Thursday, April 30, 2015

Saying Adios to April!








I don't know about you, but, I am beyond ready to say "Cya" to April.  I've learned a lot but I'm ready for a fresh month to start again!  In fairness however, let's recap my successes and failures of April.

SUCCESS!

- Got the garbage  situation under control!
- Got the gas for my car under 51.00 for the month!
- Paid all bills on time OR early!



OOPS!

- Messed up the grocery budget
- Electric bill way too high


So now it's May "tweaking" time!  Here are my goals (loosely):

1.  Keep my car gas expenses to under $51.00 again for the month.
2.  Be more conscience of our electricity! Try to reduce this by a minimum of $50.00
3.  Save 2K this month (Papa gets an extra check so hopefully it won't be difficult to accomplish)
4.  All bills paid early again
5.  Raise grocery budget to $650 to include a large stocking up of items for summer
6.  Keep better track of miscellaneous and grocery expenditures


So, I think that's the basic plan - subject to changes and additions of course!

How about you guys?  Any major financial overhauls/tweakings being done for May?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quick Check In...


After a double dose of dilation drops, I'm happy to say that the specialist has declared my retinas to be in good health.  My eye problems is just residual symptoms of my Optic Neuritis.

I think I will be heading to bed early tonight since seeing anything is still almost completely impossible thanks to those damn drops.

Have a great night everyone! See you (more clearly!) tomorrow!

Another Day, Another Dilation




Morning everyone!  I probably won't be on very much today since I am going to the eye doctor to get my eyes dilated (AGAIN) early this afternoon.. I'm so not looking forward to this - especially since I won't be able to get away with a partial dilation since I'm seeing a retinal specialist.  Seriously, I shouldn't complain anymore about it.  I'm lucky to have insurance to do this and it's much better to check things out to make sure all is okay.

Since I need a driver, all Connecticut residents can thank me for NOT driving after dilation! LOL, Papa has decided to take the entire day off.  This morning we will most likely do some catch up and discuss the upcoming plans for the house/yard/etc.  Plus, mid morning he has to return a call regarding a possible new job. (I'll have to add writing about Papa's job to my list of posts to do in the near future.)

Anyway, fingers crossed for both of us!

On to the garbage and gas front....

The garbage is status quo again this week.  Three bags.  It seems barely worth mentioning anymore since it's been pretty steady at this amount.  I will either ramp up my efforts or you guys can assume it's another three bag week of garbage in my world from now on.

And for the gas...It's gonna be close.  By the time Friday morning comes, I'll be pulling into the gas station on fumes!  But, I still think I'll be able to wait until Friday!  I have to return some items to Michaels that Guppy 1 ended up not needing for her biology project - but I'll most likely wait for the weekend to do it.

So, off I go!  Enjoy the day everyone!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Upcycling Memories

I have trouble letting go of stuff that has to do with the Guppies. I have boxes stuffed with old schoolwork, drawings, cards, projects....You get the idea.  And, I knew this day would come as well...But, thanks to the heavy snow we got this winter, it came a bit sooner than  expected.  Our wooden swing set took a beating and needs to come down.

The Guppies don't use the swing set anymore really.  Guppy 1 is 16 and Guppy 2 is almost 13.  G2 and her BFF would sit on the swings to talk once in awhile last fall but that was it.  The set is 11 years old and it has lived a good life.  LOL  But, every time I look at it, I see memories.  I hear the laughter of sliding down slides.  Squeals and demands to be pushed higher on the swings.  I see their childhood.  (Dramatic? Yes! But I am crazy sentimental!)

However, it is unsafe and an eyesore now and needs to come down.  Thankfully, Papa came up with the beginnings of a great plan....

There is an area in our side yard that we have always called "The Jungle".  It's a cutout in the middle of the grass with two sad looking trees, some rhododendrons, an hydrangea bush, and various other little bushes.  The trees never grew very large and never looked healthy.  The very large rhododendrons lost their battle with this past winter. You get the idea.  It's just a mess.  Last fall we talked about redoing the area into a fire pit/hang out area for the guppies.  So we will be putting that plan into action this spring and using the lumber from the swing set as the border.  I love the idea since it follows the natural progression of the guppies getting older too.

I think I'll be spending some time on Pinterest soon looking for ideas as to how upcycle the old swing set ladders somewhere in the yard as well.  Possibly for some type of climbing vine?  I haven't a clue yet but at least I'm excited to look.  This definitely takes part of the sting out of taking it down.

I'll be sure to post before and after pics of the project once we get started on it in the upcoming weeks.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

 

Monday, April 27, 2015

I Couldn't Make this Up if I Tried!!

Wow, did I pick the WRONG day to try a no complaining challenge!  But, here it all is anyway...the Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly!

Shortly after posting this morning about today's challenge, I get a text from Guppy 1 saying that the "ex" is getting  more creepy. I hadn't mention this before but over the past week he's been staring her down, coming into her English class to confront/intimidate her (they have the same teacher even though they are in different grades/classes and for some reason, he feels safe bothering her in that room), and stalking her on social media somehow even though he is blocked.  This morning's text was that he still came into the English class even AFTER the teacher told him specifically to stay away from G1's class.  (Teacher knows most of what's been going on) He broke up with her yet is acting very angry that she doesn't like him/is angry with him for it.  The boy is now completely unhinged!  If he's not listening to the teachers, who will he listen to? It has reached downright scary stalker level.  Stress Number One of the morning.... But Papa and I are working out a plan of action to keep our daughter safe.  -- I'm sure I'll be posting more about this situation during this week.

I took a deep breath and moved on to my morning errands which were taking me to the next town over...

First stop was Michaels since Guppy 1 has a science project due this week and needed supplies. I found what I needed and went to wait in line...and wait...and wait.  A little old lady was striking up quite the conversation with the cashier!  Instead of getting huffy, I tried to think about it.  Maybe the older lady lived alone?  Just wanted to talk with someone for a few brief moments?  It was early, I still had plenty of time to do my errands.  So, I dodged this gripe, thankfully and went on my way.  Honestly, I think I maybe waited an extra five minutes?  It probably made the other lady's day.  So, no problem.

Second stop was almost right next door at Kohls to use my $10 off $10 coupon.  I had trouble finding anything clothes wise so I grabbed a couple of on sale towels since some of ours are way worse for wear! I get in that long line but, thankfully, the cashier calls for backup.  I move into the newly opened line behind a lady trying to use some coupons and some extra 15% thing.  (I'm not sure what the deal was because I don't shop that often at Kohl's.)  Anyway, the cashier only takes the woman's 30% off thing and aruges with the woman saying she can't use all the discounts.  AFTER the purchase is completely rung through, the cashier says "Oh yeah! I could've done that but can't now.  Unless you want me to void the whole order.  Otherwise call this number, yada yada."  Truthfully,  I hoped the woman would've requested the cashier to void it all out and redo it since she looked miserable about the alternative call she had to make.  However, after looking at the line behind her, she grabbed her bag and moved along.  I actually felt really awful for her. It had to be frustrating.

