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Archive for May, 2011

Blockbuster Sale

May 30th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

For today, a lot of Blockbuster stores are selling DVDs and Blu Rays for 99 cents/each.

I wouldn't be surprised if they had 1000 Blu Rays set out - they had a TON!

Dh snatched up 15. He didn't buy any he wouldn't keep, but plans to sell most of them. I think we could have easily erred on buying a lot more and selling them for profit.

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Seeing two movies this weekend was plenty time consuming, but of course the movie we have been waiting for was available today. Dh just happened to notice after we bought all the Blu Rays, so back in line again.

Anyway, will finally get to see "Waiting for Superman." One of my clients was in this documentary - is about public education. Have heard it was really excellent (albeit, sad).

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It's 66 degrees at current. Yesterday it rained. Today is cold and windy. It snowed at our cabin this weekend (lower elevation). Which means camp is getting MORE snow. 2 more weeks or so before camp opens??? IT is winter wonderland for now. Will be interesting!

Summer camp - 2-3 weeks before opening?:

Saturday Doings

May 29th, 2011 at 07:57 am



We hit the Farmers Market. The pickings were slim, but stocked up on cherries, strawberries, and some salad fixings.

For $5, I got the most gorgeous flower bouquet. I put it in this super huge vase my boss got me a few years back. I've never had enough flowers to fill it up. Was like a super size bouquet.

The picture does not do them justice. This is the kind of splurge I keep my allowance money for - and why it doesn't have to be very much. LOVE them!

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I cleaned out the cupboards last night. I figured it has probably been 4 years since I last went through. I got through half the pantry and maybe found one old/expired item. I Was impressed and praising dh.

Then I moved lower - there was some long forgotten food on the lower shelves. Most of the stuff I tossed was for one-time kind of things. Different recipe experiments and such. So, for the most part not bad.

I really did not find anything to toss in the fridge. I knew we had cleaned out the freezer about 18 months ago very thoroughly (before dh's surgery) so I didn't look TOO Closely at all the frozen fruits and veggies. BUT, there were some old frozen waffles in there (from who knows when? Maybe MIL bought them after his surgery).

I found a lot of chocolate chips. No idea why. I think we will be baking some cookies!

I found a couple of random non-food items. (A puzzle thing that the kids are playing with, for one).

All in all, threw away far less than expected. Phew!

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We went to the movies yesterday with our Living Social deal. Basically 50% of full price.

Dh told me that he had intended to go to the movies more with the kids in school. BUT, in the end he went zero times all year. Crappy movie year?

To be fair, we have a movie theater in our house, so he can get most the experience at home, anyway. He still likes to see the big/grand things in the theaters, though.

I like to go to the movies once in a blue moon. For the most part, I don't care for movies as a time suck, but enjoy the experience factor of a movie on the super BIG screen.

We saw Hangover II, which we knew would not be as hilarious as Hangover. (If nothing else, kind of knew what to expect). It was good for laughs.

We have more movie tickets so will see the new Kung Fu Panda movie tomorrow or next weekend. Our tickets expire soon, so needed to use them. There is always some kid movie, so still felt it was a good purchase. The date was nice for yesterday.

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Today?

Clean house. We've kind of been distracted by declutter projects. But, need to do some basic house cleaning for today. IT always goes fast when we all chip in, so expect a mostly leisurely day.

We decided to nail down vacation plans this weekend, since we are kind of all over the place in our plans. I kept thinking we had 8 weeks (summer) to figure out So Cal plans, but then realized my work is pretty busy two of those weeks. So, now we are down to 6 weeks and a full June calendar. July is pretty wide open, but the kids' birthdays add a wrench. So, if we go, will probably be for their birthday. Suddenly, not sure where we will squeeze it in. (All that said, we all have a week off in October, so is Plan B. Was kind of saving that for a bigger road trip).

I suppose we should have planned further ahead. We are weird personalities in that we plan most things well in advance, and here we are trying to wing vacation. We are a weird mix of just "relax/wing it," and "plan far ahead." Anyway, just winging it is not working for this summer. Time to make a plan.

This summer is a little unique in none of our parents are working, and have been waiting for the kids to be free from school to plan some activities. So it's all this stuff with our parents that is really filling up the calendar! Lesson learned - plan our own plans well ahead for next year.

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Weather sucks, which is good. It's conducive to staying in and cleaning house. Which is what we really need to do today.

I don't expect to spend any money, this weekend, outside the $15 or so we spent at Farmers Market yesterday.

