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The Whole Tooth

August 17th, 2017 at 03:58 pm

Yesterday was all about the teeth, thankfully not mine for a change. My DD got her bottom braces removed and is just on retainers on the top and bottom. We finished the $100 co-pay several months ago, so it won't make a difference in our outlay, but she is ready for corn on the cob. We'd scheduled a cleaning with the regular dentist a few hours later, but when we arrived, learned the hygienist was ill and we've had to reschedule. It would've been nice it they'd have called!

I haven't done a big shop since we got home, so we've been mostly eating from the freezer. On the way back from the dentist I bought a new things to fill in until tomorrow or Saturday. I'm going to try to crank the grocery bill down, especially with CSA veggies coming today. Our CSA e-mail said they're done with summer squash deliveries for the year, but we're welcome to come and glean. We just might. They're about 30 minutes from us, and while we don't really need the zukes, it might be worthwhile for all of us to visit. Plus I love the idea of gleaning--all Ruth and Naomi and that. I saw a fabulous French film a few years ago about potato gleaners that really stuck with me.

As I wrote on Patient Saver's blog, my DD earned/won several reading prizes at the library. For reading 2000 pages, she got a new hardcover she'd been wanting and was entered into a drawing for other prizes. In that drawing she'd won 7 new manga titles. She's over the moon. I encouraged her to apply for the teen council at the library too thinking it might be a way into a PT job when she's old enough, and she was accepted there as well. How fun!

I'm prepping for classes and reading capstone projects. Two read in two days means $150. I'm also going to call ATT to see if we can pare down our bill. Like CCF, I'm focused on that big goal. Towards that, I've deposited $125 from Swagbucks--mostly rebates on travel.

A Little England Review

August 16th, 2017 at 04:52 pm

Back from the UK and sorely missing it already. DH and I always sit down after trips and figure out what went right and wrong. Apart from our first-day mishap and a few rainy days without much done on the Isle of Wight, everything went very well. The car was a perfect size for the four of us, my daughter’s buddy was a great traveler if a bit overwhelmed sometimes, we saw LOTS of old friends, ate plenty of great food, and I had a glorious day to myself in London. We went to the theatre three times—the Globe, a participatory Alice through the Looking Glass, and the Bob Dylan play I so much wanted to see. I reconnected with my old colleagues and had a wonderful lunch with them.
Our best “new” thing was the great airbnbs—all so different and so fun. The London flat was convenient, in my favorite neighborhood, and large enough for all four of us comfortably. The a bit-too-small cottage on the Isle of Wight overlooked the river and sea, offered great views of fireworks and the Red Arrows, and was right next to a “floating bridge” aka small ferry connecting both sides of the river. The girls rode that free half a dozen times a day just for fun. We had a beach BBQ with friends too. The final airbnb was in a small village inside the London commuter belt but close to our friends in Windsor. The granny annex was in a gated home with spectacular views from the adorable leaded glass windows over the village church steeple and all the way to Windsor Castle. It was gorgeous and made me feel like I was living in a British novel seeing that church steeple outside the windows. Every airbnb left us coffee, tea, a pint of milk, and bread.
Now to gather myself together to take the next steps towards paying some bills, readying the bathroom for the Monday remodeling, prepping us all for school, and figuring out where to go from here. August is a nasty month for us with the next bathroom installment due along with the annual home insurance, DH’s tuition, school supplies, car insurance, and life insurance. In other financial news, DH’s siblings have sold the UK house to his brother. We’re working out payment schedules now. That cash will go into the UK savings for our home there. The village airbnb gave me a lot to think through about the costs in somewhere not quite in central London, but charming and cheaper.

