Monday, February 29, 2016

February Found Money





February was not nearly as lucrative a month as January!

Let's check how I did with the "found money" for the month:

Coinstar:  $8.88

My coin jar at home didn't get a ton of action this month.  Maybe it was because I did more swiping of our debit card than handing over actual cash?  Anyway, like last month, I opted for the E-gift certificate to Amazon and avoided the processing fee.  This "having an Amazon gift card balance" is really working out for me so far!


Bottles: $18.00

I don't know if it exactly counts as "found money" since I pay out the deposit when I go to the grocery store...But, it's definitely money I don't "think" about so I count it as "found".  LOL


Balance for Year:  $66.06

In case you didn't catch my initial found money report for January, I have a checking account that I don't use very often that had a low(er) balance back last month.  This is where I have decided to squirrel the found money (aka bottle returns) for the year. 

Not a great month for this report, but, it's still better than ZERO to report right?

Happy Monday!!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Menu Plan For This Week


I didn't do that well keeping to last week's dinner plans which is why you see some of them repeated here.


Breakfasts
Onion bagels with cream cheese or butter
English muffins with butter, jelly, or peanut butter
Cold cereal
Banana, Peanut Butter, & Honey Wraps
Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (can lurking in fridge)
Yogurt, granola, & assorted berries


Lunches
Leftovers
Pumpkin soup
Roast beef sandwiches
Turkey sandwiches
Granola bar, string cheese, & fruit
Wheatberry salad
Scrambled eggs & bacon (G1's go to for lunch after school)

Dinners

Sunday
The "pickies" we didn't eat on Friday are being recycled in honor for tonight's Oscars

Monday
Soy sauce & garlic marinated London broil
Mashed potatoes
Brussel sprouts
Crescent rolls

Tuesday
Hamburgers
French fries
Pickles

Wednesday
Homemade Pizza/Fried dough night

Thursday
Baked brown sugar ham slices
Roasted sweet potatoes
Green beans & garlic

Friday
Breakfast for dinner:
French toast
Bacon
Diner style home fries


While it was easier for me to get this menu together than usual, I still feel very much in a "rut" recipe wise.  Last week I grabbed a few magazines from the library (Rachel Ray, Cooking Light) so hopefully I will find some new recipes/inspiration.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Closing Out February: Eating Out Expenses


Okay, so I admit that I didn't do as well as I would have liked this month in this category.  BUT, it was also nowhere near the $346 (!!!!) that I spent last month either!

Here's the breakdown....

February Eating Out Expenses:  $117.00
(this month when I wrote down my totals I rounded to the nearest dollar since all change goes into my "found change" jar)

If you remember, we didn't go out to eat for Papa's birthday.  So where/when did we go out?


$62.00
Almost half the expenses for the month happened on Thursday!!!

$19:  The Soup Girl for lunch (there were leftovers for an additional lunch for each of us)
$35:  1 meatball grinder, 1 eggplant grinder, and one medium cheese calzone (Plus delivery tip)
$8:  McDonald's Big Mac Meal for Guppy 1 because that's what she wanted

Yes, I know I should have had a better plan in place for when emergencies crop up.  For now, I have to feel the pain of looking at that number and realizing it could have been so much better.  And, though it may seem like an excuse, I really really was THAT tired Thursday.

Moving on to earlier in the month....

$25.00
Breakfast for Papa and I at a little local hole-in-the-wall diner.

$30.00
McDonald's for Guppy 2 and her friends once this month


Going forward I need to remember to write down the date as well as the place and amount.  I want to be able to analyze it and make sure there are no emerging patterns in the upcoming months.

How did you do with February eating out?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Freebie Fairy & Getting Back on Schedule...



I was able to get a decent (but too short!) night of sleep last night which has taken the edge of my exhaustion.  Guppy 1 is going to attempt to make it through the day at school today (thank you nausea pills!) so she can, at the very least, pick up/get all the assignments she missed this week.  I am hopeful that this weekend we can completely catch up on "life" and start next week fresh!

Anyway, the BFF (aka Freebie Fairy) did visit me again this week.

Here is the latest round of stuff....

2 small no name suede purses (1 hunter green and 1 navy blue...Will go to consignment but not sure if they will accept them since they have moved to mostly taking Spring/Summer stuff now)
1 light brown cashmere throw blanket (G1 scooped that up immediately since she was home when I got it!)

Freebie Fairy's live in boyfriend got some bad news at the doctor's office this week.  He needs to lose some weight and decrease salt intake because of high blood pressure.  So, the following freebie food is either "bad" for his health or is incorporated into a "bad" recipe...

1 full wedge of artisan cheese from Whole Foods (BFF cant remember what kind and I haven't tried it yet)
Soy Coconut Coffee Creamer (I think BFF didn't like it)
8 Granny Smith Apples (she bought a full bag even though she only need two for a recipe she made)
1 jar of Pepperoncini
1 box of Hazelnut & Cranberry crackers


Happy Friday everyone!



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Back From the Pediatrician's....




And now the exhaustion really has settled in!

Guppy 1 is resting (more comfortably) downstairs in the family room as I type this.  The doctor who saw her was wonderful and very calming - which G1 so very much needed! 

