Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Freebie Fairy Came Again....

The Freebie Fairy (aka my BFF) dropped more goodies off at my house yesterday right before we headed out for Fright Fest!  And, yes!  I DO plan on telling her that this is now her nickname on my blog!  LOL

G1 was super psyched for what was in this batch!  She has been beggiung politely asking for an electric blanket (she gets cold very easily and I need the house on the cooler side) but didn't want to pay for it herself.  I also didn't feel like shelling out $50 plus dollars this close to Christmas! Well, I'm sure you have figured out what was in the goody bag!  LOL  I think she's going to hibernate under it all weekend!

Also in the bag....

1 pair of expensive ($70!) sweatpant material jeggings - I have no idea why she is getting rid of these!  I remember when she bought them!  Well, off to consignment they will go!

1 white sleeveless shirt - not mine or the girls style - too business like - consignment it goes

1 light pink Loft sweater - I love this! But, sadly it is way too small!  G2 may end up keeping it.  If not, well you know the drill!  =)

1 Loft necklace - consignment

1 set of earrings - G1 wants them for her second holes

Be back later on today with another post!

Happy Saturday!!!  And Halloween of course!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Costume Conundrum

Since Guppy 2 is 13 and in 8th grade, this will most likely be the last year that she officially goes out for "trick or treating" on Halloween.   Knowing her, this won't be the last we see of Halloween costumes as I'm sure there will be Halloween parties in the future.  But the traditional door-to-door-asking-for-candy thing is done this year.  Maybe that's why I am a wee-bit (cough cough) freaked out she hasn't decided on a costume yet.  That and possibly because, hey,  we are out to Fright Fest tonight AND she has a birthday party during the day on Halloween!  The only saving grace is she wants to do a "homemade" costume since that's what her friends are doing!

So far, the group is going as....

A baby 
Ed Sherran 
An Alien &
Two bank robbers (think cartoon style NOT thug)

And then there's G2....who can't decide!  Here are the ideas we have come up with...

An angel
A scarecrow
A zombie
A pageant girl
Carrie - yes THAT Carrie from the Stephen King book/movie
A cafeteria lunch lady - complete with stained apron, hairnet, and spatula  (no longer in the running)
Lilo & Stitch (she would carry a Stitch stuffed animal)

I told G2 she needs to decide right when she gets off the bus after school since we only have an hour or two before we are picked up to head to the amusement park for the evening.  If I have to pick up any items needed for the (finally) chosen costume, I will do it on Saturday while she is at the birthday party.

It was so much easier (and more fun!) when they were little and I could pick out their costumes myself.  It could be worse though.  She could want one of the more questionable costumes at the Halloween stores that leave a LOT of skin exposed and not much to the imagination....if you catch my drift!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday's Freebies

My BFF is at her house out of stuff she doesn't want!  LOL

Some of the stuff she passes on really makes me laugh though!  Here's the latest round of "goodies" she passed on to me.

Three unopened travel sized toothpastes (LOL But I'll take them and save for if Papa has any more business travel)
2 new nail files
1 new bottle of pastel pink nail polish
1 unopened pack of dental floss threading things (no kidding!)
A bag of raspberry coffee (I'll be sending this off with Papa to work since all we have is a Keurig machine at home)


A gorgeous new over sized Pottery Barn tote - which I almost decided to keep but, sadly, it will be going to the consignment store for someone else to buy/enjoy since I could use $$ more than a new bag!  

Any good freebies come your way?  What's the weirdest freebie you have gotten recently?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Gas & Garbage


I have less than 1/4 of a tank of gas left from the only fill up I made this month!  However, I don't think I will be able to get through the rest of today, tomorrow, and Friday without some type of top off.  I think I will head over to the gas station later and put in a mere $10.  That will get me through the rest of the week and still $20 under my $50 October gas budget!!!!
Yay me!


This week, I have two completely full bags of garbage.  Plus, since it is our recycling week (every other week), we are putting out an almost 3/4 full very large green recycling barrel.  While not the one bag of garbage I had last week, I am still happy to only have two 13 gallon kitchen sized bags.

Banishing the "There's Nothing in the House to Eat" Blues...

Fear not! This is not what is truly happening in my house!  It's just a representation of what the Guppies *think* is happening here!  LOL

I could feel the slightest shift in the atmosphere of my house yesterday....A distant grumble and whine....Off in the distance but most definitely moving closer...A storm was heading my way...It's name?  "MOOOOM! There's nothing in the house to EAAAAAT!"

Melodramatic?  Possibly. But only slightly!  If you have older than toddler aged children you probably can relate!  Haha!

We are seriously getting low on the Guppies "favorite" foods.  Plus we were out of the grab-n-go style breakfast foods that they normally like - the last two croissants eaten in the morning.  

Feeling cold and lazy resourceful, I decided to scour the cabinets/pantry/fridge for inspiration rather than drag myself to the grocery store.  We HAVE food left of course...Just not prepared food, if you know what I mean.

So, I got to work....

I baked off a coffee cake style muffin mix for grab-n-go breakfasts.

I turned some slightly stale Rice Krispies into Rice Krispies treats.

And, last but not least, I took some graham crackers no one wanted, some chocolate chips, and another package of marshmallows and transformed them into baked s'mores bars.

Crisis averted for now!

Since today is supposed to be very rainy, I will most likely end up in the kitchen again this morning, looking for more ingredients to turn into deliciousness.

I guess being lazy motivated to use what's in the house has its benefits!

Happy Hump Day everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

News on Papa's Interview...

Papa reached out to the recruiter yesterday about the job interview.  The recruiter was waiting until it was completely a "done deal" but I guess it came down between him and another candidate.  While they liked Papa better, they had to go with the other person since he/she had more experience AND already used/new the computer system that this company uses. BUT the recruiter was genuinely impressed on just how well Papa interviews (something I already knew! LOL) because of how hard the end decision was for the company to make!

I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed because, truthfully, I am......

It's okay though.  Papa HAS a job right now, right?  Things are nowhere near as desperate as they could truly be.

