Thursday, December 31, 2015

Gas & Garbage...A Day Late!



My timing feels so off ever since Christmas!  I completely forgot that yesterday was Wednesday until Papa reminded me to get any garbage from the upstairs wastebaskets ready to go out for garbage night!  Maybe next week I will get a better handle on things!

Anyway, here is where I stand for the last week of 2016....



GARBAGE

More garbage than usual...5 13 gallon kitchen sized bags worth!  I'm not stressing too much though since it included the Christmas presents aftermath (wrapping paper, cellophane, etc).  On the plus side, our really large recycling can is overstuffed with the cardboard and paper I took the time to place in there - hence less regular garbage!


GAS

Seriously guys, I did it!  I didn't fill up one single time during the month of  December!  Granted I am at slightly below 1/4 tank of gas now but I am thrilled that I was able to make it this long!!  The last time I filled up my tank was November 10th!  So, technically I made it one and one half months on one tank of gas!  Like I said before, Papa and I have split some of the errands and I have used his car too but I am still happy with the gas consumption (or lack thereof!)


* I didn't add the Consignment part this week because I haven't been in the store or called this week to check.  I will do that (and try to be more productive with earning money in this area!) next week.



Happy Thursday and New Year's Eve!
Hope everyone has a great day/night!
Stay safe!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 - Changing How I Tally Up Grocery Expenditures




Since today has been so overcast and well, dreary, I have spent some time having Papa help me set up an Excel spreadsheet for our 2016 groceries. It's an unbelievably basic program but still I needed him to set it up! Haha!

I did this because I am on a grocery mission for next year!

But, first, let me explain how I came to this...

I read a blog called One Hundred Dollars A Month by a great lady named Mavis.  When Mavis goes grocery shopping, she records what she spends every week but also keeps tally of how much she has spent for the year!  I really love this idea because, let's face it, when you think about how much money we spend on groceries for the WHOLE year, well it can be pretty sobering.  Especially for someone like me who can be pretty lazy, unmotivated, challenged when it comes to this sort of thing.

 Now onto my mission...

My goal is to spend no more than $7000 on groceries, cleaning supplies, bath & beauty products, and animal food/bedding for the year 2016.  Geesh! Doesn't that sound that an UNGODLY amount of cash?!?!?  It did to me when I wrote it! But, it breaks down to a little less than $584/month.  So, if I am careful, it should be achievable.

This amount isn't counting takeout or restaurant meals.  I'm not sure how much I want/can devote to meals out.  I am going to have to think a little more on that....

But, I am happy to have this new plan in place and excited to see how well I can execute it during the coming year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

What A Day!

Geez!  It has been quite the day! And I can't begin to imagine how tired P is from the travel ordeal today!

It started in Birmingham with mechanical issues with the airplane...An hour later and the crew determined the plane would take ALL DAY to fix!  So, Delta decided to send busses to drive everyone to the connecting airport...Atlanta!  Then, of course, connecting flights were missed and Delta had to get all the displaced passengers onto new planes.

Poor P ended up touching down at the airport here in Connecticut at around 5:45 pm, after being up since four am and at airports since 6:30am!  Exhaustion doesn't begin to cover it, I'm sure!

We grabbed a quick dinner for them (P hadn't eaten all day really) and now they are watching tv in the family room chilling out and laughing.

As for me, I am emotionally exhausted too.  I have spent the day in constant contact with both P and P's mom (she & I tried navigating the crazy situation the best we could from opposite sides of the country!) Worrying can absolutely wreck you!  I learned that today!

But, in the end, it seems to be worth it all.  It is so good to hear G1 laughing again!

Tomorrow, after what I hope will be a good night's sleep, I will try to regroup and start my goals for 2016.  I know that having access to Excel spreadsheets with play a big part in some of it.  =)

Have a great night everyone!

Looking Ahead....


First a quick update...I have spoken with P's mom and they are on the way to the airport as I write this.  So in a few short hours I will have an extra Guppy with us...at least until next Sunday.  Which should leave me with some extra time to start...

Thinking ahead to 2016.

Ah, those wonderful New Year's Resolutions...

And how I always seem to break them by about..ummm...January 10th?!?!

This year I am going to sit down and really think about the things I want accomplished for 2016 and break them down into concrete pieces/tasks.  My road map for 2016.

I'll keep you updated once I figure it all out myself but you can be sure quite a bit of it will include $$$ goals/resolutions/tasks!

Right now I need to go do a bit more straightening up before getting in the shower and going to the airport.

Have a great Tuesday! 

P/S...Hope I didn't lose too many readers with yesterday's post!  =)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Leaving on a Jet Plane....Maybe?


If you have been reading my blog for awhile, I think you have probably already surmised that Papa and I aren't your "traditional" style parents.  ESPECIALLY when it comes to our most UN-traditional child, Guppy 1.  Our hope is that this will serve them in the long run because their goals in life aren't simple and (again) not the usual path.

That being said...

Today is the day that G1's friend is due to arrive for the planned Christmas break visit.  G1 has been planning this since the summer and has worked her job at the Y to save for purchasing the ticket.  We did have to help a little in the end since we decided to add the unaccompanied minor escort to the ticket so her friend can navigate the gates/layovers.  But, she has agreed to pay us back the $150 she was short in fees.

In truth, I won't believe the friend is coming until I see it for myself. 

I am not sure why I feel this way but I do.  And, it worries me that G1 may be out all the money she has earned since August.

I'm sure there are at least a few of you that are questioning if we have completely lost our minds!  Why didn't we just tell her no? Why didn't we say you cannot spend your money on a plane ticket as a Christmas present to someone clear across the United States?

