Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Checkered Artistic Past

From time to time I've mentioned that I was a Costume Designer way back in my younger days.
Back before kids.
Back in the Prehistoric days of my youth, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

A few weeks ago, while I was cleaning some things out of the garage in preparation for one of the Stockpile/Garage Sales, I came across some sketches from my old portfolio from college.

Since I have nothing else worthwhile to blog about today and I have a feeling nobody actually believes half of what I say here, you get to see these stunning works of art *cough*.

Though it may appear to be a simple job, a costume designer has to wear many hats and have many skills.
First you have to create a vision or rather bring the artistic vision of the director of the play to life via clothing.  You must create a cohesive design for all the garments in the play.

Then you have to draw or otherwise put to paper this design.
Not only do you have to convey the design in a 2 dimensional medium, but you have to locate fabrics and trimmings appropriate to turn your design concept into an actual garment that can be worn.
A costume rendering not only is a work of art but it is first and foremost a working tool.
It gives voice to the vision and serves as a guide to the seamstresses as they set about bringing the design to life as an honest to goodness garment.

It's great if a costume designer is a very good artist, but designing clothing that works well on actors is a designers most important skill.
It's a job that you learn from the ground up.  Nobody falls out of the sky and  becomes a costume designer without first learning how to sew, make and cut a pattern, fit a garment and all those non-designing skills.  It's a very hands on profession.  The nitty gritty skills you learn on your way up to being a designer makes you a better designer.

And because of a lack of time, a costume designer generally has little time to create renderings of the costumes.  Usually it's a very quick pencil drawing with some splashes of color thrown onto the paper.
Having the luxury of the time to create proper costume renderings is only a dream to all but the most successful and well paid designers.  And once you rise to that level a good portion of designers don't even do their own renderings.....that's what your paid flunky assistants are for. ;-)

Let me say that most struggling costume designers are also magicians sometimes, having to make expensive looking clothing on a shoestring budget.  Unless you are designing for top film or tv companies, you never have an adequate amount of cash for supplies.  College departments give you bare bones budgets, professional shops give you a pittance and if you work for a shop that uses Equity actors(unionized), then all their production budget goes to paying their salaries and the non-unionized production staff gets screwed.

But enough of that for now.
Onward to the sketch.....

This 1st rendering is for a character in a short play by Anton Chekov(very Russian and very turn of the century, Victorian era).
I used pastels on colored paper to render this sketch.
The blob on the left top are the swatches of the fabrics used to construct this costume, including an example of  'jewels' I handmade to embellish the front of the overlay of the skirt. Money for profession jewels made with Swarovski crystals?  Not in this budget!lol

Here is another costume sketch for a Molière play.  The clothing is apropos to French society of 1670's, the Baroque era.
I created this sketch in watercolors on watercolor paper.

Here is another rendering for another show I can't recall by whom at the moment.  The setting is Ancient Greece.
Again it is rendered in watercolors.

And here's another sketch for the same Molière play as before.....

This last sketch is dear to my heart because it is of ME.
Yes, not only did I design the costumes of this show and build a lot of them, I was also a major character in this production.

I apologize that my photos aren't so great and you can't see much of the detail that is in them.
I could talk for days about the techniques employed to give texture to both the drawings and the actual costumes, because, well, this is my first love.

Now I need to locate the photos of the actual costumes from these renderings, so I can show you how they looked on actual


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last Rite-Aid Trips for August & Grand Totals for the Month

Basically, I've been on a break from Rite-Aid this month.
Not a full break, but I haven't darkened their door much and when I went there, I didn't haul much home.
As a result I don't have many +Up Rewards left or many items to report.

And face it, the fact that I had 2 Stockpile/Garage Sales this summer where I sold the stuff I get from Rite-Aid AND I still have a big load of stuff left, I really don't NEED to be hauling things home from Rite-Aid. ;-)

First let's catch up on 2 weeks ago.
2 sales ads ago I bought this.....

1 x Nutella raincheck price=$2.50
1 x Crest complete toothpaste on sale(20% wellness discount less)=$3.43

Coupons Used
1 x $1/1 Nutella AdPerk/VV Q=$1.00
1 x $1/1 Crest toothpaste ManuQ=$1.00
Coupon Total....$2.00

$5.93-$2.00=$3.93 OOP
I used $3 in +Up Rewards and put the .93¢ on my gift card($30.55 balance).
I received $2 in +Up Rewards for the Crest toothpaste.
At least I was suppose to get $2 in +Ups.
My receipt says "you have received the maximum number of +Ups for this offer".
The sales ad states Limit of 1 +Ups offer for this sale item.
Well this was my one and only transaction at Rite-Aid that week, so it was my one and only tube of Crest that week.  Don't know how I could have maxed out on the
I have had so much going on here with the kids' college stuff I didn't get around to contacting Rite-Aid about this screw up.  I may just return it as it's turning into a huge hassle, at least in my mind, and the last thing I NEED is more toothpaste, right?lol
Moving on.....

I went back this past Friday evening to check for Nutella and bought this.....

2 x Nutella raincheck price=$5.00
1 x Crest toothpaste! on sale=$2.99  *Yes MORE of the SAME toothpaste, but a smaller tube

Coupons Used
1 x $1/1 AdPerks/VV Wellness Q=$1.00
2 x $1/1 Nutella AdPerks/VV Q=$2.00
1 x $1/1 Crest toothpaste ManuQ=$1.00
Coupon Total....$4.00

$7.99-$4.00=$3.99 OOP
I used $3 +Up Rewards and put the .99¢ on my gift card(balance of $29.56).

I DID receive the $2 +Up Rewards for the Crest this time.  That week, the smaller Crest complete tube gave a $2 +Up and the limit was 2, but I only bought 1.

Now I KNOW you are wondering why all the toothpaste.
Well, there is a SCR #35--Buy $25 of select Crest/Oral-B/Scope items and get a $5 rebate.  I needed $5 more so the last 2 toothpaste tubes were to put me over $25.

That's easy.....#2 son is addicted to it.  I need to purchase stock in that's THAT bad here!lol

The August SCR Period ends today, Tuesday, August 30th.  I don't plan on going to Rite-Aid today, so this is my end of the month post.

Number of Transactions.....2
Total Spent....$1.92 put on free gift card
Value of Items....$19.05
SCR qualified for...$5.00
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$0.00
+Up Rewards earned...$4.00 *but I only have $2 right now*
+Up Rewards spent.....$6.00
+Up Rewards left to spend.....$4.00
And I have $29.56 left on my gift card.

And now, the monthly totals.

Rite-Aid GRAND TOTALS--AUGUST Rebate Period

Number of Transactions......10
Total Spent....$7.68 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP

Number of Items purchased.....57
Value of Items purchased....$156.77
SCR qualified for....$22.99
Other Cash....$0.00
Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for August SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 8/13.....$6.00

+Up Rewards spent....$46.50
+Up Rewards earned....$
+Up Rewards left....$4.00  includes ALL +Ups not just ones from this SCR period

So in August, I spent $7.68 of my free gift card "money", brought home $156.77 worth of items and Rite-Aid will be sending me cash rebates of $22.99 for shopping there.

How was your month at Rite-Aid?


Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekend That Was.....Letting Go, Being Wet and Marking the Years

First things first.

Here is the worst damage Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene did in our yard......
You probably can't make out the clumps of leaves and twigs littering the yard.
And Hubs fished small branches out of the pool.

