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Long Time No Blog...

June 2nd, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I've been lurking, but I've been too busy to write a thing! So here's a quick, rather random update!

Thanks for the messages, friends... I'm doing fine, but working way, way too much. My job this year has been completely overwhelming, and once the school year ends and I have a little more time, I will have plenty (money-related even!) to say!

The good news is that I have a job, and I'm thankful for that. Things on the financial front are going fine, too. Saving money, getting cars repaired (not unexpected,) kids' activities paid for, plenty of food and clothing... gas prices are crazy, still, but we've been walking everywhere we can. A swimbaby is graduating from college in a week, which is hard to believe! Another is getting braces, another just got a job, and the last is headed off with her choir for a trip. All good!

Challenge...

January 7th, 2013 at 12:06 am

I haven't set a "for sure" goal for the selling of things, extra money, etc. yet... but I'm thinking of $1000. That's less than $100 a month, so I'm thinking that it's doable, but also worthwhile.

I sold some CDs on Second Spin today, and took advantage of their special, which was an additional 20%. I need to pack up the CDs and get them shipped, and then I should have $50.04! Not a bad start just 6 days into the year.

I also have a big box of things for eBay, but I haven't had time to deal with those yet.

A sweet little bonus today... I had done some Christmas shopping at Williams Sonoma and when I was sorting and filing receipts, I noticed that there was a separate receipt that said it was "Good for $20 off a future purchase." It didn't say that there was a minimum purchase amount, so I figured I'd try it out. I was heading to the mall to finish some returns anyway, so I stopped in WS. Good heavens! Hardly anything in the store for around $20 or less. I thought about getting a few new dishtowels, but I opted for food instead. I got two bags of pasta (1.25 pounds each) for $4.99 each and some vanilla. Out of pocket, it was $1.XX. I was pleased. We cooked one of the bags of pasta tonight and it truly WAS delicious... better than Ronzoni or Golden Grain or Trader Joes or Whole Foods, which are the kinds I usually buy. I told the kids to enjoy it--- I would NEVER pay $4.99 for that amount of pasta!

The Husband has been finding money all over the past few days. I think he's up to $1.80. Not a fortune of course, but that's two pounds of "sale" pasta!! Smile Haha!

Flat Tire

January 1st, 2013 at 10:10 am

Yesterday the tire pressure indicator went on in my car (new to us car last April.) Since just the day before, The Husband had mentioned that he needed to check the tire pressure, I assumed that the indicator light had gone on for him, too. And he had told me when we first got the car that the tires were "run flat." So I didn't worry.

My sister and I ran a few errands together. The tire looked lower and lower, so I finally stopped at a gas station and had The Husband meet me there to check the tire.

Results:
-not "run flat" tires
-husband had been looking at a different tire, thinking it had looked low... hadn't seen tire indicator light
-tire has a hole in the side wall

He filled the tire enough to get it to my sister's house. Today he'll take the wheel off, and and he and BIL will try to get the tire repaired. I hopehopehopehope that the tire can be repaired and we don't have to replace it. It's a fairly new tire.

Bleh. Money out.

Gift Cards and Thinking Ahead

December 29th, 2012 at 08:25 pm

We (The Husband, Swimbabies and I) got $200 worth of gift cards from a place that we do not shop... and probably will not shop. I'm trying to decide what to do with them. I may end up re-gifting because I know lots of other people who would like shopping at this particular place. I'll probably just stick them in a drawer and wait for the need to arise.

I need to re-evaluate our pre-tax medical and see what the numbers should be for next year.

I want to increase the amounts that The Husband has deducted for his 401K and that I have deducted for my retirement. It's probably just a quick and easy thing to do, but I haven't even had time for that.

The Swimbabies got some cash from various relatives, which is great. They are all busy planning and deciding how to use it. All are saving a portion! Hurray for that!

I've got a few more days off from work, and I'm grateful for that. I've caught whatever bug is going around, complete with fever and headache, so I've been resting all day. I'm hoping it goes away quickly so I can enjoy some of my days off!

Returns... A Pleasant Surprise

December 27th, 2012 at 02:31 pm

I have a few returns to do. The Swimbabies didn't like a couple of things, and I ended up with a few extra things. So last night I was digging through all the receipts to find the ones I needed for returns.

I happened to look at a receipt from REI and noticed that I was charged twice for a $32.99 item. I was completely annoyed! But I got up this morning and marched to the store, receipt in hand. I explained that I had bought three items, but was charged twice for one of them. I showed the receipt and... no problem! They apologized and immediately issued the credit. I was worried, because I knew I couldn't prove I only bought one, and I was afraid they wouldn't believe me. I said, "I'm usually so careful, and I heard the total and thought it seemed a little high. But my husband just handed over his credit card, and we were busy talking and planning our next shopping stop, and thinking about other things." The customer service rep said, "That's probably what we were doing, too."

