Monday, August 31, 2015

Thinking Ahead to September Grocery Budget....

And a new way of handling it!

I have been spending a lot of time focusing on how to get our grocery budget back into some sense of control.  This weekend I had an epiphany (sort of) that I have high hopes will help keep me in check....

Before I even talk about numbers, I have to fess up.  If there is money in our bank account, no matter whether it is "budgeted" or not, I tend to think it's "okay" to use it and I can "make up the difference" later.  It has been a huge downfall of mine and something that needs to be changed YESTERDAY!  Taking this into consideration, here's my "epiphany"....

I have an older checking account at a local bank. It has an extremely small balance in it right now (like under ten dollars) but it also has a debit card linked to it.  Starting in September, I will be "moving" the grocery budget monies into this account and only using this for groceries.  Yes, it will be an extra step or two but I am positive this will be the best way for me to succeed on staying within budget.  Once the cash is gone, it's GONE.

I will also be treating this like a "game" to see how little I can spend on groceries from the budget.  I have a "reward" set up if I can stay under September budget - my favorite balsamic vinegar (found for $28/2 bottles on line),  But that is only to be purchased at the end of the month IF I can stay under budget.

Also, depending on how far under budget I can get, I will either be leaving the "extra" in there to do some bulk shopping for the winter months (I hate to drive in the snow) or possibly taking the cash out and putting it into the emergency fund.  I guess I will cross that bridge when September ends.

Now, what's my budget?  I have decided upon $500.  Part of me thinks that's too much, part of me thinks it's too little.  But, it's what I am going to stick to for September!

How will I do it?

* Aldi - I will make the trip to Aldi at least one to two times this month to stock up on basics - butter, milk, cheese, cereal, etc.

* Farmer's Market - Yes, I plan to still go there.  But, I will be mindful on prices (no $1.50 for one onion here!) and try to buy only what we love/good deals.  And, I am still going to purchase the cider donuts - they are too good to pass up plus I am contributing to a "mom & pop" style business, right? RIGHT?  lol

*  Shopping loss leaders at the two grocery stores in town and trying to only get those items

*  Getting more creative with recipe substitutions

*  Cutting down on my biggest grocery waste - Diet soda!  It's expensive and especially not good for me with my MS issues.

*  Continuing to keep up with meal planning

And there it is.  My September Grocery Budget - the "rebooted" edition!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Menu Plans! (Expanded Edition)

In an effort to have less waste and more organization during the week, I have chosen to do loose plans for breakfasts and lunches this week too!  Here's what I came up with:


Chocolate Chip Banana bread (made yesterday)
Blueberry muffins (made yesterday)
Monkey Bread
Broccoli Cheddar Quiche (being made today)


Roast Beef Sandwiches
Pasta Salad
Granola Bars, String Cheese, & Fruit
Garden Salad with Protein of Choice
PB&J with Chips


SATURDAY:    Last night's meal was Breakfast for Dinner - pancakes, bacon, & homefries

SUNDAY:         Mini Meatloaves, Homemade Mac -n- Cheese, Roasted Broccoli, Salad

MONDAY:       Chicken Parmesan, Buttered Noodles, Green Beans w/ Garlic

TUESDAY:        Steak, Mashed & Roasted Potatoes,  Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Carrots

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti with tomatoes, olives, and capers, Garlic Bread, Salad OR choice of leftovers

THURSDAY:     Chicken Tikki Masala, Rice, Naan

FRIDAY:             Black Beans & Rice in homemade Tortilla Shells


SUNDAY:            Eye Round Roast, Baked Potatoes, Honeyed Carrots

Almost all ingredients are already in my pantry.  My grocery list for the week is very small and only includes:

Chicken Cutlets
Jasmine Rice
Box of Spaghetti/Linguini

It took quite a long time to come up with these menus.  My hope is that it will get easier/quicker as I do it more consistently.  As of right now, I definitely feel the time I put into it was extremely worth it.  I feel much more "in control" of our meals than usual.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Recap of Back to School.....

First I have to say, I am already getting used to MY new schedule of getting up earlier...Case in point is this morning!  We got home from Long Island very very late last night - around 2:30 am.  Yet, it's 9:30 and who is the only one up in the house? Who has been the only one up for the last hour?  Yup!  Me!

Thursday was Back To School here....And it went so much better (mostly) than I thought it would!

As I have mentioned before, G1 is not a "mainstream" kiddo.  She has her own style, attitude, etc.  She has the very rare gift of knowing who she is at only 16 and will not bow down to any peer pressure - be it clothing/music choices or drugs (she's petrified of them!  And yeah, rich town so we have more than our fair share of preppy pot smokers, ton of e-Cigs, and unfortunately some heroin use.)  Anyway, she stands out from the typical crowd at the high school and is sometimes the subject of bullying.  I was extremely concerned she would have to deal with that crazy ex-Bf of hers - can't trust the school would remember to keep them separated!  And, she had a falling out with another friend this summer and confided in me that this 'friend" has been doing a bit of online bullying crap that G1 was ignoring.  G1 also told me that this "friend"  ruthlessly bullied another girl last year to the point of throwing stuff at her in the lunchroom - and got away with it!  This girl saw/heard what Papa and I did when the ex-BF was giving G1 a hard time so I hoped that she would know well enough to not mess with our family!  Turns out, so far, she hasn't been bothering G1 and the ex-BF is being kept away as well!  Phew!
G1 also relatively likes *most* of the teachers.  (One is new, took over a class from a beloved teacher who left our school system, and is being a hard ass right now - like laying down strict ground rules to keep control of the class kinda thing.  He is just rubbing her the wrong way - I told her my "new teacher" thoughts and that she should keep an open mind.)
Here's the biggest success (in my mind) with G1....She LOVES her job!  Like sincerely 100 percent loves it!  Her bosses (who already had high hopes for her) were super impressed Thursday afternoon, asked her to stay longer than her scheduled hours, and she received an email that evening about tacking MORE time to her schedule if she likes.  G1 really needed this "win" to help her realize not everyone would treat her like the high school does.  I knew she would stand out because she took the job for the "right" reasons - not parental pressure because this job would look good on a college application.  She adores little kids and I am wondering if this is going to change her career paths eventually.  Time will tell...

My little G2 had a great first day as in she likes her teachers (especially the one I was hoping she would get for Language Arts!).  The *problem* is that G2 stresses herself out quite a bit and got overwhelmed.  She went to hang out with friends after school but called me 45 minutes later to pick her up because she had a migraine. (Change/stress is one of her triggers)  Poor girlie spent the rest of the night upstairs sleeping!  Papa and I talked to her more yesterday about the beginning of school and she seems happy.  My true hope is that her adjustment period will be short and stress will end quickly.  It helps SOOOO much that G1 had the same team/teachers in 8th grade so we already know what/who were are dealing with and it's all good!

Monday will start my true NEW routine!  I want to spend sometime this weekend figuring out a loose game plan to start.   There is a LOT I want to accomplish and it's not going to happen if I keep flying by the seat of my pants!

Another Weekend of Without Farmer's Market Finds

Truth is, I am pretty bummed to be going a second week in a row without visiting the farmer's market.  I love going there and spending time alone with Papa.  But....

