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Viewing the 'jaunts and jollities' Category

Mehs, Whas and Yeahs

December 2nd, 2012 at 10:51 am

Wha: Neighbour's dog passed away, I will guess of old age or natural causes. As she was no longer able to go inside her house at will, and wandered outside during normal sleep hours to whine, and whined when her owner momentarily disappeared from view, I guess she suffered from age-related deteriorating cognition. We had lived beside the dog for ten years and know she was well-behaved, so we put up with the whining during the day (but we made sure the owner woke up and suffered wakefulness along with us at night) in her last six months. She was an Irish setter who lived to be at least twelve, so a long and mostly happy life then. I really hope the neighbours do not get a puppy: their children are too young and they do not have the energy or time to properly raise and care for a baby animal. The owners did not even figure out that old animals have low tolerance for being out in the cold, as their bones hurt.

Meh: missed Safeway $0.30/gallon gas reward by forty cents, and today I still do not have everything I want/need for a good week of food.

Double-Meh: credit union's 2.34% auto loan promotion expired Friday. At best we can get 2.74% now, because we will borrow under $30,000. That affects how much car we can get. I need to get cracking and convince myself the $$$ in our account is for spending on a newer car as our vehicle needs to be retired.

Grateful for (yeahs):
1. Other places in the house I can go sleep when my spouse's noises wake me.
2. Having the bed to myself when the spouse figured he was not going to get back to sleep immediately after tending to the cats.
3. Having exact change when visiting the post office to mail cards yesterday.
4. Household being quiet until I woke up.

Wha/Meh: mortgage payment still has not posted. The money has been debited from our account that is for sure, but our balance is not updated.

Making homemade bath and scrub goodies for my debt group today.

Ready to Push Finances Reset Button

November 24th, 2012 at 04:52 pm

I have seen some good easy advice: keep separate accounts for your goals. I have my monies in various accounts, all presumably for the "OMG the credit union is gonna rescind our HELOC WTF lulz!" moment, which came only to people who banked with Washington Mutual and now with JP Morgan Chase, and even then I know only of incidents of reduction of HELOC limits, not outright rescission.


Some of us recognize the internal pressure and amplified yen that propel us to make a purchase. I fight with my mouse, my USB ports are broken or finicky. I may blow up to $500 on a refurbished business-class laptop.

We have not seriously shopped for a vehicle yet. We have been buying silver and paying bills and shopping for presents. My spouse wants a certain kind of car and now admits he likes the style of it, All my long-distance presents except for one CD to New York have been mailed. My friend is Jewish and it's domestic so I think any time between now and December 24 should be okay for her. I may owe her a $10 Amazon gift certificate, the prize for our private dead pools.
My stamp/coin/currency dealer has expressed interest in dead pools. I can tell you that after this morning I feel better about my position in the one I participate in with mjrube, baselle and others.

The Long Dark Teatime Post of Food and Gambling

November 4th, 2012 at 03:53 pm

It is 3:55 pm on a damp, breezy Sunday. We have just returned from Safeway supermarket with four bags and $53 worth of groceries, and nine more gallons of motor fuel at $3.42 US per gallon. I saved $20 and earned a 30 cent per gallon reduction. I need not buy anything other than fresh fruits and dairy for over three weeks.

The kid won even more money at scratch tickets. I feel dirty signing my name on the back of the winning tickets and bringing his cash home, like running to the store to buy cigarettes for the stepgrandmother, and I feel mild shame seeing him punch selections on the lotto vending machine. As long as he wins money and follows our rules and has a limit mild shame and dirt are what I put up with. His fourth grade teacher won $1000 at the supermarket from scratch tickets, so telling him nobody ever wins at those is futile.

We will need to replace our vacuum cleaner soon. I have been to Consumer Reports to identify an economical Consumer Reports Best Buy canister vacuum cleaner that works well on pet hair and wood floors.

I have not posted my weekly menus for awhile, and will not do so this week either -- the boys are out for half the week, and I may either attempt to invite people to my house for dinner, the economical option, or enjoy the $30 for three entrees November promotion with people. I like shellfish, Polish/Hungarian food, English food, Japanese food and Italian food. This week I crave chicken and waffles.

The anxiety gripping two of my acquaintances along with me is the recognition we will need to buy replacement vehicles very soon, before the DE/MD/PA/NY/NJ waterlogged vehicles make their way westward as Katrina vehicles did seven years earlier. One has less than a month, I don't know how much time we have but would like a newer car before December 31. None of us has the money outright to purchase our desired vehicle. I may try asking DH if he can broker a 36-48 month loan at 2.25% APY from his mom and dad. It'd be more profitable than a CD for them, and we would not have a credit hit before we sell the house and buy somewhere else. Otherwise, I will have him apply for a loan through the credit union.

Off-topic: my kid's school is hosting a Fall Family Feast for fourth and fifth grade children, staff and families. We are invited to bring family feast favourite (read "ethnic") foods, but the notice in the takehome bulletin contains the text "We are looking for healthy food, no 'junk food,' and I do not know what they mean by 'junk food'. My spouse says "They mean no 'Twinkies' or 'Zingers'," but I think "who brings boxed Hostess-brand foods to a traditional family holiday feast"? I will have my kid bring Yorkshire pudding, I don't know who among the organizers has the final say on what constitutes 'junk food'. Yorkshire puddings are ethnic (not in Canada but apparently the mixes are in the 'international foods' aisle at our US supermarket), portable, require no reheating, and are guaranteed to be eaten by the kid if there are any leftovers. Not all that healthy, but no sugar or high fructose corn syrup or peanuts, and yes we did have them at family feasts.

