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Archive for October, 2011

The Secret to Losing Weight

October 31st, 2011 at 12:53 pm

The secret to losing weight?

Eat at home. Cook your own food. Don't order food To go and don't eat at restaurants.

I think that is as simple as it gets when it comes to a weight loss plan. The irony is that we don't really follow any diet guidelines (er, fads). There is nothing uber healthy about our food choices. We don't cook everything from scratch - we make a lot of food we can throw together quickly. I do admit that we don't drink a lot of calories. (Mostly drink water - ocassional soda and juice, beer, wine, hot tea). I am not scared of white bread, white rice, carbs, red meat, or butter.

Anyway, I was astounded when I became pregnant with BM, dh got laid off, and he took it upon himself to whittle our food bill down and home cook all our meals. He lost 10 pounds in just a few months. For reference, he was underweight to begin with. He might have easily lost 8% of his body weight. (I didn't lose weight, overall, because I was pregnant. & I have horrible horrible eating habits, to boot). But yeah, that was VERY eye opening.

I've since noticed that every time I eat out a lot, I tend to notice it on the scale before I notice it in the checkbook. But there is a very specific correlation there. Every time we spend too much eating out, the scale is not very nice to me!

Anyway, October hasn't been pretty. I have been at a very nice/low weight since about the time we went to Hawaii last year. I think #1 - I was in great shape back then. & #2 - my metabolism returned somewhat back to normal post surgery in January. ("Normal" for me is a pretty high metabolism - much like dh). But this month I gained an easy 6 pounds or so. I was horrified by the scale this morning, after returning from Napa.

Gee, what have I done but eat out this month? On vacation for a week - no access to home cooking. Then, eating and drinking wine all weekend? Ugh.

The irony is that I am not exactly sure what it is. I mostly ordered tap water while eating out (just as I would drink at home). I had THREE meals this past week that were obviously big portions and so I took the leftovers to eat later. I don't feel like I was eating big portions. I had a salami sandwich for lunch and dinner last night (half sandwich for each meal). I had a wrap at Mimi's last week that I ate in two sittings - was filled with veggies, etc. I mentioned the burrito I turned into 3 meals because it was so HUGE. I only drank the equivalent of 2-3 glasses of wine, all weekend. There is no real apparent difference between the kinds of food I eat at home and in a restaurant, but geez louise my body sure can tell the difference.

For November? I am just going to eat at home, thanks. It makes ALL the difference.

I probably should have called this, "The Secret to Losing Weight AND Saving Money!"

This & That

October 27th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

**Heard in my house recently: "If you can't behave/listen, no more online math for the rest of the week!" Yes, I had to giggle when I heard dh say that to BM. No extra-curricular school work if you can't behave! Well, the threat worked...

On top of that, he has been going to math club 2 afternoons a week - also threatened. The math/accounting genes apparently run DEEP in our family. (Dh's family has a number of mathemeticians, and my family has a lot of CPAs. I've never thought of BM as a CPA type, yet, but this ordeal made me wonder).

**Interesting updates on my car. It was making a burning smell, with no other problems. The transmission fluid wasn't *low* but was close to low. So I put about a half quart in yesterday. It didn't do the burning smell thing on the drive home, like usual, BUT it had really cooled off yesterday. It has only been doing the "burning smell" when I drive home after the car sits in the sun/heat all day at work. (I have been trying not to drive it too much otherwise). So, I think it is likely the car didn't even get very hot on the drive home yesterday. Will keep an eye on it.

I also noticed, to my relief, that a little plastic piece had broken off some part of the engine. It didn't really do anything useful, and the assumption would be that it just fell out onto the ground. BUT, it would sure explain the weird burning smell every time the car heats up to a certain point. I looked around the engine for a long time and couldn't find it. But, I am thinking it is very likely that is the issue. Will see...

**Tons tons tons of road work being done in California. We have taken note not to drive between here and family at night - unless we want to sit in road construction traffic for 50 miles or so. So, anyway, I just read they are re-paving the stretch of freeway that I commute every day (about a 10-mile stretch). Long overdue. I saw specifically in the accouncement that all this was part of an effort to give more work to construction workers out of work, etc. I have mixed feelings about it. Sounds great, but where is the money for all this coming from???

**I bought some stock. Hell froze over and I bought stock!!! Actually, dh wanted to buy some netflix. It was a little deja vu from when we lost thousands in tech stocks. He seemed awfully bullish, and I was skeptical. BUT, I told him I didn't mind the opportunity to invest in stock without an official broker broker. (We never have - I would be prepared for some last minute stock buy if I ever get the itch - if I went through the process now). I also read equal parts "netflix is the worst investment every" to "buy buy buy" so I figure that's probably about as good as it gets. (If everyone things you should buy, it's probably overvalued, and it the majority thinks it sucks, it's probably a bigger gamble than I'd take).

I think this was a good reminder to invest in what you know. Like we couldn't have made a killing off of apple or amazon the last decade - you know? I am telling myself to pay attention on Facebook to what EVERYONE is talking about. Obviously hindsight 20/20 makes it appear easier than it is, though.

The agreement was we could put 1% of our portfolio in netflix, if dh agreed to keep his ears open - he pays far more attention to the news than I do.

& if it goes terrible, I know it will be 10 years + before dh asks me again. He was admittedly far more humble this time around.

My generally feeling is that I am pretty burned on individual stocks. (I am always reading in the newspaper how the dart board picks always win the carefully picked stocks, for one). BUT, my grandfather and father have made a good haul with some pretty good stock buys over the years. Since we will likely inherit some of their good fortune at some point, I mostly feel like, "Let's quit while we are ahead." Kind of the same way I feel about California real estate. If we mostly stand to inherit California real estate, and put most of our money into a house here already, why would I put MORE money in that basket?

I bought NFLX through Fidelity. My first choice would have been Vanguard, but I had to open a seperate brokerage account to do so. Bah! T Rowe was the same way. Fidelity let me buy stock the moment the fancy hit me. Their cost was the same anyway. We need to buy more stock to make a seperate account worthwhile. Maybe, eventually.

ETA: I also bought some Amazon. Mixed the mark a bit because I don't know what I Was looking at but didn't see the below-200 price when I checked it earlier this week. My dad mentioned it as a good buying opportunity and I agreed with the small price dip that still remained. I think the kindle fire will be hot, and Amazon is a GREAT company anyway.

Rewards Update

October 26th, 2011 at 01:25 pm

I was pleasantly surprised to see dh's 10,000 points from Citi. (He called to cancel card last week or so and they said they would give him 10,000 points if he stayed 1-2 months longer. I guess technically he only had to stay 1 week? I checked because the credit card month closed yesterday)

I also caught on "my moneyblog.com" that Citi card has amazon gift cards. I didn't see them before. So I had my "doh" moment since I bought some other card and sold it for Amazon at 95 cents on the dollar. Last time...

I found it. It wasn't under "retail" so I didn't see it last time. Rolleyes There really is an Amazon reward! So I decided just to redeem $100 Amazon for myself. If dh got the e-mail code, we can put Citi back on the *kill* list.

