Friday, July 31, 2015

A Quickie

Can it really be the last day of July?
Can August be right on the horizon?
Can I really be sleeping on a subpar mattress in a sleazy motel in Virginia?

Yes to all!

My Eldest son's "moving to VA plan" has changed a total of 3 times since Tuesday.
This only meant a disruption in "our" plan far......but it was quite a change.

Hubs and I got into town here mid afternoon yesterday so had some time to kill yesterday.

We found somewhere to go...........

Can you guess where?

If I look like death warmed over it's because I was outside and it was something like 92F in the shade. ugh.
Welcome to Virginia in August.

More later as this adventure develops..........



Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Food and Toiletries Spending.....July Update

Onward to July's food spending report.......

Here are my FOOD BUDGET spending totals for JULY 2015.

I have posted July's totals on the Total Grocery Savings for 2015 Page located HERE and have updated the Yearly Totals there.  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 Sum.  My spending includes Food, Toiletries/HBA, Cleaning Products, Paper Goods & tax where applicable. We are a family of 3(3-4 at home this month). No kids under 19. 
Remember too that youngest son's friend often stays over at our house during the school break and eats here sometimes so I am feeding an additional person sporadically.

OOP  $7.50
Value  $35.22
Savings  78.71%

OOP  $9.05
Value  $21.65
Savings  58.20%

OOP  $44.38
Value $67.57
Savings  34.32%

MALACHI's(produce market)
OOP  $3.97
Value $6.99
Savings   43.20%

OOP  $100.00
Qs/Ads  $61.03
Value  $161.03
Savings  37.90%
SHURSAVE STORES(small local independent affiliated stores)
OOP  $3.42
Qs/Ads  $0
Value  $3.42
Savings  0%

OOP  $56.32
Value  $91.39
Savings  38.37%

OOP  $0.00
Value  $40.46
Savings  100%
OOP  $227.26
Qs/Ads  $228.99
Value  $456.25
Savings  50.19%

My best 3 Store Savings Totals were Target at 100%, the Bakery Outlet at 78.71% and Dollar Tree at 58.20%.  My WORST savings rate(besides the local market were I just bought a gallon of milk and milk is NEVER on sale in PA so it was 0% savings there)was Maine Source at 34.32%.

I shopped at 9 different stores this past month.   Lots of single transactions at lots of stores. The only store I shopped at repeatedly was Weis.

TOTAL Out of Pocket........ $451.90
TOTAL Coupons & Store Sales Savings...$432.08
TOTAL Value of Items Purchased............$883.98
TOTAL Savings of...................................48.88%

This closes out the July food/toiletries spending.

THOUGHTS & COMMENTS for this month.....
I went into July wanting to do a $300 food budget for the month....after June's spending topped out at $602.03 it was time to reign things in.  8-(
Well if I hadn't bought those Rite-Aid gift cards(to use later in the year to get awesome deals) I could have done a $350.90 spending month and that would have been closer to my target.

The monthly savings percentage went down by 6.72 % in July to 48.88% compared to June's 55.60% average.  If I hadn't purchased the R-A gift cards my monthly savings percentage would have been 53.11% which would have been a 2.49% reduction in savings.

The savings rate for the whole year so far now stands at 58.12%.  That's a 1.4 % decrease in savings over June's YTD total(59.52%).  It's still hanging in well over a 40% savings rate for the year so it's all good. 

I have spent a total of $2,803.56 on food/toiletries in 2015 so far at this point in the year. That averages out to $400.51 per month so just over $400 average per month.  Not a bad thing but I can do better.

June's Grocery Spend Fest  raised the average monthly spending by $42.10 more per month for the year-to-date.
And May's spending raised the average monthly spending by $41.47.  
With July's average monthly spending at $400.51 we are finally heading in the right direction!

With College Boy going back to school next month(and no more coffee, snacks, chicken strips, soda, etc. being bought) I should be able to get this food spending even lower.

If you take my halfway through 2015 total and extrapolate it out for the full year, we are on track to achieve a $4,703.32 Food/Toiletries Spending Year for 2015.


We'll try for a $350 food budget for AUGUST.  I am done buying special snacks and foods for College Boy for the Summer and he goes back to school on the 15th of August.  Granted I'll have a few items to pick up for him to take to school as he goes back a week before classes start for Marching Band Camp and he'll need food for that week plus snacks and bottled water for the Fall semester.  I've picked up over the course of this Summer some provisions for him to take back to school already, working those expenses into my monthly food shopping budget(drinks, coffee, canned pasta, ramen cups, cereal, etc.)so we shouldn't have to spend much this month, if anything thing, on foods/toiletries for him.

We do need to eat down some proteins in the freezer including a turkey breast this August.  Just getting that out will make quite a bit of room in there for late Summer produce buys coming up I wish to freeze.
If you have other ideas or guidelines you follow please leave a comment and share yours with us all.
*  How much did you spend on food/toiletries in July?
*  Do you track your yearly food spending?
*  What was your savings percentage buying on sale and/or with coupons vs. buying at regular retail price last month, if you track that sort of thing?


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

College Bureaucracy Hell.....Better Than a Video Game

I have never had the problems dealing with institutions of higher learning(aka universities)with my older 2 children as I have had dealing with them in regards to child number 3, College Boy.

The older 2 by their sophomore year were pretty much on top of things and I was on autopilot with regard to having to "deal" with anything concerning their schooling, other than filling out the dreaded FAFSA each Winter and writing the checks to fund said schooling.

But this kid........!?!

Need I say more?
Yes, yes I do.....a lot more!

First off he is so off in his own world that he totally missed signing up for Fall term 2015 classes last Spring.  He DID make it to "Make-Up Day" but some of the classes he wanted/needed were filled.
He also totally missed Housing/Dining sign-ups for Fall 2015 back during his Spring 2015 term.
Then he missed the Housing "Make-Up Day" altogether.  He says it was because he wanted to room next year with a particular student and then gave me a story about how they need to both simultaneously submit their info/choices to Housing in order to get a room together.
And of course, that didn't even turn out to be accurate.

Now these educational institutions KNOW what the brain of a teenage boy is like.....dealing with them on a regular basis, how could they NOT know this, right?
Yet they handle things in such a way as to set them up for failure with getting all this completed correctly and in a timely manner.

The first thing schools do is NOT allow access to anything concerning the student by their parents.
Who decided this was a good idea?  Especially since the vast majority of parents are footing the bills for these students!
I know it's a privacy issue but every acceptance letter to college should come packaged with it, besides the forms to start applying for housing/classes/dining and financial aid, a form for the student to sign to allow their parents access to school information.

