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Archive for May, 2012

Delicious Frugal Recipe

May 30th, 2012 at 04:25 am

I love this sauce. It's a light tomato sauce with great tomato flavor. The only changes I make are to add extra garlic and to chiffonade the basil instead of putting it in the blender. I cooked some whole wheat spaghetti and we served it with parmesan cheese. Super fast. Cheap ingredients.

I have tons of basil growing in my garden, if you need some!

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Light-Tomato-Sauce-128

Garden and Veggie Burgers

May 26th, 2012 at 09:11 pm

I'm so pleased that we've got the garden in! We did it about a month ago and everything is growing well... except for the lemon cucumbers. The plants were eaten by snails as soon as they sprouted.

The tomatoes are doing great, and many plants already have fruit on them. We have 12 tomato plants this year. Our blackberry bushes are loaded, as are the grape vines. I planted tons of herbs, and they are all doing well. In fact, we have so much basil that I'm thinning it out and transplanting all over the yard. I can't wait to make lots of pesto to freeze!

I'm even considering planting some cucumbers and pumpkins in a strip of the front yard that gets good sun.

We will be having veggie burgers with homemade rolls for dinner. The burgers are loaded with garbanzo beans and Indian spices. I need to go to the store to get some fresh cilantro and a potato, but that's it. We will eat them with sweet potato fries from the freezer. I love a good veggie burger!

The Husband's Little Patent

May 26th, 2012 at 02:48 am

The Husband wrote (created? designed?) a patent for work. Apparently it's a law that companies pay employees who create patents that eventually end up being the property of the company.

In the past when he's done this, the company generally pays $1. Yep, $1. That way they're following the law. This time, though, he's getting $500. Of course it will be tons less when the taxes are taken out, but his current company is a little more fair than former employers. Of course, the company could make millions on it, but oh well. I'll take anything over $1!

Gas prices are up, up, UP!
My personal energy level is down, down, DOWN!

So glad it's a three day weekend for everyone in the house (except a swimbaby who works at a healthy fast food place). Tomorrow I plan to sleep in, go to the gym, get a pedicure and go to lunch with friends. The pedicure won't cost a thing because I'll be using a gift certificate. Not sure about the cost of lunch.

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Toner Cartridge

May 18th, 2012 at 03:04 am

The name-brand cartridge for our laser printer runs about $80 at Staples, Office Depot, etc. The printer was $10 with rebate from Fry's a year ago, and we figured we would somehow find a deal when we needed one. We ordered a "compatible" one from Amazon and it was $15... and actually it was free because I bought it with Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks.

And the best news... it works great!

A Really Good Trip to CVS

May 16th, 2012 at 04:23 am

It was one of my best (savings-wise) outings. I had a $5 off a $30 purchase coupon, plus a couple of store coupons printed from the in-store kiosk, plus manufacturer's coupons. All those babies stacked up!

I got a variety of shampoos, razors, body wash, cleaners... all things we will use. I do not hoard for the sake of having it!

The total was $51 and some change. After coupons it was $20.19... and I got $13 worth of Extra Bucks for next time. Sweet!

It doesn't always work so nicely, and even with all those stacked coupons, sometimes the deals just aren't that great. But today I got much more than $20 worth, so I was pleased. I don't always do the coupon thing regularly. Sometimes life just gets too busy and I take a few weeks (or months) off from the coupon game. Today was a good day.

Checks in the Mail

May 15th, 2012 at 02:21 am

Don't we all love getting a little money in the mail?! Today, two checks arrived. One from Pinecone for ... you guessed it... $3.00.... and another from Ebates for $15.76. I already put them in the postage paid envelope to mail to my Ally savings account which I don't ever plan to touch (well, maybe someday!) I use it only for these kinds of checks, and I've never withdrawn a cent. Basically "extra" money that I get through rebates, surveys, small reimbursements, etc.

Best Day!

May 14th, 2012 at 04:42 am

Okay first of all, the pictures are in all crazy different directions. I took them with my phone, emailed to my laptop, and tried to post here. For some reason, I just can't get them right tonight. I've been messing around for a while, and this is how it is. Tilt your head! Smile Sorry!

I got up early this morning, did a load of laundry and went to the gym. Check that off the list!

Then, The Husband, the swimbabies (minus the one away at college) and I got in the new *flashy frugal* car and went to Half Moon Bay.

Half Moon Bay is on the coast of the peninsula, between San Francisco and San Jose. It was a bit of a drive, but so worth it! I felt like we were gone for three days, not just an afternoon. SO relaxing. More often than not, Half Moon Bay is foggy and cold. We were prepared with lots of warm clothes and blankets, but it was sunny and warm.

It was beautiful at the beach.

We walked in the surf, kids played in the sand, we had a picnic, and I read a little. Bliss. Then we packed up and drove north. I took this picture for y'all in Pacifica, which is just south of San Francisco. Luckily, I had filled up last week at $4.09 per gallon! Premium!


