Thursday, June 30, 2016

Girls Mini Vacation!

A few pictures from the trip!

A slightly obscured (and cockeyed) view of the town from Sunset Rock...one of the new hikes we did this time.  I bet this is a beautiful view in the fall and also when there aren't any leaves on the trees.


Pictures from Moss Glen Falls and Bingham Falls.  We have been going to Stowe for over 24 years and never tried either of these hikes until this time around!  So happy we did it!  And we got to swim in the swimming holes of each!

The hike up to Sterling Pond never disappoints us because of this!  Gorgeous with very clear and ice cold water!

And we had to visit Emily's bridge...the "haunted" covered bridge in town.  Truth be told, there is a house on this street that I would sell my soul to buy!  LOL




It was a wonderful and relaxing few days.  And, actually on the frugal side, when you think about how much vacations cost! 

The weather held out and only rained Tuesday night when we were already back at the hotel.  We did a total of five hikes (no charges) and then the other activities were all free (included) at the hotel: played a little bit of tennis (we brought our own balls/rackets), swam in the indoor pool, used the hot tub, and  the girls hung out in the sauna.


Food costs weren't bad:
Monday we had to stop for breakfast on the road - approx. $45
I stopped at a large local grocery store the next town over on our way into Stowe and bought a case of water, Snapple, and some munchies for the room:  $22 (brought home the leftovers)
Monday's dinner was $50 (including tip)
Tuesday morning we stopped at our favorite little market to grab some of their bars for a snack during our hikes: $16
Tuesday's dinner ended up a little over $50 (again including tip)
Wednesday we stopped and grabbed more bars for home: $20
Wednesday morning we stopped at the local mercantile to grab a few of our favorite goodies for home:  $37
Wednesday we stopped on our way home and had ice cream from the Ben&Jerry's touring factory: $20


I'm sure I missed some ways that I could have done it better.  And these costs may seems extravagant to some.  But, for my family and our usual food costs here, I am pretty happy with how we did.  Of course it does definitely help that the breakfasts included at the hotel are HUGE!


It was a beneficial trip for me in that I stretched my anxiety and drove the girls there...not that there was any other great way to get there from CT anyway.  Since being with Papa, I haven't done much of the long distance driving and have NEVER done a full drive to Stowe until now!  The anxiety disappeared pretty quickly - I think in part because I know the route and all the backroads by heart.  Plus, it made me feel even MORE comfortable up there - which I didn't think could be possible!


Guppy 1 and her BFF (and me for that matter!) had a great time!  It was well worth the expense since this summer has been the happiest I have seen G1 in such a very long time.

The girls were talking about maybe making this a yearly summer tradition...I would be up for that since the time I have left with G1 is so precious....I will jump at the chance to do it again and again for as long as they want me included!  =)

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Found Money for June

This is a scheduled post...As you read this I am hopefully hiking up a mountain in Vermont and loving every excruciating minute of it!  LOL




My Coke Rewards: $10 Amazon Gift Card

Even though it can be tedious, there aren't many way to earn "free" money like My Coke Rewards...Especially if you are a soda fiend!  The only annoying drawback is that there is a limit to how many codes you can redeem per week.  Otherwise this is a piece of cake!  And much needed to help plump up my Amazon account again since I depleted most of it buying Papa's Father's Day gift!


CoinStar:  $22.05 Amazon Gift Card

I love plumping up the good ol' Amazon balance!  =)


Consignment Store:  $7.78

I called to get the balance on my account rather than driving over since I don't have anything new ready to consign.  The money will stay in my "account" a bit longer.

Bottle Redemption:  $8.95

I still have a LOT to return but on Saturday I was only able to return this amount before a couple of machines went down....Oh and did I mention the father/daughter team who had THREE full to the rim carriages to return?  Ummmm, yeah I was happy returning what I did and will save the rest for July!




How did you do on your found money this month?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Recent Freebies!


This is another scheduled post for while I'm away!
Here's my latest round of freebie scores!


From the Freebie Fairy:
1 pair of brand new Converse sneakers (size 8 and perfect for G1)
1 3/4 full bottle of Mrs. Meyer's dish soap (didn't like the smell)
A&F shirt (will consign since we won't wear that brand)

From the library:
I am counting this as a freebie!  Huge fine for a DVD I forgot all about returning!  The librarian cut the fine in half so I was able to keep a little over nine bucks in my pocket!

From another good gardening friend:
2 narcissus plants
1 dwarf tomato plant


And that's about it for last week!  Score anything good on your end?

Monday, June 27, 2016

My First Trip to Walgreen's...

This is a scheduled post...As you read this I am hopefully hiking up a mountain in Vermont and loving every excruciating minute of it!  LOL




A few days ago I went to Walgreens for the first time in a very very long time...I'm thinking it has been six years?  There isn't one super close to my house but, if I drive a certain way to Target and/or the closest mall, I can make a trip here happen.  I opened up my Walgreen's loyalty card not only to get the rebates and points but also to do some online tracking since you can add healthy lifestyle habits and earn reward points.

