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Archive for August, 2008

State Of Our Union

August 28th, 2008 at 11:54 am


Nope, 'twas well before our time!


Hubster has had his 62nd birthday this year and we are checking our facts and figures here. Upcoming work at his job is looking slim. Could we make the jump to full time retirement?

Yesterday I worked on updating our Net Worth Statement for August and things are looking UP! He was pleasantly surprised and had drastically under-estimated what we had so that was a nice bump up for him while he's worrying what his employer is doing.

Yes, you know me and my money tucked here and there style, while I slip him little pieces of paper every now and again and say we've got $XXX,XXX.00 amount of dollars here in this account and $X,XXX.00 here - it had been some time since I had given him the entire BIG picture.

He thinks he'd like to just stay employed and eventually just go to working part time where he's at. Hopefully more work will flow through the pipeline and be scheduled for when they run out of what's currently on tap.

But meanwhile back at the house even if he decided to take early Social Security we wouldn't go too hungry. We wouldn't be living the life of the Astor's but still we'd do okay.

Life's good! Carry on dancing!

Upping the Challenge Balance

August 26th, 2008 at 05:47 pm




Adding to my $20 Challenge from change given to me by CashHappySon.

$0242.78 Aug balance
+0001.60 change
________
$0244.38 MTD

2008 Challenge Total $0431.33
Cumulative Challenge Total $0959.94

Today's My Blogoversary - since '06

August 23rd, 2008 at 01:42 pm




I've been here at Saving Advice since August 23, 2006. Wow. Glad I set up the blogoversary button to remind me.

Went to the wine-making class this morning. It was an hour and a half class and about an hour into it I got too hot and thought I was going to pass out and had to step outside to cool off. Got in the car and started up the air-conditioner and headed home. The class took place about 45 minutes from home.

BUT - I recalled that she'd mentioned that we'd get a FREE bottle of wine to take home. I was about 5 minutes away and turned back and finished the last 15 minutes or so of the class, got my FREE hooch and headed home. It's a black raspberry merlot. Will give it a taste here in a few days. It's from a four week wine kit. The lady who teaches the class has wine in several stages of production so this was ready to be bottled and is ready to drink.

I'll let you know how it tastes.

It was tempting but I didn't buy any equipment today. She was very nice and didn't do a hard sell at all. I'm wanting to but am hoping the desire will pass, if it doesn't then I will probably buy off of ebay if I can get it cheaper.

Today's free wine is counted as INFLOW.

Clash of the Titans - Harry Hamlin Aside

August 18th, 2008 at 11:36 am



My weekend was the scene of the small economies and we rewatched the 'Clash of the Titans' I think the title is - with Harry Hamlin (va-voom!).

While cleaning my bedroom on Saturday morning I found about 7 partially used bottles of lotions (a good sign that I need to re-join the flylady emails) that I downsized into four. Most of these were gifted but still 7 on one bedside stand is WAY too much AND birthday and Christmas and the lotion gifts that might be incoming are on the horizons.

So I combined those even going so far as to add a splash of water into the near empties to get that last little bit of goodness out. The combo jar is what I use to moisturize my feet with before I put on fresh socks for bed so it's of no big import that it's a mixed bag of juicieness in there.

Also on the beauty front I colored my own hair again on Saturday night. My normal night of Lux's House of Beauty treatments! Cost has gone up at the dollar store from $2 a box to $2.75! Frown


I spent a bit of time on Saturday combining the multiple open bottles of jelly, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce and pickles in the icebox. Why do males open another jar instead of looking to see if there isn't another one open already???? Hmmmm?? Probably the same thing that makes women have 7 bottles of lotion going at once!! Ha!

Also in the kitchen we had the ongoing battle of the wire mesh coffee filter vs. the paper ones. I dislike paying for the paper ones but Hubster prefers using them. Don't ask me why as he can't say. GRRR!


vs.


Anyway I saw that we are down to the last little stack of paper ones that I got when a grocer was having a 20 for $10 sale about three years ago. That made them 50 cents a bag rather than their normal $1. I bought $5.00 worth that time.

IF I can get in there and get the coffee made first or set it up the night before we use the wire filter. If Hubster makes it sure as shooting it's one of the paper ones. I think I paid $2.98 for the wire mesh filter years back. Ho-hum. I think it's better to use the wire one! I have four reasons - number 1)it costs less in the long run and number 2) the paper ones sometimes fall down leaving me with grounds in my cup and number 3)I can empty the wire one more easily into my garden for composting efforts and number 4)it saves cutting down trees to make more paper ones.

No big fuss but along with shopping carefully for big purchases I think it's these little differences that can make a difference too in the long run on your money.

A tip I use is to buy flavoring extracts and to use dropperfuls of it to flavor our coffee instead of buying the more expensive flavored coffees. It works!

Two Hips & A Hurray for making the little efforts. Say what you will but in the clash of the Titans I still contend that the little things add up to a bit fatter wallet! Speaking of Titans, Mr. Rockefeller believed it too, according the biography about him called "Titan"!

I'm going with Mr. Rockefeller on this one!

Outside the boys and I go to work on the backyard jungle left from the ice storm! Lots of limbs still to be removed from trees and brush to be burned and bagged. See ya on the flipside hopefully without too many skeeter bites!