So happy! I was hating the thought of $32.99 lost!

Time to Set Goals/Make Some Plans

December 26th, 2012 at 06:45 pm

Well, I'm feeling eager to sit down with The Husband and make some goals and do some planning, but I haven't had time, yet.

Things that are on my mind:

*Our cell phone plan... we've been talking about changing carriers/plans, but it will take some time and research. I'm hoping we can get to this while we're both off work.

*Food planning... I just feel like we always pay too much for food! We have been busy and haven't planned the way I like to the last two months, so I'd like to get back on that.

*We are hoping to take a family vacation this summer, and I want to get a budget set for that.

*I have a few boxes of items that I want to sell on ebay. I'm not sure if there's a "best time of year" or not... and maybe this isn't the best time. But I want to get going on that. Cleaning out, and hoping to earn a few extra dollars to send to savings.

*I want to start planning some little way to add to the savings. I'm already sending a decent amount, but I want to increase and might try saving change and $1 bills, or sending the amounts I save with coupons or discounts to savings or something.

*And I need to double check the pre-tax medical and get one of the swimbabies to an orthodontist.

I just updated car insurance, so I won't need to look at that. Our utilities are going well. We could probably do a little better on gas/combining trips/driving less if it's close by.

I actually love this time of year ... great time for planning and goal-setting, which I love! Smile

Buyer's Remorse on Christmas morning! Aaagh!

December 25th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I'm trying to give myself a break.

It has been such a busy few months with the move and the job, and I just could not think about Christmas until Friday, when I knew I would be off work for several days.

I was happy that I could get all the shopping done on Friday and Saturday, and I should remember that.

But as everyone was opening presents, I was looking at their gifts and thinking things like...

"Too bad I didn't get that online. I probably could have found a 20% coupon and gotten some cash back on ebates."

I'm actually laughing at myself now. Sometimes speed and convenience win out over money. Sigh.

Happy day to everyone!

Merry Christmas

December 24th, 2012 at 03:48 pm

Well, I managed to get the shopping done... the mall wasn't too bad, and I got some good deals. I had a list ready so there were just a few things that required decisions.

I did spend more than I wanted to spend on three items. I was a little bummed. But, it was a matter of spending a little extra or trying several other stores. Meh. I just paid the little extra. I've never really done this much last minute shopping. I usually buy everything online, and I'll plan to get back to that again next year. Much easier. I just didn't have the mental space to deal with it this year.

But it's done now.

One snag: I had bought a pair of pajamas for one of the swimbabies. The hanging tag said one size and the tag sewn into the clothing said something else. The size was completely wrong. I discovered it when I was wrapping last night. So, I had to run out this morning and find a replacement. Are you kidding? Decent pajamas for a kid on the 24th?! Well, I got lucky and found something great, thankfully.

I'll have some returns for later in the week, including the wrong-sized pajamas. I ended up with a couple of extra items for one kid, so I'll take those back.

I love stockings at our house. They always get filled with things the kids really need. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, their favorite shampoos, etc. So even though I spent money on those things for Christmas, I won't need to buy them in January!

We're having a very peaceful Christmas. Quiet. Just The Husband, Swimbabies and me. Not our usual, but we're all perfectly happy with the plan right now!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Today it Begins

December 22nd, 2012 at 08:38 am

Good heavens! My vacation starts today...

As will my Christmas shopping. OMG.

I've been so completely consumed with the new job that I haven't done a thing. I'm not that worried, though. I have a list ready, and there isn't too much on it. We will give our kids some presents and some cash. I'm doing Happy New Year gifts for my friends, so that's not a rush. I don't really know the new neighbors, so no worries there. And while I will do a few things for extended family, we won't see them until the 30th so I will have plenty of time.

I need to plan some food for the next week, so I'll be grocery shopping some, too.

Not that worried. I won't be going shopping crazy or anything. Smile

I'm just so darn happy to have time off from the fabulous and stressful new job!

Happy Day!

December 10th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I got word today that my salary is going up about $1000 a month. Yahoo! I was thinking this might happen and hoping it would work out. Smile Great news!

Inexpensive dinner:
http://www.annies-eats.com/2009/12/10/baked-potato-soup/


And so incredibly delicious. It's not terribly nutritious, so we topped it with some of the toppings listed plus some steamed broccoli. And we had lots of oranges on the side. It was warm and yummy.

Today was a completely wonderful day at work, even without the news above. Just very pleasant and productive. And then I spent the afternoon with a friend. I spent $3.80 on a latte, and it was worth every penny.

At work, there's a little Secret Santa thing going on. I made some decorated sugar cookies yesterday to take for my treat. My Secret Santa left a Starbuck's card in my mailbox! So I can get a few more lattes... I like to do creative things for activities like this, and I'm still trying to think of ideas.

