Saturday, October 25, 2014

Winner Revealed

I now know if I want entries that top the 3 digit mark I should put nail polish into the giveaway box! lolz

I've never had so many entries in a giveaway before.

Using Random dotorg and assigning a number to each entry the Winning Entry picked was #15, Practical Parsimony!

This the second entry for putting your giveaway on my blog.
Please email me privately with your mailing address before Monday 9am.
And I big THANK YOU to everyone who entered!
I wish I had at least a dozen prize boxes to give out since some of y'all seemed to want to win this one real bad!
Be sure to check back soon as I'll be putting another boring blog box of goodies up for grabs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This Week....Frugalness, Money & Wisdom

We got a second car insurance refund last week.
$234.71 back in my wallet?
Why thankyouverymuch!

Hubs took last week off from work and we went away for 4 nights to the beach.  With both weekends that made 9 Days of "togetherness".
I have discovered on this week off how long I can be constantly side-by-side with Hubs before I just can't stand it any longer.
It was on Day 8.
What in the world will I do when he retires and is here in the house fulltime? lolz

That trip to DC in May, where I had to pay $75 for the conference dinner?  The organization still hadn't cashed the check as of Oct.
Upon inquiring we found out that the President of the organization holding the conference decided to comp all the meals for attending spouses as well as members.
$75 back in my wallet?
Why thankyouverymuchagain!!

As of Thursday we have cut the TV cable.
Goodbye $110+ a month for cable and internet.
Hello $40 a month for just internet.
I don't know if we will survive this drastic measure but I do know that having it disconnected on Thursday was VERY bad timing.
Project Runway's season finale was Thursday.
So I have to wait until tonight to watch it online.
But for a savings of $70 a month I will be OK with it.
Give me strength to survive not being able to watch PR All-Stars beginning next week though!

I made Halupki, otherwise known as Stuffed Cabbage Rolls this week.
Having lived here in the Polka Belt of Pennsylvania for the past 14 years I don't know why I never made this dish before.

Hubs had 3, I had 1 and we still have 10 left.
Instead of ground beef I used ground turkey with the ground pork in these to be a bit healthier.

I also have about half of the filling I made up left too, so I'll tuck that away in the freezer and make more another time and/or add some more ingredients to make it Mexican(chili powder, cumin and green chilles)and make enchiladas with it instead.
I spent approx. $9.25 for all ingredients and if I buy another head of cabbage I can make another 14.
Or I can turn the filling into Enchiladas with ingredients I have here already.

Between the leftover halupki, chicken Marsala, meatloaf and side dish of butternut squash & apples, I think the rest of the new planned meals on this week's menu will move to next week at this point.

I went to Target and did the Kleenex/Viva Deal on Thursday.
1 X 4 pack of Kleenex and 1 X 8 pack of Viva paper towels=$14.78-$4.25 in Qs=$10.53-$5 free Target gift card I had=$5.53 OOP......making each item come out to less than .50¢ each.
And I received another $5 Target gift card for buying these 2 items so it truly was only $5.53.
Not "almost free" like Rite-Aid but a good buy and we needed both tissues and paper towels so I am good with it.

I need to get my butt into gear and list a few things on eBay this weekend.  There is a short window of opportunity for Christmas on there after all and I don't want to miss it.  Hopefully I can rehome a few items using that platform and add a few coins to our savings.

October is a 3 paycheck month for us....yay!
I finished paying all the month's bills yesterday and if we don't spend anymore cash this month(besides what I've already taken out of the bank)we will have saved in total for the year just $400 short of the $24K goal.
Plus, unless the train goes flying off the tracks in November and December, I should be able to throw another $1K or so at the challenge in overage from those months.  But then again, December DOES mean gluttonous Christmas spending and then real estate taxes come due in January........
It IS always something, isn't it?  '-)