I find it ridiculous that even though I am still legally responsible for this child and I am paying his freaking bills! that I am not allowed to see any information pertaining to him/his grads/his balances due unless HE shows it to me.  Or he signs something they keep on file at the school that gives me permission to even speak to someone in charge about his matriculation at said school.

I don't even get access online to his account and he has to log in and show me the information I need to find.

We got a card from the school about 2 weeks ago informing us that his Fall invoice for school would be available online on July 24, 2015 and that payment was due in full(unless you opted for a billing plan)by August 7, 2015.  That's a 2 week window of opportunity and cuts it very close if you are an old fogey and mail a check rather than put this on your credit card or debit card.

So I try to go online and access the bill and hopefully just pay it electronically since it is faster.
But no, I can't access the bill.
So I have to find an opportunity when College Boy is awake when I am also awake and not practicing his instrument or rushing off to work his part time job.
Easier said than done I tell!

We finally are both free and awake on Monday his day off.  He has to go online on HIS computer since the school's website won't let him log in from my computer.
And I finally get to see the bill and save it to a flash drive so I can print it out forms from my machine.

But the Invoice/Bill says there is half of a $6,500 student loan applied to this bill!
A student loan nobody here applied for......
And to boot it is unsubsidized meaning interest accrues and builds as soon as it is disbursed. yuck.

College Boy looks at the loan amount and says that's cool and now he'll be able to spend more of our money of crap like pizza and going out at school.  I have to explain to him that an unsubsidized loan will grow as soon as you start the clock on this money and by the time he is in a position to start paying this back(and yes, YOU are paying this back, not your father and I!)after graduating and finding a real job, it will be far more than what they are loaning you.

So now I have to call the school and find out 1-why this loan is on his account, and 2-how to get it removed.
And when I called on Tuesday morning of course since CB hadn't signed a FERPA form to give us access to  his records they can't talk to me.  I tell her, "Well if you want to get paid for him to attend school there somebody had better talk to me about something because I pay his bills!" lolz

So she allows me to ask about this student loan issue and then informs me that Noah has to call or email a certain person in their Financial Aid office who handles the direct student loans and request that it be rejected.  I can't do this, even if he had signed a FERPA form.
So now it's on CB to handle this detail.

While nosing around on CB's online account at the school I came across an interesting item tucked in some corner of the site.
The reason we NEVER receive any paper communication from this school(other than this 1 card in the Fall and another 1 in the Spring)is because if you want paper communication you have to OPT IN!
So let me get this are only going to communicate with the bill paying parents electronically(unless you opt into paper communications which you never let us know we need to do this)but do NOT allow these bill paying parents electronic access to their student's information/account/emails.

Give it a minute to let that all sink in.

Is this all kinds of messed up or what?!?!

I just wonder how many kids show up for move-in day at college with their bill not paid and clueless parents? lolz

ATTENTION COLLEGES--Parents are old, old fashioned and use to PAPER COMMUNICATIONS for IMPORTANT STUFF!  This is how things worked in our world for forever.  We are not 20 somethings use to an electronic everything!
Make Paper the default and let parents OPT OUT if they wish.

So if this craziness isn't enough--now I have to deal with the Residential Life stuff of Housing and Dining.
College Boy's bill says he is on the 14 Meal per Week plan.  I suppose since he was on that one last year and he missed the sign-up/change date they just kept that one on his agenda.
We found that with his schedule last year that he was NOT eating 14 meals a week at the school's facilities.  We were paying gosh knows how much each semester for uneaten meals which drove me crazy!
So there was a 10 Meal per week plan and something called a 175 Block Meal Plan.  These 2 plans were within $2 of each other in price so the same financial outlay basically.  But of course the school's website didn't explain what the difference was between them besides $2.
After emailing the school last week and waiting a full WEEK for a reply explaining what makes these 2 plans different I finally did on Monday.
They both supply an average of 10 meals per week but if you don't use 10 meals a week they carry over into the following week, etc. until the semester ends on the Block Plan. 
This will be a much better option for CB and will result in NOT wasting money on food he doesn't eat.
So we changed his meal plan and will save about $125 a semester(big whoop, right?).  This savings I can use to throw some money at him if he runs short of $ for food during the semester if need be.

Then it was on to the Housing issue. 
He had finally selected a room option in May and luckily they still have available units(even though the sign-up deadline was long past).  And they had paired him with a suite mate and he isn't rooming with this frat brother friend.
So I ask about making a change to a room with said frat brother.
Housing would have to move him out of his current suite and put him in a vacant suite(if they can find one of the option he chose).  Then this frat brother has to request being removed from his current room and put into the CB's new room.  This would be problematic at best seeing as CB would have to get in touch with frat brother in the next 2 week's and get him to handle the request on his end.

But then when the Housing person looked even if they want to try to get this changed they can't because frat brother's parents are paying for a cheaper/different room frat brother would have to have his parents cough up more cash for the upgraded suite to make this even possible.
So at least we know and CB can get his sulk over this glitch in his plan out of the way before he shows up at school.

So I have mailed out the school payment this morning and am waiting on CB to call the Financial Aid Office to get the loan removed and for the school to correct the bill.  Worse case scenario(other than if the loan co. disburses the money to the school before Financial Aid contacts them)the school says that I have overpaid CB's fall bill.  I can live with that for now.

And we won't be filling out a FAFSA this January for CB's Junior year.  It's just a waste of time on our part seeing as "we are rich" according to the government.
Senior year he will need to take out some loans especially if he has to do an unpaid internship and live on his own in an apartment, somewhere in the country outside of where his school is located for that. 
But until that is needed we are opting OUT of FAFSA.

College Boy's school's Estimated Cost to Attend is $25,280.
Our calculated EFC(or Expected Family Contribution) by FAFSA is $55,111.

CB thus gets nothing for financial needs scholarships, no subsidized loans or state grants.
The only tax benefit we get is a possible $2500 back for the American Opportunity Tax Credit when we file our taxes.
Oh boy......

So if you want some fun and entertainment in your mundane life, go sent a kid off to school.  It's better than a video game.
Though buying a gaming system would be a helluva lot cheaper!

Three more years of this stuff and then you can stick a fork in me and call me DONE!!!



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

May 2015 Louisiana Road Trip Part 1 OR I am Almost a Country Star

"I always seem to stumble onto some weird shit."--Sluggy

Mid May of this year and we were off on another road trip to see our daughter in Louisiana.

