Sunday, June 30, 2013

JUNE 2013 Budget Results.....Food & Toiletries Spending


Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for JUNE 2013.

I have posted June's totals on the right side bar under Total Grocery Savings for 2013 and updated the Yearly Totals.
I am listing subtotals for each store I purchased from in June.  If you aren't interested in that much detail, just skip to the bottom for the Totals Summary.

My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Pet Supplies, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 5(3 at home this month)& 2 dogs. No kids under 17.

MAINE SOURCE(restaurant supply)
OOP  $43.16
Value  $71.07
Savings  39.27 %
SHURSAVE STORES(small local independent affiliated stores)
OOP  $121.70
Qs/Ads  $57.71
Value  $179.41
Savings  32.17%

OOP  $85.29
Qs/Ads  $26.11
Value  $111.40
Savings  23.44%

OOP  $30.59
Qs/Ads  $27.64
Value  $58.23
Savings  47.46%

I am no longer adding my rebates received into my food budget directly. I will use them on food on occasion and will note that when used.  I will keep track of rebates/gift cards/certs received here as before however.

TOTAL Value of Cash/Store Checks/Gift Card Rebates Received...$0.00


My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Weis at 47.46%, Maine Source at 39.27% and Shursave Markets at 32.17%.  l only shopped at 4 different stores this past month.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........$280.74
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$139.37
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$420.11
TOTAL Savings of...................................32.18%

This closes out the June food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....

I went into June with my usual $400 budgeted for food/toiletries for the month.  Ended the month with $119.26 left over.
I did NO Rite-Aid shopping last month either.
I'm still trying to figure out what my baseline for food costs is since the dietary change in April.  Scratching my head about the low spend on food this month....not sure why because we didn't suddenly increase the eating out or anything.  Maybe it was a combination of eating less at meals(so the food went further)and #2 Son working so not eating dinner here.  I also did no stocking up(much) in June and we ate down a bit on the frozen stuff....which turned out to be a VERY GOOD THING, what with the new freezer going kerflooey(technical term).
Looking ahead to July---I'm lowering our budget to $300 for  this month.  I won't be stocking up on any frozen foods and we'll be eating down what I have in that category, given our freezer situation at the moment.  I am hoping to not buy meat products until what we have in the freezers is gone this month.  Most of the food budget in July will be going toward fresh fruits and veggies and some dairy.
**Update** I might keep the food budget at $400 instead, since Daughter told me that Sears(where she works)is having a nice sale n freezers for the 4th of July week.  I might break down and buy a Kenmore freezer as she says they aren't made by the factory in China that makes Whirlpools.  I suppose it's a different factory but still in China however.lolz
So in case I do buy another new freezer this month, I'll keep the food budget at $400 since I'll need to get a few frozen items.

And here is the run down of my Food & Toiletries Spending for 2013 so far--
2013 Total Saved $1,562.88

2013 Yearly Total Value of Items  $3,770.44

2013 Yearly Total Spent $2,207.56

2013 Yearly Savings Total of  41.45%
Again in June, total savings percentage for the year has gone down just over 1%.  The month of June was 32.18% saved(which was 7% worse than May's savings).
The yearly total so far is still over 40% so I am good with that.
How much did you spend on food in June?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Well THAT was Fun!

Ok, so yesterday was about as far from the description of fun as I want to go!

Seriously, yesterday sucked major ass.

I spent large chunks of the day on the telephone or waiting for someone to call me back.
Even when it's someone I want to talk to, being on the phone is not my idea of fun.

So I am assuming you have read my previous post about my 3 week old NEW Freezer dropping dead for no apparent reason.
That was just the beginning of this stretch of "fun".

Luckily for us, we had kept our previous refrigerator of a couple of years back.  Something in that fridge that regulates the temperature in the freezer part of it went "kerflooey"(technical term)and it started staying on until the freezer parts froze up.  You would have to turn off the fridge/freezer every now and again, let it thaw out and then turn it back on.
Not a good thing for all the FROZEN food in it, right?

Since at that time, we couldn't get a repair person out here to change the part that was going "kerflooey"(technical term), we had to buy a new fridge, since we could get a new working one asap.  We stuck the old fridge in the garage to use for stockpile storage and to some day repair it if the new one died or one of the kids needed a fridge on down the line.

So when the new freezer having died was discovered, we plugged in the old refrigerator out in the garage next to it, and I transferred as much of the contents of the new freezer into the old fridge's freezer compartment.  While not everything would fit, I was able to save the more valuable food items.....the meats and cheeses and butter.
Screw the vegetables......
Hey!  What would you save?  ;-)

So currently, this is what my new freezer looks like.....

What I couldn't squeeze into either of the refrigerators freezer compartments I shoved into the fridge parts.  Most of what got put into the fridge parts will need to be cooked and used soon, as it won't keep but for so long.

Because of that, yesterday was also a very bad day for my healthy diet too.
Between the stress of the day and feeling the need to save/use as much of the food as I could, I ate A LOT.  Not "gosh, I'm going to burst!" eating but too much and some decidedly unhealthy things.
Like onion rings.....fried onion rings.  Between #2 Son and I, we polished off the whole bag yesterday.
And not a regular sized bag you get at the grocery store.
It was a restaurant supply sized bag.
But it was so good while I was doing it. lol

And then there were breaded chicken strips and 2 boxes of creamed spinach.
Ok, it was spinach but just too much salt for me now in these premade boxes of it.

