Monday, April 30, 2012

Fiscal Fast Days 4 & 5

No spending to report for either day. Yea!

And other than Thing 2 eating my chicken, and the still as of yet missing snake, not much else to report either.

Just another boring (thankfully) Monday.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Dog Ate My Chicken

So, as part of my grocery shopping this week, I picked up a 4lb bag of frozen chicken breasts. I thawed them in the fridge and began to cook them today. For our dinner tonight, I actually made one of the recipes I found on Pinterest --- Honey Sesame Chicken (in the crockpot!). It was actually pretty good, even though it was a healthier version because it was not breaded an fried (although I need to tweak it some because the sauce was not quite thick enough). Even the super picky princess liked it!

While I was bustling around the kitchen, I went ahead and cooked the remaining chicken breasts in the microwave in my pampered chef deep covered baker. The plan was to freeze the chicken after cooking for use in recipes later in the week. I had all the stuff on hand to make the Princess's absolute favorite meal: Chicken Puffs and had planned to do a chicken alfredo later in the week.

So I cooked and cooled the chicken breasts. Then I chopped them up and put them into freezer bags, but hadn't sealed the bags yet. About that time, the Princess came in the kitchen asking some questions about a project she is working on for Econ class. They are making budgets and she needed a year's worth of utility bills. So, while I was at the door to the office telling her how to log on to my account......

Thing 2 sneaked into the kitchen, grabbed the bags of chicken and snarfed them down. When I turned around, she was licking the insides of the bags! Every bit of that chicken was GONE. GONE. GONE.
And as I fussed at her ---- she had the audacity to LICK HER CHOPS! No remorse whatsoever.


Fiscal Fast Day 3 - The Snake in the Kitchen Edition

My Saturday version of the fiscal fast was going very well. I had washed and air dried a couple of loads of laundry. Cut the grass, weeded, weedeated, transplanted some coleus that was getting too much sun, gone around with loppers to cut back a bunch of stuff on the fence line. Good, hard, filthy work from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m that left me too tired to even consider spending money!

And then IT happened. I walk in the house planning to shower and then bake some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies that the Princess had requested, and I saw IT. A gray snake with blackish markings, several feet long, ON MY KITCHEN FLOOR. So, I did what any self respecting person would do.... I screamed like a girl, grabbed my pups (who were making a beeline for it) by the collar, and scurried us all back onto the the screened porch where I had a minor major freakout.

I ran over to my next door neighbor's house hoping her husband would know what to do. Nope. But she at least knew who to call, so we called an animal control company. The guy told me it would be $389 for them to come out and there was no guarantee they would find or remove the snake. Yikes. So, I called my Dad instead. By this time, the snake had "disappeared".

So, my dad came over and so did my across-the-street neighbor (who apparently thinks snakes are cool and had seen my fb post while I was waiting for my Dad to get there) and we commenced searching for the snake. We took everything out of the kitchen cabinets, the pantry, moved the appliances. Searched closets, under furniture --- everywhere. Couldn't find him. The good thing is that it is likely not a poisonous snake --- from my description, my neighbor thought it was a gray rat snake and when I googled it, I have to agree. I took another friend's suggestion and blared music and stomped around because snakes don't like vibrations. We are hoping that with all the people, pups and noise, he has slithered back to where he came from.

However, I certainly was no longer in the frame of mind to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies or cook dinner for that matter. I sent the Princess a text at work advising her of the situation. She opted to eat dinner at work! Then I had her pick me up some fast food since she had my card with her. And since I wasn't making the cookies, she asked if she could get some ice cream. I have no clue what this cost me yesterday as I didn't even ask for receipts yet. I'd imagine about $10? So, I broke my fast yesterday completely unintentionally. And the Princess opted to spend the night out! Can't say I blame her.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fiscal Fast Day 2

I knew this was going to be a spend day. I had to pick up some groceries and my aching face from dental work did not put me in the right frame of mind to shop before my fast started. That's okay though, because I had planned for it, so at least it isn't a "fail" --- well at least in my mind.

So Friday looked like this:

Groceries: $26.44
Princess Allowance: $20

Ooops! I kind of forgot about the allowance, but rest assured, the Princess did not!