This weekend I am being practical and hopefully frugal in the process.

There is still an abundance of everything in my kitchen!  We went to Costco last Monday and I did a rather large stocking up.  I can't justify going out and buying MORE veggies/fruits/etc when my fridge has so stuffed with them already!  And, I think I may even have to do some quick blanching/freezing of some veggies before I lose them.

Trying to think more logically and be more responsible here.....

Friday, August 28, 2015

Food Waste Friday Time. Snow White Addition!

Another addition of Food Waste Friday!  This week's isn't nearly as plentiful as last time thought!!!

Fed to the Dog:

Poor Puppy had to eat just her dog food this week!  Unless you count the few pieces of fat off the meat at dinner time we gave her!  LOL

Fed to the Squirrels:

3 ish cups of the oats from Lucky Charms  -  G1 ate solely the marshmallows from the box.  Didn't make for a very happy Mama but she said she had a system where she "shares" the oats with the squirrels.  Yeah, and I told her my new system was she can buy her own Lucky Charms from now on!  LOL

Fed to our Bunny:

1 to 2 cups of romaine that was starting to pink/wilt a bit.  Great and healthy treat for her and a way to keep food out of the compost.

Fed to the Hamster:

The very inner leaves of a bunch of celery.  Again I could have probably chopped them up and added to some dish.  However, Rebel loves the celery leaves and it's a healthy supplement to his diet.

Fed to the Compost:

1 1/2 c pasta with pesto sauce.  It got pushed to the back of the fridge and molded.

Fed to the Garbage:

2 or so cups of ground beef mixture used for Cheeseburger Wraps.  I made too huge a batch for dinner one night.  Even though G1 had it again for a few lunches, there was too much leftover to continue to safely eat.  I really should have taken half of it the night I made it and froze it.  It could have been a "frozen asset" rather than trash.  *couldn't feed it to the dog because there was a TON of onion in it *

And, now you can see why I'm calling it the "Snow White Addition"!  I felt like I fed all the little animals around me!  LOL

How did you guys do waste wise this week?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reigning in Electricity Costs

Electricity has been one of the major budget busters for my family.  As I have mentioned, our electric company sends out these little handy dandy reports telling you where you rank among your neighbors with similar size houses 1 being best and 100 being worst.  Last report put us at 88!  UGH!  Not surprising though, because our bills are through the roof!  Here comes another reboot challenge!

September, October, and the early part of November are typically the months I can play the most with lowering my electricity bills.  Air conditioners are used as much, if at all.  Kids aren't home all day every day with every light and electrical device plugged in and on.  Crock pots get pulled out more often. Teenage girls not having their hair appliances plugged in all day because they are "bored" and want to experiment with hair styles. Etc.

My last bill (meter read on 8/21) was $259.05.  In the spirit of "go big or go home", I am going to try to get the bill under $200 for September!

Here are some of the ways I hope to accomplish this...

1.  More Crock Pot meals/less oven
2.  When Oven is being used, use it to its maximum (ie baking while cooking a roast)
3.  Vigilance with lights being off - especially during school hours
4.  Less A/C
5.  No more "small" loads of wash
6.  Try to use the clothes dryer less often
7.  Encourage teenagers to take only ONE shower per day -- Laugh if you want but my kiddos take more!
8.  Dishwasher only run when completely full.

I'm sure I am missing some good ideas here.  Anyone want to chime in and share tips?  Any $$ saved will go into the bank with the 1K for emergencies.

Back to School Busy Day!

I'm here!  I'm alive! And, I did NOT go back to sleep!  LOL

Today and tomorrow are not going to be part of the new "normal" around here for daily routine.  Today, I got up at 5:30, rallied the troops, sent them off to work and school, and then was off doing errands.  Those two beautiful checks have been deposited into their accounts (one bank is a 25 minute drive from here each way).  Some laundry has been started.  I ran to the grocery store (near the second bank) to grab an ingredient I was running out of/needed for tonight's dinner.  Oh, and I spent about an hour on the phone with my BFF talking about her guy issues.  (She's unbelievably still single.)

Tomorrow Papa has decided to take the day off completely since we are going to be travelling to Long Island for the evening. He is planning on getting a haircut in the early morning but we are planning on taking a hike/walk before the kiddos need to be picked up from school.

So, yeah.  NOT my new normal.  Can't wait to get into a good routine next week though.

Fingers crossed that the Guppies have a positive first day of school!  Especially G1 since high school has been a brutal experience for her since she refuses to be anything but her authentic true self - leads to standing out and being shunned/talked about/bullied by a LOT of kids.

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why I Just Broke Down In Tears....

Even though it is a terribly busy day I HAD to share this!

As many of you know, or can at least read between the lines, money has been TIGHT...Like keeping Papa awake at night kind of tight.  Admittedly, I have had one or two of these nights myself.

After getting the mail today, I saw that our insurance company sent us some statements.  We get these very frequently and are usually just informative - telling us what they paid to whom, our responsibility, etc.  Not today....

I opened the envelope and saw a $216.00 check awaiting us for some preliminary xray work G2 had for the orthodontist back in May!!!  I was so excited I had to call Papa - he had one of those stressed out can't sleep nights last night.  I thought this would cheer him up a little!

We were on the phone chatting about it when I noticed something else...There was another check inside...

FOR $1006.00!!!!

It took me a minute or two before I could stop crying to tell him what the heck was going on!

After looking at the statement further, this check is one of two we will receive to reimburse us the maximum insurance amount for G2's braces.  They opted to give us a straight pay out rather than paying our orthodontist.  In the end, this is fine since our payments are made without any interest directly to the orthodontist via direct bank withdrawl.

So, what are the plans for this money you might ask?

1.  The $216.00 is going into our regular checking account.  There are things coming up that it will be helpful to pay for.  (Think any straggling school supplies, school pictures, etc)

2.  The $1006.00 check is going into another checking account at a different bank.  This is the account that we have for emergencies/car replacement, etc.  And, it is woefully, pitifully low.  Keep you awake at night what would we do if x y z happened kind of low!

I know there are a LOT of other things we could have done with it -- Pay down our cc a bit, Pay my medical bills down a LOT are the first two things that come to mind.  HOWEVER, we feel that having a little cash on hand is invaluable IF/WHEN my car completely dies or Papa's needs a major repair (since driving my car an hour each way to work and back isn't an option). Responsibilities regarding the cc and the medical bills are not being ignored since I pay my cc every month and have payment arrangements worked out with the medical stuff.

The craziest thing is that before the mail came I was thinking about how we just had to get back to the Dave Ramsey's way of "Baby Steps" and Baby Step #1 is to have at least $1K in a bank account for emergencies.

Funny how life works!

Happy happy Hump Day!!!!

Best Honey Mustard Dressing/Dipping Sauce Ever!

Today is going to be such a busy day around here!  I figured besides my Gas And Garbage post, I would throw one in for this recipe!  I'll be back to a longer post tomorrow once the Guppies are back in school!

My family loves honey mustard dressings!  We use it on salad, for chicken tenders, broccoli bites...Hey, we have even dipped french fries in it!  No shame here!  Haha!  Here is our recipe for our favorite homemade honey mustard dressing!  Hope you like it!

