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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.

no kidding

April 2nd, 2012 at 12:16 am

Despite it being April Fools, all of this happened to me:

1. Found a dollar bill in a puddle today, along with a fair amount of additional change. Today's total found money was $1.56, but....

It put my total found after 992 days of tracking and looking at $200.81. Thank you Seattle for being so ... fey about yer money.

2. Bought broccoli for $0.99/lb.

3. Declared my soap nut experiment a success, so I hunted for a dependable bulk supply. Found it at Zenith Supplies for $12/lb. Bought about $10 worth, along with 3 muslin bags. You put about 8 soap nuts into a muslin bag, close the bag, throw the bag in the washer with your clothes. The soap nuts are light, so a bit under a pound of soap nuts is hundreds of soap nut shells, years' worth of laundry.

These things were true. But my favorite April Fools Joke for 2012 was

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bought my GS cookies

March 10th, 2012 at 04:32 am

I broke down and bought one (1) box on Wednesday. Now I'll have to ignore for the rest of the season. Big Grin My traditional rules of buying cookies were this:

Last day of the sale.
Buy on the fly - no preorders.
Buy whatever is my favorite from the limited choice.
Parent should be nearby and only as an observer and doing security.
Girl(s) have to be the saleswomen and do the entire thing...
Discuss their product
Do the math
Take the money
Make the change
Thank the customer

I passed by a stand at the grocery store and with the exception of it not being the last day, every thing else was met. I bought a box of a new flavor, Thank You Berry Munch, that had dried cranberries in it. The salesgirl assured me that those cookies went well with coffee as she was asking another girl to help another customer and a third girl to help me with change. CEO material there!

productive frugal day

February 13th, 2012 at 05:18 am

In honor of retire@50 and monkeymama:

Had a very productive, moderately frugal day today:

10:30 - 12:30. did the Sunday routine of going to the coffeehouse and got coffee, a slice of quiche and read the Sunday NYT. Yes, I pay for coffee. Sundays it happens to be free, but if there is a jar about, I slip a dollar in. I've made my peace with paying for coffee - I get drip, I enjoy the ritual of ordering and being social with the staff. NYT paper subscription on the weekend happens to be expensive and duplicates the Kindle, but I like the feel of paper, I see all the pictures and the NYT itself is the one paper that won't turn your mind into cream cheese.

12:45 - 1:30. 2 mile walk, listened to the podcast of Marketplace Money, hunted for change (found pennies and a 10 cent euro coin). Noted on the walk that a Tile company was having a 20 yr anniversary sale. 50% off grout. Will have to check that out.

1:30 - 1:45. Hit the bus stop. (I go carless). I used OneBusAway to figure out when the bus will come - it really helps to take away the frustration out of using transit. Found out I had about 15 minutes, so I went to the produce stand. Bought 69 cent avocadoes for lunches next week, and $1 bagged salad. I was tempted by the $2/pt blueberries but figured they'd get smashed by the time I got home.

2:15. Made it to Bedrock Industries to pick up 10$ worth of vitreous glass for mosaics. Noted that I can get 4 x 4 in squares of marble for 50 cents!

2:45 Walked to Peets and Whole Foods because I was feeling a little hungry. Peets had a line, didn't see what I really wanted at Whole Foods, so I skipped the temptation. Noted that the blueberries were at 3.99$ at Whole Paycheck.

3:15 Caught the bus back and walked another 1.5 mile home. Got my exercise today and quiet time today.

4:30 - 7:30 Pulled my green folder out, took up Vanguard's offer on cheap(er) TurboTax. Calculated and filed my 2011 taxes. I pay $207, which is pretty usual for me. Since my 403b is going great guns, that represents my tax deferred money pool; I put 5K in a Roth - its worth more to me to bulk up the tax-free pool of money than it is to get the refund if I put it in a traditional IRA. My tax rate in total this year is 9.7%; I'm good with the $207.

