Friday, September 30, 2016

Frugal Things of Late....



This is going to be a busy weekend around here.  If the weather cooperates, we are going pumpkin picking and the farmer's market tomorrow morning.   Then at  night we are heading to a local concert venue with SIX teenagers including our two!  Oh, and three of the "extras" will be spending the night at our house after the show.  And, the Guppies get Monday off....I think for a Jewish holiday.  So yeah, if my posting is sporadic for the next few days, you know why!  =)

Anyway, I thought today I would try to come up with some frugal things I have done recently....

1.  I made the roast chicken last night and didn't let it spoil in the fridge.  While it may seem like a ridiculous one to start with, it's a big one for me.  I really  didn't want to cook last night!  And, I got the chicken for a steal (68 cents/pound) which my lazy side was trying to justify not being such a great loss if it got tossed.  I'm really happy that I went through the motions and cooked last night though because Guppy 1 and Papa both thought it came out delicious and better than normal....Go figure!  LOL

2.  I was organized enough this week to send Papa to work every day with breakfast and lunch.  The first couple weeks of September I struggled with the lunch part and would just tell him to "buy something at work" at least once per week.  (hangs head in shame!)

3.  No food spoilage lately!

4.  Even though I already posted about this, it bears mentioning again.....I saved over $1500/year by getting my copay waived for my new MS medication!  You have to love some "healthy" competition among the various MS drugs out there!  Truthfully, I am guessing they all offer a "copay assistance program" of some sort. 

5.  I haven't posted about gas for September but my gas usage is (finally) going down compared to the summer months!  I have been trying to stay home more often now that the Guppies are back in school and, when I do head out, batching errands.

6.  I have been using my financial notebook all month!  This has been such a useful tool for me and one that I should have come up with a LOT sooner!  Truly, it's a no brainer.....(shaking head)

7.  Rather than making a mad dash to the grocery store because I have a bunch of teenagers coming over tomorrow, I am going to "shop" my pantry for munchies/goodies.  We will probably "splurge" and grab a pizza for them prior to the concert but, since we are coming home late, I only have to worry a little about food.  I have leftover microwavable popcorn that I can pop on the stove for them if they are hungry after the show.  And, in the morning, I have everything I already need to make them a nice large breakfast of pancakes, hash browns, and bacon.  Easy peasy!

8.  While Guppy 1's senior pictures won't be free, the location we are shooting at is!  We are so excited to be able to use this abandoned house/waterfall!

And....I think that's it?  It's still too early in the morning for me to function for some reason today!

Any good frugal successes to share?

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Is It Friday Yet?




Both Guppies were running very late to school this morning which threw a wrench in my works.  And, then Papa called me to say he forgot his work badge and could I bring it to him?  Right away?  So, that was an hour round trip!  And....today was G1's super early day at school (Senior privilege) so it felt like I had ZERO time alone to get anything done here!

I'm having one of those days where I really don't feel like cooking dinner but....I'm still going to do it!  Unfortunately I have a whole chicken in my fridge that I need to roast (close to the expiration date and no room in the freezer) so I am trudging through making a big-ish dinner.  BUT I am super grateful to my financial notebook since before this month I might have just decided on take out and considered the chicken a "loss".  (Bad, bad TrayceeBee I know!)

Anyway...

On a positive note, things with the Tecfidera are going fairly smoothly.  I had flushing issues a few hours after the first dose and then some flushing issues after the second dose.  But, nothing I can't handle so far.  I double the dose after seven days so time will tell

And, another positive thing...I spoke to the company that owns the abandoned building where G1 wants her senior pictures taken and they okayed us being on the property!  G1 is incredibly excited about it and, truthfully, I am too!  The weather is going to be pretty iffy here over the course of the next few days but we have next Wednesday tentatively scheduled for the photo shoot since the weather is *supposed* to be sunny that day.


I think I am going to be searching Kindle for free productivity books tonight  to see if I can glean any good information or at the very least get motivated a bit!  I have to find some sort of rhythm to the weekdays!

I don't want to get stuck in a rut here!

Happy (almost) Friday!


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sticking Close to Home Today....

Last night, around 8 pm, I swallowed the first pill of my Tecfidera starter pack - they put you on half doses for the first seven days.  And everyone basically sat around the living room watching TV (and me!) waiting to see if I would have any reaction.  Guess what?  I didn't spontaneously combust or leak fluid out of every orifice!  Haha!  Seriously though, nothing strange happened and I went to bed relieved at 10:30 pm!

And then....

Woke up around 12:30 because my chest felt like it was constricting and on fire!  Ah, the flushing symptom....

I kept my big girl panties on and tried to manage it without panicking (too much) and waking Papa up.  Even though it felt like forever, it began to subside after a few minutes.  But, I guess that means I'm not quite as immune to side effects as I originally hoped when I went to bed last evening!

Since today is my first "full" day on the new medication, I plan on sticking close to home.  Actually the only times I plan on going out at all today is to pick the Guppies up from school and to (hopefully) walk the dog.  

I'm in the process of making a "to do" list that will both keep me busy but semi-relaxed today.  So far, here's what I plan on doing:

Laundry
Walk the dog
Sweep the downstairs
Organize some of my more recent writing so I can get back to that this weekend
Read a couple of chapters in the new book I started
Tidy up and vacuum the family room
Make a few phone calls to see if I can gain permission to do G1's photo shoot at her favorite abandoned location's grounds
Update my financial notebook

Now, I'm not sure I will be able to accomplish all of this since I don't know what (if anything) is going to happen to me side effect wise today.  But, I'm happy to have something to concentrate on instead of just sitting around waiting for something to *possibly* happen side effect wise.

Trying to stay more positive today....I had a nice talk with a good friend (Thanks Ms. Sandie!) which helped a lot.  Plus the sleep I was able to get last night helped put some distance between me and the yucky mood I was in yesterday.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Brooding..