Nine more days of work before I get some days off for the holidays. I am very happy with my new-ish job, but I am ready for some rest, too.

Have a great week!


Lots and Lots and Busy, Busy, Busy...

December 9th, 2012 at 08:12 am

Where to start?

First, I'm annoyed. I didn't take benefits for my new job, because I'm on The Husband's. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. We could have cancelled his and taken mine, but the possibility exists that next August I won't have a job. Depends on many factors... but if we had cancelled benefits through his job, we couldn't just automatically get them back in August. And darn. The benefits offered to me were full health, full dental, full vision... all at zero cost, so I probably should have taken them anyway. But again, that would be great for the next 9 months, ... and then what? Hopefully when open enrollment comes around, I'll have a better sense of job security, and can take advantage of this. The Husband has a pretty small amount deducted for the same benefits but we could have saved that money... I haven't looked at the amounts lately, but it's probably around $120 a month. Arg. Grr. Blerg.

Next, we sold a car. Finally. Had been on the list for ages, and the Husband just didn't have time to deal with it. Car was in decent shape body-wise, interior-wise and all that, but it had several mechanical issues that were getting worse... and we'd driven it 241,000 miles. So we were glad to get a decent price. Purchased by some mechanic, who will probably fix it up and sell it for double what we sold it to him for. Sigh. But it's not our problem anymore. Last week we bought a hybrid Civic from a friend. For half of Blue Book price. It gets 45 mpg and we could not have bought it from a more reliable friend. She gave us all the service records. That will be the car for the swimbabies to get around in.

The swimbabies' activities in the new area are turning out to be expensive. This really applies only to competition. One SB has a competition in January that is out of state. Good heavens. She's 13. It seems pretty ridiculous to me, but we're going to do it. And it's a little bit of guilt that is pushing me. Everyone has done well with the move, but there have still been difficult moments. Most of this SB's new friends are involved in the sport, and it feels a bit crazy, but this competition is a chance for more bonding with her new friends. And of course, it's a chance for competition that I think she's ready for. So I'll be starting to shop for some plane tickets... Might just take the whole family if I can get a decent deal. Make it a long weekend, and squeeze in a bit of sightseeing.

I've not done much in the Christmas shopping department. I need to get a few things for kids. We have our "pajamas on Christmas Eve" tradition, which they love. I think I'm going to check out Old Navy for those... seems like I saw some cute things there. Then I need to figure out a few small things for each kid. I usually get things they need/ask for. And we will probably give them a little spending money. I usually do a bag of goodies from Trader Joe's for our parents, and I want to do some baking for friends. So pleased to have crossed "Christmas cards" off the list.

I need to do laundry, iron, plan the week's menu, make some cookies for a "secret pal" gift, and possibly run a couple of errands today. I'm hoping also, for a quick drive to the redwoods or beach and a walk. That's probably a stretch, though. Wink

Happy Sunday, friends!

Christmas Cards

December 2nd, 2012 at 10:27 am

I wonder how much longer people will send Christmas cards? Will everything go the digital route?

I love sending and getting Christmas cards. I usually do something really creative, but I just don't have it in me this year. I ordered photo cards from tinyprints.com during the Thanksgiving weekend. They arrived last week, and I addressed them today.

It's a bit expensive to send cards... the cost of the card (I did have multiple discounts which made the cards cheaper than Costco), and postage... but I like doing it, and we ended up with a nice family picture this year.

The cards will go out tomorrow. I'm so thankful to cross that off my list!

I have hardly given gifts a thought...

Black Friday Shopping. Never!

November 23rd, 2012 at 01:49 pm

I can't imagine a deal good enough to make me go shopping today! It just sounds like the worst thing ever!

My family is hanging out together at the relatives' house. A few of us dashed out for pedicures (the cheapest I've ever had, but decent at $15), and some are watching football. We're planning a walk to a park later, and there will be some photography... different smaller families are all wanting to take Christmas card pictures, so we'll do that.

Everyone (except me) helped a little with the cooking of yesterday's dinner. And tonight we're going to make tacos with all the leftover turkey. The pies are nearly gone, so we may have some of the teenagers make some cookies for dessert.

I didn't help with dinner yesterday because I was sick. We suspect that it was food poisoning from something I ate on Wednesday when we were on the way to the relatives. I stayed in bed basically all day, sipping ginger ale and nibbling a few saltines by the afternoon. At 5:00, when the family was eating dinner, I crawled out of bed and ate a tiny piece of toast and a spoonful of mashed potatoes. And then I got back in bed. Even with being miserably sick, it's been wonderful being surrounded by family!

Today I feel much better, and I tasted some stuffing for lunch, though I still don't feel like eating much. Who would have thought?!