So today, I am on a strict food intake plan.
Lots of water.
Mostly veggies(I can use up some of the none prepared veggies I need to save.)

I'll move some more of what is left into the fridge(like those red and yellow pepper strips in the photo there)as the temp. in the freezer is now below refrigeration recommended levels.

And this coming week's menu will see some Mexican food dishes(the peppers and homemade chili I had in the freezer), a meatloaf(also in the freezer),  pulled pork(ditto) and 2 beef dishes(since I couldn't fit all the steak I had into the little freezers so I cooked a crockpot full of beef yesterday).

Our #1 Son is coming home for a visit tomorrow and will be here all next week so having to cook all this meat is a happy coincidence, as he's a big time carnivore.
He will be more than happy to help me out and eat all this stuff! lol

As for yesterday and dealing with this deader than a door nail freezer......

Whirlpool was called first, as they claim to have made this lemon.
They will only pay for an authorized repair person to fix this and pay for the parts needed.
A 3 week old freezer and they will repair it NOT replace it.
This did NOT make me happy.
And if I am not happy, watch out.....

The CS person said the soonest she could get me an appt. was in a week.
Then she went back into her database and found someone else in the area.
She was faxing the information to this authorized repair person and he/she would be calling me later that day to set up an appt.

While I was on hold with Whirlpool the mail lady came to the door to have me sign for a certified letter.  It was a summons for #2 Son in regard to his car accident.
Yep, he got a ticket.  Between that and his phone bill for July, there goes his whole paycheck he just got. 
Now he wasn't happy either.

I felt like I needed to DO something so I chatted online with the credit card company next.  I just wanted to have something on record asap with them if this came to having to dispute the charge with Home Despot, if they would not "do" something about the freezer.

In the meantime, while waiting for a call about repairing this POS freezer, I got on my cell to make other calls I needed to to reschedule a dr. appt. and to find out who was suppose to be sending me a new memory card(flash thingy)for my BiPAP machine, since the insurance had me mail them the card that came in the machine.  I ended up yelling at and then hanging up on a division of our insurance company that oversees durable hardware because they never returned my phone call on Monday and made me call again on Friday, plus they didn't include vital information in the literature they are constantly sending me, which would have AVOIDED this whole situation and not had me go 2 WEEKS without a memory card in the BiPAP.

Gee, let's make someone a tad on EDGE already, go over the sanity cliff, shall we?

Then I made a phone call to the contractor/repair person we have used before to schedule when he can come do the things we need doing in the house this Summer.
And he tells me, business is so good(plus they are so behind finishing jobs)that he can't fit me in until January 2014.
Didn't someone tell all these people ahead of me on his schedule that there is a recession on and nobody had the money to afford remodeling/repairing stuff??lol
I am glad he was upfront with me, about the long timeline for getting to my jobs, but I was NOT expecting a 6 month wait!

So now I have to go to Plan B.
And no, Plan B is NOT to just not have the repairs done. lol
I'll be calling a franchised handyman service.....better yet, get 2 estimates from 2 different services and decide on which one to hire.

After hours of waiting on the Whirlpool repair person to call me, I thought, "What the hell am I doing here?!?  This blasted appliance is THREE WEEKS OLD!?  Who should have to REPAIR an appliance that dies when it's practically brand new?!  This is Bullshit!"

So I called Home Depot.
Well, first I went on the HD website because that is where I bought this freezer from.  And I called their 800 number.  And after a solid HALF AN HOUR on hold, they disconnected my call.
After that bullshit, then I called the local Home Depot.
And I started off talking to the poor woman in the appliance dept.  I really really tried not to take my foul mood out on her.  It was difficult, believe you me! lol

After explaining what had transpired so far and that I had decided that I just wanted to return the freezer, she put me on hold and went and talked to the store manager.  She came back and said that if I could get the freezer to the store, that he would accept it as a return.

I told the woman that this was unacceptable, since I didn't own a delivery truck and I would have to RENT one(read SPEND MORE MONEY on this situation!)to return this major appliance.  It wasn't a dorm fridge I could shove into the back of my minivan and haul down.
She put me on hold again to go talk to the SM.
She came back and took my name/phone and said the SM would call me back later, as he was in a meeting.
So I left her the information and hung up.

And to my shock and surprise, a couple of hours later, the SM did call me.
After some talk about exchanging this lemon for another of the same freezer(no WAY in HELL!)I said I really wasn't amenable to owning this brand of freezer, especially not the identical model.  Having this experience has made me a bit gun shy in regard to owning a freezer.
So he sort of agreed with my POV and said he could come get the freezer on either Tues. or Wed. of next week with the store's truck and refund my credit card.

Now this local HD manager didn't have to make the decision to take this freezer back technically, because even though it was delivered from that store, I had bought it on the website.  He could have made me go through channels and waited for corporate to tell him to take it back.  But he didn't.
I guess he got a sense that if I had to go through any more bullshit over this stupid freezer, I might rent a truck anyway, bring it back to his store, dump it in the middle of their parking lot and set it on fire.  And he certainly wanted to avoid that, right?

And THAT idea had crossed my mind during the day on more than one occasion......

We did check with our homeowner's insurance, in regards to the loss of all that food when the freezer died and whether it was a coverable event in our policy.  Unfortunately for us, lightning didn't take out the freezer or our house hadn't burned down.  If it had, we would be entitled to compensation for the value of the food lost.