Things Look Up When You Look Down

August 18th, 2008 at 08:44 am



Adding to the $20 Challenge. This money will be added to my Roth IRA.

My Discovercard $20 reward hit the bank and I've got .12 cents here on the keyboard to put towards the challenge. Those rewards should stack up again rather quickly as we've been putting our gas on the Discover Card as they've got a 5% Cashback bonus going right now on gas purchases thru September.

Who says it doesn't pay to look down??

I found the twelve cents. Eleven of it was found in the lobby at the Dark Knight movie last week and a penny that fell in the floor from taking clothes from the dryer this weekend.

$20 CHALLENGE

$222.66 Aug balance
+020.12 Discover & found & laundry
_______
$242.78 Aug MTD

This is my best challenge month ever thanks to Hubster!

2008 Challenge Total $429.73
Cumulative Challenge Total $958.34

Yesterday I had a personal No Spend Day.

Housebudget bought a newspaper (FrugalSon & I both looking the employment ads over), cold meds, and trashbags at Walgreen's and paid McDonald's for supper. Hubster has the creeping crud of the lunger sort so it's AlkaSeltzerPlus time for him. And there is STILL one corner of the back yard that needs a lot of small limbs picked up & bagged from the ice storm last winter! It's returning to jungle back there and both boys are off today so we've got a plan of attack for it this afternoon if the rain holds off.

In case you missed it last week - FrugalSon passed his driving test FINALLY!!! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-DOGGGIEEEES!!!

Waste Is A Resource Out of Place

August 16th, 2008 at 05:50 pm



Did anyone else see this? Ethanol made not from corn but from beer mash???

This morning on TV - it was quite early here as I hadn't even had my coffee yet - was a morning show of some kind talking about Coors and their ethanol reclamation project.

With our trash service broken it caught my attention. I was beginning to crazily wonder what I could do creative w/ about 17 days of trash???? Later today I found this out on the web from the tag line that I remembered from the show 'waste is a resource out of place'.

"Minimizing our impact on the environment is the right thing to do and it's good for our business," said Molson Coors CEO Leo Kiely. "Bill Coors used to say that waste was a resource out of place - that thinking still drives us today to recycle, reuse and reduce our consumption of energy and materials when and where we can."

I'm not a beer fan but I'm going to try to remember this phrase! I do try often to reuse stuff but I'm disinclined to save 25+ oatmeal containers if I've no use for them. I wish there was a better way to sort & distribute such stuff as you know would be good for churches, schools, scouts and other groups to use in their projects.

"Reduce, ReUse, Recycle!" I recently painted such a sign on an old barn board I had laying around. Put it in my junque booth.

As I'm typing this guess who just drove by? My OLD trash service and FINALLY picked up the trash! They don't know they're out yet! Come Monday they'll find out as Hubster's calling them up AGAIN! And I'll be wanting a refund for the last half of this month.

Oh, did I tell you? FrugalSon PASSED his driving test!!!!

Woooooooooooooohoooo!

Heat'n Up The Cooktop, Oven & House

August 16th, 2008 at 03:50 pm



A cooking mood has struck of late. Last night was homemade pizza night. Tried a new flatbread recipe for the dough - ehhh, I like my AmyD Tightwad recipe better. Back to the old tried and true.

Cooking moods seem to come on when the weather cools down. It has been about 10-15 degrees cooler here than normal so it's been nose to the cooktop this afternoon. I find that if I cook ahead on Saturday it saves me time, frustration and most of all money when the question after church is always, "Hey Mom, what's for lunch?"

I made a 9 x 13 pan of Dark Chocolate Brownies for lunch tomorrow. Thank you Betty Crocker. When that came out I baked four potatoes for tomorrow's meal plus a 9 x 13 pan of hot rolls all which we'll heat & eat tomorrow.

For lunch today we had the original 'po white trash lunch of Spam, Cheese, fried onions & Durkees sauce sammies, with chips, dip & pork n' beans, iced tea. Lawn mowing on the agenda this afternoon for the male Frugalis types.

For supper I made a new recipe for me. I didn't have all the ingredients to do a traditional Gyros or a Lebanese wrap called a Shawarma, so I did an adaptation on both.

I made the traditional Lebanese Garlic Sauce (yummers).

Then instead of pita bread I used tortilla shells that I had on hand.

Didn't have any lamb, so I used a cube steak that I had in the freezer. Sliced it thin, browned it off w/a tiny hint of olive oil & mint, garlic salt, allspice, cumin, worsesterchire sauce & a smidge of liquid smoke. It was meant to feed Hubster & I on a night when the boys are both at work. Well, I needed to use it tonight to feed three of us which is what sent me on a search of something to do with it.

In the frig were lettuce, tomato, onion. I got busy w/the chopping.

So it went together like this:

Warm tortilla shell in skillet. Put on plate. Spread on lots of garlic sauce. Add line of shredded lettuce down the middle, top w/tomatos & onions, (these onions are supposed to be spiced but I hadn't the time) and the surprise ingredient is a dill pickle spear laid down the middle. Top w/four or five chunks of the browned meat. Wrap or fold like a taco and eat over something that can catch the drips. Wear a bib.

Very good and that yummy garlic sauce helps clean out the sinuses! Do a google search there are various recipes out there. I changed this one around a bit:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Thick-Style-Lebanese-Garlic-S...