The final verdict was that she had the really bad stomach flu going around and it completely wrecked her body dehydration and electrolyte wise.  They checked her O2, blood pressure, and heart rate which all turned out to be okay today. The pedi also wrote a script for her to get an anti-nausea med to help her keep food down better so she can regain her strength and the weight she lost from not eating.

G1 apologized after we left the doctor's office because she felt bad that she kept us up all night and we had to go through this.  She also felt guilty that, since she felt a little better after hearing it from the doctor's mouth, part of the issue was her anxiety ramping up even though she didn't think it initially was.  I told her there was nothing to apologize about...it's all part of being a parent, right?

We also were able to obtain the doctor's note so we have her return to both school and work next week covered.

We are (obviously) keeping the Yale Pedi Cardiology appointment for March since this heart fluttering/skipping/pain has been an off and on problem for awhile now, too long actually.  Once we are able to completely (and hopefully) rule out any heart problems, we can continue to address the known anxiety issues without worrying that it is an underlying heart issue.  And, if it is a heart issue as well as anxiety, we will cross that bridge too.

We stopped and grabbed lunch to bring home from one of our favorite soup places that we literally had to drive right past to get to the doctor's!  And tonight's dinner plans aren't happening because we were supposed to slow roast some pork ribs.  I'm not sure what dinner will be but I may end up getting some simple take out for that too.  We didn't eat out much this month at all so I do have a little wiggle room there and, quite frankly, I just can't deal with trying to cook dinner tonight.

I am just THAT tired, you know?

Anyway, thanks again so much for all your well wishes!

Keep them going until we get through the March cardio workup!

Bone Tired



I am utterly beyond exhaustion at this point....

Monday night Guppy 1 came home from a work meeting with a migraine and upset stomach....and has been home from school ever since.  What we thought was/would be a simple stomach virus has morphed into something else.  G1 wasn't able to eat at all or drink much all day Tuesday and yesterday she woke up with heart palpatations/flutters/pain and numbness/tingling in both her hands and feet.  We monitored her all day yesterday and the symptoms didn't improve....

  G1 already has a work up scheduled in March at Yale Pediatric Cardiology because she complains about chest pain/skipping heart beats/etc frequently enough to warrant a check - especially when you add her previous eating disorder into the mix.    That appointment isn't until the middle of the month, however.

Given that G1 is still on the thin side (albeit now in the low range of normal/healthy) and that the pediatrician and specialist always tell her that she is "one stomach bug away" from possible hospitalization, Papa and I decided to give them a call to determine if a trip to the ER was needed.

While our regular (and favorite) doctor wasn't the one on call last night, we did speak with our next favorite who saw G1 last time and decided she should get the cardiology workup.  She agreed with us that this was probably not a true "cardiac event" (read heart attack) and was most likely brought on by dehydration/not eating because she was so sick.  She also remembered (or read in G1's chart) there is a history of anxiety so going to the ER could have made it much worse.

(((Sigh)))

We set G1 up last night in our family room on our inflatable mattress with me spending the night on the couch next to her to monitor her.  Between checking on her and the horrible storms that went through my area last night, I probably got an hour of sleep at most.  Right now I am only awake thanks to pure adrenaline.

I will be calling the Pedi's office when they open at nine and get an appointment with them to have G1 checked out today.  I'm not sure they can do much for her at this point but I know that getting that reassurance could help lesson her anxiety (even if she doesn't realize she's feeling anxious) and I am 75% sure she now needs a doctor's note before returning to school since this is Absence Day Three this week.

I just want my kiddo to be okay and back to her normal teenage self.

Keep us and especially G1 in your thoughts not only today but as we go into the new month and await our cardiology appointment.

Hope you all have a great Thursday....

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Finishing The Month Grocery Wise....




Below are the last shopping trips I did for the month of February and my final numbers...



Farmer's Market:  $26.00
1 pint of clam chowder
1 pint of butternut squash bisque
1 bunch mustard greens
1 head of butter lettuce


Big Y:  $98.19

Protein: $2.99
2 dozen eggs

Bread: $5.47
1 loaf of white Freihoffer bread
1 (6 count) package of croissants
1 package of lavash

Fruit:  $10.05
1 quart of strawberries
(almost) 2lbs of grapes

Vegetables:  $9.20
1/2 lb olives from olive counter
3 (10 oz) packages of whole white mushrooms
1 bag of baby spinach

Beverages:  $32.98
1 12 pack of Snapple
3 cases diet Coke
4 (6 pack) of Pepsi

Snacks:  $14.29
3 bags of Doritos
2 boxes of Entenmann's cookies

Frozen:  $3.50
1 bag of Ore Ida zesty fries

Bath:  $11.99
24 pack of Charmin TP

Pantry:  $2.50
1 bottle of blue cheese salad dressing

Misc:  $5.22
Bottle deposits
Taxes



Big Y:  $16.62

Pantry:  $8.36
2 bags of Dominos Brown Sugar
1 pouch of peanut butter cookie mix
1 package of 50 cupcake liners

Snacks:  $6.28
2 packages (6 count each) mini spongecake dessert shells
3 boxes of Entenmann's chocolate chip cookie (Buy 1/Get 2)

Produce:  $1.98
2 large lemons

Misc:  $.09
Tax


Total for this week's shopping:  $140.81

Total spent for February Groceries:  $369.34*
* $19.34 OVER my self-imposed lowered budget

I know some people would beat themselves up over $19.34.  But, I am not one of them.  I am fairly happy with the amount I spent this month and see that, as I have said over the course of the last few weeks, drinks/beverages is the area that needs the most work currently.  Also, some of the purchases from the last trip (the brown sugar and cookie mix specifically) will be used next month.