Up and on the road bright and early on Sunday May 17th it took just about 2.5 hours to get out of PA and cross over into the South..........

Last year's trip we took I-81 all the way down into Tennessee, then down into Alabama, across Mississippi and west through Louisiana.  This year we decided to take a bit of a different route to LA as we wanted to spend some time in Kentucky this trip.

We took I-81 into Maryland and then picked up I-68 West into West Virginia.

Maryland sign as we left.
Sorry we won't be back for a couple of weeks! ;-)

Another 1.5 hours and we were in West Virginia.....

While driving down I-81 we always see many large crosses along the highway, going across I-68 we see a fair share of gigantic American flags too......

We were getting mighty hungry by the time we hit Morgantown, WV so we got off the road to find something to eat for lunch.

We saw a sign for some chain restaurant that wasn't too nasty but we missed it once we got off the exit and ended up driving for miles.
Then we drove back toward the interstate and saw this place right across from a mall so we went with it......

Schmitt's Saloon and Davisson Brothers Music Hall.
I figured Hubs could get a nice brew and we could get something fried or "bad for us" to eat.

If I only knew......

As we approached the door to the place we say this big sign posted on the door........

This event is being filmed, videotaped and/or photographed.  By being present at this event each person in attendance irrevocably consents to being filmed, videotaped and/or photographed and releases all producers and users of such fill, videotape or photograph from any liability for loss or damages.....yadda  yadda yadda.


So we go inside and hope for the best.

Seems we stumbled upon a real life saloon and music hall(with a stage and theater lighting)venue for live bands.  Supposedly the "premiere live band venue in West Virginia".



A wall of posters by the bathrooms from past local and national country acts that have played this hall.

So we go in anyway and get a table across from the bar and a waitress in a denim miniskirt comes over and slaps down a couple of menus that have the heading "Event Menu" on them.
Event Menu??
The plot thickens......

The menu has about 9 items on it so we choose a couple of burgers, Hubs gets a beer and I stick to iced tea.

It's a Sunday afternoon and we have great fun looking at the small crowd in this here bar.

Hubs loved the couple at the bar......a 40ish guy trying to look 20 years younger with his wrinkled up also trying to pass for 20 skinny gal friend dressed in white pants so tight seam failure was always seconds away.  I counted that this guy drank 6 beers in the almost an hour we were there.

At about beer round #5 said gal friend actually fell off her bar stool.  Nobody batted an eye.
Just a day in the life of a bar fly I suppose.

My favorite was the one I dubbed "Rastafarian WV Granny".  Now picture this--an old, almost toothless white woman wearing glasses, dressed in an almost see through granny nightgown and bedroom slippers with ta-tas that hadn't seen a bra in decades with Rastafarian dirty blonde dreadlocks.  I think she got lost and wandering out from a nearby trailer park and was looking for the way back home.

She must have shuffled back and forth by our table 20 times in the short while we were at Schmitt's.

I thought about getting a photo of her but the flash would have tipped her off and besides I just tried NOT to make eye contact every time she shuffled by. 
These are exactly the kind of people who take a "shine" to me and decide to just come over to me, a complete stranger, and strike up a conversation like we have been pals for years.  I just didn't want to take that chance today......

As we waited on our burgers, the emcee got up on stage at the mike and said their FunFest show for today was starting and they had 3 bands on today's program.   And then he added that after the show they were going to film a music video for county singer Scott Shelby and that is why that sign was on the front door.

The emcee continued that they needed more people in the saloon so asked everyone to call or text their friends to come on down around 4pm and they could all be in the official music video for the title track of Shelby's new album, "Still Got It".

I begged Hubs to let us stay and hang around for the filming of the video but he didn't want to be driving late into the night.  But wouldn't it be cool to be able to tell people that I was in a music video for some real life country singer?  8-)))

And with that, a band began playing music and the girl singer started wailing into the mike.
I decided to take a clandestine bit of video while the crowds milled around and Hubs played on his phone.  That video is HERE.

After nobody seemed to notice and shut me down I took another short bit of video.....

This band is called "Trial by Fire".  They have a Facebook page HERE.

The guy on the right with the orange guitar got my attention with the first tune they played.  He put his guitar backwards behind his head and shredded during their first number.
Now THAT takes talent.....

HERE is another proper video of another of the songs they do.

We ate while the band played on and then we left before the other two bands took the stage and totally missed the opportunity to become famous via music video.
Oh well.....easy come easy go. lolz

Here's the website for singer Scott Shelby

And here is the music video that was filmed at Schmitt's that day after we left.  They hardly even show the audience/crowd so maybe it was a good thing we let this one go by.  I bet the next opportunity for fame and fortune are just around the corner......ya, that's it......

We got back onto the Interstate and made tracks ourselves.....tracks for Huntington, WV where we were to stop for the night.

Only problem was, the stretch of highway between Morgantown and Huntington WV wasn't conducive to me keeping food down.  Somebody should have warned me that this stretch of interstate was rather twisty and hilly.   And I'm not talking regular twisty and hilly.

I have since dubbed West Virginia, "The Land of Roller Coasters".  On that day it sure felt like I was on a gigantic roller coaster without end, holding onto a plastic bag in case my lunch wanted a repeat performance.
I did manage not to hurl but was I ever glad when we hit Morgantown and could get off the highway.

Here are a couple of photos I snapped with my free hand when the waves of nausea weren't rolling like the road.....

That's Roanoke WV, not Roanoke VA.

 Angry clouds matching my nauseous stomach rumblings......

And I SWEAR this is about the only FLAT stretch of road that day.......but it was twisty and curvy......sigh.....

We had a reservation for the Quality Inn on Route 6 leading into Huntington.
$89.60 for 1 night in a rundown "seen better days" Quality Inn with no amenities outside of a pretty bad free breakfast.

We stashed the luggage and went out in search of dinner as it was getting dark.  I wasn't too hungry still but Hubs was famished.

We opted for a Bob Evans tucked into the other edge of town past Marshall University rather than attempting some of the places blogger buddy Jay had recommended.   My stomach needed bland and boringly predictable food........

My grilled chicken came with a flag stuck into it so I had a little fun in the near deserted dining area......I embarrass Hubs everywhere we go.......

By the time we finished our meal and headed back to the motel it was pitch dark and our GPS "Vicki" was still having seizures--shutting down suddenly and then reviving long enough to bark out directions that made little sense before shutting down or recalculating yet again.
"Vicki" was not earning her keep on this trip.....

So we tried to find our way back up Route 6 despite a bunch of one way roads that confused Hubs even more in the dark.