I'm pretty thrilled to have a few days off, because the new job is quite challenging, though I do love it. I slept late today, and plan to do the same tomorrow. Thankfully, I cleaned the house to perfection before we left, so we will go home to a nice, clean house on Sunday.

I hope you all had a great holiday!

The Last Piece of the Moving Puzzle

November 9th, 2012 at 07:33 pm

Egads. It's been ages.

So a few months ago we moved. The Husband's commute is shorter. Check. The swimbabies like their new schools and activities. Check. House in old town sold. Check.

I was thinking I would take some time off from working. Just not that many jobs out there for me right now. And then I saw a posting, applied on a whim, and got it.

So my job is the last piece of the puzzle. Everything is working out well. My jobs is tons of work right now, but it will slow down in a few weeks, I think. We will have to fine tune a few things in the family's schedule, but amazingly, everything is going well.

This was a very hectic week, and it's a busy weekend ahead, so we had takeout tonight. We hardly every do that. I'm almost always in favor of cooking over spending. But I'm too tired to argue. The Husband took care of calling in an order and going to pick it up. I was pretty close to just cooking some oatmeal and getting in bed, but the takeout was delicious (Mexican.)

Hope y'all are well!

Freezing Avocados

September 17th, 2012 at 08:56 am

A few people asked, so here you go.

Mash up those avocados and add a little lemon juice. Freeze. Could that be any easier?!

I actually forgot to add lemon juice to my first batch, but I added a little as they were thawing and they turned out great. Also, I used ziploc freezer bags, squeezed all the air out, and froze flat.

Lucky had avocados on sale again this weekend, but we were so busy that I didn't make it there. Hopefully it's a regular thing.

We had some good friends over for dinner on Saturday. They live a few towns away, but closer than they have in years. Once upon a time we were next-door neighbors. She loves Italian food, so we went with an Italian theme.

Appetizer: Roasted red-pepper dip with vegetables, cheese and baguette
Dinner: Homemade gnocchi, fontina sauce, roasted tomato sauce, and salad.
Dessert: cannoli and spumoni purchased from a local Italian bakery (WELL worth the cost!)

I've made gnocchi a few times lately. It's so easy, and very economical. And most importantly... delicious! I've made regular potato versions and also sweet potato gnocchi. Food heaven.

Here's the link for the red pepper dip. So yummy. So versatile. I had leftovers on a cheese sandwich yesterday.

I need to start thinking about dinners for this week. Lately we have been pretty busy, and one night had oatmeal. I'm fine with it, but I know the kids prefer something a little more interesting. I'm thinking about fried rice for tonight, only because it's a Swimbaby favorite.

Happy Monday!

Things Have a Way of Working Out

September 4th, 2012 at 05:34 pm

I last posted about $300 or so worth of spending that annoyed me.

And now, I just found out that we'll be getting $300 or so for changing our car insurance policy.

I'd been bugging The Hub to change our policy to reflect that kids had gone back to college. He finally called this afternoon. They have this option called "Away at School" for college kids. But if the college isn't far enough away, it has no effect on the policy. One Swimbaby is FAR away at school, and we don't pay a dime, even though technically, kid is still on car insurance. Kid is covered when home visiting, basically for free. One Swimbaby goes to college approximately 85 miles away... which is apparently too close to get any advantage from the "Away at School" option. So we completely removed said Swimbaby! When home, we'll have to call and have kid added for a few days if kid is to drive (not really a need) and they'll charge us a few dollars just for that weekend or whatever.

Savings? Approximately $300 (every six months!), but still waiting for the final numbers. TOTALLY worth the call.

Interestingly, sometimes my Swimbabies use Zipcar, and rent a car for a few hours or a day. It's within their budget and comes with insurance. It's really a great option for college kids!

Pancakes for dinner...

Seriously?

September 4th, 2012 at 09:22 am

Aargh!

The Hub has a credit card that we occasionally use for convenience sake. We've always paid it off every month. I don't tend to look at the statements until it's time to pay. This time, I got a some surprises.

Surprise #1: Elephant Bar. Elephant Bar?! Some friends took us there once years ago and it was terrible. Overpriced, greasy, food that is not even close to as good as something I could fix on a bad day at home. With my eyes closed. When I'm sick and can't taste anything.

So I ask, "Um, what the heck is up with Elephant Bar?!" And the response doesn't please me. Apparently the Hub took a couple of people to lunch to the tune of $70, but won't be reimbursed from work because of some technicalities. He couldn't have taken them to the burger place that would have cost half?! Ugh. Not happy.

Surprise #2: We had to go out of town and take the dog for boarding. Our old boarding was $21 a night, but it was at a vet hospital and we were pleased with the service. It took me a ton of comparison shopping to find that deal.