Day 2 spending was higher than I anticipated because of the allowance issue, however, I still think I can get through the rest of the fast without spending anything. Today, I plan to do yard work and laundry, air drying everything that I can (although I might have to put some jeans in the dryer for the Princess to wear to work, it isn't quite warm enough outside yet for them to air dry fast enough). Other than a quick trip out to my Mom's to water plants, I don't anticipate going anywhere else at all today. I'm trying to be good and not succumb to the siren song of a bunch of local garage sales!!!!

Our conservation of electricity is going well, although earlier this week, we did have to run the heat a bit --- temps overnight dropped into the 30s again necessitating running the heat, but then yesterday it was in the upper 80s! I was worried we might have to turn the air on when I got home, but the ceiling fans did the trick until the sun went down. I feel quite certain I can get through April without having to turn on the air, but I'm pretty doubtful about May! But wow, it sure would be nice to have 3 months in a row with power bills under $70!

Y'all have a happy Saturday!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Saving at Aldi in a Pinch

This week's fiscal fast still necessitated some groceries. When I decided I needed to do this, I was still n considerable pain from the dental work I'd had done earlier in the week, so I postponed the shopping until after work today. I needed produce, some chicken and a few other fill ins, so I stopped at Aldi knowing I could get the most for my money, without having to think too hard about it. So here is what I got:

Greek Yogurt
Boneless Chicken Breasts
2 Cheese Pizzas
Mini Rice Cakes
Regular Rice Cakes
Banana Chips
Sweet Potatoes
Flour Tortillas
Kiwi Fruit

Spent $26.44

Not too bad.

Fiscal Fast Day 1

I managed to get through Day 1 of not spending money without any mishaps! Day 1 was actually pretty easy day!

I went to work. At lunchtime, I went to the bank to make a teensy deposit into my account (this was accounted for in the $172), and to also make a transfer from the Princess's checking account to her savings account. (Right now, she's putting 50% of her earnings into savings, half of that to fund her post graduation trips, and half to save for college). So far she's been able to save $248. Then I went to my Mom's to water her plants since she is out of town.

After that, back to work for the afternoon. Immediately after work I went to Zumba, which is prepaid(you get a $1 discount per class if you pay for 10 classes at one time). And then, home --- dinner was leftovers from earlier in the week.

I still have to get to Aldi at some point this weekend because we do need some produce, bread, and rice cakes, but I planned that into the $172 because with my dental work this week, I just wasn't up to a trip to the grocery store. I'm thinking I will probably go right after work today so I don't have to interrupt my yardwork time to do it this weekend.

On a breathe a sigh of relief, my Alabama Tax Refund Check arrived in the mail yesterday. I have decided to not deposit it until after payday unless a REAL emergency crops up. If I can make it through to payday, then I will deposit the check and apply it to my credit card (which was my original plan for it anyway). I think at this point I need to "suffer" through the not spending to get myself back on track. So far the Fiscal Fast is going well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

$172 Til Payday

I have $172 until my next payday --- which is a full week from today. All the bills are paid, automatic debits that happen on the first of the month have been factored in, my gas tank is full. I think the Princess's car is close to full. We do need produce and bread. BUT I think otherwise, we are okay.

I don't like living this close to the edge. March and April have been super expensive months. Easter, Prom and some early collegiate expenses have driven my budget over the edge. I'm going to get what we NEED at Aldi to get through, and double check that the Princess has enough gas in her car, but other than that --- I'm on a fiscal fast like Sharon at Musings of a Mid-Life Mom did this past week.

That means no eating out. No shopping for clothes. No spontaneous trips to the grocery store. No visits to my neighborhood Lowe's for plants or other garden stuff. I'm on a spending diet. I'm staying out of the stores and just hanging at work and home. That's it. Nothing else. I do NOT like being this close to the edge. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dental Ouch

My teeth are terrible. I try to take good care of them, I brush, I floss, I don't crunch on hard candy, but still they have all kinds of issues. Last spring I had to pay out $1500 in March for 2 crowns and a root canals. And because it was at the tightest point in my mouth, I had to go back several times for the crown fit to be correct.

Yesterday, I had a routine cleaning and checkup scheduled at 1:00 p.m.. I jokingly said to my boss, "If all goes well, I'll come back to work after it, but if it is like last Spring, you might not see me for DAYS!". Um, be careful what you joke about. All was going well and the hygeinist was cleaning away when my dentist came in to take a look at my mouth. He poked around and prodded for a few minutes, and then got out this gadget that looked like a pen and put it on one of my back lower molars. A few seconds later, a picture of that section of teeth showed on the tv screen, with a nice crack in the far rear molar. That tooth had been filled back when I was in my early 20's and now the filling was failing and there was a crack.