I didn't have sea salt, so I just used regular salt, only 1/4 cup of lemon juice from the plastic lemon, and I added about a teaspoon of parsley to mine as it was blending. Blender wanted to blog down towards the end - so in reality probably only used about 1 3/4 cups of oil. Oh, I also didn't have a fresh garlic head, but jars of chopped garlic that you buy at Aldi's. I just used about 1/4 cup - give or take. Yeah, I'm that kinda cook. Smile

While cleaning up the kitchen tonight I got all soppy over my little kitchen tools. It's amazing what all one can do with the right tools. Supposedly I need an immersion blender to do that sauce. I don't have one - my old glass blender had to do. I wouldn't mind having one, so I might put it on my Christmas list. My knives are shabby, chipped & worn and that could also be a future purchase.

I can forsee the days when I'm back to cooking much more than I have in the last few years as the kids have always done so much cooking while learning & honing their kitchen skills. My tupperware & equivalents are looking pretty sad and sparse as well. I suppose I should let the extended family know that I could use a few updates in this area before they get all industrious and get all their Christmas shopping done. (I've been doing a bit of online Christmas shopping myself.)

What got me all misty today? My little red pastry brush shaped like a man & my measuring cup that looks like a chemistry beaker of sorts. Mine, isn't this brand but looks very similar, was a gift from Mom.



They've been with me a while and I appreciate that they are always in the drawer & cabinet ready to whip up something good for my family.

Silly, I know! Big Grin But that's what happens when you have time to ruminate while burping garlic over a sink full of suds & dirty dishes!

Good sturdy kitchen tools are worth the original expense!

I looked at an oil mister yesterday at the store and passed it over. Today I could have used it as I was out of cooking spray. Well! Hummmpf! To the rescue? My little red man pastry brush. It may not be au'current, but he still works and I probably paid less than 50 cents for him at a junk or yard sale years and Years and YEARS ago!

Did I mention?

FrugalSon passed his driving test!!

YAAAAAAA-HOOOOO!!


See my blog roll for the BIG story!! Poor kid - it only took him about 7 or 8 tries to get past the parallel parking!

http://luxliving.savingadvice.com/2008/08/16/good-good-goo...


Let the good times roll!!

good Good GOOD News vs. Bad News

August 16th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

good Good GOOD News vs. Bad News

Are we going or coming?? Travels or Travails of the Frugalis Familia?



You decide:

FIRST the good Good GOOD news is that FrugalSon just had his 22nd birthday this month and a few days later?

HE PASSED HIS DRIVING TEST!!!


Hallelujah and pass the beans!! He has driven himself to & from work a few times now and I think we'll see his self confidence grow by leaps and bounds in the near future! Thanks to all of you who've been reading and praying along with me on his trials and tribulations to get past that darn parallel parking portion of the program! See the back history under the tag of FrugalSon as his learning disabilities have held him back for far too long. God bless the sweet little easy going man that he got this time that passed him! I refrained from kissing the test examiner all over but to say we are pleased is a great understatement!

FrugalSon has since his birthday broken up with TheGrrl. She wouldn't quit flirting with another guy at work and even went on a night-walk with him on her break (FrugalSon & she work together) while Frugalson had to stay working, even after he'd asked her nicely not to do it. He'd given her several chances to stop and it continued rather blatantly in his face, so - So long, see-ya si-a-nar-a senorita!

He'd told her that he didn't mind her being friends with the guy but the flirting & walks needed to stop. This girl is 24 years old and I believe FrugalSon was considering buying her at least a promise ring for Christmas this year. In my humble, mother-love aside, opinion I do believe this girl just messed up big time. They've been dating almost a year.

She's gone on a family vacation this week. I told him I'd hustle up another job while she was gone and be out of there before she ever came back if it were me. He'll probably stay, but I'm hoping that she either truly sees the light OR he finds someone else NICER to date rather quickly.

As I already posted earlier, CashHappySon's girl broke off with him earlier last week. So, no girl-i-os around for the moment.

The other BAD news is that yesterday we got a letter from the IRS on some of the income from father-in-law's estate that we did not claim. We had varying pieces of advice from different tax people as to what needed reporting, so it was probably to be expected.

I just quickly glanced over it and gave it to Hubster since he's the one who dealt with all the estate stuff. There is likely an appointment to be arranged to visit with them to see exactly what's what as their paperwork is mightily confusing!

Oh well, in my mind the driver's license outweighs the IRS & girl news in this balance-off! Heads, HE WINS!!

I'm going to give it a month or two for him to smooth out on his driving and then it'll be time for me to dust off my resume and either hit the school yard and/or the work-force!

Other good news is that earlier last month one of our other grown sons finally got married - this is ManOfTheYearSon! She's about to graduate from college w/a psychiatry degree. Big doings party wise went on. I failed to mention much about it because we weren't actively involved in the planning. Her family threw a big party in her hometown which is halfway across the state. We gifted from the registry - a nice fat Lowe's card for "the woman's touch" that's needed at his house. He lives across the metro area from us in a suburb town. Our daughter who lives in California came into town for the 'do'.