But....New town, new boarding. "No problem," Hub says. "I'll take care of it." So he calls the first vet on the Google search and signs up. Except... We're only gone for one night, but because of the Labor Day holiday, dog has to stay 3 nights. They're not open for pick up. Growl from me. And dog is due for a shot, and needs a test not required by other boarding... and on and on. So it ends up that what would have cost $21 at the old place, costs $256! Did you hear me scream?!

I feel so cheated. Except it's not totally his fault. We've been busy (I could have searched for pet boardking, but let him do it), he really did need to do the lunch date thing, because it gave him needed information. It would have been impractical to board dog at old place. But that's over $300 that I would have been happy to save. It just seems like a waste to me... I would have considered other options.

In retaliation, I'm snatching $300 from the checking account and sending it to savings. Okay, not really retaliation, but I'll feel better. I'd rather not spend, eat from the pantry, etc... and let him *think* we're closer to the edge that we really are. (It's unlikely that he'll check to see where it went. He's busy!) But really, I'll be sending $300 to savings that I hadn't planned to right now. If we need it, too bad. We'll have to wait.

So I guess not really retaliation. More like win.

And I forgot to add: He's as annoyed about it all as I am. He didn't expect the crazy-high boarding bill, and he didn't really want to pay for lunch but felt obligated. He did get a little bonus at work this month, which more than covers it all. It's just the principle!!

Exhausted.

September 2nd, 2012 at 09:16 pm

I'm exhausted. And now I've got whatever my kids and Laura had. Did I just say I'm exhausted? Because what I meant was completely and totally zapped and fried and wasted and exhausted beyond belief. My mistake!

We're moved. Well, mostly. There are still a few things in the old house that will go to storage, but we're not going to do that until the very last second before escrow closes. Thank you very much, we'll take advantage of that storage in a house we're not using.

In the new place, everything is set up, pictures hung, kids in school, food in the fridge, washer hooked up, and pets doing fine. Gasoline is higher priced in the new town, but since the commute is so much shorter, it's not bugging me yet.

We got our first power bill at the new place, which was only for a week, but it was $7.00. May that kind of joy continue!

We've spent more money on eating out and buying gas (lots of trips back and forth between new town and old town and also taking Swimbabies to college--mostly using the car that gets the worst mileage! Of course!) than I ever thought possible. That should calm down right about now. We just finished a major task today.

Okay, it might not stop now. I am feeling rotten... sounds like it's been going around, with lots of us sick. I need to sleep, but something frozen sounds like it might feel good on my throat, so maybe I'll send the Hub out for one last hurrah before he's forbidden to ever grocery shop again. Fingers crossed he comes home with nothing extra. (Wink, wink, Thrift-O-Rama!)

I've missed you all, SA friends. It's been a busy few weeks!

Cancelling Memberships

August 17th, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Today I requested that our membership to the food co-op (health food store) be cancelled. Part of the co-op deal is that members invest $20 per year, but it's all refundable when you cancel.

We've been members for years and years. I'm expecting around a $200 refund, but it may be more. I will miss this grocery store, for sure. But there are both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods near the new town, so I think we'll have options.

Truck Rental Deals

August 17th, 2012 at 10:37 am

The Husband rented a moving truck for the weekend. He did some calling around and then some investigating online. Interesting... the best deals (BY FAR THE BEST!!) were online. He even checked online and by phone at the same exact places.

It was definitely worth a few minutes time. The deal he went with (found online) was $72 for a 20-foot truck and $28 extra for furniture pads and an appliance mover. Free mileage up to 300 miles and it's for the whole weekend. Pick up the truck in one location and drop off two hours away. So, $100 total, plus gas. When he called the same place, they quoted him $165 for the truck, plus 39-cents a mile! And we would have to return the truck to the place it was picked up. It would have been about 200 miles round trip, so it would have added another $78, and that didn't include the furniture pads. Outrageous! That would have cost a fortune!

Yes, we could have done something different for the furniture pads, but decided that it was worth it. I am assuming that nothing will be damaged in this move now!

He picked up the truck this morning, then went to work. We will load it up tonight and then drive tomorrow morning. Unloading is usually pretty quick, so we're hoping to drop the truck off tomorrow afternoon.

Busy Moving

August 16th, 2012 at 06:08 pm

It's unbelievably busy at our house right now. Our house went on the market and sold and we're moving and Swimbaby is going back to college and a million tomatoes are ripe all at once and we need to change our address on everything and school is starting and we have orthodontist and dentist and hair appointments and we're packing and moving and making piles of things for Craigslist and ...and ...and ...and ...

As far as money goes, I got an Ebates check for $21.xx today and somehow I found 11 minutes to take a Pinecone survey last night so that $3 will be on it's way. But it's not all "money IN!" at this point. College tuition will be due soon, and I spent a ton on yearbook, PE clothes, etc. at the registration day at the Swimbabies' schools. Frankly, I would rather pay for it all at once and be done! At least it's all crossed off my list. And the only really "optional" thing we purchased were yearbooks. I wonder how long before there aren't any yearbooks at all? My older kids weren't too thrilled with theirs the last few years because they said all the pictures were on Facebook, anyway!