We just had to re-enroll in our healthcare.  Since we've got it all set up in the plan we are in finally, we are sticking with the same plan for 2015.  When you have ongoing medical needs and use DME it's just easier not to be switching around every year.
We have 5 paychecks, thus 5 more deposits from said paychecks for this year into our HSA before the $4K deductible kicks in again on Jan 1st.  This means we'll have just shy of $1.8K in the HSA that wasn't used this year, which can be put toward our high deductible we'll only have to lay out about $2K in new money before we see any benefit from our insurance.  That will be nice for a change.
I swear having to fork over almost $300 for 1 bottle of pills(what they cost before we satisfy our deductible for the year)is about enough to make me swallow my tongue.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

My 1 Trip to Rite-Aid This Week

Yes, you only have to suffer through 1 transaction at Rite-Aid this week......aren't you glad? ;-)

2 x Tresemme 'Poo on sale=$8.00
2 x Simple facial Cleaners on sale=$9.98

Coupons Used
2 x $2/1 Tresemme item IPQ(NLA)=$4.00*
2 x $2/1 Simple item ManuQ(9/28 insert-I think)=$4.00
Coupon Total.....$8.00


I used $9 in +Up Rewards and paid .98¢ OOP.
I received back $7 in +Up Rewards($3 wyv2 Tresemme, 2 x $2 Simple).

I am down to $8+Ups at this point.  I have $1 +Ups that has to be spent/rolled by Nov. 1st and the rest by Nov. 5th.

* It's important to get the most out of playing the drugstore game by knowing what the sales will be ahead of time AND to print coupons when available.
Take this $2/1 Tresemme Q that was available at coupons dotcom.  Some coupons, coupons for products that don't get offered much and any high value coupon($2 or more)go fast on sites.  There are a limited number of coupon prints offered and when they run out, that is it.  I knew this Tresemme Q would go fast, so as soon as I saw it I printed it(most Qs you are allowed to print it twice).  Unfortunately, I didn't hop on Hubs computer and print it again then and by the time I got back from vacation it was long gone.  If you waited until you got the ad for Rite-Aid this week it was too late to take advantage of that coupon for the sale.
I follow "I 'heart' Rite-Aid to see sales ads in advance.  They are also published at places like Slick Deals and some of the Couponing sites.  Just check around online.

I would have done even better if I still had the $5/2 Tresemme ManuQs but I used them already.
I would have only spent down $1 of +Ups in this transaction, using $8 in +Ups to pay and getting back $7 in +Ups.



A Herculean Task....Genetic Genealogy

I am about to throw in the proverbial towel with my DNA genealogy search.

Honest to goodness I do believe I am related genetically to every white person on the planet!
Can that be?!? lolz

By the size of my pool of matches overall, it does to me.

First off, I have a rather rare mitochondrial footprint.
This is good in a way as it cuts down on the potential matches.
I am a direct match with only 39 other people who have tested in the entire FamilyTreeDNA database.
My mtDNA haplogroup is J*.
It is only found in 12% of native Europeans.

In the Y-DNA J is associated closely with many of the early seafaring civilization in the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, like the Etruscans, the Minoans, etc.  J is also associated with having Jewish roots on either the Y or Mitochondrial side.
There is significant J mitochondrial DNA among Shephardic Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.
So old Sluggy could be a Spanish Jew if you were to go back far enough on my mother's, mother's, mother's side all the way back to our first female.

Since I have only tested the bare minimum markers so far, they have put me as J* and not one of the subclades of J.
But since half of the J's I've been matched with are J21a1(or further subclades of J21a1b or J21a1c)I pretty much know that having more markers tested will result in me being a J21a1, J21a1b or J21a1c.
My matches if I test more markers will decrease to......

J21a1=8 matches
J21a1b=3 matches
J21a1c=7 matches

That's across the entire FTDNA database.
I really should have more markets tested to get a definitive answer on this question.

Of course the problem in researching my mitochondrial DNA is that I haven't gotten very far on this specific line of my ancestors with a paper trail.  This would be my mother's, mother's mother's, etc. line going back to the first female of that line.
I have only gotten back to my 4th Great Grandmother with actual records.  Her maiden surname is SMITH.
Do you know how hard it is to trace someone in America named SMITH?!
Especially a WOMAN named SMITH!?!?

Until the 1800's in the US, woman didn't appear much in public written records.  Until 1850 only the male head of the household was named in census records(everyone else was listed as a tally mark).  If your female ancestor happened to be a widow until then you might find them by name in a census record but otherwise no name.