We got lots of wind and rain.
LOTS of rain according to my makeshift rain gauge.....
Yes, my onion root cellar is a multitasker!lol
We got 8 inches from Irene.
I am shocked that no trees here were uprooted since the ground was already saturated from the abundant rains we already had experienced in August.
My neighbor has a tree that is heavily listing to one side after the storm that may fall during the next windy day.
The yard is like a bog it's so saturated.
You walk on it, you sink.

The sun came out around 3pm yesterday.
Then we had a band of rain as late as 5pm.
Some more winds around 7pm and Irene was kaput here.

Hubs went out yesterday and saw some tree limbs down and road flooding in the usual places when we get heavy quick storms here.
I got a phone call from the school district this morning.  Seems they are excusing students who can't make it in for the FIRST DAY of SCHOOL today, due to intermittent road flooding around the district.
Too bad they called AFTER #2 son headed to school.
He will be pissed he missed the opportunity to play hooky, legally.
Sometimes "the man" just can't catch a break, can he?

Now let's back up a bit to Friday.
To say Daughter was ready to leave home would be an understatement.

She's saying in this picture, "Will you get in the car and start it already!!"

Once we got to college, she set us to work unloading the car and transporting it all to the SIXTH FLOOR(somebody just kill me now!)and then stashing it all away into place.
I think she missed her calling as a Drill Sargent!lol

 After we got things squared away, she consented to a photo....the only one she willingly let me take.

She is still without a roommate in her double room.
She has never made friends easily so I worry that she doesn't have a roommate at this point.
I know she'll overcome this eventually.

As I sat later waiting on Hubs to come pick me up with the car, I watched some of the stuff I saw other parents/students unloading from their cars.

36" Flatscreen tvs.
Who needs to bring that to college?

Refrigerators the size of a small child.
Some were larger than the one in my 1st apartment.

A box of 100 tubs of ramen noodles.
I guess that kid is on the 8 meals a week meal plan.

A waffle maker.

We only had to make 1 run to Walmart for longer cables and cords, etc. and then we were done.

I have no photo of Daughter with either her father or me, so I'll end this part with a shot of her "Home Sweet Home" for the next 3 months....

I just wonder how long until I get a phone call that she needs money.
Oh and you KNOW I'll get that

On Saturday morning #1 son and his girlfriend left to go back to school before Irene arrived, and as of Sunday night he was back ensconced in his dorm for another semester.

On Sunday evening, after the rain let up but before dark, I began weeding the front garden/flower bed jungle.  I figured with 8 inches of fresh rain in the ground, it was not going to get any easier to pull weeds!lol  I filled a black garbage bag with weeds before my back gave out.  There is at least another bag full to pull so I'll finish the job later today.

Sunday was also Hubs and my Wedding Anniversary.
Yes, I have now been married for TWENTY NINE YEARS.
And all 29 to the same man.
I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror the other day and yes, it IS true.
You do start to look alike when you've been together this long.
Since neither of us is/was very attractive to begin with it hasn't been a devastating
I just don't remember agreeing to get this old, with our without a spouse.
I've lost my youth and I'm barely hanging onto pieces of my mind and my sanity these days, so it's a good thing my sense of humor is intact. ;-)

So now it's Monday and all my kids are back in school.
The Hubs is back at work and I am blissfully alone....except for the dogs snoring gently behind me in their beds.

Ok, I am not really alone.
There are 4 bowls of tomatoes staring at me each time I walk into the kitchen, whispering, "Pssst! You need to can us NOW!"
So tomato prep is on the agenda today.
And tomato canning is on the agenda for tomorrow.

And here is what is still outside waiting for me......*SonyaAnn DON'T LOOK WARNING*........

So what is up in your part of the world lately?


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye Hurricane Holly, Hello Hurricane Irene

Yesterday was spent ushering out Hurricane Holly.
AKA driving my Daughter across PA to college for the first time.

The last few days here have felt like a Hurricane.....albeit an emotional teenage Hurricane.
Young love drama.
Leaving home and going somewhere I don't know anyone drama.
Take everything you own and worrying that you forgot something drama.

We have been witnesses to most of this drama.
Her father and I the "bear the brunt of her anxieties & rollercoasting emotions from thrilled one minute to deepest despair the next" adult bystanders.
We've helped where we could with organizing and offered sage old people advise and a shoulder to cry on when nothing else would do.
Now that we have deposited her at school, we are just wrung out and are in need of some relaxation and quiet time.

Just in time to greet a new Hurricane, Irene.
I called my brother and his wife yesterday.  They live in the town due west, next to Virginia Beach, VA.
My deceased oldest brother's house is 1.5 blocks from the oceanfront in Va. Beach.
My brother and his wife and assorted family there are staying put.  Not that they have anywhere to go that's out of the path of Irene.  Please hold them in your prayers.

Even little old me and ours are in the path of Irene.  We are east of the I-81 corridor and within the pink "Extreme Damage" area on the map.  We won't get any flooding or surge damage but we are flash flood prone around here.

I worry here about the wind damage more.  We are in the light turquoise "widespread damage" band.
The ground here is so saturated from the abundant rains this summer that more rain and high winds may uproot trees.  And we have some perfect very tall candidates in our yard for uprooting.  Luckily our power lines are underground but the larger lines are not.

We'll be ok I know....just very soggy when it's over.

If you are in the path of this my bloggy friends (Sheila in NC, Mark, Ron, et al), please stay safe!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Quickie!...The School of Insanity

I haven't had much time to write anything the last 2 days and tomorrow is looking bleak as far as blogging productivity is concerned.

We are in College Packing Crunch Time here!

Both kids are home and frantically going through checklists and putting items aside to load into the cars.
Ok, so maybe the kids aren't really frantic.
They are at the "laissez faire, eye rolling, muttering "Mooooooom!"  under their breath"   phase.
I guess I am the frantic one!

I just KNOW things will get left behind.
Things they will deem VITAL that I will have to mail to them.....probably large heavy things that will cost an arm and a leg to mail.
It never fails, right?lol

Tomorrow we take Daughter to her doom college.
The following day #1 Son leaves to go back to school.

So between the gathering/buying/packing add in he brought his girlfriend with him, so yeah, he's a bit distracted.
And daughter is having some young love exboyfriend wants to reconile drama at the moment as well!
There are just way too many hormones flying around the atmosphere here!
And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Add in a hurricane roaring up the Eastern Seaboard within the next couple of days when we need to be traveling about the state.
I wish it was Monday already.

I should be back in charge of my faculties by then.......ok, maybe not, but I'll be back to blogging.
Stay dry and safe if you are in the path of Irene and if you aren't, have a great weekend.
And pray for my sanity.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cranking Up the Decluttering P*rn Again

I just looked and I haven't declutter-ed anything since late June.

I'm going to be cranking up my efforts again as soon as I get the 2 oldest off to college and the youngest back to high school in the coming week.  By next Monday #2 son will be back in class and his brother and sister will be on the other end of PA living la vida college, so I'll get my quiet sanity filled days back.
Or something like that.

Here is what has left the house this week......

a mohair Gund Bear
John Glenn HotWheels car/spaceship set
Alice Cooper Hot Wheels sized car
ceramic mug/hot cocoa gift set
2 vintage baby care government booklets(this are hilarious!)
a pair of vintage White Gloves
a Bamboo Serving Set
a set of kid's Shrek Dishware
4 gold plated Racing Champions Cars-that's what's in those white boxes
a Dr. Seuss Watch
4 Correlle Bowls
7 Plates-1 Correlle/6 Melamine
6 packs of stationary

a throw blanket in a zippered for football tailgating and such

2 Zen Rock Gardening sets(what was I thinking...Zen?
Assorted Power Ranger Party Goods (#2 son liked PRangers when he was 6, making these OLD!lol)
2 Boyd's Bears resin Broach Pins
6 Rolls of Wallpaper Border (from my misguided attempt to camouflage wall damage in the dining room)
1 Beanie baby
6 Happy Meal toys
Also a box of 93 Happy Meal toys I thought left in June and I photographed back then but they didn't actually get into the trunk of the car until

Look for a lot more Decluttering in September.