2 other credit cards close next week. Should get:

$250 amazon gift cards from Chase
$300 gift cards from Citi

From Citi? Maybe zappos, kohls, and some cards I can trade in for cash. I can top off my mortgage goal with nearly $200 in cash. I buy new tennis shoes every couple of years on zappos - so next ones will be FREE. & I just love shopping at Kohls!

I'll pay off the $1500 Citi balance next week, too, and then ALL Of the cards can go back to the *kill* pile. (All the rest are done with - paid and done - waiting for rewards).

I see the end! Unless Citi/Chase offers dh more rewards. I don't expect Citi to offer squat to me.

UPDATED TALLY:

$1230 cash (Chase Sapphire $1030 + Chase Frdm $200)
$1580 gift cards (Citi $500 + SW $515 + SW $565)
$ 500 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex)
$100 gift cards-Amazon- Citi for trying to close card
$300 gift cards Citi (may change some for cash)
-$99 annual fee (SW card)
+$99 annual fee refunded when closed card
-$69 Fee (SW card)
*Will they refund this one too?*
-$23 lost value for exchanging some Citi gift cards for cash and amazon gift cards
-----------
$3618 TOTAL
-----------

I expect to hit $3700 because we get 1% cash back on our CU visa, at the end of every year, & I expect we will get an annual fee refund from Southwest. I read somewhere those are usually pro-rated. (I've mentioned I've never paid annual fees before so have no experience in that category. I didn't mind paying those fees for these kind of rewards. Getting them refunded is just an unexpected bonus).

We always take advantage of credit card rewards/offers, but this is some huge annual record for us. The credit card companies were very generous this year!

ETA: Received Amazon gift cards today - $300 from Southwest. So, was a very fruitful rewards day!

Rewards - Out of Limbo

October 25th, 2011 at 02:04 pm

Citi's secure messaging system is really wonky. I remember having issues before. I replied to say, "Hello???" from my Friday request and it disappared into thin air.

SO, I e-mailed them again - copy and pasted - said no one answered me before. Eventually both those messages showed up as "Sent." Though they didn't show up for a while - they were in la la land somewhere.

So then I get a reply that they will get back to me in 2 days. BUT, if you scroll down I See a reply dated 10/21 that I SWEAR was not there this morning. Reply = DENIED.

I tell you, Citi does not like me! Whatevah.

It kind of simplifies things. I have to spend $16 by the end of the month. I've got 2 months of health insurance on there, and lunch today. I wasn't sure if van gas would be enough. Will fill up the tank this week, and hopefully get my $300 reward next week. No extra $200. Somehow I will survive. Big Grin

Kind of relieved I don't have to pre-pay another month of health insurance to get the extra reward...

Once I get my reward I will QUICKLY shut down this card. They don't want my business? What does it matter - you know I wasn't going to keep it anyway. It's just been kind of funny how they practically kiss dh's feet, while being pretty "meh" as far as me.

P.S. It is kind of mind boggling because I offered to spend $1000 more to get the rewards. So, basically, THEIR loss. "No, we won't give you any incentive to keep your card longer and to spend more money."

Paid the bills...

October 24th, 2011 at 06:54 pm

*Yawn*

Mostly in limbo while I wait for a response from Citi. They really don't seem to care much for me. Rolleyes Like, they seem to bend over backwards for dh. But when it's me, they can't even get back to me. I gave them the benefit of the doubt with the weekend, but this is getting ridiculous. They told me on Friday they'd get back to me in 24 hours. Will e-mail them again tomorrow (asking for more rewards).

Waiting for other cards to close for the month, to see if rewards points posted, etc.

When I was in Quicken I decided I should pay the online bills from checking - since November is coming up very darn quick.

I paid $340 to piano teacher, gardener, PG&E, County sewer bill and HOA. County is every other month. Some real exciting stuff there. Other than that, just the mortgage (next week when I get my paycheck) and pay off all the credit card bills at the end of next month - can't pay those until I know the final amounts for October. I should say that I *set everything to pay,* for next week. Automatic payments drive me batty. I like to leave the process somewhat non-automated.

I looked at everything closely yesterday and told dh I didn't think we had any money to spend in Napa this weekend. Not that we probably won't do one semi-nice dinner (funded by another account). BUT, when I paid the sewer bill I remembered my mom is sending me a check for her half the cell phone bill. She just sends it every other month - no particular reason - but works out perfectly with the one odd *every other month* county sewer bill. Then I remembered MIL was sending me a check for piano lessons and I had put that $100 to the mortgage. Doh. I just found $200 for the weekend. Woohoo! Well, will see what else comes up. Will maybe consider a $100 Napa budget, and at this rate MIL will probably slip us some cash, too (& we might just use that so we don't have to spend any of our money). We are mostly looking forward to the vegging out in our nice free hotel/hiking and beautiful landscape angle. But $100 can buy us some very decent meals.

Extra $200? Probably from reduced grocery bill since we were gone one whole week. Auto gas was nothing this month, post trip. Figured we'd give the cars a break after all that driving? Should probably put the $200 back into savings to cover vacation expense overages, rather than spend it on more vacation. I was just excited to find money I had forgotten about. Big Grin But reality is the credit cards close next Thursday (versus Monday the 31st - my month is a little long) and something will probably come up.

All this money reimbursing back and forth does make things more complicated. Oh well! I will adjust.

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Tomorrow I am meeting my friend and the culinary institute for lunch. $10 for 3-course meal and soda or ice tea. I will probably treat since she took care of my cat while we were gone. I don't think I told my dh yet - he will be jealous!! We will have to have a lunch date there also, some time in November.

Free Stuff

October 22nd, 2011 at 02:39 pm

First, with all the gimmes that piled up at the end of last school year, I mentioned I should just say no to everything (this year) and put it to my mortgage. Irony? No one has asked for money, really. Maybe the economy is catching up with everyone. Phew!

No one has asked for a penny for soccer this year. Last year it was money for banners, coach gifts, on and on and on. (Er, they did ask for spare change - I don't carry cash or have change, so oh well!)

& then BM's 3rd grade class asked for $3 for Halloween. I think this is a new record low for money requests. I figured I'd send in $5 because someone probably won't send in anything. But, I won't gripe over $3.

Did the first grade really ask for NOTHING this year? They have asked for stuff, but none of this, "I bought a $200 gift for the teacher and you owe me $10" crap. I really don't recall any cash asking.

It's nice to see everyone dialing it down.

--------------------------------------------------

Walgreens has some nice photo offers that expire today.

11 x 14 posters are $1.99. Limit 5 coupons per account - something like that. My dad just went on this photo shoot field trip (was for fall foliage - but ended up more winter landscape). Anyway, I just asked my dad to send me full resolution on a handful of pictures, and to pick one more of his own choosing. I only had one full res picture here that I really wanted - from camping trip in July. This gorgeous picture I was thinking of getting a poster of at some point. So I ordered that one. They unfortunately don't print posters at the Walgreens I can WALK to. But, oh well. One minor drive and $2.15 with tax. Full price is close to $10, so not bad. I may end up buying some frames, but the pictures are GORGEOUS and practically free.