Papa is ramping up his search for another job.  He told the recruiter that he will now be aggressively searching and to keep him in mind - which I am sure the recruiter will do now that he has gotten such positive feedback regarding Papa's interview skills!  And, we now know that this job's position/title is NOT the stretch we thought it would be, given Papa's experience.  So, that opens up the next level up for searching too.

The searching and waiting continues....

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Overnight Changes

So, if you have been reading my blog for awhile (first of all THANK YOU!), you will notice that today it looks a little different....

Last night, right as I was getting ready to shut my computer down, Guppy 1 came over and asked to see my blog. Of course I told her no - which let's face it, was sort of ridiculous to do since she can actually LOOK it up on her phone right?  LOL   But,  she insisted that she didn't want to read it!  She just wanted to help with the layout.  What you see this morning is her handiwork -done in less than ten minutes I might add!

What do you guys think?  Does it make any difference? Any other suggestions to help make it more reader friendly?

Also, I was toying with the idea of putting up a sidebar with our medical and credit card debt - which I would update monthly.  Part of me thinks it would be a great motivator to see the numbers go down "publicly" but part of me worries it may be too much personal information.

I'm hoping to be back later this afternoon with a "real" post but we will see how my day works out.  While I didn't spend the weekend goofing off, my house sure looks like I did!

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Buying Middle School Grades - Part 2

RECAP:  A few weeks or so ago, I wrote about how Guppy 2's 8th grade class has to take a Consumer Economics class at some point during the year.  The teacher gave the students an assignment where they need to bring in ten box tops FOR A GRADE!  If they didn't bring in the correct amount of box tops, they received an F for the assignment.  If you want to read the entire blog post and the conversation that ensued, please check out my original post entitled "Buying Middle School Grades".

Last night, we drove Guppy 2 and her friend, A, to Lake Compounce's Haunted Graveyard.  A is the girl who texted me and asked if I could please spare any box tops so she wouldn't get an F on her economics assignment.  On the way home, it occurred to me to ask her about the class and that assignment in particular....

Well, as was predicted, there were a LOT of angry parents regarding this "assignment".  And apparently the principal was extremely busy fielding phone calls and emails about it!  The principal made the teacher pull the assignment from the syllabus and drop the grade from the class' current students.

So, thankfully, G2 will not be scrambling around clipping box tops so she doesn't "fail" an assignment!  But, it does make me wonder about curriculum in general.  Like, how did the teacher get this assignment by in the first place?  Isn't there some sort of approval process for lesson plans?
I guess, in the end, I am just happy that the teacher was forced to pull it.  I am very curious, however, about what this "economics" class is going to be like.  I'll keep you guys posted when it's G2's turn to take it!  =)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Latest Grocery Trip and Rethinking the Grocery Budget

No farmer's market for us this morning.  I woke up with the same headache I went to bed with last night and just didn't feel like heading out.  Papa (the great guy he is) was perfectly fine with that and let me sleep in until around ten am.  Not that we have much grocery money left in the budget anyway.   I really really need to do some thinking about my budget - especially since we are going into November and December.  We host Thanksgiving and Christmas for my family so I will most definitely need more $$$ in the budget to do this.

Anyway, here is the damage from my latest shopping trip.....

Stop and Shop:  $90.01

8 pack of mini croissants
2 packages of Thomas English Muffins 6 count - Buy one/Get one
16oz Hood Half n Half
3 cans of Pillsbury Grands biscuits
16oz S&S brand heavy cream
2 bricks of S&S brand cream cheese
1/2 lb Boars Head Honey Maple Chicken deli meat
1 lb Land O Lakes American Cheese
40 counts Totinos pizza rolls
1 package of Eggo waffles
3 cases of Diet Pepsi
1 box of peanut butter CapNCrunch
1 box of Krstz Crumb Cake Muffin mix
3 Ramen noodle soup cups
2 boxes of Microwave popcorn
2 boxes of Crystal Light mixes
2 packages of Tostitos tortilla chips
1 box of hashbrown patties
2 packages of ham steaks (2 count each) Buy one/Get one
5 snack sized bags of pistachios 10/$10 (bought for Papa to keep in his desk at work)

Money left in October Grocery Budget:  $57.23

Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Frugal Things...

Here are my 5 frugal things for today.....

1.   Attended a FREE lecture given by Wally Lamb at the very local private school in our town!  It was great and very inspiring for me!  He was doing a book signing after the lecture, which I chose not to do.  Even though the school had a book store come in to supply books for purchase, they were all paperback. Having a paperback book signed doesn't make much sense to me - durability speaking.  So the temptation was low to "just do it".

2.   Papa worked from home today, avoiding the wear and tear on the car and the gas!

3.   Papa decided to get his haircut while I was at the lecture.  So, I had him drop me off on his way to the barbershop (saving me gas) and then he picked me up afterwards since the timing worked perfectly.  Otherwise I would have walked home.

4.   I forgot to take the eye round roast out of the freezer for tonight's dinner.  Knowing it would never thaw in time, I came up with a Plan B from what is already in the house.

5.   Okay, not sure if this one counts but....A good friend of mine invited G2 and I to "Fright Fest" at Six Flags New England the day before Halloween.  They have season passes and it's bring a friend free day so we get in free!  She is also doing the driving!  Yay!  Although I am thinking about trying to give her money towards gas at least.  Even though the plans aren't for today, it counts right?  LOL

***Bonus***   I charged my phone in the car on the way to and from the lecture this morning.  Yes, it was only for a total of about twenty minutes BUT I put it on airplane mode to get the maximum charge and it's less electricity I have to use at home.

Today's Freebie.... a lecture at a local private school by author Wally Lamb!

While waiting for G1 to get out of school yesterday, I saw an article in our town paper about a free lecture Wally Lamb was doing called "The Transformative Power of Writing".   This is taking place during the day while the Guppies are at school and is only about five minutes from my house.

I'm hoping this will be a very inspirational/motivational morning!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Today I Am....

Listening...  To the birds singing, a few cars going down my street, & my dog snoring on the couch after our morning walk.

Eating...  Just finished my breakfast - a PBJ Toasted English Muffin.

Wearing...  The jeans, sweater, and sneakers I walked the dog in.  I will have to change soon though since the temps today are supposed to get up in the high 70's. YAY!