Staying Home!

May 28th, 2011 at 07:06 am

Was talking to my friend yesterday about weekend plans. She seemed surprised we really had none.

I said, "We never go anywhere holiday weekends." Are you kidding me? Who wants to deal with all the crowds? Will enjoy the peace and quiet at home.

But, anyway, thank goodness for the quiet weekend.

June is shaping up to be pretty busy. Another big gas month.

Week 1 - 80th birthday celebration out of town

Week 2 - Track meet/visit relatives out of town
(Should be last track meet)

Three BBQs in a row (lots of free food!). HOA party Saturday by the pool, kinder party Monday, last day of school party Tuesday. Kids will be partied out. 2 of those events will have bounce houses, etc. Last day of school they do a lot of water play - just wear their swimsuits.

Week 3 - A mid-week trip to San Francisco, and a hike with my dad for Father's Day. May postpone hike to July.

Week 4 - Camping trip, and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for public TV station

I share because you can categorize this under "I am too cheap/frugal and boring to every do anything fun or to live life." People still say that to me all the time. More in internet forums than in real life. But, still. Whatever. Rolleyes Most everything I mentioned will cost us $0. & GAS.

Along the same lines, budget is probably way over blown this month. That said, I was e-mailing a friend and sound like she was going through some hard times. Randomly she wanted to meet for lunch Friday. IT was not in my budget at all, and was about to say no. She often meets me at Taco Bell, which is fine. BUT, I Was more concerned about the gas. I was planning it down to about the mile so we didn't need to fill up again until June 1.

Anyway, I had a change of heart and just met her. Whatever. There is more to the story. I am the one to always be available and drop everything to meet her. So there was an element of that - not that I can say the same for some of my friends (in return). But, decided I would be a good friend.

I have some McDs gift certificates, so we might also get the kids together this weekend. So, though we mostly plan to stay in, we have some prepaid movie tickets (2 movie showings) and this McDs date to keep us occupied. Without spending more money. Decided to fill up dh's car since it has a smaller tank. If we end up needing to - will err on draining that car of gas, first.

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Weather is divine. Just mild 70 degree weather - the kind we are used to back home. About 10 degrees cooler than usual.

I don't foresee going swimming this weekend. Usually we really kick off pool season by now. Told the kids we need to take advantage and play tennis. While we can do it mid day without getting heat stroke. Wink

I don't remember many (any?) years we didn't flip on the A/C in May. But, looks like this year will be an easy no-AC May. Often we get a heat wave with three-figure temps. Instead, it's barely broke 70 degrees all month. Aaaaaaahhhhhh... Summer is delayed, but know we will be sweating soon enough! So, we will enjoy the mild weather!

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Speaking of weather, will head to the Farmers Market today. It's been open a few weeks, but we have been out of town every Saturday. Anyway, I just heard the pickings were pretty slim due to the bad weather (hail just a couple of weeks ago, for one).

Will see what we find. Bah to the weather. But yeah, I know, I have several relatives in the Missouri area, etc. I appreciate that we aren't in the midst of tornados and flooding - seems pretty precarious in many places. I do hope everyone is hanging in there.

Approved!

May 26th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Chase took their sweet time, but I got approved.

Fraud department called Sunday to verify my identity. Was starting to wonder if they would even bother, since I applied for card through existing account online. Same address, same name, same phone #, same internet login.

I've applied for several cards/refis, etc., since ID theft. I have not found any one to ignore fraud alerts. If you ask me, was a waste of time and effort on Chase's part - in this instance. Wonder if accounts of "lenders ignoring fraud alerts" are way over-blown.

That said, I haven't applied at the likes of jewelry stores, home improvement stores, and the type credit cardsthat the ID thieves applied for and maxed out in mere minutes. Maybe these are the lenders not doing their due diligence.

Anyway, I logged on today and saw the card had been approved. Should arrive any day. I am on my way to $500 free dollars.

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Finally got a quote for magician for birthday party. $150. Probably about the most I'd consider paying. Of course, occured to me there may be room for haggle. Then again, July was already filling up. I haven't set a date yet - waiting for a call back. I just wasn't thinking WHEN I talked to him. Over the phone. Sometimes you get more haggle cues when you see the body language of a person, etc. I am NO expert, but can kind of pick up on that stuff. In person, anyway. Apparently not over the phone.