Third was Aldi's since it was right in the same area.  No issues here.  As a matter of fact I gave my cart to an older woman and told her to keep the quarter.  It was a silly little thing to do but it put a smile on the lady's face so win there!

Last on my errands list was the dreaded Shop Rite.  I hate this Shop Rite, I really do. But, it's the only one near me and there were a few sales to be had so in I went.  The sale just started yesterday and they were completely out of two of the items on my list!  Grrrr...  But, I was in for a bigger issue in, you guessed it, the checkout line.  I was paying attention at first so I'm not quite sure how this happened but....the woman in front of me had some sort of check that was written out for a specific amount and the groceries went over it. My heart broke as she sorted through her stuff to see what to put away and what to keep.  I wanted to just pay for some of it but, in truth, it looked like she went over that check by a LOT!  Fifty? Sixty bucks?  I couldn't do that.  Here's the worst part though....It took the head/front manager over TWENTY MINUTES to help the cashier void out the unwanted items. (This manager had some key thing that would unlock the register to accomplish finishing the transaction)  I know it took that long because I had my phone out checking emails, texts, etc to stay busy and not get angry.  LOL  How mortified that poor woman must have been...I'm sure she wanted to get the heck outta there!

And, wait for it......On my ride home, I got behind a STUDENT DRIVER!  Yep.  Only me!  Only today!  A final deep breath....After all, we all had to learn to drive on actual roads right?  Haha


So, I'm not sure what I would call my challenge today - especially since I'm telling (complaining!) about it now.  I will say that at least I was more mindful about the situations I was in and took pause before I went into full angry/freak out mode. (Besides Guppy's horribly insane ex bf!)

I will definitely try this challenge again - I may have failed but that's okay. There's only going up from here!  

....Still so glad to be home!

Would You Be Able to Stop Complaining For a Day?






Yesterday I saw a Facebook post Dave Ramsey put up that got me thinking ....The post was a link to an article on stewardship.com entitled "Can You Go a Day Without Complaining?" or something along those lines. (This is in no way, shape, or form a sponsored post by either Dave Ramsey or the website stewardship.com.  I am not an overly religious person but do try to live an honest compassionate life.)

With all the little stresses we all deal with in life, how many times do we end up complaining?  I, for one, know I complain way too much on most days.  Too many things leave me short tempered and aggravated. Negativity is bad for all of us, but, I have read quite a few articles that discussed how damaging it could be to the psyche /health of people with MS and other immunosuppressant diseases.  So yeah, there's that too.

So, I am taking the challenge on today!  I'm going to see if I can change my negative thoughts today into positive ones!  Anyone wanna join me on this challenge?

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Menu Time!


Another week and another menu plan!  I took the time to write so now it's time to follow it!


SUNDAY:  Crockpot Asian Short Ribs, Jasmine Rice, Sauteed Spinach

MONDAY:  Ham, Roasted Potatoes, Green Beans w/ Garlic, Dinner Rolls

TUESDAY:  Hot Dogs, French Fries, Corn on the Cob

WEDNESDAY:  Choice of Pasta Salad or Mac N Cheese

THURSDAY:  Mongolian Beef Wraps

FRIDAY:  Pierogies

SATURDAY:  Pizza for the girls/Dinner out for Papa and Me

So there we have it!  Anyone else have their menus ready for next week?

Random Weekend Review

So, we are on the last day of the weekend and I think it's fairly safe to say we made it through!

Guppy 1 seemed to stay in good spirits last night even though it was "Junior Prom" - see old post on Friday for more info.  I think it helped tremendously to hear through the grapevine that her "ex" decided not to go to his prom anyway.  We drove to the beach yesterday afternoon so she could take a walk and try to find sea glass - she came home with about fifteen various sized pieces.  And, she is having a lot of fun with her new furry friend. Plus she even spent some time with Guppy 2 and her BFF when BFF slept over.

Papa and I decided to check out the last indoor farmer's market yesterday.  It was nice to see some hint of green anything there again!  Sadly, this week it was quite a bit of salad mixes and baby kales. We decided to pass on these this week.  We did get a loaf of French bread, some little raspberry pies G1 loves, a veggie tart for Papa, a dozen eggs, and some beef!  (Btw, Sandie if you are reading this - the beef guy I told you about is your guy from Four Mile River Farm!  I made sure to check the vendor name!)  I can't wait to go again next weekend.  I really missed it this winter!

This morning is going to be a lazy day since we can't get out of our driveway.  There is a half marathon race that is routed to go right past our house.  My town in fairly small so I actually think it's going by 75% of the houses!  Haha!  Problem is, while other neighborhoods are restricted for an hour-ish, we will be restricted from 8 to 12!  That's okay though  - perfect excuse to try to relax a bit.  I feel like I've been on the go since Friday night with shuttling kids to the movies, driving to the beach, driving G2 and her BF to Friendly's (she paid with GC of course), housework, etc.  When else can I get some downtime?  Haha

I'll be trying to complete a menu plan and write out my big "to do" list for next week.  If I manage to accomplish this, I'll post later this afternoon.

Have a nice relaxing Sunday everyone!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Meet Our Furry New Friend...



Meet Rebel!  Guppy 1's new short haired hamster!  Isn't he adorable?

Yesterday, we went out to get him after Guppy 1 was done with school.  She wanted another pet since Roxxie the bunny died and we have had large hamsters before.  Here was our deal about this cutie pie!  Guppy 1 would pay for the hamster, cage, water bottle, food bowl, and beginning bag of food and treats.  Papa and I would take care of the bedding (since I buy large amounts anyway for Guppy 2's bunny) and take over buying the regular food because the bags don't cost much and last a long time.  She can continue buying the treats though.  She has already commented that he's too skinny! LOL.

I think the best part of all about this little guy is he already adores my daughter! Within an hour of bringing him home, she was already able to hand feed him.  He's quite the little brave adventurer too so he'll be keeping G1 on her toes I think!  The girls and I especially are animal lovers at heart (Papa likes them but not the way we do!) and having this little one to take care of has started to help Guppy 1's sadness over this weekend and how 'quiet" her room has been since the bunny died.

Here's to hoping the rest of the weekend can continue on this happy streak!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, April 24, 2015

So Far So Good with Guppy 1 But the Electric Bill? Not So Much!