My mood has been so funky since Sunday afternoon.  A lot of crap is going around my head so I guess I'm going to "brain dump" it here.  If you want to go ahead and skip reading this post, I'm perfectly fine with that.  I just wonder if writing it all down will help my mood improve, you know?

Anyway....

Senior pictures are done a LOT earlier than I thought.  And G1 found out today that they were offering head shots at school by previously scheduled appointment only!  While I know it's partly the high school not communicating effectively with emails of proper dates and such, I still feel like if I was "on my game" I would have known all the information.  So, now I am scrambling to put out the fire and get her into a photographer and pictures submitted before the October 16th deadline!  I *think* we are set since our photographer says they can do it if we pick a day soon but still I can't stand when things are rushed like this.  It feels like I am dropping the ball.

I am finding it difficult to be a "best friend" right now.  I love my BFF like a sister but her life is drastically different than mine - which isn't usually a problem.  However, right now, there are a few (what I consider) minor annoyances going on in her life (appliance broke down, cosmetic house issues) and, while I am trying so hard to be sympathetic, she is turning these issues into full blown tragedies.  It's now going on TWO WEEKS for the appliance issue and I have heard about it every single day.  I try so hard to be patient and supportive but it's getting beyond difficult.  Plus, truthfully, I am aggravated because she hasn't once asked me how things were going - and she knows there is stuff happening here.

As for some of  that "stuff" going on here....As I think I mentioned Papa's brother is in the hospital again.  He has a staph infection that went into his blood stream and made him septic.  While he is recovering from this issue, he has been refusing to take a medication that helps him process the ammonia in his body since his liver can't do it.  Not taking this med more or less "pickles" his brain and he has absolutely no clue where he is/what he's doing.  We saw him Sunday afternoon and he asked me three times in the course of thirty minutes when I had gotten there.  He is hallucinating that people are there that aren't. Plus he's literally drifting in and out of consciousness.  It's really bad.  It CAN get better *but* he has to take the damn medication!  I'm trying not to get aggravated but I can't help it.  Papa is putting in so many hours at work and then is expected to be his brother's caregiver too - and still has to hear crap about not doing enough!  Last night I also found out that, Papa's mom doesn't want his brother coming back to her house until he is in better condition.  The hospital plans on sending him to short term physical rehab since he's so weak but it sounds like Papa's mom wants him to stay in the hospital until he's "better".  In a way I can't blame her because she's still recuperating herself.  But....Now  I'm worried that we are going to be asked to take him in once he gets out.  And that's something I will not be able to handle.  Yes, I am worrying over something that may not happen but there is also a decent chance the question will be asked.

And, lastly, I'm beyond nervous about starting this new medication.  It is arriving this evening via UPS and I have to read the information to see if I can start it tonight or not.  Part of me thinks it's better to start tonight so that, if I suffer any side effects, Papa is here with me for a longer period of time.  (Side effects usually occur after thirty minutes of taking the pill) If I wait until tomorrow, he has to go off to work early so I would be by myself.  I'm most worried about the "flushing" side effect which occurs in one out of every four people.  I have had flushing three times before with my previous medication and it sets me into full blown panic attack mode.

So, yeah.  I'm not my normal self today.  Hopefully my mood will improve soon.  If you read all the way until this point, I hope I didn't depress you!  LOL

Have a great Tuesday for me everyone!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Reading Challenge: What I Read In September




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



16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit:
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Families can be a messy sort of affair - emotionally AND physically.  This is the story of The Bird family, living an idyllic life in England.  Or so it was thought until one Easter Sunday, tragedy strikes the youngest Bird which begins an unraveling of the entire family.  I LOVED this book!  But, hoarders have always sort of intrigued me. Loreli Bird - mama of the brood - is a hoarder and I love how the author was able to explain hoarding thinking and actually put a tiny bit of a whimsical spin to it - which I didn't think ANYone could ever do!  But, this book is definitely not just about the hoard.  It's about family tragedies, growing up in a house with secrets, and trying to find a way to make peace with life.  Total 5 out of 5 stars on this one!  And, okay, I admit, I *may* be cheating a tiny bit with crossing of #16 on my list with this book since not a ton is discussed about England but I'm going with it for now!  =)



2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't:
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Time to tell the truth....I read every single book ever assigned to me in my high school English classes!  But, truthfully, I was bored in high school because they wouldn't allow me in Honors English because, back then, you had to be able to do Honors English AND Honors Math!  Hahahahahaha!  Yeah, if you knew me, you would KNOW that that wasn't going to happen in a zillion years!  I was never ever any good at math and got penalized.  Anyway, I'm not bitter at all about it right? LOL  So, what I decided to do was pick a book I would have had to read IF I was in the right high school English classes.
Anyway....
I don't get this book.  I really tried, I did.  And, I'm sure there are quite a few of you shaking your heads at me since I am supposed to be a writer and writers enjoy the classics, right?  This book is vastly overrated in my opinion.  Now, I admit when I read it, I didn't feel like going into any in-depth psychoanalysis of the main character, Holden Caufield.  I'm positive the author intended almost every action/reaction Holden had to reflect something about him (i.e. actually being the hypocrite he always complained about).  But, I didn't even like Holden Caufield enough to care.
Papa and G1 loved this book!  They were shocked I didn't like it while I was shocked that they did!   So, my guess is that this is one of "those" books that you really love or despise.  Or, maybe I'm not giving the book enough credit and just read it at the wrong time - a time when I didn't feel like really delving into the psyche of a teenager when I have two of my own at home to deal with already!  (haha)
Two out of five stars.