I had 2 choices. Deal with it now, meaning go ahead and crown it. Or wait for it to break completely, and possibly have to have a root canal and crown or even worse, depending on how it broke. I chose to deal with it now. So, we finished up the cleaning, and moved me to a different room. I called my boss to let her know I wouldn't be back and we fixed the tooth. To the tune of $557!

Fortunately, I had the amount still remaining in my FSA, and I didn't wipe out the entire account this time. However, it is still a bummer to have that much gone in one fell swoop! And to add to the joy of yesterday, not only did I have considerable mouth and jaw pain last night, I had a raging headache from the laughing gas! This morning, I'm moving VERY slow as I'm still a bit hungover from the whole ordeal. Here's hoping today will be better (and cheaper!!!!).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Two Income Household Part II

The Princess has been working at her new job for about a month now. For the most part, she really likes it. She has great bosses, the money is good (for a teenager) and while it can sometimes be super busy and hectic, the job itself is not overwhelming.

What WAS overwhelming was the number of hours she was working combined with school. We are on the countdown to graduation and the teachers are loading the students up on major projects, homework, tests AND finals are right around the corner. The job was working the Princess 30 hours a week and combined with school, it was just too much. A typical day was looking like this:

5:40 - Wake up, get ready for school
7:00 - Leave for School
7:15 - Report to either Spanish class or Math for extra help
7:50 - School Start
3:00 - School Dismissal
3:20 - Arrive home, change clothes for work, eat leftovers
3:45 - Leave for work
4:00 - Begin work
10:00 - Come home, eat whatever I fixed for dinner, finish up remaining homework, get ready for bed
11:00 - (if we're lucky) go to bed

The Princess was stressed and overwhelmed. She had expected to have to adjust time management issues, but close to 70/hours a week of work/school, PLUS homework was taking its toll.

So, she talked to me about it, and then she went yesterday (arriving at work well before her shift started) to talk to her Boss. She started out by telling him how appreciative she was of the job opportunity and how grateful she is for the faith they have shown in her by working her so many hours,(not to mention the very nice paycheck that had just been deposited) but it was coming down to serious crunch time with school and she was overwhelmed by juggling the number of hours with her school work. She asked if there was a way they could reduce some of her hours until after graduation (to be fair, when she had filled out the application she had put she could work 20 hours/week). She told him that graduation absolutely has to be her top priority at this time. Her boss was completely open to the conversation and said they could definitely work with her. He gave her the night off so that she could get her ducks in a row on her upcoming projects and adjusted her hours for the rest of the week so that she'd get home earlier.

All in all, it was a very productive talk and she handled herself in a forthright and professional manner. I was pretty darn proud. She didn't go into it with a demanding attitude, but nevertheless let him know what she needed to continue to be a good and productive employee. So, we are still a two income household --- with just a bit better balance.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do you ever get just TIRED?

I'm worn out. I had a productive weekend and got quite a bit accomplished, but at the end of it, I'm just tired. So tired in fact, that I almost did a freaking happy dance when the Princess called from a friend's house to ask if she could eat dinner there. Why am I rejoicing that my child won't be home for dinner? Because it means I don't have to freaking cook! How terrible is that?

I'm looking around my house and I'm not seeing the fact that the laundry is clean, folded and put away. Or that the kitchen is spotless. Or that I planted tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers and petunias on my deck. Or that the deck is cleaned off and ready to enjoy for spring and summer. Or that I weeded and spread mulch through the garden (or a good part of it, anyway). Or that I planted a ton of plants in said gardens (paid for with gift certificates --- my friends know me well!). Or that I learned to change a spark plug and air filter in my mower.

No, I don't see those completed projects. I see the dustbunnies that still need to be chased, the splintery remnants of a stick that Thing 2 managed to sneak into the house and chew to bits. I see the floors that need to be swept and mopped or vacuumed. I see the coupons that need to be clipped and sorted so we can freaking afford to eat. I see the windows that need to be cleaned of puppy nose prints. I see the budget that needs to be worked on because it is OUT OF CONTROL. I see everything that it is still undone.