Guppy 1 is holding her own today so far.  She's texted me a few times from school and seems okay.  Of course,  the dreaded prom isn't until tomorrow however, she has a great sense of humor and will have things to occupy her time.  I think it also helps that Guppy 2 has plans with her BFFs tonight and will be sleeping over one of their houses.  Guppy 1 likes to sometimes have us to herself still.  LOL

My electric bill is NOT okay though!  I received the bill for the past month and am absolutely shocked over it.  I have no idea why it went up so much!  I will have to take a closer look to see if any rates increased (admittedly I'm not always up to date on this and I know they constantly threaten rate hikes).  But, no matter what, I've gotta get the bill down!  About the next month to month and a half are usually my least expensive bills (no heat or a/c) so I'm going full force!  Everything is getting unplugged or kept off unless absolutely needed!  The kids are going to hate me hahaha!
As for my part, I need to do a much better job with piggy backing food when the oven is on (for example baking cookie bars if I'm making a roast already), using the crockpot and grill more often, and hanging up clothes to dry instead of using the dryer.  Since we don't have an outdoor clothesline, I need to get a new wire type one for inside the house plus I'll hang stuff on the bathroom shower rod to dry too.  Old school no brainer stuff? Absolutely!  But still things that I tend to get lazy about.  Sometimes it totally feels like diligence is more than half the battle.

Happy Friday!

Unsure What This Weekend Will Bring...

It's Junior Prom weekend here in my town. If you asked me this time last year how I would feel about this weekend, I would have told you I was super excited.  Instead, this year finds me sad.

Guppy 1 is only a sophomore.  However, she had a boyfriend who is a junior this year.  Notice I said "had".  He broke up with her out of the blue several months back and began dating someone who looks eerily similar (but not as pretty lol) to my guppy.  This boy was her first love and she took it heartbreakingly hard.  To be honest, the entire family took it hard because we had embraced this boy as family since they were together for quite awhile. He came everywhere with us.  Papa and I considered him an extra child of ours.  God knows I bought enough special groceries for him.  Haha

Anyway, my Guppy 1 is a strong girl who's been through quite a bit (I'll save that story for another post!).  And, even though she is "over" this boy, this weekend is going to sting. And probably sting A LOT.  One of her closest friends is going with her girlfriend so there has been quite a bit of prom talk already and there will be lots of social media pictures to deal with.  We will do our best to keep her "busy".  Maybe we will even be surprised to see she comes through relatively "unscathed".  I just don't know - so much so in fact, I'm writing this on Thursday and scheduling it to "post" on Friday.

So, if I end up being MIA this weekend, you know why....  Being a teenager is so difficult.  Being a parent to one is no picnic either - especially watching your child hurt.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Angry and Grossed Out!

Just a few minutes ago, I was assembling the ingredients for crock pot pot roast.  Veggies all diced up and set to go, seasoning for meat all set.  But wait? What's that smell?  And why does the meat have GREEN spots on it now? And the sell by date is today!  (((Sigh))) Thanks a lot Stop and Shop!

I called customer service right away since I can't locate my receipt - I think Papa may have thrown it out by accident.  I explained the situation and was told as long as I bring it back today (sell by date) they will refund me the money.  Weird thing was the woman asked me how much I paid for the meat.  What difference would that make in the grand scheme of things?  And, by the way, I paid almost fourteen bucks for it so you better believe I'm getting my moola back!  I'm completely over the lack of quality in grocery store meats.  

Last summer we discovered an awesome farmers market in New Haven (about 25 to 30 minutes away from me) and would buy beef and seafood from vendors there.  Prices were pretty fair (at least equivalent to Stop and Shop) and we were helping local farmers/fishermen out. The farmers market moved indoors for the winter and we stopped going.  We live in CT so obviously there wasn't much fresh produce to be had. And, I got lazy and started buying meat from the grocery store.  

Well, farmers market, here we come!  I was planning on adjusting my grocery budget for May anyway.  I'll have to add this in now too.  Fortunately for me, my family has drastically cut down our meat consumption. (For example, we get by on two steaks for all four of us now.)  And, I feel better giving back to my local farms and buying meat that lived "a good life".
 
Sorry for the rant!  =)

Have a great Thursday!

The Kindness Diaries - A Book Review





One thing you all should know about me is I am (and always have been) a voracious reader.  Stepping into a bookstore for me is like going home and it's extremely hard to say "No" to myself or Papa and The Guppies when books are wanted.  So from time to time, I will be posting a book review.  Here's my first:



Papa was the one who find this book (either on NPR or The Daily Show) and asked for it on his birthday back in February.  I finally got around to reading it last week.

The premise is a London man making his home in Los Angeles decides to see if he can circle the globe on his yellow motorbike without any money.  No cash at all!  He would have to rely on the kindness of others for gas, food, lodging, and boat transportation across the sea and back. Also, to a select few who showed him kindness, he repaid their generosity -after the fact- with something they desperately wanted or needed to improve their own life (rickshaw, cow, etc).  The book is about the journey and some of the extraordinary people he met along the way.

I struggled with what to rate this book.  While I did enjoy quite a bit of it, I didn't LOVE  it as much as I really wanted. After discussing the book with Papa last night, here is what I think my problems are with this book and the idea in general....

1.  He has a camera crew with him to "document" the entire trip. He says that they stay in the shadows until after someone says that they will help with whatever request is being asked for at that moment.  Still, in my opinion, it taints the experience for me.  Maybe it's all the "Undercover Boss" episodes that the Guppies binge watched last summer but I think had he kept the book in a  diary/journal format (and had only that with him!) and taken his own photographs it would have had far more impact.

2.  I think it is amazing that the author had the ability to give back to those that helped him, I really do.  I just wish there was a different way to tell us about it. Papa and I talked a lot about this and neither of us could come up with a better format.  However, I felt that, when telling of reciprocal gifts, the author unintentionally lessened the magic of the moment, leaving the reader dissatisfied.  It seemed a bit egocentric to me though I'm quite sure the author didn't want that to be.

3.  There were a few instances where he lied or manipulated the situation to get what he needed.  Kudos for full disclosure but those are the times the author probably should have taken care of the said problem himself. (Don't want to give any spoilers)

Overall, I guess I would give this book three out of five stars. It definitely renews your hope in the kindness of people in general.  And, reminds us just how much abundance we all have in our lives.  Happiness and kindness have nothing to do with monetary worth - and that's a great bottom line for any book.

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gas and Garbage Update

So, tonight is garbage night here -- How'd we do? Well, I'm happy to report that the days of EIGHT bags of garbage are long gone!  Again, we have just three 13 gallon kitchen sized bags this week.  It would have been only two but I got lazy when changing Guppy 2's bunny's cage and used a garbage bag instead of composting the used bedding and hay.  So, it looks like two to no more than three bags is what I'll be aiming for moving forward.

The gas challenge for my car is going great! I am definitely on track with this!  Making it to May 1st on this tank is well within reach and, if that happens, I will have only filled the car twice for a grand total of $50.75 for the month!  I'll take it!