Anyway....Here's how the trip went.

Spent:  $34.80*
after using the $10.58 in gift card balances



What was purchased:

2 Banana Boat 30 SPF Sunscreens  (Buy One/Get One Half Off)
This purchase was necessary since Guppy 2 will be in the Outer Banks for almost a full seven days!  The friend's family rented a house on the beach so, yeah, we needed her to have enough sunscreen!

2 large packages of makeup wipes and 1 package of eye makeup wipes  (Buy 2/Get 1 free)
I thought it was a fairly good deal so decided to stock up for the Guppies.

3 Clean & Clear Travel Sized facial scrub  (Buy 2/Get 1 free)
One went with Guppy 2 on her trip.  One will go with Guppy 1 and me on our Vermont trip.  And the last one will be stored away for when my whole family goes to Vermont again this summer -hopefully in August.

Misc Travel sized toiletries:
Dove deodorant
30 pack of Qtips
Dove body wash
Dental travel kit: travel sized toothbrush, toothpaste, & listerine
Fructis shampoo & conditioner
I definitely paid a bit of a premium for these smaller items but the car G2 travelled down in is a Jeep Wrangler (think sport style NOT suv) and space is limited.  I needed

everything to fit into one larger tote bag so small items were a necessary evil, I guess.



What does this all mean for future Walgreen's purchases?  I'm not sure yet.  I will keep looking at the weekly flyers and see if anything seems like too good a deal to pass up.  I think only time will tell if it's a better deal than the CVS that is less than a ten minute walk from my home.

What do you guys think?  Are you loyal to CVS? Walgreens?  Neither?


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reading Challenge: What I Read in June



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




What I Read This Month:

18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
The Fireman by Joe Hill
I could have placed this book in a few different categories but ultimately chose the "over 500 pages" because it ended up being the only complete book I read this month!  It was very well worth it.  If you are a Stephen King fan, you are bound to love Joe Hill since he's King's son!  And, if you are a SK fan, you probably have read The Stand.  This book is very like The Stand, but is still original and amazing!  The story is basically about "Dragonscale" which is a pathogen that causes its hosts to spontaneously combust.  Panic ensues (of course) and everyone not infected is out to exterminate all that are.  Harper (our heroine) is a nurse, working the front lines in a hospital, and  finds out not only is she infected but also newly pregnant. She flees her crazy (non infected) husband who wants to kill her and the baby.  She finds solace in a community of Dragonscale outcasts who have figured out away to harness the spore, control it, and not combust.  However is this new community too good to be true?  Oh, and if you are wondering where "the fireman" fits into all this, well I don't want to spoil that for you!  You will have to read it yourself!  It still felt like a very fast paced read even though it was over 700 plus pages.  This book is most definitely a five out of five stars for me!



And that's all I was able to squeezing in for this month's reading!

Read any good books?  


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Stuff.....

Here's our Saturday in a nutshell!



Farmer's Market


We didn't buy very much at the market today since Papa will be the only one home from late Sunday through Wednesday.
Here's what we got:

Smyth Dairy:  $15.50
1 pint raspberry yogurt
1 pint cherry yogurt
1 container of milk
1 small container of half/half

The Soup Girl:  $10
1 pint of strawberry gazpacho (delicious!!)
1 pint of Thai Coconut soup

Two Guys from Woodbridge: $6
1 container of Mesclun mix

Total Spent:  $31.50



Guppy 2
I dropped Guppy 2 off this morning for her trip.  She is supposed to be coming home next Saturday at some point.  And, I am not ashamed to say that I cried a tiny bit -safely tucked away in my own car driving home of course - after I left her at her friend's house.  This is the longest and farthest she's been away from us.  I turned to Papa this morning and said, "What the heck am I going to do when she goes away to school?"  Probably cry harder!  LOL




Hike with Papa & Puppy
We decided to try to use up some of the dog's energy by hiking up a mountain in the next town over.  It was a beautiful day for a hike!  And, like we hoped, the dog is now sprawled out on the hardwood floor under the dining room table.   Is it bad that part of me wants to join her?!?!  It tired me out too!



Checking Off My List!
I have a HUGE to do list of things that I want to accomplish by Sunday night (before we leave early Monday morning)!  Here are some highlights:

Wash towels
Wash Papa's work shirts/iron
Make Pasta Salad for Papa's lunch early next week
Make oatmeal cookies for Papa to snack on while we are away
Get together clothes that we need to bring/pack
Find tennis rackets/tennis balls
Clean out fridge
Pull $$$ out of bank
Go over list of places Guppy 1 would like to try to visit on our way back on Wednesday to see if any are on the way home


Well, it's already 4pm here so I better get moving! 
Hope you are all having a wonderful Saturday!!!




Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday Updates



So many little things to update today!  Here we go!







  Yesterday his long afternoon meeting got cancelled so he called me to see if I would find out if we could pick up the new to us car in the evening.  A call to the dealership and then to the insurance company and by 5pm last night Papa had the keys, top down, and music blaring.  Between his new job and this new (10 year old) car, he is ecstatic!   Unfortunately the car got mixed reviews from the Guppies.  Guppy1 loves it (we think) and says she feels "spoiled" driving around in a convertible. (Of course we took it for a quick family ride last night! Haha!)  Guppy 2 says her father is suffering from a midlife crisis....at 48! She is not a fan of the car at all - which is fine since the Honda is the car she'll be in 99% of the time anyway.









Today has me running so errands before Guppy 2 heads off with her friend's family to the Outer Banks for a week.   I saw some pictures of the house they are renting and I have no problem admitting I am jealous!  The place looks like it is almost right on the beach!  It has a inground pool, hot tub, and its own movie theater room too!  It was so nice of this family to invite her and I'm sure they will have a great time! 
But, that does leave me scrambling to pick up a few items she'll need and I want to attempt to do it as cheaply as possible...

First stop will be Walgreens.  My BFF had given me two gift cards with small balances on them that she wasn't planning on using.  These total $10.48.  On my way to Target, I'll stop at a Walgreens, get myself a store card, and use up these balances.  On my radar there will be:
Sunscreen
Aloe
Travel size bottle of Motrin (she gets migraines)

Second stop (as mentioned above) will be Target.  I have a gift card with $12.81 left on it.  On my radar there will be:
A new beach towel
A third bathing suit since G2 isn't crazy about the second one that G1 had passed on that was never worn last year)

I'll also take a quick look for some other things we need around the house and possibly some groceries.

I'll write a post about what I bought/how well I did later tonight or tomorrow.








Papa's mom FINALLY got moved to a rehab facility!  And it's in the city where she lives so very close to the rest of the family!  She's a bit discouraged because when the doctor came in to talk with her, he said they would be measuring progress week to week not day to day....which means, while this is still a short term rehab stay, it's not nearly as short term as she wants.  Hopefully this will make her work even harder to get home soon.

My brother in law is stable but, due to his kidneys failing, has been moved up on the liver donation list to #2!  He's pretty freaked out about it but honestly he only has two options right now and getting a donated liver is the MUCH better option!  I am happy this has happened for a couple of reasons...First and foremost, getting a new liver means he has the potential to get a new lease on life and his kidneys still get a chance to recover if this happens!   The second and more selfish reason is that being so high on the list means the chances of him getting a liver from another source (not Papa) very very good!

And lastly there is me on the health front.....I can't wait for July 1st and our new insurance to kick in!  I'm fine for the most part but need a couple of non-MS issues checked out for my own piece of mind.  The only silver lining is that these issues have just cropped up so it's not like they have been ignored for long!






Lastly, next Monday through Wednesday, Guppy 1, her BFF, and I will be taking a trip to our "happy place" in Vermont! 
Papa and I have been discussing this for a little while now.  We weren't able to go on our usual family vacation last summer to Vermont.  And Guppy 2 went with another friend's family to the Cape last summer.  This would have been the second year that Guppy2 had a vacation and Guppy1 didn't. 
I know this may sound crazy or petty but trust me, it's not.  Something has clicked inside Guppy1's brain (as I have mentioned a few times now) and we want her to have the BEST summer possible.) in the past few weeks.  So...the decision was made for me to take the girls.
It is going to be a relatively inexpensive trip.  The cost of the room is under $250 for the three of us for two nights and includes a very hearty sit down breakfast.  G1's BFF is vegetarian which will also cut down on expense.  The hotel has an outdoor pool, indoor pool, indoor hot tub, and tennis courts so enough to keep us busy right there.  Add in at least two hikes, some exploring/walking on the rec path, and more exploring of our favorite covered bridge (and the stream under it!) and we will be set for activities.  There will be a little bit of shopping done as well but that is mostly for things we will bring home from our favorite mercantile...think jams/jellies, salsas, etc. 
Including gas, this trip should be under $600 and well worth the experience/memories.  I'm sad that Papa cannot come with us but at least this way he will be here to take care of our furry family memebers in the mornings and evenings which also helps keep the cost of the trip down.


So, that's what's up here.  I better head out soon if I am going to be back in time to cook dinner!!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We Are a Two Car Family Again!




*As of tomorrow afternoon!




Papa had spent hours on the internet looking at Car Fax and Car Guru over the past few weeks.  We had found a few matches online but the cars always seemed to either a. get sold before we could get there or b. were at dealerships with horrid ratings.

