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Frugal superpowers

May 28th, 2012 at 04:36 am

Thursday night, I swapped the cords from our non-working DVD player to to the one I bought last week at the neighborhood yard sale. The player and the remote work!

Friday I joked that I had a frugal superpower. Along with being able to pick grocery store produce ... and I used that this weekend by picking out and buying the best 3 pound clamshell of strawberries. Our own strawberries in the strawberry pot are flowering and just setting fruit, as is one of our blueberry plants.

Got the idea for sister's birthday gift in August from a photo she sent me with my birthday gift... turns out that the farmette finally now has a mailbox. And that got me thinking; the classic first mosaic project for some is a house number plate. I know we have no house number plate at the farmette, so a mosaicked one will be her birthday gift.

green tomatoes and other stuff

November 6th, 2011 at 02:23 am

So a few observations and doings about:

Harvested about 15 pounds worth of green tomatoes. My early girls were decidedly very, very not. I've split them off into two items I'm making - a green tomato jam and green tomato mincemeat. The green tomato mincemeat is perking away as I type. I plan on making little tarts out of the mincemeat for Thanksgiving and have it with a bit of cheese - kind of a dessert/cheese course in one. So far, it smells absolutely wonderful: green tomatoes, quince (as a substitute for the apples .... quince is still in season), orange slices, orange peel, dried currents, golden raisins, sugar, brown sugar, a bit of apple cider vinegar, cinnamon sticks, ginger, a tiny bit of hot red pepper.

Saw a few people with BECU (credit union) forms today, leave your bank day. We got word though, that the little neighborhood BECU is moving from the grocery store. Bummer, but I hope they keep the ATM. Otherwise, grr, double bummer.

Somebody had Andy Rooney on their list.

somewhat extreme

June 17th, 2011 at 03:46 am

I put in $46.42 into savings from my tip box this month (I added the paper dividend check.). I paid $1.99/lb for broccoli this afternoon - it had better be cancer-fighting. The container garden is doing well - we have teeny tiny tomatoes; with any luck, a full ripe one by the end of July.

Pay day was yesterday - dispiriting though that its been spent already, mostly on paying off the credit card. Lucky I've moved most of my intimate savings - not the ING - to checking.

I very much enjoyed the CNN gallery of extreme savers. Some of these tips aren't all that extreme, and I am doing WAY better than Adam at no 10. I'm at $84.73 in finding change, with about 4 weeks left to go.

firmly in the 21st century

May 29th, 2011 at 05:07 am

Well, I had an entry yesterday but my Firefox burped and the site ate it and it was gone. Let me summarize:

I moved my checking from Chase to a local credit union, and was asked whether I needed checks. Since I am 49, I was taken aback - you mean people don't use checks. Turns out that I only have 4 places that I use checks regularly ... so I've become one of those people who don't use checks. I set up two bill pays, two more to go should I need them. I feel like I'm the 21st century.

I will have to go back to monitoring my spending - I've had to dip into my savings twice this month. Its one thing if its inflation or bad luck or I spent a bit on some fun, but its another thing if there's a mindless leak that I can do something about.

So far in the two last weeks I spent on two out-to-eat lunches, one with a woman I met on the Vietnam tour (to be honest I didn't think I made any friends), the other with screenwriter friend and partner of lawyer friend; money on net rice papers that were a lattice instead of solid (those were $1.49 per package, so not a bank breaker), some on pork sausage, ginger, rhubarb, and other groceries to make cha gio; the sewer water garbage bill; to take one class in garden mosaic art; paint, brushes, sandpaper to artistically 'distress' the picture frames I got at the neighborhood yard sale - so so far, I've spent on needs, social, and fun that I'm going to implement. No mindless leak has appeared yet.

Two days ago I began to harvest some baby lettuces that I've been growing in a two foot bowl with wheels. This year I was clever - I planted the lettuces in a big "X", so that no matter when I got around to weeding and harvesting, I knew what's in my pot. Last year I planted randomly, and what happened is that the lettuces sprouted randomly, along with the weeds. It was okay for a few weeks, but then the weeds got the better of me. Planting the "X" means that I can also plant another "X" between the older "X" for a later harvest.

Greenwood Yard Sale and auuuurrrgh for other reasons

May 24th, 2011 at 03:43 am

The aaaauuuuuurrgh came from total computer problems for me today at work. I (and the IT guy) thought it was hard drive problems, but it was a piece of despicable mal-ware that was pretending to cause a hard drive failure ...probably to pay 'em money and they would magically "fix" it. So I didn't get much done today. Thankfully, I'm now in the quiet season, where there is planning, but all but one of the big projects is done.