Meanwhile back at the house our trash service just posted an increased charge of an additional $1.40 a month. Not too bad, BUT they haven't bothered to pick up my trash at all this month - TWO WEEKS worth and it is beginning to stack up big time!

I've called them and Hubster's called them. They have yet to come get the trash although they autodrafted our payment as usual the first of the month! GRRR! Equipment troubles. Yeah well, rent a pickup truck and come get our trash!! GEE-WHIZ-LOUIZ!!



Hubster made a call yesterday to a new service and they'll be out Monday w/a new cart for us.

Adding to My Houseboat Fund & Etc.

August 16th, 2008 at 09:01 am



I added $2.00 to the Retirement Houseboat ticker over on the left! New total $177.00.

Also new on the left is the Grrls (Lux's Personal) Just Wanna Have E-funds! ticker. See below for a more detailed explanation. New balance $335.00.

Spent $11.05 yesterday on new black t-towels and those multi-color candles for the Frugalis Wine Cellar. What wine cellar would be complete without a Chianti bottle with a candle and all it's drippings hanging about? Will post a pic of it when we drink the Chianti and get a decent amount of wax built up! Who knows maybe it was a 70's thing?

I also signed myself up for a FREE wine-making course in the next couple of weeks. I want to see if I really would enjoy a full on wine-making setup before expending dollars on the equipment. The wine I've made in the past was done in my kitchen w/gallon pickle jars, plastic wrap & rubber bands.

Currently brewing is a bottle of homemade rootbeer. I'll let you know how it turns out. The extract I had is kind of old so it may be a waste of sugar water.

I did finally get pictures up the other day of the wine cellar before we got the floor mopped (this area gets run-off from the hole in the wall when it rains heavily):


http://luxliving.savingadvice.com/2008/08/08/dressing-the-...


Scroll down for the pictures of my hole in the wall!

----
I also added a new ticker as well called "Grrls Just Wanna Have E-Funds!"

This is a checking account I recently started at Fidelity and it didn't really have a purpose. I've been married for 25 years so I don't really think I'm gonna have to fend for myself as in a divorce situation but I figured I'd take the going apartment rental rate here as a good figure to start with. Small studios are renting here for $450 a month. Add another 900 to cover first and last months rent and a 50 to round it up gave me the 1400 figure to start with.

Hubster and I have our combined years worth of emergency fund at another bank. I doubt he's running off* anytime soon (likely NEVER) leaving me stranded but I needed - in my minds eye - to give this account a goal. That's it. It's my personal emergency fund. If I never need it so much the better. (Plenty of women have never seen it* coming!)

I plan to update and adjust the rental rate figure each year on Hubster's birthday which is sometime soon this month.

I have this checking account set-up with an autodraft addition of $10 a month out of my hometown personal checking. Mainly

I started it because I wanted to see how Fidelity's SmartCash checking accounts work before we eventually use them to withdraw from our retirement funds. I've had the account three or four months now and have never written a check on it.

Somehow it has an auto-leveling feature that pulls from one account to keep the balance at a minimum that you set. Checks were free, but it currently pays only 1.49% interest a month. Ehhhhh & Bleck!!

I need to write a small check some time and see it in action. I started with $50 in there in late April. I deposited $250 a day or so later and I earned 5 cents interest on 4/30, .38 on 5/30, .37 on 6/30, added $10 autodraft in July and earned .39 on 7/31. Added another autodrafted $10 on 8/1 and yesterday I added $13.81 in there to round it off to a nice even number of $335.00.

Feeling generous with myself while at Fidelity yesterday I also rounded up my 2008 Roth IRA contributions by $12.00.

Today's mission - clean up my sidebar! I'm doing that by adding some of my historical stuff to the "My Pages" section of our blogs. Did you know we could do that?

Ticker Help Needed? How to Update?

August 16th, 2008 at 07:14 am


Gomez Addams Reads Ticker Tape


Okay boys and girls I need help. How do I update my ticker? It says it needs to know the address of the ticker and my PIN. The pin I can handle. Where exactly am I going to find the address where the ticker resides? Am I overlooking the obvious?

AND, when I read their FAQ it says to just click on my ticker and it will take me to the right page. I click and it goes NOWHERE, just as if I've not clicked at all. Any clues?

My Olympic & Patriotic Colors

August 14th, 2008 at 09:40 am



My Colors? What's black and gray and pink all over? Just kidding -- Okay, I can play but I think I'll keep with an Olympic & USA patriotic theme:


SOLID GOLD - a loving, good-looking, hard-working Hubster who enjoys providing for his family which has allowed me to enjoy staying home for many years with our kiddos.

Silver - our fully stocked one year plus emergency fund! Also that currently we have no debt other than the mortgage!!

Bronze - relatively low interest on the mortgage.

Red - our two paid for vehicles that seldom let us down.

White - always plenty to eat and a nice place to lay our heads at night and the chance to tithe all the while never doing without any of the neccessaries and chances to splurge on the wants more often than not.

Blue - true blue, loving parents and in-laws who have passed the torch by generously giving to us by inheritance and down thru the years - who taught us the lessons of generosity, determined focused work and frugality as wise life choices.

Okay, what would a money blog be w/o a color mention of GREEN - symbolizing the earth of my homeland the good old USA, the color of money and the warm feeling I get inside because I have good online friends here at Saving Advice. So, here's a hat-tip to BA, thanks for a good thread idea - here's what I'd imagine your ideal kitchen to look like:



and another tip o' the hat to Michael Phelps for his amazing wins! ...and all the other athletes who have won the right to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics!