Finally, he saw a potential match in the town next to us...Nice looking car with a good dealer!  So last Friday evening we went to check it out and have a little fun in the process!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have the worst poker face on the entire planet...Which is why I was shocked when Papa told me to play "Bad Cop" with the salesman!  I had taken one look at the car and was ready to buy it and now he wanted ME to act like I didn't want it?!?!  Well I am happy to say I played my part perfectly (HAHA!) because I harnessed my "inner practical mom" and pretended that we needed this as a family car.  You know the drill....the backseat isn't very large, we could get more gas mileage out of another Honda, etc.  We were even able to get another $500 shaved off the price - which was already very competitive! 

We left a small refundable deposit with the dealership so we could "sleep on it and discuss it" overnight.  Yeah, like that happened.  At least I waited until we were back in our car and the salesman was out of sight before I finally was able to let out the pent up excitement!

It's a nice car, truly it is.  It's an older car but without the mileage you would expect a ten year old car to have.  Oh and I probably should mention it is a FUN car - as in a convertible.  BUT, it gets decent gas mileage, is all wheel drive, and will be used by Papa year round.  And we have a two year unlimited bumper to bumper guarantee.

While some could say that getting a second car is frivolous, this is what will work best for my family.  Driving Papa back and forth to work, albeit a fairly short (15 miles one way) commute, was killing our gas consumption and putting extra miles on our first car - which has almost 250K on it!

I will miss getting the extra time alone with Papa during our drives to and from his job.  But, this is so much better in the long run.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day




Just a quick post to say Happy Father's Day to all the special guys in everyone's lives!

Papa is a pretty simple guy and doesn't want too much attention...

But...

Of course he is still going to get some!  =)

Here's what is on the menu for his dinner:

Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce
Mashed Garlic Potatoes
Sauteed Rainbow Chard in garlic and olive oil
Roasted Beets in Balsamic Vinegar
Simple Baby Mustard & Butter Lettuce salad with onions, carrots, olives, & croutons
with a choice of dressing

Dessert will be ice cream at the local ice cream shop...Yummy!

He said he didn't want anything gift wise but that wasn't going to fly with the Guppies.  I noticed he's in pretty desperate need of a new briefcase.  The old one he has is not only beat up, but also extremely clunky for his "on the go" type of job now.
So...
Amazon to the rescue!  I am so happy that I used the CoinStar machine to get Amazon Gift Cards!  I had a nice hefty stash there that completely covered Papa's new briefcase!  I can't wait for him to open it!  I think he's going to love it!

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Farmer's Market...The Father's Day Edition





Another gorgeous Saturday morning spent at the Wooster's Farmer's Market!

On the docket today was primarily getting stuff to make Papa's Father's Day dinner.

Here's what we ended up getting:

Smyth Dairy:  $11.00
1 bottle of whole milk
1 pint cherry yogurt
1 pint blueberry yogurt

Sweet Madeline's Donuts:  $5
1/2 dozen cider donuts

"Beef" Guy*:  21.75
* Didn't buy from our regular stand because they were out of what we wanted
A little over 2lbs of short ribs

SoNo Bakery:  $12.00
4 Monkey Bread Muffins

Mushroom Lady:  $9
1 quart of shitake mushrooms
1 bunch of rainbow chard

Two Guys from Woodbridge tent:  $9
1 small container of baby mustard greens
1 head of butter lettuce

Total Spent:  $67.75

The meat, mushrooms, chard, lettuce, and greens are all part of Papa's Father's Day dinner.  Still a LOT less expensive than trying to go out to a restaurant tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having an awesome Saturday!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Miscellany




The first week of summer has FLOWN by in my world and I am definitely pushing myself to the limit!  But, the Guppies are happy - G1 is happier than I have seen her in a very long time which makes Papa and me happy.  I have a good feeling that things are finally turning around for her on all fronts.  G2 is doing her own thing as usual and is balancing the time she spends between her boyfriend and her friends extremely well....And we need to get to the library again because (during her off time -which hasn't been that much) she has managed to read three books already!

Anyway, I have a few topics to touch upon so here goes....


Papa's Family

Papa's mom is still in the hospital but is doing well.  The doctors wanted to move her to a rehab facility that has "acute" care and Medicare denied it.  The hospital tried to repeal it yet Medicare wouldn't budge.  The doctor came into my mother in law's room, shaking his head, and told her that it was ridiculous for Medicare to spend 5X as much for the hospital stay rather than sending her to acute rehab.  No one is quite sure how much longer she will be in the hospital now before she is ready for a "regular" rehab facility.

Papa's brother had a rough week.  He wasn't quite right in the beginning of the week.  When Papa or his sister spoke to him he was slurring words and, quite frankly, sounded drunk.  He swore he didn't do anything of that nature and finally went to the hospital close to his home.  That hospital transferred him over to.....you guessed it....the hospital where Papa works and his mom is!  We went to see him last night but he was sedated.  We talked with his doctor who essentially said his kidneys aren't working at all right now.  They are hopeful the situation can be reversed but only time will tell.  If not, the next step is intermittent dialysis until the kidneys do recover.  And, then if they still don't, he'll need a liver and a kidney.  The guy is only 45 years old!