1 c sour cream
1/3 c mayo
1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
1/3 c honey
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine first three ingredients in bowl.  Mix using a whisk until completely incorporated. Pour honey and lemon juice into mixture and blend until smooth and combined.
TASTE! And adjust to your liking.  
*** There have been times we have left it exactly as above and then there have been times we have added more mustard, honey, or lemon.***

Hope you like it if you try it!  Think I may whip up a batch tonight and add a green salad to the menu!

Gas & Garbage

GAS:  Well, I had to put gas in my car on Monday to get G1 to a doctor appointment.  I filled up for $27.97.  So, that is my total spent for the month of August!  I was hoping for zero but I'll still take under $30!  I will be posting the new September budget number next week.  But, I am hoping this tank will get me through at least the first 10 days of September.

GARBAGE:  FOUR bags!  Ouchie!  I have been purging here and there and have started breaking down some of those styrofoam coolers (no takers on them).  This caused some of the excess waste.  As I try to "reboot" everything, I have a funny feeling that this number may become the norm for a little while as I declutter room by room.  I plan on trying to recycle/donate/reuse all I can but, I think some excess garbage is probably going to be inevitable.

So that's where my numbers stand this week.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Major Happy Dance!

I am seriously a very very happy Mama here!  I was just able to keep around $100+ in my bank account!

G2 wanted to start getting her stuff together for the first day of school (getting pencils sharpened, loose leaf paper in her binders, etc).  Well, as I dug around one of the drawers in my aforementioned roll top desk for something, I pulled old scientific calculator!!

I brought it straight over to G1 to see if it had all the "symbols" she would need for her math class this year...AND....


So very excited to NOT have to shell out any money for an expensive math calculator when I have two kiddos who despise the subject!  My hope is that G1 is very careful to not lose this one so I can pass it down to her sister when the time comes.

This truly has been a great Tuesday so far!!!!

Eat that Frog!

I am an odd mix of things...Like I hate being late for anything!  I am on top of the Guppies' schedules. Yet...I am a procrastinator sometime...And when I am, I have a go big or go home mentality about it!  LOL

Needless to say, there are some areas in the house that need...ummmm...attention? Because of my procrastination.

As I was struggling to stay awake this morning, (Reboot #1) while my kiddos gloriously slept in (which they still are doing at 10am!), I needed to find "things" to do that would be relatively quiet yet productive.  The phrase "Eat that Frog" came to mind and here's what I did with the time this morning rather than sleeping.

1.  Guppy2's bags were still in my upstairs hallway where she dropped them when she came home on Saturday.  I told her I would go through them myself because some of the clothes were dirty and some were clean.  (Why she mixed them I will never ever understand!  Especially since I gave her an extra drawstring bag with explicit instructions to place her dirties in there.)  So, I tackled this job first.  I sorted through the clothing (not hard to tell which was which) and placed all dirty clothing into the washer.

2.  I have an old roll top desk in our living room.  I have had the thing since I was 16.  While it's a beautiful piece of furniture, it truly doesn't "work" for me.  I much prefer doing anything I need to do (blog, pay bills, etc) on the dining room table.  So, this desk ends up being a catch all for just about anything and everything.  It has been mounded with papers for quite a long time!  I sorted through about 80% of it and filed away things in their proper places and threw out the junk.  It's not completely done, but that's okay.  I can tackle the rest tomorrow when I get up early again.  Plus, it's been that way for weeks and weeks! What's another day right?

3.  The last thing I did, though I don't consider this a "frog" situation, was started to input some Coke rewards codes.  My parents save their reward caps for me and I am beginning to drown in them!  LOL  I stopped doing this awhile back because the website deleted my points on me, even though I am almost completely positive I had not hit the 90 day inactivity mark.  Now, I decided what I will do is input at the very least a few codes EVERY single week.  That way, I will be able to definitely complain if this happens again!

Even though tomorrow is going to be a crazy day (day before school starts, dragging G1 back to the dr to have her TB test read for work, driving the papers over to the Y so she can actually start working on Thursday), I plan on finishing up the desk and finding another "frog" to eat tomorrow morning.  I feel like I have already been extremely productive and the day has just begun!

Great benefit for losing an hour or two of extra sleep this morning!!

Major Reboot Task #1

So, I have developed a terrible and bizarre habit this summer.  I get up in the morning to get Papa's lunch together and see him off to work, then sometimes I will go on to blog, but most of the time after Papa's car leaves the driveway?  I GO BACK TO BED!  I am one of "those" people who can sleep (most of the time) at the drop of a hat.  I have always been this way so I can't "blame it on the MS".  Well, at least not completely.

Truly this has been an awful habit.  And I think it is going to be a hard one to break!

This 90 to 120 minute chunk of sleep time is a complete waste!  I have been feeling fairly healthy lately so it's not like my body is telling me it "has to have it".  I'm going to be completely honest and chalk it up to being LAZY.  Not good.  Not good at all.

Even worse?  I don't want it to continue when school starts since my time when the Guppies are in school is a finite amount of hours.  Hours that I need to accomplish things other than sleeping!

Starting this morning, I am awake from the time I get up to help Papa!  No more going back to my nice comfy bed!  I'm not sure what I plan on doing yet with this large chunk of time.  Should I dedicate part of it to a single daily ritual?  Should I use the whole chunk to start tackling that day's to do list?  Mixture of both?  I have to think more on that.

Right now (and probably for the next few days) I have to focus on staying awake!  LOL  And I don't even drink coffee.

Wish me luck gang!  Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, August 24, 2015


To help with my "reboot" I will be spending more time trying to find and utilize "freebies".  

Today the company who makes my Multiple Sclerosis drug sent me a card for a free 2016 spiral bound daily planner!  (I believe they do this as a service since the medication needs to rotate injection sites and the calendar can be used to record/keep track..)  Last year I declined my calendar.... but not this year!!!

I will use this in conjunction with my regular planner - either as a more detailed record of my diet/exercise or to keep track of blog postings/ideas.

I got one many years ago, and if memory serves me correctly, it's a pretty nice one.  Definitely not the cheap-o/fall apart two seconds after you use it for the first time kind.

Happy this freebie came my way!

Breaking The Cycle...

Over the course of the last few days, two wonderful things happened with the Guppies.  Well, I think it was wonderful.  Let's see if you agree!

1.   As you know, last week I brought G1 down to our local bank to open a bank account.  We both agreed it would be a good idea for her to have a debit card.  I want her to be able to access her cash when needed - say an impromptu trip with friends to get coffee after school - and wanted her to have the increased responsibility of learning to "track" these expenditures.  The only option we had was to have a joint account where I am primary.  We opted for no checks and she has the only debit card for the account (though I do know the pin).  Here comes the good part....  She signed up for online banking anyway because she wanted to track her paychecks AND....she wanted to put on a notification where she will get emailed if the account dips below 100.00!  Right now she only has $105.03 in it!!  LOL  And, on top of that, since opening this account, she has really been taking notice as to how much stuff costs!  We were at the grocery store the other day and her mouth DROPPED at how much I had to spend to restock the house.  (Another story for another post!)  This was my kid who never used to care about this type of thing!