At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to spend $7000 or under for all groceries, bath & beauty, cleaning, and animal food/supplies.  This equals approximately $584 per month.  Thanks to my handy dandy Excel spreadsheet, I can see that my total spent over the last two months equals $895.47.  That means I am under my goal currently by a fairly healthy $272.53.

Going into March, my hope is to continue to stay "under" the $584 mark!  I am thinking ahead to the end of the year when my grocery bills will be much higher due to the holidays.  I would like my "cushion" to be fairly substantial by then so I can still meet/exceed my grocery goals for the year!

Even without another big Costco trip planned for March, I am going to attempt to keep my grocery spending to $450.   Originally I wanted to cut the budget lower than that but noticed that I am running low on almost all the animal supplies - bedding, hay, and food for all three furbabies.

It's going to take some extra effort and planning on my part but I feel up to the challenge this coming month! =)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The $26 Band-Aid



This past Saturday Papa & I took a drive down to the indoor farmer's market in the city because I wanted to buy a small "Thank You" gift for my uncle.  (Two bags of gourmet treats for his dog which cost $8 total.)  We ended up getting a little lost since we don't go to the indoor market very often and found ourselves in a construction type area/road.  I casually mentioned to Papa that he should just turn around before we end up getting a flat tire.

Yup, you know where I am going with this....

Early that evening, I went to take Guppy 2 out and one of the back tires was so flat I thought the rim was ruined too!  And, I don't know if this just happens in Connecticut but the closest tire place to us (Town Fair Tire) is closed on Sundays!  So, we were operating with just my car this weekend.

Papa took the tire off so I could run it down to Town Fair Monday morning while he took a phone interview but I came up with a better plan...

Town Fair is notorious for not wanting to repair tires.  Quite a few times they have refused to plug a hole for us and told us we "had" to get new tires.  The two back tires on Papa's car are showing wear and do need to be replaced soon so chances were slim Town Fair would do anything for us but try to get us to cough up the money for tires right now.

So, I took the chance and drove literally around the corner to a little Mom & Pop style gas station to see if they would repair the tire.  The person who helped me (I am fairly sure it was the owner) was very nice, checked the tire right away, and noted that the tire was showing a lot of wear.  He did find the puncture and offered to repair it if I wanted - although they have a flat rate of $26 across the board and wasn't sure if I wanted to spend the money....

I did it and bought us a little time on these tires. 

Out of curiosity, I also asked if they changed tires/how much they would charge me for two new back tires similar to the one I brought in.  I have to double check but I am almost positive this place comes in at or just under what we paid at Town Fair when we replaced the front tires.  Plus we could drop the car off on a morning, walk home, and pick it back up once it was ready in the afternoon.

I am not looking forward to spending $$$ on tires but we need our cars to be safe (especially Papa's since it is the "family" car).  We will discuss it more this week and probably have the tires done within the next two or so weeks.  I am heavily considering giving the Mom & Pop place our business this time around....

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 22, 2016

When Life Gives You Too Much Leftover Kale....



I grabbed a huge bag of kale on one of the Coscto trips a few weeks ago.  When I say huge, I mean HUGE!  Industrial sized even!  LOL  While we enjoyed (what seemed like) a lot of it, I was still stuck with more than half a bag left and it was threatening to spoil if I didn't do something with it quickly....

My solution?

Kale chips!

I used to buy pre-made/pre-packaged kale chips a LOT last summer.  If you have never tried them, you really should - even if you aren't a real fan of kale.  They are highly addictive and (now I know) easy to make yourself!



Easy Kale Chips

1 or 2 bunches of kale, torn into bite sized pieces with stems removed
2 - 3 T olive oil
Seasonings to taste:
For this first attempt, I kept it simple to a mixture of
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Spread the kale out in a single layer on the sheet (You may need to do more than one batch)
Drizzle the olive oil over the kale
Mix the kale to evenly distribute the oil and then rearrange into single layer again
Sprinkle with your seasoning mixture
Bake ten to twenty minutes or until kale is mostly crispy



I will most definitely be doing this a LOT from now on!  Next time I think I will experiment with sprinkling some freshly grated Parmesan on them while they bake....

YUMMY!

Meal Plan...

Here's what's planned for the upcoming week!


Breakfasts

Yogurt with granola/fruit
Maple Apple Muffins
Cold cereal
English muffin breakfast sandwiches
Farmhouse veggie omelets with cheese
Croissants
French Toast



Lunches

Leftovers
New England Clam Chowder
Butternut Squash soup
Grilled Cheese
Granola Bars, Fruit, & String Cheese
Large Garden style salads
Veggie wraps




Dinners

Saturday
Beef Sliders
French Fries
Pickles


Sunday
Roasted Chicken (breast already roasted and pulled out of freezer)
Mashed Potatoes
Honey Carrots

Monday
Lasagna (didn't do last week)
or
Pasta Salad (for those who don't like/want lasagna)

Tuesday
Chicken Casserole
Salad

Wednesday
Baked Ham Slices
Baked Yams
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Crescent Rolls

Thursday
BBQ Ribs
Macaroni & Cheese
Salad

Friday
Leftover night
&/or
"Pickies" (I have a lot of frozen appetizers left from NYE & Christmas time)



Sunday, February 21, 2016

Playing with the Dishwasher



In less than 48 hours I have seen three separate articles regarding saving money while using your dishwasher!