Waiting...  To hear about the last interview Papa had.  No word yet and it's frustrating to not know what's going on.  Is he still being considered?  Are they still interviewing more people for the position?  Papa's going to get in contact with the recruiter either today or tomorrow.  We just need to know either way.

Looking...  At the gorgeous colors of fall in my own backyard. The four seasons are part of the reason why I love New England so much and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Cooking...  Nothing yet but I will be making homemade Chicken Noodle Soup later this afternoon to go with our grilled cheeses for dinner.

Hoping... My brother in law can get out of the hospital soon and has someplace to stay (that's not here!).  He had another episode where too much ammonia built up in his system again.  This time he fell against the bathtub and cracked three ribs!  He needs to recuperate somewhere that has a bathroom on the first level since he cannot navigate stairs.  I know it's awful but I'm kind of thankful that we live "so far away" from them.  (Their words not ours)

Fearing...  The worst is about to happen.  Ever get that feeling?  Right now I feel it so strongly it's almost like it is a full bodied solid person that I am about to smack into around the next corner!  I need to find a way to shake this off!

Looking forward to... Heading out to the Halloween store tonight with Guppy 2!  Just the two of us for some quality time together!  She wants to get some ideas for a costume and thought walking around the huge Halloween store in the next town over would give her some inspiration.  LOL   Also, we are carving our pumpkins this weekend, which is always a lot of messy fun!  =)

Happy Thursday!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wednesday Gas & Garbage


I am really pleased with how my gas consumption is going this month!  I just got back from driving G2 and a friend to school for Newspaper Club and checked my gas gauge when I pulled back into the driveway.  I am still slightly above 1/2 tank!  This still leaves me with $30 for October's gas budget with about only a week and a half to go!


It was a very successful week waste wise as well!  I only have ONE full (13 gallons kitchen sized) garbage bag to put out this week!  I still am unable to figure out as to why my house had so little garbage wise this week but I am not going to complain about it!

How about you guys? What's your gas budget like every month?  How do you keep your garbage/waste down to a minimum?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

When Office Billing People Go Bad....

Weird Vibe for this Tuesday.  This is my second post today - I took the first one down because I felt like it painted me in a horrible light when truly I am just in a bad mood today.  There's really no reason for me to be in a bad mood though - maybe it's PMS.  =)

Anyway, here's a story my mom told me this morning that will make you shake your head in awe....

Not even three weeks ago my dad went in for a colonoscopy.  Before the procedure was done, he had to meet with the doctor for a pre-procedure appointment.  (Btw, my dad is fine.  He was having this done since you are supposed to after a certain age)  I guess my parents weren't sure how this visit would be billed - lumped in with the actual procedure or a separate visit?  So, they found  out afterwards that it's considered an office visit and my dad's copay is $20 due at the end of the month.
Easy Peasy right?
The billing department has been HOUNDING my dad for the money.  They have been emailing, calling, and even texting him!  They have threatened that if payment isn't made in 90 days they will send him to collections.  Ummm, the payment isn't even technically due yet?!?!  Oh, and all these interactions have been happening DAILY!!!  Can you imagine?
A huge problem with my dad is that he can be too mild mannered about things so my mom didn't even know this was going on until they were quite a few days into this. 
My mom took charge and spoke with the billing department and told them that this borders on harassment (I disagree since I believe it IS harassment!) and to knock it off since the bill isn't even due yet!  Of course they apologized....because hey they got caught this time right?
And the real kicker is that this doctor doesn't even have his own billing department!  He outsources it...all the way to MAINE!

Have you ever heard of such an insane thing?!?!?!

Hope you all have a great Tuesday!  I'll be cleaning the house and trying to get rid of my bad attitude!  LOL

Monday, October 19, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Well, I didn't want to do it so early in the season but last night I had no choice....I turned on the heat!  BUT, just briefly and overnight....and I only set it to 58 degrees.

Yesterday morning, when Papa and I woke up first, it was freezing in the house - like only 50 degrees!  Darn you old windows!  Instead of turning on the heat right then and there, we went outside and grabbed some wood for our first fire of the season.  It kept the family room toasty warm (where we spent 90 percent of the day) and we were able to finally get the rest of the house up to 58 degrees thanks to the fire and my Sunday dinner cooking.

But, I just *knew* when I heard the temps were going to dip down to TWENTY FIVE DEGREES last night there was no other choice!  (sigh)

Usually once the heat goes on the first time, that's the end of that.  We will turn it on/keep it on for the duration.  I'm trying so hard to not have that happen this time!  I have already turned the heat back off since everyone but me and the animals are in the house today.  I'm wearing a long sleeved t-shirt under my sweatshirt and will be moving around a lot today so I should be fine.  Tonight we will have another fire (if needed) and congregate in the family room again.

We just have to hold on until temps moderate back into the sixties and almost seventy Wednesday and Thursday!

When do you usually turn your furnace on for the Fall & Winter seasons?


Thank God It's Monday!!

There's a phrase you don't see everyday right?  But Monday is getting lots of love from me at the moment!

Don't get me wrong, this weekend was spectacular but now I need the silence and time that Monday can bring.  My house is trashed and I'm way behind on ironing and laundry.  So, thanks for coming back around Monday!  LOL

As I commented on my other posts, the Motley Crue concert was a blast - even without their drummer being able to play.  G1 was in sheer awe since she has never been to an arena show - like all of us '80's kids grew up on.  And, it was actually both of our first time seeing Alice Cooper - the man is pushing 70 years old and still puts on a great theatrical show!  But, here's an interesting little tidbit....I couldn't stand the opening band, The Cringe.  While the lead singer had a great voice, he was just too arrogant for my taste and the music too dated. (Yeah, Crue and Cooper are dated too but it's more nostalgia since they are established bands)  Anyway, guess what?  The lead singer of The Cringe was Rachel Ray's husband!  Hmmmmmm.....makes sense.  I'm not a Rachel Ray fan but do like some of her recipes.
The second concert of the weekend was pretty good.  However, I think we may have ruined smaller shows forever for G1.  This concert was a bit of a letdown after the previous night's over the top pyrotechnic display of awesome.  HAHA  I think the saving grace of the night (and a reminder of why small shows are good) was that we were able to meet and take a picture with one of our favorite bands - This Wild Life. Despite their name, they are two very talented mellow guys who play acoustic music. I grabbed a shirt for G2 and had them autograph it for her.  It set me back $20 for the shirt but G2 is thrilled to have it - even if she was unable to come to the show. 