2.  G2 and I were driving to her friend's house yesterday and she said to me, out of the complete blue, "I don't ever want to borrow money from anyone!  I think it would be way too stressful."  She has always been my "saver" - even when she was little.  But, I was happy to hear her declare this anyway!

 I grew up very spoiled (but always generous with what I was given/had).  My parents thought they were doing the right thing, I know.  But seriously, no 16 year old (even back in the 1980's!) should have had Mom's credit card every weekend to go shopping at the mall for new clothes unless they are true millionaires - which we were nowhere close to being.  I have grown up and learned a lot along the way. The Guppies always being my "achille's heal" so to speak in wanting to give them everything and anything like I had growing up.

Now that they are older, it's getting easier to say no more often - even with living in the supposed "rich" town that we do.  We have been more open with our struggles to get out of debt with them.  And, I am hopeful that they will reap the benefits of watching us do this.  Looks like the cycle may be breaking for them and I couldn't be happier.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

This Week's Meals...

One of the easier things to start my "reboot" is to do this EVERY Sunday!  Here is this week's simple but tasty meal plan!

SUNDAY:  Birthday dinner since G2 is home - Homemade Copycat Bennigan's Broccoli Bites,  take out Pizza from my favorite pizza place in my old hometown

MONDAY:  Maple Pork Chops, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans with Garlic

TUESDAY:  Spaghetti and Meatballs, Romaine Salad, Garlic Bread

WEDNESDAY:  Eye Round Roast, Roasted Brussels and Potatoes, Kale Salad

THURSDAY:  Homemade Veggie LoMein

FRIDAY:  Heading into Long Island so we will be eating on the go.  Probably fast food - ie MCD's or Subway


Follow through this week should be a piece of cake (hopefully!) since I have all ingredients already on hand (besides tonight's pizza).

In Need of a Fall Reboot....

So, the Guppies go back to school on Thursday and I really feel the need to "reboot" a LOT of areas in my life!  This summer I have dropped the ball on too many things.

I have been thinking about this a little for awhile now; however, listening to the second episode of the podcast, The Simple Show kicked this into high gear for me.  The guest on the show that day was Jessica Turner.  Jessica wrote a book called "The Fringe Hours" and is now on my list of new books to read.  The basic premise of the book was that everyone has the same 24 hours a day and it's how you use them that makes a difference.  From what I gathered from the podcast, she was talking more about using the wee hours of the morning or the later hours in the evening (depending on your personality) to eek out time for YOURSELF!  (reading, scrapbooking, whatever it is that you personally enjoy but always put at the backburner) Even waking up 15 minutes early, before everyone else, Jessica says would make a huge difference.  Okay, I'm totally on board with all this but, it got me to thinking about how much time I actually waste through the ENTIRE day and how much more productive I COULD be.

Now, I don't think I could ever be one of those completely regimented people where every minute of every day is mapped out the day before.  But, I could benefit from some "basic guidelines" again.  I feel like since Papa is the one who works outside the house, I should be the one to make sure everything "inside" the house runs as smoothly as possible. I've kinda let things run off the rails here a tad.  Okay, okay - A LOT!  =)

So, over the course of about the next two weeks, I'm going to be examining a lot of my daily activities to see what I can lose altogether, simplify, maximize, and add.  Somethings will be easy like starting to plan our menus on a consistent basis again!  Others probably not so easy - Can I fit that walk in every day after G2 gets off to school?  Or the dreaded "My pantry needs to be reorganized and inventoried!"  LOL

I would absolutely LOVE any and all suggestions on how you guys structure your days to get everything accomplished!  It would be awesome to get my juices flowing about this, so to speak!

Have a great Sunday!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Trip to Kohl's

As I mentioned previously, in between driving G1 to her job orientation, I was going to run over to Kohl's with my Kohl's cash, coupon for $10 off $30, and my wants/need fall list handy.

Usually I do very well at Kohl's.  For some reason, I just wasn't loving it on Thursday.  The only sweaters they had that I liked were the long sleeve flowy open cardigan style - but I already have what I feel I truly *need* in those so I passed.    Jeans?  Apparently Kohl's has stopped carrying the Levi's brand - not sure when - and Lee brand is very unflattering on me. No go there.  Moving on to boots...Holy cannoli!  The prices on the boots I liked were outrageous! Way more than I could justify spending on myself.  That left me with the last thing on my list...

A new black large purse.  I have been sort of lusting after my BFF's Michael Korrs ones..  However, I knew there was no way I would ever buy one because of the $$$.  Plus I wanted the open tote style of her MK without a design and in black since I'm not a matchy matchy switchy out kind of purse girl anyway.

Lo and behold!  SUCCESS!  Sort of, I still feel guilty about spending what I did, even though it was a deal.
I found a Vera Wang black tote-y style purse that was a tad smaller than the MK ones BFF has but the perfect size for me!  ON SALE!  Because Lord knows I would NEVER spend 100 bucks on a purse!
Here's the breakdown:

Original Price:                   $99.99
Sale Price:                        $49.99
Minus Cash/Coupons:      $31.89
There was sales tax on this item - guess purses aren't included in tax free week.  =(

Still seems like a lot for a handbag, but I will take it!  I know it will get a TON of use this Fall and Winter!  Plus I am fairly sure it will be durable enough to store after the season and use again next year!  (Summer I'm more of a slouchy bag, small purse, or just my wallet kind of girl anyway.)

Still feeling kind of bad about the $$$ spent, I am planning on going through my closet this weekend/next week and "weed out" any purses/totes/etc that haven't worked for me or I just don't want/use anymore.  I'll bring them down to my local consignment (who takes more than just the upper end purses thankfully) and see if I can recoup any of the cost of my new bag!  LOL

Honestly, what do you guys think about my purchase?  Was it too much to spend on a handbag/purse?  Where do you get your purses typically?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Food Waste Friday

UGH!  Awful week on the waste front! And, this week I am upset about the sheer amount of money that got wasted, not just the waste itself! I *almost* didn't post this but, in the sake of honesty and full disclosure, here is the ugly truth of this week...

Fed to the Dog:

5 slices of cooked bacon
4 slices of deli chicken

Fed to the squirrels/birds:

1/2 bag stale Lucky Charms oats (G1 had already eaten all the marshmallows!)
1/2 bag stale Doritos

Fed to the Compost:

6 ears of corn that went moldy on me
1 bunch swiss chard
2 molded ciabatta rolls
1/4 mushed watermelon
2 cups of chopped pineapple
8 blackberries that molded
1 rotten apple
1 moldy croissant

There it is in all its rotten glory.  Hopefully I can start getting on top of it for the upcoming week.  School starts and I need a plan all around!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ramblings & Happy Birthday to ME!

Even though it is technically my birthday today, we will be celebrating it on Sunday - G2 requested we wait for her return.  Added to that, today is packed with job errands and music lessons for G1 and Papa had to go to work to attend some meetings that couldn't be rescheduled.  No worries at all.  Once we had kids, I definitely lost the whole "all about me birthday" attitude.

However, I did get a couple of freebies/coupons already that made me happy!

Cinnabon sent me an email for a free MochaLatta Chill  (which will be passed to G2 since she loves this!)