And I'm tired. I don't have the energy or motivation to do those things that still need to be done. Once again, I'll start the work week with all those little things nagging at me to get done. And I'm just too freaking tired. I'm tired of having too much to do, not enough time to do it and not ever being able to just sit back and enjoy all that I actually have accomplished because there's still too much to do for one person. Okay, end of bitchfest. Time to go water those plants.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back to Couponing at Publix

Lately I've done very little coupon shopping. I've actually done very little shopping, period, but as we were starting to run out of stuff, I knew the time had come to stock up, and finally, the Publix sales were working WITH me. I made a quick run to Publix after work on Wednesday and picked up the following:

3 El Monterey Tacquitos (these are actually for an upcoming party next month)
2 6 packs Propel
2 Glade Candles
4 Lysol All Purpose Spray
6 International Delight Coffee Creamers
2 Smart Balance milk
1 Hunt's Ketchup
2 Playtex Tampons
2 SoftSoap Handsoaps
1 Publix Peanut Butter (Penny Item!)
3 Busy Bones Dog Treats
2 8 O'Clock Coffee
4 Ramen Noodles
1 Angel Soft 9 Pack Mego Roll

Spent $54.08
Saved: $69.67 or 56%

I've found that as prices continue to rise, it becomes more and more necessary to pay attention to coupon use and sales, especially for non-food items that have a good shelf life. It really cut a lot off of your overall bill! In this trip alone, coupons accounted for $24.28 of my grocery savings, and I spent less than an hour total locating, clipping and matching the coupons to sales. That's a decent "pay" for an hour's worth of work.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't Shop When You are Hungry Edition of Grocery Shopping

After a couple of weeks of avoiding grocery shopping, I HAD to make a trip. I unfortunately did it on Sunday afternoon, after only having had some strawberried and grapes to eat all day. I was HUNGRY. And my grocery bill showed it!!!! Since I still have some pretty busy times ahead, I focused on convenience (bad, bad me) and junk (that's the hungry part!), but I know that by shopping at Aldi, I still paid far less than I would have at a similar shop at a regular supermarket. So here is what I got:

Sandwich Bags
Coffee Ceamer
Turkey Meat
Sweet Potato Chips
2 Cheese Pizzas
Rice Cakes
2 Shredded Cheeses
Chicken Alfredo Frozen Family Dinner
Sugar Free Strawberry Preserves
2 Dog Treats
2 Pasta Entrees
French Onion Dip
Banana Chipos
Frozen Cheese Ravioli
Frozen Stuffed Shells
2 Deluxe Mac & Cheese
Spaghetti Sauce
Mini Rice Cakes
Brownie Mix
2 Bags of Peanuts
Salad Mix
Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Corn Tortillas

Spent: $70.14
Not too bad --- but still a LOT of junk in there!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Princess and the Prom

And there they go. After weeks of shopping and planning, it came down to this. The Princess and her date, along with her BFF and her BFF's date, left for dinner and a night of memories to last a life time.  The girls looked stunning. The guys, like something out of a black and white movie. As I watched them leave I couldn't help but get a smidge teary eyed.

They had dinner with fifteen, yes, FIFTEEN other couples at an upscale restaurant, then walked the half block to the where the Prom was being held. Afterwards, they all drove out to the lake (yes, with parental chaperones at the lakehouse) and stayed up until the very wee hours. When the Princess got home this morning, I asked her if it was worth it -- the planning, the shopping, the spending (the not buying anything new for the next forever and a day!). She said "Absolutely." -- and promptly closed her eyes and went to sleep. I think it was a good night.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Where Are The Groceries?

Usually, I post at least one weekly grocery shopping trip. Lately, that hasn't been the case, because other than picking up a few things that were needed for Easter and Diamond Doll baking, I haven't done any shopping in two weeks. Time has definitely been a factor in this. We've been living in a rush. It seems we are on the go constantly. And while we aren't eating a bunch of fast food, we are currently living out of our pantry. And that pantry is starting to get a bit bare. As is the freezer. And the fridge.

It is time for a full clean-out and restocking of all three. But yikes, WHO has time? The Prom is finally this weekend --- and that means a full round of hair and nail appointments, picking up boutonierres, running to and fro, making sure the house is in tip top shape. All of those things are combining to tell me it may be Monday before I actually set foot in the grocery store.

I may actually cave and PICK UP takeout for a meal or two! That is not going to be good on a budget already stretched thin. I've got to carve out some time to plan some meals, peruse the circulars and get to the store. My budget will thank me if I do.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blackberry Winter

I knew it was coming. I dreaded it. But I knew it would be here. For two weeks the weatherman has been forecasting an April cold snap. The garden books all state that the average last frost date for my Zone is April 15. The blackberry vines have their floweres. And we have a blackberry winter.