He did say July was already filling up, and we think he is AWESOME, and so I'll probably just leave be. If he was newer and more hungry would be another thing. He seems to be popular and not in need of more advertising. A lot of the time we have found people will give us a discount if we "tell all our friends" about them, etc. I don't get the feeling this guy needs that kind of word of mouth.

Anyway, the interesting thing is since he is also a school teacher, he was telling me he does way more shows in the summer. So we have more time to work with. Lucky kids!

How excited are the kids that this guy is going to do a private show for them??? Priceless! We saw him at a public event a while back. Just completely hilarious, and right up our alley.

I did wonder what I got myself into when he said "indoors was better," for the birds and rabbits and all that. Oy vey.

I panicked a bit at first. Big party for 2 kids - IN our house? & then what to do for other entertainment. Decided most older kids will be dropped off (I HOPE) and that food, presents, and a 1-hour show is probably ample. Stragglers can play video games or board games. Will probably just make cupcakes and order some cheap pizza. Magician aside, will be pretty simple. & even then - we just pay him and he shows up. My kind of party!

Interesting observation? Not ONE mass invite kinder party this past year. ??? I think almost everyone in BM's class 2 years ago did. & of course, all the parties are over the top. From since the kids were born - over the top. We never did much of anything until last year when we had the party outside of the house - completely taken care of - was a nice change of pace. I told the kids to plan for more modest parties if they plan to split up. It's up to them, but they seem keen on pooling resources for bigger/fancier parties. When I told them I could get the magician - it was decided. One party. EASY for us. (Their birthdays are a few days apart - and they have several joint friends).

So anyway, what's with the birthday party drought?? I can't help but wonder if people skip the parties altogether, rather than do something more simple? Or are just sticking to family and close friends? Oh well - no complaints here. LM only wanted to invite one or 2 kids from his class, anyway. Works out.

BM had no class parties either. His closer friends have July birthdays, so it may be a busy month. If no parties then, will really wonder.

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ETA: Magician does not budge on price. He gave me an opening to ask, but when I played along, he told me he could recommend cheaper magicians. LOL. Well, at least I tried. You just never know with these things.

No Lack of Things to Do

May 23rd, 2011 at 09:43 am

Talked to my dad and nailed down some dates for things we have been talking about. He invited us camping, to Mt. Shasta, and Yosemite. Busy retired man! We passed on everything but camping. My dad's aunt moved here many decades ago, from Kansas, and has a very large family here. Since she passed on a few years back, her family does an annual camping trip in her honor. Since the camping is pretty local, and always in July I said, "Thanks, but no thanks!" I went camping once in the area in college and it was 110 degrees. Not something I wanted to re-live. Wink

That said, we haven't used our tent for real camping since we bought it. So this year I said, sure. If it's 110 degrees, we pack up and drive home... At least we have that luxury. Big Grin

We've also talked about camping near the family cabin. Hear there are really nice camp sites in the wilderness over there. Since we don't have much cooking equipment, is kind of our limitation for now. We can eat at the cabin and sleep under the stars. Kind of our kind of camping. We aren't used to the "100% fend for yourself outside" camping.

Yosemite? Maybe we should wing it and tag along. Will see what kind of campsite/arrangement they end up with. We'd probably go our separate ways during the day, so that is why I resist. But, any free/cheap camp arrangements may make it worthwhile...

Family camp is coming up in a few weeks, though it is going to feel like winter camping with all the snow - it's crazy.

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We picked a mid-week day to hit the CA Academy of Sciences. I hear the place is just insane crazy on the weekends, so have been waiting for the kids to get out of school.

Decided to do a big hike with Grandpa on Father's Day weekend.

The kids got 2 free tickets to Six Flags - we still have to pick a day for that. We'd usually go May or September, but not so easy with school. Will try to go mid-week in the summer. I used to work at an amusement park - Wednesday is best if you don't want to wait in lines/crowds. I suppose the catch is these tickets have to be used in the summer anyway.

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Dh and I got some movie deals on living social, and they expire soon. Haven't worked out free babysitting for that. SO, decided to use them up this weekend. Will see Hangover 2 (pay daycare) and will take the kids to see the new Kung Fu Panda.

Today I bought tickets on Groupon, for Comedy Sportz. Expires around my birthday in December. We went once maybe a decade ago and it was hilarious. So, I thought that was a good deal. $9 instead of $20.

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Kids get out of school in a few weeks. Holy Cow! We have to figure out what to do for birthdays and get invites out.