I generally ignore most food guidelines set by the school, the sole guideline I pay absolute attention to is not bringing anything with peanuts. I always print out an ingredients list with the label of the food I bring and check for food allergies or diabetes among the guests before I prepare and bring items and think that is enough. Offering food under any circumstances gives me anxiety: I am proud of what I make, I know it is delicious, but there are always leftovers UNLESS the food has frightening amounts of sugar, like maple syrup pie or butter tarts. The worst was when we went to British Columbia to a relation's for Thanksgiving, I asked what to bring, she said and I quote "salad" so we went to Granville Island in Vancouver for organic greens, and made salad dressing in our car with some oil and vinegar and herbs we bought from a supermarket, and the BC guests who are fellow relatives did not touch it because the salad had green, leafy ingredients...

Eagle-eyed kid nets us two dollars

October 18th, 2012 at 05:17 pm

A change return receptacle at the U-Scan kiosk in our closest supermarket had two dollars. My child asked for 50% of the proceeds as a finder's fee and I gave him a dollar. A reminder that my kid is the best person to go shopping with: he always has an eye for freebies. He directed my attention to some free bottled water and cookies offered by our Credit Union for International Credit Union Day.

Not much to report: had coconut carrot curry soup as an entree earlier in the week, unscheduled but tempting, and it was delicious.

What to do with my $1: HELOC? Savings? Credit Card? Wait for a mate and then look for a bar that offers Chicken Crap Bingo?

The World of Suzie QPon

September 28th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

99.44% of this is contributed by Aubrie Olsen for Happy Woman Magazine. Sharing it here until the cease-and-desist comment shows up. Attribution has been given: no screams of plagiarism can be taken seriously.
*********ARTICLE BEGINS**********

Hi, my name is Suzy Q, the creator of the original money-saving blog created in 1985.


I have been couponing for the past 35 years and I have saved a grand total of $1.2 million dollars. I am about to divulge some of the best-kept secrets of the couponing world. Now—with this classified information—you too can join the elite 26.4% of shoppers who save 72.8% on their groceries every year.

The very first, most important thing that you must understand, that you must cherish, that you must fully respect, is the triumphant treasure of a coupon. In this world of survival of the fittest—trust me—coupons should be your life. The Golden Rule of couponing is: “Treat all coupons like bricks of gold.”

Now, in order to discover the missing love of your life, all you have to do is follow a few simple steps for beginners:

Step 1: Get a three-ringed binder; a 12-inch binder will do for now. Also, make sure to buy plenty of sheet protectors and a couple of hundred baseball card holders. Put all of these in your binder.

Step 2: Buy sixteen Sunday papers, maybe seventeen…or eighteen, nineteen, twenty… Pull out all of the coupon inserts—Smart Source, Red Plum, P&G, and so on—and the store ads from the newspaper. Throw the rest away. Repeat every week. For even more coupons, visit your local recycling centers to dumpster dive and scour for inserts.

Step 3: Sit down and clip out every single coupon. You must never throw an unexpired coupon away—never. Once they are all clipped out, it is critical to sort them out by product type and expiration date into the sheet protectors and card holders. Fold coupon if necessary. Repeat every week.

Step 3b: Make sure to squeeze in a few minutes to feed and water your plants, 12 children, and husband. You can stop pumping your husband if you have twelve children: ignore what the elders and bishops tell you.

Step 4: Now, in order to prepare for your shopping experience, it is of the utmost importance to scour the internet for any and every single coupon deal available. As you begin to compile your list, make sure to pull out the coupons that are required for shopping and sort them into individualized envelopes. Your task is not fully complete until you scavenge every store ad that is available for the current week for any possible coupon match-up that one of the few hundred coupon blogs may have failed to mention.

Step 5: Make a map of the stores in your city and plan a simple route to include every store to guarantee there is no unnecessary backtracking—time is money. Make a section in your coupon binder for all this information along with every store’s coupon policy, manager’s name, assistant manager’s name, and the corporate phone number—for when a tough situation arises.

Step 6: It is now time to leave your house and go shopping. Don’t forget your coupon binder—or your children.

Step 7: When you arrive at each store, make sure to go up and down each and every single aisle, twice, just in case there is some sort of unadvertised special. Don’t forget to pull out those candy bar coupons to calm the savage beasts while you are on your adventure.

Step 8: Once you have gathered all of your items and have double-checked that a deal was not missed, make your way to the checkout lanes with your 8-12 carts full of merchandise. Be sure to scout out the prime victim for your best hopes of a smooth checkout; the best unsuspecting cashier is male, age 16-24, and preferably has a carefree air about him.

Step 9: While waiting for 5-6 hours for your glorious stack of coupons to be scanned, it is necessary to stand tall with a gloating smirk on your face; this is sure to gain the attention of all those around you. As envious stares and the compliments about how great of a person you are for saving such a shocking amount of money come rolling in, make sure you mention my website and all of the wonderful information you have received from me. You must save your receipt from every transaction you complete.

Step 10: Repeat Steps 7-9 until you have visited every single store on your route.

Step 11: Upon returning home, put your minions to work by having them unload your trailer full of your purchases and put them away; remind them about the importance of rotating your stockpile. As they are putting your groceries away, make sure to capture pictures of your purchases so you can post them on your blog and show off your savings for the whole world to see.

…Only 137 hours later…

Step 12: Take out all of your saved receipts, taking care to keep them in mint condition, and lay them out in previously purchased picture frames. If necessary, use old picture frames that contain baby pictures. Hang these framed receipts up on the wall—preferably in your front entryway or living room—right next to the photos of your purchases as well as photos of your gorgeously stocked garage.

At the end of this extremely simple process: your three-car garage should be fully-stocked from floor to ceiling with a grandiose stockpile of toilet paper, mustard, boxes of cereal, and so much more; your walls should be plastered with frames filled with your receipts—proof of your expertise; you should be falling to sleep counting the savings on your receipts and dreaming of hundreds of bottles of barbeque sauce, tubes of toothpaste, containers of dish soap…

If you have yet to reach this state of pure happiness—full of joy and bliss—with an extreme affection for your millions of coupons, you can purchase my DVD—Suzy Q, Coupons, and You—for a limited time price of only $29.99. And remember, this price will never amount to the savings you will experience.