For over a month now, we've enjoyed the ease of not having our heat nor our AC running. I know my gas and power bills have enjoyed the break. But yesterday, after a late afternoon rain shower, the temps started dropping. And dropping. By the time I went to bed, the temp inside the house was at 67. Knowing that it wouldn't stay at temp overnight with outside dropping into the 30s, I adjusted the heat to kick on if it got too cold in the house.

And it did. I woke up this morning and the first thing I heard (besides my ever so annoying alarm clock) was the sound of the heat running. Sigh. It was good while it lasted. Hello again to jackets and long sleeves. I truly hope to put you back up where you came from this weekend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring = Baby Birds

I have a screened porch on the back of my house that I simply adore. I have it set up like an outdoor room complete with wicker loveseats, coffee table and shelves. In good weather, I tend to live out there. As a matter of fact, I'm typing this from my porch with my coffee beside me.

A while back, I noticed a several inch hole in the screen and made a mental note to fix it. A few days later, there was a bird inside the porch so I told myself again that the upcoming weekend I needed to fix it. The bird made a reappearance several times over the course of the week, always with some sort of leaf or twig or bit of fuzz in her beak. When I was ready to fix the screen, it was then that I noticed the nest. That little bird had been using the hole as a access route to a safe place to build a home for her babies. I tried to get a closer look, but I didn't want to scare Mom, so I left the hole and the nest in place.

She came and went from her nest as she pleased, getting used to me being around and even Thing 1 and Thing 2. Then, I noticed her coming back and forth with worms and bugs in her beak. The babies had arrived. From a distance, I tried to peer into the nest to see the little miracles. I could hear them some. But I could only see there hungry selves when Mom appeared with a snack. It was cool to watch them. They worked poor Mom HARD!

When she built the nest, she had built it behind a small painting propped on a canvas. One day last week, she perched on the canvas and knocked it askew. On her next trip in, she perched again and knocked it off the shelf with a loud clatter. After that, I didn't see her again the rest of the morning. I came home at lunch, and didn't see her come and go either. After work I still didn't see her come in or go out, and I started to worry. The babies weren't chirping the way they had the night before. I could see them moving in the nest and it looked like they were in distress. I wondered how long it took baby birds to dehydrate or starve to death. I fretted. I texted my friend the Garden Geek. I knew NOT to disturb them, so I waited and watched. And finally, just before sundown, Mom came back. Phew!

The cycle of watching Mom bring food continued for another week. Then, yesterday I came home at lunch and stepped out on the porch to let Thing 1 and Thing 2 out to do their business. My porch was FULL of baby birds flying around! The babies had left the nest, but couldn't figure out how to get off the porch. Mom was flying in and out of the hole chirping at them to show them the way. To help them out, I opened both doors to the porch and watched and waited. Two of the four got out rather quickly. Then a third, but the last baby seemed to have a bit more trouble. Then all of a sudden he flew right towards me.

I moved out of the way and thought he had flown right past and out the door. But I hear him chirping behind me, I turned around and didn't see him. I still heard him. I turned again. More chirping, but I didn't see the baby. This repeated for a bit... until finally, I looked behind me and down. And there was that baby perched on my behind! Yes, a baby bird had used my butt as a landing pad and was clinging there resting! I did what any sane and rational person would do.... I ran out on the deck, dancing around saying "Get off MEEEEEEE!" --- fortunately I did NOT swat at the baby, but instead danced around until he took off!My neighbor who was out working her yard thought I'd lost my mind. I kind of had.

The birds came back a couple of times before I headed back to work. I left the screened doors propped open for them just in case. When I got home, the only sign of them was the nest on the shelf. The empty nest. It is just a bit lonely out here on the porch this morning without hardworking Mom and her always hungry babies, but I guess that's just part of the cycle.... Mom feeds and raises them, helps them get their start and then sends them out in the world. I'll be doing that myself in a few months. Sigh. Farewell, baby birds!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Repair Vs. Replace

Technology is amazing, isn't it? These days we can do things that 10, 15 or 20 years ago were only the stuff of science fiction. IPods and Smart Phones have given us the world at our fingertips if only we can reach a data or wifi signal. Like most teenagers, the Princess only vaguely remembers a world before such technology. She got her first cell phone in 7th Grade, and I'm can't even remember what age she got her first iPod. She has been almost surgically attached to both since the day she got them though.