As for G2's weekend...from what I heard yesterday, she had a great weekend too.  Friday night she had a lot of fun with her BFF and BFF's aunt - who spoils these two girls rotten!  Then she loved the Bar Mitzvah on Saturday - I heard in detail about how "fancy" the place was with all its chandeliers.  HAHA  Afterwards, G2 and her two friends went over to another good friend's house for his birthday party and had fun there too.  WE were HOME before HER actually on Saturday night!!!!  LOL

We all took it easy yesterday, laying around the house mostly - the Guppies in PJ's all day.  We had some family time playing card games and watching horror movies.  So, yup, a pretty LAAAAAZZZZZY Sunday!

Here's my "To Do" list for what I hope to be a very quiet Monday!

1.  Take the dog out for a walk ---DONE!
2.  Clean/vac family room  ---  DONE!
3.  Sweep living room (hardwood floors)
4.  Laundry - wash and fold four loads
5.  Iron Papa's work clothes --- DONE!
6.  Clean off dining room table - unfortunately I'm the one to blame for the mess there!
7.  Clean downstairs bathroom
8.  Start switching more of the summer style clothes out for our heavier ones
9.  Grab some more wood from outside pile for the fireplace --- DONE!

Do you guys have anything good planned for today?  Is Monday a friend or foe to you this week?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Meal Plans for the Upcoming Week

The bedraggled bleary-eyed version!

All meals subject to change of course!  =)

Monkey Bread
English Muffins (with butter or PB&J)
Egg "McMuffins"
Peanut Butter Toast
Cold Cereal/Oatmeal
Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches
Granola Bar, String Cheese, & Fruit
Pumpkin Curry Soup


Crockpot Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Tri-Color Carrots, Roasted Beets, Biscuits

Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Steaks, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans with Garlic Butter

Spaghetti & Meatballs

TBD - G2 has half day at school and may invite friends over

Chicken Noodle Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Eye Round Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts

The weather has definitely turned a LOT colder here as my menus are beginning to reflect!

Happy Sunday!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Farmers Market Finds

Surprised we went to the Farmers Market this morning? Yeah, me too!  After having to pick G2 up from her BFF's at SIX AM so she could get ready for the Bar Mitzvah (which included helping curl her hair and help her pick out which dress to wear), I just couldn't fall back to sleep. So, since the synagogue were were dropping G2 and friends off at was already halfway to New Haven, Papa and I drove to the market. I am fairly sure I will be regretting this decision by the time tonight rolls around.  My only possible saving grace is that tonight's concert starts earlier - doors open at 5:30 so hopefully we will get home earlier.

What was the damage at the market? An even $60.00

So now I have $156.24 left for the month!  Sigh....I have no one to blame but myself of course.  Let's see how well I can make it through the rest of the month now.

Here's a list of what was bought today at the farmer's market:

1 pint of blueberry yogurt
1 pint of vanilla yogurt
4 lbs of short ribs (for tomorrow night's dinner)
2 HUGE HUGE HUGE sweet potatoes (Did I mention they were HUGE?  LOL)
1/2 dozen apple cider donuts
1 bunch of beets
1 pint of Butternut Squash Bourbon soup
1 pint of Curried Pumpkin soup

At some point soon - probably not until Monday at this rate - I will need to inventory my freezer because I am finally getting low on meats and fish.  But my plan is to design next week's meal plan to incorporate mostly things already stocked in my kitchen.  (Though I do need to, unfortunately, run out  for a few needed items like cream cheese and heavy cream either today or tomorrow.)

Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can make it through today/tonight without falling over!

Catching Up on Grocery Totals....

So here we are....Back to the dreaded grocery totals.  I say this because I know I have been "bad"....Like heading over to Whole Paycheck Foods to do a little shopping.  Yeah, not so frugal.  Anyway, here we go!

Here's where I was last check:  $344.99 BUT...I have to do a little backtracking to add in a few things I hadn't yet.

Trip to Apple Orchard  $20.95

Large Apple Pie - $14.95
Apples - $16.00  --  I decided to do half the price of the apples as groceries/half from our outings $$$

CVS  $10.80 for October regular groceries  $25.80 towards October stock up

*** for itemized list you can check out my Small CVS Stock Up post ***

So, I really only had $313.24 to work with.  Okay, now onto the newest transactions.

Whole Foods:  $48.55

2lbs of rainbow carrots
1 quart of sweet potato soup
1 tin of Newman's Own mints
1 falafel salad
2 packages of pumpkin ravioli
1 container of pomegranate seeds
1 small container of fresh poultry herbs
1.5 lbs of chicken cutlets
1 bunch of rainbow swiss chard
1 bunch of mustard greens

Stop and Shop:  $8.48

Frozen dinner request by G2
1 whole chicken

FoodWorks :$30.97

Bag of Maple Popcorn
1/4 lb maple coconut chips
16 oz  bag of frozen butternut squash ravioli
8 oz bag of frozen mushroom ravioli
1/2 lb of Vermont cheddar chipotle cheese
7.5 oz bag of wasabi peas

Dollar Tree; $9.00 (not counting tax since I bought other non grocery items in this transaction)
(I will be having G2's friends over at some point next week so I needed more snacky foods)

2 bags Utz potato chips
1 bag Cheez Balls
2 cans of Hazelnut wafers
1 bag hot & spicy peanuts
4 pack of gum
1 box of baking soda
1 bag of popcorrn

So, what's left for the month?

October grocery money spent:  $283.76
October grocery money left:  $216.24

Not quite as bad as I was anticipating but not that great either, considering this month I had the *free* trip to Costco for a stock up!!!

Hope you all have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five Things Friday...

1.     I think I am going to take a break from doing the "Food Waste Friday" posts for a while.  They feel stale to me (horrible pun I know!  LOL) and not doing anything to help my motivation.  My waste has stayed at a fairly consistent level, and though it needs to be addressed/lessened, I just don't seem to be able to break through that threshold yet.  I'm hoping a break from blogging about it will help.