Before census records usually the only time your female ancestor appeared in an official record was upon their baptism(if they were baptized), upon their marriage(if they married)and upon their death(if their husband predeceased them and they had an estate to leave to their heirs or others).  Occasionally you might find a female ancestor recorded in the sale of land along side her spouse. 

And if you are very lucky, your female ancestor had brushes with the law and wound up in court.  Yes, having a female ancestor who ran afoul of the law and ended up in court and thus in court papers and transcripts is a goldmine to genealogists.  There might even be surviving newspaper articles of the time mentioning her.

So my mitochondrial line ends with a Clarissa or Claudia Smith.  The records don't even agree on her first name.  She began her life in Charlotte County, Virginia in 1802 and departed this life in 1862.  I haven't even gotten past this family line being in Virginia back from wherever they came from to there.  I am pretty sure it was England or thereabouts but when did they arrive?
Was it like most of the other lines on my mother's side of the family that came in the 1600's or 1700's?  Or did they get off the boat in later times?

While my mtDNA matches are manageable in number the same can not be said for my Y(through my brother's test)and my Autosomal matches!

Our Y-DNA exact matches number 1000 in the FTDNA data base.  That's FORTY pages of matches....
While further testing of more markers will bring that number of exact matches down, I can't justify spending $350 on having an additional 100 markers tested right now.
And then there are the SNP tests you can take to find your terminal Y.
These are each $39 and since R1b has so many subclades and finding just the right one to test for is pretty much a guessing game now, you could go broke before you found your terminal Y.

Likewise my Autosomal(all lines of dna)matches number 921 at the moment and new ones are being added every week as more people take this test.
My brother has 966 matches at the moment so I've got a few more than 921 actually.....being full siblings we'd match ALL the same people, but dna recombines on different parts of the strand for each person, so a few who matched him didn't show the same results for me.

I really need to load up a GEDCOM to FTDNA soon.
That's the thing I hate most when someone emails me that we are genetic cousins......when they don't have any sort of family tree listed on the site and expect me to be able to figure out how we are related specifically.
No, I am not doing the work for you!
I have been a bad, bad genetic cousin not supplying anything other than family surnames on my profile.....

Just last week I got an email from someone who was matched with my in an autosomal DNA test, wanting to know if I knew how we were related.  We had a surname in common--Chappell--and her Chappell ancestor she knew married a James Gay and their daughter lived in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Canada (1827-1910).
Since I have no direct ancestors who lived in Canada(as far as I have found)and my Chappell ancestor lived 1723-1797 I told her I suspect the Chappell connection, if that IS our connection, would go a bit further back in time from 1827.  She didn't know any places or dates of your Chappell ancestor other than being the mother of Elizabeth Gay.
I don't understand people who have a scrap of information and then expect me to have this ancestor of theirs on my line, when it's not a direct ancestor of mine.
I come across folks like this all. the. time.

I let her know that my Chappell connections were from Virginia and it might be possible that her Chappells may have been of my VA ones but went to Canada after the revolution(which is what many Loyalists did or had to do after the American Revolution).  She said she did have Virginia as a location somewhere in her tree but since she didn't have any GEDCOM family tree information uploaded to FTDNA I couldn't investigate on her side any further.
I did send her a link to my family tree on Ancestry so once she does some more digging on her Chappell line she can see if any of it lines up with mine. 
That's the best I can do to aid her search for now.

So I have on one side a very narrow focus but not much of a paper trail to help and on the other side so many genetic matches it's just too much to consider.

When it comes to genetic genealogy it's just always something. 



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Oldie But Goodie RANT of Mine

I know I've done this before but here I go again for the benefit of any parent of a first-time college student out there.

You will most probably receive a letter in the mail soon that looks something like this......

Note that they mark on the outside of the envelope "FINAL EXAMS INFORMATION ENCLOSED" just so you are compelled to open it up asap.

Inside you'll see something like this......

A letter wanting you to buy your student a Final Exams CARE Package.

After my heart stops racing when I think this is an IMPORTANT letter from my son's school informing me that he is about to flunk out, I get angry......very angry!