Okay, I get it!  Someone is trying to tell me something!  =)

Besides the usual tips we all know:

*  only run the dishwasher when full
*  don't use the "heat dry" setting
*  run the dishwasher duing off peak times if applicable

I found a tip that got me thinking....

*  Try using the "light wash" setting rather than normal

SAY WHAT?

Now, I'm guessing a LOT of you already know/do this.  Me?  I am probably a little behind in the game here like usual.  LOL

Honestly, I love my KitchenAid dishwasher so much!  BUT, the normal setting does run a LOOOOONG time!    

I figured this tip could be extremely helpful to my electricity budget if it worked!

So far I have run two loads of what would have been "normal" cycle dishes (nothing too gunky/sticky) on "light" cycle and guess what?

The dishes have come out perfectly clean!

And, although I didn't time the cycle, I am fairly confident the dishwasher ran about half as long as before!

WIN/WIN in my book!  =)


Saturday, February 20, 2016

First Go At Environmentally Friendly Cleaning....

Wouldn't it be awesome if it looked like this?  LOL


A while back I posted about trying to find alternative cleaning solutions once my commercial stuff ran out this time around.

I finally got to making a concoction on Thursday night.

I started with the very very basic combination of:

Orange peels
1 quart of white distilled vinegar


Like I said, VERY basic!  LOL

Only trouble is I should have read the full directions way back when I first looked on Pinterest for ideas because this "recipe" has to sit for two weeks before use! 

(Truthfully, my guess is that all that waiting time is to make sure the orange scent infuses into the vinegar.)

I think I have enough old products to last me about a week so I may end up trying this batch earlier than suggested.

Does anyone use something similar to the above solution?  If you do (or have in the past), what is your opinion?

Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Still Nursing That Tank of Gas....


It's been so long since I put gas in my car, I had to look back on this blog to find the date!





On January 13th, I put $22.00 into the tank.  That is the last time that I gassed my car up!!

Yesterday, I drove my car to the next town over to meet Ms. Sandie and then run a few errands.  When I parked the car back in the driveway yesterday afternoon, the gas gauge was at 1/2 tank.

My gas consumption always goes down in the winter months because I hate driving in snow/ice.  But, this year I have driven my car even less than usual (and the weather hasn't been all that snowy until more recently).

Granted, having Papa home and being able to use his car as well as made a huge difference.  His car gets way better gas mileage and we have been under for his overall gas consumption as well by a TON - mostly from his not working unfortunately.

My new challenge is to try to make it until March 13th with the 1/2 tank I have.  But, I am not going to "cheat" and use Papa's car more than we have been.  I plan being mindful when taking the car out and try to batch errands/etc.

How about you?  Do you find you have certain "down times" when it comes to driving?  Or does your driving stay pretty much constant?


Reading Challenge Update





February has been a slower paced reading month for me. I know there is one week plus left to go in February, but I am not sure I will be finishing anything more off the challenge list. But, let's see what I was able to cross off....


2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  A NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing


Read this month:

10.  A book by an author you have never read before
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Apparently Nora Roberts has written a TON of books - like I think 200 plus! and I guess most of them are romance novels (which would explain why I am not all that familiar with her!).  Papa and the Guppies bought this book for me for my birthday last summer (I think) and it's just been sitting on my nightstand waiting.  I'm not sure I would have wanted to read it had I known the author primarily does romance novels because I'm just not into those books.  This book, although had a bit of a love story weaved into it, was nothing really of that sort...
Iona Sheehan has never felt like she fits into her family.  The only relative she is close to is her "Nan" who tells her the story of the Dark Witch and how she is of the same blood.  Iona decided to sell off all her belongings and moved from the states to Ireland to seek her long lost cousins and learn more of her family's history.  While she finds what's she has yearned for all her life - a place where she truly feels like she belongs -, there is a price to pay for family and the secrets held beneath the surface.
My opinion is that this book is a solid 4 stars.  The biggest drawback I found is that there is no resolution at the end because it is the first book of a trilogy.  I am usually too impatient a person to wait for the next installment of a series - I started Harry Potter late but still had the excruciating wait of the last three or four books in the series to be published!  Luckily for me, all three of these books seem to already be published.  However, I will be looking for them in the library....not buying them at the bookstore.  =)



30.   A book of your choosing
The Scarlett Gospels by Clive Barker
I think I will be using my #30 "A book of your choosing" quite often during this challenge.  LOL

I am a HUGE Clive Barker fan and was more than a little excited to see this book in the library last week! It is the continuation of the story of "Pinhead" and his pursuit of power.  (Even if you have never read Clive Barker, you will recognize the iconic Pinhead from the "Hellraiser" movies which were adaptations of Barker's original book.)
I had high expectations and this book didn't disappoint.
If you are a Barker fan, make sure you take the time to read this!  If you have never read him but know/liked the Hellraiser movies, then definitely give this book a try.
I will end with this disclaimer though....Clive Barker books are an acquired taste and not for the faint of heart!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'm A Funny Lady....