2.     Tonight Papa, G1, and I are heading about 45 minutes away to redeem an anniversary gift my parents bought us way back in June - tickets to see Motley Crue for their final concert tour.  (G2 didn't want to come since she isn't impressed with their drummer - Tommy Lee - and I can't argue with her!)  I can't wait!  G1 hasn't ever been to a Crue concert so it's going to be a different experience for her than she is used to!  Still, aren't you shocked that someone like me could like a group like Motley Crue?  Haha!  Truth is, I loved heavy metal/hair metal back when I was a teenager!  And, even now, I keep up with music - thanks to the girls! - and tend to gravitate towards pop punk and post hardcore.

3.     Since it's going to be a very late night (followed by a very early morning getting G2 off and running to the Bar Mitvah she is attending), I am scheduling a post for tomorrow in advance.  It's where I FINALLY get the rest of my grocery receipts/totals in so far for this month.  I'm a little nervous about seeing the totals because I know I did a bit of damage this past week!

4.     Tomorrow night, we have another concert to go to down in New Haven.  So, yeah I am anticipating not being able to hear for about....oh, I would say....A MONTH!  While it's not very frugal to go to as many concerts as my family does, music is a HUGE part of my family's lives.  And, most of the concerts we go to (besides tonight's Crue one) are relatively inexpensive so I am okay with this.  And, as with tonight, a lot of times when it's a larger band/venue, the tickets are given to us as gifts.

5.     Because I will probably want to come back home and sleep after getting G2 to her outing tomorrow, I will be prepping French Toast Casserole today for tomorrow's brunch.  Whoever gets up and is hungry first can throw it in the oven. (G2 will be eating at the Bar Mitvah)  Easy Peasy.

Getting Back on the Coupon Wagon

I have always had a love/hate relationship with coupons.  I know there is quite a bit of money to save when using them for things I normally buy...However, I just haven't been able to find a system that works for me.  I do NOT want to carry some large binder to the grocery store but I also really want to be able to keep my coupons organized and easily located.  And, most importantly I don't want to spend any cash coming up with a storage system!  As I was raiding my "school supplies" drawer, I had an idea....

At the bottom of the drawer was a black plastic notecard holder complete with the little elastic closure thingy.  I had bought it five years ago when G1 first started taking a language - thinking she could use it for vocabulary flashcards.  I don't know why I kept in but I'm glad I did!  For now I divided it into the following categories:
Meat & Dairy
Bath & Beauty
Laundry & Paper Goods
Baking, Breads, & Cereal
ECB's & Rebates

Little plastic tabs and notecards with the category names written on them will *hopefully* keep it semi organized.

But now where to get the coupons?

Approximately once per month or so my mom gives me a stack of coupons from her Sunday papers so I started clipping the big pile I had accumulated here.  (Sadly, I missed the expiration dates on quite a few since I started my new couponing adventure so late this month.)

I will check out (in earnest) the coupon section of Swagbucks to see what is available and print out anything I can use.

I will also research the big name/brands that we tend to use and join any loyalty programs and see if their websites offer up any coupons.

At least that is a start, right?

Can you help me out in my new quest?  Any helpful websites or tips you care to share?  And, how do YOU keep all your coupons organized and not miss expiration dates in the process?  

I would love to hear any advice you can offer!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Freebies!

Guess who has been purging her house again?  My BFF of course!  Here is what was in her latest "goody" bag for me!

1 Brand new steel blue super soft blanket - TAGS STILL ON!  She didn't like the color and didn't want to bother returning it!

A like new light blue Abercrombe & Fitch hoodie - G2 grabbed this

A darker brown lace tank top - again G2 snatched

A lightweight plaid shirt - I actually took that!

A cream and light brown patterned Banana Republic cardigan - not my size or taste.  Neither Guppy wanted it so I will most likely take it to the consignment shop

And...This little guy:....

The picture is kind of dark but I like how he kind of mimics the steel of my steamer trunk.  Plus he has red accents like the trunk.  And, if anyone is looking...Ummm...Yeah, the dog is anatomically correct and obviously NOT neutered!  LOL

I can't believe the freebies that have just been coming my way lately!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's Been Cooking? Late Weekly Menu Post

Very very late in posting my menu for the week!  But, I have had one in place to follow!  Here's what we have eaten and what is on tap for the rest of the week dinner wise!

Taco Night

Chicken Cutlets in a White Wine/Lemon/Caper Sauce
Mashed potatoes
Sauteed Rainbow Swiss Chard with Garlic

Pumpkin Ravioli in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce
Grilled Cheese (Guppies chose this option)

Chicken Casserole
Green Beans with Garlic Butter

Shepard's Pie (never made this before so we will see what the Guppies think!)

G2 is at her BFF's to go to dinner, shopping, and then sleepover while
Papa, G1, and I go to a concert so the three of us will probably grab something while we are out

Another TBD
G2 has a BarMitvah during the morning/afternoon then she goes straight to a birthday party in the evening
Papa, G1, and I have yet another concert to attend at night.
Thinking maybe sandwiches since I don't want to eat out two nights in a row.

How has your menu planning been going this week?

Gas & Garbage

Today's post is short and sweet!

Spent so far: $20
Left for the month: 30

Although I technically have 1/4 left in my tank, I put $20 in anyway. I have an errand to run approximately 25 minutes away and I have a "thing" about letting the gas gauge get too low when I know I'll be heading out of the immediate area.
Still, today is October 14th and I put gas in my tank for the first time this month!  That makes me pretty happy!


We did pretty well in this department this week too!  I only have two kitchen sized 13 gallon bags for pickup  this week.  And that second bag wasn't even completely full - even after I emptied all the small trash cans from the bathrooms/bedrooms!

Have an awesome Wednesday everyone!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Interview, Insomnia, & My Morning Walk

Happy Monday Tuesday morning!  Please tell me I am not the only one who feels like today is Monday?  =)

Papa's interview went very well yesterday - it lasted 2 1/2 hours!  He seems to like the company a lot and this position would be a great challenge for my easily bored husband!  LOL   We know he is definitely in the running for the position; but, since there are quite a few facets to the job (one of the areas Papa has minimal experience in), we don't know where he stands yet.  Now it's just a waiting game.  Papa is an amazing interviewee so I am just leaving it as....if it's meant to be, it will happen.