So far Papa is handling the stress okay but it is so much for him to juggle.  He has this big project AND now has TWO family members in the hospital.  Of course I am keeping a close eye on him to make sure he continues to handle it well.


The Car Situation

My old car is being donated today.  Papa left which charity up to me so I chose on that will benefit the children hospitals of our state.  On Monday, I caved and texted my niece to see if she wanted that door part and never heard back from her.  So, I tried to help and my conscience is completely clear there...not that it shouldn't have been anyway but I'm a softie sometimes.  It will be a relief to have it out of our driveway.  It wasn't an eyesore or anything like that but I just didn't like having it sit there.

Papa and I have been searching for a "new to us" car for a couple of weeks now.  The plan is for me to pick him up slightly early from work today(since I have the car and he has put in about 36 hours in the past three days at work) and go check out one that is located a town away.  We saw this car last Sunday when the dealership was closed and it looks promising.  Our hope is that the car is still available so we can test drive it.


Grocery Shopping

I have been diligent in keeping my receipts together but haven't had an opportunity to input them here or into my spreadsheet.  I'll make time for that this weekend and post about it then.  I will say, looking into what's left in the envelope, and tallying it in my head, I don't have a great feeling about it.


Menu Planning

I have been cobbling together dinners on the fly lately.  Partly due to the Guppies running around and partly due to my driving Papa back and forth to work.  I hate figuring it out last minute almost every single day!  I need to think about either a)simple quick meals or b)preassembled or crockpot style meals and casseroles.  OR maybe a little of both? 
Again, after we get a second car, this may get easier since I won't have to be driving around dinner time to get Papa.


Freebies

We have had a few freebies come our way this week thanks to my BFF.  Of particular note:

A 3/4 full bottle of Origins facial wash  (BFF decided she couldn't stand the smell)
1 brand new set of body brushes (like the kind used for cellulite)
1 beautiful woven winter scarf  (stashed with our winter mittens and hats in the front closet)

And then one thing NOT from my BFF but too adorable not to mention...
I drove G2, her boyfriend, and his best friend over to the mall on Wednesday.  Since I didn't want to waste gas driving back and forth, I decided to bring a book and wait for them in the car (with the windows open so I didn't die from the heat of course!  Haha!)  About one hour later, they came out and handed me two pieces of pizza!  The boys bought it for me because I drive them everywhere and thought I might be hungry!  How cute is that?  LOL


It feels like I am forgetting something....Oh well.  I'm off to walk the dog and straighten up what I can of the house while I'm here this morning! 

Happy Friday!



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gas & Garbage



Gas

Our gas situation took a HUGE hit this past week due to my running around.  We had to fill up TWICE!  The first time was $32.50 and the second was $31.  $63.50 in gas in one week is CRAZY! And, hopefully is not going to be the trend this summer!  With only $61.50 left in this month's budget before these fills..well, yeah, I blew the gas budget for the month!  (Booooo!)  I am going to be mindful for the rest of June, tallying up my gas purchases, and try to decide on a budget amount for July - which should be extra interesting since by then we should hopefully have or almost have two cars again.


Garbage

Three 13 gallon kitchen sized bags this week.  Unfortunately a LOT of it was what I am calling "End of the School Year" debris.  While all of the Guppies old papers went right into the recycling bin, there were many things that couldn't...broken down binders, messed up rulers, broken mechanical pencils, and the like.  I salvaged what I could for my own use but still ended up with a full bag of trash.


Not the most exciting post I know.  But, it does help me keep track, you know?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Summer of "Yes"




Papa and I had a talk before school was over and we decided to have this be the "Summer of Yes" for the Guppies (within reason and monetary restraints of course).  It's really important to us to keep the girls socially and physically active.  There is way too much time spent on the internet and texting these days, don't you think?

Guppy 1 has social anxiety.  It's hard to believe that she can get up on a stage in front of strangers and sing her heart out but can get physically sick when she is invited to a party with her friends.  This summer she has decided she wants to push her limits and break out of her shell so to speak.  She literally said to me over the weekend that she didn't want life to pass her by any longer.  So, it will be more "yeses" to having friends over, to getting rides to places, to visiting the local concert venue, to heading to the beach, to crossing off things on her summer bucket list, to getting driver's ed classes, and even to being "lazy" by taking a day or two to recharge batteries.

Guppy 2 wants more independence.  She has a great group of friends and they want to do a LOT this summer.  So, for her, it will be more "yeses" to going on walks and hikes with friends, going to places (like Laser Tag and the movies) without a parent tagging along.  It will also mean more giving chances for sleepovers and kids hanging out here since I haven't been saying OK as often as I should have been lately.