On another note, I'm glad I kept the menu for the week "flexible".  Yesterday I ended up getting pretty sick (24 hour stomach bug?) so Papa came home from work early since Guppy 2 had her drum lesson after school here at the house. (I went upstairs to sleep for most of the night)  Our Friday night Pizza night was bumped to last night instead.  No worries though.  I'm feeling a lot better than yesterday afternoon and the menu has been rearranged.

Grocery Budget Bust!

Remember that epiphany I had a few days ago?  Yeah, that didn't hold out for long.  My grocery budget went BUST-O this month... Not by a whole lot so that's good right?

My last two grocery transactions were:
Big Y: $61.26
Stop and Shop: $127.38

So, right now my overage stands at $20.30.  However, both my parents and my mother in law INSISTED on giving me money for Guppy 2's concert on Sunday to help pay for tickets and dinner (which I had allocated monies for previously) so I guess, technically, I'm still ahead.

To be completely honest, I think I aimed too low for my first real attempt at keeping a tight reign on my grocery budget.  And, Guppy 1 has some health issues that affect her diet - although this certainly shouldn't be used as an excuse!

My plan now is to get through to May with as little more grocery expenditure as possible.  I'll re-evaluate my target monthly budget price and try again.  And, at least I'm doing better than I have in the past.  So not a total BUST in the grand scheme of things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Help! Cable TV Issues...



I really need help with this before I completely lose my mind!

Back at the end of October last year, AT&T U-Verse (my cable provider) was bought out by Frontier Communications.  And our service went downhill.  I thought no problem.  I'll dump Frontier and switch to another carrier in our area.  Well, I can't begin to tell you the headache this has caused me.

Frontier was supposed to cut off cable back on 11/3 since I was getting our new provider on 11/4. Well, the customer service rep I talked to back then issued a work order number to come cut off service at the pole outside, however, didn't stop the billing service. (I only found out this happened when I called back)  I kept getting bills so I called Frontier back...again...and again....and AGAIN!  This past time, I thought all was taken care of.  I felt I spoke with someone who seemed competent and even looked into my file and saw they OWED ME money!  (Thirty dollars but I'll take it!  And, due to billing dates, I figured they owed me something.)

Fast forward to Saturday, over ONE MONTH AFTER thinking I got it all straightened out, I got another bill for over $365! I've kept all my records and logged all the people with whom I have spoken but, honestly, how do I get this to stop?  Let's not forget the HOURS I have put into trying to rectify this issue - I wait a minimum of thirty minutes on hold each time I call and then, once I get a rep on the phone, at least another thirty to forty minutes while they read old notes on my file and try to figure out what to do.

Quite frankly, I should have called on Monday.  But, it's like beating my head against a wall.  I am getting nowhere - even after I talk with supposed supervisors!

Anyone have any ideas how to get this done once and for all?  Have you had a similar problem with any goods/services provider?  I am just at the end of my rope on how to get this to go away!

Monday, April 20, 2015

This Week's Dinners








After taking a fairly quick survey of my pantry (Today is NOT the day to reorganize it!) and what I bought at the store this morning, here is my plan for our dinners this week:

Today:  Roast Chicken with dumplings, veggie casserole, and sauteed greens

Tuesday:  Roast Pork with sweet potatoes, and garlic green beans

Wednesday:  Chicken Tikka Masala with jasmine rice

Thursday:  CrockPot Onion Pot Roast, garlic mashed potatoes, and sauteed spinach

Friday:  Pizza/Leftover night

There may be some moving around of meals Tuesday through Thursday depending on our schedule but these meals will be made this week!  =)

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things...

Has proven to be pretty hard this morning!  LOL

Today is dreary and chilly.  The kind of day that makes you want to grab a book and crawl back into bed...FOREVER.  But, that's not happening in my world today.  Even though it feels like I'm dragging a bit, I've got a ton of stuff to do to get back on track!

Grocery shopping is already done this morning (another post on that), I have my first load of laundry in for the day, and the dog has already been taken out to do her "business".  I know, TMI on that last part.

Guppy 2 did an amazing job yesterday with her garage band!  I'm so proud of her and her band mates.  I think it's really brave to go up on a stage and perform.  It's something I would never have the guts to do!  Guppy 1 is still looking for a band to join/create. She's hoping by summer she will have something solid together.

I'm off to get some breakfast...I'll be posting my menu for the week later this afternoon.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Busy Busy Sunday!



Really busy day here in my world - Guppy 2 has her garage band's concert today!  So, along with the usual Sunday stuff (most of the usual housework will be put off until tomorrow), we are calming my little Guppy's nerves and getting ready to watch her do her thing on stage!  =)
The venue where the concert is being held is in our old town - right up the street from our old house actually - which is about forty five minutes away from where we now live.  Fortunately, the place is also a restaurant so no worries about scrambling to make dinner afterwards and we can do a nice little trip down memory lane.
My Guppies go back to school tomorrow.  Even though it has been a great week with them, it will be nice to go back to my more normal weekday schedule!  Well, at least for the next two months until school is out for the summer!  LOL
Hope everyone has a great Sunday!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Forgive Me if My "Aha!" Moments Take Longer Than Most...




While I am making it more of a mission to start keeping our finances in check, I still am learning...Like consider me a kindergartner with all of this!  LOL

A huge "AHA!" moment came last night when I was going through this week's grocery flyers. I almost didn't want to share this because it's so, well, basic but I want to stay honest in my journey here. I came to the realization that I buy WAAAY too much food and I am completely unorganized. 

One of the top things on my to do list for next week is organize my cabinets and small closet pantry. They are overfilled!  That being said, why the heck am I going to buy a ton more only to try to cram it all in too?  It doesn't make sense at all, I know.  I guess I am just still going on auto-pilot with some aspects of life.  (And, in my defense,  there actually is a semi-legitimate reason why my house looks like a mini grocery store with all the options I have in it but that's another post I plan to write next week.)  Anyway, time to change some bad habits!

I took a deep breath and wrote down my "basic" list.  The things we absolutely needed to get for the week:

Milk
Eggs
Meat
Produce - but not until later this week
Veggies - again not until later this week
Snapple for Guppy 1 - not a basic need for most households but one here

Another look at the flyers for the best prices on these things and these things ONLY! (Sorry Friendly's Ice Cream sale Buy 1/Get 2 free at Big Y - not this time around.)

It's time for this house to eat down some of the food already taking up space in my kitchen!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rainy Catch Up Day

The Guppies and I slept in a bit today since we got Papa late last night from the airport.  It's so great to have him back home! As I have mentioned before (I think), I hate when he travels.

Gloomy rainy day here in my neck of the woods. But, honestly, I can't complain that much.  The weather this week has been simply gorgeous - perfect weather for the Guppies April vacation!  So, today, we will just hang around the house and I will get some housework, a grocery list, and MORE laundry accomplished. Plus, we definitely need a downtime kind of day with the busy weekend ahead of us.