We found a nice little burrito place in the new town, and although it's cheaper to make burritos at home, it will be a good place for a treat now and then. (We went the other night because we had few options at that point of the moving process!) The Husband and I split a $5.99 burrito and it was plenty of food!

Next, I'll be looking for a good dry cleaners and mapping out running routes. A new adventure! Smile

School Shopping

August 10th, 2012 at 11:47 am

I hate shopping. Actually, I don't mind a trip to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. But I hate the mall kind of shopping.

But yesterday, a Swimbaby wanted to go. I reluctantly agreed, but only because she was spending her own money. I had other Swimbabies with me, and I had warned them ahead of time that I wasn't going to do a big shopping trip. Yes, everyone at our house is in great need as far as clothes go, but no I wasn't going to shop. I figured I would hit some cheap places after school started and get some great deals.

Well, I lied.

I was amazed to find some great deals at some really high-end stores. I'm talking Target prices at Abercrombie and American Eagle and Hollister. My kids like the clothes from those places, but not enough to go after them when it's time to shop. I don't usually flat-out say no, but I say something like, "Do you love those shorts $39 worth? That's like 6 movies with a friend or two or three pairs at Old Navy... or even more at consignment!" And they almost always say no. We have shopped for online clearance at the expensive stores and have gotten decent deals, but forget full price!

So back to yesterday... we found shorts and skirts for $15 (which is Target prices!) and cute t-shirts for $9 (marked down from $30---isn't THAT ridiculous!) I bought a few cute, trendy things for each Swimbaby, and we'll fill in the rest later as needed. I ordered shoes online and we will find a pair of clearance sandals for each kid. They are set to start school in the crazy warm weather we have.

Moving

August 8th, 2012 at 03:40 pm

So we are beginning the process of moving. Ugh. Can I have some sympathy cheers?! Smile

We're moving to be closer to our jobs, so that we can spend more time with our children and each other. Unfortunately, it means that they will have to go to new schools and make new friends and we will have to start over as far as arranging their activities and sports.

All the Swimbabies seem to have good attitudes. I know it won't be easy and we will hit a few bumps, but we are together, and as a friend said the other day, "We're not in Syria." That's not meant to be offensive in any way, just to illustrate that so many others have bigger problems. We need to keep our stress in perspective!

As I've been researching things, it looks like our gas/electric bill could go down $100 a month or more. This is due to climate and size of the dwelling. We're eliminating a home phone, so we will pay just for cell phones and internet. That will save another $50 a month. And the garbage and water bills should be less in the new area. And of course there will be tremendous savings in commuting costs!

Seems pretty rosy, huh? Well... housing. Sigh. Housing. We are renting a place now and hope to buy in a year. And we're saving in the meantime, because *whew!!* a house will cost more in the new area.

But the property taxes in the area will be less (and non-existent during the year we rent), and one Swimbaby's activity will be less, and our insurance will be less,. So that's good, right? But wait! Another Swimbaby's activities will be significantly more expensive ($100 a month), and the story goes on and on... it's amazing the differences in prices for all kinds of things. Some more, some less, and I'm too tired to be keeping track of it all anymore. I've gathered rates for everything I can, and it's all within what I would consider a reasonable range. I'm eager to get the whole process of moving finished, just to see for sure how it all shakes out in the budget.

But that will likely be several months.

Sigh again.

Yard Sale Deal

August 7th, 2012 at 08:03 am

Funny thing at my friend's yard sale...

We had gone the night before so we'd be ready to get up early and get it all going. The kids made signs, and we got change and moved tables from her backyard. We (adults) stayed up too late playing games, but it was fun!

When we got up in the morning, it was cold! There was lots of fog, no sun and the air was damp. I had taken a sweatshirt, but not pants--just shorts. Shivering, I put on my shorts and sweatshirt and got to work pulling things out of the garage. I was covered with goosebumps. Freezing. So cold.

Somehow, we came up with the idea to grab something out of the clothes section of the yard sale! Swimbaby grabbed a bathrobe and a pair of pajama bottoms, which she wore for a while and put back on the table.

I found a very nice (probably worn only a few times) pair of Old Navy capris (denim) that belonged to one of my friend's daughters! They fit perfectly, warmed me up a bit that day, and I brought them home and will wear them a lot! I paid her a dollar for them! What a deal!