Papa will be working really hard this summer. The project he was given is 16 weeks long so it will go through until the fall.  His Summer of Yes is fully dedicating himself to this project and working crazy hours if needed.  He wants to make a name for himself and knows that this has the potential to "put him on the hospital map".  He will of course find time to spend with us on the weekends too.  =)

The Summer of Yes means something to me as well. It means more letting go of the housework (within reason) and possibly internet time so I can focus on being as present as possible.  It means letting go of our girls and trusting them to make good decisions while they are out.  It means being more spur of the moment.  It means chances to spend more quality time with Papa when he isn't working. And, it means finding the time to pursue my own interests as well.

Summer of 2016 is going to be a great one for my family.... Mostly because we are going to make it that way!

Do any of you have any summer plans/goals?


Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Saturday: Farmer's Market Finds and Playing Chauffeur; Plus Sunday Plans



I love this time of year at the market! It's almost completely in full swing with tons of options!
Here's what I got...

Smyth Dairy:  $10.50
1 pint of half n half
1 pint of raspberry yogurt
1 pint of blueberry yogurt

SoNo Bakery:  $22
4 Monkey Bread Muffins
2 small veggie tarts

Yale Tent: $2
1 bunch of nettles

Mushroom Lady:  $8
1 quart (?) of shitake mushrooms

2nd Bakery Tent:  $6
1 loaf of bread

The Soup Girl:  $10
1 pint of Beet Bisque
1 pint of Apricot & Lentil Soup

Veggie Vendor:  $8
1 container of sugar snap peas
1 bunch of beets with greens attached

Sweet Madeline's:  $5
1/2 dozen cider donuts

Total Spent:  $71.50

Funny thing is that, as I wrote down all of this, I realized how much bread products we got this week!  LOL




This was me for the past few days....minus the sports equipment and mini van.  But almost the same amount of kids!  LOL

Truthfully, I feel like I have a hangover and I haven't even had anything to drink!  Haha!
My butt has been in the driver's seat of our car more than it has been in our house these past few days!

I have brought Guppy 1 and her best friend to Lake Compounce (only to turn around and get them right away because it started pouring on them!) and then over to the West Farms Mall (approx. 30 minutes away).

But, G1 was easy peasy next to all the driving I have done for Guppy 2!

Since Friday morning's graduation, I have been zipping all over the town picking friends up and driving them different places:

G2's BFF's house
Laser Tag
McDonalds
The Movie Theater
Pottery Place in town
Panera Bread
and...
I'm sure I am forgetting some places!

All the friends' parents have been appreciative and have offered to drive as well.  I decided I would do it all these two past days myself.  Why?  Well, I had the car available to me!  There are going to be days (until we find a new to us car) where I won't have a car at all and G2 will be the one needing a ride with her friends.  So, even though I feel wrecked this morning, I consider it time well spent.  Haha!

Plus, I got to finally meet Guppy 2's boyfriend - who is so completely adorable it isn't funny!  She admitted she was worried that Papa and I wouldn't like him....although I cannot imagine why!



As for today, I slept in until ten!  (Yay me!)

My list of things to do today include:

Big Y grocery trip
Bringing G2 to the mall for a second bathing suit (she is going on a week long beach trip in a few weeks with a close friend and needs a second one to switch out between)
Bringing G2 to visit my parents and pick up her graduation card
Go car shopping with Papa (nice to do when the places are closed! No pressure that way!)
Clean the kitchen
Laundry
Iron Papa's work clothes
Plan out this week's menus
Clean animal crates
and...
hopefully get some more reading done!


Phew!

Is this Summer VACATION?

Just kidding...I am enjoying every minute of it!  =)

Have a great day!







Friday, June 10, 2016

Fines, Fines, & More Fines....Plus My "Baby's" Graduation



It's so hard to believe that our youngest graduates from 8th grade today!  Next year, I will have two high schoolers!  I haven't decided if this will be easier or not since we only have one full bathroom upstairs and one half bath downstairs.  Anyone with two teenage girls will understand my dilemma here!  LOL  I guess I'll find out at the end of August when school starts up again.  =)

Anyway, the middle school decided that there wasn't enough room to hold graduation ceremonies anymore so now the 8th graders graduate on the high school football field - which is great for me since the high school is only a few short blocks away.  But, it kind of irks me because we have to get off the field immediately after the ceremony because the high school seniors need to practice for their graduation that night.  So no chatting or taking pictures is really allowed afterwards.  When Guppy1 graduated 8th grade the ceremony was still at the middle school and I remember it being very leisurely with the school having refreshments and pizza for the graduates.  I guess time really has changed!





Very expensive last week of school here!  And, too much "stupid tax" as Dave Ramsey would put it!

Let's break it down....

Guppy 1 lost two books from school to the tune of $23.00.  She doesn't use her locker (long story) and we tore the house up looking for them.  They are nowhere to be found.  I told her she would have to refund me at least part of the money with what's left in her dwindling bank account.  (She isn't working this summer and her school year job ended yesterday.)


Think that's bad?  I haven't gotten to Guppy 2 yet!