Of course over the years, her technology has been upgraded.

Her first basic phone was replaced by a flip phone (with camera!), then by a phone that did video too, then by one with a keyboard and on and on. Much to her recent chagrin, the phone itself has not yet been replaced with a Smart Phone. I have a Smart Phone provided by my employer and have thus far resisted the change to paying for a data line. Although I imagine that will be coming before too long.

Her first 8GB iPod was replaced by a Video Nano, then the Nano by a 8GB iPod Touch. Finally, Christmas her Junior Year, she was upgraded to a 64GB iPod Touch because the 8GB was just about full. Although she doesn't have a constant data line, she does have wifi access on her iPod so as long as she can connect to a wifi network she's good to go. She basically uses her iPod more than her phone.

I probably should mention that all of her technology upgrades have been either out of necessity as in the case of the phones (I think they are manufactured with the idea of failure within 1.5 years) or desire for better technology as in the case of the iPods. She has never lost, broken, or washed a piece of expensive technology. She has taken good care of all of her devices, purchasing cases with her allowance, never carelessly leaving them in pockets, etc.

So yesterday, I was surprised when I got a phone call from her while I was at work. She had just gotten home from school and was in tears. Her iPod had a crack in it. She had listened to it during 6th period (that teacher allows them to do so in certain instances), had put it in the pocket of her purse at the end of class like normal, and had put her purse in her athletic locker during 7th period athletics. When she took it out when she got home, there was a crack in it.

I knew of a place close to the house that did repairs to iPhones and other phones. I told her to take it there and see what it would cost to get it repaired. She did, and called me back with a price. It was going to cost $70 to repair. Considering I had paid almost $300 for the iPod, I told her to leave it with them and get it repaired. Since it would only take an hour or so, I told her I would pick it up on the way home from work.

I thought it over and considered making her pay for the repair. After all, she has a job, right? She will have her first paycheck soon. But then I thought about it, 6 years of being completely responsible with and appreciative of her technology should count for something, right? So I called her after she got home and told her I would pay for the repair based on her years of responsibility, but the next repair she would have to pay for. I wanted her to upgrade her protective case for the iPod in the meantime though. She felt this was more than fair.

So, we have yet another unplanned expense this month, but repairing the screen vs. replacing the whole thing is definitely worth it, and saves us both money. Now if we could just "repair" our phones into being smart phones!!!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Working For A Living

Princess Penelope is firmly ensconced in week 2 of the working world. I must say, I was a little worried last week that this first job was going to be a disaster. She was coming home exhausted, grumpy and frustrated. The problem wasn't the work exactly, it was more the chaos, glitches and frustration.

I kept telling her that those things go along with the opening of a brand new business and that things were going to level out. I was really hoping they would because I did not want her first job to be terrible, that just does NOT bode well for a good attitude about working going forward. So, I kept my fingers crossed, tried to keep up a positive attitude and hoped for the best.

Last night she came home from work. She was tired. She was hungry. But she was NOT grumpy. She said it went MUCH better last night. We chitchatted about her school and work day while I put together some food for her. She told me about some funny things that happened, some cool stuff and last, a couple of minor irritations. She was in a much better frame of mind when she went to bed than she had been last week.

We've got a checking account opened for her, a saving plan in place and she LIKES her job. I think that's a good start to working for a living.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting in a Rush Will Cost You

I have screwed up. I'd LOVE to blame someone else, but chances are, it is all on me. I have a certain bill for a utility that I pay online. This month, I paid it like normal. But, for some reason, it did not go through and I didn't realize it until I got a nice (not) letter in the mail from them yesterday. The letter said my payment had been returned unpaid. Well, I know that is not the case because the money is in the account. The only thing I can think of that happened is that I entered the account or routing numbers incorrectly. I was in a hurry when I was paying bills, and chances are I messed it up royally.

I went back through my emails to find the confirmation so I could check the numbers. Crap. I never got an email. And I didn't realize it until now. I wanted to check my bank account online, because I have gotten one of these notices before when the payment had cleared,  but somehow I messed up the password typing it too fast and got locked out of my account. Of course I can't fix THAT issue until the bank opens today.