We stopped at a Starbuck's between 3pm and 5pm, and took advantage of their half-price frappuccino happy hour. It was a HUGE treat for everyone, and was around $9 for five delicious drinks. We continued north, stopped at Boudin Bakery in SF and bought some sourdough bread for tomorrow's dinner...I like to pick it up, because it somehow seems like it extends our weekend to have San Francisco sourdough bread with Monday's dinner.

The husband bought some delicious Godiva heart-shaped cookies for me, and we nibbled on those in the car.

One of the swimbabies is a bit obsessed with the Golden Gate Bridge, and always wants to drive over it, so we did. It was an unbelievably clear day and we actually stopped at the "Vista Point" by the bridge to take pictures. That's San Francisco on the right, and in the middle you can see Alcatraz. Fun! We hit some traffic on the way home, but oh well.

The husband also took some great pictures of the swimbabies and me. It was a wonderful Mother's Day!

Shopping with Coupons

May 13th, 2012 at 02:25 am

I went out to do my shopping today. I went to Walgreens, Safeway, Raleys and CVS. It actually didn't take that long. Just over an hour... I had lists and coupons ready for each place.

Total without discounts and coupons: $195.62

What I paid: $108.79

This included $31 worth of allergy meds and $24 worth of other meds/vitamins.... plus 12 boxes of cereal... and a long list of other things. Mostly stock-up kinds of things. I'll still need to make a run for produce once I make up the week's menu.

The little bonus of the day was that as I was getting into my car, I saw a little pile of receipts and paperson the ground in the parking lot. It looked like someone had just emptied their car trash bin. I happened to see in the pile that there was a $10 off next purchase coupon to Raley's. It doesn't expire until June! I squealed!

Hot here... time to make a cold drink!

Mother's Day Presents

May 11th, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Remember... I've got that long commute? The Mother's Day ads on the radio are driving me nuts!

Suddenly EVERYTHING is the perfect gift for your mom! Phones, jewelry, flowers, gift cards, concert tickets, movie tickets, new tires (!), shoes... you name it! The ads are frequent and irritating! I wouldn't consider asking or buying any of those for gifts!

I told The Husband that what I really want for Mother's Day is for the kids to cook all weekend and for someone to do some iPod updating for me. I just don't have time to work on organizing my iPod and the only time I really think about it is when I'm on my way to the gym. I want a couple of playlists organized and my iPod synched with my laptop, not the home desktop. And I want the collection of songs on my iPod loaded to my phone in duplicate. I asked for the cooking relief just so I can have a break. I LOVE to cook. A lot. But I just don't want to think about it. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind a pedicure, either...

Those seem like tiny requests for a day meant *JUST FOR ME* so I might ask for a little toilet scrubbing and window cleaning, as well! Wink


Warm Weather This Week

May 11th, 2012 at 03:16 am

Today was our fourth day at 90 or above... and that makes me think of a few things.

1. It's been a busy week, and I haven't done much laundry. I love the warm weather because I can hang everything and it will dry in no time at all. Hope to save a few dollars this weekend by hanging all the laundry I do then. I don't think it will be quite as warm, but close. And lucky for the laundry... it's a DRY heat! Haha!

2. My threshold for turning on the air conditioner is when the house temperature reaches 80. When I got home from work yesterday, I was greeted by sweaty teens, and when I checked the temp, it was 81. Thankfully, our powerful air conditioner cools our small house fast. It was on for maybe 15 minutes, and we turned it off and opened up windows. That's all we've had the air on all week. We installed ceiling fans in our family room last summer. What a great investment!

3. I need to start thinking about no-cook or bake ahead meals. Last night would have been a terrible night for homemade pizza! Here are two favorite hot weather meals.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grilled-Cajun-Chicken-Salad-with-Spicy-Ranch-Dressing-105281

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Grilled-Chicken-Sandwiches-with-Sage-Pesto-and-Apples-108306

I think I will make the salad tomorrow for dinner. It's one of our family favorites. I usually make half the dressing.

Advantages to My Long Commute

May 10th, 2012 at 02:03 am

Not sure why this has taken me so long to figure out...

Last night I was on a coupon website that listed all the stores they follow. There are only two different grocery chains in our town, though I can get to a third in less than eight miles.

But I realized that along my commute, there are several grocery and drug stores that we don't have locally. I can stop on my way home very easily! I will start planning around those stores, too.

Today I went to a Winco, where I got 2 pounds of mozzarella, two bottles of Tabasco, 2 avocados and a bag of broccoli for $7.23.

I also went to Walgreens and got a few things.

Homemade Pad Thai for dinner... delicious recipe!

Car Loan and Another No Spend Day

May 8th, 2012 at 12:53 am

When we got our new-to-us car, we made a conscious decision to put most of the money down, but get a loan for part of it. We don't have any credit cards, (of course that's changing now with the good rewards deals that have been coming our way) and we wanted to demonstrate our ability to pay in case we ever need a loan/want to buy a new house/refinance, etc.