What am I going to do with Guppy 2?!?! (((sigh)))

First thing with Guppy 2 is that she couldn't find a library book that was due about a month ago!  We searched everywhere in the house to no avail.  I kept asking her to check her locker at school, which she said she did.  Yesterday, after completely cleaning out her locker at school, guess what she found?  Oops!  The library fine was at $3.20.  (By the way, I tried to use the renew feature to stop the fines from accruing but someone had the darn book on hold so I couldn't!)

Second thing with Guppy 2.....

She lost her science book to the tune of $70!!!!

Yeah, you read that right....SEVENTY BUCKS!  Let's not even mention the fact that this book is gigantic!  And heavy!  And couldn't possibly be lost that easily....or so one would think!

We looked everywhere for it and, since her locker is completely cleaned out, it is truly missing.  I have no possible idea how but it happened.  Writing that check yesterday was hard, trust me!

Now, I have to decide how she can "pay" her share of the lost book.  Possibly extra chores around the house? 


On a positive note, everything will basically "wash" out in the end.  We are getting a refund of $93 from our car insurance and then the $33 NSF charge from the orthodontist.  So, we will still be up a few bucks.

Still that doesn't excuse the Guppies being irresponsible does it?  We need to find a way to drive the point home that there will be consequences for them if they are not careful with school property.

Thank God summer starts next week!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

This Week's Grocery Shopping



How did I do this week at the grocery store?  Let's find out...

Total Spent @Stop and Shop:  $96.96*
Prices below do not reflect the $3 personal discount coupon I used

I am not a huge fan of our Stop and Shop....Prices are high and the quality of fresh food isn't always the best.  But, it is also the only place I can find G2's bunny's food and it was near my other errands so that's where I went this week.

Pet Supplies:  $25.28
Dog Food (large bag)
Rabbit Food

Bread:  $18.55
Don't go to the store hungry!  LOL
1 (4 pack) raspberry turnovers
1 (5 pack) croissants
1 loaf of sliced ciabatta bread
1 loaf Vermont Country white bread

Dairy:  $10.82
2 blocks of cream cheese
1/3 lb of baby swiss cheese (deli)
1/4 lb horseradish cheddar (deli)

Meat:  $10.41
1/2 lb honey maple chicken (deli)
1/3 lb London broil (deli)

Drinks:  $18.98
1 (8 pack) Hi-C juice boxes
2 (12 packs) of Pepsi products
1 (12 pack) Diet Raspberry Snapple

Pantry:  $5.97
1 bag of flour
2 boxes of peanut butter cookie mix

Produce:  $6.95
1 large bag of potatoes
1 large bag of onions
1 tomato

Misc:  $3.19
Taxes & Bottle Returns


Remaining in June's Grocery Budget:  $228.70

It's not going to be an easy rest of the month BUT having the cash out in an envelope has still been making a difference...believe it or not!

Have a nice Thursday!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer Dilemma....



......But a GREAT dilemma to have when you look at it!


This past Monday, as Papa and I took the dog on her evening walk, we were talking about Papa's job.  He is way happier here than I can even begin to try to describe - which makes my world pretty awesome!  There is a big sixteen week project coming up and he was invited to be on the team.  His boss also said that Papa is coming up to speed so quickly that they can utilize the consultants that are coming in more for the project than him!  (Originally they expected to have Papa work with a consultant for two to three weeks but now that is down to Papa needing about three DAYS!)  So, Papa is going to be putting in some long and possibly weird hours.  There may be times he needs to work the night shift rather than day so they can fully access the OR area without getting in the way of scheduled surgeries.  Papa started a search for his "new" (really used but new to us) car in earnest that night.

Flash forward to early this afternoon.....

Papa called me.  He doesn't call me while at work unless he's visiting his mom's hospital room or walking from building to building so I knew something had to be up.  The boss called him into the office today and told him after the second meeting they had yesterday where Papa brought up more good points, he has decided that Papa should RUN THE ENTIRE SIXTEEN WEEK PROJECT!!!  The boss gave him full control of the whole thing!

It's pretty funny because, when the boss called for a phone interview with Papa, he was skeptical about hiring someone outside the medical field.  And, less than a month at work, the boss is now so impressed he gave Papa this!

I am so beyond proud of him!  And happy for him (and us too)!

This crazy project starts next Monday so the car search is now going to be frantic!

No, we won't be jumping at the first car we see nor will we be attempting to buy before Monday....

But, we will need that second car a lot sooner than later!

We can handle the upcoming insane 16 weeks a LOT better if I have transportation for emergencies and to get the Guppies around.

Wish us luck!

Gas & Garbage

Oscar is so cute in this picture but he definitely shouldn't be smiling this week!