1.  A book published this year
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
You would think that, since I love the Harry Potter series, I would have loved this new book right?  I have mixed feelings on this book.  So, basically we flashed forward and Harry is a 40 year old man and having problems understanding one of his three children - Albus Severus who was named after the two bravest men Harry said he ever knew  (Dumbledore and Snape).   Albus is having his own troubles which include at the top of the list 1.being Harry Potter's son and 2. struggling with his studies at Hogwarts.  Of course, Albus becoming best buddies with Harry's old school nemsis' son only complicates matters as well.  One night Albus overhears a conversation at home between his father and Mr. Diggory.  Albus gets it into his head that he and his best friend will use the time turner to go back in time and change events that happened when Harry himself was young.  But, as he finds out, changing the past has far reaching and rippling effects.
A LOT of people are complaining that this was written in play form.  Well, yes it was since that's how plays are written!!  So, reading a play didn't bother me at all.  I did find the story very simplistic but, I had to keep reminding myself, it was written to be performed on a stage so how complex can a story line get?  I also couldn't wrap my head around Harry Potter not being able to understand Albus. Oh, and at one point Harry is completely rude to Professor McGonigal.  Too far fetched for me to digest. But, I did really like the nostalgia in revisiting some of the old characters/scenarios. It's a play I would definitely go see but a book that is only three stars out of five.


23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson
What would you do if a solar flare took out all the modern conveniences of your life?  No electricity, no working phones, no running machinery.  This is the scenario face in this story.  Gary is a pilot and is waiting for clients in Pennsylvania when the flare hits.  His wife, Molly, is teaching her college English class in Florida when it happens.  The story flips between Molly and her community banding together to survive and keep their area safe from "The Wanderers" - vagrants who have no resources and steal from those who do - and Gary who is desperately trying to walk his way home to the love of his life.  I got this book free from Kindle so, I have to admit, my expectations were on the low side.  However, I was pretty surprised to find that I did enjoy the story.  While there were a few plot issues, my biggest problem with the book was the ending.  Maybe the author is planning on writing a sequel and that's why she left so many loose ends open.  If not, then the story would have benefited greatly from an epilogue.  Three out of five stars.




*Extra Reading*
How to be More Productive: A Guide On Using Free Time Effectively by Mary Ann Templeton
I don't know how to write a review on this "book" that isn't harsh.  I guess the only positive thing I can come up with is the fact that I was able to finish the entire book in about thirty minutes.  This is by far one of the WORST books I have ever attempted to read in my entire life!  Besides being mundane and unimaginative (got free time?  Visit family! Volunteer!), the writing was horrendous!  I can't decide if the author was adding in extra words like "the" and "a" to try to fill out the word count OR if the author's first language isn't English.  I got this book for free from Kindle and I still want my money back! So, here's a tip:  Be productive with YOUR free time and don't try to read this book!  All joking aside, zero out of five stars.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekend Miscellany Time

Here's what been going on this weekend in my little world!


The trip to the Farmer's Market yesterday was gorgeous!  We finally had a preview of fall weather and it made me a very happy camper!  Plus, it was unusually empty...parking was easy and there were only two dozen or so people there.  Anyway, I spent $26 on the following:

2 bottles of whole milk
1 bottle of heavy cream
1 peach yogurt
1 blueberry yogurt
1 bunch of kale
1 bunch of red beets with greens attached




G2 opted to stay home yesterday afternoon since she had a TON of homework - including a 26 page French 2 packet that was given to her on Friday to be completed by Monday! - and she wanted to get it done since she had a birthday party to attend last night.  Papa went back to the hospital to visit his brother for awhile. 




So, that left G1, her BFF, and I to doing some more adventuring!  Here are a few highlights....

We went to a place in Waterbury called Holy Land USA.  It's been shut down for quite some time now but used to be an "amusement park" of sorts for those of Christian faith.  Through mini stone and wood replicas, visitors can follow Jesus' path to the cross and resurrection (although many of the pathways are overgrown now and things are crumbling).  Also, most notably, if you have ever driven on I84 near Waterbury, you can see a very large cross on top of a mountain...this is at Holy Land.

close up view of the large cross

crumbling structures from the beginning of the park's pathway

Another view of the hillside with all the replicas

End of part of the pathway towards the top of the mountain

While I am not the most religious person in the world, I have to admit, going to an abandoned place having to do with Christianity definitely upped the weirdness.  It was extremely creepy but also very peaceful in a way too.  All in all, it was worth a few hours of our time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.





And now it's Sunday and this is what I really want to be doing!


But, instead of just sleeping the day away, I am going to attempt to be at least slightly productive to help start next week off more smoothly (hopefully).
Here's a little of what I want to accomplish today:
Laundry
Ironing
Clearing out the family room so Papa can steam clean the carpets this evening
Getting a loose idea of meals for the week
Updating my calendars/planner
Catching up on blogs
Sweep the downstairs
Clean the dining room corner where I keep my "desk" supplies where everything is spilling out of my laptop case and onto the floor!!!  (I use the dining room during the day as my workspace)
Make a nice Sunday dinner
Possibly some baking

G2 was going to go to the Durham fair today but she and her friends are "too tired" and "don't feel like dealing with the crowds".  So, they are all staying in their PJ's and heading over to someone's house (not yet determined) and watch movies today.  I already warned it would NOT be this house today!  LOL

That's basically my weekend in a nutshell!  Anything exciting going on in your world?



Saturday, September 24, 2016

What We Ate This Week!