Change finding for this year is marching along - I'm at over $80 since last July. One of the players of the death bet had Harmon Killebrew, so he is now ahead.

Greenwood Yard Sale for 2011 has come and gone. DH and I went to go, thinking we'll just see what's out there and take a picture of something that I couldn't believe was for sale. Nothing to do a double take ... maybe that "make me an offer" saddle. But I did buy a batch of picture frames - one for $.50, where the lady wouldn't play when I tried talking her down, and 8 more for .25 apiece, with the seller who did play along. Since even the fifty cent frame was so cheap, I thought I'd have a little fun and distress them artistically. I also bought a sturdy one foot square cedar table that we could use as a little outdoor tray, a stool to stand on, a stand for some of my outdoor container plants. $10 for that.

Repotted the sage and rosemary. DH has potato plants growing in a black plastic garbage can that are now about 3/4 of the way up the can. Blueberry plants are going great gang busters, even the plant that I thought was on its last legs from canker. This year, its all leafy goodness and doing wonderfully.

boring stuff

March 22nd, 2011 at 04:16 am

Friday I deposited $41 from my tip box to savings. I've already added $5 to it so the cycle begins again.

Remember last fall when I was in the bird flu adjuvant study. Tomorrow is my last visit - it was weekly for a couple of months and 1 visit after 180 days. Tomorrow is the 180 day visit, with the last $50 to follow. Apparently I was a hit - I've gotten a couple of letters for another study. I'll see about it - now that I've gotten in a groove with them its easy to schedule, didn't do so with the trip ahead because I didn't want to make too many additional plans. My only complaint about the researchers is that they seem to pay in a lumpy manner.

After mailing the asian seeds, a friend of the Duvall friends is sending out more garden seeds. Exciting! And speaking of the Duvall friends, one got a job in her field. Not quite permanent, but its away from the psychotic boss she had been working with and its a start.

all quiet

December 3rd, 2010 at 05:47 am

Been about a week since I last posted. Mostly because not much has been happening. Waiting for my passport with the visa to come back from the visa service, and I plan to hit my medical center to get the shots I'll need for my February trip. Hep A, typhus shots, along with a blister pack of anti-malarials just in case. With that, the heavy duty buying is done, the rest is just collecting for the packing list.

Sister is a bit funny - she's asking me whether I'm reading what's on the book list. I think she means the professor who is leading the tour. If that's the case, probably not. There isn't going to be a formal test, at least not one that couldn't be passed by buying two slots on the tour. Smile

Sister sent a TON of turnips in her latest box. I was at a bit of loss on how to use them - DH hates turnips so too much hiding is out of the question - until I remembered how much I liked turnip pickles at the Indian/Middle Eastern restaurants. Turns out making them is very easy:

Turnip pickles
6-7 medium turnips
2-3 tiny beets
2 1/4 tsp kosher salt
red pepper flakes
1 c warm water
1 1/2 c white vinegar
clean glass jars

Peel turnips and beets, slice into 1/4 - 1/8 in slices. Put in large bowl, sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt over slices. Toss to get everything well mixed. Cover, let sit for 12-24 hrs.

Pack slices into the glass jars. You should have a bit of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Add the warm water and vinegar to the bowl, mix well, pour the liquid over the slices in the jars.

Cover, let sit for at least 2 days. And this is what they look like...

this and that

June 26th, 2010 at 04:05 am

Found money
6/21/10 - $0.01 (sidewalk)
6/22/10 - $0.02 (road, floor)
6/23/10 - $0.33 (car wash concrete pad, Safeway floor)
6/24/10 - $0.24 (road, parking meters, planting strip)
6/25/10 - $0.12 (curb, Safeway floor)

Broke $48 in found money today. I started this tracking and more seriously finding money on 7/14 last year, so I have 19 days to "find" $1.98 if I want to hit $50 for the year. Quite doable.
$48.02: 1,067 pennies, 42 nickels, 176 dimes, 42 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

This and that are happening. I planted sugar peas (var. Alderman) against the south wall under my kitchen window. The packet claimed the peas will grow 6-8 feet. They certainly did that! I see them growing above my kitchen window. It looks restful, rather than scary. Pea pods are developing and we should be eating in a day or two.

The Milwaukee Film Fest has still not cashed my check - been a couple of weeks. Wonder what's up.

Thursday, I deposited $45 from my tip box this month, giving me over $1100 in immediate savings. I probably will be using most of it next month to keep my credit card paid off. The weekend cow trip was inexpensive - $75 for 2 days of minivan and gas, $60 hotel room first night, and $40 for several meals on the road - but will expand my credit card bill a bit.