How are your decluttering efforts going?
Did you get anything sent off this summer?  How much clutter do you have left to deal with at your house?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 3 Spending for August....Hitting the Food Spending Ceiling

My food spending seems different this month.  I have been ignoring most of the "deals" at the grocery stores.  I can't recall the last time I bought a boxed, processed item....well, except for those frozen pizzas that kids
I have just been buying ingredients as needed these weeks along with produce, meat and dairy buys I find.  Throw in a trip to the bread outlet and I've spent $88.18 of food in Week #3 of August.

I spent $4.78 on 6 bread items at the outlet that would have run me $22.74 at the grocery store.
$4 at the Dollar store in snacks for daughter to take to college later this week. 
$20.10 at the local market for hot dog rolls, OJ, lettuce and frozen pizzas(at the kid's requests)and 4lbs. of ground beef for lunch burgers.

My big expenditure last week was at a new restaurant/party supply warehouse on Saturday.  Daughter requested I cook ribs in the smoker for her before she leaves for school, so I got ribs, as well as 5 more pounds of ground beef, a big bag of onions, 2 lbs. of bananas, a 40 count bag of pot stickers and a pork butt.
I made 42 meatballs with half of the ground beef and browned/crumbled the other half for tacos/beef pie/sloppy joes. I now have 5 meals + leftovers worth of meats ready to go from that ground beef.   I smoked the ribs on Sunday, along with making baked beans and cornbread from scratch, and we have enough left for another full meal.  The pork butt will be made into a Pork Ragu this week at #1 son's request when he gets home in a couple of days. This pork/pasta meal will supply another full meal in leftovers. The pot stickers are a quick lunch item for this week.
Next month I'm hoping to see some chicken and/or fish deals since we have been light on chicken and fish the last month.

I made the leftover steak from a week ago Thursday into Beef Stroganoff on Saturday night.  We have almost another full meal of this for leftovers.

So here is what I am starting this week with in leftovers or precooked  foods.....
1-Beef Stroganoff w/Rice
2-Taco meat
4-Beef Pie meat
5-Sloppy Joe meat
6-Ribs(from last night)
7-Squash Casserole
8-Green Beans
9-Baked Beans
11-Pickles, always!lol
Plus I have the Pork Butt.

Here is my Meal Plan.....

Sunday--Ribs, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Pickles  done
Monday--Sloppy Joes, leftover veggies(squash/g beans)
Tuesday--Leftover Ribs meal and/or Stroganoff
Wednesday--Pork Ragu, Salad Greens
Thursday--Dinner out before kids leave for school
Friday--Assorted Leftovers
Saturday--Spaghetti Meatballs or ?, Zucchini

I have frozen veggies to add in where needed, so the only items I need to buy for this menu are more salad greens and zucchini.
Imagine that?...I need to BUY zucchini!lol
Along with milk, some more fruit for snacking(I'm thinking watermelon and peaches)and we are done with shopping for the week and hopefully the month.
$20-$25 should do me.

I've spent $262.33 up until now in August on food.
If I add in my $14.19 so far in rebates and my Toluna check for $20 into my food budget, that gives me $284.19 in the kitty.  If I can spend $21.86 or less for the rest of August, I'll still be on budget.

I am feeling the frugal burnout lately.  Inflation has made it harder to find deals and stay on budget. 
I am just tired of working so hard on this. 

We will be down to feeding 3 people again after the oldest 2 leave for college, so I am hoping I can still keep my $250 food budget for awhile longer.  Or am I being unrealistic in this economy to spend so little on food?
What do you think?


Friday, August 19, 2011

Garden Update & Don't Believe Everything Your Spouse Tells You

Seems the garden is petering out here already.
Except for 1 item.
Can you guess what that is?.....

4 more cukes the other night and I have 3 Hubs picked last night sitting on the patio table outside.  Still on the vine I saw 6 more this morning, not counting the ones we missed along the way that have bloated up and gone bad.

And something is eating my tomatoes now.....not something bug-like, but something much larger.  It's not the rabbits since these tomatoes are a good 3 foot off the ground(think higher than the top rung of a tomato cage).  We've either got a deer in the yard at night or birds eating them.  There is a large population of bats around so I am thinking maybe some bats?
Whatever it is, it is not good.

Due to some creaky old age knee issues I have, I have not been able to bend over to weed the beds.  This is what happens to a garden when you can't convince anybody else in the family to weed anything....even for money......
And this is AFTER I tried pulling weeds yesterday and about became a lawn ornament due to not being able to get back up.

And I must tell you that my "Left Brained Husband" has struck again.

He did the planting this Spring for me.
He even made a nice little diagram of "what got planted where" for me.
Wasn't that nice of him?

Here's that diagram....
The bottom bed notes that it was planted with "Greens, Greens, Tomatoes" on the back row and "Greens, Radishes, Tomatoes" on the front row.
I asked him what he meant by "Greens".
He had no clue.

Well fast forward 6 weeks and Radishes came up where noted.  Since the Tomatoes where put in as seedlings, I knew those were correct according to the diagram.  Greens must have meant salad greens since I had an empty Mesculun Mix seed packet, and that is what came up between the Radishes and the Tomatoes in the front, and again, over on the left in the front row.  So we had mystery plants in the other 2 "Greens" areas, since they were definitely not "Greens" at this point, beyond being Green in color.
Fast forward another few weeks and these appeared where "Greens" were planted....
Hubs had planted a type of melon(outside like a watermelon/round and inside like a cantaloupe) in the side bed, not the back bed where these were growing.  Silly me assumed these were those melons.

Then the melons changed....

Yes, they are Pie Pumpkins!lol
Well I now assume that these are Pie Pumpkins because I found an empty seed packet that held pie pumpkin seeds at one time.
And the way the vines are dying off this week, they should be ready to pick very soon.

Now over where he actually noted that he had planted pumpkins we have this....
Actual Pumpkins and a bumper crop of weeds.

I misspoke when I said all the pumpkin vines were dying off,  Evidently 2 vines didn't get that memo....
This vine and another one just to the right of the photo are taking over the deck.
I think the pumpkin vines are envious of the cucumber vines.
We have full blown plant gang activity in my yard.
Jets and Sharks.
Bloods and Crips.
They got nuthin' on Cukes and Gourds.

I'm just glad neither is armed with weaponry.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stockpile Sale Addendum

I forgot to mention that on Saturday, that I piled all those cukes from my garden....remember these?....

I piled them into a box and I tried to give them away at the Stockpile Sale as a thank you for shopping with us gift-No Purchase Necessary!

I gave about 6 cukes away in that manner during the first couple of hours. 

Then I offered cukes to a couple and the man tried to take 1, to which the woman yelled at him to put that cuke back because her dad had some at home to give them. 
Well he retorted back that he wanted a couple because he planned on making pickles, so there!

I told him, "You go for it....I've been making pickles with them myself". 
So he took 2.