I'm looking forward to getting back into my "schedule" next week.  I have things I want to write about but will wait until I can give them the attention and length that's necessary.

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Garbage and Groceries This Week

With my Guppies off for April vacation, I definitely slacked off a little with the garbage.  We ended up with almost three full bags - the last one was about 2/3rd full but I closed it up and put it out so I could start the week "fresh" again.  Also, I think I tend to be a little more vigilant with recycling items than the kids which may account for the bit "extra".  Still, it's a long way from the EIGHT bags I threw out two weeks ago, so I'll take it.  =)

With Papa away, menus have been SIMPLE and there have been leftovers from the nights we had takeout. Not too much grocery shopping needed to be done, thankfully.  Yesterday I went to Big Y and spent an even $37.00 - never get an even number like that!  So, my grocery money left for April is: 168.34  I think it's going to be close one to finish at or under budget!

Happy Thursday all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Precious Snippets of Childhood

It's been a beautiful (but tiring!) few days here in my world!  But, there are many things for which to be thankful. The best one by far is watching my Guppies be just that -- Guppies!

Last night G1 (who is 16) had her BFF sleepover.  Instead of spending the night attached to their phones, they talked, watched movies, played board games, and went outside for a night time game of hide and seek/water balloon fight.  G1 even included her little sister in the whole night.  Then this morning, G1 and BFF went for a long walk to enjoy the sunshine and then headed to the mall for about an hour before BFF left.

My town, like so very many across the US, can get so hyper focused on grades, hyper focused on sports, hyper focused on competition in general that it becomes impossible for any of our children to have an actual "childhood" anymore.  The stress is tremendous to be the "best" at everything.  Practice makes perfect becomes the ONLY mantra.  Kids lose the joy of whatever they are doing (sports, music, writing, etc.) because it's constantly being overshadowed by fear of failure and coming up short in the eyes of adults. And, in my opinion, we are doing a great disservice to our children's well being.

My hope is that this summer we have a lot more nights like last night.  And, my kids can look fondly back at their childhood and actually have memories of more than just the "work" they did to become what society deems "successful" adults.

How I'm Doing with the To Do List

Papa doesn't come home from his business trip until tomorrow night and I've been busy busy busy with the Guppies and sleepovers! (Guppy 2 had BFF sleepover Monday into Tuesday.  G1 had her BF sleepover Tuesday into Wednesday.)

So let's check and see if I have had any progress....

1. Dentist appointment for me Tuesday morning (need a filling replaced) --DONE

2. Catch up with the laundry! I have at least four loads waiting for me! -- HALFWAY THERE

3. Iron Papa's work clothes. Yes, he's not home this week but I want to be in good shape for next!

4. Guppy 1 has planned sleepover Tuesday night into Wednesday so need to tidy up the family room (where they like to hang out/sleep!) -- DONE

5. Make dinner plan that is flexible enough to accommodate possible changing plans. -- DONE but not posted since it was literally too boring to bother!  lol

6. Call to schedule a medication delivery for me.  --  DONE

7. Make appointment for G1's orthodontic check. She no longer has braces but they do a panoramic xray to check wisdom teeth now. (already covered in the payments I made for braces before) -- DONE

8. Get G1 to her vocal lessons on Thursday -now in New Haven.  I have only been there once since Papa has been taking her.  GPS don't let me down!  =)

9. Straighten out closet pantry - It's pretty bad.  I'm thinking of doing before and after pics for this blog.

10. Take Guppies to the mall to go shopping for specific items on my lists.  They can bring their own money to spend as they wish.  -- SORT OF DONE  G2 got too "tired" to shoe shop.  Will probably take her back out on Friday to try again.

11. Call Vet to see where our bunny's ashes are.  They were supposed to be back around now and G1 is getting antsy that the vet may have lost her remains. -- DONE  Roxxie is back home with us in a little decorative tin.  Very pleased with it and happy I went with the higher type of cremation process.

12.. Pick Papa up from airport Thursday night after vocal lessons are finished.


Somehow I still have more cleaning to accomplish though.  The house doesn't feel nearly tidy enough and I wanted to have it done before Papa gets home. He's had a rough trip and I want him to be able to come home and feel relaxed.

And, I'm off!

How is your week coming along?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

To Buy or Not To Buy...A Small Chest Freezer!







On and off, for over a year now, I have been debating whether or not it makes monetary sense to purchase a smallish size chest style freezer.  I have a place it can call "home" in my kitchen already picked out.  But, still I'm tentative.

PROS:

- I can stock up on the loss leaders at the grocery stores more easily
- I can make less trips to the grocery store since I can do stock ups
- I can see about buying local meats in more bulk style
- I can finally attempt do larger batches of freezer meals for those "sick" or busy days


CONS:

- Cost -Besides initial price, I'm not sure how much it would add to my monthly electric bill
- The biggest con for me! - What do I do when there is a power outage?  We have no generator!


Anyone have any thoughts?  Do you have an extra freezer and love it?  Is it a good investment?

I Made It! (Gas Update)

Just barely..by the skin of my teeth!  But I made it two weeks on one tank of gas! Currently my gas gauge say 1/16th of a tank so I will be filling up right after my dentist appointment (in town) this morning.

Looking ahead for the next two weeks, things *should* be fairly quiet in the errands department. To try to push myself a bit further, I'm going to try to make this new tank last me until May 1st.  It's going to be a stretch but I'm up for a challenge!

I'll be back this afternoon with a longer post!

Until then, have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Help! Drowning in Leftover Chocolate!

As I began tidying up the family room, I decided to tackle the dreaded Easter baskets the Guppies got (from us and my parents).  Don't get me wrong, they were neatly tucked in the corner of the room but I knew I would have to get to it sooner or later.  I really should've opted for later!! LOL

I almost took a picture of what was left, but, frankly I'm too embarrassed.  My parents, in their over generosity, bought enough candy to start a small store! And, did I mention I'm a chocolate junkie trying to amend my ways?  =)

Here's a general rundown of what's left:

2 very large bowls of odds and ends (primarily dove chocolates, hershey kisses, and mini kit kats)
8 chocolate bunnies of various sizes
4 bags of M&Ms
2 bags of Reeses Peanut butter cup eggs
2 bags of Reeses Peanut butter cup minis
2 bags of Kit Kats

Any suggestions on how to use all this up in the coming months? Should I stash quite a bit of it in the freezer (if I can make room) and pull it out in waves over the summer?

 I was planning on melting some of the milk chocolate down to coat on pretzels and fruit.  The M&M's can be used instead of chocolate chips in homemade cookies. Another idea was to round some of it up and bring it down to our Senior Center in town. Otherwise, I'm at a loss.

Part of me feels awful for even complaining about this.  I realize how lucky I am to actually have this "first world" problem.  I just would feel even more awful if it all went to waste!