A cool retro neon sign outside a bus station.

The Marshall U. sign I snapped right before Hubs took a wrong turn down a one way road....!!!

Yep, I noticed that there were headlights coming toward us from a distance and they were from ALL the driving lanes and that is how I figured out he was going the wrong way down a one way street.
Well, that and the headlights started flashing at us.

So we ducked into a driveway and waited for the traffic to pass and made a turn and went back down the road in the correct direction.

I guess we are just too old to drive in a town we aren't familiar with at night.......well, that plus I was still between cataract surgeries.....

We made it back to the room safe and sound after that and dare not go anywhere until daylight.
It sure wouldn't have been much fun to meet our end on a dark road in West Virginia.
Besides I can't squeal like a pig very well.....


Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week on the Dining Table

It's the "Lazy Week" Edition--

Not much going on here this past week.  If you don't count getting a head start on my month end money stuff.
Here's about the most excitement I had last week......

I opened this bottle of root beer brewed in the Virgin Islands that I picked up while in Fredericksburg VA.
It was quite tasty as root beers go and if I see it again at this price in my travels I'll buy some more.
Onward to the meal planning!
Here's what was planned last week.......

1. Sunday--Chicken Parm, Tossed Salad
2. Monday--Roast Chicken, Squash Casserole
3. Tuesday--Leftovers
4. Wednesday--Tacos
5. Thursday--Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw(leftover)
6, Friday--BLT sandwiches
7. Saturday--Leftovers
And this is what actually happened--

1. Sunday--Chicken Parm, Tossed Salad
2. Monday--Roast Chicken, Squash Casserole
3. Tuesday--Leftover chicken Parm made into Subs
4. Wednesday--Tacos
5. Thursday--Leftover Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cole Slaw
6, Friday--Risotto with Leftover Chicken and Mushrooms, Stir-fry Veggies
7. Saturday--McDonald's Chicken Sandwich

Pretty much everything as planned except no BLT's and I made Risotto using leftover chicken and I was too tired to cook Sat. night so Hubs went to Mickey D's and got me a chicken sandwich(he got a Big Mac).  I made a cheese grits with leftover country ham for breakfast Sat. morning and served it with fried apples slices.  Now I have a big dish of THAT to use up.

As for my grocery spending last week.....

2 trips to Weis, doing the paper product deal x 2 and some other loss leaders plus a gallon of milk at the independent grocer.  I spent $81.39 on $228.87 of regular retail goods.
Plus that $100 I dropped on Rite-Aid gift cards(to use later this year) so I am up to $181.39 of spending for last week.

Leftovers going into this week--some roast chicken, taco meat, tiny bit of barbecue pork, cole slaw, lots of risotto, stir-fried veggies and a big portion of that Grits breakfast casserole I made on Sat.
We had some food waste this week--some of the baked beans from the July 4th picnic got moldy before they all got used.  Oh well.
Here is this week's food plan--

1. Sunday--Kielbasa(from the freezer), rolls, onions, pickles
2. Monday--crab cakes and fish, leftover cole slaw, leftover stir-fry veggies
3. Tuesday--leftover roast chicken made into something TBD, grilled yellow squash
4. Wednesday--maybe Chinese take-out or "breakfast for dinner"
5. Thursday--eating out
6, Friday--eating out
7. Saturday--leftovers(risotto?)and veggies

What I need to buy for this menu?.....I don't need a thing.  It's only a partial week's menu and I am not grocery shopping again until August rolls around.  The only thing I see worth going to the store for, here this week, is pickles.  How pathetic is that? lolz
What is getting fixed and served at your house this week?    

Was last week's plan successful, did you go off plan or did you not even plan what was going to be eaten that week?

Any great deals on food at your stores this week? 


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Ho Hum Weekend

Not much going on around here this weekend.
It's hotter than hell today so I am staying indoors with the a/c on after a trip outside to check on the garden.

I haven't gone anywhere since Friday when I hit the bank and Weis(PMITA)Markets to do that paper products deal again.  And yes, I got another $3 Catalina for doing the deal. 8-)

Hubs on the other hand, has made 5 trips out this weekend and even went down the mountain for 3 of them.

I called Sonya and Eldest son yesterday but evidently they both have a life on weekends, unlike me...... 8-(

I rode my bike another 8 miles the last 2 days.

I saw on the news last night that it was 109 in Shreveport Louisiana the other day.
OMG!  I think this plan to move to LA has to be rethought..............

I made a cheese grits and country ham casserole with leftover ham we had for breakfast Saturday. Served that with fried apple slices.  It was ok but nothing great.  As we don't eat much of a breakfast during the week here, I might pan fry slices of it in bacon fat and serve that for dinner one night this week to use it up.  That plus sometime green and healthier would make a right proper meal.

Speaking of food, I am working on both my July food spending post and my Savings Challenge post, as well as my Monday menu post this weekend.
Is it really time again to make another weekly menu??  Didn't I just make one 2 days ago? lolz

I might even start in on my May road trip series of posts too.

I did do a bit of genealogy digging on Saturday as I haven't been doing much with that hobby lately.  Found some interesting information on another "new to me" dead relation.  Might make a trip somewhere while on the Family Reunion excursion in September to flesh this info out and have something proper to post on it.  I also need to work on Part 2 of the genealogy post on my paternal grandfather but just haven't been "feeling it" lately.

We do have some excitement coming up in the coming week around Chez Sluggy though.

* Later this week finds us making a trip to Pittsburgh PA and then to Fredericksburg VA to move Eldest son.  The weather is suppose to be muggy and questionable those days which doesn't bode well.  I hope things turn out for the best even so.

* Then next week it's a quick visit from a blogging friend on her way through this area.  I will try not to poison her with my cooking and OMG this means I have to CLEAN THE HOUSE?....doesn't it???!!!
Oh, now I didn't think about that when I offered her dinner.  Maybe I can talk her into wearing sunglasses(better yet, a blindfold!)inside the house so she doesn't see all the cobwebs.......ya think?

Hubs and I need to go over some retirement type paperwork that he sent off for a couple of weeks ago.  Maybe we'll go through that tonight if I can stay awake.....stuff like this just makes me want to sleep. lolz

Ok, I am off to see what I can offer Hubs for dinner here tonight and get some more miles logged on the bike.
I doubt if he will think highly of leftover baked beans from the July 4th picnic which I really need to pitch out!

What's going on in your world?