And then, as he was walking down the driveway to leave, he stopped and turned and came back to the box and said he'd take another if I didn't mind.
To which, I replied, "Take the whole box if you want!"
And he did.

And he paused at the bottom of the driveway after leaving, turned and waved the box in the air, yelled THANKS! again, and gave out a 'whoop' of joy.

I have never seen a man so excited about a cucumber!
And y'all with your minds in the gutter of that thought, just keep it to yourselves.....


Last Weekend & The Stockpile Sale

Last Weekend was the end of Hubs week off from work.
He decided he wanted to go to the monthly Chess Club Tournament held somewhere outside of Philly.
So he was gone all day on Saturday.

While he was gone, Daughter and I held another Stockpile Sale.  It was the same set up as the one I held in day for 4 hours with big neon green signs saved from the last sale, posted on the roads leading up to our house.  Man, those signs just draw the regular yard salers in like flies on a garbage

We opened the garage door about 15 minutes early this time and there were no early bird/dealers sitting waiting for us to open to pounce on all those copies of the Declaration of Independence for a quarter we were selling....don't they wish!
I put out some of the old/vintage/new in the box toys I had earmarked to send to Salvation Army that were still lying around the house as well as the toiletries.

It was slow at first but picked up by 9am and we had fairly steady business until almost noon.
With the slow start I didn't think we'd make near what we made in the July sale, but in the end, we finished up with $335.50.   That makes our total $682.50 for the year's sales.
And a good bit of what we sold was the old toys and collectibles.  I was shocked by how much of that went really!

Good sellers.....toothbrushes, mouth wash, shampoo, soap, cans of coffee, nail polish, diapers, Olay stuff, batteries, Lysol spray, deodorant, vitamins.  Anything I put into the crate marked "Everything 75¢".lol
Stuff that sat.....high end shampoos, men's razors, women's bladder pads.
This go round a wider range of items sold well, so there wasn't much that I didn't sell some quantity of.

We've been using our Garage Sale profits to purchase college needs for Daughter this week.  That was the deal I made with her--if she wanted me to buy some of this college stuff, she had to help me hold the sale and raise some cash.
The rest of the profits will go toward food buying and/or the extra gas we'll be using hauling kids and their stuff back to two different colleges later this month.

I'll be boxing up the toiletries that are leftover and deciding whether I have enough to do the flea market in September.  Just eyeballing what is left, it looks to be that I've sold about half of the extras I started with so it's worth the trip to hit the flea market and make a little more cash.  I just dread getting up at 4am to get there in time to get a spot to set up in.

Also, since the toys sold so well, I am pondering whether I should hold a Toy Sale the end of September before the weather turns bad.  I still have a LOT of toys in the storage unit and I'm thinking I can get people to buy for Christmas presents, as the end of September is close enough to the Holidays to get them spending on toys.  I'd prefer to do this in October, but the weather would be too awful by then.
Not having the Toiletries Stockpile will free up room for items in the garage as well as what I can put on the driveway.  I'm still indecisive on this idea though as it's a lot of work digging all the toys out in time and setting it up.  It's not like I don't have anything else to do with my

So the rest of Saturday was a couple of errands and a nap.
Hubs didn't do very well at his tournament unfortunately.  He usually wins them but not this time so he wasn't up for doing much that evening.

Sunday Hubs sat around and relaxed mostly.
Daughter got to drag my tired ass around stores for 3 hours, to start spending all that stockpile sale profit on college shopping.  Go me! 8-P
Though it rained most of the day, the sun came out long enough for us to take a dip in the pool later.

Today Daughter reneged on painting the powder room for me for pay.  She decided after sanding down one wall, she doesn't want to do the prep work(sanding, spackling, priming)on this massive 8'x4' room.
She only wants to slap paint on the walls.
So now the room won't get painted.
We'll have been in this house 11 years next week and this powder room is still the mess it was when we moved in.
Can you tell I am pissed?
I wonder if I return all the shit I've bought for her to go to college if she will find her passion for work again?

8 more days until she leaves.
And yes I AM marking them off on the calendar! ;-)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

T Minus 9 Days Until #2 Teen Hits The College Campus

We are just over 1 week before we transport Daughter and all her "stuff" to college for her first semester of school.

Blogging buddy SonyaAnn sent her daughter off to college for the first time last August.  She has a very comprehensive College/Dorm List on her blog HERE that she used to get her daughter's supplies ready for the "Big Move".

My daughter keeps finding more and more things she feels are VITAL to take so she can survive 3 months at school.  I keep reminding her that she has to fit everything into a room the size of the one she has now, but along with a roommate and all her crap too!  I have a feeling we will be hauling some of what she insists she has to take back home on Move-In Day.

I've spent the last few days getting my daughter ready for her first Big Move In to her dorm.  It's not as much so that we don't forget's more to keep her from boxing everything she owns and taking it with

Here's my version of "The List of Stuff".  Everything in black we still need.  Everything in green we had already or got for free.  Everything we had to buy is in red.

Black Marker
Paper Clips
Pencil Sharpener 
Laptop(this was her high school graduation gift)
Backpack/Computer Bag
Comforter(I bought this in June on clearance) $17
Sheet Set $13
Sheet Set
Dorm Fridge $70
Alarm Clock
Coffeemaker(Used a free gift card for this, so paid $3OOP)
Towels  $6
Shower Caddy  $3
Assorted Toiletries
Assorted OTC Meds
Prescription Meds
Desk Lamp
Light bulbs
Trash Can
Ethernet Cable
Cell Phone
Cell Phone Charger
Flash Drive
TV Cable-on her dime, not mine
Dry Erase Board
Shoes and Boots
Facial Tissue
Women's paper products
Beauty products
Laundry Soap
Laundry Bag
Stain Remover
Hair products
Hair brush
Hair ties
Hair Dryer
Sewing Kit
Tool Kit
Lanyard(for room key, student ID-will buy this in the bookstore at school)
Medical Card
Driver's License
Debit Card(for her account) 

We've got about 8 more things to buy before we get to campus.  Any assorted school supplies(stationary type stuff we don't bring)she can get at the bookstore.  We might hold off on the rug since she isn't sure about her housing at this point.  They put her with a roommate but when she contacted the roommate 2 weeks ago, RM told her that she is NOT going to be rooming with Daughter.  Seems instead of putting D with another freshman, they paired her up with an upper classwoman who now says she is being moved elsewhere.  School policy is if your roommate assignment doesn't happen then they will "consolidate" you into another room needing a body(she's in a double, not a single room).  So she won't get to keep a double room to herself and she has no clue what room and with whom she will be 'consolidated".
What a way to run a school!

So the fridge will not be removed from the box in case it needs to be returned, if it turns out to be redundant.   And no rug until we get there.  I can run to the local Kmart or something if it's needed.

I am hoping to finish up buying what little is left today, if I can stand being in a car with D today.
I tell ya, she is leaving not a moment too soon!
I have one little tiny nerve left and she is climbing all over it......

I will tell you that when we sent off #1 son 2 years ago, it didn't seem to be this much stuff or as big of a "Production".  I spent less on getting him sent off.
I guess it's the "girl factor".lol

Are you sending off a kid to college this year?   How are you handling the acquiring of needs/wants?

I've spent $116 give or take a couple of bucks on her List of Things(not counting the laptop which was her graduation gift).  I'm estimating another $150 to get what is left.  I wanted to keep this at or under $250.  

Do you have a budget for your teen's college stuff?  Are you staying close to it?  How do you feel about buying/gathering all the things they say they need to go away to school?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Week 2 Food Spending for August & Cucumber P*rn

First the P*rn.....