Gas
Ah, the gas situation.  Yeah, I am not too happy a camper on this front.  We had to fill up again this past Sunday to the tune of $31.00.  That means we have a mere $61.50 for the rest of the month!  I am going to try my best but this doesn't seem likely anymore.
Yes, I do drive Papa back and forth to work about three days per week since we only have one car at the moment.  BUT, I have been trying to minimize the damage there.  And, what happened last Saturday afternoon didn't help matters.  Allow me to vent....

Papa's mother is in the hospital in the same city as the farmer's market we go to on Saturdays. I tried to think ahead last weekend and packed a cooler for perishables so we could visit Papa's mom after the market - thus killing two birds with one stone.  Perfect idea, right?
It was until, around 4pm, Papa's brother called.  He decided to take the train from his hometown into the city to visit mom but his legs were weak (something he knew before getting on the train by the way) and he couldn't possibly walk the three blocks from the train station to the hospital!  And, could Papa come get him and drive him to the hospital from the train station?  A little over thirty miles and forty plus minutes in the car (round trip) because he couldn't walk three blocks!  Oh, and taking a taxi was out of the question because he didn't have any money on him!
Yeah, I'm still a bit pissed about this one!  LOL
I told Papa after all was said and done that this couldn't happen again. He agreed with me but let's hope we aren't put in the situation again!



Garbage
Three 13 gallon kitchen sized bags again this week! This was partially due to my Operation Clean Out the Fridge/Pantry/Cabinets project.  While I did recycle everything I could, I was still left with a LOT of waste....So much so I may reinstate my "Food Waste Friday" posts again!  Hopefully now that I am (mostly) organized in this area, there won't be as much next week.


And there you have it!  The ugly truth of it!  LOL

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It Pays to Be Nice.....



Let me preface this post with a couple of obvious things...

 I am human...

In an ideal word, this wouldn't have even been an issue....

But, it's not a perfect world..

Or a perfect me!


The Friday before Memorial Day, I found out that Papa definitely was NOT going to be paid by direct deposit and would be getting a paper check...possibly for every pay day through June until the direct deposit is up and running.  And, well I began a slight panic because, well, that didn't work with my bill paying.

Especially since I completely forgot the automated payment every month for Guppy 2's braces.  Yep, no excuse except it completely slipped out of the large empty space I call my brain!

Worse yet, after paying other bills, there wasn't going to be enough money left in the account to completely cover the payment!

So, I called the office and explained the situation.  We have been going to the orthodontist for six plus years since we have the pleasure of putting both the kids through braces.  I haven't ever been late on a payment nor asked for any change in payment arrangements before this.  I asked them if it was possible to suspend the automated payment for June only and I would bring them a check to cover June's payment by the 15th.  They were very nice and agreed it would be no problem!

Except...

Yeah....

It was.

I was checking my bank account via the computer on June 2nd...

Yep, they took out the payment and...

overdrew my account!

I also incurred a $33 NSF fee (even though my bank thankfully paid the payment)!


I took a deep breath and called to speak to the same lady with whom I made the original arrangements.  She wasn't in the office and wouldn't be back until yesterday.  The woman who answered the phone promised to have her call me as soon as she walked through the door yesterday morning!  LOL

And, to her credit, she did.

I am sure I could have screamed bloody murder at this woman. 

I could have been unreasonable and made her Monday miserable.

But, I listened to her instead.  I let her explain what she believes had happened - things got busy, she minimized the screen and didn't process the request.

She apologized and said that the office would reimburse me the NSF charge from the bank.  All I needed to do was bring in a screenshot of the fee or a letter from the bank regarding the fee.

And, all is well (enough) again.

Because, hey, SHE is human too right?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Working on the Menus for Crazy Week!



This is CRAZY WEEK here in my world.  The last week of school where there are finals, frantic searches for missing school books, and an 8th grade graduation in the mix will all be crammed into the next five days!

Still, I would like some sort of meal plan in place, right?  Instead of scheduling dinner by days for this week, I am just going to organize WHAT I will be making and try to be flexible with the WHEN.


Breakfasts
Monkey Bread
English Muffins with Butter or Jelly
Breakfast Delight
Croissants
Apple Strudel
Yogurt with Fruit and Granola
Cold Cereal

Lunches
Leftovers
BBQ Chicken Wraps
Pasta Salad
Egg Salad Sandwiches with Chips (Papa)
Ramen Noodle Soup


Dinners*
*only four planned since Friday night we plan on going out to dinner to celebrate Guppy 2's graduation from 8th grade*


Tortellini Casserole
Roasted Garlic with Italian Bread
Sauteed Spinach


Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas


Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with Mushrooms, Thyme, Lemon, & Capers
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Summer Squash with Garlic


Guppy 1 cooks new Pinterest recipe:
Broccoli & Cheese Latkes
other sides TBD
Nutella Sugar Cookie Cups



It's going to be definite trial and error as I start to plan out dinners once summer vacation begins!

How do you handle your summer menus?  Do you take into account spontaneous beach trips? Or carting the kids to their activities/friend's houses/etc?