Also, free 8 x 10 photo collage, as usual. The DSi that dh bought and I mentioned has a camera and all sorts of photo effects. I will make a very silly collage for the kids. I am going through their pictures and some are just hilarious - others are really pretty with kaleidoscope effects - I should post one of them so you get the idea. Only down side is resolution is not that great - so no posters of any crazy kid pictures. But the collage will be perfect!

Here is some DSi art work:



I have no idea what this is - but it is pretty:



Rewards, Rewards, Rewards

October 21st, 2011 at 01:39 pm

The rewards Gods LOVE me this week. (Yes, I am sick of the subject too, but holy crap!)

My reward card just bumped up bonus by about $200 for new applications. I will e-mail Citi this weekend and ask if they will give me the new reward, since I have only had the card a couple of weeks before this shinier new offer came along.

Big Grin

If they approve, we will be getting to the point of about $3700 in rewards for 2011. I'd probably chuck the extra $200 to the mortgage and be done with that goal. Mortgage goal 2011 largely funded by rewards - no need to touch savings. Woohoo. This I did not foresee!

It will be tricky to reach points since I might have to spend $1000 more to get said points. Card is in my name only. The only thing I really pay for is health insurance. (Dh charges up 99% of our variable expenses - and the utilities are not big enough to make much difference). But, I can probably figure out something. A bunch of insurance is coming due, for one. I'd probably rather charge a couple of big things rather than take the hassle to move little things around. Regardless, I will be pre-paying some expenses in the next 2 months. I will be jumping through some extra hoops to get my points ASAP, but I suppose I Feel it is worth it because I expect this to be our last rewards frenzy for 2011. (But, who knows).

For reference, minimum wage is on the high side here. I'd have to work about 10 hours a week all year round to make that much money, minimum wage. Like a second job or whatever. Holy Cow.

This is the perfect example of MY kind of frugal. Other people see it as deprivation (frugality in general). I just see extra money practically falling from the sky. Big Grin

--------------------------------------------------

Dh wanted to buy his parents a kindle, and we decided to buy my mom one too. We also will get the Kindle Fire for ourselves, and dh got some new DS for the kids - DS3?. We bought a few other things, and still have enough amazon gift cards left over to easily fund Christmas and then some. Not that we buy much for Christmas - I think all these kindles will be the bulk of it. I've got amazon gift cards coming out of my ears, basically. All things Kindle and amazon will be free, with all these rewards.

--------------------------------------------------

P.S. Here is the link for the card. Annual fee is waived for Year 1. Spend $2500 in 3 months for $500 in gift cards. They don't have Amazon gift cards, but you can sell Wal Mart for Amazon gift cards at about $95 on the dollar, or for cash at about $90 on the dollar (Plastic Jungle). They have other retailers, too. I'll personally be stocking up on Kohls gift cards, and selling other gift cards for cash.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/citi-thankyou-premier-card-50000-...

ETA: My info may be bad because I think Mr. mymoneyblog said he was able to redeem points directly for amazon cards recently. Interesting!

2011 Goal Update

October 20th, 2011 at 11:59 am

Knock on wood, but the goals seem to be going good.

ROTH IRAs - I just checked where we were, and I only seem to be $300 short on maxing out. (I had estimated $1500 at some point, and already made a $500 deposit to lessen that shortfall). It seems likely I forgot to count AmEx deposits to our ROTH? Woohoo!

$300 from savings - will try to do before the end of the year. THAT is easy peasy. Though we won't max out until April.

Goal for 2012 is to contribute $9,000 from income ($750 x 12), earn $500 in credit card rewards, and pay 10% of overtime to get up to $10,000. Meaning, as long as I have a paycheck, it should basically be auotomatic from pay and rewards. It depends on our health insurance - I am assuming I get just enough raise to cover the usual crazy insane annual increase, and that I can stick with $750/month to ROTH. Will see...

Mortgage Goal - Goal is to hit $199,999 by 12/31.

We've gotten so many credit card rewards this year that I haven't touched savings for this at all. Since MIL just took over paying for piano lessons, I am adding $150 to the mortgage every month. This will leave me with a shortfall of about $412 to reach my goal. I expect $250 for Christmas work bonus and will apply it to mortgage. This leaves me $162 short. I doubt I will get this much birthday money, but might get $100. Birthday present to me? Extra to the mortgage! I expect I might need to transfer the last $62 or so from savings. Will see... I'd generally say that dh could make that money EASY PEASY on Amazon during Holiday season, but I mentioned before they banned all non-high-volume-sellers for the Christmas season. I could also convert upcomoing credit card rewards into cash, but I think I will leave as is since I have so little to come up with.

-----------------------------------------------------

Cash Savings Goal

I was optimistic earlier in the year that we would FINALLY hit $30,000. I suppose it is a double whammy in that $30k is a pretty solid 6-month *emergency fund* while also being a level of cash we can't seem to achieve on one income, with kids. IT's a very meaningful goal to me - one that has been very elusive - so close but so far!

Anyway, I did transfer $500 to the ROTH and had almost $1000 in medical/dental bills, so I pretty much give up this year. (& I just said I had plans to transfer another $300-$400 out to reach other goals).

But, I won't give up. I think next April will be it! Overtime bonus in April. How many times have I said that before, huh? Well, no one in my household having major surgery would be extremely helpful... So I am hoping for that. I've got about $28k in the bank, today.

More Rewards?

October 20th, 2011 at 07:21 am

I am glad I already very easily redeemed my $500 Amazon gift cards from Southwest, because dh's experience has been a real pain. For one, I know that is not always the case. & two, I know something is wrong there!

His points finally showed up yesterday (after a more thorough response from Chase e-mail - that also said he needed a new credit card to replace the old one, to straighten it out. ??? Whatever - he will cut it up and toss it!)

BUT, we couldn't redeem them. To make matters more frustrating, all their rewards were on sale yesterday!!!

The rewards are still on sale today, still unredeemable. He will call once he is up to try to order through the phone. We may be able to get $300 gift cards and have 1500 points left over. !!!

Today I e-mailed Chase and asked for those extra 25,000 points, since their phone customer service was so vague and not helpful.

I doubt we will get those points in time for this sale, but maybe I should hold off redeeming those for the next sale. I know they go on sale from time to time.

& so it goes on and on and on as more opportunities to earn more arise! If we can ever get these redeemed, we may be up $50 (for sale). Maybe I don't mind that it has taken so long to redeem - if we could have only gotten $250 before today. Big Grin

ETA: $300 amazon gift cards, shipped and on their way! What luck!

UPDATED TALLY:


$1230 cash (Chase Sapphire $1030 + Chase Frdm $200)
$1315 gift cards (Citi $500 + SW $515 + SW $300)
$ 500 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex)
$100 gift cards Citi for trying to close card
$300 gift cards Citi (may change some for cash)
-$99 annual fee (SW card)
+$99 annual fee refunded when closed card
-$69 Fee (SW card)
*Will they refund this one too?*
-$23 lost value for exchanging some Citi gift cards for cash and amazon gift cards
-----------
$3353 TOTAL
-----------

Can you stand another rewards post? & Other Stuff

October 19th, 2011 at 07:48 am

Southwest chase card - upped their bonus back to 50,000 points (or $500 Amazon gift cards - that is what I would redeem with those points!)