BINGO - We'd both Win!

August 14th, 2008 at 06:52 am



I do use & LOVE the You Need A Budget software. Here's a referral link -

http://www.refernow.com/referral/0cd8ca38/35267.html

yes, I'd make a little money if you sign up & use it, but the major advantage goes to YOU when you get out ahead of your bills and get your financial life in order! Such an EXCITING feeling!! There's lots of good budgeting and financial advice here as well. An inexpensive solution to a major problem:

http://www.refernow.com/referral/0cd8ca38/35267.html

We use the YNAB Pro program. Wonderful support to be had as well from the creator Jesse!




Meanwhile, I'm adding a dime I found to the $20 Challenge.

$20 CHALLENGE

$222.56 balance
+000.10 dime-a-roo
_______
$222.66 Aug MTD

2008 Challenge Total $409.61
Cumulative Challenge Total $938.22

More Change to the Challenge

August 13th, 2008 at 11:12 am



Adding to the challenge with $1.75 change from CashHappySon.

$20 CHALLENGE

$220.81 balance
+001.75 change
_______
$222.56 MTD

2008 Challenge Total $409.51
Cumulative Challenge Total $938.12

New Category 4 Me-Houseboat Savings

August 13th, 2008 at 08:41 am



I didn't make it over to the junk booth yesterday so I'm going to try again today and THANKFULLY CashHappySon's ex-girl-i-o had the good graces not to show up last night.

I'm going to add a new category over to the left - Houseboat Savings. This is my retirement dream - but definitely not Hubsters. Anyway, I'm going to try and add one of those slide-tickers. Stand ready all you pros to help me, please? Every time I've tried in the past they turn out gigantic and throw my pages off.

Today's Houseboat savings balance $175.00. It may fluctuate a bit as it's invested over at Sharebuilder. For now my goal is to add to it monthly at the rate of $50. The $30,000.00 is totally an arbitrary figure. I would assume that I would be buying a used one and not paying nearly that much, but who knows. That's a pretty plain jane new model w/only the basics and no frills.

One and A Spare - Not Bowling!

August 12th, 2008 at 07:26 am



Found 20 cents on my keyboard, likely from CashHappySon, so I'm taking it to the Challenge.

Then, we are off to take his little Toyota into the shop for what sounds like a loose wheel bearing.

Afterwards we're heading to the grocey store to shop for tonight's date night - tacos after an outing to see Dark Knight at the matinee. FrugalSon and TheGrrl seem to have covered over a rough spot (her flirting w/other boys) and now CashHappy's girl is giving him trouble. She's awfully young and fickle. I believe that it's her (high) school year starting up and new prospective boys there that have her waffling! CashHappy has graduated and settled into a job that he loves.

They've known each other for over nine years. She thinks she can count on him to be there and date when she wants and to fix her computer and such but when someone more exciting comes along she wants to rush off to them. I've tried to warn him, and he's beginning to see that usually I'm right about these youngish girls and their often times skittish behaviours. You gotta hate it when Mom is right, BUT, what's a Mom to do? Just say nothing? Not in my makeup!

Although she broke up with him on the phone he insists that she come tonight to tell him why! Won't that be comfortable for everyone??? NO! Aggghhhhhh!!! Her question was "Are you still going to come to church with me?" I've tried to tell both boys that some girls like to have "one and a spare". They are beginning to believe me. Her other 'friend' won't go to church with her, he's a bad-boy type so of course he's interesting, but alas he won't sit with her in church.

Here's hoping she's smart enough not to show up tonight.

After our grocery shopping we're planning to run off to the junk booth if I get some stuff priced to do some restocking and rearranging!

It's cool, gray and rainy here today, feeling very fall like!


$20 CHALLENGE

$220.61 balance
+000.20 change
_______
$220.81 MTD

2008 Challenge Total $407.76
Cumulative Challenge Total $936.37

Dressing the Wine Cellar

August 8th, 2008 at 01:02 pm




Well, I've been working on my basement -in my head mostly this last month. This is what I do - an idea festers around for awhile, then I research, then I look for photos for ideas and then I scour my house and junk booths gathering my stuff then one day it all just gets to be too much headspace rattling and I spring into action. It can happen at anytime - sometimes it's the middle of the night even. Does it work that way for you?

Yesterday was finally THE DAY. With both boys off we spent some time emptying the little apartment room of CashHappySon's stuff. He's basically back living upstairs 99% of the time anyway. For those who've been reading for awhile his attitude is MUCH improved.

We keep thinking one of these days we are going to sell our house and I've got to get the basement 'storage pit' cleaned out if it's ever going to happen.

It will never happen here unless I'm the one that instigates it. Everyone else is happy with the status quo, until they go to searching & cussing for whatever they just know they threw in the pit at some point. As Flylady says, your house doesn't have to be a dumping ground!!

Anywhos, yesterday we started. I have a funky little space under my utility room that needs dirt to be dug out and then cement poured. I'll try to add photos later so you can tell what I'm talking about.