Another Garage Sale and Digital Files

August 5th, 2012 at 09:58 pm

So this weekend my friend had her yard sale. Our family loves to hang out her family anyway, so we took most of our extras to her house. This was definitely a "get rid of it" kind of sale. She made about $200 and I made exactly $100.50! Which was not bad at all. And more importantly, that stuff is gone. When it was all over, I pulled out all the trendy/high quality/brand name clothing from the pile, and I will take it to a consignment store tomorrow. And then we hauled everything else to the thrift store and made a large donation. Done!

I found lots of VHS tapes and some home movies when I was cleaning out a week or two ago. And I just found out that Costco will do the transfer to a DVD. Their prices seem to be much better than places I found locally or online, so I think I will try it out with a few tapes this week. We've also been converting old photographs to digital files, and I'm so pleased. Those digital files take up a ton less space. Smile And yes, we've backed everything up on the hard drive and on flash drives. We can do the photos ourselves, but not the VHS since we no longer own a VCR. It's okay, because I don't think I would have time to do it right now, anyway.

Gas prices seem to have gone up again.

We had another busy and exhausting weekend, which will make for an interesting week. All good, just busy.


Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe

August 1st, 2012 at 04:43 pm

When I freeze the tomatoes, I just cut out the core and throw them in a freezer bag, skin and all. (I HATE tomato skin. My grandmother spoiled me by always peeling my tomatoes. But in this recipe, peel is fine!)

Here's the original recipe. It's VERY forgiving. I substitute all kinds of vegetables and the proportions aren't even that important. I like to add carrots and zucchini. I've added green beans, too, and they work great. I have made it with and without herbs, and it works fine either way. You can always add dried herbs later. Use what you have and adjust the recipe as needed.



Roasted Tomato Sauce
15 cloves garlic
8 lb. tomatoes
10 onions, cut in quarters
1 c. chopped herbs
1/2 c. olive oil
3 T. sugar
salt and pepper

Combine everything in a roasting pan. Roast at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Stir, and roast another 25 minutes. Stir, and roast 45 minutes. Puree.

Tomatoes and Life...

August 1st, 2012 at 08:38 am

This is what's left from the tomatoes we've picked the last two days. I think there were a total of 37 tomatoes on Monday and Tuesday. Of course, we'd been gone over the weekend, but it's still a ton of tomatoes. All but a few of them are as big or bigger than my fist. Yum!



Yesterday we used many to make sandwiches and salads, and I gave a few to a friend. She just moved and left all her tomato plants behind.

Tonight we will make salsa, and then whatever is left goes into a bag in the freezer because there will be more ripe today. I have a bag that is filling up with tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. When it's full, I toss the contents in a roasting pan with some onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini... whatever I've got! I roast all the vegetables in the oven, puree, and voila! A delicious roasted tomato sauce for pasta or pizza or whatever. Then I freeze the roasted sauce in 2-cup portions. I like it because I don't have to waste anything. If we don't have time to eat everything from the garden, it's okay. This year, we somehow ended up with 3 cherry tomato plants. I am the only one who will eat them, and I can't eat as many as we get each day. So into the bag they go!

It's always amazing to me that a long weekend away actually takes so much more time than the weekend. We got home after midnight on Sunday (Way too late! Long drive!), and I spent Monday trying to unpack suitcases, start laundry, nap to recover a bit on the sleep, remove every bit from the car, restock the fridge. I had cleaned the house from top to bottom before we left, so at least I didn't have that chore. Of course, it was totally worth it, just took a little recovery time.

My friend is having her garage sale this weekend, so we're taking all our leftovers to her house. I don't expect to make much in the way of profit, but it will be stuff we don't have to move! Whatever doesn't sell gets picked up on Monday! In the past, we have had the kids sell cookies and lemonade and they've done really well. If there's time, we might do it again.

Long Week, Long Weekend Away

July 27th, 2012 at 06:03 pm

Whew. What a week it was.

I've had a lot on my lists. The first part of the week was spent running errands, cleaning the house, and getting things organized. I took some yard sale things to my friend's house and The Husband cleaned up the yard and took a load to the dump. It was exhausting, but we accomplished a lot.

The last thing on my list was to finish all the laundry and pack for our long, long weekend in LA. We got a hotel on Hotwire.com for one night, and have been/will be staying with family for the rest of the time we're here. We're not going to any theme parks or doing anything particularly expensive. We were able to get decently-priced gas on our way out of town, and the hotel was only $61. But with all the hungry athletes in our family (and we've got two extra teens with us), it's the food that costs a ton!

Yesterday we went to Whole Foods (I know! Ridiculously expensive!) for lunch. Everyone wanted something different, and we decided to go there for the happiness factor. Between the kids, they got pizza, sandwiches, sushi, salad, burritos... I had a really wonderful salad and The Husband got Indian food there. We bought a case of water and some extra fruit, crackers, and snacks. Gads. It was $75. The total was a little shocking at the time, but now that I think... it was lunch for 8 people, plus lots of snacks. It was probably just a bit more expensive than going someplace like Subway, and it made everyone VERY happy. We were hot, exhausted, and everyone was a bit grouchy at the time. All the kids getting exactly the lunch that they wanted made a big difference in attitude. And we've been munching on the leftover snacks and fruit today.