This past week (for the most part) seemed to have the theme of "easy" written all over it!  Nothing terribly creative or difficult was made but it kept us out of restaurants/fast food places so it's a win in my book!  =)

Sunday Dinner
It was just three of us...G1, Papa, & me.  So, I made one of G1's favorites:
Vegetable Fried Rice


Monday Dinner
Rainy day here so I really felt like making something in the oven - even though it was still fairly muggy out.
Roast Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Yams
Roasted Asparagus


Tuesday Dinner
Choice of:
Stuffed Shells (freezer asset)
or
Chicken Casserole


Wednesday Dinner
Crock pot BBQ Flank Steak Sandwiches*
Au Gratin Potatoes
Garlic Green Beans
*I won't be making this again!  It was okay to choke down once but YUCK!
Apple Crisp with Whipped Cream


Thursday Dinner
Hamburger/Cheeseburger Wraps
Hash browns
Chocolate Bundt Cake with Confectioner Sugar Icing


Friday Dinner
G1 had her BFF sleepover and G2 went to the high school football game so dinner had to be quick/cheap/easy.  I knew this when I went grocery shopping in the morning so I picked up a "take and bake" pizza from Big Y for $5.99 - which is still half the price of the cheapest pizza place in our town!
Take and Bake Cheese Pizza
Spicy Salad mix (for Papa and me)


Saturday Dinner
Busy day of errands and adventuring!  We needed a quick and vegetarian dinner since G1's BFF was still here so I went to my "Go To":
Spicy Udon



And....

That was our week of dinners!  Another successful week of NOT eating out!

Happy Saturday!






Friday, September 23, 2016

Time Equals Money Saved!




Right after lunch yesterday I received a phone call from the specialty pharmacy handling my new MS medication.  All the paperwork was in and insurance approved the new meds!  (Yay!)

However...

Insurance was leaving me with a copay of:
$120 for the "starter pack"
and
$120 per month!

Ummm....No?

Since I knew that Biogen (the company that manufactures my new med) offers a $0 Copay program, I told the pharmacy to hold up on setting up my delivery and called Biogen back.  It took 28 minutes of my time but I was approved!  No out of pocket expenses for me (same as when I was on my injectables with another manufacturer)!

$1560 (savings for the year) is a damn good rate of return for such a small amount of time!

My Tecfidera arrives next Tuesday so my new medication adventure starts early Wednesday morning.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Yup....

When you count your chickens before the hatch....


Sometimes all you wind up with is....


Scrambled Eggs!!!!


Lucky me!  Today I get to spend trying to figure out how to finish paying all the bills for the month since Papa STILL hasn't received his reimbursement check for the business trip he took way back in August!  The check has been "pending" in the system for more than two weeks so I thought for sure he would get it this pay period....

Nope!

Considering he is owed something like 2K, this is a significant set back!

I'll figure it out but wow what a pain in the butt!

Hope your Thursday morning is going better than mine right now! 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Thoughts on September Food



It has definitely been a weird month, grocery wise, around here! 

(I will still be putting out the fully detailed grocery post at the end of the month but wanted to talk a little about what has been happening.)

Thanks to my new habit of writing everything I spend down in my new financial notebook I am seeing a really interesting trend.....

I have gone to at least one grocery store NINE days this month so far!  YIKES! 

Since my first shopping trip on the 4th, I have gone at least every other day to buy more groceries!  Now, I'm not spending a ton each and every trip but still...

I just added up what I have spent so far this month and (thankfully) it's not that crazy compared to what I have spent in previous months.  Right now, I have spent:
$449.73

Now, way back in the beginning of the year, I had originally wanted my grocery budget at or under $580 per month.   This month I should be able to hit this old target or at the very least come darn close to it.

Here's the other interesting thing though....

Also, thanks to my notebook, I am now tracking our eating out expenses.  Now, even though I didn't officially track this in past months, I am 100% positive that this month's expenses have been drastically less!  Right now, I have spent:
$79.67
on take out/fast food.  (I am excluding our day trip to Vermont at the beginning of the month and focusing just on what I would normally spend being home on this.)

So,  I am wondering if more frequent trips is working better for me since I have begun to plug the eating out leak....

Or is this more because I am using my notebook and writing everything down?

Maybe a combination of both?

What do you think?

Happy Tuesday!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Day Book Time



So, it's gloomy and rainy outside today.  We need the rain badly but it's making me so sleepy!  Not a whole lot going on today so I figured a day book entry is in order....

Out my window....
Rain, rain, rain!  There are a few cars going by as well but, for the most part, there's not a whole lot happening out there.

I'm hearing....
Some documentary that G2 and her boyfriend are watching on Netflix.  And, the rain hitting the a/c unit in the dining room.

I'm wearing...
Black short sleeved t-shirt, navy blue shorts, white Converse sneakers.

I'm creating...
Does dinner count?  Because that's all that is happening today I think.

I'm hoping...
My brother in law pulls out of his latest crisis.  He's back in the hospital again with a very nasty leg infection (everyone suspects it's staph).  If things get under control with this newest setback, Papa is going to try to persuade him to go to a rehab facility since he screwed up and drank again two days ago.  He is much better off in a controlled environment since some of the other people in my mother in law's house (not my mother in law though!) seem to thinks it's perfectly fine to keep alcohol not only in the house but out in the open!  Yes, it is his problem and his decision to drink.  But, it's ridiculous that there are cases of alcohol being left around the house and completely accessible.

I'm thankful for...
Papa.  I know I sound like a broken record, but seriously, I am very thankful for him and the life we built together.  We aren't rich by any stretch of the imagination and have our financial issues but I wouldn't give up my life for anything in the world!  And, lately, Papa has been pulling double duty dealing with his brother and then trying to help me come to terms with my new medication choice.

Looking ahead this week...
There isn't too much scheduled on the calendar for this week so hopefully it will be on the quiet side.  I would like to organize my kitchen pantry/cabinets and continue to use up the items languishing in there!  Also, catching up on the laundry would be nice.  LOL  Besides that, I hope to get some more reading and possibly writing squeezed into this week.

Picture I'm sharing...
This is a picture from our latest adventure.  We stumbled on an old abandoned house a few weekends ago that still had this baby grand piano in it!  How crazy is that?  And, no.  We didn't hit any of the keys to see if it worked still!  See the brownish thing on top of the piano?  That is a birds nest!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

What We Ate Last Week!