Friday, July 24, 2015

Inspecting & Whittling Down the "Nut"...A Ramble

Since we are slated to retire in less than 3 years I am obsessed with figuring out what our "nut" or household/living expenses need to be compared to what we are spending now, pre-retirement.
I am trying to reduce our "nut" every year to try to get it as low as I can post retirement. 
I figure if we commence retirement with our expenses lowered  as much as possible and find we can in fact afford to spend more, it will be easier to expand our spending, rather than to head into retirement and find we are still spending more than our savings can handle.
Sounds like a plan, right? 8-)

Using my monthly spending/expense sheets from 2014, I have concluded that we spent $53,278.52 of our regular income that year. (This doesn't count the money I paid to buy my car in 2014 which came out of the Bonus money.)
That comes out to $4,439.87 spent per month on our "nut".

So far in 2015 we've spent $23,924.09 of our regular income to "live". (Again this doesn't count the money we paid to buy Hubs car in 2015 which also came out of the 2015 Bonus money.)
This averages out to $3,417.72 spent per month for the last 7 months. 

If we stay on this track we will have approximately a $41,012.72 nut for 2015. 
(Granted this isn't all the income we have spent as there was money taken out of the check before we got it for healthcare premiums, life insurance and long term care insurance.  These items will still need to be funded in retirement and will need to be accounted for in our "nut" spending.)

So far in 2015 we have spent about $1000 a month less than we did in 2014.
July has been out lowest month of living costs so far in 2015.  Our "nut" for July was $2200 out of our regular income.  February's spending was $2500+ change.
$2,200 in July.
Gosh I wish our monthly "nut" was this low every month......

Looking at the spending for 2014 compared to 2015 so far, here are a few of the categories where we have reduced the spending......

*  A lot less money spent on car repairs.  Buying a new car in 2014 meant no car repairs on 1 of the 2-3 cars we owned.  Buying another almost new car in 2015 meant even fewer car repairs compared to what we are use to spending on vehicles. We spent $2786.72 on car repairs in 2014.  So far in 2015 car repairs have run a mere $441.61. (Sssh, don't say that too loudly lest we offend the car gods.....)

*  Ditching cable tv.  Since getting rid of cable we are saving $70.80 per month or $849.60 per year.

*  Since putting in the mini-split heating/ac system Fall of 2013 we are shaving a bit off of the heating bill each month we use it.  It's more efficient than the system the house came with.  Yes, it cost a chunk of cash to install it/buy it but we are reaping the benefit of lower utility bills in winter and it will be an added asset when we go to sell this house.  We should recoup some of the expense of having this system put in with a higher selling price. 
It's difficult to quantify an exact figure for the savings in our heating bill since weather conditions vary from one year to the next plus the cost of electricity goes up every year here but we are trending toward lower heating bills.

*  We are no longer paying for private music lessons for College Boy out of our regular income.  He take lessons at college and that cost is included in the tuition/fees we pay for his education and that money comes from a college fund set aside years ago for that purpose.  We are saving approximately $1600 a year on this item.

*  We seem to be spending less on alcohol, clothing and "stuff" in 2015.   There has been little spending on replacing clothing, shoes, household goods and "wants" so far this year.  We just haven't felt the need to buy much "stuff" this year.
I'll have to wait until the year is over to run the numbers on adult beverage spending for 2015 but with how much we spent in 2014 on liquor I am SURE that number will be down. 8-)

*  We have no pet related expenses in 2015 since our last doggy died near the end of 2014.   We paid $450ish in vet bills and kennel fees for our dog in 2014.  There were more costs such as meds and food but I don't have a figure for this portion of pet expenses.  Let's just call that another $400 a year, so a savings in 2015 of $900+/-?

So with just these categories we are "saving" at least $6000 a year in 2015 over 2014's spending.(This is without taking into account any less spending on "stuff" and "wants" this year.)  $6K a year comes out to a $500 per month reduction in spending in 2015 over 2014.

Looking over our spending categories now there really isn't much more we can cut out of our fixed bill costs.  We have basic phone service(no fancy cell plans), basic internet/cable, have cut utility expenses, gas to get to work can't get cut, taxes are what they are, keeping medical co-pays low as possible by exercising/eating well/taking maintenance drugs/etc., and not performing "retail therapy".

Once College Boy is out on his own(hopefully in 3 years! Yes I am an optimist...lolz)there will be even less spending.  No paying for his food/drink, water and electricity use, clothing, no more paying for his glasses and healthcare, incidental monies, no fetching in back and forth to/from school and no third car to maintain and insure. 
Add in downsizing to a smaller house(less space to heat/cool and lower taxes)in a cheaper area once we move and there will be some more reductions in spending.

The only way to save more would be to cut out vacation trips and the costs associate with those.  This year we have/had taken a 2 week trip to Southern Virginia to see my brother in January, a 2 week road trip to Louisiana in May, a 2 day apartment hunting trip in July, a 3 day trip to move Eldest in July, a 3 day family reunion trip in September and a 4-5 day trip to Ocean City Maryland in October.
For a year of traveling that seems financially reasonable to me.  I would hate to have to cut out what little traveling we do per year.  Traveling, sightseeing and visiting family and the associated costs are my one "wants" spending vice other than a nice meal out now and again and buying adult beverages.  I don't spent much money on house "prettifying" or crafts or buying more fashionable clothes to cram into my closet or upgrading tvs, phones or doing entertainment or recreational things that cost lots of money.
Everybody needs to spend a little of their income on leisure and this is mine. ;-)

Even if you are trying to cut your living expenses what are the things you are reticent to give up?
What things do you spend on that are justified by helping you maintain your sanity?

To conclude this long ramble.......we seem to be bringing our expenses down slowly every year over the next.  I hope to get the "nut" down a little more over the next 3 years before we launch into that unknown territory called "retired".


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Shopping on Wednesday

First I picked up a few things at Rite-Aid while I was there getting drugs.

I put the total OOP of $4.80 on a free gift card.

The Watkins lotions were free after Rain checks from around last Christmas.

The almonds were $1 for 2 cans so .50¢ per can.  They are on sale for $2.50 each this week and I used 2 x $2/1 Blue Diamond Q on the Hopster site.

The toothbrushes were $3.50 each and give back 300 in points this week.  I used a $1.50/2 Oral-B Q(coupons dotcom)so this deal after Q and points was a .50¢ moneymaker.

I had BOGO Snickers Qs plus they are BOGO this week at Rite-Aid.  Buy 4 Snickers and use 1 Q and pay $1.15(the price of 1 bar)for all 4(comes to 28 and 3/4 cents each).

I used the 400($4)in points on my card and earned 600($6)in points for the transaction.