Seriously I am!
Because guess what I did yesterday?



(((Sigh)))

Yup..

Another small grocery trip!

Papa and I had to drive a few towns away to go to the main branch of our bank - We have used this bank forever and it is closer to where we used to live 13 years ago!  I have never changed banks since I am too lazy we don't need to visit an actual branch very often.

Anyway..

We had to literally drive right by a Stop & Shop that I knew to be cheaper than ours here in town.  And, Guppy 2 was out of croissants -her grab n go breakfast.  Could she had made due without them? Of course but I am a worrier and noticed that she has sprouted height wise and gotten very very thin. While I don't think she is going down the eating disorder route that G1 did, my mom senses now severely panic when either girl looks underweight.

So, into the store we went.

Stop & Shop:  $35.79

Bread:  $11.97
1 6 count of croissants
2 packages of English muffins
1 package of Lavash bread (for sandwiches)

Meat: $6.59
1/2 lb Boars Head Honey Maple Chicken deli meat

Dairy: $8.93
1 lb of American Cheese (deli)
1 medium sized tub of whipped cream cheese

Fruit:  $.47
.97 lb of bananas

Pantry: $3.59
Store brand "bear" of honey

Animals: $3.99
5 lb bag of birdseed

Misc: $.25
Taxes


Updated February Total Spent:  $228.53



Happy Thursday!

I'm off to get ready to meet Ms.Sandie to see her studio and then grab a quick lunch!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Major Bump in the Medical Road....




Yesterday we hit an unexpected bump in the medical road.

My neurologist's office called to confirm that my new prescriptions were sent over to the pharmacy and to also tell me that I needed a follow up MRI and appointment with the doctor.  But...

He doesn't take my new insurance!

The person on the phone sweetly offered to work something out for me where I pay the doctor out-of-pocket for my appointment.  Ummm...If I could do that, I would NOT be on the insurance I have now would I?

(((Sigh)))

I don't know if I can actually explain how important this doctor is to us.  He is one of the TOP NOTCH MS doctors here in Connecticut.  I have compared notes with several friends who also have MS and not a single one of their doctors can hold a candle to mine.  Plus Papa and I have a relationship with him that has developed over the past seven plus years that wouldn't be easy to replicate.

So, we are at another crossroads...

I am good for my lesser prescriptions now for 120 days.  But, after that, who knows? I think I need an appointment/visit before the prescriptions will be renewed again.

So I can hope that Papa finds a new job before then and we are back to "regular" insurance that this doctor accepts.

I could technically put off the MRI a little longer too.  Although my doc wanted this MRI now because he wasn't sure that my Copaxone (the expensive MS drug I stopped taking when our insurance ran out) was working any longer anyway.

Decisions....Decisions...

The doctor's office did also offer to get me in contact with Yale New Haven Hospital and (I'm guessing) their MS center. (Which is bizarre because MY doctor is part of Yale so why doesn't he accept my insurance?)  But, I have heard lots of grumblings about this group at best...some horror stories at worst.

Oh...

And, let's not forget this affects Papa too!

My neurologist is HIS as well for Papa's migraines.  And ninety percent of Papa's medications come from this doc.

It feels like we are living on borrowed time, medically speaking.

Time to do a little research I think.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday!

Wish me luck!




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What's on the Menu....




I have to admit, I am draaaagggging when it comes to  my energy level lately.  I have been spending more time than I should be just "lazing around".
And, my motivation to meal plan has been non-existent.
Yet, I'm going to try to push through it anyway!  =)



Breakfasts
Bagels (last 6 pack pulled out of freezer)
Hash browns
Cherry Turnovers (homemade)
Yogurt with berries
English Muffins
Bacon & Eggs
Cold cereals



Lunches
Leftovers
Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Nachos
Mini Pigs in a Blanket (freezer)
Mac n Cheese
Quesadillas



Dinners

Monday
Black Beans & Rice

Tuesday
Take out Pizza & Cake (homemade)
(One of Guppy 2's best friends is going to be alone all day for her birthday since both her parents have to work and there is no school today due to break.  =(   She will come here and spend the day with us instead.)

Wednesday
Steak wraps & Baked Potatoes

Thursday
Lasagna & Garlic Bread

Friday
Baked Chicken
Roasted yams
Roasted Brussel sprouts
Crescent Rolls


Monday, February 15, 2016

Grocery Shopping....



Just going to keep it real here guys....
I did go grocery shopping again...
Even after the big Costco stock up.