My To Do This for This Week

Since Papa is gone on business until Thursday night, I am flying solo...and the Guppies are on April vacation!  So, here is my list of errands and my hopes for what else I can accomplish in the next week!

1. Dentist appointment for me Tuesday morning (need a filling replaced)
2. Catch up with the laundry! I have at least four loads waiting for me!
3. Iron Papa's work clothes. Yes, he's not home this week but I want to be in good shape for next!
4. Guppy 1 has planned sleepover Tuesday night into Wednesday so need to tidy up the family room (where they like to hang out/sleep!)
5. Make dinner plan that is flexible enough to accommodate possible changing plans.
6. Call to schedule a medication delivery for me.
7. Make appointment for G1's orthodontic check. She no longer has braces but they do a panoramic xray to check wisdom teeth now. (already covered in the payments I made for braces before)
8. Get G1 to her vocal lessons on Thursday -now in New Haven.  I have only been there once since Papa has been taking her.  GPS don't let me down!  =)
9. Straighten out closet pantry - It's pretty bad.  I'm thinking of doing before and after pics for this blog.
10. Take Guppies to the mall to go shopping for specific items on my lists.  They can bring their own money to spend as they wish.
11. Call Vet to see where our bunny's ashes are.  They were supposed to be back around now and G1 is getting antsy that the vet may have lost her remains.
12.. Pick Papa up from airport Thursday night after vocal lessons are finished.

I'm sure I'm missing stuff that has to be done and I know things will be added to the week.  For example, Guppy 2 is going to want at least one sleepover with her BFF.

I'm exhausted and it's only Monday!!  Have a great day guys!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both and...

There you have the facts of LIFE!  So yeah, I showed my age by singing the Facts of Life theme song but how many of you are now singing it with me?  =)

Yesterday I wasn't "blinded" all day  by the dilation (The Good) but that's because I have to go see a retinal specialist (The Bad).  Without boring you with all the particulars - especially if you have perfect vision still - my eyes went up too many increments for a year's time.  The left one went up two but the right went up FOUR!  Now, some of that could be from my optic neuritis but, my doctor also saw two large "webs" (aka floaters).  She said that normally they don't see those and they also usually don't see such a large vision changes in someone my age.  ((sigh))  So off to the specialist I go on the 29th.  I'm trying not to freak/guess what's going on.  And, I am definitely NOT doing my own internet research - I learned from past mistakes there.

The trip to the mall was a success.  Guppy 2 was very happy with what she bought her BFF  and we stayed under my fifty dollar budget.  Yes that is a LOT to spend but, G2 has been best friends with this girl since they were in second grade and she is like my third child.  And vice versa with BFF's family with my Guppy.

Gotta run for now.  I need to finish getting Papa ready to leave for his business trip this afternoon.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Eyes, the Mall, and a Gas Hiccup

Today I have my eye appointment very early (8am).  And, if the past is any indicator, I'll be blinded by those damn eye drops all day.  Last year, my doctor let me split exam in half.  She did most of the exam one day and let me come back another evening for the dilation part - so that way I "slept" off the blurry vision. However, this year with my Optic Neuritis issue - thank you MS - I'm fairly sure I'm not getting out of the office without the complete exam.  (((sigh)))

It should make shopping at the mall with Guppy 2 very interesting...Don't worry Papa will be driving us!  G2 has to get her BFF's birthday present for her party on Sunday and dressy shoes for a Bar Mitzvah she will be attending. Speaking of the Bar Mitzvah, anyone know what is customary to give as a gift? She is good friends with the boy and I'd like to make sure to do the "right" thing.

I "should" make my gas goal - but it's going to be close. The hiccup I mentioned is my parents needed to go out of state for an extended family member emergency.  My mom and dad live about twenty to twenty five minutes away and asked if I could please pick up their mail once during the five days they will be gone.  It was a very easy request to fulfill and I had no problem doing this for them.  It just ate into my gas budget a little.

I'm off to have my eyes tortured!

Have a great Saturday all!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Groceries and Looking Ahead to Next Week

Two of my many errands this morning was to head to my local grocery stores. (I still don't have enough errands to run near my closest Aldi's yet!  When I do though, I have my list ready!!)

Stop and Shop - Spent: $45.16 on soda, produce, oil, cleaning supplies, and laundry detergent

Big Y - Spent: 53.63 on iced tea,5 1b bag of potatoes, a few mark down meats, tp, AA batteries, and more laundry detergent (my laundry detergent supply had dwindled to almost non existent!)

Today's spending now leaves me with:$205.34

I am not sure what I'm going to do about the meal plan next week since Papa will be away and The Guppies have the week off from school.  I'm sure Guppy 2 will want to eat out at least once using one of the gift cards her grandparents gave her in her Easter basket.  (She is a Friendly's and Fridays junkie! LOL)

To Meal Plan or not To Meal Plan?  Thoughts?

Breakfast and Errands

This morning will have me out the door bright and early! Now that the snowy weather is hopefully behind us for awhile, I can really get out and about again.  I try to get out about once a month while the Guppies are at school and see my few close friends.  Today, I start my "season" of this with a bang.  I'm meeting my old high school friend, V., for our "catch up" breakfast.

V. and I reconnected through Facebook and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she moved out of our hometown to my new area of the state as well.  In fact, there are only two towns separating us!  We have kids around the same age, similar financial situations, taste in books and movies, and the lady is downright hysterical!

Before I get to all the errands of my day (pet supply store, grocery shopping), I get to sit down, relax, and laugh my butt off!

Nice way to start my Friday!

I'll be back later to tally up all my groceries and see how my budget is doing.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fifteen Bean Soup Flop...Mostly

I can usually make a killer soup...French Onion, Acorn Squash, Pumpkin, Black Bean, pretty much any kind.  Except last night's 15 Bean Soup with the left over Easter ham bone.

Yesterday, I got a little lazy I guess.  I decided to use the "recipe" on the back of the package of dried beans.  The only thing I tweaked was I sauteed the chopped onion and garlic first before adding the beans (still can't believe the recipe didn't have this step!) If there is a next time, I will do some research into a better recipe for this type of soup.

I'm not exaggerating when I say it made a GIGANTIC amount.  And, worse, the soup smelled AWFUL! The smell seemed to permeate into the walls and furniture. LOL   Guppy 1 was so worried about smelling bad when we out that night  she decided to take a shower right before we left the house!

So, Guppy 1 and I had grilled cheese. Guppy 2 was at her BFF's for a birthday party. And, what did Papa do?  He ATE the soup and LOVED it!  I told him that it was okay, he didn't have to be nice about it.  But, he was actually serious!  And, he went as far as saying it was the best soup I had ever made.  YUCK!