So in closing......
My son is broke until next payday.
My dr. appts. schedule is fine.
My BiPAP will be carded by early next week.
I have to go to Plan B in regard to our living room repairs.
My fridges are both running crammed full of food.
The credit card bill I paid for June will be retroactively going down when I get a refund on the freezer.
And I have a beautiful object d'art aka a new non-working freezer sitting in my garage until the middle of next week.

Oh, yes.....and the Whirlpool authorized repair person STILL  hasn't called me to set up an appointment 24 hours later.
This means I'll have to continue to Tweet and Facebook about how crappy anything or anyone connected to WHIRLPOOL really is.



Thursday, June 27, 2013


I swear I am so mad at this moment that I could bite the head off of a live chicken.

Remember that brand new Whirlpool freezer I bought and had delivered not 3 WEEKS AGO from HOME DESPOT?

Well it's dead as a doornail this evening.
I went out to the garage about 9 pm to get a dish of lime shebert and the shebert is green liquid.
I immediately felt the outsides of the freezer and they were cool to the touch.
Since it was purchased and delivered to my garage and plugged in 3 weeks ago,  the outside walls have been warm to the touch.
Now it's stone cold on the outsides of the thing.
And the compressor is not running.
But the interior light is on when you open the door.
And the interior temperature is slowing rising.
We didn't have a storm or a power surge and nobody had monkeyed with the circuit breakers.

The thing is dead after a mere 3 WEEKS and I want someone's head to roll for this!

Damn you Whirlpool!
Damn you Home Depot!!

Whirlpool is suppose to pay for parts and labor to repair this.....if it's repairable......but that isn't going to save all the food in the freezer!!!

And their "Customer Experience Center".....yes they call it that in their voice mail.....doesn't open again until 8 am ET.....because, you know, your new 3 week old appliance wouldn't possibly break between the hours of 8pm and 8am, right?
So I can't even BEGIN to locate an authorized repair person until tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile I have HUNDREDS of POUNDS OF FOOD rotting away in my garage!!!

Can you tell I am upset?

I had better go before I start swearing like a sailor.


Pissed as hell and Needing medication about now Sluggy

Working on Designing the Living Room

THIS is MY big project for the summer.......

My living room

We use to have actual living room furniture in this room.....a sofa, a chair, a coffee table.
But we've never really used this room as a living room much.
It was storage space first for our items we moved here from our old house and then as storage for my eBay escapades.
This and the ajoining dining room were gated off from the rest of the house a few years into living here, when we added dogs to the family.  These 2 rooms had WHITE carpeting(who in their right mind puts white carpeting in high traffic common areas of a 4 bedroom house!?!?)and 2 of the dogs developed the habit of wanting to use them for their.....ahem.....toileting needs.
Yah.....that didn't go over very well with moi.....!

Now it is time(WELL PAST TIME really)to turn this room into something more useful than for storage and with seating. 8-)

I need to have some work done before decorating came begin.
1-The new A/C system needs to go in.
2-What is in the room needs to go find homes elsewhere.
3-The walls and ceiling need some repair work done.
4-The crown molding needs to be finished.
5-The walls need painting.
6-The room needs new flooring.

We have begun the list.
#1 will be started on July 8th and should be finished up by July 10th at the latest.
Now I need to contact the handyman/contractor persons we have used in the past to take care of #2-6.
If they can't fit me into their schedule in a timely manner then I may go to a licensed handyman repair service that has a franchise here locally.  They can handle #2-5.
And then I'll have whichever store that we buy the flooring material from send their installers to take care of #6.

Then I can buy furniture, any accessory pieces I need and throw the room together.


Right? lol

Here is a pictorial(think Pinterest tho I don't do that)of what I have to put in the room so far and what I am considering.

The flooring will be bamboo, a light natural bamboo so you know.....

First the area rug I have already.....

 It's 3 tones of green(lime, olive, grasshopper), 2 tones of brown, beige and ecru.

For one of the walls I have this print......

It's a light yellow ochre tone with black in a thin black slat frame.

And I am doing an arrangement of shadow boxes with Japanese plates in them on the largest wall.
Here are some of the plates.

I have 9 different plate designs that I can change up.....

 The back of the plates.....I have no CLUE what this

And I have shadow boxes like this......

Mine aren't painted yet and they have backs.  I was going to paint them black but now I think I'll go with dark brown so they are not such a stark contrast to the walls and the plates....and brown ties in better with the rug, though the print I am hanging is yellow ochre and black.

Here is the kind of arrangement I am planning on.....

I was  thinking 4 or 6 shadow boxes, depending on what works best for the space.  With 9 plates I can change them around when I feel like it.

The walls are going to be some light shade of off white/ecru/etc.  Close to white but warmer....not orange.

Some of the furniture I am considering.....

 a smallish chaise sofa in a beige woven material....

 An accent chair in a circle pattern similar to the area rug in browns/tan/lt. blue/off white.
I am torn on the chair.  I don't want to be "matchy matchy" with patterns and colors....the chair is similar to the rug but the colors aren't quite jiving each with the other.  I don't know....this chair might be too busy with everything put together in the room.  I suppose I could put the room together without this chair(or another one I if I find something better)and then once it's all in the room, see if this will fit in style wise.

 A smallish reg. sofa in a med. brown woven material that comes with pillows that match the chair above.