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/southwest-airlines-rapid-rewards-...

CAVEAT: You only have to make one purchase, but there is a $69 annual fee.

This is the card dh signed up for less than a month ago? & also, the points he earned have not transferred to Southwest after 2 weeks. SO, he called them yesterday. They were having problems with the point transfer to Southwest, so might take another week. They told dh he could probably get the extra 25,000 bonus, but had to check with the marketing department or something? I think I just send over an e-mail. Dh has been a Chase customer for like 20 years or so, so I will play that card. Big Grin

This might add $250 to the grand total, but I won't lose sleep over it if they deny me. Crossing my fingers for a nice person on the other end of my e-mail. It seems to be who you get. (& maybe I will just try again if it doesn't work the first time?)

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Nothing much else to report. Work is a wee bit crazy because someone quit last month. BUT, it isn't too bad. I think it's probably been on the slow side (slow as it has been for years - it ebbs and flows) and so I suppose I will just be more busy.

I have a great employer and am often reminded. On Facebook most of my friends who work in the same capacity have been working 14-hour days with the tax deadline that just passed. I cringe when I read that, thinking to future job prospects. I told dh I was counting on him to find steady employment because I might just have to go part-time for my sanity. He completely agreed. (Kind of like, "Like hell you are working those kind of hours!"). Last I worked at a place like that, most of the "part timers" essentially worked full-time. For the long run, that is the route I foresee for myself. I just refuse to work those kind of hours - I value my health and my family too much. If I had to do that for a year or two, whatever - I certainly have in the past to get to where I am today - but not anything long-term unless I want an early grave or no joy in my life. I do like my job, but I also like other things too! {For reference, I worked 40 hours last week}.

Yesterday I went to the bread store to redeem 2 free items. I could have left it at that, but picked up some donuts for the office, too. For free, I loaded up on those sandwich thins. I hadn't been by much lately because I hadn't made it to aerobic much lately. Maybe it's for the best that it's only convenient to load up on cheap carbs on my way to/from aerobics class - the store is way too out of the way otherwise.

I don't remember the last time I went to the gym. The gym is necessary when the temps regularly hit 100F+, but it just never got particularly hot this year. But, I still enjoy the gym in the winter, in the dark, and for the safety/security (versus walking alone outside). So I am sure I will get plenty of use this year. Just not as much summer use as usual. I am sure I will be a regular again once daylight savings is over. I am only paying $15/month, which is fine for not going all summer. Having a safe, climate-controlled place to work out is priceless to me.

Rewards Update

October 17th, 2011 at 07:37 pm

I just e-mailed Chase about dh's Southwest card because though his statement shows he earned 20,000 points, 2 weeks ago, they have yet to transfer them over to Southwest so we can redeem them. We need those Amazon gift cards for our kindle fire purchase!

Kind of annoying because it took them a few days to transfer mine, but certainly didn't take THIS long. So I know from experience it shouldn't be this long.

In other news, Chase has cut me a $99 check, and it should be here any day.

Adding the unexpected $200 for closing cards, we are at:

$1230 cash (Chase Sapphire $1030 + Chase Frdm $200)
$1265 gift cards (Citi $500 + SW $515 + SW $250)
$ 500 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex)
$100 gift cards Citi for trying to close card
$300 gift cards Citi (may change some for cash)
-$99 annual fee (SW card)
+$99 annual fee refunded when closed card
-$69 Fee (SW card)
*Will they refund this one too?*
-$23 lost value for exchanging some Citi gift cards for cash and amazon gift cards
-----------
$3303 TOTAL
-----------

STUNNING!!!

Status:

Waiting to redeem $250 Amazon gift cards from Southwest. Should be any day.

Will need to wait 1-2 months for Citi $100 bonus for not closing card just yet.

I should be able to redeem $300 Citi reward in about 2 weeks. I will pay it this off next month - I am charging $1500 this month - only made 3 charges to get there - all the rest of the cards are paid off.

I also earned $100 cash back on Fidelity AmEx since I last updated.

Clearly, most the hard work is done.

Pay Day Again?

October 14th, 2011 at 06:28 pm

I was thrown off when I realized that Monday is payday. I just got paid Monday. Vacation sped up the financial month I guess (after slowing it down initially).

I've been too lazy to pay the other credit cards and do my savings transfer. Better do it now! Paycheck will pay mortgage and regular credit card.

Chase did indeed credit me $99, but I have no idea how to get it, so I wrote them back and asked how - suggesting a mailed check would be just dandy.

Dh sold an old DS today for $40, and already sold several of the games. So, he is on track to profit $20 on the deal. (Meaning the DSi cost -$20?) That's how we do things here.

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When we went to McDs on the way home from LA, I got a free medium dries game piece. I redeemed it for lunch yesterday with a $1 Burger King burger. I was unprepared and planned to go home for lunch, but fact is $1 was considerably cheaper than gas. (I can't stand any food at McDs, but fries , and I don't care for the BK fries. So, sometime I just go to both places).

I think the fridge was much more bare than usual - no easy leftovers to grab. Next week I will need to plan better - probably no eating out and no going home for lunch. I need to pinch some pennies after vacation (& to prepare for our weekend away!) I usually try to do a lunch date with dh or friends once a week, but work will be a little hectic and so I will just work work work the next 2 weeks. Socializing and lunch dates can resume next month. The $20 or so I will save will go really far, right? Wink Maybe we can afford Taco Bell on our anniversary trip. At this point, I feel pretty confident that MIL will slip use some cash for our trip - she has been in an extra generous mood lately. It's either that or we just enjoy the ambience and eat Taco Bell. Either way is fine with us. Though I think we are partial to being EXTRA lazy and ordering room service. Assuming there even is room service - I should look that up.

More Credit Rewards

October 14th, 2011 at 07:10 am

I was 1 - 3 last night with closing credit card rewards.

I e-mailed Chase re: 2 cards to close. I did one message per card (seems they want to communicate per card - though I suppose I could have asked to just close them all in one e-mail).

Chase Sapphire was closed within minutes. Easy peasy! I loved not having to call!

I regretted giving my reasons for leaving Chase on my other e-mail. They forwarded that one to an "appropriate department." Me and my big mouth - I just wanted it CLOSED. Thought I would have to call today so I could put it all to bed.

But, they JUST e-mailed me, about 24 hours later. The Southwest Chase is closed and they are crediting me the $99 annual fee. What is that about? Is that standard when you close a card so quickly? They didn't say any reason for that. & if I can't use the card any more, how the heck do I redeem the $99? Oh well, I need a few more days to follow up on this, but the main point is this card is closed too. Phew. (I've never paid an annual fee for a credit card, so this is totally new territory for me).

Of course, I already reported that dh received $100 to stay with Citi another 2 months.

SO, between that and annual fee credit, I made $200 while closing three cards. That part I was NOT expecting. Big Grin

Chase/Citi & Citi/Chase

October 13th, 2011 at 09:33 am

I called Citi to activate my $300 rewards card today.