Since Papa will be away next week for work, I plugged my nose and package the leftover soup into lunch size portions and stashed it in the freezer.  He can take it to work with him and bother his coworkers with the stench!  Haha

If I had to take a guess as to what was so off putting about this soup and its offending smell, I think it was the ham bone.  It wasn't rancid or anything, just I think simmering it with the beans made it very potent. (And, I'm not a huge ham fan to begin with)

In my book, this goes down as a flop.  I won't be making it again.  Papa will have to be happy with the TWELVE freezer portions.  Once they are gone, they are gone.

....I guess I was overdue for a cooking flop anyway....


Why I Love my Stoneware

***This is not a Pampered Chef sponsored post! I happen to love their stoneware.***

Nine years ago I helped out a friend who launched her Pampered Chef consultant business in town.  As a favor to jump start her journey, I offered to have a party where she came in and demonstrated the Pampered Chef line.  I ended up buying a bunch of stoneware because I didn't have any (my days of being a little too carefree with money lol).  It's still hard to believe that whim turned into such a great investment!

Over the past two years, I have been paring down the "crap" in my kitchen.  I want to keep only the tools that serve me well.  The top two products I consistently use and don't fail me are my cast iron pans and, you guessed it, my stoneware.  And here's why:

1.  Even baking!  No hot or cold spots!  Although they do take some getting used to in regards to how quickly they heat up and if you need to adjust the oven temperature, they are well worth the adjustment period!

2.  The longer you use them, the more "seasoned" they get.  No need to scrub every little mark off them - it will actually take away from the pan's performance.  My aluminum cookie sheets would need to be replaced year after year due to my Christmas cookie making marathons.  I never could get all the residue off and cookies would end up sticking and burning.

3. Durability.  I have unfortunately dropped one (or three!)  of my baking dishes and NOTHING happened!  Not a single crack or chip.


However, there are some things to think about when using stoneware:

1.  Not all stoneware is lead free.  Make sure you are using items that state this on their product!

2.  Never put stoneware in the dishwasher!  Just plain water and a little scrub down is all they need.

3.  Drastic temperature changes - like going from a cold fridge/freezer to a preheated oven or pouring something cold into a hot dish - can damage/break your stoneware.


Anyone else have stoneware successes?

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Version of the Sealed Pot Challenge





A couple of years back I remember reading a blog entry about "the sealed pot challenge". I wish I could give credit where it's due...I think I read it on the now defunct "That's Udy with a J" Blog  (Still miss you Judy!!).
Anyway for anyone who doesn't know what this is...the basic premise is that you designate a container you can easily "seal away".  Then, throughout the year, you add money to it - change, bills, a combination, whatever you decide  At the end of the predetermined time, you break open the "pot" and use whatever monies you squirreled away towards the predetermined use. (I remember quite a few people discussing using towards Christmas and vacations.)

 I have a variation of this going on right now.  I have my canister.  It's not sealed, although it's quite cleverly hidden so it doesn't scream "Free Money!" to all that walk by it.  I decided to put a combination of money into it. Even though, it's mostly change and dollar bills (with one or two fives thrown in), the money adds up quickly!  My reason for not sealing it?  My health has been pretty steady as of late but I have my moments.  If there is ever an emergency doctor appointment  and Papa needs to be with me out of the house, I want my kids to be able to have access to cash if needed.  If we were to be out past dinner time and the guppies couldn't find something within reason to make,  they can order delivery pizza or walk to one of the local fast food places close by.

My "sealed" pot was started at the beginning of this year. I'm saving it until April 2016 for extra spending money for our planned Disney trip. (More on that in the coming months)

Right now, it's just extra piece of mind for me to have it unsealed and accessible if necessary.

Anyone else do something like this?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's Cooking?

The Guppies had yesterday off from school so today feels like Monday instead of Tuesday to me!  Here is the rest of this week's dinner plans.

Today:  Steak, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed greens with garlic, mashed potato

Wednesday: Inspired by CT Bargain Mom, I'm trying my hand at 15 Bean Soup with the Easter Ham bone, leftover homemade biscuits, and grilled cheese for those who don't like the soup

Thursday:  Calypso Chicken Thighs - thanks Nathalie for the Publix recipe link!

Friday: Quesadillas and Rice and Beans

Saturday:  Most likely will find something for Papa to grill since I have an eye exam in the morning.  I have very small pupils and they have to dilate my eyes three and four times more than "normal" patients.  This puts me out of commission for the entire day.  =(

Anything good in your dinner menus?  If you celebrated Easter, how are you using up all your leftovers?


Hints of Spring & The Great Clothing Changeover






Yesterday was a completely gorgeous day here in my part of Connecticut.. I even opened up some of my windows to let fresh air in - it was warm enough for that!  And, even better, I can see all the grass in my yard -- NO MORE SNOW!

So, I started the dreaded task of changing over some of the winter clothing.  In the grand scheme of things it honestly is a bit early.  The weather here is extremely changeable this time of year.  However, there is a method to my madness.

1.  When done in increments, the Guppies are much more willing to help and are more thoughtful about their answers to my "You wanna keep that?  Does that still fit?" questions.  If we tackle too much in one day, the guppies shut down.  Accidents happen where things are kept that shouldn't be or, worse, things are consigned/given away that were supposed to stay! I speak from experience on this!  Trust me! =)

2.  I have a solid list of clothing that needs to be bought/replaced.  Because I'm inventorying everything earlier than needed, I can take some time to shop for deals.

Additionally this year has two more reasons:

1. Papa has a business trip to Florida in less than two weeks.  He needs some of his summer dress shirts for working down there and some summer T's, shorts, and swim trunks for his off time.

2.  This is the last week of school before spring break.  The guppies want to go to the mall during break and their (overly) generous grandparents gave each of them $150 for Easter.  They don't mind spending money on clothes and the list of what they really truly need will help them stay somewhat focus too!


***Bonus Mama reason***  I'm getting tired of all the bulky sweatshirts EVERYWHERE!  I have everyone pick out their favorite one or two and the rest get stored away. Less mess for Mama!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Gas and Garbage

For anyone curious about how my gas and garbage challenges are going, here's where I stand today:

Gas -  On 3/31, I filled the tank on my gas guzzling non SUV, my hope was to make it last two weeks plus.
 As of this morning, the gas tank is at exactly between 1/2 and 3/4 full. (I know there is a more exact math figure for this but my brain is not processing math right now! lol)  The numerous errands on last Thursday killed my gas, even with combining trips.  No worried though - this is a four day school week and no major running around to do. I should make it to next weekend fine.


Garbage - After hauling out an obscene EIGHT kitchen sized bags last week for trash, I made a goal of no more than three bags this week.  Even with Easter yesterday, I am still only 1/4 full into my second bag this week.  Garbage night is Wednesday for us.  I have decided  to shoot for only two bags since this goal seems well within reach now.


Think these two things are coming along pretty well...Especially my waste reduction!

Happy Monday!



What did Saturday's Little Roadtrip Cost me?