Swagbucks sent me something for 55 extra points/bucks after I buy a gift card (I think. Gotta reread)

Hot Topic (Guppies' store but the rewards card is in my name) sent me a $5 dollar coupon

DQ ice Cream cake coupon (perfect for Sunday) but I can open the actual coupon tab only once and print it out so I have no clue how much off yet since I don't have time to print it right now!

Not too shabby, I guess!  Though, I do wish I had signed up for more birthday freebies!  LOL

Also, although not a bday freebie, I have $10 worth of Kohl's cash and a $10 off $30 coupon which I will use today while G1 is at her two hour training session.  There are a few things that I would like to add to my fall/winter wardrobe, if possible.  So, I will look to see if I can get a deal on anything on my list.

Since Kohl's is a town over, I will also go to the Staples in the next plaza over to pick up G1's 5 subject notebooks - I couldn't find any to our liking here in town (Dollar store had them but each section didn't have much paper and no pockets in the dividers).  And, I will most likely run into Aldi's to pick up a few things, time permitting.

So, that's pretty much my day!  Off to bring G1 to her first job errand (submitting paper work for a background check) and then possibly to the police station to be fingerprinted.  This is all because she is working with children and I think it's a good safety precaution.  I hope she doesn't freak out too much at the police station (because if not today, it will have to happen soon).  And, I hope I don't freak out too much!  LOL  I have NEVER been inside a police station EVER!!

Happy Thursday!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gas & Garbage

These posts are beginning to feel a tad bit monotonous....But, I guess I should continue since the "gas" section will be updated since the car is running again.  And, maybe I need to make a larger goal for the garbage - like one bag/week or one bag/every two weeks?  Gotta think on this.  Anyway, here are the numbers for this week -

GAS:    Even with the car running, I have been using it sparingly.  Today and tomorrow, I will be doing errands though that will require driving to neighboring towns.  My tank is still at the 1/2 mark that it has been for weeks now.  But, I'm not sure I will be able to make it until September without putting any gas in.  I'll just have to wait and see where tomorrow leaves my gauge.

GARBAGE:   Another two kitchen sized bag week.  Even though I am happy that this now seems the "norm", I do want to strive for better.

That's it for today. Nothing exciting in this department.  Heading out to bring G1 to open her bank account.  Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Yesterday's Day at the Beach - in Dollars

Good Morning everyone! I hope your Monday went as well as mine did!  You know you had a successful day when your 16 year old declares it was "the best beach day ever"!  And, honestly, it was an amazingly relaxing day.  I even got into the water to play in the waves - which is a miracle since I do NOT normally go into ocean water! Then we headed into Newport to another park we visited once in the past.  G1 and her friend wanted to go back and see the old abandoned building there and look for a tower we couldn't find the first time.  We succeeded this go-around and G1 had her curiosities satisfied. = )  I felt a bit guilty about having such a great day without my Guppy #2, but she called us while we were at dinner and sounded like she was still having a blast in the Cape. So, guilt relieved!

As many of you know, we have been having some extra financial challenges that we aren't prepared for since I have just FINALLY began to want to take back control of our financial life!  The medical bills and the prospect of a new (used) car looming on the horizon has really made me want to tighten my purse strings.  That being said, here is a breakdown of what was spent on yesterday's excursion:

Gas:  ZERO (Thank you gift card!)

Breakfast:  Grabbed it at our local Dunkin Donuts before heading out on the road. Breakfast for four ended up being $7.42 after using up the remaining balance on an old gift card I had in my wallet.

Lunch:  Not sure how to calculate this since lunch was packed in from home,  I have a lot of leftovers that can be utilized this week, and I lumped this into my grocery trip.  I'm going to call this a wash since we would have eaten lunch at home anyway, right?

Toll Bridge into Newport:  $4 bucks each way, $8 in total.  Our EZ pass took this hit.

Dinner:  Stopped at a diner in Mystic on the way home. $49.87 for four of us, including tip.  Our food was decent and we got a lot of it for the price.  HOWEVER, I won't go back there ever ever EVER again!  We saw a server bumble a tray of food he was delivering.  While he "saved" the food from falling on the floor, his goateed chin ended up in someone's whipped cream pancakes.  Before he got to the table, he wiped his chin on his shirt and served the food!  How GROSS is that?  And, thankfully, he was NOT our server too.

So, without counting lunch as mentioned above, we spent a total of $65.29 and had quite possibly the best day of the entire summer.  I think I'm calling this a win!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beach Day Monday and Some Ramblings..

Today has us up very early since Papa and I are taking G1 and her BFF to a beach in Rhode Island. This is probably the last beach day we will have before school so we wanted to make it a good one!

To keep food expenses down, I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen last evening.  G1's BFF is vegetarian and I wanted to make sure I catered to her dietary needs.  I made the following:

Pasta Salad with Veggies
Grilled Veggie Sandwich (like a Mock Muffaletta thanks to Vegetarian Times Magazine!)
Cubed Watermelon & Pineapple

Also, I included:  Various chips, Salsa, Water, & Iced Tea

We will most likely stop at D&D for a grab n go breakfast - using the remnants of an old gift card to help defray costs.  And dinner will more than likely be at a pizza place or possibly our favorite "clam shack" out there if BFF eats fish (I can't remember).  Yes, I will spend *some* money today but plan to keep it as low as possible.

Guppy 2 is having a blast in Cape Cod!  Her friend's mom sent me a text yesterday morning with a picture of her daughter and G2 at the beach.  She also went on to tell me that G2 is so sweet, easy, and polite.  Okay so at least I know she can handle herself in public!  LOL  She's been very good about calling me these past two nights so hopefully that continues for the rest of the week.  I miss her desperately and am trying to not think about how this is only the beginning of her "breaking free" from us.

I finally took my car out for a quick spin yesterday, since Papa wanted me to test out how it drives.  It drives BETTER than it has in a long time!  Yes, it needs brakes and squeals something awful.  But even the brakes feel "tighter" than they have.  I can drive around town in confidence again!  =)

I am going to have a bunch of this and that left over from making our veggie sandwich for the beach.  So, Tuesday I'm going to formulate a menu plan to incorporate them - one example is I have about 1/2 a container of leftover pesto.  I started to clean out the fridge yesterday and let me tell you it was BAAAAD!  There was way too much and way MORE waste than I had expected.  Let's just leave it at that since I'm not going to revisit the Food Waste Friday post I missed last Friday.

I'm looking forward to a few things this week....G2's busy day on Thursday getting all her YMCA job stuff in line and started her orientation/training that night.  My BFF is taking me out on Wednesday night for dinner to celebrate my birthday early - And she chose one of my all time favorite restaurants!  She knows me so well!  LOL

Okay, so I am off to the beach!  Here's to a day of chilling out, spending time with Papa, and getting a good chunk of reading done (hopefully)!  Enjoy your day today!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Update on School Supplies....

So, it's an absolute MIRACLE!   I am fairly optimistic that the school supplies won't completely break me this year!