I set the health insurance to pay today and next week. Other than that, I just have to spend $58 to get this reward. (One tank of gas should do it).

I'll skip $750 ROTH contribution next month, and just contribute twice in December, to even it all out. I prepaid one month health insurance so I can KILL this card at month-end.

I then e-mailed Chase to close my two open cards (Sapphire and Southwest). On the phone I'd just want to get it over and done, but in writing I told them how I was happy with their Chase Freedom for years, but how they tried to charge me a fee (I declined) and how their new rewards suck. Once these cards close, I will no longer be a Chase customer. Too much better stuff out there. IT was nice while it lasted!

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I haven't been able to redeem dh's $250 Chase bonus yet, so his 2 Chase accounts will be open for a bit more. If this e-mail closing works well, will just do the closing for his 2 cards, too. He will still be a Chase customer, because he has some ancient Chase card that hasn't tried to charge him a fee. (For reference, his credit score is identical to mine, though he has had said card almost 20 years and my oldest credit line is only 2 years. I don't know why he is so attached to that thing).

In the interim, I will have him close his Citi card ASAP.

So, yeah, I closed Chase and am waiting to finish with Citi. Dh will close Citi and will wait for Chase.

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Citi sent me my FICO score with my new card. If they did so for dh, I didn't notice!

Official FICO - 785. Not bad considering I just opened like 5 credit cards, and that it's not the first time I have done so. Ever since having a mortgage, paying bills on-time seems to account for 99% of FICO. I do just about everything else *wrong.* I can't say I'd have the patience for FICO if I Really had to jump through a ton of hoops to keep a nice high FICO.

I look forward to getting rid of these infinite credit card accounts, for one.

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ETA: FOR WHATEVER REASON, CITI *REALLY* LIKES MY DH. THEY GAVE HIM 10,000 POINTS TO STAY 1-2 MONTHS. THAT'S GOOD FOR ABOUT $95 AMAZON GIFT CARDS. HE COULDN'T SAY NO - NEITHER WOULD I.

THE REWARDS KEEP ADDING UP.

Nintendo DSi

October 12th, 2011 at 08:24 pm

I came home today and dh felt so bad about BM's day at the dentist, that he bought him a DSi.

I said, "What?"

HE said, "Oh yeah, I took $80 from the ATM for it."

"Double what???"

Actually, it turns out the DSi is ultra cool. They were all excited to show it to me, and I Was less than interested. But it has a camera and a microphone, and the game they were playing was beyond hilarious. Okay, so they hooked me fast.

In the end, not so bad. Dh paid $180 for the DSi and a pile of games. HE intends to sell all the games for $160 (still has some time before Amazon disallows non-major sellers for the holidays). Plus, he will sell one of the old DS's that we have laying around. In the end, that makes it FREE!

Free DSi - what the hell.

I share because this is the perfect example of getting something for nothing, or the beauty of buying slightly used things. In the end, dh just got a lucky game deal today. It's been a pretty SLOW year, so good timing!

Oh, and the Nintendo DSi retails new for $150.

Mid-Week Update

October 12th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

**I did finish my book. Got absolutely no reading done on vacation, for the most part. Maybe first night? So, finally finished it last weekend. I need to re-evaluate my reserved books and go from there. Sookie Stackhouse series is kind of boring because so far is pretty loyal to the HBO series Tru Blood. So, I already know everything. My friend told me it is very different, but not sure it is really going to be my thing anyway. All my books came due at once, but probably nothing else in the queue. November is a really slow month here and good for reading, so I need to get on some library waiting lists.

**N0-Cable Update? Nothing to report - we still watch most all the same shows - just watch them differently. There is nothing life changing about this except for savings TONS of money. Big Grin

**Monday I ran to the CU after work to drop off my paycheck. I was all annoyed it looked totally closed up though the hours clearly said 5:30. Doh - stupid holiday! Holiday for who? Just the post office and the CU I guess? I guess the kids took their day off Friday instead. No one else seemed to be on holiday, in my own circles.

**Tuesday: dh ran to the CU for me, so I Was able to make a big mortgage payment. Vacation delayed my paycheck by one week. The holiday delayed its use for an 8th day. But, this is why I never cut things close. (I've technically still got 5 days or so to pay the mortgage - holiday schmoliday).

Made a killing at the bread store. Hadn't been there in a long time. Got 12 hoagie buns for $1. Will add meatball sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches, and/or sausage sandwiches to the menu, perhaps? Lots of options. Also good to make garlic bread. Donuts were free. I had just stopped by for sandwich bread and a "soft treat" for BM. Got some donut holes for him, fig newtons, and sandwhich thins for myself. Did not forget the plain old bread. $8 spent.

**BM has a big dentist appointment today for a tooth pulling and some retainer/appliance thing (mostly already paid for). They are doing more preventitive work than I had, but I welcome the technology and hope he doesn't have braces for like a decade, like I did. (I did have a ton of teeth puled, so that is same old, same old).

IT's not all bad - the dentist commented that *LM* had very straight teeth. He must get that from dh. He does have one extra tooth, but they aren't concerned about it. No extra permanent teeth. That said, he has yet to lose a tooth, which is kind of weird. BM got teeth late and lost teeth late, but LM Was kind of normal and has been even longer to lose them. Guess everyone is different! He also has my jaw, which probably means surgery, eventually. So, he's got his fair share of issues.

All four of us are extremely stoic anyway, so it's not like any of this would phase BM in the least. BUT, I have no idea how we ended up with this dental place. I like them and they haven't been scammy, but they have video games and all sorts of fun stuff there for the kids, so the kids LOVE going there. I'd generally rule this type place out, off the bat, for being fancy and expensive, but I have NO complaints! Who knew?

Dh and I still need to replace our retired dentist. I don't even want to go there - have been trying not to think about that. But will need to figure out something soon.

**We had a *winter storm* last week while we were on vacation. My dad went to a "fall foliage" photo shoot with some photography group. I was skeptical if he'd see any fall foliage. (It was hot summer weather right up to September 30th). He came back with some interesting photos - there was a lot of fall foliage up in the colder mountains, but also a lot of SNOW.

**Family friend was laid off a few weeks back. I mentioned briefly - he is 60. My mom was telling me something like she thought he had really grown up and was not so susceptible to all the scams he used to be. I think this was just a by product of working in one stable place with a great group of people, unfortunately. He was laid off but a week or two when he panicked and sent some work at home scam place 3 credit cards + about $20,000 cash. !!!!!! O.M.G.

It also looks like he will have to choose between the 30 year mortgage he just took on, and his health insurance. OF course he will choose the mortgage. I just don't *get* it. I obviously haven't been there and been in those shoes, but I value my financial security way too much to put a HOUSE ahead of that. I just don't get it at all. HE's going to lose his house, probably, but will hang on until the bitter end and be worse off for it. I see it every day with everyone around me, just about. For all those scamming the system and walking away for no reason, I see 10 times as many people who should have walked away and are inifinitely worse off for it.

Anyway, it is very sad. I don't think many of you need a reminder not to give away your life savings for a job opportunity, but I guess some people do. *sigh*

Vacation Update

October 9th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

We did it - Disney under $1,000. Woot!