Well, quite simply, we didn't do any of that because it's G1.  Because of the kind of young woman she is (and the child she always was), we know that she is the one who needs to do some things trial and error. We can discuss things with her and, yes, quite a bit of it does sink in (even if we don't know it did for a loooong time!  haha).  But, some things she needs to figure out for herself  - as in no matter how much rational discussion is done, we KNOW she won't process what we are saying.  Or won't process it in time. 

So, we let her take this chance...while she is still under our roof and can learn a valuable lesson without it doing too much damage financially.  IF the friend doesn't come, it will absolutely hurt her pocketbook BUT it's not like she has any overhead expenses like rents, utilities, etc.

My hope is her friend comes and they have a fabulous time!  We have allowed her to keep a little money in her bank account for the moment so they have a set amount of" fun" money to spend and won't be asking us.  (If the friend doesn't come, you can bet we will be taking the rest of the money she owes us out of the account now!)

Leaving on a jet plane?  We will know in a few short hours!

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How This Christmas Changed Everything....



Saturday I had quickly eluded to the fact that this was a really nice Christmas.  But, seriously there were a LOT of things that made it amazing and, well, eye opening.

I have read quite a few blogs that addressed how simplifying Christmas made a huge difference to them.  While I would read these posts, I don't think the words ever sunk in..until I lived it myself.  Now I understand.

The Guppies did NOT get as many gifts as in years passed.  However, they did get the things that they truly wanted.  (In fact many people would most likely think they got MORE than needed but I guess that's all relative.)  They were very appreciative and extremely happy with what they received.   Cleaning up the wrapping paper aftermath was a cinch too. In the end, I learned filler presents were just that...filler. 

Papa and I exchanged a few gifts as well.  My favorite of all  being the heart bead for my Pandora bracelet with the words "I love you more". 

Dinner was more simple than usual but with all optimal/quality ingredients.  This translated into less stress for me in preparation, cost, and clean up.  And, I was able to enjoy dinner with everyone else!

I kept my crazy cookie baking the same because I happen to really love to do it!  Haha!

As for our time with Papa's family in the middle of the day...well....The Guppies have never liked going for myriad reasons.  This year, it became too much for even Papa. Without going through the entire mess, the final straw was seeing that our twelve year old nephew (who lives at my mother in law's with his parents and is extremely immature with anger issues) was given a real rifle with bullets.  (In case anyone wonders, the excuse that was given to us for the gift was that he needed it for the "survival skills" section of boy scouts.)  The Guppies have finally gotten their wish because next year we will not be making the 45 minute trip each way on Christmas. 

Next year, when our financial situation is on a more even keel again, we will keep with the more simple Christmas I think.  It was so much more enjoyable without all the chaos of random things piled around us and a million dishes bubbling over on the stove. 

Simple can be better.

I have finally learned the lesson myself.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Nothing Is Calm Here...YET!

Christmas was really nice and, more importantly, I learned a LOT about myself, the Guppies, and my wonderful husband!  I will be writing a separate blog post about this...maybe Monday?  Tuesday?


Until then....the craziness continues!  G1's friend is due to (hopefully) arrive on Monday evening - right before the possible snowstorm Connecticut is finally expecting.  And, there are a million and one things to get done before then!  So, I am still running....running...running!  I figure I will finally be able to relax the day after G1's birthday...So January 6th I will be doing nothing!  Haha!


I hope this post finds everyone well and your holidays were filled with love, family, friends, and goodies!








Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas!!!

To all who celebrate!

I hope you have a wonderful day filled with surprises great food, and most of all, family and friends!

See you all tomorrow!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Freebie Fairy Right Before Christmas!

Happy Christmas Eve day!  I'm busy baking about five gazillion cookies right now so please enjoy this post I wrote on Tuesday and scheduled for today!



Yup, the BFF was at it again - purging more things before Christmas!  Here is what she sent my way this time!



50 Shades of Grey DVD (didn't read the books, don't care about the movie.  Either consigning it or giving it to someone who wants it.  Any takers? LOL)

Season 1 of Hart of Dixie series on DVD (consigning)

1 very soft and fluffy throw blanket (keeping)

1 pair of brand new bootie style slippers (keeping)

1 HEAVY desk Post It Note dispenser (? consigning if they accept it)

1 new pair of fleece PJ bottoms (keeping)

1 pink very soft turtleneck sweater (will see if G1 wants it)

1 gray wrap sweater (I tried it on. It looked hideous on me.  Consigning)

1 brand new (with tags) pair of Calvin Klein black leggings (would like to keep but will probably consign. Brand new things with tags sell great there!)


Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gas, Garbage, & Consignment $$$



GAS
I am down to 1/4 tank of that fill-up back in November!  Which means I am very close to making it through December without spending any money on gasoline!!  While this is a decent accomplishment, it has to be mentioned that I have been driving Papa's car a LOT more than usual!  Although, like I think I said last week, our overall gas consumption is way down since Papa hasn't been commuting.  
What does make me excited is the fact that we are now going into the months where I tend to drive significantly less - due to the snow, if winter ever decides to show up!  I will be taking that into consideration when I do my January Gasoline budget line.


GARBAGE
Back to one of our old standards - 3 13 gallon kitchen sized bags.  If I am going to be completely honest, I think I could have done better with our waste and gotten it down to two bags this week.  But, with everything that has been happening here, I just didn't have the energy to try that hard.  Just keeping it real!  Haha!