Work has slowed a bit, but the gossip is passing through. One of the VPs (whom I'm not fond off) was pushed to resign. The VP himself had "let go" his admin last year, who didn't like him either. The admin got picked up by HR as a spare worker. She worked with us for awhile, and worked in other departments. She and I shared an elevator today and I mentioned (I thought slyly) "good that you survive your enemies." She laughed and told me that many, many of my co workers expressed the same sentiment.

After this round of performance evaluations, HR told us that the plan was for a 2% pay raise, but that they are holding it off implementing them until October in case the medical premiums shoot up. Right now, I'm thinking that employment is like a game of musical chairs. The music stopped; if you are in a seat, its all good.

Was at 167.4 before cow trip. I went up to 169, and am back down a bit at 168.4. I was tempted and ate a bit more than I hoped these last weeks, so only being up a pound is a win.

Excited about the Greenwood Car Show tomorrow!

red four

June 15th, 2010 at 04:06 am

Well, we visited the ranch that we got the beef from last year and from which we are buying a whole animal this year. Here's a picture of our beef cow:


We actually did name it a pretty appropriate name. I hesitate to use it because its a nice name and not "Dinner". Four comes from the ear tag, its a red Angus. The yellow of the tag means that it will finish putting on its weight in August. The rancher buys the cattle at about 12 - 14 months and they eat the pasture and native grass exclusively.

We visited outside of Yakima, in the shadow of Mount Adams.


Most of the acreage is pasture. The rancher has a lot of interest in developing a mixed grass and native plant pasture,


including some exotics called winterfat (in the picture, the bluish green strip exactly in the center background), an important plant that is rich in protein and which comes into its own in the fall and late fall.


but some is wetland that rancher is also trying to rehabilitate.


But it wasn't all biology - I tried a few artistic shots.


and got a good sunset shot.

double negative

May 9th, 2010 at 04:56 am

Friday
Found money - $0!
Saturday
Found money - $0!

Yikes, I guess, that I haven't found any change for two days in a row. Holding at $40.38, so there is more to life than finding it. Smile This weekend has been glorious so far and I'm close to getting the patio in shape for us to use it. So far, I've:

1. Painted the bottom and legs of the patio table. I have one good coat on it everywhere. Tomorrow I plan on lightly sanding the top, get the second coat on and be done with it.

2. Set up two chairs for DH and I. Turns out that Fred Meyer, Lowes, and Home Depot all had the cushion pattern that I liked. FM price was $35/per, Lowes at $29.98 (so $30)/per, HD at $29.96. HD it was. I also sprung for a stack of chairs cover at $20 ... it does rain here, after all.

V.I. immediately commandeered the chair in the sun. She looks very sultry against the cushion - like Lena Horne on a beach chair. I'll have to post a pic.

3. Planted the 3 strawberry plants we got last Sunday in the strawberry pot. 5 plants at the top is a little tight, but at least everybody has new good soil for this year.

In other financial news, I checked out the new Grocery Outlet one neighborhood west of mine, about a 5 minute walk out of my way. I joke that they put the "gross" in grocery, and I could see that in the produce, but I was surprised that I could get brand name canned tomato products (diced, stewed, sauce, paste) for a least 40 cents/can cheaper, brown rice for 60 cents/lb cheaper, toothpaste for $2 cheaper, etc. Quite useful.

The other irony is that the stock I'm interested in selling (FIS) is possibly going to be bought out by a consortium of three private equity firms. In other words, go back into private hands. Apparently, I just need to sit tight, watch the price rise, and wait for the shareholders to get paid off.

getting over the cravings

May 5th, 2010 at 04:18 am

Tuesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee
Found money - $0.28 (planting strip next to bus stop, curb, road, Fred Meyer parking lot)

Monday
Saving log - $5 tip box, $125 into savings
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $8 lunch + $15 groceries
Found money - $0.11 (sidewalk next to bus stop, floor underneath counter at coffee shop)

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 bagel, coffee + $2.50 paper + $5 mocha, croissant + $20 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (bus stop)

I broke $40 in found money. $40.20: 880 pennies, 33 nickels, 146 dimes, 32 quarters, 2 $1 bills, 1 $5 bill, 1 10 pence coin worth 15 cents.

After that, this and that. Frontier Bank went under Friday - it was the bank that I previously talked about here.

I've been wrestling with the after effects of the birthday celebration dinner. You feast for one day, and then your body says, "party on, Garth"... and suddenly you are buying mochas. Mochas with a coupon, at least, but mochas nonetheless. But the cravings have given me an excuse to buy some more strawberry plants. I'll aim for fruit cravings versus chocolate cravings.