In other words, I got a lot done, learned bits of information to further my hobby, got exercise, chilled out. I spent a little bit but I'm good with what I spent - it will all get used.

divided up the beef

September 25th, 2011 at 01:47 am

We divvied up the cow amongst all parties this afternoon - all in the parking lot behind the Seattle Mennonite Church. A slightly new twist on last year's procedure: after we divvied up the cuts and packages that were mathematically easy to divide, we spread out the rest, drew lots for picking order and took turns picking a package - a bit like picking teammates or picking a Christmas package at the white elephant sale (no stealing though Smile).

That worked even better than the dickering, although I don't know if the number of times one picked in a round was equivalent to the proportion of your beef. In other words, the person who bought the whole quarter should get a pick/round versus the people who bought an eighth would get a pick every other round.

DH and I still should get about 5lb bratwurst and 5lb of kielbasa in the next couple of weeks.

I asked my current trainer and a friend of his to come down and buy from us because I wasn't sure that our share would fit in our freezer - last year we had to cook that week what couldn't fit in. The friend took one look at the piles of white packages and said, "that is more meat than I have ever seen."

There was one cute, but sneaky, little 3 yr old moving our packages into his dad's pile. Fingers crossed that we caught all the packages he moved. Smile

It only took us 30 minutes from when the farmer/rancher drove up to everybody leaving the parking lot.

Cost of our 1/8 share - $427.88. I had heard that the farmer's side job was no more, so I wrapped a $20 (for gas) and added it to an envelope, along with my check.

Oh yes, still keeping on with the paleo/primal eating plan. I'm now at 164.8. I lose two more pounds and my BMI will drop below the overweight range.

picking up the pace

September 13th, 2011 at 04:30 am

Everybody at work is now back from vacation, and the temporary fundraising staff is here with us on our floor - the pace at work is picking up.

Right now I'm working on the audit - my boss is pulling transactions that the auditors are interested in tracking and I'm making sure that my facts are straight on them. Today, though, I looked at the list the auditors gave, traced the details ... something is wrong, wrong, wrong. With the auditor's sheet. Strangely enough, it cheers me up when the auditors screw up. Only people, I guess.

I am feeling a bit grumpy at some of my co workers, though. One especially who works in a different department. I formatted a sheet with leading zeroes and she whined at me to do it again. Drives me insane about it (and other things) - it takes all of fifteen seconds for anybody with reasonable Excel skills to fix it. These days in the recession, we are on the second leg down - you show idiocy, a "not my job" attitude, or weakness it's over. It just is.

On the food front, the farmer is nearly ready to deliver - tentatively we can gather everybody around on the 24th. Free museum day appears to be canceled.

The cowpool 2011

September 4th, 2011 at 02:12 am

Apologies that it's been so long since I've written. Its been quiet, I've been paid, and we are in the midst of a three day weekend. What could be sweeter?

We (about 15-16 of us) in the beef consortium are about to get our beef. This second year, the cow was named Gosling. She is going to be a big one, with a package weight (I call it that - its the total of all the white packages we will get) of 480 lbs! Ginger, last year's cow, was a glorious 402 lbs. I was the designated call-ee - the butcher asked one of us to make a call and confirm the cuts that we wanted. I didn't want too much too fancy, but I did want the cuts to be an inch thick. Last year Ginger was 3/4 inch thick. The thinness made making rare steak a challenge.

Last year we developed a pretty straightforward distribution system. The farmer drove up into the parking lot where we were all to meet. We asked the consortium beforehand to bring coolers and food scales if they had one. We collected four large boxes and broke them down into pads, each representing a quarter. (I and my cow-partner comprised our quarter).

We set the cardboard pads down on the concrete. We sorted the cuts out by package so had a good idea of what there was a lot of and what there was only one or two of. We took the packages we had the most of (hamburger) and dealt them out, then dealt the next most, and all the way down to what we had packages of four of.

Cow-partner and I had to split what we were dealt between the two of us. I asked DH what he most wanted and what he thought would be nice to have. I think we got it. This year though, the cow-partners are a couple of very close friends of ours - DH might find it easier to give up some cuts betting that we'll eat at a dinner party.

The fun began with the 1-2 package cuts. That's when the food scales came in handy. We cleared the pads again (people put their dealt cuts into their coolers and bags). We called out the cuts - the cooks amongst us called out what you could do with the cut. Whomever was most enthused about the cut, the dealer put it on their pad. We kept those cuts on the pad until those cuts were dealt, so that if we could see if someone was shorted. We also traded between the pads on a pound for pound basis.