Everyone who knows me well knows that I need my sleep!  Always have - even prior to the MS.  Last night, my old friend insomnia paid me a long overdue visit.  The last time I saw him was a good six months ago at least!  I think I lost about two to three hours last night with the rest being that iffy "am I sleeping or not?" kind of state.  Strangely enough, I got out of bed feeling pretty good today.  Bags under my eyes but a good amount of energy nonetheless.  Let's hope I don't crash and burn too early today!

Finally, as I have said before, I take my dog out for a walk every morning  I thought I would share some pictures from my route!  Keep in mind that these are taken from an IPhone camera by a very inexperienced photographer (ME)....

These first two pictures are from the trail near my house.  It's part of the Farmington Canal Greenway system.

My happy almost nine year old puppy!

These last three are some shots of the farm down the street from my house.

Have an awesome day!  I hope to be back later this afternoon to post my menus for the week - I have been following a plan but just haven't had time to post it!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Apple Picking....Groceries or Outing?

It was such a gorgeous day here yesterday!  And, to make it even better, I felt well enough to go to our local apple orchard with Papa and the Guppies for our annual apple picking outing at Hickory Hill Orchards.  I absolutely love it there - it's a smallish quaint orchard with the most friendly staff.  It's awesome to have them so close to home.

We grabbed quite a few apples - $32.00 worth!  We picked a full bag of just my favorite type - Winesap!  (If you ever have the chance you gotta try this variety!  They are simply amazing!!) Then the Guppies picked another bag of mixed types - JonaGold, Cameo, Mutzu, and Golden Delicious.

After we were done with the picking, we went into the little store they have where G1 asked for an apple pie.  The price of these pies is pretty steep ($14.95) but they are homemade and delicious!  We love them so much we usually buy one on apple picking day and then two for Thanksgiving.

The apple pie is definitely getting deducted from our grocery budget. And, I am thinking the apples probably should as well, since hello? Apples are food!  LOL  But, it was a family activity too. Should it be deducted from there instead?  Or am I just completely overthinking this?  Haha!

Today is sort of a crazy day - No school for Columbus Day means Guppies are home...kind of.  G1 has an all day work team building retreat (she is so NOT happy about) and won't be back home until 3ish.  G2 is planning out her day now - which probably means me driving her somewhere! =)  And, Papa will be home after his interview -- fingers and toes crossed it goes well!  I don't foresee much time to do any straightening up or anymore blogging today!

But, that's okay.  Busy days are moderation.

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Small Grocery Trips

Last week I did run to the grocery store twice to pick up a few odds and ends...
Here's the damage:


1 loaf of Wonder Bread
1lb Land o' Lakes White American Cheese
1/2 lb Boars Head Honey Maple Turkey
2.5lb Boneless Pork Loin
1/2 Gallon Apple Cider

BIG Y: SPENT: $15.12

1 small loaf of French Bread
3 bags of Big Y Shredded Mozzarella
1 bar of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 cans of College Inn Beef Broth
1 38oz Heinz Ketchup

October Grocery Money Spent: $169.87
October Grocery Money Left:  $344.99

****Note: I still have to deduct the money spent at CVS for the small stockup trip I did***

How is everyone else doing with their grocery spending for the month?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Trying to Keep the Light Shining During Dark Days...

I am not an optimistic person by nature and, for a very long time, I was quite the contrary.  I like to think that having kids helped and, believe it or not, so did getting older.  But....

I have my moments of darkness.  And, I have to be completely aware and careful not to let them completely take me over...because they have in the past and can do it again.

Today started as one of those days.....

Yesterday my post talked about what a great morning I was having.  Truly it was awesome!  I felt fabulous and productive!  That feeling continued until I went to read my book (reward for all my work!) in the afternoon and fell asleep.  Waking up to my whole body shaking and trembling was not a serene moment, especially since I know that this could be a new MS symptom cropping up.  I did my best to make it through the rest of the day and went to bed on the early side....Only to wake up in the middle of the night with muscles on both sides of my back completely cramped up. Papa was able to feel how tight they were and tried to rub them out to no avail.  Right now, after 11 in the morning, they are still locked up tighter than a maximum security prison.

It took me a very long time to get out of bed this morning.  Yes, I am in pain but it was more than just that.  When you have an autoimmune disease as silent as MS can be, you can "forget" you are sick - hence the optimism.  Of course it's always there in the back of your mind; however, it is easy to compartmentalize it, even joke about it.  Until it smacks you right back in the face.  Honestly in these moments, my mind spirals into the darkness of questions like Why me? Why bother with these injections?  Dark images of my future also shadow my mind - wheelchairs and chairlifts, railings and ramps. My dream of hiking the Long Trail once the Guppies are on their own shattered.  It sounds melodramatic but these are the thoughts that can get stuck in my head if I go too far down that road  This morning I almost did.


I shooed Papa out of the bedroom, telling him to go ahead to his golf tournament anyway. I distracted myself by reading a little while I had my heating pad on my back.  Then got up, took a shower, grabbed my heating pad and went downstairs to start my day. Yes, I will most likely be sitting most of the day with that damn heating pad and popping Tylenol to help ease the worst of the pain.  But I am making the choice to not let the darkness creep in.

Because guess what?  In the grand scheme of things, I AM one of the lucky ones. Seven years ago I was diagnosed with MS and I am still walking and living my life (most days) without much change.  I have medications that attempt to stop this disease's progression.  If this medication stops working, I have options to try others.  I have my family who love and support me no matter what.

So, yeah, actually....Life is still pretty damn good!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday!!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

On the Work Front....