Bought some more stock at the end of last month, and now I'm waiting for the price to go down some so I can buy more. Lawyer friend asked me for some stock tips. I threw out some ticker symbols, but gave him my dull boring dividend choices. He kind of blew off most of them - thought they were evil, or big, or blah, but he did think about one - ironically, the very one I'm thinking of selling. We'll see. I hope he does some more research and doesn't just take my word for it. I recently looked at the DRP portfolio - it'll go down some, but at the time I looked it totaled 28K.

late February weekend

February 22nd, 2010 at 02:50 am

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $1.70 apple, energy bar + $5 newspaper, pastry, espresso + $3 produce
Found money - $0.03 (planting strip, floor in front of counter, under bus stop bench)

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $14 breakfast + $2 green tea + $60 restaurant meal for 2
Found money - $0.18 (driveway, sidewalk cracks, gas station parking lot, bus stop, road)

Saturday I felt I slipped - pricey, and calorie-laden meals. They were delicious though, and the company was great. I did score a doggie bag - tonight's meal.

As far as the calories are concerned, I tried to partially walk them off. The real issue with super-yummy restaurant food is the same as with an illicit drug - when the body gets a taste of the high life, its much harder to hop back on the straight and narrow - in this case, the frugal and healthy straight and narrow.

I caught a break - a produce stand was along my walking route - I caught some deals on broccoli crowns for $.49/lb, cherries for $.99/lb, roma tomatoes for $.89/lb. It does mean that tonight's meal is broccoli crowns and I had to pick out a few sub-par cherries from the bag.

As I was waiting for my bus, a woman started a conversation with me. As we were going through the small transit talk - eg this bus is running about 10 minutes late - boy was I sorry I engaged. All of the conversation below was hers. -

So much traffic, she thought (I thought fine), I have a Zipcar account (I thought okay), but I think I'll be buying a car because I just need one (I thought whatever!). I don't see how anybody is going to lug their stuff to the airport on light rail (then don't I thought)...
And the airporter barely got me to the airport on time.

Then I suggested that she mail her stuff. Oh no, I'm not allowed to lock it, she said. And the TSA and no doubt the post office is going to steal my stuff - they all have in the past (!). Mental rolleyes. Yes, life is PITA. I guess my expectations are minimal - I'm still at the simpleton stage where despite being held captive in a metal tube I'm joyful that you are flying me at 25,000 feet and you're landing me safely.

My final volley was that I treat flying like prison - stop packing the fancy stuff. Oh, she said, I don't pack the fancy stuff and hate that attitude - you are giving in to awful behavior and giving away your freedom and privacy. Rolleyes again - awful behavior has happened throughout time, the US in the 21st century has not curbed the market on awful behavior.

Funny how negative stuff during travel really doesn't happen to me. I manage to get places on time, when my baggage doesn't make it it does 12 hours later, and I'm healthy enough to lug and smart enough to not pack a ton to lug. I'm not saying that bad things don't happen - it just feels like a lot of stress tends to be induced. Then when you have real stress actually induced by other people, you have a double burden.

It was warm this weekend, but really not warm enough to strip the patio table successfully - so I was smart enough not to try. I did plant a row of shell peas this evening in back of a patch of garlic growing nicely, and put some innoculant in the furrow. Both blueberry shrubs in the pots, bought last year, are covered in green buds. Grow guys grow!

nature's most perfect sport

February 20th, 2010 at 04:58 am

Friday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $.39 apple + $14 groceries
Found money - $0.06 (sidewalk, floor, escalator railing...again)

Thursday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $1.65 decaf coffee
Found money - $0.36 (crosswalk, sidewalk, escalator railing)

Wednesday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.75 coffee + $24 paint stripper, paint scrapper, brushes
Found money - $0.21 (gym, sidewalk corner)

Still working hard, but lately it has been sunny out, and, even better, it is a soft twilight out after work when heading for home. I've been watching the figure skating on TV - to me, its a heady mix of Oscar-worthy fashion excess combined with the crash and burn excitement of Nascar: nature's most perfect sport. I've been eating lunch in, but taking a 20 minute walk before diving into Excel and Access for the afternoon.

I've been finding change in one particularly unexpected place: the right-hand escalator railing, on the flat when you grab as you step on. Pennies right now, but very odd - like you hadn't secured your wallet before you step on the escalator. And the other odd thing this last week, I've only been finding pennies and quarters.

$26.31: 656 pennies, 24 nickels, 108 dimes, 26 quarters, $1 bill. To think that I thought, maybe, just maybe I'd pick up about $20/year from this exercise. I've just been tracking this for a little over 7 months.

Also put $45 of tip box savings into the bank.