©2011 Aubrie Olsen
********* ARTICLE ENDS ***********

Spending lots today

September 24th, 2012 at 06:55 pm

Fatwallet.com allowed me to take 10% off already discounted outerwear (parka, mitts) for the boy's upcoming field studies. REI allowed me to buy wool socks on special, so I bought a fleece hat and capilene midweight thermal underwear to qualify for free shipping. REI taxed me, because we're both in Washington. $240. And I haven't even gotten around to the pajamas and rain jacket and fleece layers. Despite the outlay, I am not feeling sorry for myself -- half the children in my son's grade are low income. I would not mind so much if he did not already incur expenses for medical evaluation and dental extractions. He wants to work at some babysitting onsite at the school to earn a break on tuition.

Also bought boy's birthday present. I too often make the mistake of thinking the price I see on target.com is the price I will find at the store.

A bread-and-milk excursion ended up being more, to take advantage of some specials at Safeway. Thinking of doing vegetable soup and bread on Tuesday, and skipping off on the scooter to go see a film about Simone Weil.

Tapering off, Paying off, Sending off

September 19th, 2012 at 07:17 pm

1. Beat Caffeine Addiction - Lifehacker. I found $10 in a pants pocket and blew half of it on coffee. Without this, I am still $3 away from my $40 limit. After 12 noon, I switch to tea, to get the coconut oil melted in hot liquid. I have a tin of Teeccino which I cannot bring myself to use in the french press pot.
Sometimes I ask myself if I want a second coffee or if I want protein, and sometimes I go for protein.

2. About debt paying: I have read that possibly the reason for the slow economy in the United States is that people are paying off their debts. That seems too easy/pat an answer. I did not and still do not understand how banks and consumers would agree to get the consumer so mired that an increasing amount of money would go to paying off debt and not to keeping the economy going. Certainly now with gas costing over $4/gallon in the majority of stations in my city, and the gas prices and drought affecting how much food people can buy, the retail spending will be even less.

3. My tot is going on a two-night learning expedition to the Olympic National Forest. So right after I pay off the credit card I am embarking on my cyberexpedition to outfit him for under $300. We are not camping people, but I do not want my tot to get hypothermia. We went to Lake Louise, Alberta (Canada) one August and it was flippin' 3 degrees Celsius. We did NOT pack for that.; instead we packed like we did on our drive into America's Heartland. So I'm outfitting him like he was to stay in the Rockies. Parka, thermal underwear, fleece hat, warm socks, pajamas...

Already behind on the food budget

September 8th, 2012 at 07:46 am

I told my family we would be on a strict food budget: $720. As we have enough vegetable and animal protein to last us two weeks, I figured this would be easy. But I did a Costco run, and even though I missed about four items it came to $106.84, with $15.24 of that being vitamins (that should save me the $15 I would have spent on B-complex separately). So we have spent $182 so far in the first seven days.

With the Costco run we have $10 left in the month for coffee. I went to Cash&Carry for whipping cream and saw that the price went up by 10% since my last visit in July, and butter went up by 20%. These are the lowest prices around, according to my price book. So my coffee now looks like early Michael Jackson instead of later. I may have to run to the supermarket on the pretense of buying a doughnut and slip some half'n'half from the Starbucks kiosk into my drip.

We also ate out last night, as I was occupied creating a stock comparison worksheet, but at a highly-rated burger joint with very inexpensive offerings. $29.08 for three, and that included fresh and hand-dipped milkshakes.

So today I buy vegetables, fruit, luncheon meat and a little more dairy, and hope to spend less than $23, with a $5 coupon from a weekly circular.
Update: $40.11 I spent, but got $5.00 back. The males went with me, and we bought frozen vegetables. Other than eggs, I should not require any food items this week.

Debt so far:
VISA $583.66 due Sept. 27
Signature Visa: $61.24 due in mid-October (I did enable online bill payment, so I anticipate this will be paid on time)
Target: $120.93 due Sept. 21

Ancient Roman Coin or Not?

August 30th, 2012 at 04:19 pm

At my cafe (hey, I got a cappuccino for the price of a drip) the proprietor said "hey! Wanna see something REALLY NEAT?" He showed us

this coin

his friend, a numismatist, gave him. I copied down the inscription and used some Google-fu while he conducted business. I said I could come back with a camera and take images and try to look them up. He lent me the piece instead so I hotfooted it to my neighbourhood coin shop for a quick no-cost appraisal.

From looking at Roman Silver Coins I learned that the coin is not pure silver, but probably an alloy with maybe 2% silver, and probably a fake at that as it is a meld of two coins. Authentic Balbinus antonianus (denomination of Roman currency) do not have obverse/reverse image like the one displayed. But the fake is probably hundreds of years old.

I returned the coin to him with what I learned, wrote down some notes, and supplied the coin shop's card with e-mail address and the name of a company that does thorough appraisals at cost. My friend put on a good show of masking disappointment and shook my hand for my research effort.

Off-topic - What I am reading now

August 30th, 2012 at 09:58 am

(Requested)

I am four pages away from finishing Mapp and Lucia by EF Benson. The BBC produced and aired a TV adaptation of this in the 1980s, starring Geraldine McEwan and Prunella Scales. I could see Ms. Scales as Miss Mapp easily. I am so in love with this book that the males have taken notice. I will be sad to see this book transferred to the 'read' pile, but thankfully EF Benson wrote a series.

I finished Zeroville by Steve Erickson. Published in 2007, it won a number of "Best Book of the Year" accreditations. It is about the Hollywood film industry back in the late 1960s, when the classic studio system gave way to more maverick-style films, just before the marketing-driven blockbuster special effects era. Zeroville is easily the second best novel I have read this year. I did finish Anna Karenina, thanks to a big roadtrip, but I did not love it as much as Zeroville.