So I admit that this technique works best if all parties have a sense of adventure, and while excited about meat aren't total booby-heads if they don't get every cut. I throw it out there as a public service - buying a whole cow is suddenly fashionable, but no one talks about how to divy one up.

mystery gift

July 29th, 2011 at 03:01 am

I got a mystery gift today. Somebody paid $20 for me to get a twenty minute massage. I suspect it was my boss, but I'm not sure. I'll ask her tomorrow.

Yesterday was the Greenwood Seafair Parade... somehow the pictures I took didn't really turn out, but I'll see if I can find some good ones for fun.

The crafty patch is thinning out some. The non-crafty, but creative project of getting my database to play nice in Office 2010 is nearly done. It loads and mostly works - only two buttons don't. Of course they are the two buttons that I use in January, so sigh, project not completely done. But done enough for August.

Video for what our department does has been written and filmed. Now it has to be rendered into a file format and edited ... then done!

We are planning to get another 1/8 of a cow. This one is larger, so it will finish a bit slower (late August instead of right now) - good for a little time to save some money. Bigger means that 1/8 is going to run more than 50 lbs, so I've gotten another buyer who we can sell some to if we don't have enough freezer space. The farmer is offering us two possibilities - one is an Angus, the other a

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Limousin. Finding out the Limousin is a very old breed that runs a bit leaner is tipping me toward that choice.

Everything is now quiet enough to allow us all to wonder about a US default. But in the meantime, its payday tomorrow.


April 26th, 2011 at 04:08 am

Closed out my checking and savings account with Chase, kept the rewards based credit card. Got what I got in cash, and promptly deposited it into the credit union bank. Now both my checking and savings accounts are close to the $500 limit for the 6% interest rate. Its only $30/ year, but at least it means that even my smallest accounts are working hard. Talked to HR, my next paycheck will be paper, the paycheck after will be direct deposited appropriately into the credit union.

That project is done.

DJ friend asked to write up a special letter for the Internet radio station. There is a serious issue - he is a legal internet radio station, which means in the U.S. he has to pay royalties. What usually happens is that he submits the songs/works/etc that he or his other DJs will play, along with a monthly payment to a royalty clearinghouse. The royalty clearinghouse pays another agency who then pays BMI, ASCAP, etc. Apparently the royalty clearinghouse that DJ friend has been using has not been paying anybody and has been shut down. So its been a mad scramble to go to a new clearinghouse.

I have to shake my head here. No wonder the music industry is in the state its in - everybody else has to streamline, get leaner and meaner, etc. The music industry appears to just have gotten meaner without the leaner.

So I wrote the letter explaining the situation to all - only took me two hours. As a payment, got a nice capacity coffee card for my trouble. Free coffee for a couple of weeks!

settling back in

March 17th, 2011 at 04:13 am

Collected an expense check for something work related I bought, and my bank stock dividend check came in the mail two days ago. (Since its in the process of being bought by another bank, no dividend re-investment). They go into the tip box, along with $3 here, $4 there, $5 yesterday. Right now the tip box squeezings this month stand at $39.

One of my other DRP stocks - IP - raised its dividend by almost 5 cents/share/per quarter. It means that for most of my stocks, each quarter I buy close to another share of stock.

At the asian grocery store, I found seed packets - edamame, several different types of long beans, purple shiso. Mailed the seed packets this afternoon to sister. She is interested in growing them, but found it hard to order some of the seeds.

As for lunch these days, I made up 3 cups of crab salad, bought a pack of whole wheat english muffins, and am going to town. A little bit different than the 1/2 c rice and bit of protein lunches that I've been taking these past couple of years, but the salad/ english muffin combo should last me the better part of a week.

Very slim cheap non-processed food pickings at the grocery store lately; I had better luck with one of the permanent produce markets in town, Rising Sun market. $1.25/lb tomatoes, $1.59/lb green grapes. Had to pick around the not so good stuff, but I could be in Japan and have nothing to pick at.

Other than that, I haven't had any NSDs, but I've had several very low spend days and that makes me happy.