friday), we splurged on malt balls, roasted red peppers, 1 lb. prosciutto, butter, Walker's shortbread mini chocolate chip cookies. It is hard to not go nuts at Big John's PFI.

Then to Whole Foods for mussels (on sale at 25% off -- don't think I'm one of those who spends all her food dollars at Whole Foods because it happened to be across the street from a stop my son and I made), white wine for cooking -- ideal! 200ml for $3.00, lemongrass. Damp or windy grey weather makes me hunger for shellfish. I used a recipe from The Expo 86 Cookbook, which I bought for $1 the week before. Now I can add Nanaimo Bars to my Buttercup inventory as the cookbook author was the first to make them commercially available in Vancouver. I do know Nanaimo Bars are popular down here.

Nanaimo Bars -- triple layer bars. Bottom: walnuts, coconut; middle: custard; top: cocoa powder, sugar, coffee.

Tonight it is Flying Squirrel pizza (pizza for foodies), and Peaks Frozen Custard for Simply Maple custard. Because apparently after curling, and playing Vancouver 2010 Winter Sports Olympics on the Wii, and going to Vancouver to watch Canucks hockey practice, my kid has not had a sufficiently Canadian birthday. He also lost a tooth tonight, so the Tooth Fairy flew past customs and gave him a loonie, eh?

Oh yeah my laptop keyboard has stuck keys. I am getting by on another keyboard in a USB port, and access to my son's Linux computer. Hubby has already ordered a new keyboard.

Also, I might be losing my mind here, but sometimes I enter my bedroom to find the sunlamp over my bed on, with no memory of turning it on. Cats aren't that smart to be able to turn on lamps by pushing buttons with their paws, are they?