I've decided to change things up a bit and post what we ate AFTER the fact!  I'm finding that it's sort of like the whole finance notebook thing...I don't want to have to write down that we ate takeout so I find myself looking for dinner solutions instead!  So, I'm going to try posting this way for a bit and see if I have more success!!

Sunday Dinner
After being out until after 5:30pm, I really didn't want to have to cook anything for dinner!  But, I still did it!  Here's what I made:
Chicken cutlets in a mushroom, garlic and chicken broth sauce (ran out of white wine)
Roasted sweet potato bites (cut the potatoes up small so they would cook faster)
Rainbow chard and Dandelion greens in garlic/olive oil
Roasted garlic with sourdough baguette


Monday Dinner
Monday was nuts because the Guppies' school was let out an hour after morning arrival due to a pipe bursting.  So, I ended up driving kids around to various places since G1 had a friend over and G2 had her boyfriend over!  Since G2 and boyfriend were meeting their friends at the local sushi place (out of her allowance) for dinner and G1 had eaten a later lunch (out of her allowance) with her friend, it was a kind of leftover/catch all night.
G1's Meal:
Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, and Toast
Papa's Meal:
Seafood salad on a croissant with a side of chips
My Meal:
Since I wasn't very hungry myself, I ended up eating two pieces of peanut butter toast....I know, I know...I rocked it on the nutrition front!  Haha!


Tuesday Dinner
I knew I had a 4pm appointment with my neurologist so I planned ahead and pulled out the crockpot.
We had:
Beef Stew
Buttermilk Biscuits


Wednesday Dinner
Guppy 2 had her drum lessons which meant I would be guaranteed to be home around dinner time.  I decided to make:
Mustard & Maple Pork Chops
Stuffing (for G2)
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Beets


Thursday Dinner
Thursday was not a good day here.  Well, at least the morning wasn't great.  To be honest, if  I wasn't keeping my financial notebook and seen how many "takeout" lunches there have already been, I would most likely have caved in and gotten take out yet again. BUT, I didn't and made something easy:
Hamburgers/Cheeseburgers
Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
Pickles


Friday Dinner
I opted to go the easy route again:
Baked Ziti
Garlic Green Beans
Italian Bread with butter and roasted garlic


Saturday Dinner
Another night of shuttling G2 so I needed something quick and easy for the rest of the family.  (G2 ate out with her friend while watching the high school marching band compete.  We won first place so G2 and her boyfriend (drummer for marching band) were happy.
Simplest meal next to takeout:
Spicy Udon


And there's our week's meal at a glimpse!  Anything good on your dinner table lately?





Thursday, September 15, 2016

Frugal Things....



Whoa!  This morning was definitely not the best morning in my little part of the world!  Guppy 1 was tapping on the large front window of the living room to get Papa's attention (he was raiding MY car for CD's for his!  LOL) and accidentally shattered one of the approximately 8x10 panes of glass.  Oh and did I mention it happened about thirty seconds before we were due to leave for school?  Then, once in the car, Guppy 2 remembered she forgot her art project at home!  While we live extremely close to school, traffic can get really bad and there is only a small window of time (no pun intended) when it's easy to drive them.  I had to turn around so she could get her project, and, you guessed it, it took three times as long to get them to the high school!  Thankfully they made it in time but it was a stressful type of morning!

Instead of staying home, I decided to try to shake off this funk by taking to the trails!  I drove about ten minutes away from my home to Sleeping Giant State Park and went for a hike.  Besides the gas, it was free AND I started to feel better!

Which leads me to this post....

Since it is so late in the day and I could still use a boost, I'm going to list the frugal things I did this week so far for today's post....

1.  As I said above, free hike = free exercise = free stress relief

2.  I kept forgetting to buy Papa more granola at the store.  This usually runs me anywhere between $3 (a good sale) to $6-7.  A quick google search led me to an easy recipe that I tweaked to use up some of the ingredients languishing in my cabinets.  Totally tasty!  It made much more than I would have gotten in a normal bag from the grocery store AND it cost only a fraction of what I would have spent on the commercial stuff!

3.  Our main bank is about thirty minutes away from our house and, on the day I went to deposit a check, I completely forgot to pull money out of the account for G2's drum lesson.  I wasn't going to drive all the way back but I didn't want to pay the convenience charge using another bank's ATM in town.  So....when I went to Big Y the other day, I used the debit function and was able to pull money out service charge free!  Every little bit helps and $3.50 per withdrawl adds up!

4.  While walking around New Haven on Sunday afternoon, I really wanted to stop for a drink or an ice cream.  Instead, Papa and I waited until we got back home and kept the money in our pockets instead!

5.  I have been doing my best to cook at home this week...even on the days I don't want to do it!

6.  I have been keeping up with my financial notebook and tracking ALL my spending which has been enlightening to say the least.

7.  The weather has been slightly cooler here.  And, even though it gets a tad uncomfortable for a bit in the evening, I have been keeping the windows open and the a/c's off!

8.  While looking into my new MS medication a little more, I noticed on the pamphlet my neurologist gave me that they have a zero co-pay program with NO financial requirements!  When I get my "welcome" call within the next week from the new company, I will make sure to ask about this!  It would be an amazing relief to not have to incur any more medication co-pays!

9.  We are still using up all the mini shampoos/conditioners/soaps in the linen closet so no need to buy anything yet!

10.  I have been gathering more fall/winter stuff for my next consignment run.  I called the store and they suggested waiting a couple more weeks until the weather turns (and stays!) slightly cooler before bringing stuff in since their inventory isn't turning as quickly as in years past.

I *thnk* there is more but I cannot for the life of me remember anything else at this moment.

How's your Thursday going?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MS Decisions...