My ideal sofa is a tan/light brown/darker than off-white option with a sectional/chaise feel.  Preferably in leather.
I like the styling of the sectional/chaise end look but most of the ones they make are just too HUGE for this room.  I don't want the couch to take up the whole space.  I don't need a sofa bed so that doesn't limit my selection of options.  I am thinking leather because I want to keep this sofa for a very long time and we just have a tendency to stain all our upholstered seating here.  Go figure. And no, I am not talking about the dogs getting up on it. lol
I would spend the extra money on leather if I could find one, the right color and small enough.  If I could find the sectional  style small enough I'd be in heaven. 8-))

If we have to go with a woven fabric instead of leather, I am leaning more toward the darker sofa, as it will show wear less.

This is a square ottoman/padded coffee table that opens up for storage and one side raises up flat for use so you can serve beverages and have it be a taller height when used for that purpose.

The ottoman/coffee table is dark brown.
My preference for this item is a round one but until recently I haven't found a round model I liked.  Boscov's has one advertised now for a good price similar to this one(only round)with storage but the storage is 4 separate comparments(each one small)plus it doesn't have the raised side/serving option.

I have this Dale Tiffany lamp which is Craftsman inspired to put into the room.....

He's the grandson or great grandson of the Tiffany and he makes lamps.  It's a tiffany style shade on an organic shaped brown textured ceramic base.

I also have a pair of Asian enameled Ginger Jar type lamps-which might not jive with my room's color scheme though so I am still up in the air on the lamps.  (They have some pink and seafoam and turquoise colors on the bases.)

I also have an Asian styled sofa table(tallish that goes behind your sofa)which I may or may not use as a behind the sofa table(depends on the arrangement of the furniture which isn't settled yet).  I may put this sofa table in the dining room as a side table if it doesn't work in the living room space.

As for the curtains, I have a bolt of fabric I have been carting around for 10 years now to make drapes for the room.......

It's a lime green mediumweight polyblend with a monochromatic all-over circle pattern.  This photo makes the color appear more washed out than it is.
It goes with the area rug well(same tone family)but I am scared that large swaths of this on the windows will sort of "overpower" the color scheme because it is so bright....not that I don't like it this bright. lol

So I took a swatch and tea stained the first photo the bolt of fabric color is closer to the actual color in person, in the second photo the swatch is closer to the actual color of the tea stained sample in person.....

The tea staining takes the 'sheen' off the material's color and tones it down a notch.  I'm not sure if it tones it down too much and makes it too boring.....the walls and sofa colors will be boring enough.

The curtains will be floor length tabbed curtains, like this.....

I had wanted to make grommet curtains like this.....

Though I can get large grommets, I can't find a way to affix them to the curtains as the fabric I have is sort of bulky.  I have been looking for grommet curtains in an acceptable color and fabric for YEARS now that will go with my rug and vision with no success.

Now, feeling that my lime green curtains might be too too much visually for the room I also picked up some other curtain options at BB&B last month......

 Green/brown/tan striped curtains panels with a slight sheen. One of the green tones in this drape matches the tea stained tone of my fabric swatch I dyed.
 I don't need or want the room darkening feature of these and I fear the stripes, though in my color scheme, would fight with the circular shapes in the rug.

A tan grommet drape in a dark off white.   It's plain and boring and will basically blend in with the wall color....but do I want that?  It is the ONLY grommet drape I've found that doesn't look like a cheap piece of garbage.

A tan silky(not sheer though)with a substantial sheen to the fabric drape.  It also has leaf/blossom patterns(line drawings)embroidered in a dark brown thread into the fabric in an all-over pattern.  You can make it out barely in the photo.
I am not sure if I like this embroidered stuff or not.  This drape is a bit darker in color than the previous boring drape above so it will stand out a bit from the wall color and the sheen and embroidery gives it a "pop"....and it's not too busy visually to fight with the rug and other patterns I might put in the room.

Another option would be to use one of these manufactured drapes and insert a length of my lime green fabric into one of the drapes.  Like a border piece at the top or bottom of the curtain like this.....

I was thinking I could cut off the bottom of the drapes and add a panel of lime green at the bottom as that would be easier than adding it in the middle or at the top like in the photo.  Though the panel near the top is pretty smart looking.....
Of course, if I do this, I would use either of the solid color off-white drapes to doctor up, NOT the striped drape.   The striped drape would be hideous with this treatment! lol

So that's where things stand at the moment in my decorating adventure.
I am going for clean, fresh, modern, uncluttered with an Asian feel.
At least that's what I am hoping


Where Were You When the World Changed?

In September of 2001 I was 42 years old and living in Pennsylvania when this happened....

               The World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City

In December of 1955 I was 4 years away from being born when this happened....

     Rosa Parks arrested in Montgomery , Alabama

In July/August of 1917 I was 42 years away from being born when this happened.....

        Women suffragists arrested for picketing the White House, Washington, DC

And in June of 1969 I was 10 years old and living in Virginia when this happened.....

                The first newspaper photograph(by Joseph Ambrosini) published in the Daily News, of the Stonewall Riot in Greenwich Village, NYC

All these events are Watershed Moments in our country that fundamentally changed us as a Nation.

Keep fighting the good fight all you warriors!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Long Boring Genealogy Stuff...But with Pictures!

Ok, not so long really....but still boring. lol

There are two genealogy areas I work on.

First there is the "near" ancestors....the ones I remember being alive and the 6 or so generations before them.  These 6 immediately previous generations are the ancestors that I hope to be able to link up to genetically when the results come back from my DNA samples I sent off recently into the bowels of a Texas lab.
I got confirmation that they received my "material" last week.
So now I wait, if not very patiently, for the results.