Some nonfiction I have is Howard Gardner's The Disciplined Mind (my mother-in-law gave it to me, she is a teacher), and from my library which is on extended furlough I have Proficient Motorcycling second edition, Qigong for Women, some declutter your life in a week book, Statistics for Dummies. Fiction: Alexandria by Vancouverite Nick Bantock, East of Eden, Welcome to the Monkeyhouse, Charles Ray Willeford's The Shark-Infested Custard, The Late George Apley by John P. Marquand. From the Little Free Library (posted minishelves of neighbours' books for lending) I have a Stieg Larsson paperback, the Dragon Tattoo novel. I am reading Vladimir Nabokov's Notes on Russian Literature lecture, so I can have trenchant insights when my book club discusses Anna Karenina. I saw the 1948 English film starring Ralph Richardson and Vivien Leigh: remarkably, in the novel Ms. Karenina was at first likable, but Ms. Leigh's character is not; Aleksei Andreyevitch is a stiff drip in the novel, but Ralph Richardson makes him noble and worthy of sympathy. The at least equally weighted plot of Levin and Kitty, and the other storylines of socioeconomic innovation and Stepan & Darya's deteriorating condition are ignored. Postwar I doubt the English had time for eight-hour epics, so that is probably why only one storyline was presented in the film.
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Received statements confirming stock purchases earlier this month.

Food shopping today

August 25th, 2012 at 02:58 pm

Safeway, a West Coast supermarket chain, is now very competitive and introduced Just 4 U Savings for card members. The savings are substantial enough for me to enroll. Today we three shopped at Safeway and our bill came to over $100, which is rare for us as we shop $60 here, $30 there, among six different food markets. But we saved 26% off our food bill PLUS 30 cents a gallon off our next vehicle refuel. We bought tritip roasts, ground beef, whole chicken, pork chops, lots of produce ($3 savings for us as we bought over $15 worth). And some carbonated fruit juice and club soda (I know, I know, but juice is at 18g sugar per serving, and we use the club soda for egg creams and for our own grenadine-and-lime soft drinks or pair it with scotch, and our summer limit is one soft drink every two weeks). Enough food to last us for ten days, barring dairy and bread.

Took my stock investor/debt group friend to Mutual Fish Company, where I bought a whole salmon, two whole trout, ginger and spinach. She bought some sashimi and scallops. Fresh as the public market, but cheaper.

I blog about this because my friend and I are trying to cut down on our food bills. It turns out she and I both share our vision of the ideal job (no, it is not putting thumb tacks in Jell-O for $1000/hour).

I will return to Safeway as we apparently forgot the Hockey News yearbook. Maybe I can justify the return by grabbing some yakisoba noodles and bulk spice from the chichi supermarket three blocks away.

Here is an article about superinvestor Warren Buffett.
--------
Worked on some gentle qigong exercises for weight loss and the qi rushed from my head so fast, despite my slow directed motions that I felt dizzy and nearly passed out. The qi moved into my palms and heated them up to a feverish temperature. I have taken qigong before but it was Soaring Crane and I did not have weird experiences. This was from Dominique Ferraro's book _Qigong for Women_, an exercise for weight loss and energy balancing for some organs' meridians. The qi "heat rush" is apparently a desired effect. I do read that this qigong can be powerful when used correctly and with full intention, so in future exercises I will make sure the animals are away or out of the room and open a window, one that faces a tree.
I try not to be too woo-woo, and have a healthy skepticism, but I have felt the effects of energy medicine firsthand and know they are real, and so have other people who do tai chi, kung fu, qigong, and other similar exercises.

This week in housekeeping

August 12th, 2012 at 07:04 pm

The whole family did pantry, freezer and refrigerator inventories so I could figure out what foodstuffs we need to eat before they spoil. We will "chow down the grains" which is fine because after eleven days of mostly roadtrip food we are ready to eat fresh vegetables and fruits.

Anniversary is tomorrow so we went to Peaks Frozen Custard so my spouse could have a double-scoop freebie. Then to Whole Foods, where all the fish is a dollar more a pound than my price book advises. I did find some deals: bulk-packaging chicken thighs for Japanese cooking, chard and kale bunches discounted by a dollar, and Garden of Life Raw Meal powder canisters at 40% off. I wonder if I could lose weight with those meal replacements. We are not eating out for the anniversary: we celebrated enough with custard, margaritas and pie slices. We will see "Safety Not Guaranteed", a homegrown indie movie that looks fun and clever.

Have a better idea how to time my bill-paying so nothing falls into arrears. Filled out MCDirect Purchase Plan application for DS, thought to pay into GE and WAG. Johnson Controls (JCI) looks really good now too.

Back and broker but not with a broken back

August 3rd, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The neighbours left on vacation. They took the third best option and left their senile incontinent lonely whining dog inside. Better options are kenneling and taking the dog with them.

I left on vacation with my family. We took the 2nd best option and left all our cats with 24/7 housesitters. The best option would have been kenneling one cat and keeping two cats at home.

Semi-frugal: had free tickets for the Botanical Gardens and for OMNIMAX and Planetarium of the Science Center, and free breakfasts for most of the travel days. Also many dinner entrees for under $10, unheard of in Seattle unless there is a drive-thru and caloric information posted above a uniformed front-counter person.

not at all frugal: Hubby locked the car keys in the truck, requiring a locksmith, and the boy unbuckled his seatbelt when a state trooper approached us after pulling us over. Yes the car had stopped before the boy extricated himself but apparently that did not matter and cannot be proven in court.

Car got 30.5 mpg mileage -- not terrific, but it does terrific speed as we learned through Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Idaho.

more expenses: higher car insurance, boy requires three teeth extracted, ticket for the unbuckled seatbelt -- we were NOT ticketed for speeding, though we were pulled over for doing 88 in a 75 zone. We were not ticketed because my husband was driving: he had not exceeded the speed limit at any time in our marriage prior to this incident, and we had a rental car we had not spent much time in.