Cucumbers, the gift that won't stop giving!
These cuke vines seriously think they are the mops in The Sorcerer's Apprentice movie.
Remember them?  Mickey keeps splitting them with an axe and they keep dividing and growing legs.
Well, I keep picking these cucumbers and the vines keep spitting out new ones!
The above photo is what is left of one week's crop after salad making, cucumber slices in vinegar making, tzatziki sauce making and filling a ONE GALLON jar with pickles!

I know I'll regret cursing these babies come January when I am forced to pay $1.50 for ONE half shriveled CUKE!
But come on......this is getting comical!lol

Not much food shopping last week.  Hubs picked up milk and pita bread early in the week.
I used the leftover smoked London Broil to make Gyros last week so we needed the pitas.  I was able to use up some cucumbers when I made the Tzatziki sauce for the Gyros.
Yay me!
On the way home from our adventure on Thursday(more on that later), we picked up some 'loupes and corn at a farm market.  Sunday I bought 3 dozen eggs at Kmart since they were on sale for $1 a carton and I was there already with Daughter college shopping.

Then on Monday, Hubs and I stopped again at the local independent grocer for fresh produce(g beans, squash, celery, peaches), more milk(geez!), OJ and I got snuckered into buying frozen pizzas for the teens.  That was almost $20 spent.
Altogether I spent $33.15 in Week 2 on the food shopping.

My savings percentage ran a pitiful 33.27% this week.

Besides the milk, everything was on sale.
I used no Qs because, besides the pizzas, nothing was "couponable".

As for a Meal Plan....last week was very free form, meaning, I had some sketchy ideas but Hubs would want to get take-out or go out for lunch(while the teens were still asleep).  After a big lunch I wasn't about to make a big dinner, so the teens would have to make their own "food".  I say "food" because though they ate at 2 in the afternoon, it was really their breakfast and then #2 son would snack/graze again around 7pm(while Daughter would go with her friend and eat while out), and then Daughter would break out a bowl of cereal around midnight and #2 son would end up banging around in the kitchen around 1am again, making another meal for himself.
I just said to heck with plans and let everyone do their own thing last week.  When Hubs and I weren't out lunching it, we'd scare up some scrambled eggs or sandwiches or just throw some leftovers together for ourselves.  The day we came home with the corn on the cob from the farm market,  I pulled some steaks out of the freezer and we did grilled corn and steaks on the spur of the moment that evening.

I'm still working on this week's Meal Plan.
Sunday was Taco Hell Bell since Hubs was still on vacation and I spent all day with Daughter collecting college things.  Monday was leftovers since Hubs and I used a gift certificate at a local restaurant for a late lunch so I wasn't cooking dinner.

Dishes I am definitely making this week:  Squash Casserole and fresh Green Beans with Bacon.
In the leftover department, I have two ears of corn which will make an appearance in Clam Chowder, and a steak which will become Beef Stroganoff with the addition of mushrooms, onions, sour cream, a lot of paprika and other spices.
Depending on if/when Daughter will be home for meals this week and if #2 son wants dinner when he gets home at 9pm after Marching Band Camp each night, I'll try to just fill in the gaps with something from what is already in the house.

I've spent $174.15 of my $250 food budget with half the month left to go.
I have $75.85 left in my funds.

Is it me, or has the price of food gone up so much for what we normally buy that it's getting very difficult to stay under our old food budgets?

I don't drink coffee and I have quite a large stockpile of it for Hubs currently but I've heard that this item has dramatically increased lately in a very short time frame.  Is this true?

I have heard that the drought in much of the country, it is leading to cattle and poultry being taken to slaughter early.  The cost and availability of feed grain is making it hard to keep herds/flocks at their current sizes.  This is going to make for some cheaper prices in these food items short term, but will eventually lead to higher prices the next year or two since there will be less animals for market.
This makes me want to load up on meats now.
What do you think?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Rite-Aid So Far This Month...We Are Killing Trees

It's already the middle of August and this is my first Rite-Aid post for the month.
Yes, I have a bit of catching up to do!lol
But this won't take long, I promise.

The 1st week of August at Rite-Aid I bought 7 Mead Notebooks.  Sorry I have no photo....not that it would be very interesting anyway, right?
2 trips for a total of 7 notebooks.  They were .29¢ each the week of July 31st-August 6th.  These were purchased on the 3rd and 6th.
I used a $1 Wellness Q and ended up putting $1.09 for them on my gift card.

Moving on to last week--August 7th-13th.
I did 2 transactions on Saturday the 13th.

First I bought 2 Kotex tampon packs, on sale for $3.50 each, along with 24 more notebooks, which came to $19.  I used 1 x $1 Wellness Q, 1 x $1/1 any Kotex AdPerks/VV Q, 1 x $2/1 any Kotex ManuQ(Rite-Aid had mailed that to me), so $4 in Qs.
I paid with $15 in +Up Rewards....all the +Ups I had left.
I received $7 in +Up Rewards back(6 x $1 wyb 4 Mead notebooks, $1 wyb 2 Kotex items).

Then I cut off a few +Up Rewards I just got back and bought 8 more notebooks.
8 x .50¢=$4.00
I used 1 x $1 Wellness Q and used 3 +Ups to pay and had NO OOP to put on a gift card.
That's my favorite kind of transaction. ;-)

I received 2 more $1 +Ups for buying the 8 notebooks.
Also, between these 32 notebooks, the 7 I bought the previous week and the Mead index card notebook for son's Band Camp on July 28th, I have "spent" $20.02 on Mead items, so I qualify for the $5 SCR(wyb $20 or more in Mead products).

**Analysis--The tampons were $1.50 a box after Qs and +Ups and Daughter wanted some.

The notebooks last week were .25¢ each after +Ups.  There was a limit of 8 "deals", so you could get 32 notebooks total per Wellness account/card that week and receive the +Ups, making them a quarter per book.  The notebooks also qualify for the $5.00 SCR #3 for Mead products. With 3 kids high school or higher level, we go through TONS of notebooks, so these were a no-brainer buy for me!  Between +Ups and gift card balance and the rebate these cost me almost nothing beyond some of my +Up Rewards.

This week the Mead 70ct. notebooks are .29¢ each but they still qualify toward SCR #3($2 wyb $10 or $5 wyb $20), making them a good deal if you buy enough/need enough of them.

Number of Transactions.....4
Total Spent....$1.21 put on free gift card
Value of Items....$69.69
SCR qualified for...$5.00
Other Rebates earned...$0.00
Gift Cards earned....$0.00
+Up Rewards earned...$9.00
+Up Rewards spent.....$18
+Up Rewards left to spend.....$6.00
And I have $31.48 left on my gift card.

Rite-Aid GRAND TOTALS--AUGUST Rebate Period so far

Number of Transactions......8
Total Spent....$5.76 put on free Gift Cards/Certificates so ZERO OOP

Number of Items purchased.....52
Value of Items purchased....$137.72
SCR qualified for....$17.99
Other Cash....$0.00
Additional Rebates....$0.00
Additional Non-Cash Rewards....$0.00

+UPS Totals for August SCR period
+Up Rewards carryover from 7/31.....$15.00

+Up Rewards spent....$40.50
+Up Rewards earned....$
+Up Rewards left....$6.00  includes ALL +Ups not just ones from this SCR period


Friday, August 12, 2011


Sorry I've not been around enough to post this week.
I've been reading blogs some and I'll get to all the comments on mine soon.