As I walked into my neurologist's office yesterday at 4pm, I still hadn't completely decided what medication I was going to go on for my MS. 

Honestly, none of the choices are all that appealing....

If I went back to Copaxone (three times per week injections), the possibility was very good that I would experience the symptoms I did when I initially started this drug so many years ago (because I have been "off" it for almost a year now!).  Those lovely side effects included at site swelling/itching/pain and flushing as the biggest offenders.  And, I have had breakout lesions while I was on this medication before.  I know that nothing is foolproof but it doesn't make me happy to go through injections to not have any results.

But...the new oral medications have their own set of lovely issues too!

One in particular (cough cough! I'm looking at you Aubagio!) can cause significant hair loss (!) and I would need to have an IUD implanted because my neurologist said I could absolutely positively NOT get pregnant while on this drug.  Even though I don't plan on getting pregnant and use condoms (sorry TMI), he told me that wasn't good enough.  The risk is too high.

The second possible oral (Gylenia) would interfere with one of my other medications and has the highest risk of something called PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy).  Basically it's a scary ass brain disease that can progress to coma and death.  Now, I will admit that the risk isn't crazy high but still high enough to make me nervous.

All this leads me to Tecfidera (the last choice in orals).  It has the lowest risk of PML over the course of its existence.  However, the first month of being on this medication can be sheer hell.  The biggest side effects are flushing and GI  issues (mainly diarrhea) which will eventually taper off.  But, before it tapers off?  From what Papa has filled me in about it (I started to read about this stuff but began to freak out so I left it up to him to research as usual), it's not very pretty.

Oh and, with all three orals, I would need frequent bloodwork since my kidneys and liver have to be monitored as well.

Yup, I wasn't excited with my choices one little bit.

In the end, it was down between the devil I know (Copaxone) and the devil I don't but seems to have the least risks overall (Tecfidera).

I chose the Tecfidera - mostly because we were questioning if the Copaxone was even working anymore when I was on it.  But, I wish I felt better about my choice.  Truthfully though?  I don't think I would be comfortable with any of the choices completely.

Maybe I am just having a hard time because the fact that I am "sick" is glaring at me again....even though I feel pretty damn good. 

I wish I had a crystal ball.  I wish someone could tell me if this is the right choice.

I guess only time will be able to tell us right?

After I drop the Guppies off at the high school, I'm off to get my initial "baseline" bloodwork done.  I'm hoping that, after a couple of days, I can shake this mood of mine off!



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Preparing for the Habanero Invasion....



I didn't have much luck this summer with my gardening....Not that I usually have MUCH luck any summer!  LOL  But...

This year?

My four little habanero plants are now huuuuge and BURSTING with peppers in different stages of ripening!  Seriously I think this is the biggest crop we have ever had!  And, in past years, we haven't come close to using up our "crop"!

This year, I have decided to try to figure out ways to preserve some of these little buggers!

Here are some ideas that Google provided for me!  =)

1.  Pickling.  I immediately had to nix this idea.  I am leary of trying to can anything since I have never attempted it before!  I'm more of a hands on kind of person when it comes to this sort of thing and don't have anyone close by to demonstrate.  Plus, I don't have any canning supplies anyway. 

2.  Old fashioned drying.  This idea I WILL do for some of the peppers!  It's super easy.  After rinsing and drying, I either leave them out on a counter on a wire rack for a few weeks or, alternatively, I can string them together and hang them for the same amount of time.  I'm guessing that I can then process them with my food processor and make a "spice".

3.  Freezing.  Clean, dry, chop, and bag.  Easy peasy.  I will likely do some this way as well.

4.  Roasting.  I found a recipe that really intrigued me online that I want to try!  Here's a link in case anyone else has habaneros and is curious....Roasting Habanero Peppers  I really like the mixture you put on the peppers first in this recipe and am curious if/how much it tones down the intense heat of the peppers.

5.  Fresh salsa.  Of course it's easy to throw them into salsa too.  BUT, since I am not a fan of crazy hot food, a little would go a long way in salsa - which means I *may* be able to use half a pepper in the salsa.  Not the most frugal way of getting my most out of these babies.

I have to ask anyone out there...

Do you plant habaneros?  Do you know of any other good ways/recipes to use them up?

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Seeing The Leaks!


So, I used to be "that" person....You know the one I am talking about....

The one who *thought* she didn't need to keep track of every dollar she spent

The one who *thought* she had a decent handle on where the money went every month

The one who *thought* there wasn't any more wiggle room in the budget....

Yup, that was me!

Until 12 days ago when I grabbed a notebook and started keeping track of every single thing we bought every single day!

And, right now it feels like more of money gushing out rather than money leaking out of our hands!

Now...

September is usually a "spendy" kind of month anyway with school supplies, clothes for the Guppies, purchasing wood for the fireplace, etc.  THIS year feels even more since I had to pay for events early (1 October concert, 1 late November concert).  Plus the Guppies asked to do Nautical Nightmares this year - we haven't done it since G2 (now 14) was maybe six or seven years old - I'll be purchasing those tickets next week most likely.

And, honestly, all these things are good things....fun things....events that we will remember forever.

But....

Seeing the outlay in the notebook is tough!

And, that ends up being a good thing for me because, after seeing it written down, I want to find ways to save more.  I'm not calculating things solely in my head and then blowing it off like I honestly used to do.

For example, it bugs me that I have had only THREE measly days of zero spending so far this month!  That sucks so I am challenging myself to have at least three days this week with no spending at all.

I'm also noticing just how many times per week I am going to the grocery store!  I need better organization (obviously) because the more I end up at the store, the better chance I will buy things on impulse, right?

I'm a work very early in progress here - that's for sure!

But, I did have a "win" for myself yesterday...