Guppy 1 is going to use last year's binders, as I had mentioned before.  Only big ticket item for her will most likely be a graphing calculator - not happy about it since it's over 100 bucks but, what can you do?  Maybe I'll search locally and see if anyone is selling a used one.  I will be buying her some five subject notebooks with pockets as I think this approach will serve her best.  If there is a problem, I will take it up with her teachers, citing her 504 if necessary.

Guppy 2 has a school issued Chrome Book, which was used last year as well.  This year's teachers plan on relying fairly heavily on it. One teacher said he was a "paperless" classroom and no other supplies were needed beside the Chrome Book!  So, another Dollar Tree binder or two (for classes like Health and French) and she should be set!

General school supplies needed for both:

More loose leaf paper
Pens (black, blue, & red)
A few single subject notebooks - more for G2
The infamous "book socks" since paper bags cannot be used anymore - Why not? I have no clue!

A LOT of things have been going "our way" in the past few days!  I really really hope that this is the new trend!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

News on My Car....

Papa is a miracle worker...Seriously!  And, my car must have been a cat in another life because that sucker has way more the nine lives!  LOL

He finished working on the wheel bearings today and took it out for a "test drive" alone.  He said it drives very well now...EXCEPT....the bad bearings (and a broken bolt) has messed up my rotors and brakes.  They work but make that awful screeching noise of brakes that need changing.  Papa has much experience changing brakes so he's going to order a set off line.  And I will be back in business completely!

Total spent: 21.00  (for a new bolt, brake cleaner, and Lock Tite)  I am NOT adding in the new wheel bearing into this amount since it has been sitting in our garage for over at least a year. 

Ordered Brakes/Rotors: 65.00  We aren't talking the top of the line here.  However, since I will driving this car as little as possible and only around town, we don't need anything with a ton of longevity.

So, I'm back up and running (car wise) for under 100 bucks and Papa's time.  I will definitely take it!

My Day Book 8/15.....

Taking my lead from Nathalie, over at Imperfectly Frugally, I've decided to try a Day Book post .....

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW...  The sun is shining and it looks like it's going to be an absolute perfect day!

I AM THINKING... about the many errands I have to do after G2 leaves for the Cape.

I AM THANKFUL FOR....  the way the school year is starting to shape up.  The guppies got their teachers today. 
 Guppy 1 doesn't recognize any of the teacher's names - which means that they aren't the best OR the worst so she is happy with that.  The one name she did recognize is a teacher we all ADORE who we thought was leaving our school system.  Fingers crossed he decided to stay another year!
Guppy 2 got the middle school "team" I secretly hoped she would!  G1 had this team when she was in eighth grade and it is a perfect fit for G2 too!  The Language Arts teacher is the best of the eighth grade teachers and G2 is sure to shine even more under his guidance!  Both Gupps are strongest in the creative/Language Arts subjects.

FROM THE KITCHEN...  is a disaster zone!  I haven't been able to keep up with the cleaning at all.  Papa took care of a lot of it last night but he is only one person!  LOL  I'm thinking about possibly baking some goodies later today - we will see if that happens or not!

I AM WEARING...  My ususal - T shirt (light purple) and shorts (black)

I AM READING....  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  It's a very long book and I've just started it.  So far, so good though!

I AM HEARING....  G2 getting ready to leave for her trip.  Neither girl has been away from the family for this length of time!  It's going to be a LOOOOONG week for this Mama Fish!

I AM HOPING...  Everyone in my family has a great week next week!  Guppy 2 in the Cape - hoping she stays safe and there aren't any sharks around her!  Guppy 1 with her job orientation.  And, then Papa, G1, and I on our few small day trips.

I AM GOING...  To take G1 out to the mall later today to buy her BFF's birthday present since she is having a party tomorrow afternoon.

I AM NOT GOING...  To the Farmer's Market today.  G2 requested that we stay home since she is leaving later this morning.

And I'm off!  Have a great Saturday!!!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Food Waste Friday... getting postponed for this week.  I just don't have the time to go through the fridge fully - and didn't do it on garbage night due to time constraints then.

I could say I had ZERO waste this week...But I know that's not truthful.  So, instead, I'm just going to postpone it!  LOL

Another busy day in the house today.  I swear this week has been extra crazy!  Maybe I will get more downtime next week - but with a day trip to Rhode Island, my birthday, and a day trip to Stowe in the works, I'm guessing probably not.  (And just for those wondering, we are skipping our yearly vacation and opting for two day trips instead - which probably wouldn't have even happened but I feel bad for G1 since G2 is getting to go away and she hasn't.)

Once school starts, I'll be able to get back into a groove/schedule - I hope!  Until then, I fly by the seat of my pants I guess.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Checking In...

Wow!  Today completely got away from me!  We have been very busy but, in a good way!

Guppy 2 is almost completely packed for her Cape Cod adventure.

And... the BIG news of the day.....


GUPPY 1 GOT HER FIRST PART TIME JOB! She had an interview set up for 1 o'clock and walked back out at 1:30 with the job.  Papa and I are super proud of her!  She will be working after school, three hours per day, two days per week - which is perfect since Junior year of high school is typically the hardest and we don't want her overwhelmed.

This Saturday we will go to our local bank to see about opening up a checking account for her. I love how responsible she is being about all of this - like how she wants to save at least half her paycheck every week.  I didn't have the same guidance or determination to save anything when I was 16 that's for sure.  LOL

Hope everyone had a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gas & Garbage

GAS:  Why would I add gas this week since my car is still out of commission?  For the bright side of course!  Even when/if Papa gets the car working again, my bottom line for August will be ZERO gas dollars since I still have 1/2 tank from my last July fill up!  Love that!

GARBAGE:  Still going steady at a rate of 2 13 gallon kitchen sized bags.  This seems to be our new "normal".  I will be trying again this coming week to knock this down to one.

So, that's the scoop!  Papa and I are heading out to bring G1 to a doctor appointment and then go to Kohl's to use my $10 off $10 coupon and my $25 gift card.  Papa needs a new braided style belt.  Exciting times, I know!  LOL

Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This Week's Dinners

MONDAY:  Roasted Lemon/Rosemary Chicken, Dumplings, Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Beet Greens,
                      Roasted Purple Carrots

TUESDAY:  Spaghetti 2 ways: Creamy Mushroom Sauce or Tomato Sauce, Salad, Garlic Bread

WEDNESDAY:  Chicken Pot Pie

THURSDAY:  Hot Dogs, Fries, Green Beans


Nothing exciting here on the menu this week.  But, it feeds us and utilizes what is in the house currently.

Rainy Tuesday Equals Productivity!

At least that is the plan of attack!

The weathermen predicted stormy weather today and they were NOT kidding!  It's been pouring for the last few hours with predicted thunderstorms later today.  Perfect weather to get some cleaning done in my book! Although I am not quite sure the Guppies are going to think that when I make strongly encourage them to clean their rooms!

On my radar today:

Guppies rooms (done by them with my supervision LOL)
Dining Room corner where all my scrapbook/smashbook/journal supplies are spilling out everywhere
Living room tidying up
Sweep downstairs
Downstairs bathroom
More weeding out of cookbooks/magazines
Starting to pack Guppy 2 for her Cape trip
And...Trying to get that menu plan done!