How I Made $75 on a Bad Day in London

July 29th, 2017 at 10:04 pm

Hello from London! Everything's great now, but we had a bad first day. Our flight was late in Heathrow, so I started texting the airbnb host to say we'd be late. When we arrived about 90 minutes than planned, there was no one there. No answer to our texts. no response to the emergency line call at airbnb. My daughter wasn't feeling well, and I was upset. We waited and texted her for another two hours as it started to rain with us outside the flat, our huge suitcases, and two tired girls. I called some British friends, my husband called airbnb, and together we all decided the only thing to do was try to get a hotel. Happily this was my old neighborhood in London so I knew the nearby spots, and managed to wangle a room for the three of us about a mile away. We even managed to take the bus there. Later that night I got a almost panicked, very apologetic call from the host who was relying on a friend to let us in--and didn't get our texts until much later. The girls and I crashed, ate great ramen, saw the Changing of the Guard in the morning and still managed to meet someone who let us into the flat, grab a bus with the suitcases, haul them up four flights of stairs, and meet my DH on time. So where did the $75 come from? The host is reimbursing us (without my asking) for the first night. The $75 is the difference between our airbnb and the hotel cost. And we had a nice free breakfast at the hotel. Annoying--but when we got in the flat, it was great, and found a big box of chocolates and a bottle of prosecco waiting for us. We went off to the Globe last night for an absolutely spectacular performance of 12th Night. We went to a wacky Alice in Wonderland thing today and up the London Eye--which my family did a decade ago. My DH and I took a photo at Waterloo Station where we first
met. Lots of fun already. But London is expensive, so as they say--every little bit helps.

Maybe Uber-Expensive Month?

July 24th, 2017 at 09:01 pm

I just paid the down payment on the bathroom remodel and signed the contract. Yeesh--$8000. And went out to breakfast with a friend, bought various odds and ends for the UK trip, paid DD's $178 school fees, and bought a street map of Paris. All good, most necessary (not the breakfast, but it was delicious). DH and I had a long chat last night about trimming expenses in the UK. We're hoping to eat two meals a day either at the flats or picnic-style. I'm a cheap-o Londoner, so I'll put my grocery store skills to the test. I found all my British shopper cards, packed some reusable grocery bags and a tiny cool bag. My DH will carry anything in his backpack; it doesn't bother him at all while I HATE hauling stuff around. I have to remember some empty water bottles.
Anything frugal today? Free deodorant and toothpaste with various CVS offers and almost free pens at Walgreen's. Still eating through the fridge. Two days!

New Book: The Financial Diaries

July 23rd, 2017 at 04:24 am

I heard this broadcast on our university radio station this afternoon. I thought it was well worth a listen: http://wuwm.com/post/financial-diaries-profiles-budgeting-struggles-working-families#stream/0

Our First Foray

July 21st, 2017 at 06:06 pm

We're joining together with some folks from church to serve dinner at a local AODA halfway house tonight. We've talked about it for a while, but they had an emergency opening in our three monthly dinners there, so we signed up. One family is bringing chili and cornbread, another desserts, and I thought a big fruit salad and some veggies and dip would be a nice addition. It should be a good experience for all of us. I'm aware sometimes of the bubble we live in most of the time. One of our members is on the board and she has shared some amazing stories.

All of this prompted a big shopping trip to Costco yesterday for fruit and veggies. But 85% of them will go out with us tonight, and I'm helping a friend move tomorrow and will bring the rest with me then.

Packing for London now!

Drawdown Days

July 19th, 2017 at 05:04 pm

We're at T-minus six days until London, and I seem to be drawing down everything. I've moved some items from the fridge/freezer to the downstairs freezer to ensure they stay super cold while the dog sitter is here. It can be a tricky upstairs freezer drawer if you're not used to it. I'm trying hard to use up all the fresh food and excess around here--and still working our way through DH's huge purchase of six packages of sliced cheese. Luckily everyone likes a grilled cheese sandwich around here. I'm moving our clean clothes that will be packed out of the closets and drawers into the guest room to start packing tomorrow. The gift cupboard is being drawn down as I have several gifts for friends and family to pack.
I've listed "return all library books" on the calendar for the weekend. I arranged haircuts for both DD and me for Tuesday and finalized our airport transportation. Tomorrow will be an errand day as I have stuff to donate and buy. I have another colleague lunch today. Tonight I also need to doublecheck I've made printouts of all our papers, tickets, reservations, etc. I'm fretting that I didn't rent a large enough car for our countryside time. Anyone have a Jetta station wagon or know anything about their size? There will be 4 of us and four large suitcases. Do you think we need a bigger car? The rates go up quite dramatically for larger rentals, but we'll be driving to Cambridge, then to Southhampton as well as around the Isle of Wight.

Who Says There's No Such Thing?