Papa and I dropped G1 and her BFF down at the New Haven green to meet G1's favorite local YouTuber (free event by the way).  Papa and I had time to kill while the girls did "their thing" so, instead of stopping at a restaurant to grab drinks or an appetizer, we walked around Yale University admiring the buildings and catching Pokémon.  Two hours in, I really wanted something to drink or, better yet, some ice cream!  But, upon thinking of my notebook, we decided to forgo and wait until we got home - another hour after that I might add! LOL

I have to say, it's so much easier to see that the little things DO and WILL add up when you have your "bigger picture" written down!

Happy Monday!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Happy Mail!



Nice surprise yesterday when getting the mail....

A $32.28 refund check from our old mortgage company (our mortgage has gotten sold a total of FIVE times in the thirteen years we have had the darn thing!). 

Apparently there was a pending lawsuit regarding the company's unfair practices when involving extra fees.  Yup, could have told you that!  I was actually happy when the mortgage got sold since it meant I didn't have to try to refinance.

Anyway, not a very large check but I'll take it!  Every little bit helps in the long run!

Have a great Sunday!



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Farmer's Market Finds



Another beautiful famer's market Saturday...

Except for the flat tire that is.

Papa noticed it when we were pulling out of our parking spot.

Thankfully we have a full spare tire so he got to changing it and I took BOTH our phones and walked around Wooster Square hitting the various Pokestops to pass the time - Yes I play Pokémon Go!  No judging!  LOL

Anyway here's how we did today at the market....
(Oh and remember I am doing a full recap of ALL my grocery spending at the end of the month now.  I just wanted to keep my farmer's market finds posts too.)

Total Spent:  $31.25

Smyth Dairy: $14 (offset by 3 bottle returns)
1 bottle of whole milk
1 bottle of heavy cream
1 pint cherry yogurt
1 pint peach yogurt

City Seed Bakery:  $3.75
1 baguette

Various other vendors:  $13.50
1 bunch beets
1 bunch rainbow chard
1 bunch dandelion greens
1 pint shitake mushrooms


I think we did fairly well but I'm out of the cooking groove because I'm still running the Guppies around everywhere.  Papa and I both agree we need to get a handle on this since school has started again.  Like I mentioned yesterday, I need to get some sort of schedule in place for myself so I can be more productive - including the kitchen!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Daybook: September 9th


The above picture is of the "Stowe Mercantile Bears".  They live at one of my favorite little shops at my happy place and people are always taking pictures with them and posting on Instagram!  Aren't they adorable?



Outside my window....  Well, it's actually hard to even see out my front window right now because of the condensation - I guess the inside A/C and outside humidity don't like each other very much! I do see shapes of cars passing by and kids walking by off to the bus stop!

I'm thinking...  Lots of things!  My mind is racing around at the moment!  I'll pick the top three things I guess.  1.  How much more relaxed I am since I stopped talking to my mother.  It's weird how much more in control I feel of the life Papa and I have created too!  Money may be tight but this feeling of independence is worth every penny!  2.  How I have to have a "quick conversation" with the Guppies this weekend about the mess they are leaving before and after school!  Yes, I know they are in a rush in the morning and are tired after they come home but I would rather not spend all morning cleaning up their disasters!  Haha!  3.  How I am going to start the revision of a short story I wrote about three years ago.  I really like it but think it needs some tweaking before I try to send it out anywhere.

I'm wearing...  Typical "mom" attire:  black t-shirt, gray shorts, Keds

I'm hearing...  The whirring of the A/C unit in my dining room.

I'm creating...  Nothing at the moment.  Although I do need to set up/decorate next week's layout in my Mambi planner at some point this weekend.

I'm reading...  The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell...I love it and will most likely finish it at some point this weekend!

I'm surprised by...  The fact that I really liked G2's difficult History teacher AKA "Mr. Swoosh Test".  Even though I don't agree with his swoosh test tactic, he stated that he didn't care as much about the grades and wanted the students to not focus on them as much either.  He wants them to become more critical thinkers and understand the why of history not just the when (ie dates).  Unfortunately, I did NOT get a chance to ask about The Swoosh Test because we literally had eight minutes in each class with each teacher so there wasn't any time to ask questions with him because he spent so much time giving us information about why he is teaching the way he is - without just memorization of dates/places/times/etc.

I'm cooking...  Nothing yet.  However, I do need to make some snacks since G1 is having two friends after school and one (the BFF) is sleeping over tonight.  Also, I have to figure out something for dinner since BFF is a vegetarian and I don't want to do the pizza route again!

I'm planning...  Now that the Guppies are back in school, I am trying to figure out/plan a new routine for myself that incorporates the things I "need" to do (clean the house) and the things I "want" to do (write, hike, etc).  Ideas of how to get it all done are still spinning around my head and I will hopefully be able to start formulating some sort of schedule this weekend.

I'm thankful for...  So much right now!  On the top of the list is always Papa and the Guppies!  They are the light of my life, truly! I'm also thankful for the fact that my back pain has (mostly) gone away so I can go back to "being me" again!  And, I'm thankful that I had enough sense to start my handy dandy notebook (Blue's Clue's reference there) to keep track of all the money I spend - including a separate section for itemized grocery lists.  I should have started this long ago!

And, I'm off for another round of cleaning!

Happy Friday!





Thursday, September 8, 2016

Freebies


Let's talk freebies today!

From Vitamin World, I was given a 2oz collagen cream as a sample!  Apparently the company is trying to get into the "collagen cream business" and is tempting to hook customers!  I was impressed by how big the 2oz really is!


Last night, my BFF (aka Freebie Fairy) took me out to dinner as a belated birthday celebration.  We went to a local Italian restaurant in my town that neither of us have been to before.  It was amazing and she picked up the tab!  I told Papa that we will have to go together at some point when money is a little less tight.