I then bought $100 in Rite-Aid gift get $5 in points for each $50 in R-A gift cards you buy this week(limit 2).
I used budgeted cash I would end up spending at Rite-Aid anyway and converted it to store scrip(the gift cards).  That earned me 1000($10)in Plenti points.
Since I have spare cash to do this, why not earn $10 in points to spend for cash I'd use for buying items there anyway?

Now I have $16 in points to spend.  I'll wait until I can get something free or real cheap at Rite-Aid to go back and spend this since I don't "need" any toiletries.

Then it was off to Weis(PMITA)Markets.
I posted a video of my shopping trip HERE
I spent $53.03 and saved 49% over regular retail.

The best Deal was the paper products, Save $5 Instantly when you spend $25.  This runs off of regular retail but the items are on sale so you don't have to "spend" $25 actually to get the $5 discount.

2 x 6 packs of Scott paper towels at $5.99=$11.98(reg. $7.39 x2=$14.78)
1 x 12 pack of Scott toilet tissue at $7.99(reg. $10.29)
Total=$19.97(reg. $25.07).
After the $5 discount and $5 in Qs used(3 x .50/1 doubled to $1/1 and 1 x $2/1 Weis coupon book on Viva or Scott towels Q) I paid $9.97 + .59¢ tax=$10.56.

I received a $3 OYNO Catalina Q for buying 3 Scott items in 1 transaction.

I'll return later this week and do this same deal again, using similar Qs PLUS the $3 Catalina and will pay $6.97 + .41¢ tax=$7.38 for these 3 products again. 
Total for all 6 packages with tax will be $17.94 OOP.

$I'll also earn another $3 Catalina to use in the next 2 weeks.



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Week in Sluggy's World.....Oh Goody!

Well the Eldest was here for 8 days visiting.  3 of those days were spent in Virginia apartment hunting.  Other than that excursion we really didn't "do" anything while he was here.
There was a trip to Berwick on Saturday, to the brewery we like but I forgot to bring my camera.....horrors!

Then last Wednesday after we got back from VA, we took him and College Boy out to Logan's Steakhouse for a birthday celebration....

ice cream pie and coffee....

Let's just say they had drinks and we all had dessert(too much!)and this was one pricey dinner out!!

Then it was home for cake and the torture of having to listen to "Happy Birthday" in 3 different keys(by 3 different singers simultaneously).

But hey!, how often does your baby turn 24? ;-)

This bomber bottle of beer plus more bottles many have been opened and consumed that evening as well......

On Thursday I had my 1 week post-op cataract appointment.  The eye was 2/3rd healed up and I go back for a final check mid August.

Eldest sat around making calls, napping and playing WOW on my computer most of the day.
I made a big fried shrimp dinner for us all for a treat.  Eldest doesn't get shrimp often(and dearly loves it)because his GF is highly allergic to the little critters.

I also drug this bad boy out on Thursday....

....and smoked a pork shoulder to make pulled pork sammiches for Friday night's dinner.

On Friday morning Eldest got in his car and left along with a hunk of smoked pork shoulder in a cooler.......

And 3 minutes after he left I got a phone call from him.  His car was acting weird and cutting off, so he turned around and came back.

Then it wouldn't start so we had the local tow guy take it up to the car mechanic we use to give it a look/fix it.

So Eldest fumed and played WOW while I went to my yearly sleep apnea doc appointment.

The appointment went something like this(after they took all my vitals)......

Doc-"Are you using the machine regularly?"
Doc-"Any problems?"
Doc-"Are you sleeping through the night?"
Doc looks down my throat and up my nose with doc instruments.
Doc-"Ok, we'll see you in a year."

The car mechanic calls late that afternoon and says they can't find anything wrong with the car.  I told Eldest it was probably a fuel line problem from what he described what the "symptoms" were.  He had let the tank run REALLY low and probably churned up a lot of sediment in the tank, plus the car sat for a solid week on an incline and wasn't started.
At least it didn't cost him anything this time.

We had bbq pork sammiches for dinner and he left Saturday morning for Pittsburgh.  Thankfully he made it home without any more issues.  I sat by the phone for 4 hours though waiting for a "come and get me or call a tow" phone call but it never came, thankfully.

Saturday was hot and humid.  Hubs decided to attend a Pow-Wow being held that weekend near here.  I declined to go knowing it would be out in the sun and it was so hot that day.  He said it was brutal but he had a good time and he even got up and danced.  I would have liked to have gotten THAT on film! (He's a notoriously bad white guy dancer.) lolz

I puttered around the house all weekend doing laundry, sewing, dishes, cleaning and riding my exer-cycle.
And on Sunday, even hotter and more humid that Saturday was, what bright thing did I decide to do?
Why go outside week whack the flower beds and weed the garden!

I also worked on my month end blog posts(savings challenge and food/toiletries spending)too.
As bills for July are all paid up I started working on my August budget/spending plan.

The garden is slowly growing.  With all the rain this Spring/Summer so far, I haven't had to water at all.  At this point we could use a little less rain and a little more sunshine. ;-)

I picked my first veggie yesterday........

One lone yellow squash.
My garden is pitiful this year.....

 Some pole beans finally vining out.

 My "volunteer" morning glories almost ready to bloom though.

 The collards still very small and the Japanese beetles have found them. Grrr

The yellow beans are turning....yellow.

Some Roma tomatoes peeking through the leaves.  Hopefully the deer will let these ripen and let me pick them first! lolz

While I was out in the yard on Sunday sweating my brains out I noticed that the big plastic sand filter for the pool pump was still sitting where it use to filter the pool water.
The pool hasn't been operational/up in 2 YEARS(and we are not going to put another pool up)but there sits the plastic thingy still in the backyard.
It's been sitting there so long we have gone blind to it......don't even notice it when looking out onto the yard.
How sad is that?

So I had College Boy haul it down to the road Monday evening for the trash man to pick it up and haul it off Tuesday morning.
Of course, CB followed my instructions to the letter.....leaving the black stand the plastic thingy sat on behind next to where the pool use to be.
Boy, you have to be very specific, don't you? lolz
So that will get hauled off next Tuesday.

This got me thinking about what else laying around the yard/in the garage/in the house we have gone blind to that needs to GO!
I'll be spending some free time later this week, to look around here with my new eye balls and see what else can get pitched.

I had no car on Tuesday as Hubs had my car since we took his into the shop Monday night as the oil change place said something was wrong with the a/c system.  Turns out there is nothing wrong with the a/c system and the oil change place was probably just trying to tack on more charges to pad the bill and replace perfectly good parts.