No, heading out on a four hour - each way - road trip this past Saturday was definitely NOT a frugal thing to do. However, I can begin to tell you how much it helped all of us mentally!
Here's a breakdown of what we did  (and the cost):

Gas - Nothing.  Papa had a gas gift card which we used

Vermont Country Store - $20.52 We LOVE poking around this store! With all its penny candy, chocolate, and old time toys!  Most of this went to some specialty chocolates Guppy 1 wanted.  I'll probably deduct all this from our grocery budget.

Depot Street Malt Shop for "Linner" - $66.00 including tip  Hearty portions that left us full for almost the rest of the day

Stowe Mercantile - $40.35 This definitely needs to come out of grocery since we stocked up on a lot of mustards, sauces, and jams we were low on or out all together.

Bear Pond Books - Nothing  Just browsed through what they had from local authors/local destinations.

Harvest Market - approximately $35 (I can't find the receipt) This will be pulled out of grocery as well.  We bought pastries/goodies for Easter breakfast and through the week

Recreation Path -  Nothing  We walked as far as we could on our favorite rec path but, sadly, parts are still covered in snow.

Ben and Jerry's - approximately 21.00 (another lost receipt)  As tradition, we stopped at the Waterbury Ben and Jerry's before the long ride home.  Enough time had elapsed since our lunch to have a little snack.

I neglected to define a dollar amount to an "eating out" category this month.  I may have to rethink this.  However, part of me feels like the $87.00 spent on this one day should be close to the top of my range.

For those keeping grocery budget score, I am now at $304.13 for the rest of April! YIKES! But more on grocery budget plans, next time.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Checking in really quick...












To wish a happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Happy Sunday to everyone else!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Off on an ADVENTURE!

Heading up north  to my family's happy place -- our favorite town in Vermont!  We are just spending the day there, restocking on some of our favorite supplies we can only buy there, and recharging our emotional batteries.  Yes, it's going to be a gas guzzler kind of day (in Papa's car) but sometimes it's worth the cost.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Wait! All the April Bills are PAID?

Today, I will pull out April's grocery money and write out the checks for our credit card bill, Guppy 2's garage band payment, and pull out the cash for G2's drum teacher.  Then ALL the bills for April will be paid!

It's a strange experience for me...I have never been this caught up before. And, I'm loving this feeling!

Hopefully it's the first step towards the end of paycheck to paycheck living!

April Grocery Budget

Finding the right price point for my grocery bill is going to be a lot of trial and error. While I have "guesstimated" what I would need in the past, if I went over then I went over.  Zero accountability.
Time to change that...and FAST!

After taking a quick look around my kitchen, I can see the biggest gaps in the pantry are as follows:

Fresh fruit and veggies - dwindling desperately down and need to replenish
Meat - down to two packages of frozen chicken thighs and one lonely frozen chicken breast
Milk - as needed through the month
Bread - after I try my hand at two boxes of Fleischman's bread mixes I got at Dollar Tree are gone
Drinks - as needed through the month
Bath - My toilet paper stockpile is completely gone
Laundry - Need to scour for some deals on detergent

Snacks and cereals are in great shape (Thank you Target).

So...after some thinking, I'm going to take out four hundred dollars for April's groceries.  When it's gone, that's it.  It may be quite a bit higher than a lot of the seasoned veteran food budgeters out there but I have to start somewhere (seems to be my motto on this blog!).  Plus, I'm in desperate need of meat/fish and that's pretty pricey to stock up on.

I'll post tallies of my food expenditures as the month goes on...Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Shopping and Some Deals...

This morning I have been running like crazy with errands!

First the vet to drop off Roxxie's remains: No charge until she is returned next week

Napa Auto Parts - Papa's front brakes have started to squeal.  He'll change them himself so only out of pocket expense is the parts:  $47.93

Target - I was looking for a few more Easter goodies and stumbled upon a buy $50 in groceries and get a $10 gift card.  Okay, I'll do some grocery shopping!  Now I"m fairly stocked with snacks and baking mixes. Total spent: $107.47 with 25 cents being credited to my Checkout 51 account.

Ulta - More Easter basket stuff for the guppies. Honestly it feels a little like cheating because they would have eventually asked me for this stuff anyway. Total spent: $45.67 for ten items. And a coupon for 5/15 dollars starting next the week the guppies are on break.

Stop and Shop - I passed this store on the way home and went in to grab a few items for Easter and snacks. Total Spent: $11.00 with $1.50 going into my Savings Star account.

CVS - We were almost out of toilet paper and laundry detergent.  Not my go to store for these but I forgot to check while at S&S and this was on the way home again.  I bought 2 50oz bottles of All and a Charmin 16 double roll pack.  Total spent: $8.50 after using 3/15 and additional 6 carebucks earned for winter spending.

Phew! Now to put everything away!  And then there's the matter of my messy house to attend to... ((sigh))

Have a great day everyone!

Oscar The Grouch Part 2










Before I dragged the two hefty garbage cans to the curb for pickup, I counted the bags of trash inside....A  whopping total of EIGHT!  Only four people live in my house!  Even though they were the "tall kitchen" style bags and not the mammoth green ones, that's still an obscene amount of trash....

New week and clean slate - I'm shooting for three total tall kitchen bags of trash.  Still more than what I would eventually like to get down to but, if I can achieve this, it will be an over fifty percent reduction from this week.

And it's a place to start.

Happy Thursday!

Bunny "Funeral" Expenses

At dinner, Guppy 1 confessed that she couldn't have her bunny buried in the ground like our previous hamsters.  What would she do if we ever sold the house? Or when she went away to college?

She asked me if there was any way we could cremate Roxxie.  She even offered up some left over birthday money to cover the expense. (I'm not that heartless...I could never take her birthday money for such a depressing deed.)

Quick call to the vet and I will be $125.00 poorer.  It's coming out of our smallish emergency fund but I feel it's needed to give G1 some peace of mind. 

Hoping to recoup the cost by playing with the grocery budget for April.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

An Unexpected Loss

Last night was not a great night in our house.

Guppy 1's two year old dwarf rabbit wasn't eating, hiding in her cage, and peeing red. Off to the vet we went right at dinner time to have her checked out.  The vet figured it was a UTI or bladder stones, gave our little bun bun a shot for pain, and gave us some antibiotics to give her.  Three hours later our little cutie died in Guppy and my arms.

Hard day for G1 and me.  I'm feel the loss of pets acutely (although admittedly a bit less than before I had kids) and it was especially difficult because this bunny was so young AND the vet thought she would be fine.

Unexpected expenses last night:  $117 for the vet and $29 for takeout Chinese since everyone was starving and couldn't wait for planned menu to be made.

Today is a day to catch up on the sleep I didn't get last night.  I'll pick up where I left off with my plans tomorrow.  They can wait, after all.

RIP Little Roxxie.