July 18th, 2017 at 01:14 am

No such thing as a free lunch? I had one today thanks to one of my university friends who had gift certificates to a fancy French place and took a few of us out for lunch. Yum. A nice glass of Vouvray and a Salad Nicoise followed by a fruit tart divvied amongst several of us. I spent the morning with my summer teaching group discussing a book about learning styles. It's always fun to hang out with faculty from other disciplines. It helps us all. I had to pay for parking as the streets around the French place were all torn up, but it was only $1.50. And I fed the family from the freezer for dinner. I could get used to that kind of a day.

Party Time!

July 15th, 2017 at 09:01 pm

Oh my word--I wish I was one of those people who entertained without stress. My poor DD. This was her first birthday party at home in years, and she must've caught my nerves. She was awake at 1am the night before fretting over having chosen what she feared was the "wrong" flavors for her ice cream cake. She worried about the guest list; she threatened to cancel. My maniacal cleaning probably didn't help. For some insane reason she thought she should invite friends from 5-11, plus I had to drive 45 minutes south to pick up her friend who has moved. So how did it go? Fabulous. People told her it was the best cake they ever had--a Baskin Robbins Oreo ice cream cake. Four pizzas, endless bags of snacks, our new patio lights, games and chatter until their parents hauled them away. One girl slept over and they weren't up until 11. Her first party with BOYS.

DH and I sat outside for much of it, admiring our new patio lights and enjoying a nice bottle of rose'. I'm exhausted, but the whole thing probably only cost $125 or so. England in 12 days.

The Shock! A NSD Followed by a Mini-Rant

July 13th, 2017 at 04:51 am

Unbelievably, I spent nothing today. I cleaned the house a bit, weeded the front paths, interviewed a dog sitter, used lots of fridge contents, and did a textbook review.

A number of financial things occurred that are worth thinking through. I spent 90 minutes or so with my prospective dog sitter for our UK trip. She's a former London student, 24, recently graduated, and I trust her. Despite my offer to pay her $25/day for house/dog sitting, she wanted nothing. I can't do that; it's silly and she needs the cash. But she absolutely refused the $400 it should cost, and we came to terms at $250, so that's a nice savings. I know she likes Starbucks and qdoba, so maybe I'll also get her a gift card. The house cleaning reminded me yet again of how much we need a bathroom remodel. Feel free to tell me to stop fretting about this and do the darn thing. Even sparkling clean, it's a horror of 1960 pink beige tile, and there's nothing remotely retro cool about it. Spending the cash makes me queasy, but I have payback plans. And we have the cash.

The textbook review took less time than I thought. The slightly disappointing news is that they pay again with a Tango gift card. I finally used up the other Tango gift card at Target.com with the dehumidifer and iron, and Target.com is really the best place to spend it. So I'll be doing some more Target grocery shopping online come fall. I miss the Redcard 5% savings, but I guess it has to be done.

Now for the rant: I called both Chase and Citi to put a travel alert on our credit cards for our UK trip. Although I'm not a fan of the top management of either of these companies, Chase's credit card services are nothing short of wonderful. You always get a person, not a computer or roboscreener. They're always pleasant, and it's always a nice interchange.

Citi? UGH. I hate them. First, a roboscreener with horrible voice recognition. When I said we were going to the UK, it heard Ukraine. I attempted three or four corrections to no avail, finally shouting at it, and asking for a person. Yes, it was as stupid as it sounds. All I need is an international scam artist with my Citi card in the Ukraine. My DD was hysterically laughing through this transaction, and it got no better when I finally got a human. Despite my insistence that I only wanted to file a travel alert, she tried to sell me half a dozen products. I know they have to do this, so I tried to be as pleasant as possible to her, but grrr--I HATE Citi. It's always that way. I'll dump them when we get back from the UK(raine). End of rant. Onward.

About to Throw in the UF Towel for the Month

July 11th, 2017 at 09:34 pm

Sunday our basement dehumidfier failed. From my google of the serial number, it appears to be 37-years-old and was here when we bought the house. We tried a bunch of fixes, but it was a goner. Also a goner was the $179 paid for a new one.

And then DD's birthday--not lavish, just an ice cream cake and pizzas for her party. And I may've bought some patio lights at Amazon today for Friday's party. And we took her out to dinner last night and there were a few books and some cash.