Disneyland $236 (special night event)
Legoland $162 (kids were free)
Museums $84 (3 museums; one was free the day we went)
Parking $18 (Legoland + Hollywood street parking)
Souvenirs $80
Food $250
Gas $140
Sunblock $4
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TOTAL $974
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Some thoughts and commentary:

**Hotel was 100% free. Though we are used to free hotel stays with MIL's timeshare, it was because of her new *elite* status that we were not charged fees for taxes or parking. Yay! So literally paying -ZERO- was a nice surprise.

**We took the gas sipper and 4 tanks of gas got us there and back. We had good luck finding cheap gas. Phew!

**We'd generally spend $0 on souvenirs, but I let the kids go a little hog wild on the day we got rained out of Disney. I also really wanted to get them swords/shields at Legoland (their friends had gotten them a while back), BUT it does add up fast! (I am not sure I Would have gotten them either, but dh and I had miscommunication on the price). I hope they enjoyed because next time is probably going to be $0 budget for souvenirs!

**Food is always the biggest part of our budget when we vacation. I think this illustrates why. It's the biggest number of the bunch! & of course, it hurts to spend like 50% of our monthly food budget, in just 5 days. Ouch!

**Interestingly, we spent absolutely $0 on snacks. Last time we went to Disney it was a HOT week and I remember we were just always hungry, and buying up snacks, which did not help the food budget at all. I think you have the tendency to feel hungry when thirsty and also need that extra jolt of energy. This time we brought TONS of snacks from home (I was more aggressive in sneaking them into the parks) and barely touched them. Figured! In fact, all we bought while we were there was some sunblock (Was forgotten at home and only needed it one day). Food was strictly bought for lunch and dinner. Hotel had continental breakfast. We only went through our piles of snacks in the car. I couldn't tell you why - we all have huge metabolisms and usually have to eat more often. I am surprised what a difference the cool weather made. We were probably not used to eating such hearty lunches.

**I am personally not opposed to TV watching in the car. If it keeps the kids happy on a long drive, whatever. I certainly remember my parents torturing me on long drives through half the united states when I Was kid. I would have loved a TV to help pass the time!! But, the kids are pretty good at traveling (used to many 4-hour roundtrip drives to see family). & though a TV in the back would be nice for them, it doesn't do much for those of us in the front seat or specifically for the driver. SO, our main entertainment was audio books borrowed from the library. Between that, sleeping and video games, I didn't hear one, "Are we there yet???" Phew! & the trip went pretty fast for us adults, too. Dh and I always do audio books (library) on long road trips. I just think it was the first time we could all agree on something - kids were too young to appreciate last big road trip.

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The vacation budget is definitely blown for the year, but I think we did very well!

So Cal Week $974
San Francisco $100
San Francisco/Staycation $200
Camp Sacramento - 3 nights $100
Six Flags Staycation $200
Camping Trip $140
Water Park/Monterey $145
Water Park with friends $40

TOTAL - $1,899

Vacation budget is $1500. MIL gave us $200 for Disney, bringing total to $1700. At face value we are over budget by $200 for the year, but some of the gas and food can come from our gas and food budget. SO, I think we just squeezed in with our budget.

That said, we still have weekend Napa trip for our anniversary. Point is to get away and enjoy the scenery. I doubt we will spend much of any money on the trip. I don't think we care at all - the hotel is supposed to top notch and we will enjoy that.

I am expecting a $300 credit card reward in November, so may consider that to pay vacation expenses and/or to allow one nice dinner in Napa. I haven't really decided what to do with it yet, but considering I put most the rest of our substantial rewards this year to the mortgage, I can live with splurging this last $300. It is one reason we decided to go to Disney Monday night (we had also planned to go another full day if not rained out - $300).

Credit Rewards Update

October 8th, 2011 at 01:23 pm

**Just paid off dh's Southwest Chase rewards. Just waiting for the rewards to show up so we can redeem $250 in Amazon gift cards. Mine took a few days, so I will just keep checking.

**Earned $50 on Fidelity AmEx this month. We had switched back to it mid-August for ongoing rewards. With vacation and all, it's possible we will earn another $50 in October. These rewards go straight into my ROTH.

**I got my new Citi Card. Plan is to charge 2 months of health insurance. I might just pay ahead this month so I can kill this card sooner. That and about one tank of gas on the minivan should do it. Hope to earn those rewards by the end of the month.

**I plan to send an e-mail to Chase Monday to close all my accounts with them. DONE!

**Dh needs to call Citi and also to close two Chase cards. His rewards are all earned! I will wait until we get these Amazon gift cards in hand, first. I suppose he can call Citi next week and then we can e-mail Chase when we get our reward. Heck, can probably e-mail Citi, but I probably don't remember the login at this point. So many to keep track of!

I had personally wanted to get approved by Citi before I closed all my one-time rewards cards. That is done, so I can move on.

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Officially Received, between 1/1/11 and 10/10/11:

$1230 cash (Chase Sapphire $1030 + Chase Frdm $200)
$1265 gift cards (Citi $500 + SW $515 + SW $250)
$ 400 deposit to ROTH (Fidelity Am Ex)
-$99 annual fee (SW card)
-$69 Fee (SW card)
-$23 lost value for exchanging some Citi gift cards for cash and amazon gift cards
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$2704 TOTAL

**Still expecting $300 gift cards from Citi - should be able to redeem in November. One or two more AmEx $50 redemptions will ensure we hit $3,000 by 12/31/11. I am also expecting 1% cash back on our regular visa (for places that don't take AmEx). That may be another $35 or so, cash.**

***Both dh and I applied for 3 cards each for one-time rewards, so far this year. Our regular AmEx is 2% cash back on all purchases, and our regular visa is 1% cash back.***

Vacation Round Up

October 8th, 2011 at 08:01 am

I'll take a guess and say we ended up around $950. We had $700 to spend, plus can maybe squeeze $200 from the regular gas and grocery budget, so not bad. It seemed were we spending less than planned, so I didn't bother keeping track. (But yeesh, it does add up fast!).

Pictures and costs later.

Monday we drove down and thus started the theme to our "be flexible" vacation. We left around 8:30 with a 3:00 ETA. We were planning to stop about half way for a picnic at a rest stop, but the one we had aimed for was CLOSED. Oy vey! I quickly put in parks/gardens, etc. into the GPS but we were simply in the middle of nowhere. Certainly nothing the GPS could help us find. We settled for Jack-in-the-box parking lot because it was like the first place we saw. While eating and looking at their window ads, I said we should probably get some ice cream so we could get out and stretch. (There was just really no where to get out and walk around - just streets and busy parking lots). Dh happened to have a $10 gift card (credit card reward - VERY random) and so we went inside and got more food for free.

OF course LA traffic sucked, so we arrived about 4pm. Which was fine - hotel check in 4pm.

Nice surprise - didn't have to pay for parking. MIL had changed her timeshare thing to "elite" and though I expected to pay a chunk of change for their parking fee, I was excited that it was $0.