I am a little overwhelmed thinking about that and vacation plans. Was thinking Grand Canyon type road trip, but not sure we can leave our cat. Last time we left her just for the weekend (Colorado) she developed a bladder infection from stress. *sigh* Not sure of ANY alternative. Will see how she does with camp - will be gone 3 nights. If she doesn't do well - no long family trips for a while. She was fine when we went to Hawaii because kids were home with Grandma. Meaning, it's not like we can never do anything fun. But doubt we can talk Grandmas into pet sitting, and so any lengthy family trips are out of the question for a while. Just crossing my fingers she can handle 3 nights alone. We wanted to do a long weekend in So Cal, too. It's up to kitty.

All that said, can maybe maybe sweet talk my parents into visiting kitty for one day, to help.

Growing up, we always had outdoor cats, so few made it to the old and feeble stage. My indoor kitty is a very different responsibility, as she ages.

Plus, kitty was abandoned when she was 2. We then adopted her. She has serious separation issues. Though in the past we could leave her a week and she'd be fine. She gets overly stressed though, I am sure. These days her body doesn't handle the stress so well. Wish I could communicate with her: "We will be back - we always do come home!" IF we left her anywhere else, she'd flip. It's bad enough to put her in the car for a move or a trip to the vet.

San Francisco Day

May 22nd, 2011 at 09:12 am

Since BM had several track meets in a row, we were kind of tracked out. That said, this last meet we figured we could get out very early and since it was right by SF, make a day of it. Dh wasn't into the idea, so I was either brave or crazy, and decided just to take the kids myself.

Thankfully, the trip was a success.

We decided to head to Fisherman's Wharf for the day. Though the area is obviously a tourist trap, I don't equate it as such. There is a lot to see and do for very little.

That said, I am used to transportation for one. Versus three or four. So the "many people" factor made things far more expensive, just as I find it does for vacations, etc. IT's just the one one-income limitation I noticed. I am used to traveling anywhere and not sweating this stuff. When I Was a broke college student I could afford endless travel and trips like this. But, I was just paying for me - not for four people.

So, the damage:

$32 public transport for 3
$18 lunch at Subway
$30 Dinner at Ghiradelli
$5 bridge toll
$2 Musee Mechanique (quarters) + kids brought own quarters
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$87 - Ouch.

Could have easily been a $25 day for just Moi! OF course, packing more food could transform the day into a very frugal adventure, in comparison. I always find that food is the BIGGIE since we are so used to eating very well for very little, at home.

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It's ironic, but we have been crossing off some long overdue "To Dos" with all these track meets. I had been meaning to take the kids to SF, forever. We always talk about driving up early some Sunday morning (I know a free parking spot - if you get there early enough). But - just have never made it.

As for today? Absolutely nothing planned. Is next weekend a 3-day weekend, too? Nothing planned.

Aaaaaahhhhhhhh... The pool will open, and I look forward to some R&R at home.

Jury Duty

May 20th, 2011 at 01:03 pm

I got jury duty. Sort of.

I didn't remember the last time I was called for jury duty. Apparently, it's been 7 years - I figured out.

Anyway, I read it over and the same rules apply. Sacramento county is actually pretty easy to get out of jury duty. I am the sole source of household income and my employer doesn't pay for jury duty. (He despises it - but to be fair - it does really disrupt his SMALL business). For other employees, I have heard him get really upset. They live in other counties and can't get out quite that easy.

So, I got a letter from my boss confirming he won't pay me, and sent off my excuse already.

Dh has been excused a couple of times as sole provider of unpaid childcare to his children.

I certainly wouldn't mind jury duty if I could afford the loss of income, and if it wouldn't freak out my boss. I think we are getting to the point where dh could handle it. (Daycare is no longer an insane expensive consideration. Likewise, how to find quality care just for jury duty??? These days we have more options and kids are at school all day any how).

That said, as I read the "acceptable excuses" I asked dh if he was working 5 hours a week if that would count. We were just talking about him looking for work, yesterday. So, maybe resetting the jury duty clock isn't a bad thing while dh eases into employment. I don't want to have to not check the box because dh makes a few hundred dollars a month. IT's not like we can live on that, much better than $0. Wink

They never really call me much. I am trying to recall if this is #3 or #4. I think I might have been called once to jury duty, but then they never actually pulled my number to show up at court. When I Was 19 or 20 I got called in, but the guy/accused confessed, and so they sent us home. Last time was same excuse as this time.