Hubs was able to take this week off and we're having a bit of a Staycation here.
Some lunches out, some pool time, some just doing nothing and 1 small trip/activity.
This is in between lots of appointments and hauling teens around.

Maybe we'll do a movie today.
Maybe not.
Just going with the flow as they say.....

And newsflash.....I haven't stepped foot into Rite-Aid yet this week.
Nothing is expiring this week so I might just not darken their door until Sunday or Monday. ;-)

Here's hoping y'all have a nice weekend!
Anybody got any plans??


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two Great Minds I Know....Both Frugal in Their Own Way

I want to talk about 2 fellow bloggers today.

Annie Jones did THIS POST yesterday on her blog.
I have to say that I think she is my Cosmic Twin.
Because here is a shot of what's above my sink......

Yep, I've got a sink clothesline too!lol
Great minds DO think alike!

At the moment we have no ziploc bags on it.....
Notice that it's also a barbecue tool holder(you can't see the meat fork and long handled spatula in the shadows on the left)and restaurant grade tongs holder.
Hubs put this up about a year ago?...I think.  The old bag drying workaround was hanging them by a bottom corner from the closed cabinet doors upsidedown.  Sometimes that worked and sometimes they fell into the very wet draining mat.

In other news.....

Lookit what showed up in my mailbox yesterday!
A $20 check from Toluna.
My first $20 check from them.
It only took me how many months?......4 or 5 months to get this?
And the only reason I got it this quickly is because half the surveys I didn't get dropped out of before completing them where ones they wanted my teenage son to answer.  So I guess I should give half of this money to him, right?
IF I tell him it came. didn't hear anything about this from me!

I doubt I'll ever get as prolific as SonyaAnn with Toluna.  She's up to $200 or something for this year so far! 
She's my Toluna Idol.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Pulled the Plug Last Week

Yes folks, in the face of the Netflix increase since they are going to pricing Streaming separately from DVD mailing, I shut it all down.
No more Netflix in this house.
I had to do it on principle really.
Yes, I could have afforded the 60% price increase to keep both delivery systems.
But it really chapped my butt like an ammonia soaked diaper to pay that jacked up $17.99 price for the same exact service I had been paying $9.99 for.
So I blew both off.

I may calm down at some point and miss it enough to resub to one or the other.
But for now, I'm going cold turkey on Netflix.

How about you?
Are you a subscriber?
Are you paying the jacked up full service price or did you go to one or the other?
Are you as delighted with the price increase as I am?


Monday, August 8, 2011

Week 1 Food Spending for August & When Momma Ain't Happy....

Saturday marks the last day of the 1st week of food spending for August.(I'll add an extra day to each of the rest of the weeks to account for those 3 additional days this month beyond the 28th.)
I did quite a lot of food shopping this week....3 trips to the grocery store and a trip on Saturday to Big Lots.
At the local independent market I finally picked up some pie crust on sale and made my quiches.  I also picked up some plain yogurt to make tzatziki sauce for my ersatz Gyros.
While I was there I picked up on sale....4 bags of frozen veggies, whack biscuits, carrots, potatoes and strawberries for a total of $23.34.

Then at Weis Markets, along with more Swiss cheese for my quiches and the ground pork I got to make my DIY breakfast patties HERE, I found some other deals.....battered fish for half off(#2 son eats this), breakfast link sausage, some boneless pork chops and swiss steak on discount and store packaged feta cheese(for the Gyros).
I splurged and bought a container of hummus(on sale)and some store bakery garlic crustini rounds for a snack for me.
I picked up 16 bottles of gatorade on sale with hangtag Qs on them as well.  These are a donation for the Marching Band Camp next week.  The total was $55.16 at Weis.

Then on Saturday Hubs wanted to go out so we checked out Big Lots.  I got some quart sized canning jars I needed, Ocean Spray 100% juices for $2(my buy price for 100% juice other than apple), Oreos(for #2 son), a box of chocolate chip pancake mix(for #2 son to make), a Xmas stocking stuffer(it's a secret!), and 2 jars of mayonnaise on clearance.  I was very happy about the mayo since I was down to my last jar for a stock-up 2 summers ago at Acme where I got it for free.  And yes, mayo does last 2 yrs. past the sell by date on the jar. ;-)  We left that store $27.72 poorer....

Then it was off to Weis again, for more Gatorade for the Marching Band, Power-Ade for #2 son's use at Band Camp and a bunch of bags of chips.  #2 son talked me into all that snacking stuff since the house was bare and it was on sale so I don't feel as bad.  Plus he'll take a bag or two to band camp next week.  I do feel bad about the $34.78 I spent.  bleh.

In total I spent $141.00 of my $250 food budget for August in this 1st week of the month.
And I haven't even gotten any produce to put up for winter yet!

My savings percentages ran from just under 34% at the local market to 45% for one of the Weis Markets trips.   I had a 40% savings for all trips combined.

We ate the Meal Plan that I had made last week as posted already.
This week?
All bets are off on the menu.

Hubs is on vacation but we are staying home.
So he gets a staycation.
Saturday he bought more books.  I wish he'd go to the library or read what he has already!
Today he's at the local amusement park with #2 son and his friend.
Later this week he's going to go play chess.  This costs money and a ton in gas as it's 2+ hours away.

I get business as usual.
Can you tell I am not happy?

But I'd like to at least not have to cook this week.
If I don't cook, it's not like he will fix meals instead.
He'll just go buy fast food and spend unnecessary money.
If that happens, I won't spend any food budget money this week(as eating out comes out of a different kitty).
But I think a large scale amount of crappy fast food all week, along with being bad for us, is just a wasteful frittering away of our cash when good food is here in the house and he can't be bothered to throw a meal together if I am busy and he isn't.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today.
I am feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated by my children.
Why am I still having to deal with buying college books for the 20 yr. old student after 2 years of college?  It's bad enough I have to do their tax returns for them and now I have to find deals for Daughter, the incoming college student. Why can't he handle his book order now?
Both kids are in a state school(within the same system)yet their schools handled Everything so differently!  Instead of being easy, they make it so complicated.  One hasn't even posted the bill for this semester.....the bill that needs to be paid before Aug. 24th.  And they only let you pay online using a credit card and they make YOU pay the processing fee they are charged by the cc company.  You can't mail them a check or hand them cash in person. 
Just ridiculous....

And #1 son chooses to come home from his summer job for 3 whole days before he has to leave again for college.  And he expects me to get him 2 dr. appts., dentist appt. and an optometrist appt. AND fill an eye glass prescription within this time frame.  He could come home sooner and he could schedule all this his bad self, right?
I think 20 yrs. old is time to start handling your own shit....


Friday, August 5, 2011

My Investments, Your Paycheck & Recession?....What Recession?!?

Yesterday's stock market tumble basically wiped out any gains most people's investments had made so far this year.  Ok, so you don't "play" the Stock Market but if you have any kind of investments(outside of a CD tho there are Market linked CDs)you are affected.
The national news outlets reported that the average 401(k) lost almost $12K worth of value.
Considering statistics noting that in 2011 the average 401(k) balance is $75K, that is quite a loss of value.
I can commiserate since my Vanguard account (which holds a portion of the money for my kid's college funds)fell to pre 2011 levels.  So much for using some of this account to pay tuition bills for 2 kids this month!
You know....I was going to transfer $ out of that account in May, since historically stocks go down during the Summer months.  I knew I needed to write tuition checks this Summer for the Fall term.