That should keep me quite busy I think!  LOL

Yesterday ending up being such a great day!  Guppy 2 was home the entire day (for a change!) and had me costar with her in a little IPhone video movie - I was a serial killing vegetarian who ends up killing a news broadcaster (her).  In the end scene, I kill her by tossing fruit at her.  (We did this in slo-mo so she and the fruit were not harmed!  Haha)  In between my "takes" I was able to get a lot of the kitchen cleaned, laundry done, and made a very large dinner - which I haven't done in quite some time.  It' always so wonderful when I feel "good" and have energy.

We ended up at the mall briefly last night - I made G2 get a wallet since I wasn't going to let her wander around on vacation with two hundred dollars and her insurance card all loosey goosey in her bag!  I did take notice of two things:  1. There were a TON of people out back to school shopping and 2. There were a TON of sales this week.  Which seems to make me wonder if Nathalie over at Imperfectly Frugally could be onto something about the sales not being as plentiful when tax free week comes along.  I should know this, however, in past years we have always seemed to be away on vacation during tax free week.  I think this may be the first years in at least five we will be home during it.

Okay, I'm off to get that menu plan done!  And start nudging the girls to clean their rooms!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hello Monday!

Good (late) morning, Mr. Monday!  Thanks for being much kinder to me than your brothers before you! (LOL)

Seriously has started really lovely!  I got to sleep in a bit late, the sun is shining, the guppies are happy, and I'm getting ready to formulate my "to do" list and drum up a menu plan!  Why am I so okay?  I'm not even sure - but, I think it may have to do with yesterday.  We had an amazingly awesome "family" day and I was able to completely forget all the issues I have dealt with over the past week or so!  It's good to take some "time off" from the problems in your own little world, right? (which does NOT mean I went on some crazy spending spree or spent money at all really!  Just had a nice day with the people who mean the most to me! )

Previously I took time to post about the car and its possible issues, but I'm not sure I filled everyone in on the medical bills.  So here's a quick recap.  I called all divisions involved and they were very understanding and took the very first payment I suggested!  Though it won't be much and may take awhile to get rid off, it won't put my budget under a lot more strain than it already is.  Plus my hope is that I will be able to pay more each month as I am able.  Sorry if this is a repeat of what I already told you.

This week will probably be a slightly crazy one:  

Guppy 2 wants to have her friends here for a possible sleepover at some point.  I have to get G2 ready for her (free) trip to Cape Cod - which means lots of laundry, packing, formulating a list of anything I need to grab like extra sunscreen!  And, I will probably need to take G2 out to do some of her school shopping early because she will be away all next week.  She is in desperate need of some new sneakers and we may hit PayLess for some "cute" shoes that won't break my school budget!  (I will take G1 out while G2 is away for some school shopping.)

And, I have quite a bit of cleaning to do (just like always!)  Papa made a comment yesterday that we won't be actually attempting to clean the house until the girls are out on their own!  How true!  Haha

But I love the planner system I finally got started - which I think I spent three or four dollars on total thanks to the dollar store of all places!  I am a sucker for lists and checking stuff off so that will keep me motivated! It's all about the little things, right?

Well, I'm off for now!  I will be back later to check in on everyone's blogs and maybe do another post if I can squeeze out the time!

Hope Monday is being kind to you too in your neck of the woods!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Possible Answer to my Car Issues....

Isn't necessarily a great answer.

Papa took the tires off the front of my car yesterday to see if he could get to the bottom of the grinding noises and overall front end problems.  I knew it probably wouldn't be good.  And it wasn't...

I was doing the dishes when a very dirty greasy Papa came inside and told me that I wouldn't be driving my car anymore.  (((Sigh)))  Probably....You guys know I haven't been driving a whole lot anyway but it's still good to have a car in an emergency.

So here's the bottom line (and where the "probably" aspect comes in)....

My driver's side wheel moves some weird way that it's not supposed to - not sure exactly what is wrong but Papa showed me.  There are two major possibilities as to why this is happening:

Number 1:  Wheel Bearings.  Papa changed the passenger side bearings awhile back.  It took him forever since he is not a mechanic.  But, the silver lining is that we had to buy the bearings in pairs and we have the additional new set still in our garage.  If this is the only problem causing the car to be so dangerous to drive, then we are back in business for at least a little while.  It will only cost us Papa's time.  This is the best case scenario.

Number 2.  The Car Axel.  Enough said.  Deal breaker and the car has to be scrapped.

So, as of this moment, Papa is leaving the car's front tires off.  He wants the girls (especially Guppy 2) to completely understand the situation.  Mama can't drive you anywhere. End of story.  He will work on changing the bearings after work as he is able.  It may take awhile and we (cough cough the Guppies!) will have to be patient and make the best of it.  I can take them out in the evening to get school stuff (clothing, shoes, etc) and Papa is taking the day off on Wednesday to get us to a few appointments and errands.

He would work on the car today but we have prior obligations.  So, today I'm taking a deep breath and letting this go for now.  It is what it is.  Papa will get the bearings done as soon as he can and we will have a better idea of whether I will actually have a car going into the fall.

And....I am really going to save $$$ on gas now right?

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Farmers Market Finds

Gorgeous day for the Farmers Market!  Here's what $29.00 got for me today...

1/2 dozen cider donuts
1 small raspberry tart
1 large bunch of Purple Haze carrots
1 bunch of beets with greens
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 pint blueberry yogurt
1 pint shitake mushrooms (going to see if my allergy came from them)
1 large bunch of broccoli

Not such a bad haul in my book.  I will be adding a trip to the grocery store however.  Due to my new financial issues (see the post about my medical bills), I will have to shop there as well for deals and, sadly, I think for most of my meat purchases.  This weekend Papa and I will have be discussing a new plan of attack towards all things money.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Food Waste Friday

Not perfect but getting better!  I hope that I will get to a ZERO waste week at some point once school is in session again!

Fed to the Dog:

1 slice American Cheese that was going hard around the edges

Fed to the Squirrels & Birds:

1/2 loaf of stale, starting to mold bread
1/2 sleeve stale crackers
***We have some mama birds and squirrels in the yard so Guppy1 asked if we could put these out on the deck for them instead of the compost heap.  I assume they would have found them in the compost as well but G1 liked watching them from the family room.***

Fed to the Compost:

1 wedge (1/4 whole) watermelon
2 cups cooked pasta
1/2 medium onion that went slimy

Fed to the Garbage:

Another week of nothing!  And it's definitely showing in the reduction of bags per week!

How did everyone do this week with food waste?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Facing Up to the Cold Hard Facts....

I have been a very very expensive girl the first half of the year!  I *think* all my medical bills are finally in so I went and added up the total amount owed to all doctors/hospitals/centers.  It's not a very pretty amount by any means.  And, unfortunately it is higher than expected.  Ready?


Ouch!  Double Ouch!  We were way off with how much we thought Papa's insurance would kick in! A few of them are going to be easy enough to knock out this month - There's one for lab work (26.07) and another for 100.00.  Those are the ones I can bang out this month.  The others are all owed to the same corporation - Yale - under two separate divisions (Yale Medical Group and Yale New Haven Health).  I have the same account number for both divisions so the remaining balance of this amount is a whopper!  I will be calling their offices later this morning to discuss options.  The bills say "payment is expected immediately and in full".  Yeah, I don't think so.  I can't wipe out any safety net I have right now with my car on the way out and Papa's car at over 220K.  I will keep my calm and work out some sort of payment arrangement with them.  I will NOT be bullied into paying more than I am able per month.  That's just how it is.

