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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


Text is Beat Caffeine Addiction and Link is http://lifehacker.com/5944489/how-to-kick-your-caffeine-addiction-and-actually-enjoy-your-coffee-again?utm_campaign=socialflow_lifehacker_twitter&utm_source=lifehacker_twitter&utm_medium=socialflow
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


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.
Received statements confirming stock purchases earlier this month.