6 generations before my time takes me back to the late 1700's.
In some of my family blood lines, that is far enough removed to transport my ancestral lines to the far off continent of Europe.  In other of my blood lines(mostly on my mother's side), the late 1700's finds these 6 generations already removed to the New World.  Some of that number having been removed to the Americas more than 100 years before that time!

One of my earliest ancestors that has been traced arrived in the Virginia Colony in 1635 with his wife and 1 servant.  So as some of my ancestors were making their way across the sea from Europe, I had 2 blood lines already here for about 160 years.
It boggles the mind sometimes.

And then there are the "far" ancestors.
The ones many MANY generations removed from me and known, stretching back into the Middle Ages in some cases.  I can't possibly live long enough at this point in my life, to research every last person others have "put" into my lines.  I hope that whoever added these folks had some source material to back up their claims but I don't have the time, funds or resources to prove every leaf on the tree of our family.  So I add ancestors who other's claim to be legit to our tree for now.

While the paper trail and quality of research can be spotty at best in this very long chain of ancestors, I take it at it's face value and work to substantiate the claims when I can.  There are many questions and holes but I keep them on the tree until I find enough evidence to counter the claim that their branch belongs on my tree.  Once it's clear the facts don't fit and the blood doesn't match, I perform some pruning and cut them loose.

Which brings me to my Vassar ancestors.
A couple of years ago, at the beginning of my "where did I come from?" quest I found a relative I never knew existed by the name of Reginald Vassar.  He is my 2nd cousin and was, at that time, 90+ years old.  He had been doing Vassar genealogy for many years and had amassed a great file on many generations of our Vassar ancestors.

John Little Vassar and his wife, Lucy Ellen Baker Vassar were my great grandparents on my mother's side.
Reginald Vassar and I share Hugh Wiley & Sarah Anne "Sally" Smith Vassar (my 3 x GGs)as common ancestors. 

Hugh & Sally had a son, John Alfred "Jack" Vassar.  Hugh & Sally had another son, Richard Levi Douglas Vassar.  John is my 2 x GG and Richard is Reggie's GG.

And this is our most "famous" current relative......

I'm not sure exactly how we are related(I need to do the research on that)but we are cousins (X number of times removed), of some kind.  My brother has told me that my mother's cousin Dean has partied with Phil on occasion.
The fact that she is related to Phil Vassar has pleased my daughter to no end, as she is a BIG country music fan. 8-)

And no, we are not related to the folks who founded this......

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY

But then again, Matthew Vassar's line came over from England in 1796, so we might be connected back in the Old Country. ;-)

But I digress......

Through the work of Reginald, another ancestor Lyndal G. Vessar(who wrote one of the comprehensive books on Vassar genealogy many years ago)and countless others through the years, I have my Vassar line nailed down back to 1595 for specific individuals.  There is general Vassar/Vessar family genealogy going back further to France in the 12 century. 

The surname springs from the Lorraine region of France and came from a landed ranking-Feudal Vassals(one level below a Baron or Viscount).  Variations of the name include VaVassour, LaVasseur, Vossier, etc.
Here is how James Vassar, a poster on an Ancestry dotcom message board, explains the origin of the surname better than myself.....
""Vassar" is a derivative of an Old French military title and an old ancient roman military legionary title. The old french title is "vavassour", which translates as "Vassal of Vassals", comparable to the phrase "king of kings". The ancient roman word is "vavasorrium" (or something like that), roughly equivalent to a captain or a lieutenant, maybe. The vavassour is equivalent to the Anglo-Saxon military-political position of "thane," that is why Vassar is sometimes spelled "Vassal." Essentially and for all intents and purposes a vavassour is a landed feudal knight, or a knight that had land granted to him by his feudal lord. All landed knights were vassals or military servants to their feudal lord, but they were not peasants as some snobs have told me. So, a vavassour is a "knight of knights." I have read a few references were he is referred to as the old wise and senior knight that is in semi-retirement and still gives advise to the younger knights."

Everything was going well for us until 1599, when the Reformed Protestant church, of which these ancestors were supporters, was founded in France. These French Protestants became known as Huguenots.

  Painting,  " An Eyewitness Account of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre" by Francois Dubois

Long story short, this led to the "War of the Three Henrys" and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in which Catholics killed thousands of Huguenots in Paris and massacres of Protestants swept across France after that, which led to a massive exodus of Protestants out of France into neighboring countries like Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Prussia and England.  Though no one knows the true number, I've read the extermination of French Protestants amounted to half a million souls.  That's a whole lot of people by 1572 standards.

Eventually, the Huguenots who remained were forced to convert to Catholicism but about 200,000 chose instead to leave France.

My direct line of ancestors chose to emigrate to England during the reign of Elizabeth I.  Elizabeth, being Henry VIII's daughter(Henry who had founded the Anglican/Protestant Church in England and driven out or killed Catholics and burned and looted their monasteries) was a Protestant herself and welcomed these religious refugees into her kingdom.  She was generous with financial help throughout her reign. 
My direct ancestor was one John Vassar/Vesser.  His parents had fled France after the St. Bartholomew's massacre for England though we have no record of their names as of yet. John was born in Gravesend, England in 1595.  He married an English bred woman named Elizabeth Dowe/Dew.

But there was religious unrest in England after the death of Elizabeth in 1603.   John applied for permission to sail to the New World and signed an oath of allegiance to the Crown & the Anglican Church. The Church of England was the official religion of the Virginia Colony and anyone sailing there to settle had to be certified and promise to conform to the Church's doctrine and practices.  Even Quakers who removed to Virginia from England had to have their children baptized and recorded in the CofE.