So, what will this screw up cost me? $25 in returned payment fees. Time off work to go get either cash, cashiers check or money order. Time off work to go to the utility office to pay the bill. Time searching for a parking place. Money to feed the meter. And of course this must all be done by Friday, because while they said I had 10 days from the date of the letter, they waited 4 days after printing the letter to mail it so time is short and the 10th day falls on Easter Sunday. I'm betting they aren't open on Easter Sunday!

I would have been better off not rushing through this one and just paying the damn bill late! Sigh.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Too Much To Do and Not Enough Time

I love Spring. Its my favorite time of the year. Its always so exciting to watch my plants emerge from their winter's nap and grow and bloom. I love watching Momma Birds tend to their babies. I love that I can go weeks without turning on either the heat or AC. I love the mild temps, the gorgeous days and even the plentiful rain (I can do without severe weather though, thankyouverymuch!).

The drawback with Spring, at least this year, is that I am simply overwhelmed at the things that must be done on the weekends. During the Spring, I count on my weekends to be able to keep up with both the house and the yard work that needs to be done. This Spring has consistently eaten up my weekends with goings and doings that had to be done: Prom Dress Shopping, College Visits, Volunteer Work, and still upcoming, Easter and Prom itself (no, I'm not going to Prom, but running around for it will take a good portion of that day!).

My yard is starting to look pretty good. The house, however is a disaster! I'll be honest and say that with the monotonous brain drain that is my job lately, I'm getting very little done at home in the evenings. Add in Zumba class, various meetings and other upheaval and I'm really getting very little done after work. So, I've made a plan for this weekend:

I am going to neglect yard work for one full weekend and get my house (and hopefully my life) in some semblance of order. I'm going to do as much cleaning as I can in between volunteer projects, cooking and Easter. I KNOW that I need a clean house to have a clear mind. And right now, the state of the house just is not allowing for that. So, while for most of the spring, if you need me, I'll be in the garden, for this weekend --- I'll be chasing dust bunnies.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shoes, shoes, shoes ---

Women and shoe stores are always dangerous. That isn't any different for the women in a household on a budget. The Princess and I had a talk about the clothing/shoe budget after we bought the prom dress and I told her how very very tight the budget was after that purchase. She assessed her closet and came up with her basic needs and I did the same for mine.

We each needed a new pair of good black flip flops (not the uncomfortable $5 Old Navy ones, but actual high quality, go with half your wardrobe GOOD ones), as we'd both had ours give up the fight last September (mine were 4 years old at the time so they were well worth the price paid, Princess's were only 2 years old, but since she wears hers a good bit more than I do, they too were worth the price). She also needed shoes for the Prom Dress, and a pair of somewhat dressy but neutral sandals to go with a multitude of outfits. She also came home after work the other night telling me that she needed a pair of non-slip shoes that are designed with restaurant workers in mind. She'd done her research, knew where to find them and approximately how much they cost. I also needed a pair of shoes specifically for Zumba because the sneakers I was "dancing" in were catching on the floor and my foot was stopping while my knee was still going. Sigh. That's a LOT of shoes.

So, I started doing my research and found out the going price for what we wanted/needed. I say "wanted" because I did have specific brands and styles in mind. So yesterday, on the way home from the college visit, we stopped at this place that is about 20 minutes outside of the college town. Its this huge, unfancy, warehouse type building that I've visited many times during my travels for work. I'd hoped that we might get lucky there and we did. We found the black flip flops for each of us and the sandals, each pair for $10-$15 less than I'd expected to pay based on department store prices. That's 3 pair down.

When we got back to our metro area, we stopped at another huge shoe store that's way out of the way from our house, but essentially on the way back from where we had been. Scored the prom shoes there. And for about $20 less than I thought I'd have to pay. I have to give the Princess props on this one, we had narrowed it down to 2 pairs that would be perfect, and she chose the less expensive ones (although I don't think the money factored in really as much as the comfort and looks). After that we went to an athletic store about a 1/2 mile away from that place, and scored my Zumba shoes on clearance for about half what I'd expected to pay.

Then finally, we went to get the work shoes. Those were the only ones that were more than I'd expected, but only by $3. Since she'd gotten the information about price from co-workers and they had said "about" when they told her the cost, I can live with that!

All in all, that's 6 pairs of shoes in one day. Yikes. But our needs are covered for the foreseeable future. I probably could have made do with some cheaper shoes, but I really do believe in quality shoes. We are hard on shoes as it is, especially our favorite ones and cheap shoes rarely last us a full year with regular wear.

I'm hoping though that we can stay out of the shoe departments for a while, though!