First off, using scare tactics and MISLEADING things like "Final Exams Information Enclosed" on the envelope pisses me off.

No, it has nothing to do with your child's academic progress(or lack thereof), it's a sales pitch to get you to buy some overpriced, pre-boxed set of snack foods, for which you KNOW some entity at their school gets a kickback or a piece of the money collected by this scheme.
You already send thousands of dollars into the pockets of the college your kid goes to, why participate in a scheme between the college and a company that makes premade care packages that the college gives that business assess to YOUR PRIVATE INFORMATION in order to get another few dollars out of your wallet?!?

Let me say this again.......the school your child attends is sharing your information with businesses.
If not this care package flim flam, then a company that sells bedding sets, etc.
How is this ok???

And don't get me started on how colleges allow parents to pay thousands of dollars to them for their children's college experience yet these same parents have NO access to see their children's GRADES unless the child allows the access?!?

Let's go through each of these Great Deals you can buy, shall we?

A fine selection of Maxwell House Coffees(it's probably those flavored International coffees)
Swiss Miss hot cocoa packets
Gourmet teas in a thermal mug with a matching burlap bag

You have to buy this pack with one of the other packages........

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats
Popped Corn Chips (wtf?)
Kellogg's Pop-Tarts
Nabisco Wheat Thins
Welch's Fruit Snacks (what 18 yr. old still eats fruit snacks?)
Planter's Salted Peanuts
Ramen Noodles
Hunts' Snack size Pudding Cup
Nutella Hazelnut Spread
Oreo Cookies
Ritz bite sized Sandwich Crackers
Planters Cheese PB Crackers
Dum Dum Lollipops
Quaker Chewy Granola Bar
Strawberry Twizzlers
Laffy Taffy
Golden Graham Cereal on-the-Go
Instant Oatmeal packet
Haribo Gummie Bears
Chiclets Gum

All this can be yours for the low low price of $25.
I love how they tout this as "tasty and wholesome foods" in their description.
Since when is any of this wholesome foods....and some of it isn't even FOOD?! lol

Then the EXAM SURVIVAL KIT includes---
Microwave Popcorn
Mini Chips Ahoy Cookies
Keebler grahams crackers
M&M's peanut
Chex Snack Mix
Keebler Fudge Stripe cookies
Jolly Rancher candy
Nutella Hazelnut Spread
Animal Crackers
Slim Jim
Crunch 'n Munch
Mike & Ike candy
Smarties candy
Dum Dum Lollipops
Kettlecorn microwave Popcorn

All this sugary crap can be yours for the low low price of $20.

You can buy both packs contents AND the drink pack for the mere price of $55.

Now if I go to the store and buy this stuff here is an estimate of what it would cost.......

The Drink package--around $8.

The Support Basket--around $13.

The Exam Survival Kit--around $10.

Again I am sure you only get 1 or small sizes of all these items and not boxes with multiple units in it and my estimates include more than 1 per item.

Even with shipping I'd spend way less than $55 to send all this junk to #2 Son.

Here's some advise from a parent that's been getting these care package letters for 5 years now.......

Save your money and don't buy into this!

Go bake your kid a batch of his/her favorite cookies, buy a bag of their favorite candy/gum/candy bars/chips/etc. and send them that.

Or go to one of the many sites online to see what they recommend for including in a self-built care package.

They'll like it better and you'll save enough money to buy them a bus ticket home for Winter break.


The Booze Run

If you thought buying 10 frozen cocktails in a bag this Summer while I was staying at your house Sonya Ann made me look like an alcoholic, how about what I got in Virginia.......

And the load I bought last week in Delaware........

3 are missing from that last photo too.  10 of these cost me $1 a piece at one store.
The others were $1.50 each.
I got a great deal on all those needless to day.  ;-)

Every time we venture out of PA we make stops at liquor stores.
It's not that we are raging alcoholics as some might be led to believe.
We enjoy a nice drink every now and again.

It's just that PA, or rather the region of PA were we live, has a rather limited selection of adult beverage choices.  There seems to only be 1 beverage distributor for this entire region of PA so all the booze sold around here has to filter through this one source.  This leads to only carrying the major "popular with the masses" brands in outlets around here. 
Except for a couple of grocery stores with liquor licenses who can source more widely, but they charge an awful lot for what they carry.