According to the ship's manifest, in the spring of 1635, John Vasser, his wife Elizabeth, and their
indentured servant, Wm. Baker, sailed aboard the barque "Alice" with Richard Blake as Master of
the Ship. They departed from Gravesend, County Kent, England. This port was the embarking point
of the London Company émigrés headed to the Va. Colony at Jamestown. (Though the London Company had been disbanded in 1624 and Virginia became a royal province, ships bound for Virginia still embarked at Gravesend.)

While much of my time had been devoted to double checking the facts I could on the Vassar line, recently my attention turned to the line of John Vassar's wife, Elizabeth of the Dowe or Dew family.
I began to trace back the path that has been laid out for Elizabeth's ancestors and it led me into the realm of English royalty.
Now any time I find my ancestors hooked up to famous or infamous characters in history I become suspicious of the motives.

Many amateur genealogists do genealogy to connect to their actual roots.
And then there are the others, who only do this to find famous relations, so they can show off to their friends and somehow feel important since they can claim a link to somebody "Fabulous".

One of my earliest friends in life recently told me she is descended from Lady Godiva.  Of course I didn't ask her for proof or shake my head at her claim but I do wonder where she got this information and if her assertion is valid.

When a fellow Ancestry user who shares ancestors with me, notified me recently about some information that has just come to light about our Baker line, I used this occasion to reach out to a number of other Baker researchers/members on Ancestry to let them know and to invite them to be guests on my family tree and perhaps share information.

Only 1 of these fellow genealogists replied to me so far.
His response.......I will copy it in it's entirety....

"Hi, my Bakers go way back to Sir John "Bloody" Baker who I believe was first Chancellor of the Exchequer for UK. See Bramhall Castle."

Now a person really interested in history and genealogy would have replied either "Yes, let's get together and work on this stuff." or "No thanks....I don't care to communicate with you."

But I got someone who used this opening to brag about his infamous ancestor who did some really dastardly and horrid things.
Add in that this person claims kinship through a supposed Christopher Baker, a son of Sir John Baker.  John Baker and his wives had 2 sons, neither of which was named Christopher.  Perhaps he has information I don't but I am skeptical about his claim, especially in light of the context in which he shared it.

I just get the feeling that this guy does genealogy for all the wrong reasons.

And the rest, they say, is history.
And "it" can wait to be explored another day.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Leon Day!

Happy Leon Day everyone!

I almost forgot it was Leon Day today.

Yes, it's exactly 6 months before Christmas Day...or 6 months after Christmas Day if you look at it that way. ;-)
Or to put it another way, there are only 182 more shopping days until Christmas! 8-))
Did I scare ya? lol

So with 6 months to go, it's time for a check-up.
How is your HOLIDAY SAVINGS PLAN doing?

What's that?
You don't HAVE a Holiday Savings Plan?
You aren't putting away money for Holiday spending??

Why not?
If you celebrate one of the Winter Holidays, aren't you going to be buying gifts for people, special Holiday food, going somewhere special for the Holiday, etc?

The Holidays come around every clockwork really!

Shouldn't you have a plan to keep from going into debt for the Holidays?
Now is the time to do something.....anything in the way of putting money aside for the Holidays.

Take action asap and get out of that "Oh my goodness, it's *insert the Holiday you celebrate here*!  Quick, go buy stuff and put it onto a credit card because we didn't plan ahead and don't have spare cash for it!!" mind set.

If you have thought ahead before now to have a pile of cash for Holiday spending, it's time to check in on where you are in your saving progress. 
Do you have enough saved and/or is there enough months left to have enough saved for the spending you plan to do?
If you find you are behind schedule in your Holiday fund, then make plans now to ratchet the savings up.
You'll be glad you did when December rolls around.

Who needs the added stress of the thought of credit card bills rolling in after January 1st because you bought stuff you couldn't afford in December.

Start 2014 by not going into(or deeper into)debt!  It all starts NOW.....


Want To Win Stuff? Lookie Here! Week 2

It's Summer.  Things slow down this time of year in the Bloggiverse.
I think it's time for a return of.........

Here's how it works if you are new here.......
I put things in the box(mostly what I have gotten for free or almost free)each week and when the box is filled we draw a winner from all the entries received.

Here is what went into the Box today.....

1.  1 small tube of Volume Shampoo bby John Frieda
2.  1 2-pack of Olay Soap
3.  1 bottle of Axe for Her Body Wash(Anarchy)
4.  1 small tube of Aveeno Body Lotion

If this is your first time, please go read all the rules for these Giveaways HERE.  *As always, if you are located outside the US, you CAN enter and win but weight restrictions/shipping costs may mean your prize box will contain less items.*

***Time to enter.....You can enter on this Giveaway post until I close this post to entries.

1 entry per person per day on THIS POST.
Leave your name/email addy and a COMMENT on this post.  

This week I want to hear about plans to fix up your home(whether it's a house or an apartment) ....
Do you have any plans to spend money on remodeling, repair/maintenance or just freshing up your interior living spaces?
Do you have a budget or is it a "we spend whatever it takes" kind of project?
Will you do some or most of the work yourself of do you call in professional help?
You can come directly to this blog post or find it through the link on the right side bar to leave 1 comment per day.  The current Giveaway Post will be linked right at the top of the side bar.