:Poor Papa!  This current job is really stressing him out badly!  He found out today that there will be no raises next year, no bonuses (surprise surprise), and our payments for healthcare are going up another 3.9%!  Also, the project he is on (helping convert the computer systems to a new ***crappy!*** one) is not going as planned at all!  The next division isn't set to launch on the new system until at least 2017 - which means the "big" bonus for completing the project is probably never going to happen!  Well, maybe by the year G2 (only 13) finished college!  LOL  And the head of the entire project just up and quit yesterday!  While Papa's job there would be secure since the company has to finish the system switch, it wouldn't be a fun place to stay employed.
However....He has a job interview on Monday morning for that position that would start at around 15 to 20K more than he makes now.  He's not sure he's completely qualified for it but, the headhunter obviously thinks he's qualified enough to interview!  It's much closer to home - about thirty minutes away and right off the highway.  It's a large stable company too so that's a bonus!  As much as the extra money would help, I really really need Papa to be happy in his job!  So fingers crossed he likes the position and they like him! 
If not, the search will continue!

As for me, while at breakfast yesterday, my friend was telling me about a side job she is doing for someone she used to work with at CVS pharmacy.  Basically this man has four pharmacies in the state but has also started an online pharmaceutical company that has taken off.  He is trying out a program where he hires people to do the computer data entry of the prescriptions at home.  My friend is his "guinea pig" and, if it works out, she will be training more people to do it with her.  When this trial period is over for her and all the bugs are worked out, she is going to let me know and give my name to this owner.  I trust her and know that this isn't some weird "scheme".  I really would love to work from home but have always been leery of finding something on the internet due to the millions of scams out there.  No matter what, it looks like I am going to need to find some sort of part time work in 2016.

An Semi-Unexpected 40 "Free" Minutes....

I think I mentioned yesterday in my Running Around post that G2 was staying after school with a close friend to edit  a multimedia communications project due today.  Well, that ended up not happening.  The friend is a major prima donna and went home "sick" from school because she was the only one out of their group who was wearing sweatpants - I kid you not!  Anyway, G2 was frustrated because she was the one who planned the project, came up with the interview questions needed, AND actually did the interviewing.  All G2's friend did was point the camera.  G2 called me from school and asked me to pick her up because she decided she was NOT going to do all the editing as well. 

On the way home, the friend actually called my daughter to ask how much she had gotten done!  G2 told her she didn't do any of it.  Then the friend starting to panic and said they had to go in this morning early to finish.  G2 said she didn't have a ride.  When I asked her about it, she said "Mom, you always drive everyone one around, especially her!  Let her mom drive this time!"  LOL  Gotta love that kid!  But, until the car pulled into the driveway and picked G2 up, I wasn't even sure it was going to happen.

Anyway, that freed up a forty minute chunk of time this morning for me! I'm not gonna lie, I was very tempted to just grab my book, get comfy on my couch, and read.  But, I didn't.  Here's what I did do instead:

*Made my bed
*Put two loads of folded clothes away
*Loaded and started the dishwasher
*Straightened and vac'd the family room
*Put a load of clothes into the dryer
*Put a new load into the washer
*Gathered all the ironing to do (after I finish writing this post)
*Roasted acorn seeds leftover from last night's dinner

I love how productive I already and it's just past nine am!  I am hoping to continue this throughout the morning since I have absolutely nowhere else to be until picking G1 up from school at 2pm!  Those forty minutes really set such a great tone to my day!

Hope you all are having a great Friday morning!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Running Around Today...

I feel like this is me today - although not as in shape or graceful!  

Today is crazy busy!  It's after one pm and this is the first time I have opened my laptop today - or even been home for that matter! 

I have been on the run since I dropped G2 off at school at 7:50 this morning!  But, it's been good stuff for the most part at least.  Here's what I have done so far...

*Met an old high school friend for breakfast - FREE since we take turns paying and it was her turn to "treat".  We chatted for a LOOOONG time because, hey that's what we do.  Haha

*Drove over to let out BFF's dog and spent a few minutes playing with her - so cute!

*Drove to the library to return books and then pick up/research new titles for Papa, G!, and G2.  I grabbed a Jodi Picoult book I haven't read yet while I was at it.

*Went to the bank to pull G1's monthly vocal lesson tuition out.

*In between errands, popped back home to switch clothes over from washer to dryer

Now, I am going to....

*Pick G1 up from school and drive her over to work

*Drive over to wait for G2 and friend to finish a project they are working on after school.  They aren't sure how long it's going to take so I will wait with some little projects I can do in the car.

*Come back home and get dinner going -- I changed the menu to a pork loin roast tonight so I can roast some acorn squash to go with it.  YUM!  But, not a great night to give myself extra work at dinner!

*Finish laundry and ironing

*Clean up kitchen after dinner.

*Walk the dog.  I only took her out in the yard today to do her "business" and she turns into a maniac if she doesn't get at least one walk in per day!

And I think that's it. It doesn't sound like so much after writing it down but I'm already getting tired!

I'll check back in to read everyone's blogs later on tonight hopefully!  Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Tomorrow I will fill you guy in on Papa's job stuff and a potential job that may have fallen into my lap at breakfast today!

I'm off again!  =)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Small Stock Up Trip to CVS

Since I had to go to our local "feed" store for pet supplies, I stopped in at CVS to check out if there were any deals for me.  I'm happy that I did!  (Note:  I don't use coupons nearly as much as I should so there is always that chance that I could have gotten this stuff for lower price.)

Total Spent:  $35.80

2 CVS brand (Neutrogena style) facial washes
4 16oz Nivea body washes - earned a 3ECB coupon from this purchase
2 Aussie instant freeze hairsprays

As we needed one of the facial and body washes now, I will deduct this from our regular October grocery $$ later on today.  The rest will be allocated to my "stocking up" goals and will come from the $100 I put aside for this.

Gas & Garbage

GAS:    As of yesterday afternoon, my tank was still at a healthy 3/4 full!  Full disclosure though....When Papa was away I did use his car sometimes as well.  This kept my car's usage down and we are still ahead overall since I used less gas in Papa's car than he would have if he were home commuting to work.  Looking ahead, my driving is going to be up a LOT over the next week.  G1 has two job training classes - one tonight for first aid certification and one all day next Monday for "team building".  These are both being held in the next town over and, since they are both long, I will be running back and forth for a total of four round trips!  Taking into account my usual errands and such, I am still going to keep the gas budget at $50 for October.  I am fairly confident I can do this or under!