Big Y: $32.72


Misc: $7.73
Bundle of kindling for fireplace
soda deposit
taxes

Beverages: $20.99
3 12 packs of Coke
1 package (10 count) Starbucks coffee

Baking: $4.00
1 package of peanut butter cookie mix
1 5 lb bag of Domino's sugar




Stop & Shop: $91.70

Bread: $1.69
1 loaf of Italian Bread

Dairy:$7.74
7 individual Dannon Light yogurts
1 package of store brand mozzarella cheese

Frozen: $8.98
***Need to return to store!  Was supposed to be 2/$5!***
2 half gallons of ice cream

Beverages; $20.99
1 (10 count) Starbucks K Cups
5   6 packs of Coke products
4 individual Snapples

Meat/Proteins: $9.36
1 lb of ground beef
18 count package of eggs

Snacks: $7.00
2 bags of potato chips
1 large bag of pretzels

Fruit: $11.97
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
3 lbs of mandarin oranges

Vegetables: $3.99
1 pint of fresh salsa (G1's favorite)

Pantry: $18.18
1 large container of rainbow sprinkles
1 bag of store brand granola
1 container of frosting
1 package of no boil lasagna noodles
2 cans of black beans
2 boxes of peanut butter CapNCrunnch (for Papa)
1 box of store brand "Lucky Charms"

Misc: $1.80
Taxes and Bottle Deposits


Total Spent between these two trips: $124.42
Total Spent for February: $192.74
Total Left for February: $157.26**
**This amount reflects my change in budget this month from $580 to $350**


As I stated in the beginning, I am just keeping it real here.  I'm happy with my progress for this month so far, besides our soda consumption.  And, unfortunately, it's mostly MY problem there and something I need to work on moving forward for my budget and health.

I should be able to easily clear this month's budget cap and I hope to stay out of the grocery stores for at least the rest of this week, if not longer.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Pharmacy Update




Remember how I said I was dreading going back to the pharmacy?  Well, late Friday morning I got a little "nudge" from Guppy 1's doctor's office.  They called to make sure I was able to pick up her script and it worked out okay.  (Seriously I love this pediatrician and her office more than I can say!)  Thus feeling obligated, I ventured over to the pharmacy.

Papa's medications were ready.

G1's medication was ready.

Mine was no longer in the system....

WAIT?!?! WHAT?!?!

Yup, that witch who couldn't be bothered to click a button on her screen to fax my family's doctors for prescription renewals actually TOOK THE TIME TO PUT AWAY MY ALREADY FILLED MEDICATIONS!!!!

I was flabbergasted!  I mean, really, how malicious a person do you have to be to do something like that?!?!  I told the tech ringing me out that I had just been there yesterday and saw the manager with my prescription bottles in her hand!!  Nope, wiped out of the system.

The techs that were there yesterday weren't ones that I knew. (Well the one who told me there was nothing in the system I sort of knew but she isn't the brightest bulb.)

Then....

Out of the darkness....

(Yes I AM being dramatic!)

Came my ray of sunshine!

My all time FAVORITE tech was there!  And apparently she was promoted to a manager!  So yay!

I explained the situation to her and told her (calmly and casually since it wasn't her fault) how humiliated I felt and how the manager reacted.  She asked me for the woman's name but I didn't know of course.  Then, through describing her, she knew exactly who I meant.  She is from another store and was filling in that day.

And, guess what?

My favorite tech/manager said that she received a LOT of complaints about this woman!  Go figure right?

She apologized to me for how I was treated and how my medications were handled.  And, she faxed my doctor right as I stood there because it was literally looking up my name and clicking a button! 

I have enough medication to hold me until the middle of next week or so.  I'm confident NOW that the prescriptions will be filled by then...AGAIN.


So, I am kind of at a crossroads as to what to do next.  Since the witch doesn't actually work at MY pharmacy, why would I want to penalize them for her behavior?

But, she DOES work for CVS still and probably has done or will do this to someone else.

I think I want to still write some kind of letter since they keep records (obviously) and can track down the woman I am referencing.  She shouldn't be allowed to treat anyone like that! 

I will just have to find a way to not implicate my store, just her.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hunkering Down



This weekend is supposed to be brutally cold...as in "life threatening" with wind chills 20 and 30 degrees below zero!!!!  I have a feeling we will be staying in all weekend long!

Yesterday I checked our oil tank and noted we were down to just under 1/4.  Time to make a phone call to our oil guy!  We were able to purchase 150 gallons for $217.50 ($1.45/gallon). This is only our second delivery for the season and we are doing LOADS better budget wise than last year!  We have spent under $500 so far on oil - thanks to watching our usage AND the price being so much lower!  However we will need to keep the thermostat up higher than usual this weekend so the pipes in our house don't freeze.  I'm okay with that because I think this oil delivery is WAAAYY cheaper than fixing broken pipes!

We will probably be spending most of our time in the family room this weekend with a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Yesterday Papa and I hauled a decent amount of wood into our garage so we wouldn't be forced to go outside more then absolutely necessary!  Also we have old towels lining the door to the garage and the sliders to the deck to keep drafts from coming in.

The dog is going to hate us but she won't be getting ANY walks this weekend.  It's just too dangerous to be outside for any true length of time.  She will have to do "her business" in the yard and do it quickly!  LOL  Guppy 1's hamster (who is now hairless thanks to having Cushing's disease, which is another story in itself!) has new bedding and toilet paper to make a nest in his cage.  I also have an old T-shirt covering most of the cage (there is about an inch at the bottom for a little air circulation).  Hopefully this will help trap heat inside the cage to keep him a bit more comfy.  Guppy 2's bunny has new bedding and a hut within her cage to keep her warm.  I do have an old blanket I can throw over the entire thing as well if necessary.

I will probably be doing some baking this weekend to help keep the house warm and give us something to do.  I haven't made a new meal plan yet but I am still decently stocked and can make meals with what I have on hand.

All of our cell phones will spend the weekend charging off and on in case the wind is bad enough to cause power outages.