Please NOTE--You MUST be a follower to enter the Giveaway.  If you aren't one, just click on the "Follow" button on the right hand side of my blog to become a follower.

There are 2 ways to get 2 EXTRA entries on this and each new Giveaway Post.......

1. Put my blog on your blog's Blogroll.  Leave an extra comment for this entry on THIS POST with the URL of your blog so I can go check it out. **If I'm already on your Blogroll, say so in an extra entry comment once each week of this giveaway.
2.  Blog about this Giveaway on your blog with a link to this post.  Leave an extra comment for this entry on THIS POST with a link to your blog post so I can go view it.  You can do this extra entry once each week of this giveaway.
These giveaways run about 4 weeks, depending on how often I get a blog post done.  The winner will be drawn from all valid entries received before the closing date of the giveaway.

 Any questions?  Just email me.

Happy Entering!! 


Monday, June 24, 2013

This Week On the Dining Table

I have sat here staring at a blank post for about an hour now, waiting for meal planning inspiration to hit me.
No Luck.
Let's get to it anyway.....


Here's what was planned last week--

Sunday--Ravioli with homemade Sauce, Salad, Garlic Bread
Monday--Salmon, Corn OTC, Roasted Potatoes & Onions
Tuesday--Sloppy Joes on Kaiser Rolls, Roasted Asparagus
Wednesday--Quiche, Salad
Thursday--Roast Chicken, leftover Roasted Potatoes or Stuffing, Carrots
Friday--Mushroom Parmesan, Asparagus, leftover side dishes
We stuck to this plan and I prepared it all, except for a couple of side dish substitutions.
Yah us!
Of course on Sat. which we were out and about, Hubs FORCED me to have lunch at Ret Lopster...sorry, Red Lobster.
It cost a whopping $14 including tip after we used the gift card I still had from Christmas.

I spent $121.49 on $168.62 worth of groceries at 2 different stores last week.  I bought ahead SB(aka store brand)Gatorade, 'good' hot dogs, sugar-free pudding cups, low salt ketchup, salad dressings, frozen burritos, chicken strips, 2 containers of shebert and bread products.  I also found those cartons of dehydrated hash browns Hungry Jack brand that #2 Son wants me to buy for $1.29 reg. price at Wegman's so I picked up 4 for him.(They are almost $2 at the local store in town and I refuse to buy them at that price!)
The rest was fresh produce, fruit, dairy, OJ, lunchmeat and hummus that was consumed that week.
Total spent so far in June on food is $260.49.
1 week left in June and I still have $139.51 left in my food budget.
Going into this week the leftovers that remain are--some rolls, half a container of half & half,  2 helpings of Sloppy Joe.   I also have a large amount of eggs in the fridge.  Either #2 Son or I will eat the leftover Sloppy Joes for lunches this week(and use up the rolls too).
It's going to be too hot to run the oven all this week, especially since we have no a/c yet. 8-(
(I've made bold the leftover items I've used in the menu below.)

 Here's this week's meal plan--
Sunday--Grilled Steak, Tossed Salad
Monday--Leftovers or BLTs
Tuesday--Crab cakes, stuffed clams, green beans
Wednesday--Breakfast for Dinner use eggs
Thursday--Grilled Hot Dogs on Rolls, Beans, Mixed Veggies
Friday-Something Chicken in the Crockpot with Veggies and Rice
Saturday--maybe Take-Out since #1 Son is due in that evening

On the shopping list so far--tomatoes, maybe hot dog rolls(have to check if I have enough), milk.

So that's where the food money stands now and what's appearing on the kitchen table this week here at Chez Sluggy.

 What's getting fixed and served at your house this week?


The Return of DeCluttering Porn...Ooh Baby!

Just a few photos of what is leaving our house this week.....

2 x Star Wars 12" figures
1 x MMPR Battle Bike

 1 box of Happy Meal Toys-unopened

2 x bath towels
1 x water bottle
1 x insulated coffee mug
1 x Correlle cup
2 x kid's cookbooks
1 x travel book
1 x aquarium fish guide

1 box of older Happy Meal toys-unopened
2 x small soldiers keychains

1 novelty watch
1 brass teapot(no lid)
2 x Corelle mugs
1 insulared cup with lid and straw
1 miniature teddy bear
1 Easter egg kit
1 Easter garland
1 bunny shaped wire basket
2 x women's shirts
1 Icee bottle w/lid and straw

1 digital camera(old & lame)

Add in a black mushroom chair I didn't get a photo of before Hubs packed it into his car.
This will all be out of my life sometime this week, when Hubs stops by Salvation Army on the way home.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friends, Cars & Money

*Bonus points if you got that my post was a riff on the Warren Zevon song "Lawyers, Guns & Money".

What the last few days it's been here! 
Can you guess what I'm going to talk about today from my post title? lol

First, a longtime online friend's husband passed away.  I am part of an online group, a closed group that came together as beanie baby collectors.  We've been a group since 1998 and have actually had a few conventions early on where we got together in person.  I traveled to Minnesota in 1999 for the 1st convention and to Missouri in 2000 to another one.  The mini-gathering held in Chicago I was unable to attend in 2001 or 2002(can't remember when it was held).

Anyway, this member was very active in the group, even now, when many of us have moved on and don't communicate much anymore.  Her husband has had a chronic/permanent condition for many years but she has stayed in touch.  Usually when difficulties like hers have arisen with other members, she was the one to organize and send out sympathy cards and flowers and such from the group.