In that area of the basement is like a 3 foot high crawl space and it opens up into what I formerly called the hidey-hole room (we live in tornado country) in the basement, which we've been using as CashHappySon's apartment. So, that dirt area needs to be dug out about 5 or 6 inches down and cement piped into it. That would give a more stable storage environment there for general junk such as camping supplies.

It is also the one area of the basement that needs to be slathered down with that hydraulic cement to keep it from leaking. We did most of the basement when we first moved in. Money constraints at the time didn't allow it all to be done at once. So, that's a need to be taken care of. When it rains heavily that little dirt area leaks water down onto the floor of the hidey-hole room. The hydraulic cement guys are gonna love working in there lying on their backs! NOT!! Needs doing!

The hidey-hole room is the room that I want to dress out as a wine cellar. Yesterday we got all of CashHappy's stuff out of there with the exception of his microwave & dorm size refrigerator. His couch is now in his old room along with his housekeeping stuff all boxed up. Did I mention he's saving $200 a month towards moving out? He's got about $1600 put back right now. I'm good with that but I'd really like him to buy a condo rather than rent an apartment.

Back to the basement. Today we swept really well and vacumned down there. Needed is a good down on your knees scrub out w/some bleach in the water to get it all doozied up. The floor in this room I painted hot pink long ago and it has paint sealer over it, but it's still just a concrete floor and some of the crevises are just going to stay dirty looking as there is no avoiding that.

I took my old ice-cream table down there and some other decorative items from around the house down there. Today I did an "Ima-Saver Liquor Run" and went and bought some wine to fill the racks. What fun! We do enjoy going to wine tastings and the occasional bottle of wine with dinner, and we'll enjoy this wine cellar ourselves with it still helping to sell the house eventually.

CashHappySon is a run to the basement open the door and pitch stuff in kind of kid. I've threatened him to within an inch of his life if he puts anything in that room!

Want to do: Fix the crawl space. Paint the room either a golden or red color. Maybe both?



Get some real wine cellar racking down there. Change out the el-cheapo counter with a nice cabinet. If I can't find the wherewithal to replace the cabinet then do some artistic manueverings to get it to look better than it does now.

Close off the old window space that opens into the rest of the basement (my pantry and library is in that portion along with furniture storage for young men about to fly the coop). If all else fails get a curtain up there to cover that window. I'd love to have a wrought iron grate over it, but I might have to get creative with one of those rubber door mats that look like wrought iron. Get a ceiling up in this room. If that fails to at least paint out all the pipes and wood a deep black, so it fades.

Also while we were down there today I noticed that the little sink has a small leak when the water is turned on - it doesn't leak the rest of the time??? Is that weird? I'm not sure. Will have to get Hubster on that. Wish I could find a great cabinet first and then just fix the leak and change out the cabinet at the same time. The cabinet that is there is one my Dad & I threw in there when we first moved in. I wanted a sink down there and we used an old cabinet from my Mom's last house remodel & a small sink out of my Dad's old travel trailer, so it's just a toss up job that needs mucho refining!

I like the idea of a wine cellar and it's one that's been fermenting in my mind since we first bought this place. My husband has a distant cousin who lives in Austria and makes an award winning wine. His family was also instrumental in starting a major winery the next state over. Our last name is German and we have far distant relatives still in Germany with an open weinhaus that's been operating for generations. I've even been known to brew up a batch or two of honey mead and strawberry and blackberry wines from time to time myself.

I'll try to get some 'cellar' pictures up so you can get a visual on the space. Meanwhile I've added a new link over on the side about freeing the grapes. Some states do not allow shipping of wines. Pooh!



http://www.freethegrapes.org/index.html

edited to add actual photos: Keep in mind there is still much to be done and that my house was originally built in 1942! When we moved here this room was unpainted, there was no sink, the floors were plain concrete and the rock wall did not have the white in the concrete lines. I spent a lot of time painting those in there. Gaaa! It was a cave. When CashHappySon was living down here I called it the belly of the whale - now I'm gonna call it "The Black Grape". Come on in and have a sip!


The pillows are for the small church pew that currently resides beside my back door. It's now white and will have to be painted out black. Much floor scrubbing needed.


One of the two black holes! One has a lift-up door over it (See rough wood over to the left behind the mirror). This slot has a door it just hasn't been installed (see it laying in there all crooked on the dirt pile?). This dirt area is all one big space that sits under my utility room. I only want to dig out just a few inches and get the dirt covered w/concrete. If you look carefully into the mirror in this shot you can see the window & door on the walk-out side of the basement.


As you can see it's a small narrow room, probably 8 x 10. I've got a nice black wall cabinet that's supposed to be going up on those wooden boards that are currently hanging down in the back. Mirror & chest of drawer belong to CashHappySon and will leave home when he does. The window area in the back right hand corner used to be the outside of the house before it was added on to years past. That area needs help. Pipes need rerouting, etc.



The poor little sink that needs help! If all else fails I've got some black & white toile fabric to make a sink skirt. The door seen in the mirror leads to the pantry/library/storage area of basement. The tree may not stay, it was just sitting in the storage area and we hauled her in for quick ambiance. The sink looks off kilter #1 because the floor slopes to a floor-drain in that corner and likely #2 because my house was built in '42.



The mosiac artist pallet was already here in one of my booths. New purchase to make the room? A cheese knife for $2.98. This project is likely to cost me a lot more before I'm through!