Not looking forward to credit card statements, no sirree.

More Spending, and most not on fun

July 23rd, 2012 at 01:01 pm

DS has three adult teeth coming in, two of his baby teeth are not giving way -- his mouth again resembles that of a shark with a second set of munchers. 31 days from now the baby teeth get removed by dentist. Kaching Kaching. Weep.

Went out to Ivar's Acres of Clams as our guests, on a Sunday night, vacillated between seafood and pizza (show me a restaurant that does both well) -- getting reservations for six on short notice in tourist season is tricky. But I managed it. Brother knows pizza is four blocks away if he wants it: very fresh, like from the water to the pier, seafood is not. On days like that I am reminded how small our city is.

My waist is finally at 34", a one-inch reduction. I keep reading that women with waists 35" in circumference or thicker are at increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease: what if you are taller than 98% of women? What if you are over 40 and your tummy naturally thickens as part of the aging process? What if your waist is still slimmer than your thighs and your breasts and you can look down and see your toes?

Roadtrip will damage my diet. That is why I have protein bars, trail mix, and spring water for food supply. Pondering taking coconut oil for insomnia and sleep issues, but I would need something portable as an oral debriding agent.

One cat has adopted my brother's family. The one that jumps on people ran back to us on the first cool evening and has not left the bed sixteen hours later. No he is not dead.

No dead pool news: Julius Pierpont Patches has died, which saddens those of us who grew up watching him on TV. Andy Williams is dying and I am sad about that too.

Getting Replacement Printer

June 26th, 2012 at 10:16 am

As long as I am ranting about people who are in denial about their animals' age-related decline, I admit that my HP inkjet printer is not worth maintaining anymore. We are shelling out $20 big ones for a laser printer and a USB keyboard from the University surplus.

More in cheap deals: my credit union generously reduced the ticket price to minor league baseball so I could save $32 while I see my hometeam lose 2-12! We invited my kid's best friend to come along, which was a bad idea, as he brought lots of money and bought sugary things for him and for our own boy. At least my kid cannot claim we don't take him anywhere fun this summer.

Keeping the child active during the summer

June 15th, 2012 at 05:24 pm

Thankfully there is an ice arena within driving distance. The boy will find out if he truly likes skating or hockey. If not, well, there is always curling, and that is plenty Canadian.

Thinking also of camps: spy camp, cooking lessons, swimming lessons, lacrosse... it is a first for me to even be considering these before school is out.

Also considering u-pick farms. Strawberries, blueberries... mmm...

going, and gone

June 10th, 2012 at 04:00 pm

Going: me, on a road trip. I have a terrific 250-song list to put on my mp3 player.

Gone: Frank Cady and Ray Bradbury, the Cadbury week.
Dedicated to the list administrices of my dead pools this year, this entertaining and always safe for the grandkids Scopitone.

Back from Portland

June 3rd, 2012 at 05:19 pm

I don't even want to talk about how much I spent. I went away to Portland to tour it with a Vancouver BC friend. I rented a car, got free breakfasts, went to Voodoo Donuts and Powell's (two locations) and the Saturday Market. We watched the Rose Festival Starlight Parade on a local news channel. I slept beautifully: blackout blinds, quiet floor, lots of room to stretch out on both the sofa bed and the kingsize bed.

My English Castle was correct: it was good to get away. When my friend came in on Fri/Sat @ midnight, I babbled about the shooting, apologized and said I didn't plan to be a downer this weekend. And I apparently wasn't.

My friend told me about the Toronto shooting -- I have had it up to HERE with shootings, and it turned out her train back was replaced by a bus owing to mudslides so rather than return to Vancouver on the bus from Portland, she went with me back to Seattle where we had some nice espresso (you'd think I would give up coffee since Wednesday) and biscotti and croissants. She's on a bus departed from Seattle back to Vancouver. I am happy in retrospect to have driven down rather than taken the train. My time in a 180-mile jaunt is 2.5 hours, including ten minutes jammed in Seattle Sunday traffic: very pleased!

I have a spiffy cloth large tote, three fragrant soaps from Rileyville, progesterone cream, two boxes of Shreddies for the boy, Games World of Puzzles, a copy of Anna Karenina for book club, a Haruki Murakami novel, a book for my friend whose birthday list would have led me to Cinema Books and Scarecrow Video, a few blocks south of Cafe Racer) so I told my travel companion if she wanted she could think that she saved my life by giving me the option to shop at Powell's Books.

I'd do the candle walk/dual service for the Cafe Racer victims but despite my fractured toe we walked several miles yesterday. My toe didn't act up but the soles are complaining.

Life is precious and fleeting, I see that now. Thank you for all your kind thoughts and fellowship.

weekend ramble

April 22nd, 2012 at 07:03 pm

Animal Control came. The Great Dane in its small pen barked for close to 60 minutes, maybe 75 minutes on Friday at dinner time, when it's inconvenient to have pink noise or the mp3 player on for dinner prep twice... I no longer record when it barks during the day, because I can slip headphones on and ignore it, but I can't ignore it at dinner: I have to hear timers beep, phone ring. I've discovered pink, white, and brown noises on binaural beats are as beautiful to hear as a newborn's first cry.

Dismayed by low Zillow estimate. Don't know how 38% growth in market value over 12 years happens to just us and only us, but others have higher ones. New roof, new heating system, new insulation, new windows, new kitchen, new bathroom. Just because everything except the roof haven't been added in the last two years doesn't mean that Zillow's priced it in.

I am doing an employment novena for my friend and he is doing one for me. All I know is that after the "holy water", purple candle burning, Blood Sugar Blues tincture and magnesium, the nasty cortisol-fueled thought racket at night doesn't happen.