So I called a friend Tuesday and had a long talk about our lives.  Come to find out, friend and I are leading parallel lives with our respective husbands and children.
Sometimes it helps to rant and bitch to someone who "gets you".  8-)))

I was woken up this morning by Hubs stomping about the bedroom.  He was in a snitch because we had no water and he couldn't take a shower before going to work.
So I was up for the day and called the water company(after Hubs checked to make sure the basement wasn't flooded and this outage was just us).
Turns out there are not one but TWO water main breaks in our town, one a few blocks away, so the problem had been identified   We got water back a short time ago and just in time so I don't have to hold my breath when going into the bathroom. ;-)

I have been thinking today was Thursday all day.  I guess it was just wishful thinking as the paycheck flies into the bank account on Thursday afternoon and I am anxious to finish out the bookkeeping for July.

So while I waited for the water to return I hiked up to Rite-Aid for a few things(since I had to go anyway for a prescription)and then I went to Weis.  More on those trips later.  I blew past $300 for July food spending as of today's trip.  Sigh.

I'm up to 62.50 miles this month on the bike.  I'll probably do another 1.5 to 2 miles tonight.  Even with not being here to ride the end of the month I should surpass my 80 mile goal anyway.

The weather the rest of this week is suppose to be low humidity and in the low 80's.  No rain until Sunday.  I'll take that anytime!

That's about all I got for now.

What's going on in your world?



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sluggy Goes to Virginia

We left bright and early last Sunday morning.
The mission was to secure an apartment for Eldest son and his GF in the Fredericksburg, VA area.
We had 4 appointments lined up for Monday plus any that Eldest might hear back from before we left town on Tuesday.

Bur first of the agenda was stopping for Lunch along the way outside of Baltimore to meet/visit with a fellow blogger who use to write the 444 Express Blog but now writes at Grapes Writes
I guess I can use her name since she's now a contributing writer on the CBOE .
We met Meredith and her Hubs, Dave, at the Padonia Ale House.

Of course I brought Meredith a present, a sack lunch...........

Ok, inside joke here.
Inside the bag was a jar of my homemade pepper relish and that was no joke.
Just a little something I share with friends.

It was also $6 Burger Sunday so guess what we ate?

My "Ricky Bobby" Burger with a Boulevard Brewing "Dark Truth" Stout....Mmmmm

We had a great time chatting and before you knew it 2 hours had gone by.  So much for making Fredericksburg by 3pm! lolz

Then Meredith did something sneaky......she paid the bill without us knowing it!  I appreciated it but you didn't have to do that. ;-)

They are a fun couple and Eldest and I had a good time with them, even if Dave couldn't resist making bunny ears on me in the photo......

We were back on the road after a lingering lunch.
Traffic around DC wasn't bad until we hit I-95 below the Beltway.
At least we weren't in the clusterf**k of northbound traffic heading from Richmond to DC.
Jay explained that much of that on a Sunday is all the DC area folks heading back home from the beach/etc. at the end of the weekend.

Speaking of Jay........we met up with him for Dinner at Poco Loco in Thornburg, south of F'burg.
He got snared into a multicar pile up heading out of Richmond so we had a little bit of wait for him to arrive.  A nice meal and conversation over Mexican cuisine and beers(iced tea for me)ensued.

Eldest took our photo before we headed back to F'burg for the night.

Nice to see you again Jay!

Eldest and I got a swim in at the hotel pool before turning in for the night.

Monday was occupied with apartment viewing.
But first a hot breakfast compliments of our hotel......

Eldest with a cup of bacon, breakfast of champions!

Then it was off to King George County(east of F'burg)to an older complex on a nice wooded heavily treed property.

 Living room with exposed brick wall and patio door

 Small kitchen with room for a table and chairs

 This place had 2 bedrooms and hardwoods throughout.

But no storage space other than bedroom closets.  The other 3 apt. residents in this 2 story building used the area under the stairs to the 2nd story as a storage area(which wasn't secured).  And there was no dishwasher and it was furthest from the school Eldest will be commuting to.  Other than that it was a good deal(even had a community pool and small exercise room).

Eldest submitted their application and the manager after finding out his employment situation(teaching contract)waived the credit check(fee)and said if he wanted the apt. she'd take his personal check as a deposit on the spot. 
But Eldest wanted to see all the other possible places first so we moved on.

Then it was off to get more coffee(not me)at the hipster coffee joint..............
Local Starbucks with hipsters on their electronics at tables with electrical outlets and USBs.
The skies opened up while we were in there so we sat for awhile before going to the next appointment.

Then it was off to see a complex a few miles from his school.....

 Carpeting throughout

The appliances were newish and there was a dishwasher.  Also a washer/dryer in the apartment.

 A HUGE walk in closet in the only bedroom.  Closet big enough to put an inflatable mattress if you had an overnight guest tho. lolz

There was a storage closet(that locked)off the patio-ed living room.

This was a large complex with 3 story buildings.  There was a larger pool and a huge exercise room with equipment and a sauna.  Also attached was a clubhouse with tv and a coffee bar.

Both of the options so far had washer/dryers in the apartment and allowed pets(they have a cat.)yet this apartment wanted a Huge nonrefundable pet fee(plus a deposit and a monthly fee for having a pet).  I guess all that carpeting accounted for the nonrefundable fee.
Both the 1st and 2nd apartments would be $900 a month.  Electricity and cable/internet were not included but water, sewer and trash removal was included in that $900.

We went to our 3rd appointment at noon, only to find the office door locked and a sign that they would return at 1:30pm.  He left a voice message on the office phone about his appointment and that he would return at 1:30.
So we had a leisurely lunch nearby at Friendly's and went off the trade-offs/ pros and cons of the 2 places we had seen.

Back right at 1:30pm to #3 apartment complex(an older one than the last place but also a few miles from his school).  The person manning the office told him they had no apartments available.
He set this appointment up 2 WEEKS ago via phone from Pittsburg so why the hell didn't they call him and let him know this!?!  We could have saved ourselves another trip to this apartment complex and moved on to the next possibility. 
Funny how their website still had apartment availabilities when I checked later that day........
Thanks a lot for wasting our time Camden Hills Apartments!
Even if you had an apartment available after the lack of professionalism on the part of your office staff, I wouldn't allow him to rent there.  It would have been no different dealing with any issues had he rented here.

So we moved on to the place in Milford VA Eldest found on Craigslist.

You can see the listing HERE.

In case it gets taken down, here is what it says......