Bonus Check Cashed

August 7th, 2008 at 07:43 am



Finally Hubster got around to cashing his bonus check that I mentioned before and giving me MORE than half of it. I'm taking it to the challenge.

$000.00 balance
+220.00 my 1/2 plus bonus check shared
+000.61 change purse cleanout
_______
$220.61 Aug MTD

2008 Challenge Total $407.56
Cumulative Challenge Total $936.17

Yes, he's a VERY nice man!!! I won the prize when I got him. When I told him I was going to put it back, he just rolled his eyes and told me he wanted me to buy myself something with it. Problem with that? There's nothing I really want or need at the moment. A nice place to be for a frugalista!

Birthday Steak and Signs of the Times

August 6th, 2008 at 08:14 am


Rump Steak


Monday night found Hubster and I taking the two youngest boys and their girlfriends out for a steak supper. We are beginning August and our heavy birthday month. We had a really nice evening out w/a few dollars spent. The restaraunt is one of those that provide free cake to everyone in the birthday party. Woo-hoo! Nobody's had their birthday just yet but we've got four to celebrate this month and we had to go when everyone was off work. We normally eat at home and MomFrugalis cooks their favorite meal for them, but this year one of the boys wanted to eat out at a steakhouse. Less work for me, the steaks were wonderful and I looked FABULOUS!! Big Grin

Then last night both their girls were over and the kids all cooked spaghetti, salad and garlic toast and then after they cleaned up the kitchen they washed both dogs, popped some corn, and we watched an old movie together. Cheap date!

Monday day found the boys and I going south to my Mom's to visit, take stuff to my junque'booth down there. We spent a bit of time in GreatUnc's old house, he passed away about two years ago. The parental units let us sift thru some of the 'good stuff' that had piled up there and we brought home several items to be priced out and sold in my booths.

I haul it out of here and more comes back! It's all good as it usually keeps me in gas money to run down there and see her. The lady at the antique mall there said they had some days last month with zero sales which is quite unusual as it sits on a major highway running north & south and she said they had more than several last month who did not meet their booth rent.

While on our travels we also noted many of the smaller car lots that usually have 10-15 cars on them. Most all of those types had only ONE car sitting on their lots. One of my favorite junk-type consignment stores is closing their business too. T'would appear that times are getting harder in my neck of the woods.

Frugalis Vacation Pictures

August 2nd, 2008 at 06:42 am

Finally uploaded the vacation pictures to my computer. Somewhere in America:

We exchanged our timeshare and got a very nice unit right on the water...



A couple of boat trips let us view many of the million dollar homes in the area.





But, our digs weren't too shabby either:






Our unit had a very nice balcony with it's own grill and such a lovely view! We spent a lot of time out there.



There was a great golfcart/hiking trail all around the lake for when you just needed some exercise.



We had a great time and always have enjoyed using our timeshare exchange.



While we were gone this time we managed to go out on two different lakes, swam at the two pools in our resort, the boys played tennis, we went out hiking, antiquing, eating out and lots of sight-seeing.

Already saving for next year's trip! Only thing to be decided is to where - possibilities currently being discussed are South Carolina, Texas or Louisiana.

Twenty-Two Will Fit w/Flowers

August 1st, 2008 at 02:33 pm



One is hiding behind the faucet!


MyrtlesMoney inspired me with her blueberry shot to show you my tomato harvest for the last couple of days. We're a bit behind in getting them eaten! I'll have to be more mindful to get these packed off in lunches or given to hapless passerbys! Four or five a day is all the salad needs. We are popping them like mad! We are eating from left to right...

My big tomato plants have tons of green tomatoes on them but none seem to want to ripen! Any clues as to why? It's hotter than Hades here. All I can think of is possibly there isn't enough airflow because of other nearby plantings - tall four-o'clocks, or that some of those plants may be shading my tomatoes too much??? This is my first year with these planted in the top yard rather than down in my big garden so perhaps the soil is lacking something??

Also this is my AFTER picture of the kitchen w/the new light fixture (sorry, I couldn't find a small enough mini-chandelier in my patience level time frame) and new ceiling paint. Now the kitchen walls need re-painting. These two lights were el-cheapo ($18.99 for the set but at the checkout I was surprised by a sale & a total of $15.15), but do match the rest of the house. Keep scrolling back through my archives a week or two back to see the old ugly renter's special BEFORE shot! So when I do find the perfect mini-chandelier I won't feel too bad about the $7.57 loss of this one. This light makes me happier than the old one!

I lived thru the Corian fest & now the marble-fest on updating my countertops without spending. Not because I wanted to mind you, but all that the budget would allow was a small paint fix to the area where laminating come up missing on the old countertops.

One day I'll have new countertops if it harelips everyone I live with! New recently as a couple of months ago we did finally get an updated kitchen faucet. See it in this shot! Wooo-hooo! A couple of years back we managed to put down Pergo floors in the kitchen & utility rooms. So there has been some updating to the house since we've had her.

The lighting fixture for the utility room matches this one plus the other in another part of the kitchen area. Nothing to be done about the ugly flourescent one in the middle of the kitchen though as our ceilings are too low for any other kind of fixture unless you go to messing w/can lights. Maybe one day! We did replace the basementy-metal-model flourescent w/a half-way decent wood look flourescent in the kitchen a year or so, but it's still ugly.