This weekend, if the weather turns a little bit warmer, I plan on stripping the paint off the patio table. If I feel super, duper ambitious, I'm also going to plant some peas.

making my hill of beans

October 5th, 2009 at 02:49 am

Sunday
Saving log - $125 moved from checking to savings
Spending log - $4 bagel, coffee + $2.76 garbanzo beans, apple
Found money - $0.23 (various sidewalks, Safeway floor)

Another great day for finding change - again, I found two dimes, one on a residential sidewalk, a place where I assumed I would find nothing. (the other was on the Safeway floor, a place nearly as good as an ATM) I don't understand why I've been finding so many coins these days. Dimes especially. Perhaps with the weather change, it changes everyone's wardrobe, and everyone has to be re-introduced to their jacket pockets.

I also found a great deal on canned garbanzo beans at the normally pricey organic food coop - $.89/can. Usually $1/can has been the low price over the winter and spring. October seems to be the bridge month for some food deals - its a good time to prepare for the deals of November.

Got off my duff and planted some lettuce for the winter/fall harvest, and watched my blueberry plants' leaves turn a gorgeous flame red.

2 summer deadlines

August 2nd, 2009 at 06:55 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $91 groceries
Found money - $0.01 (parking lot behind a concrete brake)

We now all vote by mail - we got the ballots 2 days ago and the voter's pamphlet today. We have to get the ballots mailed by Aug 18. The 20 cent plastic bag tax is on it - apparently the plastic bags that you put produce in does not count, just the ones at the front. Mr. goodspaceguy is running for mayor, which provided most of the reading entertainment from the voter's guide.

Walked the 7 miles downtown today, picking several blackberries along the way. They are nice and glossy black, but still a tad too sour. Give them another few days. I still don't understand why anyone in Seattle would actually buy blackberries, when there is such good hunting all around.

jogging this weekend

July 20th, 2009 at 05:35 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $3.88 coffee, bagel + $4 grocery + $2 coffee (what? I was sleepy) + $1 parking lot sale
Found money - $.01 (sidewalk in front of Woodland Park Zoo) + $.01 (parking lot)

Did the three miles in 46 min 20 sec. While its not great, it was a minute and half better than last week. The trainer has a goal for me - 44 min. Its funny how if someone sets a goal for me, I work hard at it. If I try to set an exercise goal myself, somehow I treat it less seriously.

I also tried a different tack based on what I read today. Lately, as I jog, its time to myself and I've been thinking sad thoughts this last month. Its not easy to jog particularly fast thinking sad thoughts. Today I thought, "its a beautiful day, I'm strong and healthy and every week I'm moving faster ... I'm not tired ... I'm feeling great."

And I harvested 10 blueberries. From 1-2 year old plants, its all the harvest I will get this year. Blueberry bushes apparently mature after about 4 years.

farmette garden

June 18th, 2009 at 03:36 am

As promised, this post is to show off the farmette vegetable garden and all the stuff I had to weed and plant. Sister started a little CSA - she has three people in Milwaukee paying her to grow all this.

Peas in front row, then onion, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets. Yum!


She's doing it organically, which means a lot of water, weeding, mulching, and compost. She has a couple of tricks for all you vegetable gardening newbies.

1. Double and triple rows. Sister plants one row, then a row 3-4 inches to the left, and a row 3-4 inches to the right. Especially useful if you have dogs that might misstep. If you have one row, missteps can really kill you; with triple rows you can consider missteps a way of thinning plants out.

A couple of triple rows of beets, freshly weeded. Compare this pic with the very last one on the post.


2. Mark your rows. Along with the regular seeding, sister puts in a radish seed every 6-8 inches. The radish seedlings come up in about 3-4 days, marking the row. Radish seeds are cheap and easy so if you really don't like 'em, pull 'em when the seedlings you want really come up. (and give them to us)



3. Plant, water, compost on the row, then mulch between the rows for weed control.



The week we were there we helped plant tomatoes. This picture was taken during the Caddyshack phase of planting.



We dug the holes, put a bit of compost in and mixed it with the soil from the hole, then transplanted tomato seedlings, then watered, then mulched around it. Sister let me finish with our secret way getting great tomatoes without blossom end rot - one Tums (with calcium) slipped into the soil about a foot away from the plant.

4. If your water is cold (ours was), let the water sit in a bucket to warm up for a little while. The seedlings won't go into shock. And let the dog have a bite!



The triple row of beets, a few days after the weeding. They really perked up.

garden growing (very long)

May 29th, 2009 at 03:55 am

Allow me to hijack this blog a bit and post how the container garden is doing. Reader, you are my secondary audience - think of this post as if you were listening a series of spy code numbers on the shortwave.