We missed out on the car buying days event sponsored by the credit union. Oh well. September or August, we should have a newer car. Unless we've moved, in which case we will definitely have a better car.

Robin Gibb woke up from his coma. I'm positive Barry Gibb's singing to him did the trick: Barry can hit the notes that can recharge certain parts of the brain. Oddly "You Should Be Dancin'" hit the mp3 shuffle play as I typed this. I am sorry I did not think to play the Bee Gees when my mother had her cancer. Maybe Paul McCartney couldn't sing high enough to put Linda McCartney's cancer into remission. Two deaths in a week is just greedy anyway.

My spending focus is on the house.

Birth and Death and IKEA

April 18th, 2012 at 09:54 am

my birthday rolled around. Parents dead for over a decade so they're no fun. Nifty presents are all colourful: Raoul Dufy print mug, flowers, rainbow Swatch watch, a mystery book. And now a double-scoop of custard: Kit Kat plus vanilla! Five-star Yelp review comin' up!

Deaths: Dead Pool 2013 is already slated, thanks to recent announcements, plus a NY Times online feature about obituaries, including dead pools, so now I have rich sources of names. I'm envious of the people who made their dead pool lists as global and varied as possible: mine was mostly US-based. My friend who gave me the Dufy mug is ranked ten on a big deadpool, I am languishing at position thirty-seven, eighth from last. No money is involved there though. Happy with my current position on a money dead pool.

I'd been secretly hoping I'd get a 38-point bump by today on my for-money list. I am sure I am not the only one.

Dead Pool UPDATE: Dick Clark passed. He's on my list. I better let the fair administrix know.

Thanks for the birthday greetings and wishes! I only wish I had the stamina and focus to keep cheer every day and pass it around as well!

Finished the second of Kyril Bonfiglioli's Charlie Mortdecai crime novels: this one is not so much fun, less violent and more domestic than the first, Don't Point That Thing at Me.

Close to broke again (but not poor) after a trip to IKEA. Hoped to pay with credit card, balance well into the three digits after birthday dinner, gifts, and auto repair and maintenance charges, but didn't have a PIN. I did get a coupon for $1.08 off my next IKEA purchase, and the kid had a fun time at the cafeteria: all the Swedishness reminded him of Team Alfredsson in the NHL All-Star event, where at least six Swedes from Ottawa and Vancouver were on Alfie's team. And what Canadian teams made it to 1st round in the playoffs? That's right, Ottawa and Vancouver. Fortunately IKEA is cheap and I didn't buy more than what I could carry. IKEA's having a "living room event" next week: maybe I'll finally get that Ektorp sofa bed and matching chair.

Scrabble players, according to a University of Calgary study, really are smarter than most. I feel this is another handicap preventing me from employment. Maybe the real handicap is not knowing what jobs are available where puzzle-solving and pattern recognition are valued and earn ample compensation. Too many people I see at school and at shopping who are hired ignore, disdain and yawn or foolishly argue and lie. I used to think it was me, but I've had great experiences at other places and think I must have crossed the divide into "those kids are rude and have no sense of privacy" codgerdom. I'm happy with that.

Into the spending pit I go

April 12th, 2012 at 08:47 pm

or is it investing pit?
Getting numbers of painters and landscapers.

Spent $330+ on car service: Oxygen sensor was starting to go, that would explain getting below 22 mpg, which I didn't think was possible with our car. Spent $50 on a Nine West watch at Macy's. I wanted a watch, longed for the Betsey Johnson watches available at Nordstrom but we're poor, so we paid for a watch we are to pick up on the 25th or later, at 25% discount.

naturally if we do move, we will be buying a new car with some proceeds. Not that there's any difference between doing that and buying a car with the HELOC...

Dirtnap for Dollars update: Pneumonia brings family around for emergency visits.

weekly wrap-up

March 17th, 2012 at 10:57 am

We visited an India-Pakistan store nearby, for the first time. Scarily old products (best before 2008) on shelves, but netted what I was looking for: amla hair oil. Strengthens the hair, gives it shine, and purportedly hides grey. Good source of Vitamin C as it is from gooseberry. Strangely they had no ground cumin in bulk.

This week neither my spouse nor I went out for coffee. Including drip. This is a first. I attribute it to his day off yesterday and my bout of cystitis.

Our interest from CDs and accounts was calculated and added. Not much, but more than what we would have budgeted for coffee this week.

Some Comcast guy offered my spouse some upgrade, but was wretched and rude about it. He claimed that for $9 extra a month the speed would double before verifying what speed we had, and we'd have access to 80 television channels (no interest to us). Comcast doesn't offer any individualized plan of optimal benefit for the consumer. I put my hand on spouse's shoulder and said "Comcast is a small company. There's only so much it can do." The sales guy riposted, "Everything should be free, huh?" Which makes no sense. I wasn't asking for free stuff and didn't complain about our current bill.

It's rare that anyone comes to us with "hey we have a way to save you money" that actually results in a lower monthly cost and better quality. BECU gets five star reviews from me because they did not balk at switching our mortgage plan from 15-year plus application fee to 12-year with no application fee once the latter mortgage product had rolled out. They didn't say "Everything should be free, huh?"

My $90 day

March 14th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

10.719 gallons refuel @ $3.909/gallon, cheapest within three miles of my home. I even beat the closest gas station to my house, one of the cheapest in Seattle (which means I went outside Seattle for fuel). $41.84

$39.64 - organic milk (brought wrong coupons), tea tree oil (for cleaning mildewy/smelly fabrics and other), MarketSpice tea (it's wet wet cold wet today), Spike seasoning in bulk, Ginger Peach tea in bulk, chicken breasts @ price-book level, red wine vinegar, five other items I can't think of, sirloin tip roast @ close to price-book level, organic carrots @ price-book level, eggs @ below price-book level, walnuts @ price-book level.