And, of course, speaking of Freebie Fairy, I have received quite a few more gifties from her!  Since her total (and FINAL YAY!) split with the douchebag "boyfriend", she has been on a mission to rid her house of everything and anything he has ever given her!  So, when added to her regular clean outs, I have been receiving a good amount of stuff!
Here's the latest:

1 very nice Casio camera (G1 took it because of its compact size)
1 small Coach pouch that housed the above camera (G1 doesn't want it because she has a camera bag.  I haven't decided if I'm going to consign or keep it.  Right now, I'm leaning towards consign)
1 set of cute little silver spoons from Finland (consign)
1 red coffee mug with inspirational message (consign)
1 large aloe vera hand/body moisturizer (G1 grabbed)
1 "Cize" by Beach Body workout video package (Ebay possibly?  I have to look into this.  I have a feeling it was one of those infomercial things that she ordered.  I *may* take a quick peek at it myself BUUUT I'm not coordinated and dancing isn't my thing so I'm fairly sure I am better off selling.)


And, I *think* that's it!  Unless you count the "free" carriage someone gave me at Aldi today - which I in turn passed on to someone else!  LOL

Any good freebies come your way lately?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Microwaving Popcorn Without A Microwave....



Remember how my microwave broke and I decided we didn't need a new one?  Yep, still going strong without a microwave!  I love the added counter space since my workspace is limited and I have found ways to reheat/reuse leftovers using "old fashioned" ways.

I have even (gasp) been using regular popcorn and my hot air popper!

BUT....

Guppy 2 was dying the other night for popcorn and I had run out of the regular kernels.  I did however have a rather large stash of microwave popcorn languishing in my pantry.  And, I had an idea....

I opened the package of microwave popcorn and dumped it into a heavy saucepan with a lid.  I dumped ALL of the goop - and yes goop is a technical term! - into the saucepan and waited to see if any kernels would pop.  And guess what?  It worked!  I had a beautiful bowl of UN-microwaved microwave popcorn within less than five minutes!  And it tasted perfectly fine!

I'm thrilled to have found a way to use up my stash!  But, I admit, I will go back to my air popper ways once all the microwave stuff is gone since I am fairly sure that way is cheaper in the long run!

Right now, I'll keep focusing on the little wins!  =)



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The 'Swooosh" Test



Today I have a story you probably aren't going to believe.  Hey, I hardly believe it and yet it is happening to my youngest daughter, Guppy 2.

Last Thursday, G2 asked me to grab some more school papers of which I needed to sign off.  I pulled a paper out for her freshman AP World History class and was shocked!

First, quick backstory if anyone is new to this blog in the past few weeks....The public high school teachers here are a little nuts.  Each one has their own requirements for class supplies which need to be followed specifically since students are given a grade equivalent to a test score for "compliance" to the list.

Okay back to World History....In front of me was the "test" for supply compliance with different categories and lines for earned compliance points. (Correct sized binder, correct number of dividers, etc)  Then I saw a line called "The Swoosh Test"....Totally NOT making this up! 

So, you know I had to ask G2 what the heck THAT was all about!

Well, get this....

The teacher wants every single thing he gives students three hole punched (by the students) and put in the binder.  He said students couldn't use the little folder areas of binder covers to hold anything either.  What he does is takes each student's binder to the front of the classroom, holds it by its spine so the opening is facing downward, and shakes to see if anything falls out.  (The Swooosh part)  The student will then receive a certain number of points depending on what, if anything, falls to the floor.

Okay, is it just me or is this one of the most INSANE things you have heard for teacher requirements? 

This coming Thursday is the high school open house where we get to follow our children's schedules and meet the teachers....

You KNOW Papa and I cannot wait to see what this guy is like!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Impromptu Unplugged Weekend



After I updated my last post on Friday, I had a rather depressing phone call from my mother.  Without rehashing all the details (because I am honestly still upset about it), let's just say she went after a very tender spot of my psyche.  I've made a lot of mistakes in my life (most when I was a teenager/young adult, most of it before I met Papa, and nothing like drugs/alcohol) that I am still very hard on myself about.  For some reason, she decided to bring it up and say she hoped my oldest daughter doesn't turn out like me.  Yup, that was said.

The dynamics with my parents are very strange.  From the outside, I'm sure everyone is thinking that I have it "good" with parents who financially help out at times.  While that is true, there is a very steep price that I pay emotionally.  It's weird because on one level I couldn't care less what they thought of me but on another level what comes out of their mouths can trigger the biggest critic inside my brain.

And Friday that critic was screaming and wouldn't shut up.

I texted Papa at work and he could tell it was bad.  He called me, we talked for about twenty minutes, and I was able to get through the rest of the day until everyone got home.

Early Saturday morning, my amazingly wonderful husband drove us all to my happy place...four hours each way!  All of our phones went on Do Not Disturb and we spent a gorgeous Saturday together.  Even though I wasn't able to do any major hiking (still babying my back issue), just being in my favorite town/place doing some of my favorite walks did wonders for me.  We all had a great time.  And, I was able to shut the critic up for awhile.

Yesterday, I messaged my mom.  I told her I didn't appreciate what she said and wanted to be left alone for awhile - she had been trying to call me off and on this weekend.  Of course, it turned into ME being wrong and taking "things the wrong way".  As always, it turns into being all about her.

I am thinking about seeing a therapist to discuss some of these issues.  Papa has always been awesome at helping me through but I want to silence the inner critic in me too.  If I could get through that I am sure I could be more successful with the things I want to pursue in life.

But, for now, I keep reminding myself of something Papa said to me on Friday that has almost become my mantra. He told me that I was made to be a mom and a writer.  That's where I am successful.  That's my place to shine.

I love that man more than I could ever find words for.

Anyway, enough of that.  I am back to blogging - although still slightly unplugged because it felt great!  =)

Happy Labor Day!