And I just keep thinking... This was for an OUTpatient procedure!  What the heck would we owe if I ever had to be INpatient?!?!  Sobering thought.  And one that I need to take seriously by getting my butt in gear and doing all that I can to get/be/stay healthy!

Wish me luck this morning and hope you all have a great Thursday!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gas & Garbage

Wednesday equals Gas & Garbage Day here in my world!

GAS:  This is seriously crazy but I still have 1/2 tank from my last fill up in July!  As I have said, I am definitely limiting my driving to conserve this car for as long as I can.  Nice to still be at a $0 total for August gas monies spent for my car.  The Guppies aren't going to be very happy with me once school starts since I am thinking that G1 will be walking home a lot more (less than 1/2 mile) and G2 will be taking the bus to and from more often.  But, they know what the deal is with my car so hopefully there won't be too much grumbling.

GARBAGE:  This week we are at two full 13 gallon bags.  No squeezing into one this week!  LOL  But, that's okay.  I did some upstairs purging and the upstairs bathroom's garbage was STUFFED this week - no rhyme or reason there.  Keeping the garbage to one or two bags per week is okay by me for the moment.

How are you guys doing with your gas and garbage totals?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

August Ramblings & Yesterday's Experiment...

With ditching the negativity/complaining went really really well actually!  Unlike the last time I tried to do this, I wasn't really faced with any outward/external challenges.  A lot of it was internal this time.  I really was in a bad funk!  And I spent a lot of yesterday stopping negative thinking, trust me!  LOL

In the end, I  can't tell you guys how much yesterday helped!  I feel more energized and a bit more like myself again!  (which my family seems to be happy about)

Now onto the other stuff on my mind/docket today:

The Guppies & I will be looking at the LL Bean website in search of decent backpacks.  Yes, they are more expensive but also more durable and I believe they still carry lifetime warranties.  The past few years have been spent buying cheap(er) backpacks, only to have them break half way through the year or just barely make the school year. Added to this, Guppy 1 doesn't like using her locker and likes carrying what she needs for the day - which makes durability and size even more important!  The Guppies used to have LL Bean's when they were a lot younger but can't use them now  (think embroidered butterflies, etc).  Hopefully these will be the last backpacks purchased until college time.

Today should be the last day I need to wear my glasses since my eyes are almost completely back to normal!  Yay me!  I am thinking of trying the "mushroom experiment" on possibly Friday.  It will be interesting to see if my eyes blow up again.

I am finally out of the Pinterest planner hole I dug myself so deeply into!  LOL  After many frustrating hours of trying to find the "perfect" planner, I realized most people just kind of Frankenstein together what works best for them.  I stumbled on some You Tube videos that gave me lots of great ideas that I can implement without spending a ton of unnecessary cash since I have so much scrapbooking stuff from which to draw inspiration.  Plus, I realized how silly I was being getting so caught up in perfection.

Our local consignment shop is taking Fall/Winter stuff already!  Even though I haven't even thought of pulling out the fall stuff - it's still blazing hot here! - I do have a few coats I no longer wear hanging in the hall closet.  I'll bring those down to the shop this week.

Papa and I were talking last night about utilizing the space in the house better.  Our house is not that small (1700 sq ft) but there are places where the space can be utilized A LOT better!  While home improvements/renovations are put on hold, we can do our best to simplify!  Our first area to attack is the kitchen!  This month I need to go through all the cabinets/drawers/etc and take a good hard look at what is in there!  First up:
              Cookbooks: I have FIVE shelves full of cookbooks and full magazines (Cooking Light, Clean Eating, etc)!  I have to pare down - especially the magazines! The cookbooks will be easy enough to go through - if I have used them in the past six or so months they stay.  If I haven't used them, I will consign them.  As for the magazines... I have a heavy duty plastic binder that I can use to organize any recipes I want to keep.  Sounds simple but will probably take HOURS for me to go through.  Since G2 will be at a sleepover tonight,  I think I'll start sorting through the magazines this evening while G1 and I watch Trailer Park Boys (my "guilty pleasure" show -so trashy but funny too).

I guess that's enough rambling for this morning!  Have a great day everyone!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Menu Plan for the Week!

Here's what's on the menu in our house this week!

MONDAY:  Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes, Sauteed Swiss Chard w/ garlic

TUESDAY:  Chicken Fried Rice

WEDNESDAY:  Fried Dough

THURSDAY:  Breakfast for Dinner - Pancakes, bacon, homefries

FRIDAY:  Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Honeyed Carrots

Nothing amazing or exciting  - However, it utilizes food I have on hand and gets us through the week without another shopping trip!

August Grocery Totals

Okay, so it's seriously time for me to start tracking my monthly grocery expenditures again!  I've gotten very lazy about it and I tend to *slip up* when I don't watch the bottom line!

Let the tracking begin again!  =)

8/1 Farmers Market trip:  $19.00
8/2 Stop & Shop trip : $25.00 (approx.  Papa ran out for me but lost the receipt in the process!  It  was 24 and change but I'm rounding it up!)
8/3 Stop & Shop trip:  $36.49

Total so far:  $70.49!

YIKES!  And it's only August 3rd!  But, I'm not going to complain about it!  LOL

The lesson I think I learned this past weekend is that I NEED to get as much of my shopping done at the Farmer's Market - even if I don't  *feel well* or *feel like* doing it!  I want and need to keep my $$$ local and out of the big grocery stores!

The good news is that I should now be set until I get back to the Farmer's Market on Saturday!

Next up is Menu Planning and trying to decided exactly how much money I should allocate to feeding my family monthly!

New Week and Trying to Ditch the Negative Attitude!

I'm going to try (desperately!) to put this past weekend behind me and push out all the negativity that has been rattling around in my brain!  I tend to be more pessimistic in nature and want to work hard to change this!

So, like I did awhile back, I am going to have a day of absolutely NO COMPLAINING!  Or die trying to have this happen!  LOL

I'll let you guys know how it goes later on tonight!  Wish me luck!

Happy Monday!

P.S.  If anyone is wondering, my eyes are still slightly swollen but loads better than yesterday morning!  Keeping up with the benadryl today but if it comes back/gets worse, I will drive up to my eye doctor and have him check it out.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Farmer's Market Finds..

Saturday was a slow day for me at the Farmer's Market. I already knew in the morning that I wasn't feeling very well but decided to go anyway.  Once there it took us more that a few go arounds to find a parking spot since there was a huge crowd.  Yay for the market but not for me - since I wasn't already in the "mood" to be shopping to start with!

So, here are the few things I did buy:

1 pint of cherry yogurt - $4
1 small bag of shitake mushrooms -$4
1 bunch swiss chard - $3
1 head of butter lettuce - $3
1/2 dozen cider donuts - $5

I went without any type of "plan" so I didn't buy any meat.  (I am regretting this today for sure!)  I really need to get my act together here with that!  =)