I actually find the rules kind of interesting. It always bugged me a bit that unemployment was so individual and unrelated to household income. Dh took unemployment last he was unemployed and looking for work. Why wouldn't he? But I can't say I would complain if he was ineligible due to the fact that we could easily live without his income. & thus becomes the issue with many welfare programs. Casting a wide enough net without casting too wide.

Jury duty struck me as kind of opposite. Sole income earner gets an easy out. But, what if I contributed 95% of the income? I suppose I could plead my case at court. But no automatic out, there. IT struck me as opposite because most people I know would be financiall devastated if they lost work for a few days (even with a working spouse).

To Heat or Not to Heat?

May 18th, 2011 at 07:30 am

I turned up the hot water last night - back to winter levels. It was getting chilly. Will turn it back down in a couple of days, ideally.

I'd probably survive, but knew the air would be cold this morning. (So, probably needed hotter water in the shower).

The house was about 67 degrees this morning. IT's comfortable (I don't even have slippers or socks on at the moment). BUT, I was worried another cool night and we'd have to flip on the heat.

No need to fear. Weather calls for 80 degrees tomorrow. Well, okay then.

It's been raining cats and dogs. So unusual for this time of year - this colder rain. I just feel like huddling under a blanket with some hot chocolate.

80 degrees tomorrow? Are you kidding me? Wishy washy weather!

Thankfully it looks like we won't have to turn the heat on in May. Usually we have the air running by now... Don't get me wrong - I am enjoying that we haven't had a 100-degree day yet. Big Grin But I think my body is just really confused - feels like winter.

Speaking of mortgage chips...

May 17th, 2011 at 08:42 am

Thanks to MyMoneyBlog - I just found an easy way to make $500.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-card-new...

I haven't seen an offer this enticing... Ever???

Dh signed up for an AmEx last year and got a free kindle and a $100+ Amazon gift certificate.

I'd probably put this $500 cash to the mortgage. I was about $1,000 short of my goal, and this is an easy way to make up the difference. All I have to do is sign up for a credit card, and charge everything for 3 months. Our health insurance alone will get us 70% of the way there. (Spend $3k in 3 months).

There is a high annual fee. Will close the card the second the reward check clears. That's how we do it!

This may turn out to be a lucrative credit card reward year. I expected $600 in ROTH deposits with our Fidelity card. This may lower the Fidelity amount to $500-ish (if we don't use it for 3 months). Add $500 cash, and we will hit $1,000 in cash rewards this year. I'll apply since I think dh already has several Chase cards and I haven't applied for a cc just for a one-time promotion in at least 1 year - maybe 2 years. I haven't seen anything very enticing in a while.

Woohoo!

Nickel & Dimed

May 17th, 2011 at 07:32 am

I think it gets better in the higher grades. I got an e-mail recently from a 2nd grade room parent: "Do your own gifts!" IT was the teacher's birthday or something.

Don't get me wrong - both the kids have AMAZING teachers and I am sure they deserve to be spoiled a bit. I have mostly played along when it comes to the extravagant group gifts throughout the year. But, the Kinder e-mail was asking for a ton of stuff for some big year-end party (complete with entertainment and bouncy houses) and then asking $20 for a teacher gift. The thing was this person really wants to get her an airline ticket. I don't know why. We contributed for Christmas but only 1/3 or 1/2 of the families contributed. So, if I Really thought she'd get an airline ticket, and she really wanted one - then sure, whatever. But I don't see it happening. I wrote her back and declined (so she could plan ahead - I doubt anyone else will let her know ahead of time they don't plan to contribute).

I am gifted out. I think it's a bit much.

Lest I feel like I scrooge, dh told me he planned to get her a really nice Scholastic voucher anyway. Will be free for us, while very valuable and useful to her. Now I can honestly tell room parent that "We already got her a gift."

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I got a $13 insurance refund. I have $2 in my checking account. I probably need to buy another set of aerobics classes ($30) and may need some cash for San Francisco this weekend. With all the mortgage chips I have just been paying the mortgage after the first of the month. Though I use my 16th paycheck to pay it, it kind of works out to pay it after the 1st of the following month. Then I don't have to rush to deposit my paycheck on the first - a few utilities, and piano lessons are due right away.

So, anyway, I could probably really use that $13 for other things, but I will just add it as a mortgage chip. The insurance was already paid and I wasn't expecting a refund. It will work out.

That said, I may back down on the mortgage chips through summer. Seems to be more travel and stuff like this. More cash expenditures, etc. Summer will be over in a blink, and then back to aggressive mortgage chipping.