GARBAGE:  Even with Papa gone for those 5 1/2 days, we still have three kitchen sized 13 gallon bags worth of garbage!  I would definitely like to get this back down to a maximum of two.

Papa's working from home today since he has a recruiter calling him soon to discuss a possible job opportunity.  Fingers crossed it's a good fit!

Have a nice Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Quick Post...

 Just wanted to check in and say Hi!  Today is going to be a crazy busy day that has completely gotten away from me already!  And, I had to get up extra early to drive G2 to school for 6:45 since her class is going to Boston today.  Then, an hour after I dropped G1 at school, I get a call from the nurse's office that she has a migraine and needs to come home. I'm hoping she will be well enough to go to work this afternoon since she can usually just sleep them off.  My kitchen is a disaster, I still have more laundry to fold, vacuuming to do,  floors to sweep....I guess some days are just like this, right?  LOL

Anyway, I hope you all have a great Tuesday!  I pick up Papa from the airport early this afternoon so, no matter how crazy,  it will be a happy day for me!!!

Just checking in to say Hi this morning!  Papa is coming home today

Monday, October 5, 2015

Buying Middle School Grades

Disclaimer:  I LOVE the box tops program and this post is in no way against it.  Also, maybe I am being a slight bit crabby.  

If you have read my blog for a few months, it's no big secret that I am less than thrilled with my town's public school system.  The elementary school the Guppies went to was almost completely wonderful.  Middle and high schools are blech!  Remember that whole "you have to have this certain type of tri-fold posterboard" and the teacher balking at a student complain about the posterboard's accompanying price tag?  This one is even more ridiculous!

Yesterday afternoon my phone chimed.  One of G2's friend's texted ME in a frantic search for box tops. So, of course I scoured the house and turned up four to pass on.  But, then I asked G2 what the heck that was all about!  Well, apparently the 8th graders take a Consumer Economics course for half the year - G2 doesn't have the class yet.  The teacher is REQUIRING all students to bring in ten box tops for a GRADE!  Yes, you read it right.  No box tops? ZERO!  Not the required amount?  The student doesn't get full credit!  And, this grade seems to be weighed pretty heavily because there are students who are going from A averages to C for not bringing them in!

We don't seem to buy all that many products with box top logos on them.  Either that or I just don't have many in the house at the moment.  G2 looked at me yesterday and told me I better keep an eye out for them and save them since she will have this class at some point this year.

Am I the only one who thinks this is INSANE?  If the students needed them for a lesson of some sort (I can't imagine what that lesson would be), then have them find one to bring in or the teacher should have them herself - maybe borrow from the ones parents freely send in for redemption?  I don't know why, maybe I am just crabby, but this REEKS of a scam to me.  Well maybe "scam" isn't the right word choice, but this teacher is obviously requiring students to bring these in to earn more money for the school.  Box tops may not be worth that much but requiring each 8th grader to bring 10 in will add up quickly.

And, look at the irony of doing this is a Consumer Economics class!  

Yet another joy of living in a town where the powers that be think everyone is rich....

Reboot Recap

At the beginning of September, I set myself up for a "reboot" of my daily life/schedule.  How'd I do?  Let's check it out:

EXERCISE:  High on my priorities was taking our dog out for a walk right after getting the Guppies off to school.  I'm happy to say that this was an absolute success!  I didn't miss a single day in September!  And, my miles walked per day was at least two miles but most days were closer to six!  Unfortunately, my eating habits have been beyond horrid - while the Guppies can eat whatever they like and stay naturally thin, I most definitely can NOT!  I think my weight may even been higher than before.....GRRRRR....This month I need to work on this!  HOWEVER, I am happy that this habit has started and stuck because, gaining weight or not, it's good for my MS to keep my leg muscles strong and moving.

SLEEPING PATTERN:  I had gotten into the very bad habit of taking a nap after getting the Guppies going for the day.  Well, September broke that pattern!  I no longer go back to bed after getting everyone else up for their days!  Nor do I feel the same need to do it anymore.  Although, I do get extremely tired in the afternoon sometimes - which I have been fighting through as well.

PLANNER SYSTEM:  I wanted to create a planner that worked well for me and one that I will use!  After way too many hours looking planner information up on You Tube and the internet, I cobbled together a planner I am happy with and I do use it!  It makes me feel a LOT more in control of my day to day life.

EATING THOSE  FROGS:  This particular challenge started off great but then fizzled out. This one needs some more thought so I can figure out a better way to attack it.  Getting up extra early to get it done stopped working for me.  Maybe if I address them by scheduling them into my planner for a certain time?  LOL  At least some frogs were taken care of and parts of the house look better.

MENU PLANNING:  This was another up and down challenge for me.  My consistency did get better but no where near perfect.  Having the plan in place makes me a lot less stressed and decreases food waste.  This has to be followed through more closely for my sanity.  =)

WRITING TIME:  Besides this blog, that one day at the library, and an afternoon here at the house, I haven't been writing at all.  This is probably my biggest personal challenge for October.  I am happiest when I am creating so I need to carve the time out.

KEEPING TRACK OF THE GROCERY BUDGET:  I kept an eye on the grocery money completely for September and the results were eye opening.  This month I want to continue tallying up every receipt and dollar spent.  I would also like to create some sort of spreadsheet to keep track of all my different categories.

I think that covers everything for my reboot.  Though I didn't succeed with everything, I am definitely in a better place that I was back at the end of the summer!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Menus for the Week

I have (loosely) planned out this week's meals.  They may be subject to change - especially since I am reading a book about make ahead meals!  This week is pretty "meat heavy" due to the recent Costco trip and what I have in the freezer.


Apple Strudel
Bagels and Cream Cheese
Fresh Cantalope cubes
Peanut Butter toast


Wheat Berry Salad
Pasta Salad
Granola Bar, String Cheese, & Fruit


Vegetable Soup (G1 request)

Chicken Enchilladas, Rice, Beans

Beef Stew with Biscuits

Mini Meatloaves, Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Carrots

Triple Decker Sandwiches & Fries

Leftovers or Fried Dough

Admittedly I didn't put too much time into this week's menu - a lot of this is auto-pilot type meals. But, it will fill our bellies and some week's that what it's about.

Anything good on your dinner menus this coming week?