And I bought some theatre tickets for London, and had a bra fitting, and bought an expensive bra there. I could go on, but it's just the wrong month for me to be UF. My next best shot is October or November. Better to be just sensible, not frustrated, and have fun.

Food and Fun

July 10th, 2017 at 02:03 am

Yesterday I stuck to my grocery $30 as we didn't need much. I got a free can of beans, and thanks to a generous soul leaving a coupon in the freezer case for skinny cow ice cream bars that doubled, I also got free ice cream bars. We did spend a bit of cash on more London tickets. I bought tickets for DD, her buddy, and me for something called Alice's Adventures Underground. I opted for the matinee to save 15GBP each which I promptly spent on tickets for the London Eye that night. We've done it before, but my DD was about 5 or 6, and she'll be 15 tomorrow.

I went to see a friend's new house today. Very cute house and I'm again amazed at the difference paint makes. I spent another 43 cents on ginger for our stir-fried pork tonight, and then came home and cleaned closets. It was actually fun. I've got some more household tasks tonight--but they'll have to wait until after Masterpiece Theatre!

Uber-Frugal Fail

July 8th, 2017 at 02:36 pm

I had meetings at the university yesterday, and I'm pleased to say that one of my spring semester students won a writing prize. DD and I had our traditional Friday summer lunch out--frugalish with coupons and a Noodles gift card we're using.

The frugal fail came at the mall. I wanted to pick up a baby gift from the Hanna Andersson store for my niece. I used to shop their outlet all the time when DD was little, and their clothes are so cute. I did fine there--and adorable jacket with a snail embroidered on it and a sale shirt. But I made the mistake of going into Loft and trying a few things on. After successfully avoiding buying anything there, I promptly went home, found everything I tried on for MUCH cheaper on their website and bought it. Granted it was less than half the store price, I got free shipping, and 2% back from SB, but I probably didn't NEED it. And it was only $64 for four things--and a black summer cardigan is useful--oh I'm going to stop rationalizing and call it a lapse.

It will be better today. I may limit the grocery spending to $30 and focus on eating through the fridge. But we need milk, eggs, berries, etc.

The 9+ hours in the car on Wednesday have made me achy, and I need a walk. I also need to iron, enter grades, and so some tidying.

Home!

July 6th, 2017 at 05:49 pm

After a very long drive from west central Minnesota yesterday, we're home safe and sound. Sometimes I think we take these long uneventful drives for granted, but about halfway home yesterday we saw a young man on the side of the interstate with his car engulfed in flames. We could hear the sirens coming, and he was quite a distance away from the car talking on his phone. What a bad day for him, but he looked unhurt. We spent about $18 on lunch, another $8 on beverages (mostly icd coffee to keep me going), and $30 on gas. I bought my favorite Norwegian lefse for a couple friends, spending $30 there. Despite packing snacks and water, we did spend a fair amount on road food, so I'm planning on an NSD today.
There's all the food DH buys when we're away to use up. That might keep us going for a week at least and we need to start to draw down upstairs freezer food before our UK trip. That should keep us uberfrugal for a few days.

I cashed out $25 in Swagbucks, need to deposit my adjunct check, pick up the CSA box and a piece of marble someone is giving away. I'll either use the marble for pastry making or in the garden. It's hot and humid here so it may be a great afternoon to spend tidying the basement.

An NSD Here

July 2nd, 2017 at 11:03 pm

It's been a lovely Sunday at the lake--lazy and full of sun. We went on a pontoon boat ride, played cards, ate marvelous leftovers. Tomorrow I'm taking the girls into town, so there will be some spending, but it's a cheap vacation when you're staying with relatives and cooking your own food.

Modified UFM for Me

July 2nd, 2017 at 04:46 am

Yep, I can only do a modified this month--I'm at my brother's in MN, and have committed to a few things here as well as DD's birthday later in the month. But we will "eat the fridge" and the pantry--and eat ALL the food. I'll be happy if I can hit 15/31 days as we leave for the UK at the end of the month.

In other good news, I got an offer for a textbook review for $300, and am still (ha!) using the Target gift cards from the last one. Today I ordered a new iron to replace the one I dropped last week and a few things for DD's birthday from Target with no cash outlay. But I did spend $30 on minigolf and dilly bars for DD, her friend, and my brother and sister-in-law.

I also cashed out $25 in SB which will go into the 100K Fund.