And, finally, yesterday we double checked to make sure Papa's car could fit into one of the garage bays.  We will park it in there to (hopefully) ensure that the battery doesn't die from the brutal cold.

If you are in the midst of this nasty cold front too, please take care and stay warm!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dear Pharmacy Manager....

Yesterday I had to run to the pharmacy to reorder some prescriptions and update our insurance information.  Here is all that I wanted to say to the "pharmacy manager" ( with whom I haven't had much interaction prior)  that tried to help the employee helping me....





Dear Pharmacy Manager,

You have no idea how difficult it was for me to come into your store yesterday to update my family's insurance information and refill the prescriptions we need.  You immediately judged me when the sweet girl behind the counter asked you to help her change my insurance info to Husky (Connecticut's state insurance).  You rolled your eyes as you gave her the correct codes and just looked at me. 

At first, I tried to think it was just me.  You weren't actually judging me.  Maybe you were having a bad day of your own.  Maybe I was being overly sensitive because I was so uncomfortable regarding the state of my own situation.

Then, there was no question about it, was there?

You were angry that two of my prescriptions had already been filled and you were going to have to fax my doctors for new prescriptions because that is what my new insurance requires.  You sighed and acted put upon to have to do this. You made a snarky comment about how you were sure someone "like me" wasn't going to pay outright for my medication. I wondered to myself if you would have treated me like this if I had "regular" insurance.  Insurance like we used to before my husbad was laid off.

You didn't see the confusion/defeat in my eyes when you flat out refused to help and fax my husband and daughter's doctors for the new prescriptions.  You told me it was "too much" work for you to do and I needed to take care of it myself.  Yet, your business has done this many many times in the past thirteen years we have used your services.  Of course we had insurance that wasn't issued from the state then.

You further went on to give me a hard time when my daughter's card had an error in the spelling of our last name.  I hadn't noticed it before and it was clearly a case of mis-keying.  You treated me like I was trying to get away with even more than having the audacity to obtain medication that my family needs.

You don't know me, yet you thought you did.

You don't know that there are many services my family and I could utilize through our state but have declined.  You don't know that I had no choice BUT to be put on this insurance because that was what I was told when I tried to obrain regular insurance.  It wasn't even a question given our current financial situation.

You don't know that I am only filling those medications absolutely necessary and skipping the pricey MS drugs I used to take.

You don't know that my husband has worked for the past twenty five years straight.  And worked hard for that matter.  Day after day he is trying to find a new job and right our current situation.  We have discussed whether it would be viable for me to find a part time job given my own health issues.

You stared me down like I was a piece of garbage.  A pathetic moocher. 

You don't know how hard it is to be in our situation and, quite frankly, I hope you never have it happen to you.  But, if it does?  I hope you find people who extend more kindness to you than you gave me.






Thursday, February 11, 2016

Freebie Fairy Goodies....Gold Disposable Pens?




The Freebie Fairy (My BFF) was at it again yesterday and dropped a small bag on my doorstep.  Inside was:

1 box of rigatoni pasta (she's gone Paleo again)
1 pair of gloves you can still text with while wearing (Guppies didn't want so into my growing bag of consignment stuff it goes)
and....


a set of six gold colored Kate Spade ball point pens purchased for $25.95!
(Sorry I couldn't upload a picture of them!  I really tried!)

So, I gotta admit, I was curious about these pens!  What made them worth almost $26?!?! Honestly from the outside of the package, they looked like regular dollar store style ballpoints painted gold.  BUT, I love my paper and pens so I opened the package.  And was completely disappointed!  The "gold" on the outside of the pen was so slick you couldn't get a good hold on the pen to write.  The quality of the ink was just "meh", nothing special.  This is one I do NOT understand spending money on at all.  (Thankfully I wasn't the one out the money! LOL)
The question now is....

What the heck do I do with them beside stuff them in the back of my desk drawer for those all important "I can't find a single pen in the house" emergencies?

What do you guys think?  Do I try to consign these suckers? (I did use one to write a quick sentence to see how the pen wrote/felt.)

Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Buying More Time....


As time continues progressing, our funds have begun to dwindle.  Finding a new job has turned into a very frustrating process for Papa since he keeps being deemed overqualified for positions comparable to what he used to do.  Yet, he is considered under qualified to make the leap to the next step on the corporate ladder.  So the holding pattern continues here for us...BUT I still have faith that the right position will come along!  =)

Anyway, buying some extra time for Papa to continue searching and still pay the bills was in order.  Luckily for us, it's tax season!  =)

Papa did our taxes last night and I am happy to report that, although we aren't getting as large a refund as last year, we are still getting a nice plump refund.  This will help supplement Papa's unemployment checks and keep us in the black for a good amount longer without tapping into anything else for now.

I would be lying if I told you guys that I stayed positive 100% of the time, but, we are continuing to weather this setback the best we can.
   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What"s On The Menu....



Here's what we are/have been eating this week!