CONSIGNMENT
Rather than making the trip around the corner to check my balance, I have been calling the consignment shop these past two weeks.  I did NOT take the money out of the account last week - like I was considering.  This week it only plumped up a little bit - something small must have sold.  Now my account sits at $28.84.  I'm going to leave it there for now since (most) of my holiday shopping is over.  While not making any interest as it may in a savings account, it also is money I cannot immediately access without some effort on my part.  So in the store's account it stays.


Kids are out of school early today and then off on break until January 4th!  EEEK!  So much left to take care of!  I better get going!

Have a great Wednesday!!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Blogging Schedule is Waaay Off!



Actually, my "everything" schedule is so far off!  

Today has been extra crazy because I had to do most of my running around early if I wanted to have Papa's car to do it in.  His brother (remember that whole debacle?) needs a ride to get blood work done because (surprise surprise!) no one down in that section of the state has a car/can give him a ride.  So essentially Papa has to drive south for 45 minutes to get his brother, north 30 minutes to get to the lab, back south 30 minutes to drive brother home, and finally 45 minutes north again to get back home.  Oh and don't forget having to pay to park at the lab!  SMH

Do I seem a little pissy?  LOL  Papa and I had plans today to get some more Christmas stuff done - wrap, run to Target, possibly start baking and now it's down the tubes.  I guess I am pouting because time is running out before Christmas and I was really looking forward to doing these things with Papa.  Tomorrow the Guppies have a half day at school so we will be time crunched.  Oh well. And...

To be honest, I think I am angry about today for another reason that has NOTHING to really do with today.  A few days ago Papa's brother called and asked if Papa was still planning on being screened as a possible donor.  All I could think was "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!?"  Papa doesn't have a job and needs to be at the ready to interview whenever called, we have very very limited funds to keep our house going, and we barely have insurance!  I'm trying to not think about this all until AFTER the holidays are done but my blood is boiling a bit today - as you can tell.

No word yet from the company Papa interviewed with last week.  He is getting very discouraged and I feel so badly that there's not much I can do to change it.  I keep reminding him that December is a SLLLOOOOOWWW time for hiring.  No one is rushing to fill professional positions in December!  Plus, with the company in question, the HR person said not many people were able/willing to interview right now.  I told Papa they probably need to interview all the potential hires BEFORE contacting anyone who could already come in.  My poor guy!   

On the unemployment compensation front, Papa FINALLY got all his final numbers from the old company and called to get unemployment.  Because he has never had it before, they have to have a "hearing" - I think they basically call the old company to verify the information Papa gave them.  The hearing isn't until January 11th and they will decide then if Papa can be given retroactive unemployment benefits since he was given a severance package. 

Are we having fun yet?

I want to go back to my usual jolly Christmastime self!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Great Sunday & Finishing That Shopping!

Stock image from Mystic Seaport's website for Lantern Lights Tour



Yesterday was an awesome day - that was much much needed!  Papa, the Guppies, and I had a great and RELAXING time in Mystic!  We stayed well within our allotted budget which was a plus too!  I tried my best to focus on "the moment" and turn the worrying off in my head.  I have to say that I was almost completely successful!  And, even though I am tired - we didn't get home until almost midnight! - I am in SUCH a better state of mind than the end of last week.

Today, after dropping the Guppies off to school and taking the pup for a walk, Papa and I are heading to the dreaded mall to finish Christmas shopping.  We found a few great items last week that were deeply discounted so today I am on the hunt for a few more that are on my list!  I really really want to finish shopping today because it's time for my cookie baking marathon to begin too!

Hope everyone has a great Monday!  I should be back later today or tomorrow with a post that is a little more substantial.  LOL

Saturday, December 19, 2015

New Day....


Sorry about yesterday's post.  I would love to say it won't happen again - but, I am fairly sure that it will before all goes back to "normal".  While I am thankful that Papa and I have never experienced an unemployment setback before, it still would be nice to have had this happen (so Papa's stress level/mood could improve) BUT have already found another job!  Pipe dreams I know!  =)

Anyway, the sun is shining and I survived my emotional roller coaster than was Friday.  That is a feat in and of itself!  Haha

Not sure what's on today's agenda yet but I definitely want to have some family time.  I'm thinking that later on this evening/tonight we will do a Christmas movie marathon at least.

G2 cleaned up the very large mess left in the family room by her and her friends-without even having to be asked!- so that housework is off my list. So that leaves the kitchen for me to tackle and upstairs.

Papa is still working on the upstairs bathroom - sanding the walls down for paint.  We need to pick out a paint color so he can get it done soon.  I need Papa to finish this project by the end of December 27th because G1's friend from Alabama is coming to spend Christmas break with us starting on the 28th.  (Yup you read that right.  Plans were made pretty much before Papa got laid off.  G1 will be footing a lot of the entertainment/excursions bill while her friend is here.  She has been told this already and agreed - which is primarily the reason I didn't pull the plug on the whole thing.  Well that and a nonrefundable plane ticket.)

Okay, I feel like I am rambling and nothing about this post is cohesive so I'm going to end now.

Thanks for keeping my family in your thoughts.  I know we will be fine and will  be very thankful this time next year that all this happened.

Have a great Saturday everyone!  I know I will be trying my best to do that!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Stick A Fork In Me...


I am just so done with today!

I honestly thought about skipping a post today all together but here I am.  I have to forewarn you though, this is probably not going to be the most positive post.

I (think) I have been doing a decent job staying positive about our current financial situation.  You know the whole a better job is coming and Papa's emotional well being is a thousand times better than when he was working at the old company.  And, I know both are true (definitely the latter!).