The two blueberry plants. They love "wet feet", so they should be watered every or nearly every day. If you are in a time bind, I invite you to take 'em home and water them on your porch.


The two lettuce bowls. They like it wet too, so treat them the same as the blueberry plants. Harvest with scissors, and eat as much as you can. No kidding. As the days get long, the lettuce will "bolt", sending up a flower spike and make the lettuce bitter.


The two tomatoes - water about every other day.


Don't forget to water the topsy turvy one. Water from the top. Oh yes, remember that the patio chairs are in that cool, dark corner. If you are in a time bind or we suddenly get into the 90s (hah), if you put all the plants in that corner, they will use less water and you can water less frequently. Extra bonus: closest to the hose!


Carrots, beets and strawberries in the strawberry pot. Water every couple of days.


That sage is going crazy - it loves it hot and dry. Water if you remember, but don't beat yourself up about it.


DH's garbage can potato garden. As the potatoes grow, we add moss and soil until they make it to the top. We'll harvest in the fall by dumping every thing out of the can. Sneaky, no? Water every 2-3 days.


Along the house, more carrots, beets, and some oregano. The oregano, like the sage, loves it hot and dry. There's also an old dahlia plant poking up. Everything 2-3 days again.


The pea plants crawling their way up the screen. They are starting to get flowers - if you get a pea pod, go for it. Water every other day.


Over and out...godspeed. Big Grin

We are all cylons now

May 8th, 2009 at 04:22 am

Put my savings in the tip box early. I wanted to speed things up because I didn't want to make a special errand to deposit a $1.96 check into savings. Much prefer to combine it with what is in the tip box. Total = $45 + $1.96 was a bit better.

I went into the flagship downtown WaMu and saw the gigantic semi-futuristic clear and blue plastic Chase logo perched on a wooden platform. It was a good twenty feet high. All of the WaMu and Washington Mutual lettering was gone. Confirmed that with the ATM interface.

WaMu's bones are dissolving. If next week I have to stick my hand in some goo to interface with my Chase bank data, somehow that wouldn't surprise me a bit. But I have to see the sunny side. There are several Chase ATMs in Oshkosh and Milwaukee; there never were any WaMus there. Looking forward to no ATM fees on vacation.

On another cheerful note, the 403B is doing splendiferous. I'm up about 3% in real return, apart from putting in over $600/paycheck. I've been buying cheap in the 403B since October. From $64K at the end of December, I'm up over $76K right now.

Eating our fantastically tasty home grown lettuce tonight. We are catching up with it.

finished the garden (kinda)

May 6th, 2009 at 03:52 am

Saving log - $9 tip box
Spending log - $0

Last Saturday, we also finished the container garden, by finally planting the three patio tomato plants. We put two of the tomatoes in regular pots, one we put in a Topsy Turvy pot for laughs. Last night we had a windstorm. I figured that the poor tomato whipping around at 20 mph couldn't be good, so DH hung it in the shed until the worst was over.

We wheeled and moved the pots during the storm to close to the patio and under the overhang so they would just get watered a bit and not drowned. Love the wheels on the lettuce. We've got to get more of them next year.

By finished, I don't mean totally done, I just mean we'll take care of what we have. If something doesn't make it, we'll use the pot for something else, but no more expansion until next year.

parade, garden, and flu

May 2nd, 2009 at 05:16 am

Friday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $15 lunch

Thursday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee

I got a Rhoomba for my birthday. Its fun to watch. Compared the regular vacuum its a bit quieter - and if I don't have to vacuum, that's fine with me.

Noticed that the I-bond fixed rate is at 0.10% with a zero percent variable. The first I-bonds that I bought are now approaching 5 years old, come August I start to have some that will not have the 3 month interest penalty.

The May Day protest parade right at rush hour marched past our office on 2nd. Nice and loud and went on for a good 20 minutes. We never ever get a parade - its usually 1st or 3rd Avenue that gets it.

Ate a couple of cups of lettuce thinnings - very tasty, but its growing faster than I can eat. DJ friend offered to water our containers while we're away. Hope he takes our offer of eating what he can, too. Up for this weekend is to finally pot up the tomato plants we got when we got our blueberry plants. The blueberry plants are getting itty-bitty cup shaped flowers. Not too many, but some.

Tonight I also saw my first flu masked person out on the street. An older woman. Not sure whether I should be blase about it, treat it with respect, or even try to get it (get sick and build your immunity early). The last flu pandemic I knew about was the Hong Kong Flu in 1968. I remember my parents talk about it in hushed tones, and the seeing the pictures of it in the paper. I was 6.

baby carrots and beets

April 28th, 2009 at 03:23 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 cottage cheese

I got home tonight - my mail contained a $1.96 check from Ameriprise, closing my account. All of gramma's trust money is in my accounts. Consolidation at last. One less set of passwords to remember.