Successful Lunch and the End of Class

June 27th, 2017 at 02:55 am

My lunch for friends went very well, but after wine on the patio, it was too chilly to eat outside and we came in to eat lunch. Everyone stayed for hours, then I rushed off to class. I spent nothing today, but sure wish I had more leftovers. My classes are over until late August. The highlight of tomorrow is our appointment with the bathroom remodeler. That will likely NOT be a NSD.

Cooking and More Cooking

June 25th, 2017 at 10:39 pm

I'm hosting a birthday lunch for my university pals tomorrow and have been cooking in spurts all day. I also took DD and two friends strawberry picking yesterday so have made three batches of freezer jam, and have more to go. So far I've made garlic scape soup from the scapes in my CSA box, quinoa salad, and am about to embark on chicken salad with dried cherries and pecans. I've still got cake and Greek salad to throw together tomorrow, but will need to do a bit of housecleaning too.

Tomorrow is also my last evening class until late August. I will still have some capstone projects to read, but it's nice to have NO students to think about.

Any advice beside chicken wire to keep the bunnies out of my raised bed gardens? The little ones have munched their way through my pansies, Italian parsley, and any number of other things.

Rainy Night

June 23rd, 2017 at 02:50 am

We've had heavy rains all evening--the aftermath of a very muggy day.
It was a no-spend day here, and I picked up the CSA veggies, some of which went into our pasta tonight along with the garlic scapes. We have a lot of lettuce, so salad on the menu for tomorrow. I need to find ideas for the salad turnips that came with the CSA box. I'm busily dejunking my home office, and scads of paper have made it to the recycling bin. Barclays has raised their savings rates to 1.15% which will help make us a bit more cash. And I cashed $25 out of Swagbucks which went to the UK House fund. Between that and reading a few capstone projects, it's been a quiet day.

Kohl's Off/Aisle

June 20th, 2017 at 08:04 pm

A struggling strip mall near us just got a Kohl's Off/Aisle store. I'd not heard of them before but they are a sort of Kohl's outlet/overstock/return store. We popped in there a few days ago and I bought two black tees for $4 each and a summer top for DD for $6. I thought they were quite the bargains, but when I got some I found a rip in each tee--and one wasn't sized correctly. They allow exchanges, but no regular returns, so we went back today and got a pair of decent looking Lee shorts for DH and some baby socks for a gift.

I hope they make it; it was all summer seasonal things now, and while I don't see myself buying much there, it was typically Kohl's middle/low range semi-disposable clothes. The shorts for DH will be fine as will some summery tops for DD, but probably not for me.

Yesterday was a NS day; I brought snacks for during my teaching hours, and we ate fridged leftovers for dinner. I bought taco ingredients for tonight as we dodged the rain drops this morning. I plan on an easy day of reading and a little cleaning. Maybe a walk later. Time to enjoy some summer.

Wonder Woman

June 14th, 2017 at 02:38 pm

Wonder Woman was fun--DD, her BF, and I enjoyed it a lot--especially at $5 each with free popcorn. I'm not a huge fan of those comic book films, but it was refreshing to see a woman in the lead role. An added bonus for me was that I saw them filming parts of it last year in Trafalgar Square--and I recognized those scenes in the film. DD and I went for a long walk, made stuffed shells for dinner, and I started my office cleaning. I'm going to get more of it done today. The movie was the only spending yesterday.

Sending out thoughts and prayers to the folks affected in the big apartment block fire in London and the congressional shootings at the baseball field in the Washington area.

A NS Day!

June 13th, 2017 at 03:00 pm

Oh, the shock it--I spent NOTHING yesterday. DD and I went for a hot walk, ate our semi-successful mason jar salads ( PSA: Use a wide-mouth jar unless you want to wear that salad), did a library run, and then I taught/counseled/urged/cheered on/goaded my evening class. Two more class nights left, and still my ex-con student is my clear favorite. Last night's line after trying to teach APA citation: "I'm going to stay here tonight, Miss, until I get it. If they have to throw me out of the building, I'm going to figure this out." We won't discuss the one who left with his work undone.

I've been again running Swagbucks in the background while I read papers. They're starting to add up again. Anyone have a good tip for high online savings rates? I see Barclay's has 1.05%, but I read somewhere that some online rates are as high as 1.25%.