We had stayed at this hotel before, and it is just a few blocks from Disneyland. I REALLY wanted to go to Disneyland. Their night event we could have prepaid $200 for, but seemed pretty iffy to do so with such a big drive. But once we were there I REALLY wanted to go. I think dh thought I was a little crazy, but he obliged. We walked over to see if we could even get tickets. IT was about 5pm and we were in luck. IF the place was crowded it was going to suck, but if empty I knew we would have a blast. So we took the risk.

$240 and we were in! (All day would have cost $300+).

There were no lines and we rode several rides twice. The Toon Town was closed and the FantasyLand was crammed with kids. By the time we made it back they had shut down FantasyLand. Frown But other than that, we did all the rides we wanted to. LM and I were pretty exhausted by 10:00 though we had one more hour. We decided we did well and started to make our way out.

We were in the park but 5 minutes when we ran into other families from school. Too funny! Actually, several people asked us if we went to the school because we looked familiar. We didn't see anyone *we* really knew. Lord knows why we stand out so much. LOL. We thought it would be likely since many people were going down, but not the second we got there. Maybe because it was so empty. We didn't see anyone else all week but the same people near the restaurants, etc.

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Day 2 was our low key day. We slept in and went over to the La Brea tar pits and their museum. I don't think I have ever been and it was SO COOL! We got interviewed for a TV show. IT was definitely the LA experience.

We met dh's friend at a hot dog place called Vicious Dogs. Dh had heard about it, but it is not well known at all. I highly recommend if you are in the area. We had to try their bacon wrapped hot dogs. YUM.

This is near Hollywood, so we did the Hollywood thing and went to the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater, and the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. We have one in SF and we have certainly been, but the kids never had.

We drove by LA Ink since it was right by the big tourist trap. I am glad we did. I wouldn't have gone out of the way or anything, but the place looked so TINY. The building is actually on the corner, and it was kind of fun to see how TV pretties things up and makes them look different. IT looks like this tiny little crappy building on the corner. To top it off I just happened to see Kat's brother walking down the street towards the building.

IT was only Tuesday and I Was already sick of crappy food and restaurant food in general. I just wanted a giant salad, so we seeked out Sizzler. Thankfully it had a really nice salad bar. (In Sacramento we have a newer "luxury" Sizzler and it is DIVINE. This one was close enough - the salad bar did compare).

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Wednesday was supposed to be a full day at Disney OR California Adventure (or both). We hadn't decided, but Tuesday night BM's cough was acting up (he hasn't had any signs of asthma in like a YEAR, but of course I Didn't bring his inhaler and he started getting that usual cough). Forecast called for rain so we were felling pretty iffy on a big Disney day.

We decided Wednesday morning to skip it. IT was COLD and pouring down rain. Forescast called for rain ALL DAY.

I can't say I Was too upset. Disney was kind of a side/on a whim thing, and we had covered that on a discount. So, I was satisfied.

Dh had seen some signs for a dinosaur exhibit at some museum. So we decided to go to some famous donut place for breakfast and hit the museum.

http://www.nhm.org/site/

This was SO the highlight of our trip. The museum was incredible. I have been to several museums and this was by far the best museum I have ever been to in the States. They had these interactive computers everywhere and the most amazing dinosaur display (among other things). We thought we might go for a little while, but had to be kicked out at 5pm pretty much. They are serious about their 5pm closing!

For dinner we checked out a newer area closer to our hotel (Wasn't there last time). They had all the big name restaurant chains and the lines were out the door. We settled for Indian food because no one was there. We spent $70 on dinner. I was annoyed because I just wanted some supermarket fare (deli sandwich?) but dh wanted "real food."

Mental note - close walking distance is good, but unless you get there early and want to spend a lot of money, don't bother! They were all pricey chains, otherwise.

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Thursday we did LegoLand. The 7 hours that they were open was not enough. Last time we really had the impression that it was a *little kid* place, but the kids were definitely not bored. They have tons of stuff for older kids too. I wouldn't pay full price again probably, but we got in for $160 (the kids were free).

For dinner, we met up with friends and they treated. WE had a divine Thai feast (a restaurant by our hotel that we had found last time). YUM!

That night BM hit his head by the pool and we spent a couple of hours going to emergency, etc. HE is totally fine. QUITE the black eye, though.

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Yesterday we slept in and checked out the last minute possible (10am). WE can do late check out with MIL's timeshare *elite* status, but we wanted to get going on the long drive. The kids wanted McDonalds for lunch (we let BM choose in his black eye state) and we got home around 6pm. We had to stop by the grocery store for bread, so we picked up some sushi too. We decided to have hot pockets, ramen noodles and sushi for dinner. Don't ask. It was both quick and cheap. LOL.

Today we get to eat REAL food again. Oh, I am so ready for good home cooking.

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We did so good on gas. On the way down we had cringed at gas prices, so were pleases when we found $4.04 per gallon in the middle of nowhere, just before the last stretch. BUT, right after we filled up dh spotted $3.75. !!!

So, on the way back we stopped and filled up for $3.75, which had also been the price by our hotel. For reference, that is the same price as at home. Dh thought I was crazy and we were fighting about it. "Why would you fill up there? We've only been driving 2 hours." Um, so we can fill up at home again and skip all the $4+ gas. Geez Louise. For reference, he is like the cheapest person I know. But he was really annoyed I stopped so early for gas. I had to pee anyway, so was stopping regardless! All I have to say is I am writing down the place and it is the only place *I* will ever stop for gas again between here and LA. I need to remember! We could have easily paid $4.30 or so anywhere else along the way.

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Overall the trip was a pretty good success but I am SO HAPPY to be HOME and sleeping in my own bed. Home Sweet Home! Neither dh nor I really care *that much* for travel. LA has some cool stuff, sure, but I was sure sick of all the traffic and smog. & no bed compares to my bed. I just never sleep as well anywhere else. & we tire so quickly of all that eating out! Our bodies are just used to much better food.

Page 990?

October 5th, 2011 at 10:22 pm

I didn't finish my book yet, but got to the big *shocking twist.* Thing is there was so much talk about it, that I figured what was the worst that could happen? So, when I got to that point (this morning), I was rather unimpressed. "That's it? Like I couldn't see that from a mile away!"

No - actually - it's the only thing in this cray series that I did predict. But yeah, I suppose I was expecting some crazy twist. It's one of those things everyone is talking so much about, I figured it would be something bigger and crazier. I was literally like, "Is that it?" But without any warning, my dh was having a much harder time believing that it was really the end for the character. Which made me believe that it probably is. (But who knows).

I believe I have 40 pages left and lord knows when I will finish.

Of course, a third library book became available today. I've been in line forever, and then become available at once. BUT, at least this one gave me a little more space.

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Yeah, I give up on this site this week. That is all I have to update at the moment - I saw the site is up and working now. I've been very busy, so no withdrawals. Phew.

Page 880?

October 3rd, 2011 at 06:45 am

I didn't get very far yesterday. Really wanted to make it to page 900, but couldn't keep my eyes open. I didn't get a chance to read until very late.

Busy busy busy yesterday. Today won't be much better, but I may be able to finish the book tonight?