Yet...

A spent a good part of this morning crying my eyes out.  It feels like the weight of the world is suffocating us. I tried to be "strong" and handle it so not to make Papa upset/feel bad/freak out.  But, I crumbled.  And spent most of the day (especially the morning) in the state of a hot mess.

I am counting on our Mystic trip to help lift my mood back up.  Yet, I don't know if I will be able to relax enough to enjoy myself.  One thing I will be doing (even if it's just in my head) is keeping a careful eye on what we spend.

Money is disappearing way too quickly, even though most of what I have spent is on bills.  I have been so super careful with our Christmas shopping - which has been depressing for me because I don't want to disappoint the Guppies.  Stupid? Foolish?  Absolutely!  And I know it is part of MY issues more than their negative or positive reactions.

And...

The cherry on my shit ice cream...

G1's Iphone completely died.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN HYSTERICAL SIXTEEN YEAR OLD WHO HAD THEIR IPHONE DIE?


In the grand scheme of things, this is not and SHOULD NOT be the end of the world. In my already fragile mental state, trust me - it was.  It's her lifeline to the world and where she does quite a bit of her homework to boot.  A quick check on my AT&T website told me that I still am paying the damn thing off!  I still owe $175 on it - from a previously bad buying decision!  Only way for me to keep my $15/month phone line while buying a new phone was to put a NEW one on thirty nifty monthly installments of almost $23 plus fees for the phone number change over.  Ummm...no thanks!  I took a chance and made a diagnostic appointment with an Apple store in New Haven for early this evening to see if we can revive this phone.  Papa will take her because, quite frankly, I am not strong enough today to deal with the situation AND an hysterical teenage girl.  IF the phone is fixable, Papa has cash to fix it (within a monetary cap of course!) and I already told G1 that she would have to pay us back with her work money.  She is not pleased to say the least and would rather go the "cheaper" option of monthly payments.  For now, after trying to reason with her, we just said no.  End of story.  Once she is sane again, we will re-explain to her why trying to fix it is the best option before installment plans of any kind.

UPDATE:
Phone is completely shot - water damage AND replacing (non broken) screen to boot!  But...the Apple store is replacing it with a new one for....$270 instead of the $700-ish AT&T would have charged!  Still more than we can afford though.  Papa has enough money on him to buy it so my plan was to tell G1 that either it was her (January) birthday present OR she could work off the purchase since part of it (water damage) was most likely her fault.  THEN,  my mom happened to call to check in (since I was too much of a blubbery mess to call her this morning) and I went through the whole debacle.  SHE is going to reimburse me the money and tell G! that it is her birthday present from her and my dad.  Thank Goodness for my mom - truly!  I told her she didn't have to do that but she said she didn't know what to buy her anyway.
NOW...
The new plan is that after thanking her grandmother heartfully, we are going to have a little discussion with her.  Oh and I am pretty sure I am going to ask her to pay me the money I still owe on the broken phone - again partially her fault it's kaput.  I feel like I am being a "mean mom" but , she's 16 and working and in need of a reality check.

Like I said THAT all was just the cherry of the day/emotions.


So, since I am not a drinking woman, if you guys excuse me now...I am going to enjoy the peaceful sounds of my house right now which consist of mainly the dog snoring on the couch and the giggles of five 13 year olds on my deck stargazing.  (Yeah forgot to mention I told G2 she could have friends over right after school...All BEFORE I had my mental breakdown!)

It's gotta get better...And, trust me, I KNOW so many many people have it so very much worse than I have it!

Hope you Friday was better than mine!

And dearest Weekend?  Please be kind!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Still Here....


Just been a crazy busy type of day!

Dinner here tonight with Papa's mom and elderly aunt so we have been cooking and cleaning like mad people!

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!  

Be back with a longer post tomorrow! (hopefully)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Papa's Interview Plus Gas, Garbage, & Consignment


Before I start my usual Wednesday post (albeit very late!) here is the news about the interview yesterday....

Papa came home very happy.  He liked the company and the people he met with.  He thought the interview went very well.  However, this company is very early in their interview process so it may be a little while before we hear anything.  Also, it appears there will be a second round of interviews (because I guess three and a half hours isn't enough?!?!?).   So, the game plan is to try to enjoy the holidays and wait to see what happens.  I have a feeling that the phone will start ringing off the hook for interviews from other companies come the first week of January!  Companies are too busy/lazy/whatever at the end of the year to deal with hiring for positions.  But, if yesterday's company calls back and wants to see Papa again, he will go in less than a heartbeat!

Now onto the usual...

GAS
Seriously I have no idea how I am completely making this happen but I am still on the tank from November!!!!  It's a little less than half but still....Crazy, eh?  And we haven't been going through as much gas in Papa's car either!  I am so loving this!  Plus, once the snow comes - if it EVER comes this year!, I limit my driving tremendously!!!  Can I make it to the New Year with the gas from November?  Let's see!


GARBAGE
SIX bags!!!!  Yup, you read that right!  SIX 13 gallon bags!  But, here's why....Papa stripped the wallpaper in our upstairs bathroom to ready it for painting.  All that debris accounted for three bags worth of garbage!  Nice to have that 1980's wallpaper down finally!  One good thing about the layoff I guess is that Papa has the time to do some of the around the house jobs that he didn't have enough time for before!

CONSIGNMENT
No change from last week.  My balance is still at $22.68!  I thought the jacket I brought in last week would have sold by now BUT, with all the unusually warm weather here lately, I guess no one is thinking about jackets/coats.  I am leaving the money in the account until AFTER Christmas now.  I would like to do some things with the kids while they have the week off (and G1's friend from Alabama will be  here - most likely) so I will pull it out then and add it to any "fun money" we have accumulated from Christmas.