But then I was distracted dealing with other things.  When I got around to transferring the money, it had lost a goodly portion of it's 2011 gains.  So I checked each week and waited.....and each week it went down more and more.  And then the last 2 weeks it plummeted like Stonehenge baby!
Too late to pull it out now unless I want to take a loss....and that's not something I want to take!
I'll have to let that money ride and hope it recovers by Jan. 2012(or August 2012)when I need to write tuition checks again. 8-(

On the other hand, if you aren't risk adverse, now would be a great time to let your investments ride or to jump into the Market.... ;-)

You may recall that the President gave us a tax break in 2011.
That was nice of him, wasn't it?
All working people got a yearlong Payroll Tax Cut, remember that?  That's the little bit of extra pay you've seen in your paycheck this year.
I bet you got use to relying on that little bit of cash each pay period to pay your regular monthly bills.
And now you rely on it being there, don't you?

Let me be the stick in the mud and remind you that this tax cut is temporary and will end at the end of 2011-less than 5 months from now.
Here's a tip.....
You might want to start throwing that extra cash into savings and start living without it now so that when it vanishes at the end of December you can still meet your bills without needing it.
You'll need it next year to pay your food bills since word is out that price inflation will be ramping up even more at a grocery store near you.

Hours after the market closed, the government released the monthly jobs report which showed that Unemployment went down.....from 9.2% to....are you ready for this?......9.1%.
This was due to the creation of 117,000 new jobs in July, which was about 30,000 more than the White House was expecting.  Someone said those jobs were probably all Grief Counselor positions for all the Stock Market Traders who will need therapy after yesterday's close. lol
Even so, with the growing population, we need 300,000 new jobs a month to make any real progress in unemployment.  117,000 jobs means we are barely treading employment water. 

Last night on the national news, after one of the segments on the national economy, an ABC News reporter made the comment that people are afraid we are headed into another recession.
Ummm, excuse me?
Did we come out of the current recession while I was blinking or in the bathroom or something?
I don't recall the recession that began in 2008 ending!
I don't see it locally or nationally.  And if you ask most anyone on the street, they don't recall that recession ending either.

No matter the numbers the taking political heads throw out there, trust me, for Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public, the Recession never left!
I see it at the grocery store, hear it from people in line at the post office, read it on personal finance blogs and in the local newspaper editorial section.
It's still that good-for-nothing relative living in your basement for the last 4 years, using your electricity, driving your car(and not putting gas in the tank), raiding your refrigerator, texting on your cell plan and borrowing your credit cards.
Or for me it's like my 15 year old Teenager....he costs me excessive amounts of money, he expects too much, I can't reason with him and I can't throw him out of my house.

This Recession is entrenched and like your good-for-nothing relative, it ain't going away anytime soon.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

$32K Savings Challenge for 2011.....JULY RESULTS....Extra Paycheck Edition

I have posted my JULY End of Month $32K $AVING$ CHALLENGE Totals.
Check out the side bar to your right for the specific numbers.

I have 2 goals really each month.....
The 1st is to actually finish each month in the black and not the red.
The 2nd is to hit the targeted savings amount of $2,666.67.

I have to report that we finished up July in the black!
The extra cash amount we ended the month of July with.......$5,530.11.

We had $5403.96 left over from our income after our monthly expenses were deducted.
Add in $23.97 of Rebates applied against the food expenses, $2.18 in Interest on the Checking Account and $100 from my Focus Group work and you have a deposit of $5530.11  toward the Savings Challenge!

Our monthly target is an average of $2,666.67 to reach our Year End Goal.

As for the expenses in July....

* We paid the Sewage bill for the year a couple of months ago, so no quarterly payment this month.
* The electric bill was about $20 less than June's.
* The credit card bill was well under $1,000 for a change.
* Three paychecks this month!

* While not due until August, I paid the home insurance bill in July, since the car insurance is due in August as well.
* The WAM money was much higher than usual.

The Food Budget costs for July are in another post, which is located HERE.  The actual Food/Toiletries spending in July was almost $50 under budget or $75 under when rebate checks were applied toward the food bill.

What's ahead for August.......
There will b no summer vacation this year.  While I am sad we can't get away this summer my wallet will enjoy not having to pay for the added expenses that going away requires.
There are the usual suspects: electricity, water, phone, cable, credit card bill, food cash, etc.
We will have some Marching Band associated expenses in August.
We will have the semi-annual car insurance bill to pay.
Having the whole family(plus 1 girlfriend)home for part of this month will mean higher food bills, as well as electric and water bills.
Back-to-school means some credit card charges for some dorm room stuff & supplies for our 1st time college student this year.  #2 son also will need a few school supplies that I haven't already picked up for free.
Gas spending will also be higher in August with having to transport 2 college students across the state to 2 different schools on 2 different dates. bleh.

With 7 months behind us, our Savings total to-date for 2011 is $20,781.02. 
We are just over $2,000 ahead of our final goal at this point in the year.  If we end up having a really bad expensive month at some point in the next 5 months, this will help us to overcome it and still finish the year reaching our goal.  It's like a little "get out of jail free" card for our Challenge.  Having that little extra takes some of the pressure off me. ;-)

So how are your savings growing so far this year?
Do you have an emergency fund of 6-8 months worth of expenses!  You really should, you know. 
With the current financial climate in this country, you should try to put away into savings as much as you can each month.
So come along and Challenge Yourself to Save Money each Month Toward a Realistic for YOU Savings Goal!
Not everyone can shoot for $32K, I fully get that!
But everyone can shoot for some number, right!?

Find a money goal that works for you and put that number out there for everyone to see.  It will help keep you accountable to your goal if other eyes are on you.
Ooo, that sounded kind of creepy didn't it? ;-)

So how was your July financially?
Did you spend less than you made?
Did you stay within your budget or not?

Leave a comment and share with us what you did with your money, both the good and not-so good.   Do you have any tricks or tips that help you to end your month before the money runs out?    Let us know!
If you posted your financial progress on your own blog, leave a link in the comments so we can go check you out too!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Meat!.....DIY Breakfst Sausage

I have my mouth all set for a biscuit with sausage patty this morning.
You know, like what Mickey D's sells on their $1 Menu.....for a dollar. lol

But I didn't want to have to go there to buy it.
So I went hunting for rolled sausage at the grocery store while I was there this morning.
The first store didn't have any rolls of sausage meat!  Just a cut up already roll on a styrofoam tray of Bob Evans brand sausage.  Seems like they were hiding an expiration date or lopped off an end of the roll that went bad or something by selling it in this manner.  And they wanted $3.99 for not even 12 oz.
No way.

So store #2 had 1 brand of rolled sausage, Johnsville.
And they wanted $4.99 for a roll!
Not even a lb. of sausage....12 oz.  That comes out to .60¢ an ounce.
Nope, not buying it.

So I spied some containers of ground pork further down in the meat case.
Ground pork for $1.99 lb.
Since it was already ground up(I don't have a grinder attachment for a stand mixer or a manual table mounted grinder)and I didn't want to make links(no casings to buy or deal with), I bought that pork.

I came home and printed out a breakfast sausage recipe(Alton Brown's HERE).  I gathered the spices....

And measured them out.....

I sifted the spices and dumped in the pork....

After a few minutes using my "mobile, manual mixing attachments"(aka my hands)my sausage meat looked like this....

Then I slapped some patties together and set em to cooking in the cast iron skillet....

Here is the finished product.....

And here they are in the "delivery system of choice"(aka biscuits).....

And the Verdict?
Mickey D's just lost the battle for my sausage biscuit dollars!