The container garden is smartly moving along. I see little baby carrot seedlings in my orange pot. (Purple ones, hopefully not hairy). Yesterday I looked in a different pot that DH planted and I saw baby beet seedlings.

Talked to sister about vacation plans. DH and I (along with Morgan) are planning a road trip to Wisconsin to visit the farmette. June 1 - June 15. Apparently many of the hotel chains along the way are pet friendly. No doubt it will be a busman's holiday - I'm sure that we will be put to work planting a few things in the 7 acres.

sunday entry

April 27th, 2009 at 06:06 am

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $1.64 bagel (free coffee) + $8 conveyor belt sushi

Good news today -
Did my 3 mi jog in ...drum roll ... 46 min 40 sec! And I thought that I didn't do that well because I was skirting around parents with strollers, 3 abreast pedestrian chatters, and little kids in the middle of the sidewalk. Apparently the obstacle course made me faster. I celebrated by having a few plates of conveyor belt sushi.

Noticed at the grocery store that some of my favorite breakfast bars have new packaging, and are .2 of an ounce less. Good for the weight loss, but bad for price. Beware - I'm watching you!

Had a dinner salad full of lettuce thinnings, and I'll be having them every day for the next week - DH asked me what you look for and I told him we just play God.

This weekend I took some pics of what took my fancy. None of my subjects have any idea that there is a recession on.

Waitress! Another round for me and my table.


Green Lake egret


I have a lot of thinning to eat.


You are not blogging tonight.

free range escargot

April 20th, 2009 at 04:31 am

Saturday
Saving log - $40 drp
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $20 dessert

Saturday DH and I cleaned up a bit more of the south facing flower bed in preparation of planting some more veg. We found a few more critters...


I suppose that if DH and I were really in desperate straits, we would put these in a jar for a few days with water and cornmeal, then bake 'em with butter and garlic. Of course if we were that desperate we wouldn't have the butter and garlic.

Instead, they all went crunch underfoot.

The container garden is also moving along.


We also found an eviscerated mouse in the yard. In the last weeks, Morgan had been hunting and bringing in earthworms, so I think she's moving up the phyla.

kicking around Saturday

April 12th, 2009 at 04:40 am

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $10 bath salts and apple

I overheard this night as I walked through the Summer Streets program: "If you don't want to learn about memoir, try using our teleporter ... or study alien spores and brains."
(from the guy out in front of Greenwood's Space Travel Company - its a front for a non-profit writer's group).

Made me smile.

Again, I jogged the 3 miles, aka the mock 5K. Also did it in 47 minutes, jogging all the way, so it wasn't a fluke that I did it. Also my hips felt far, far better than last week. I could actually walk back home after the jog - much slower and took much longer than 47 minutes.

Planted purple carrots in an orange po- um, CONTAINER. Who says p-um, CONTAINER gardeners don't have a sense of humor.

Read an article in the New York Times today whose tone saddened me a bit. I'm not frugal as a competitive sport. I'm frugal because greater amounts of savings makes me comfortable in my place in society, and I'd rather have the money rather than greater amounts of branded stuff. I'm quiet about my saving in real life. If times get much worse, its really best not to brag about what you saved.

pot garden growing up

April 11th, 2009 at 04:20 am

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch + $5 roast turkey for the weekend

Added up everything that I've saved through my tip box at work: $2504.

Work has been stressful lately; I'm off on Monday for a 3 day weekend. I have 204 hrs of PTO (personal time off)...over 5 weeks. Better start using it, dang nab it.

The pot garden is marching along...


I'm going to try something different, and plant carrots in a pot this weekend. Apparently, as long as the soil isn't too rich (turns the carrots hairy), they do well in pots. I have some purple carrot seeds and everything else.

the pot garden

April 5th, 2009 at 03:28 am

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $2 coffee + $10 lunch/snack + $20 dinner w/friends

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $10 breakfast + $40 two blueberry bushes + $2.75 top + $6 meat for lunches

Spendy couple of days all around. I discovered that I didn't have any turkey or ham for my little bit of rice, so I bought a bit of salmon, tofu, and green beans to augment and I didn't make the afternoon snack, so I bought a little side salad for that. For that one day, I went from $0 spending I went to the typical for six months ago.

Had to refuel my wallet, as it were, at the ATM before dinner. (I'm still old school - I've been burned enough times to be wary of just using the debit card. Way I roll.) General relativity exists - time has to change depending on perspective. How else can I explain why I can get money from an ATM in a bit under a minute, and why I ALWAYS am behind someone who takes freaking forever to get or not get their money. I know what I can and want to do at the ATM before I get there. I guess not everybody is that together. It still burns me, though.