Hope everyone had a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Swag...BUST!



Hey, remember when I wanted to reach 2200 swagbucks to earn my $25 Amazon gift card?  Umm...yeah THAT so didn't happen! I haven't even reached the 1000 swagbuck mark yet!

I would love to blame it completely on the swagbucks site - I earned diddly for web searches!  I was disqualified for every survey I tried to take!  Etc!  Etc!  While both these examples were true, you want to know the real reason why my swagbucks mission went bust?

The truth is..

I got really lazy!

I didn't devote the time or energy needed to accomplish this.  And I guess I am going to be okay with that.  Because now I have a new plan....One that should be easier to accomplish -- I hope!

Papa's birthday is in February and, if he hasn't found a job by then, it's going to be super tough financially- even with being careful! So that is probably a much better time for an Amazon card anyway!  LOL

Today, I hopefully found a new way to earn those SB quicker!  While doing some Christmas shopping online, I saw that a couple of the sites I was buying from had an earn SB icon!  I "activated" it when I saw it so let's hope I get rewarded for my (very slight) effort of clicking that button!

When the New Year comes and things die down, I hope to get back to a better schedule with my swagbucks earnings.  Right now, I am being realistic and I know it's just not going to happen - unless I do more shopping, which would NOT be a good idea!  =)

Do you try to earn Swagbucks?  How as it been going? 

 By the way, if you are more interested in finding out about swagbucks, you need to check out Nathalie over at imperfectlyfrugally.blogspot.com!  She is the master at earning SB!

Have a great evening!!

Tuesday's Random Thoughts...



Here's a little of what's on my mind this Tuesday morning....

*How Quiet The House Is...
right now!  It's almost 8:30 in the morning and it's only me and the animals home!  That hasn't happened since 11/11!!!  Consequently I am hoping to....

*Get a TON of Stuff Done...
around the house today!  It always seems a LOT easier to get things done when I am the only one here!  Haha!

*Papa's Interview...
will be starting in about 30 minutes from now.  He looked so handsome in his suit when he left this morning.  He isn't the type to get nervous but we all wished him luck before he left anyway!  I am still amazed by the sheer length of the interviewing process!  He is meeting with FIVE people over the course of  three and a half hours!

*Christmas Shopping...
I need to get back online and see if I can purchase some more things from home rather than braving the crowds more than absolutely necessary!  Everyone in the house has at least "something" besides the dog (she has a stocking we fill too!).  While no one is here, I should go through the stocking stuffer type things I bought last Friday to see where I stand/what I am missing.

*Dinner Menus...
While I have been slacking with officially making them up, we have been eating (mostly) what is in the house right now.  In previous years we have "fallen off the wagon" and purchased a LOT of takeout - so far this year that hasn't happened!  Yay!
Also, Papa wants to have his mom and elderly aunt come to our house for dinner (possibly Thursday!).  Both women are having some difficulties with family members moving into/invading their homes/space and could use a quiet evening out.  (Not that our house is exactly quiet but it's all relative, trust me!)  In the past, we have had them here for dinner and to see some (free) Christmas lights at a park in the next town over.  That would be the plan again this year.  While extra work for me, I don't mind at all because I want the Guppies to spend a little time with Papa's mom here.  When we visit her at her house, there is just too much craziness for them to spend any quality time together.

*Oil Prices...
We don't do the whole "lock in your price" with any oil companies.  However, there is a company here in town with very competitive pricing (because he will only deliver to this town since his company is located here).  Last week (pre-severance check) I was frustrated because oil prices had gone down to $1.62/gallon and we couldn't get any!  Well, I checked yesterday and prices were down another dime!  Since we were down to 1/4 tank, I had them come out and fill us up.  I can't remember the last time I spent only $280 to fill the oil tank!  In past years, I would only buy 150 gallons at a time which would cost anywhere between $450 to $600 a pop!  The decrease in price yesterday was perfect timing!

*The Strange Weather...
I am probably in the minority here but I WANT the cold weather!!!  I live in the Northeast for a reason people!  LOL  These 50 to 60 degree days (while great on the oil prices/usage) have been bumming me out a little...Because Christmastime is supposed to be COLD!!!  I know I am going to sound bonkers, but having it feel like it's Spring outside takes away some of the "Christmas Spirit" for me.  Thank God for Pandora Christmas music I guess!  =)


Well, there is the mish mosh that is my brain this morning!

Have a nice Tuesday!





Monday, December 14, 2015

Working on the Christmas Shopping...



I've started to do a little more Christmas shopping but am nowhere near done.and it's starting to freak me out quite a bit actually.  However I am resisting the urge to just "grab and buy" everything I see!  I continue to make mindful purchases, using coupons when able.  Even if this process slows me down considerably.

Both Guppies have their "big" presents now purchased. (I will tell you what they are AFTER Christmas just in case they decide to check my blog to snoop!)  Later this morning I am heading out to Kohl's to check out some ideas for Papa.  And I will also have a cart full of Amazon stuff I will purchase this afternoon.

We won't be doing much gift giving outside the immediate four of us.  I may possibly make some photo ornaments for a few family members - I'm thinking especially of my newlywed brother since I took some cute pictures at his wedding this past summer.  I will be going to Michael's Crafts today to price out supplies to see if it's cost effective.  Otherwise, the only gifts extended family will be receiving this year are my (many) cookies.