We've been eating with family today. And there will be birthday cake for me tonight! My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but who am I to refuse chocolate cake?!

The Husband forgot a swimsuit, so we stopped by a Big 5, and lucked out. They had everything on clearance, and he got a very nice suit for under $20. It is something he would have picked out and paid a lot more for elsewhere.

We had a great day of playing at the pool and ocean today and plan to go to a museum tomorrow. It's been great being away from home and relaxing with family. Much needed vacation time! Happy, happy day! Smile

Yard/Garage/Moving Sale DONE!

July 22nd, 2012 at 09:07 am

I had posted an ad on Craig's list for the sale, but that's it. I noticed several other listings for sales in our area, and then checked and saw that those people had also placed ads in the newspaper. Good enough for me. A Swimbaby made some signs and we sent her to post them at intersections near the other sales. I just listed our street name in the posting because I didn't want "early shoppers." Several years ago we had a sale and had people prowling around our back yard in the middle of the night before.

Interesting. We said the hours were 7am-1pm. True to the garage sale culture, there were people here at 6am, which I always find irritating. Then a couple of them said, "You don't have much stuff," to which I replied, "We will have a lot at 7am." Grrr! And we did have a lot by 7am. We were hauling it all out of the house as fast as we could. It was a very hot day, and most of the shoppers came before 9:30 am.

I let the Swimbabies and The Husband handle the sale for the most part. I gave prices for a few big items, and then went inside and cleaned house and did laundry. I don't usually like being out there because I usually see children from work, and I just don't like to.

The great news is that lots of stuff is gone, and we will have much less to move. It was just amazing. I looked at some of the stuff and had no idea where it had come from or how long we'd had it. People just give us stuff all the time, thinking we'll like it/need it, and we had just been saving it in case we did need it.

The Husband wanted to get rid of stuff more than he wanted to make money. And probably because he works all the time and doesn't buy much, he's pretty unaware of prices. Some things he tried to sell for too much money, but mostly he was practically giving things away! He sold our lawn mower for $15. I started to throw a mini-tantrum, but he reminded me that it had been sitting outside for 4 years, he didn't know the condition for sure (it hasn't been covered or maintained), and we haven't used it in all that time because someone else mows our lawns. So it's not like he was selling something we'll need to replace. Heck, I think my dad handed down that lawn mower to us in the first place. Years ago. Whatever. It's gone, and we no longer have to deal with it. I've got to say that he was probably right. We don't want to have to move things that we won't use/don't need.

One really, really sweet family from France came by at the very end, right before we were about to clean up. They had a darling little child with them, and we had fun picking out things for her. We sent them off with snow boots, mittens, some books, some bath toys and a tutu. We chatted a little (in French! Fun to practice!) and learned that they are graduate students, so we gave them everything for free. It was the highlight of the day.

My best friend is having a yard sale in two weeks, so I think I'll load everything that's left and take it to her house. It will help her to have more stuff, and we might make a few more dollars. After that, it all gets donated. I'll be putting a few things on Craig's list this week and I have a pile for eBay, too.

We did make a decent amount of money. Other than a few $15-25 items, it was a lot of 50 cent or one dollar books, items of clothing or toys. It all added up fast. And it's over. Smile

A Little of This, A Little of That

July 20th, 2012 at 09:52 am

On the rental topic, I had forgotten our savings in terms of property taxes. Yes, we'll be missing out on another tax deduction, but our property taxes are currently just over $8,000 a year. I won't miss that.

Our power is off today due to some construction in the area or something. But our internet router has a battery back-up, so we've got internet, at least. I'm hoping that the power won't be off too long. For one thing, it's supposed to be very hot today-- in the 90s. I knew about this ahead of time, but I'd forgotten about the possibility of food going bad. Hope that doesn't happen.

I always forget all the ways we "need" the power. Our drinking water comes from the fridge dispenser. I can't do laundry or cook or vacuum... I think we'll be heading out to the library soon. It will be cool and entertaining there.

I saw a friend yesterday and she reminded me about Ross Dress for Less. I like shopping there when I can stop by on a fairly regular basis. I used to work near one, and I'd stop by every week or so to look at dresses. Often I found nothing, but other times I found great stuff. I think the key is definitely checking back often. I never paid more than $15 for a dress for work, and they were very nice dresses. The friend I saw yesterday always has adorable dresses on, and that is her method, too. I'm hoping to find a Ross in the new area.

Dinner might be take out of some kind. We had some work to do tonight, because tomorrow's the moving sale! Can't wait to have all this stuff out of my house.

Happy Weekend, Friends!


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