$850 / 2br - **All Utilities Included Affordable Apartment **
Very affordable apartment for rent. 2 bedrooms. 1 bathroom. All utilities included!

Monthly rent is only $850. Convenience store within walking distance. Friendly neighbors!

Address is 15421 Antioch Rd Milford VA 22514.
Sounds like a great deal, right?
First off it's in the middle of nowhere, not anywhere near Richmond or Fredericksburg.
And the "convenience store" is in the first floor of the building where the apartment is. lol  The only other things around are a post office next door and a similarly run down auto parts store across the street(also owned by the guy who owns the convenience store building).
We lovingly refer to apt. #4 as "the shithole".......
It was in an old brick building above a convenience store.  The stairs were the first obstacle...rickety and I just knew I'd take a tumble going down.
 That "porch" area once you got up the stairs was rotting plywood with some linoleum tiles still intact on it.  Filthy dirty too.
Here is Eldest standing in the larger of 2 bedrooms(still not every big with a tiny closet).  The air conditioning for the whole apt. was this window unit in the bedroom.  The windows looked original to the 1930's/40's area building.
The main bedroom looked like a crime scene before the cleaners arrived.  The carpeting was ripped and patches missing(in both bedrooms).  There was mold on the wall underneath the dirty hand prints and graffiti.  No attempt had been made to clean anything in this shithole.
 The whole place smelled of mold and funk.  That is why Eldest has his shirt over his nose and mouth. lol
 This was a large drawing a previous tenant(or vandal)had made on the wall.  It also looked like someone had smeared poop on this wall.
The kitchen counter and cabinets looked old, damaged and smelled of mildew.  The fridge dated from the 60's or 70's and the linoleum in the joint kitchen/living room was also ripped up and curling.  The one redeeming feature was this newish stove/oven.
Under the stairs was a concrete slab with assorted old junk sitting on it.  You had to walk past a dumpster to get from the parking lot to the stairs.  It was almost as bad smelling walking by that as what the apartment smelled like.
So you take out the $100 or so your electricity would run if you were paying for that like in any other apt.,and the apartment slumlord wanted $750 a month to live in this shithole  There were also no smoke detectors in the place or a lock on the door!
And the worse part of this(other than smelling and seeing it)was that there was another identical apartment next door to this one and someone was living in it!!!
It must be a crack head living next door to not notice the deplorable living conditions here!
Let's see.......far from work, filthy, no washer/dryer facilities(nearest laundromat was 3 miles away in Bowling Green VA) for $50 less than a nice clean convenient apartment near work.
I don't think there was must of a decision to make here, do you?
Eldest decided at that point that we had seen enough and he had 2 good choices so it was just a matter of conferring with the GF as to her desires that evening and going back the next morning to fill out paperwork and secure the apartment they wanted.
So we drove around a bit so Eldest could get familiar with the area.  Of course that meant finding the liquor stores.  lolz
They have a Total Wine & More store in Fredericksburg so we went to check it out.
This one wasn't as big as the one Hubs and I hit when we go down to OC but it will do.
After wandering the aisles for a good 45 minutes Eldest found a few things to buy he can't get in P'burg plus found he could get his favorites here too.  Even better is they have a rewards program which he signed up for!  Discounts on beer?  Yes, please!!
That evening he told the GF that he wasn't coming back to P'burgh, he's just stay here and wait for her to move down.
I think he's going to like this town.......
We also found a World Market(more beer but most of the same stuff as Total Wine)and checked out the grocery stores in the area.  There is a nice Walmart too in case the GF transfers to this one from her part time job at the WM in P'burgh.
We saw this antique car license plate on an old Toyota in the parking only looked to be a 1970's model.....
Are there any Toyota's old enough to be designated antique cars? lolz
Back to the hotel for a swim.  I get my suit on and walk down to the pool entrance to find this.......
"Closed for Maintenance"
Back to the room to call the front desk to ask when the pool would reopen.....I am thinking an hour or two, right?
Front desk person says it may be reopened this weekend.
It's Monday!
Had I known the pool was going to be unavailable for more than half my stay I would have gone elsewhere for a room.  Part of the reason I paid this much and at a hotel WITH a pool was to be able to use said pool!'

I let the front desk know just how unhappy I was when I checked out the next morning.  They didn't seem to care a single shitlet however.  Just wait until I use all the online outlets to let them know just how UNHAPPY I was with them!
As my kid is going to living in F'burg for years to come and in an apartment with no room for guests, guess which hotel just lost a buttload of my business?!
The Sleep Inn, that's  who.

But enough of my ranting...........
Eldest wanted Waffle House for dinner so we went back out later and I treated him to Steak and Eggs.  We had a drink back in the room and I watched cable tv(haven't had cable for 10 month now at home so this was a dubious treat, I think?)and Eldest played some WOW on my computer.
On Tuesday morning before leaving Fredericksburg Eldest went back to the #2 apt. and put in his application and by Wednesday morning, after they did the credit check, he had the apartment.
We are slated to move them from Pittsburgh to Fredericksburg the end of this month.  8-)))
So we had an early lunch before leaving F'burg on Tuesday at the Blue & Gray Brew Pub .....

 Here is my brew, a pint of Stonewall Stout.  Appropriate name if you know the history and geography of the Fredericksburg area.  I especially like their slogan for this stout......"I'd give my right arm for a Stonewall Stout!"  ;-)
Since it was Tuesday I also got to take home the glass it was served in.
Eldest son got a flight of their beers. He was partial to their lager and their coffee stout.
The view of the tanks from our table.
We each got a sandwich and shared half with the other.  Eldest son's choice was a Muffaletta and I got a Pork Barbecue.  My bbq sauce was made with some Stonewall Stout and the handmade mustard on the Muffaletta was made with their Red Fred(an Irish style ale).  Tasty!
They had an art exhibit in the Brewpub consisting of longhorn steer skulls that had been bedazzled.  I posed with this one.  At a price of $500 it stayed on that wall and didn't come home with me.....
The t-shirt was tempting but I got Hubs a bomber bottle of beer instead.

The trip home was pretty uneventful.  We bypassed DC and Balto. on the way back, heading north on 17 toward Winchester and then I-66 West to I-81 to home.  A tiny bit longer route but little traffic compared to I-95 to I-83.

The "big move" comes the week after this.  Not sure if I'll be going though as I really don't have the muscles to move heavy stuff.  I'd just be supervising where boxes and furniture go and/or be the lunch bringer for the real help.  It's about 13-14 hours total from here to Pittsburgh to Fredericksburg and back home but it would be stretched out over 3 days I suppose. 
More fun times ahead it seems......