G1 is most likely having a friend from Alabama visit her during our Christmas break.  I will be buying gifts for this friend - but will probably wait until after Christmas since the arrival date is set for 12/28!  Since her friend won't be here until AFTER Christmas anyway, they won't know the date I bought the stuff, right?  LOL

On that note I'm off to get a few things straightened up here before shopping begins!

Oh, and one more thing.....

I am really sorry if I have seemed grumpy over the past few weeks!  I am trying so hard not to be but I know it's been seeping into my posts...

Things should get better soon!  Or at least that's what I keep telling myself!!  Haha

Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Case Anyone Thinks I Have Lost My Mind...



Let me start by saying that my little family LOVES tradition...to the point where Guppy 2 insists we stop at the same diner for breakfast on the way to our annual summer Vermont vacation EVEN THOUGH SHE DOESN'T LIKE THE FOOD THERE!  I have asked her why more times than I can count and her answer always is "It's tradition".

So, on that note, I feel like I need to explain a couple of things....

A LOT of you may be scratching your heads right now (probably rightfully so) wondering why the heck we took a trip to Yankee Candle when Papa is laid off!?!?!  Trust me we did more looking/smelling than buying and well, it's tradition.

This holiday season has been a rough one, with Papa not getting his severance until the middle of the month.  The presents under the tree are going to be much more sparse than in past years.  But, one thing Papa and I have agreed upon is that we need to keep our Christmas traditions going!  So, we went to Yankee Candle yesterday and will be doing our annual trip to Mystic Seaport for their Lantern Light Tours next Sunday night. Between these two outings (including tickets to the tour) we have budgeted $300.  While that money could most definitely be going to other things, we feel we need to keep the "tradition" alive.  These are experiences that our girls will take with them forever and may continue on their own as well.  I think my whole family agrees that these outings/experiences warrant less under the tree this year.

We always have a simple Christmas Eve dinner of "pickies" (appetizers, popcorn, snacks, etc) so no fancy expensive dinner for us, thus saving money there.   Christmas dinner is the same as our Thanksgiving dinners - my parents come here and, since we do the "hard" part of cooking, they help pay for the groceries for the meal.  Strange but something that has happened for the past twelve plus years.

I guess I am explaining all this because I just would rather not have anyone reading this all thinking that I am being completely foolish.  I guess I just wanted to say that we are picking and choosing where our money goes (and doesn't!) and we have chosen the two outings since the rest of our season is more of a frugal one.

Anyway, I felt like I had to get that off my chest....Hope you all have a wonderful Sunday!  And, as always, thanks for your comments, support, and tips!  Please keep them coming!  They have helped more than you can ever know!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Question....

If it's Saturday and you are seeing this post, that means all worked out and we (the family & me) are on our way into Massachusetts to visit the Yankee Candle store!  But enjoy (and please comment!) on my ponderings...


When I retrieved my empty garbage cans from the curb earlier this week, I noticed a strange little baggie with an envelope inside.  It was TWO Christmas cards from our garbage men with their addresses conveniently printed out on a return envelope...Hmmmm...I may be wrong but I think they are looking for a tip!  LOL  (By the way, we pay taxes for our waste disposal and these guys are not contracted by us.)  I haven't ever given a tip to our garbage people but it got me wondering....

Who do you tip or give token presents to at Christmas time?

When the Guppies were in elementary school and only had one or two teachers, I gave holiday presents.  I will even admit that the MORE I liked the teacher the BIGGER the present.  I know that was probably a bad thing but I couldn't help it if I felt more gratitude to some teachers than others!  =)

Music Teachers - I would like to give a token something to them for the hard work and dedication they give my children.  Unfortunately, G2's drum teacher was already here for the last time this month (before severance was paid out).  Ditto for G2's garage band teacher - who I definitely wanted to give a little something to!  I may end up baking some goodies and giving it to them when G2 has lessons in January.  G1 will see her vocal teacher before Christmas again so I have another week to figure it out.  VERY small gifts but something to say "Thanks for all you do".

I don't tip my hairdresser - I haven't seen him in about six months now anyway!

I don't tip a cleaning lady - because I don't have one!  LOL

I don't tip the babysitter - We don't have a babysitter!

I don't tip our mailman - We aren't allowed to give monetary gifts and it seems my mail person is always changing anyway!

I can't think of anyone else that I would include in this list....

How about you?  Who do you tip?  Who don't you tip?  Do you think that the expectations of tips/holiday bonuses have gotten way out of hand?  Or do you think holiday tipping should be done for a good job/services throughout the year?

I hope I'm not the only one being stingy here!  If so, I guess I will be changing my name to "Scrooge"!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Money, Money, Money...




Today is going to be a busy busy day because guess what?

I can finally pay my bills!
I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I am to have that cash in the bank this morning!  Not that I am planning on going crazy and spending a ton of cash today - don't worry.  LOL  I have to take some time to sit down with Papa and carefully budget it out over the next few months.  If Papa gets a job sooner than later, the remaining $$ will go into our emergency savings account so that we are more prepared if something like this happens again.

The word of the day in my world is....

RELIEF!


Sorry for the short post...Gotta get the guppies off to school and get busy here!

Have a great Friday!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

More Money News...



About the Severance Check...

I am so over Papa's old company at this point and all their excuses!  While I feel badly for the person who was out with the family emergency, someone should have been covering her job for those two weeks!  The company had just laid off 15 people for crying out loud!  Anyway, Papa got an email back last night stating the money should be in the account tomorrow. (I had figured they would wait until the company's next pay day and wouldn't take the time to issue a special check.)  HR did say if the money wasn't there tomorrow they would cut a manual check - but who knows how much longer that will take?!?!  I hope I am a relieved/happy camper come tomorrow morning and not a pissed off one!