Other things ought to come first before countertops, such as new carpeting for the rest of the house (beyond gone), a couch & loveseat for the living room (getting tattered) & a new mattress (way lumpy) for Hubster's back!

Our house is comfortable except for that mattress - not magazine perfect though. Plenty of living going on with me home all day every day, the boys home most mornings at least half to 3/4 of the day and Hubster home in the evenings it gets plenty of wear. I don't want to seem ungrateful. I love my house, just wish I could freshen everything all at once!

The floral selection in the picture is from wild honeysuckle type vines that FrugalSon picked for me. Good kid!

Jun &Jul Utility Figures OH the Excitement!

August 1st, 2008 at 01:11 pm



Looking backwards I see that I didn't post our June utility records. And I want to keep going forward tracking those costs here. So here are June & July!

July utility figures for Frugalis Family of four adults (1 female/3 males):

$97.33 CableTV/Internet/Phone
$94.00 Gas
$66.00 Electricity
$38.85 Water/Ambulance
$14.00 Trash
_______
$310.18 July total

The cable/phone bill went up because I added a feature to block all those annoying 800 number calls that were coming in with no one on the other end of the line! So sad that a consumer has to protect themselves this way and there is no way to get them to stop calling you five or six times a day. GRRRR! Anyway, that's why that went up. I did some investigating online and it seems that many people have this same trouble and there seems no way to stop them from dialing! OUGHT TO BE A LAW!

Water bill was down for July because we were out of town for 10 days on vacation.

---

The June utility figures were:
$90.75 CableTV/Internet/Phone
$91.00 Gas
$64.00 Electricity
$49.40 Water/Ambulance
$14.00 Trash
_______
$309.15 June total

~~~

AVERAGE FRUGALIS UTILITY BILLS - 2008
$310.18 July totals
$309.15 June totals
$309.15 May totals
$318.70 April totals
$313.08 March totals

Since I started tracking here the average is $312.05 per month.

~~~

I did get a notice from my trash carrier that starting in August they will be taking a bit more on the old autodraft payment to cover gasoline prices.

Ho-hum!

It's to be expected and they were the one company that had not adjusted their rates since we moved here in 1999! They are well worth the trouble to keep me from hauling stuff myself to the dump which would cost me exactly the same amount PLUS my gasoline & time/energy to do the hauling.

I can't locate the paper at the moment that stated exactly how much they'll be going up but it was rather a small increase and I'd say well deserved!

FYI: I have a two story home w/a walk-in attic & a walk-out basement that has central heat & air. The basement is not heated/cooled but stays at a naturally regulated temperature year round. It's always nice down there!

Upstairs I keep the shades drawn all summer and have curtains over all the blinds except in the kitchen & utility room.

We did put new energy efficient windows in last April. I've yet to do the homework to see if heat/cooling bills have gone down. Funny, huh? I should do that!

With attic & basement space we run about 3600 square feet. We keep 1600 or so sq. feet on the main floor of it 'conditioned' at all times.

We don't monkey around w/the thermostat and it stays set at 72 summertime, 78 wintertime. I use portable fans in the areas we need extra cooling in from time to time and I sleep w/one of those Vornado fans blowing on my face all night every night year round for white noise & I like a BRISK breeze.

In the winter time we do bring up a space heater from the basement to use in the bathroom. 28 days out of 30 we never use it, but sometimes it is extra nice if you've been out shoveling snow or some such and need a hot bathing experience.

I always figure if we're too hot we can take more clothes off or if too cold we can bundle up more!

I wash one load of colored laundry per weekday & Sunday and 2 loads on Saturday (1 whites/1 colored).

Dishes are done once a day by hand. We use cloth napkins.

Computers are turned off every night. I try to unplug everything that isn't absolutely necessary - in the kitchen this means the microwave, coffee pot, tv, toaster, etc. are all unplugged if not in use. In the bathroom hair-dryer is unplugged after each use. Two electric clocks in the house - all others use rechargeable batteries and all bulbs that can be are CFLs.

We have natural gas for heating & cooking.

Some one is home all day every day.

---
Paid bills today and requested my CashBack Bonus from Discover card today. That $20 should show up in the old bank account in a day or two if not today. When it does I'm adding it to my $20 Challenge.

Automatically Cutting It Short

August 1st, 2008 at 09:16 am




To finish up July books while cleaning out the wallet last night I added $17.33 to the $20 Challenge.

$005.52 balance
+017.33 wallet cleanout
_______
$022.85 July total

2008 Challenge Total $186.95
Cumulative Challenge Total $715.56


Just went online and paid my mortgage payment. New balance $17,469.22!

Contractual remaining on mortgage 5 years and 10 months. Actual payoff, if we continue paying the $71.04 extra principal per month as we've been doing, is in 5 years. Sooner if we can prepay more as we go along. Today I finally set the payments along w/the extra principal on autodraft. We've been paying the extra little bit for the last year with no problems so I think it's safe to go ahead and make it automatic. Big Grin So far this little extra will cause a reduction in the term of our loan by 1 year and 10 months. Gotta keep spinning my web of financial support for old age!

Hopefully I'll be back later today to update my utility bills recording.