I went to the pet store to get doggy training pads (idea from MIL) to put around the cat litter boxes. The kids and I fell in love with a cute kitten there. I've often taken the kids to the pet store just to look at fish, etc. & they often have cat or dog adoptions there. BUT, yesterday was just sad. I have never seen so many cats there. Maybe 20 cats? + a small cage with 5 kittens. *sigh* I am sure it is the economy and all.

OF course, dh and I had already decided that we no longer wanted any pets again. But the kitties were pulling at my heart strings. Considering dh does not care for cats, and that is the only pet we have had, I don't think it matters. If we agree to get a pet it will be a dog. I don't care for dogs (& would be even MORE work)!

Anyway, if it was just me, apparently my resolve to not have another pet is not very strong. I wonder if I could talk him into a kitty again? Big Grin Actually, I think I just don't want a dog. But, we are in the *old kitty* stage and it is not the most carefree. It's going to be hard to enjoy our vacation, for one. I'll be worried about her - the stress when we leave is never good for her health.

Obviously the kids would love a kitten, but I don't think I could go that route either. I'd happily rescue a declawed non-kitten again. It's the only way I could really get my dh on board in the first place. Though I would never declaw a cat, I admit we have become spoiled having one.

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Anyway, so yeah, we bought doggy training pads there. Ran to the grocery store for a couple of items. I dropped off the kids an then ran to Kohls and filled up the car with gas. I spent $20 on earrings. I really just wanted to pick up a specific sweater (another color from the one I got and LOVE) but of course those were all gone. Bah! I tried on a bunch of stuff that didn't fit well, and so settled on 3 pairs of earrings. I had $10 off and 15% off - spent about $20. Was a nice splurge.

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Vacation plans are very topsy turvy. I had told dh and the kids a million times that this was the LAST trip to Legoland for a long time, because it is such a little kid place. Apparently no one truly believed me or was listening. Yesterday dh looked it up and decided we shouldn't even bother - the kids are too big for the most of it. After talking them into 2 days at Disney/California Adventure (was surprisingly easy, considering the whole reason we were going was because they REALLY wanted to go to Legoland). After that we decided to look at the price of 2-days at Disney/California Adventure. Holy Crap! (NO discount for second day. Total would be about $600). & the park hopper cost more. I'd personally rather do 1.5 days Disney and 1/2 day California Adventure, but that cost even MORE.

We are going to Lego Land. Big Grin IT cost about the same honestly (which seems like a rip since it's no DISNEY), BUT we have two free tickets for Legoland. With gas, parking and everything, we still come out $100 ahead. & Legoland is certainly cool.

Hmmmm. Maybe we should have looked at the price before we told the kids. Oh well! I think we will have a nice time. Now we have to convince them back the other way.

It turns out that the Observatory is closed the days we are free. We could always stop there on the way home, but doubt we will. More plans change.

We decided to spend one day doing the really touristy thing.

By the time we got all our plans settled, dh was like, "We should have planned a bigger trip." I had to remind him that a small side trip was what our budget allowed, but if we didn't want to do anything but a BIG Disney trip next year, we could plan for that. OF course, then he told me he rather go to Disney World. Rolleyes With no airfare, Disneyland is infinitely easier for the budget - even if we went there all week or something. I suppose all else being equal we could discuss that, BUT I rather just wait for MIL to invite us again. She seems uber generous lately. (His Grandpa lives in Florida so there is a large element of wanting to see him again - it's not just the Disney thing). Our one-income vacation budget does not have room for airfare for 4 to Florida, that is for sure.

Page 750

October 2nd, 2011 at 09:54 am

I made it to page 750 in Dance With Dragons, last night.

About 50 pages behind schedule. Was hoping to have only 200 pages today to finish it.

I am not sure how, but dh got a copy of the Sookie book from the library yesterday. At some point I signed up with his library card, but I thought it was last week and it had taken 3-4 months to get it. Now I am wondering if I had requested that way back too, as a backup (with his card). Phew!

I don't see why I won't finish Game of Thrones by next weekend (worst case) and then gives me 2 weeks to read that little 200-page book. Yay!

I should probably go request book 3 & 4 in the series, now, while thinking about that one. Book 2 is available - both dh and I have a copy right now. I need to read book 1, first. Big Grin But, Book 2 is apparently easy to get. (Which may not bode well for the series, but later books had longer waitlists - I may have already requested some. So, I don't think it's a case of no one wants to read book 2).

Okay, this series thing is hard with the library!

I am on track to have read 15 books this year already. Since 4 of those were 1000+ pages, that is the equivalent to more like 20 books. I haven't read this much since I was a kid, pretty much. Totally loving the ebook technology.

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I didn't turn on the air yesterday, but I did turn on a fan, and it was really close. Basically, pure luck that dh did not turn on the air. We seem to have a 2-degree difference for tolerance. I was pretty comfortable until bedtime - fell asleep with the fan on. I rarely use the fan because A/C is probably more conservative (will cool the whole house in a very short time - we just run before bed unless it is ungodly hot). I can't say that falling asleep for 3-4 hours with the fan on was more energy conserving, BUT it was chilly when I woke up, so glad I hadn't filled the house with cool air. Then it would have just been chillier!

Today should be about the same.

Tomorrow is supposed to drop 20 degrees or something. Hopefully that is the end of A/C season.

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We haven't made it to Farmers market much this year. More like Saturdays are busy and we keep forgetting. But also, the pickings are slim this year (Wacky weather). We drove by it yesterday and I hollered, "Stop the car! I need fresh corn!"

First pass? No Corn!?! We finally found some. It was pretty good though - well worth it. The pickings were pretty slim tough. I don't know if we will be able to find "popcorn on the cob" again this year - we wanted to refill our pantry - it's so good!

For dinner I made sloppy joes, fried up some potatoes and boiled some corn.

We didn't do a big grocery run this week - plenty of leftovers to eat through. We have some meatballs and I was feeling in the mood for spaghetti tonight. Already have the pasta and sauce. I might run to the store for some garlic bread.

I don't remember the last time I cooked - dh is enjoying the break. I usually cook more weekends, but it seems in summer we have just been very go go go.

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What's in our fridge? Not much. For some reason we do have a lot of rice. We will pack up the leftovers we do have and bring them on vacation. (Not much - but we can make use of them - we tire quickly of all the eating out when we are not home). We ate the last eggs yesterday, too, for breakfast. We do seem to have a lot of cheese (feta, american, velveeta, shredded cheddar, and string cheese) and juice. Beer, boxed wine, and various jams and salad dressings. Grapes that Grandma bought and no one told me until I tried to buy grapes at Farmers Market. Big Grin We always have cilantro, lettuce, green onions and carrots it seems. BM and I LOVE salads, and dh cooks a lot with these items. I don't know why cheese seems to be our main staple? Cheese and rice?

NO A/C Challenge

October 1st, 2011 at 07:33 am

HA!

Weather is taking a rapid turn from *hottest days of the year* to winter-y type weather.

Well, I think today is supposed to be rather fall-like.

We ran the A/C something fierce in September and had several days hotter than the whole of July and August.

I am HOPING that we can turn off the A/C today, until next May.

*fingers crossed*