On the Job Front...

Things have been slow because of the holidays.  And, like I said before, employers aren't in a huge rush to hire now.  The positions they are posting are most likely for January.  That being said, there is a company interested in Papa and he has a THREE hour interview on Tuesday.  I don't want to say much since this company's HR department said a LOT of people have applied and I don't want to "jinx" my husband here!  LOL  The job has a lot of pros and some cons.  We will see what Tuesday brings.  And, at the very least, maybe he will start getting more calls for interviews sooner than later.


Our Nonexistent Christmas Shopping

If all FINALLY goes well and the money is deposited in our account tomorrow, I can get some shopping done!  I am still going with my mom to the mall in the morning either way.  I may disagree with my parents quite often but they truly are there for us when we need it.  Yesterday my mom found a great deal on the "big thing" G2 wanted for Christmas - as in 1/2 off!  She knew we weren't in the position to buy it right now so she went ahead and grabbed it for us, telling us we can pay her back later!  I have been stressing about things being out of stock by the time I can start shopping so this helped tremendously!




Today I have decided to try to start deep cleaning the kitchen...See how desperate I am to keep busy and make Friday morning come faster?  =)  Have a great Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gas, Garbage, Consignment, & Tick Update






Gas
Still working on the tank from the last fill up in November!  I'm down to about 1/2 tank so that $25 is still tucked away for December's gas budget!


Garbage
Two 13 gallon kitchen sized bags this week. 


Consignment
Rather than wasting the gas, I called to get my account balance today.  It's so close to my cash out goal but just not there yet.  Apparently the jacket hasn't sold as of yet.  My cash out goal is $25.  The account sits at $22.68.  I'm going to give it until Friday and if I'm still not over the $25, I'll consider cashing out anyway and eating the difference for the $25 Amazon Gift card.


Tick Bite
I had the tick bite checked out this morning and no one can really figure out why it looks like it does (kinda indented and scabbed inside rather than outside).  It was decided that I would do a round of antibiotics as a preventative measure and we would neosporin the area and keep an eye on it.  We are 100 percent positive it was a tick though - I saw the part that I had originally scratched off and then Papa saw what was remaining.



Some Freebies and Something Curious....


Can we talk about how my best friend is something else?!?!  She's like my sister, truly, and we are there for each other for the small and big things that life throws our way.  Anyway, as you know, she loves to give us stuff - even though I KEEP telling the woman she doesn't have to give me stuff all the time! Well yesterday was no different...She came by my house bearing some little "gifts" again!


3 pints of one of Papa's favorite soups from the farmers market (She said she doesn't like it anymore and it tastes different.  Well she froze it so the curry flavor intensified. Papa still likes it so score for us!)
A small tray of her (Italian) mom's manicotti  YUUUUM!



The other freebie we got was curious...

When Papa was issued a work cell phone, he had the option to pay for an upgrade (IPhone) which would be his but the company would pay for the line.  When he got laid off, he had the option to have the phone number he used through the company released  so we can use it to add him to our plan.  Yesterday, after getting the email back from HR, the phone was magically turned back on with the stipulation that he switch it over within the next two months!  I am left shaking my head as to why they turned it off in the first place then.  And, you can bet your you-know-what that we will be waiting until AFTER the holidays to add him to our phone bill!


Even more curious...

When the phone was turned back on, Papa had two new messages he never received back when they were left.  One in June and one in September....FROM RECRUITERS!!!! Plus there were quite a few calls that he never received from back when his phone was on and he worked at the old company.  So, it appears that the old company was blocking/screening the phone calls he made/received on the cell phone!  I'm guessing they had the "right" to do this since they owned/paid for the line but what a crappy thing to do, don't you think?!?!?


Happy Wednesday!  I'll most likely post my Gas/Garbage/Consignment update this afternoon after I visit the consignment shop!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

MishMosh of Updates

Trying to remind myself of on this crazy Tuesday!!!!!


If you aren't ready for a totally mish-moshed jumble of thoughts and information you may want to skip this post!  I have a ton of stuff running through my head without much time to organize them into cohesive thoughts.  Follow me and my brain dump through this post....If you dare!  LOL


Housework
My house looks like it's been burglarized at the moment!  Or, at the very least, Christmas literally threw up in my living room! There are still numerous half filled boxes to take care of today before G2 has her drum lesson this afternoon.  Add to that, the rest of the cleaning I have to do and it's going to be a very busy day housework wise!


Healthcare
I spent over THREE hours on the phone last Friday speaking to various people trying to get our healthcare square away!!  I *thought* we were set since the last person I spoke with took care of our application for me over the phone. (Because of the no/soon to be unemployment only income we qualified for state insurance.)  I have our application number and need to make a few changes/adjustments -which the person on the phone said I could do- BUT I never received my email conformation!   I had added Papa's email to the application and he didn't receive an email either.  I'm guessing that they misspelled our last name (it's a pretty difficult one to spell right)  We have up to ninety days to make changes on the application so that is on my list of things to do by the end of this week.


Severance
The amount in our bank account has dwindled to a ridiculously low (and very scary!) dollar figure.  Severance should have been deposited at the end of last week at the latest - there is a seven day revocation period.  Papa had been emailing HR and leaving voicemails to no avail.  Minutes ago he heard back from the HR woman (who apparently has been out of the office due to a family emergency).  She said she is going to have employee services research why we haven't received our money yet. This is just beyond frustrating now.