Well, I took it upon myself to organize an effort to let her know that we, as a group, are thinking about her.  I'm not usually the one to handle this kind of stuff and I'm sure my missteps this time will show that.  But I felt I owed it to her to arranged something.
So all the back and forth emailing everyone in the group and arranging what to send her has taken up a good chunk of the last two days.

Second, to add to my concerns lately is that #2 Son was in a car accident.  The other night, he was pulling out onto the highway to come home after working and someone plowed into him.  If he hadn't seen them at the last minute and floored the gas, they would have hit him broadside, t-boning his car.  With quick thinking, he was able to save all but the rear left side of his car.  Well, "save" isn't quite the right way to describe it.  The back end of the car is now "a Modern Art Project" rather than a car.

Most probably, the car will be totaled and insurance will cut us a check.....and then in Aug. when our premium is due, our rates will increase.  Sigh.......

But more importantly, #2 Son is fine....just a little shook up but the boy seems to have nerves of steel.

And in regard to the "shit hole" nearby, we have decided that no, we don't want to retire to this area, so we will pass on that particular opportunity.
If we are going to be shelling out cash, we might as well do it on getting our present home up to snuff.

And speaking of fixing up your house, we come to my third point of this post.
We finally bit the bullet on the largest home improvement project we need to do here at Chez Sluggy as part of The Great House Fix-Up & Purge of 2013.

We decided on and signed a contract to install an a/c system.
We even went one better than that.
Since we needed a better a/c plan than window units AND we also needed a new plan for a heating system, we got both.

We have no ductwork and the logistics of installing ductwork in this house is unworkable, so we went with an a/c mini-split unit.  These are a/c units put right into the wall of your rooms that are run via an outside compressor unit(a heat pump thingy-technical term).  We are having 2 units installed downstairs that will cool the entire first floor, and 1 unit put up into the master bedroom.  We didn't have the whole house covered because we basically don't need it for the number of people living here and the way we live in the house AND it would have been too freaking expensive to do the entire house it turns out.

We tried to have the 3 splits installed and a compressor large enough to support 5 splits(so that when we sold the house, if the new owners wanted to have all the bedrooms air conditioned, they could add on splits).  But they don't have/make a 5 split sized compressor so the next step up would have been an 8 split compressor.....and that one was just much higher than we wanted to shell out for something a new owner might or might not want.  If they want to go full house cooling, they can replace the compressor on their dime with that much larger one we declined to buy.

Then when we priced this system out, to add heat to it(thus making it a heating AND cooling system)was only going to run $1,500 more.  And it's no fly-by-night equipment either.  We are talking Carrier and Mitsubishi, both top brands in their respective parts lines.
Hubs was talking to our neighbor after we signed on with this system, and he was telling Hubs that they had a split unit which they ripped out and replaced with ductwork and the whole magilla(there house is configured much differently from ours so it was feasible to install).  He said it never worked right and didn't cool anything(it was just a/c, not heat too).  Of course then Hubs found out he spent $3K on it installed and it was years ago and a brand nobody ever heard of and without a large enough seer rating to move any air.  And a "Johnny one truck"(aka a small time questionably self-employed HVAC person) installed it.

As I've talked about before we have a heating system that is slowly dying.  The house was built with ceramic storage heating units(that run off of the electric).  When our electric company offered an on/off peak rate plan, your ceramic storage would run off-peak when the rates were lower and then give off the heat during on peak hours, saving you money.  But they no longer offer it and the ceramic storage heating units are one by one ceasing to work.  It makes no sense to repair/replace them, especially since there is ONE GUY who repairs/replaces these within an hour's drive of here and he charges-get this--2 TIMES the Cost of a unit to replace one.  Yep.  The units cost about $1K each and he charges over $2K to take out the old one and hook the new one up.  If you are gaining no energy savings once the thing is replaced and operationally again, why spend that kind of money?!
Just to replace all 5 of these ceramic units would run us over $15 THOUSAND!!  And after spending all that, we'd be left with plain old expensive electric heat pump system that's less expensive to operate and NO COOLING option either!

So of the 5 ceramic storage units we have/had in the house, 3 have broken and we have replaced, so far, 1 with plain old baseboard electric heat.  And the stupid thing is, we didn't have the ceramic units in every room of the house, just the main floor and the master bedroom so it wasn't a house wide system to begin with.
Getting a combined heat and a/c system just made sense and as the 2 units that are still working stop, we can just rip them out.  The rooms that never had ceramic units have baseboard anyway and they are fine as is.

So within the next 2 weeks, we will have sorted out our heating/cooling problems and have that major obstacle to selling this house when we are ready to do so out of the way.
We spent a good chunk of change(but we knew we would be from the research I had done)but I think we accomplished a solution on the cheap compared to other possibilities.
But we spent LESS than replacing all the ceramic units would have cost plus we get a system that will cost less to operate AND we get a/c with the deal.
Nice. 8-)))

I am just glad that this is out of the way and off my list! 8-)
I figure too we have increased the value of the house about 10-15%.
We missed out on a rebate from the electric company to have this system installed by one month. ugh
But we do get a $300 tax credit next tax year....not a refund, just a credit when we go to do our taxes for 2013. 

The only down side will be having to keep my hand steady enough to write that check to the company. lol

So #1 heating/cooling problem solved and it's onward to planning the next project.....which one that is yet?.....I don't know.  ;-)
Needless to say, none of the other projects we need to do are as expensive as this one.
Thank goodness for my Money Savings Challenges over the past few years, huh?