Breakfasts

Cinnamon Apple Pinwheels (from Costco)
Oatmeal
Grapefruit
Croissants
Cold Cereal
Hashbrowns
Veggie Omelets


Lunches

Thai Coconut Soup (last one from the freezer - free from BFF)
Leftover pickies from Super Bowl
Leftover fried chicken (Super Bowl night)
Mac n Cheese
Grilled Cheese
Sweet Potato Soup (possibly if I find a good recipe)
leftover Chinese


Dinners

Saturday
Homemade Clam Pizza (Papa)
Chinese Takeout (G1's treat for herself, her BFF, and ME!  LOL)

Sunday
Fried Chicken (Alton Brown recipe - AWESOME indulgence btw!)
then for the game...
Homemade Bennigan's Restaurant style Broccoli Bites with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Hot Spinach Dip baked in a bread bowl
Stuffed Mushrooms

Monday
Papa's Birthday!!!
Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet & Sour Beets
Sauteed Kale with Garlic
Crescent Rolls
Homemade (well from a box)  Orange Birthday Cake with Chocolate Frosting
or
Massive Sized Funfetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting (from a box too)

Tuesday
Crockpot Roasted Chicken
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Kale with Garlic (it was a HUGE bag from Costco!  LOL)
Brussel Sprouts (1 of the frozen bags from BFF)

Wednesday
Slow Roasted BBQ Ribs (meat from Costco)
Mashed Potatoes (leftover from Monday)
Roasted Broccoli
Homemade Cornbread

Thursday
Fried Dough (Costco dough)

Friday
Chicken Casserole
or
Leftovers (G2 isn't a huge fan of this casserole)


What's cooking at your house this week?


Getting the Eggs!




Yesterday, the Guppies decided that they did NOT want to partake in Papa's orange birthday cake so they wanted me to make some cupcakes for them too.  No fear since I had more cake mixes and frostings in my pantry.  BUT...

We were out of eggs!  I KNEW I should have added them to the cart at Costco!  Oh well.  Papa (the sweet man he is!) offered to run to Big Y for me to pick some up since I wasn't driving in snow!

Of course having Papa go has benefits because he walked in, grabbed eggs, paid, and walked out.  Discipline people!  LOL  Something I don't always tend to have.

Anyway....

Big Y: $3.79
1 dozen eggs

Total Spent in February: $68.32
Left for February Groceries:  $281.88 (not that I am planning on coming anywhere close to using that much!)



Monday, February 8, 2016

Twenty Five Years of Happy Birthdays



Twenty five years ago I moved into off campus college housing.  My new roommates talked me into heading over to a party they were going to at another house behind us.  A very cute and charming boy came up to me and asked why I didn't have a drink in my hand.  After telling him I didn't like beer (it was a KEG party after all), he decided to find me a wine cooler because, as he put it, it was his birthday and he wanted everyone to have a good time!  LOL  Nice pickup line right?

It has been such a privilege to spend my life with Papa and be here to tell him every year since "Happy Birthday!".  We have had our fair share of trials (ummm...we are kind of in one now with the unemployment situation!) but I can honestly say I wouldn't have wanted my life to turn out any other way! There is no one else in the entire world I could see myself navigating through life with.  It may be his birthday, but I am the one who gets the present of having him as my husband, my children's father, and my whole world.

Today's celebrations are on the smaller side (partially due to cash constraints and inclement weather) but Papa never has wanted a whole lot either.

We will be having one of his favorite dinners tonight:

Rib Eye Steak (will just have to dust the snow off the grill)
with a duxelle of mushrooms
mashed potatoes
sautéed kale
sweet and sour beets
crescent rolls

And a homemade (well from a box! LOL) orange birthday cake with chocolate frosting.


The gifts proved to be a tad more difficult since, even in good financial times, he never wants for anything.  But, I was able to get him:

A Calvin & Hobbes phone case (free from Amazon since I have GC money left there)
A Calving & Hobbes book (free from Amazon)
A new long sleeved shirt from American Eagle (original price $34.99 but I got it for $12.99!)

Plus, I am going to tell him that I want to frame his signed Ramones poster (he's been asking for this for awhile now actually but I kept forgetting.) but I will have him come to Michaels with me to pick out a frame he likes.

All in all I am hoping it is a nice low key day for him! 

Happy Monday and Happy Birthday Papa!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Husband Harnessed His 6 Year Old Calvin...


I thought I would leave you guys with (hopefully) a laugh today.

With all the heavy snow we got on Friday, Papa and I decided to ask Guppy 1 and Guppy 2 to come out and make a snowman with us.  They are getting older (17 & 13) so the snowmen making days are definitely dwindling.  Anyway, we went out and made a perfectly cute and acceptable snowman....


Really cute, right?  Well, the Guppies started to get cold and decided to go in.  Papa said he would  come in soon....He wasn't done playing around in the snow.  Here is what I came out to a little while later....


And this....

Notice the "X"d out eyes on the decapitated one?

Yup, I am married to a man with a secret...He really is a rambunctious six year old Calvin at heart.  Haha!

Btw, we do live in a family neighborhood so after I took this picture and we got a good laugh out of it, Papa got rid of the angry face on our original snowman and then the "dead" snowman was turned more into a snow bunker.

Anyway, today is going to be on the busy side.  Last night G1 had her BFF sleepover (BFF got blown off for a date yesterday and was bummed so G1 had her come here to cheer up).  Today they want to go to the mall since G1 has Christmas/Birthday gift cards burning a hole in her pocket.  LOL  I also have a TON of prep work to do for our tiny Super Bowl thing tonight - I am very very happy that we are doing it small scale (just three of us) but I still have prep to do.

Have a great Sunday all!