$8.79 -- favourite expenditure: PIE slices at $3.14/slice! with San Pellegrino water: I have cystitis, UTI or a kidney stone, so I bought the water to lower the internal pressure I was feeling. Left a tip 'coz I ain't no drip.

I did a second, clean pass through our taxes and saw that we owed $14.40 more than originally estimated. Crossing my fingers we don't get a tax penalty.

Lent!

February 22nd, 2012 at 03:48 pm

According to data from the Federal Reserve Board, the ratio of homeowners’ equity to value at the end of the first quarter of 2011 was just 38.0 percent, the lowest on record. If this includes the 100% equity of paid off houses, I request permission to gulp audibly.

Slept through Ash Wednesday morning Mass. I did get replacement tabs and registration for the car -- well timed, as today they expire, so there is my penance. I also renewed our Scarecrow Video 10-punch account, taking out a Pokemon DVD for tot, and a Guy Maddin film for me (it was two-for-one Wednesday today, so one film would be for free).

No giving up disordered attachments of the flesh, other than the resistance to exercise. I do have some abundance--flesh, books and clutter, but scarcity in other areas. Disordered attachments of the mind and wallet will be surrendered, once I figure out what the disordered attachments of the wallet are. Library fines? Wasted food? Five-minute hot showers in February? Acrylamide-laden potato chips? Extra payments toward principal of extremely cheap loan? Sending heavy pricy coffee table hardcover books to eastern Canada while people starve on the streets? Disordered attachment of the mind is thinking how lowly and lonely I am. Certainly there are others who feel more lowly and lonely but I need to know how to find them to care for them. Thinking I need all the books and back magazines I have is disordered attachment.

Chequing account is now under $100 from now until payday.

Lenten practice possibilities:
sell books on shelves. divide proceeds between donating and debt.
empty a junk drawer.
Push-ups and sit-ups. If a starving, freezing Jew can do them in The Book Thief, I could do them.
clean one floor of pieces of paper.
Fast. Sleep on the floor.
Donations for every Vancouver Canucks win (22 games played between now and Easter).
Donation for every Dead Pool win I get between now and Easter (this should be easy -- I may have hit my limit).

Costco Spree and other delights

February 20th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

My little one griped through his cart commander duty, having to veer and make sharp turns past the pod people on their phones. I tried to find clear aisles whenever possible. Coffee went back down under $6/lb! Manufacturer's rebate on diced tomatoes! Chicken thighs @ 99 cents a pound!

Costco Damage: $184.18 for thirteen items, most of them pantry things - peanut butter, cereal, canned tomato sauce, above-paragraph items, pens, quinoa, apple juice, sugar, pasta x 2. And Q-Tips.

Don't believe we yet made the $55/membership fee back in savings. I do imagine we saved at least $26. I don't feel we save heaps at Costco, because we spend heaps, but thanks to the price book and our fortitude in waiting until we have at least one dozen items to buy, we do save.

Then I misgauged the size of our Dr. Bronner Baby Mild empty bottle, went to refill it at $5.29/lb. $11.44 for over-filling the 32-ounce bottle. As Holden Caulfield would say, "Hee, I'm a madman."
Treated boy and myself to "Galaxy Blackout" chocolate cake thingies. $1.43 left in my purse.

After this we'll have $150 to get us through four days. Yesterday was a no-spend day for me and boy, but DH had a haircut "The Spaulding Special" (think tennis ball) for $15 + tip. I want to buy a book for a long-distance friend who's losing her geriatric cat to kidney disease (I lost a 19.5 year-old Burmese to kidney failure so my heart is aching for her and for me still) -- she lives, well, she really lives closer to London, England than she does to me, and we're on the same continent. How's that for remote? She can't afford treatment for her cat because she's on a credit/debt repayment plan and can't use her cards. Despite the looming tax bill I can show her a little love -- a coffee table picture book of Jean Harlow's Hollywood days, perfect for the woman I first met at Highland & Hollywood, where the "Intolerance" ancient Babylonia set re-creation is.

Poverty Chow Week:
bean casserole plus leftover chicken curry, roast beef, chicken w/capers.
Tuesday: pancakes.
Wednesday: fish (oysters? mussels?)
Thursday: chicken paprikash

jolted into conscious spending/saving

February 17th, 2012 at 02:02 pm

Walked to and from Target today, in the rain. I made a list of six items I could carry home in a six block walk. I didn't save much money other than the 5% discount from RedCard and some sales on non-list items like AAA batteries and Starbucks ground coffee (total $4.23), but I did get some aerobic activity. When we empty the bag we can bring it to a Starbucks store for a free 12 oz drip for even more savings. I was going to go to Costco but was stopped by a back-of-the-envelope estimate of the cost of my desired purchases, the sum of which I mentally added to our heating bill ($118). I probably saved $1.50 by not going to Costco (gas).
Lentils ($1.49/lb), organic sugar ($3.00/lb) and quinoa ($7.99/30 oz) are not good deals at Target but they are at Costco.

Oh! And do we want to discuss deals? I shopped at Trader Joe's for produce, and came home with two humdinger deals, said the man who checked out my groceries. One was in the produce department -- I will let the regular TJ shoppers guess--answers in the comments please, and the other is the wine. I picked up a barbaresco nebbiolo for under $15 and saw a Barolo for under $20. I and the woman behind me at checkout were treated to a mini-seminar on how Trader Joe's manages to sell wine that cheap: it pays in cash and on time (at the time of sale/pickup, I guess). I silently edged toward the end of the checkout aisle, conscious of the woman behind me with her shopping cart, but she was as appreciative as I was to learn more about how Trader Joe's gives us its budget-price value wonders.

My rules now:
any home brewed cup of coffee that is less than 30 cents for 6 ounces is okay. I am also using up green tea and will work on the yerba mate when Lent starts (February 22).