Unemployment
Since Papa finally got the response from HR, hopefully the additional information we need will be sent to him TODAY!  I think I will still have Papa try without the info later today if he has time.



Possible Job Leads
Things have picked up a tiny bit.  Like I have mentioned before, I truly think most of the positions being advertised currently are for the new year so businesses are just compiling possible applicants to interview in the next few weeks/into the beginning of the new year.  Papa does have a phone interview this morning with a very good company.  Unfortunately this company is quite the drive away (about 60 minutes each way) but, because of the area of the state it's in (Fairfield County), it has the potential of being a fairly well paid position.



My Health
My health has been pretty good (knock on wood).  I will be completely truthful and tell you guys that I have been sort of dragging my feet a little about calling the company that makes my injections for monetary help.  I HAVE to do that this week, I know.  I haven't had an "injection break" in about six years so I am enjoying this past couple of weeks without them.  I know, I know BAD TRAYCEEBEE!  On another health note, yesterday I had a strange itch on my right shoulder and when I scratched I pulled off half a tick! YUCK!!! I had Papa remove the rest of it with tweezers (because of course I missed the head when I scratched it off!) but the damn thing left a divot where it was!  I think it was only attached to me for about twenty four hours (due to its location) but we are going to keep an eye on it anyway.  Hazards of having a dog in the house I guess!  =)


Groceries
I am being super bad with tracking the groceries on this blog!  I need to see if I have my receipts and try to catch up with that.  I will say that I am being very very cautious with the money I am spending and haven't spent much at all!  If I had to guesstimate (without totalling receipts obviously) I have spent right around $100 so far this month.  I am trying to continue to be aggressive about using up a lot of what is in our freezer/cupboards.


Christmas Shopping
Haha!  I made a funny joke there!  No shopping has been done yet (besides two tiny stocking stuffers).  I am going out with my mom on Friday to do some shopping - I help her pick out stuff for the Guppies.  She has offered to pick up some things for me to get them too, which is very nice and helpful.  But, if that severance check isn't deposited by Friday I am probably going to lose my mind!!!  LOL


I think that's most of what's sloshing around my brain at the moment!  Time to get to cleaning I guess!

Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Meal Plan for the Week



I have been very loosey-goosey about my menu plan over the last few weeks.  I have (sort of) had one in place but I want to get back to the more "formalized" post on my blog!



Breakfasts
Oatmeal
Assorted cold cereal
Cinnamon buns
Croissants
Hash brown patties
Bagels (with cream cheese or butter)
Breakfast burritos



Lunches
Thai Coconut Curry Soup 
Pumpkin soup
Leftovers
Grilled cheese
Granola bar, fruit, & string cheese
Hot dogs



Dinners

Monday
Hot dogs
Curly fries
Bread & Butter Pickles


Tuesday
Beef stew
Biscuits


Wednesday
Roast chicken breast
Jasmine rice
Green bean casserole


Thursday
Steak wraps
Tater tots


Friday
TBD - Papa's bringing G2 to Rock Band so it will be just G1 and me




Very simplistic but also using what I (mostly) have on hand.

Derailed Plans Today...


Wow!  Did my Monday plans ever get derailed!  It started off as a good morning - I got the kids off to school and had just gotten back into bed to snuggle with Papa for a few minutes before starting our day...

 The text came at 8:!5 am. I was in my car and at my BFF's by 8:30.  She has an on again/off again boyfriend that keeps breaking her heart.  I was extremely worried there was going to be another "off again" episode around Christmas time.  I wish more than anything I had been wrong.  She is like the sister I never had and it kills me to see her hurting so badly.  

Anyway....

I stayed with her until I knew she was in a little better place and I could feel safe leaving her alone.  That translated to almost noon.  I'm totally not complaining however.  I would have stayed all day if she needed it. In the grand scheme of things, there wasn't anything urgent that had to be done today or else so I'm good.  I can play catch up tomorrow if needed.


Today's derailed plans gave me some perspective...I came home and hugged Papa tight.  Yes, our situation is rough (ummm, missing severance check still?!?!) but we have each other.  I will always be grateful for that, no matter what happens.  And as for my BFF, I will help her get through this and hope she can finally put this guy in the past and find her Mr. Right.


Hope you all had a great Monday!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Simply Sunday....



It's a gorgeous day here in my neck of the woods today which definitely helps boost my mood!

Yesterday was such a great day!  We chopped down our tree, had a nice brunch, watched Christmas movies, and decorated the tree.  

I even had a quick moment in the afternoon to run out to the mall to grab a Secret Santa gift that G2 needs for Monday.  I ended up at Bath & Body Works since I had coupons of course.  Here's what I got for just $28 AFTER coupons...

For Secret Santa:
1 small stuffed penguin that can hold lotion or perfume
1 small lotion for the penguin
1 bath sponge
1 larger sized shower gel
1 body spray

For Guppies Stockings:
2 cookie scented hand lotions

I gotta say I'm pretty happy with the price I paid for all that!

Anyway, today has us out all day at a friend's daughter's birthday party.  We were told that it wasn't a "gift giving occasion" since it's being held at a concert hall (complete with a mini concert from one of our favorite Long Island groups).  But Papa and I are thinking our friend *may* have said that because he knows of our job situation.  I grabbed a card and an Amazon gift card just in case.  If other people are bringing gifts we will add ours to the pile.  If not, I obviously have a use for the Amazon card!  LOL

With that, I gotta go take a shower and get ready to leave!

Happy Sunday!