In PA beer has to be bought as a full case mostly.  The only exceptions being places with liquor licenses....they can sell single bottles or 6/4 packs.....and they charge to much for that convenience.
There is no running to the store around here and picking up a 6-pack for the weekend.

Wines and hard liquors are only sold in state run stores in PA....and you know the state takes a mighty chunk of cash from those sales by taxing the items to death.  Plus they control what can be sold in PA and most importantly what can NOT be sold in PA.

Ah big government at it's finest doing what it does best--screwing with people's day to day lives!

If you like the common every day things the masses drink, like JD, Capt. Morgan, Budweiser, Miller, Sutter Home or Cupcake wines, etc. you can find that in massive quantities.

But if you want more boutique selections or craft beers you are outta luck around here....except for Yuengling because Yuengling is a local beer.
Let's just say the selection sucks because PA is rather draconian in their practices.

So we shop for adult beverages on vacation to try new, different things we haven't had before or to pick up selections we like and can't get around here.

There is a massive liquor store in DE outside of Philly with good prices that we go right by on the way to OC.

You have to love a liquor store that has an entire aisle/section of Mexican beers! lolz

Plus there are 2 large liquor stores in Rehoboth DE when we go through there.

This list was what both Hubs and I bought on this trip to bring home---
*=new to use selections

1 X 6-pack Day of the Dead Porter
1 x 6-pack Abita Turbodog
1 x 6-pack Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale *
1 x 6-pack Barrel Trolley Nut Brown Ale *
1 x 6-pack Evolution Brewing Lucky 7 Porter *
1 x 6-pack Evolution Brewing Lot#3 IPA *
1 x 4-pack Ass Kisser Smoked Porter *
1 x 750ml Sam Adams Barrel Room 13th Hour Stout *
1 x 750ml Clown Shoes Chocolate Somberro Stout *
1 x 750ml Ipswitch Oatmeal Stout *
1 x 750ml Raftman Unibroue *
1 x 4-pack Belhaven Black Scotish Stout *
1 x 4-pack Murphy's Irish Stout Draught *
1 x 4-pack Crown V Imperial Pumpkin Stout *
1 x bottle Yuengling Porter
1 x Growler fill McKenzie's Pumpkin Hard Cider *
2 x 6-pack McKenzie's Pumpkin Hard Cider *
1 x 6-pack McKenzie's Black Cherry Hard Cider
1 x 750ml Hoshi Plum Wine
1 x 750ml Sandeman Founders Reserve Port *
1 x 750ml Sandeman Amontillado Character Port *
1 x 750ml Dry Sack Sherry *
1 x 750ml Osbourne Tawny Port *
1 x 750ml G&D  Marsala Wine(for cooking) *
1 x 750ml Santero Pineapple Moscato *
2 x 750ml Chaucer's Mead *
1 x bottle Evolution Rise Up Stout *
1 x bottle Dominion Oak Barrel Stout *
1 x bottle Duclaw Sweet Baby Jesus! PB Porter *
1 x bottle Sam Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout *
1 x bottle Yards Gen. Washington's Porter *
1 x bottle Southern Tier 2x Milk Stout *
1 x bottle Evil Genius Brewing Trick or Treat Stout *
1 x bottle Dogfish Head Midas Touch Golden Elixir
1 x 22oz. Stone Brewing XoCoveza & Suede Stout *
1 x 750ml Jack Daniels Master Distillers Whiskey *
1 x 1.75ml George Dickel #12 Whiskey
10 x Daily's Assorted "Slurpees"
10 x Croctails  Assorted "Slurpees"

Almost $350 of beverages.
The cost would have been double I bet if we had bought them all in PA....IF we could get them in PA......

This should keep us busy until next October when we take our beach vacation again.

This is how I get to enjoy a drink now and again and still be frugal. 
Don't drink at bars or restaurants(mostly), buy it at a lower price somewhere other than in PA and enjoy it at home.

What's your favorite type of adult beverage?  Is there a specific brand you like?