* I love that after the cost of the whack biscuits on sale here this week for $1.25 a roll for Grands!, the cost of the ground pork and $1.00 to cover the cost of the spices used I can make 8 sausage biscuits for $4.92.(8 large patties came to $3.67+roll of biscuits at $1.25)  That's 61.5¢ per biscuit sandwich.  If you make your own biscuits your cost goes down significantly from there.
Me?  I'm lazy....

* I love that I found already ground fresh pork.  This makes it super easy since you don't have to grind the meat yourself.  My $1.99 lb. price wasn't the best but I could wait for a deal on that to purchase it for next time.

* I love that you can play with the spices to your own taste.  With the recipe I used I left out the red pepper flakes since it called for ground cayenne pepper too.  I also substituted 1/3 of the black pepper called for with some ground multicolored peppercorns for a depth of flavor and a little less heat.
You could also add more brown sugar and/or add real maple syrup if you like your sausage sweeter.
You can also add other spices to make some Italian sausage patties.   Just google a recipe for Italian sausage to find which spices you need.

 I will definitely be doing this again!  Next time I hit the warehouse type stores to find a nice big deal on ground pork.  Then I can fill the freezer with semi-homemade sausage patties.

Have you ever made sausage yourself?
Did you go the whole Charcuterie route and cut and grind your own meat cuts?
Or did you work from preground meat?


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stuff Shopping Frenzy, Meal Plan Tuesday & ArmaCUKEgedon!

If you recall, here is what I planned on the fly to eat last week....

SUNDAY--Ravioli, Garden Salad
MONDAY--leftover Pork Loin slices, Fried Yellow Squash, Mashed Potatoes
*Then things got rejiggered with the additional of the Nephew at meals.*
TUESAY--Rueben Sandwiches
WEDNESDAY--Chicken Fajitas
THURSDAY--Chicken Cheese Broccoli Rice Casserole
FRIDAY--Boston Baked Beans, Cornbread, Pickles

This plan happened until Friday.
I didn't get the beans soaking in time so I substituted some good old "Breakfast for Dinner".....Buckwheat Pancakes and Bacon.  No one was interested in a fruit side dish, so I saved it for Saturday.

The Nephew got packed up and returned on Saturday.  Not before a big long talk about Senior year and what he needs to do to get on the ball about college.  Hopefully he'll get his head out of Jersey Shore and his social life drama.

Since then we've been spending actual money all willy-nilly around here!  This is so strange since we never spend money on stuff anymore, just food and experiences.

My knees has been acting up so Hubs went out Sat. without me and bought socks and shoes for work.
Yes, I let him pick them out alone. 
I was cautiously optimistic we wouldn't A-overspend and B-he'd come home with lime green Converse sneakers and rainbow striped toe shoes.  This would be a bad thing since he is NOT a professional Rodeo Clown....

He done good and toted home a pair of black loafers, 4 pairs of black sox and 4 pairs of muted dark
heather-toned sox in earth shades.
And he only spent $50.99 and he got $10 in Kohl's cash that I can use to get Daughter or #2 Son something this weekend for school duds.

Then Monday was the convergence of 3 deals aligning for me that made me part with some moola.
My favorite bras at Just My Size go on sale 2 x a year for half-price
On Monday they offered a one day deal to take an additional 25% off your total order, even sale items.
And if you spent $70 the shipping was free.

I hadn't bought myself a bra in over a year.
Hubs needed new boxers and undershirts.
I got to $70 easily even with all my purchases being on sale(the Hubs stuff was BOGO50% too + 25% off of that price).
Hubs and I will be good for unmentionables for another year or so.

Then I had to order #1 Son's books for his upcoming semester.
The college bookstore changed the website/process a bit from last winter so I only ordered the books they had in stock that were used.  If we can't get them used, I'll just let #1 Son pick them up new in person at the bookstore once he gets back to college.
I was only able to order half of his books used.  Getting used textbooks, it came to $271.25.  But we still run the risk of the bookstore sending us new books because of the stupid way they set up the ordering process we could be on the hook for $397.45 + shipping instead!  Even though I stated I ONLY want USED books.

If you end up having to get new on the other 6 books, that's $165 + more(1 book isn't in stock yet and has no price indicated).
If we end up with all new books, it comes to $562.45 + the one book we can't price out yet.
I will refrain from going off on a "textbook rip-off" rant at this time. 8-(

I wish Hubs and #1 Son would let me rent textbooks again but after our CHEGG fiasco 1st semester of his freshman year, renting is NOT an option no matter what I say.
His school's bookstore is looking into offering book rentals through them either next semester or next fall.  I might have a chance convincing them to do that deal. ;-)

I am just beginning to check on options for Daughter.  I was hoping her school would go digital books before the upcoming semester so we could entertain the possibility of a Kindle purchase and renting ebooks for it...IF that was the least expensive option.  I don't like the idea of pushing using another electronic device unless it's cost effective.

I also bought some items on recently and they arrived last week.
They offered Free Shipping on purchases of $50+.
I found a tabletop ironing board(for Daughter's dorm room), 2 purses(for me who hasn't had a new purse in 5 years) and 4 pair of designer rainboots.  Everything was on clearance....the boots were $7.48 a pr!  I'll give Daughter one pair and tuck another back for Xmas.  I can also take any of this and return it to the local Target for a refund.  Since I didn't pay shipping to begin with, that's a great deal.

If the bookstore ships us the used textbooks, I'll be $398.68 poorer after all this shopping.

As for this week's Meal Plan.....

I got the smoker out again on Sunday and smoked up one of those London Broils I got at Weis Markets 2 weeks ago on a BOGO sale.
I served Creamed Spinach with it(and my homemade pickles).
Here's a photo to make you drool....

And here's a close-up.
See that awesome smoke ring?

 Some of us ate it straight and some made sandwiches on Steak Rolls.

Monday's dinner was Chicken Breast Patties pan sauted crispy with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese melted on top....a stove top Chicken Parmesan.
No heating up the house with running the oven.
Hubs and I put it on Kaiser rolls for yummy chicken parm sammiches.

The rest of this no particular order, depending on what I 'feel' like making each night.
* Leftovers, Pasta Salad
* Quiche Lorraine, Green Salad
* Tuna Noodle Casserole
* Leftovers Again

And on Saturday Hubs is off for a Chess Tournament so I'll get Chinese for lunch for #2 Son and I and we'll just raid the fridge/freezer for something for dinner.

I'll need more milk for #2 Son.  I also need a bit of swiss cheese and maybe I'll buy a cheat crust for the quiche since pie crust is on sale this week.  I need to pick up some fruit and veggies.  I'll hit the local farm tomorrow I think.

And here is what the garden is giving up lately......

Yes, it's ArmaCUKEgedon!!!
After the rain on Saturday, these bad boys went from baby dill sized to GIGANTOR "you could hollow these out and paddle about the lake in them" size!
This is what is left this morning after BIL took one and Hubs took 4 to work.
I am scared to even go look outside.
The cukes will be crawling up on the deck and knocking on the door soon.
I need to find some cheap lamb(cheap-hahaha) and make some Gyros.
*Hey!  Inspiration just hit....I'll get some pitas and make the smoked London Broil leftovers into some ersatz Beef Gyros.
Genius!....well maybe for a lazy woman......

In other garden news--I am not-so-patiently waiting and eying the 4 tomatoes that are turning red.
One is bound to hit "critical mass red" any day now.
I'm off to defrost a lb. of bacon in anticipation.....

What's happening in your garden and in your wallet lately?