The loan is through Bank of the West, which is not particularly convenient. They don't take online payments and phone payments cost $9.00 PER TRANSACTION. And we don't have a Bank of the West nearby. As luck would have it, the credit union associated with The Husband's company sent an ad today--- transfer your existing car loan or get a new one and get $100. I had already been suggesting we try to get a better rate through them! So that's on the list for tomorrow! Even if we get the same rate, we'll get the extra $100!

It won't matter. We plan to pay off the loan before Christmas. We didn't NEED to borrow the money, just thought it could give our credit scores a boost. I'm not even counting it as debt, really. The funds are available to pay it off.

Didn't spend anything today, but we'll probably need milk and bread tomorrow.

Monday's done! Hurray!

Dinner: Stromboli

Full Weekend

May 7th, 2012 at 03:42 am

Yesterday we did a little cleaning, some cooking, and one of the swimbabies had a crowd of girls over for the evening. I had a chance to do a little work on my computer, catch up on laundry, and clean the oven (mostly it cleaned itself, but I had to wipe it out.) Smile

We are still trying to work out a better deal on our phone bill. We really don't use our home phone at all, and we want to change our service to internet only. The Husband called to try to cancel all phone service yesterday, but got the major run around from AT&T. We're still researching, but it looks like it might be cheaper to switch to Comcast, even though we want just internet and no cable or phone. Research will continue...

Today I got up early and went running, washed the car, did a little more laundry. We went out to lunch with a family member (she paid), which was a treat. I spent the afternoon lying on the couch reading a book, which was AMAZING! It was so relaxing, and I needed it!

We had two days of not spending a dime, which I love!

There Will Be Avocados for Dinner!

May 3rd, 2012 at 04:27 pm

I found avocados for 69 cents each! Time to celebrate!

Last night we had homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner. I make it with whole wheat pasta and strong cheeses for more flavor.

I love to wear flip flops. I have many pairs, but one favorite pair that is black, comfortable, and made by Speedo. I should say HAD. The other day, they broke. I'm sad. Really. They were a great pair. The next day, my "dressy" black flip flops broke as well (they had a nice sole, beads and sequins, and I could wear them to work with the right pants or skirt.) Two pairs of shoes I really liked... Gone in two days!

Really, I'm sure it was time. I got the Speedos at a swim meet at least five years ago, maybe six. The dressier pair, Kenneth Cole, I got at Marshalls around the same time. Neither cost more than $20 and they have been spring/summer/fall staples.

So yesterday, I went out looking for flip flops. The Husband needed a pair, too, because the Swimboy stole his. I found a pair for the husband, but couldn't find any for myself. I will have to keep looking. I don't like the $1.99 kind because they're not that comfortable and they don't last long. I haven't spent much in the clothing budget for a while, so not worried.

Ironically, it's cold, windy, and there is a forecast of rain here today.

Groceries: Buy $75, get $10

May 2nd, 2012 at 01:25 pm

Safeway is doing this again this week. I went to Costco last week, so we're pretty stocked up on everything. Unfortunately, milk doesn't count toward the $75. I'll be looking at the ad and planning next week's menus. I'm sure by Sunday, I'll have a list of things we need.

Avocados... the swimbabies love guacamole. Okay, I love it, too. The Husband makes The Best guacamole, and I was thinking he could make some this weekend and we'd call it our Cinco de Mayo celebration. But there aren't any bargain avocados this week. Every single store in town is advertising them as 4 for $5, which isn't really a price I get excited about!

No Spend Day

May 2nd, 2012 at 05:35 am

If only all the days could be like this one... no on in the family spent any money at all.

Well, not money I count. The only transactions I participated in today involved gift cards that were long ago paid for. I used the leftover $9 on a Costco gift card to get some gas, and I bought a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks with a gift card. No money left any of our accounts, however.

I should specify that we don't track gift card spending. We track the money we spent to purchase the gift card and that's it. So once a month, I might put $15 on my Starbucks card. I deduct that from the food budget right then.

I'm really into my "cleaning everything out" mode, and I have a stack of things for either ebay or half.com. One thing that always hold me up is the postage/shipping costs. I worry and usually mess it up. So tomorrow I'm off to look for a postage scale.

Library "Donations"

May 1st, 2012 at 02:12 pm

No matter how diligent I am, we end up paying overdue book fines to the library. Not all the time, but frequently.

So I've started posting the receipt (which lists all the books) right on the inside of the front door. It's not completely foolproof, but I think it is helping. Last week we checked out some DVDs, watched them, and got them turned in on time.

It's not as if we owe tons of fines, but it perhaps totals $20 a year. I try to look at is as if it's a membership fee. Did I mention that it's often a swim baby, and I'm not always to blame? In fact, since I've insisted that everyone keep the receipts and post them on the door, we haven't had any overdues.

On the list for today:
1. Find the cheapest gas I can. Time to fill up!
2. Laundry. Does it ever stop?!
3. Make homemade wheat thins. Dinner: salad, wheat thins, buffet of whatever is leftover in the fridge.