At the little dinner soiree last night I learned that my ex is losing his job at the end of April. Told him about the hiring freeze, and the possibility of no temps working the fall campaigns. But you never know - and I'll be one of the first to hear, either way.

This afternoon DH and I bought two low blueberry bushes. I wanted a fairly low growth habit for two reasons - 1.) we were going to grow them in pots for a year or two or three and 2.) we figure that Morgan's side job will be to go after any bird that tries to snack on a berry, so we went for low to make the job easy and fun for her.

Again, the two lettuce pots are starting to sprout those little four leaf seedlings...(they are green in real life)

The gardener irony: Weed seedlings always look far healthier than your seedlings.

Here's the pot garden, so far. We're also doing a couple of tomato plants in pots - the soil that is the sunniest and warmest also grew potatoes, which are a host plant for fusarium wilt.

baby lettuce

April 1st, 2009 at 03:39 am

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $8 groceries

Looked in my large pansy pots this evening and I saw baby yellow green leaves. Not surprised that the lettuce took almost 10 days to sprout - its been cold and rainy, in the 40s at night, while Sunday afternoon was the first nice sunny day in weeks. Exciting!

I felt a little itchy to go outside for lunch today, so I went to Uwajimaya. I brought my own lunch so the errand was supposed to be just a box of green tea. I got the tea, plus a small box of chinese greens to augment my lunch, and a packet of miso soup, on sale. I dodged a bullet, in a sense.

But for laughs, I looked around some more. Here's another recession sign - designer lunch boxes. More precisely, Mario Batali lunch boxes. For $28. Kind of rich, because Mario Batali, restauranteur, would much prefer you ate out rather than bring it in. It would seem he was branding at both ends.

food for fun and profit

March 31st, 2009 at 04:53 am

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $22 groceries

I've decided to invest in another DRP - Sysco (SYY). Food distribution is not a terribly sexy company, but you've got to eat, and generally these days, if you are eating out, its probably low-ish end. And when you do eat in a restaurant, you've got to have the plate to eat off of, the cutlery to attack it with, and the plastic wrap to store it. SYY has a reasonable dividend, and even raised it last year. And while they are not traditionally green, there are trying out some green initiatives. The big issue is that this DRP has relatively high fees - high in proportion if you want to put in small amounts, not so high if you put in larger ones. I signed up with Temper to get a share. It will take about 6 weeks to set everything up with the transfer agent.

Food is definitely on my mind. Now that the recycling has changed, the plastic bin for glass isn't necessary. Reading about where to donate the plastic bins led me to the Community Fruit Tree Harvest. Donating fruit and cataloging fruit trees is exactly what I'm interesting in doing. Now to see if they will take me along with our plastic bins.

semi lazy weekend

March 30th, 2009 at 01:22 am

Saturday
Saving log - $40 Drp
Spending log - $13 breakfast + $57 mixed stuff + $100 public radio

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.50 bagel & coffee + $10.50 apple, tea, magazine, lunch

Mixed spending yesterday - I bought $30 worth of women's underwear packs, various sizes, for our non-profit's underwear drive, along with three more large outdoor pots at Big Lots, then I broke down and pledged during our local NPR station's pledge drive. I have it on reasonable authority that our local station is doing all right - didn't drink the kool-aid and grow the station unsustainably - however, the PI's demise has hit me hard. Times are a changin'.

Last night I also shut the lights off for an hour at 8:30 pm. However, I also watched a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica, and it felt like cheating. Smile Let's just say that a few of those CGI battles made up for the dark living room.

Today, I jogged about 1/2 the way to the Fremont Bridge, a mock 5K. Last week I made it in 51 minutes, today I did it in 50 minutes. Trainer's goal for me in this is 48 minutes. I'm getting better - heart rate did not go over 145 bpm - but when I start to flag and walk, I'll have to curb that because when I walk, I want to walk the rest of the way. My weight is plateauing again at around 179-180, so I have to provide the trainer with a few days of my food diary.

Rounding out the rest of the day, I looked at my lettuce bowls, and I see sprouting (they were planted shallowly - 3x the diameter of the seed). Another sunny day or two and I should see little green leaves. Also put up a sage plant in a plastic pot. My little patio pot garden is coming along.

Noted that the IRS cashed my tax payment Friday when I mailed it on Monday. As my grampa used to say, "somebody really wanted your money." He hated taxes with a passion - he definitely would have commented that I shouldn't get caught paying so much. Your inheritance is killing me, gramps!


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