Make at least one meal a week that includes any of the lingering red lentils, polenta, kasha, barley, quinoa in our pantry.

I posted a chart of our tax liability on the fridge. I am recruiting the boy to do weekly inventories of our pantries, fridge and freezer. Our reward for getting at least halfway to our tax liability in savings will be a 2-day stay in Vancouver (the uppercase one, in case the NW peeps were wondering) right after the tax payment is in the mail.

Gary Carter was on my list in the dead pool baselle is administrating. RIP Mr. Carter - Montreal was lucky to have you.

Fun Day with Recipe

February 14th, 2012 at 05:53 pm

We went to Budapest Bistro up in way north Lynnwood, as I had been craving Hungarian food since Zsa Zsa's birthday. The menu was very small: all on a whiteboard. We picked the one dish I had not made at home: a rice dish with peppers and paprika called lecho (Recipe to follow!). I had hot spiced red wine, and a cream puff for dessert. We were the only customers in. I sat next to a map of Hungary, and saw my ancestors' village just at the northern border of Hungary, touching Slovenia. Then everything about my grandmother's cooking washed over my memory cells: the spaetzle, cabbage rolls, sauerkraut, perogies.

I made Valentines for my son to hand out in class. This style went over well with the male fourth-graders:

with a nice bitter epithet from H L Mencken!

The one for his music teacher was even better. It had Twelfth Night's Duke of Orsino's "if music be the food of love, play on" quote, and "'Enough; no more: 'Tis not so sweet now as it was before." seeming to come from a dowager.


My lunch date thought it was nice. I thought it was wonderful: romance for me is not necessarily hearts, flowers and chocolates -- a few hours' burp-ups of peppered rice and cinnamon-infused Cabernet is as good as a rubdown as far as this girl is concerned.

Lecho
1 pkg. Hungarian (or Polish) sausage
4 sweet peppers (yellow, green and red in mine)
5-6 potatoes
1 c. uncooked rice
1 lg. onion
Salt & pepper
Paprika
Water
Saute onions and green peppers. Slice sausage and saute with peppers and onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover meat. Add diced potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Let cook about 15 minutes on medium-high. Add rice. Cook until potatoes and rice are done (about 35-40 minutes).

payday yayday

February 10th, 2012 at 09:04 pm

Each payday I feel like Peanuts' Lucy shaking her Psychiatric Help stand can with a nickel inside.


Spent $$$ today: oldest friend came by with his family. He, she and I had a great time: his daughters were somewhat bored/restless, understandable: all were under 12, the cats fled immediately, and soon my son did as well, as he too is under 12. He didn't emerge until his father came home. We went to an izakaya (Japanese pub). I love my friend because we can be immediately real and honest with each other in ways that might be awkward with other people. My phone service provider told me I needed to add money if I was going to do crazy things like call Canada phone numbers: I paid the extortion fee they call "Top Up." It was worth it though. I also ran to the corner store to get multigrain and cheddar crackers, Pepperidge Farm cookies and juice. I also cut up vegetables and pears and made a vegetable dip.

What did I learn from this? Chance favours the prepared mind. And I am not an awful person.

I think I lost already the 2012 dead pool: Robin Gibb is recovering from his liver cancer, so the news reads.

a Gitterdun Day

February 9th, 2012 at 05:18 pm

Finally filed paperwork for: official complaint against a neighbour's noise abuse; e*Trade account transfer to TD Ameritrade. Bought a Valentine's Day present for hubby and two Valentine Cards. Also a prescription.
Mailed a birthday card: am still two days behind on my mail challenge. Paid young boy's dues -- took them out of his account.

I am freaked out about the price the pharmacy gave for the one prescription I didn't take home: $319. America must hate me: if that's so, then at least I am not alone. Maybe I'll just fly to Lourdes and have my ailment cured, or douse my eyeballs in holy water. Or I could try the new Flexible Savings Card and run our new prescription cards. I did pay for the $53 prescription.

We received books from the mother-in-law: Jasper Fforde (a welcome surprise!!), Kurt Vonnegut (ditto), lots of Harlan Ellison, a John Connelly book (who he?) and five Ha Jin.

Son is still keen on the Umpqua Bank "Learn to Earn" account registration. He came into my bedroom when I was not yet awake asking for an account application signature: he SELDOM enters my bedroom while I am still in the Twilight Zone between dream and reality. He was in the School Savings program with Washington Mutual in kindergarten: he would dress like a banker on Casual Friday and make jokes about bankers drinking. I volunteered then. That's probably what's getting him fired up about this low-interest plan. I do think it funny that he went to me instead of his father, as his father signed the Guardian part of the application.

Reread my HELOC documentation in the Records Office: apparently my HELOC is for twenty-five years, not ten.
This changes my savings and debt payoff strategy.

I'm putting a glorybe tag on this for what I read yesterday that has changed my life: my "eschatological purpose is to make/perceive every moment one full of love and pregnant with possibility and then act on it." I thought of this a few times a day and I think it slightly hued my interactions and thought processes.

Boldog születésnapot Zsa Zsa, Happy Birthday Chuckie D.

February 7th, 2012 at 04:57 pm

Even though I'm losing a potential point from a Dead Pool, happy birthday to Zsa Zsa Gabor. I'll cook a Hungarian dish in honour of 95th bd.

And happy birthday to birthday boy Charles Dickens.
I already read Pickwick Papers, that's worth a year of Dickens right there. Can you imagine a one-semester course on Dickens? "Here, read Pickwick Papers, Barnaby Rudge, Bleak House, Our Mutual Friend, Dombey and Son. I'll have more reading for you next week."

Received money back from CenturyLink. Spouse and I went to a diner in Ballard with the proceeds. I like going to diners with my spouse because we're in the straddle between hipsters and old farts, and both camps like diners.

Which would be heavier reading: Dickens novels or divorce documents concerning Zsa Zsa Gabor?


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