Random London Tips for Monkey Mama

June 12th, 2017 at 03:22 pm

OK, Monkey Mama, here we go:
TRANSPORTATION
First, get an Oyster card for transportation at Heathrow or Gatwick. The tube station at Heathrow has them, and you will be happy you did. They can be used on the bus, tube, and various other places. ‘ You’re probably planning on walking a lot, but your feet will get tired. And people walk VERY fast except for tourists who stop at the bottom of the escalator and in other inopportune places. When they say stand on the right on the escalator, they mean it.
The tube is easy, but crowded and you don’t see much except people’s armpits. I much prefer the bus when you have time. The site tfl.gov.uk is your friend for all transportation planning. Black cabs are expensive and don’t get in the non-licensed minicabs. Uber is around, but the bus in non-rush hour is great. I’d skip the tourist buses and try one of these. http://www.londonforfree.net/bus-tour/ or http://londonist.com/2016/02/london-s-10-best-bus-routes. That “Londonist” site is great for daily things happening.
SITES
The biggies for me are
• Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament—come out of the Westminster tube station for maximum (AH!) effect. Then walk along the river after that.
• Trafalgar Square. It’s the geographical epicenter of London. Best bus there is the #24 or Charing Cross tube. The steps to the National Gallery are “my spot.” Look down across the square and you can see the river and Big Ben. I saw them filming Wonder Woman there last year. Go to the National Gallery if art is your thing and say hi to my Caravaggio. Free tours frequently—check out their site. Next door is the fun National Portrait Gallery, also free. Everything from authors, to rock stars, royalty, and a beautiful portrait of David Beckham  Both have cafes and fancier restaurants—including a rooftop one. Expensive for my budget so I eat at Pret a Manger across the street or at St Martin’s for lunch. They often have a free lunchtime concert too. The Chandos pub has lunch upstairs and nice beer as does the Sherlock Holmes on Northumberland Avenue.
• The Eye is worth it, I think, but book ahead. For views I’d skip the Shard and book ahead at the Skygarden. They have a normal priced coffee shop in the morning and it’s got a nice vibe in the evening for cocktails. But you have to book. It’s near the Bank of England, and the morning rush hour in Bank station is my idea of hell. But I think you’re staying close by? Walk over. It’s also close to Leadenhall Market—Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
• It’s probably worth watching the Changing of the Guard once at Buckingham Palace. Watch your wallets etc in those crowded spots and on the tube. I have never had a problem, but summer is full of tourists and offers more chances for pickpockets.
• I love the Southbank—the Globe Theatre (tours!), the National Theater—heaven—and they all have food available. Sit outside, walk, have a beer. I also like the George—from the book Shakespeare’s Local. It’s not far from Borough Market and Southwark Bridge. Despite the recent tragedy, I’d still go to Borough Market. It’s fun.
• The British Museum and all those Museums. They can be overwhelming. Go to the tours at the British Museum. My favorite wine place is just around the corner.
• The Green Spaces—London is justifiably proud of its parks. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are lovely. I also like Regents Park and you can walk along the canals.
• I like Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms, but we are history geeks. I spent two years at the imperial War Museum and they’ve done an excellent job remodeling it. Good-ish café there too and Lambeth is different.
• Do go to the Museum of London in the Barbican. Free and very interesting.
• I like London Walks company for guided walks, or just buy a book on walks. Also good wlaking podcasts.
• I know this is strange, but I love St Pancras station. Good bookstore and good architecture. It’s just atmospheric. I also like Lambs Conduit—good places to eat and my favorite feminist bookstore.
• For more out of the way things, I’d recommend Greenwich or Hampstead for Sunday lunch. When I win the lottery, that’s my new home.
FOOD
Breakfast where you live. Take advantage of your own tea and coffee. Lunch can be economically done with the supermarket takeaways. There are great options at all the central grocery stores. I like Waitrose (too expensive though) and dream of the M and S bean salad. All of them have sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit, crisps, to take away. And do take away from Eat, Pret, and all those places saving yourself the steep 18-20% VAT and eating in the park.
I’m not a fancy eater, especially in London, but do have favorite pubs out aways or off the beaten tourist track. Non-touristy pubs have the best food options. Especially ones with outside seating. Or eat at the theater cafeterias. There are lots of good dinner places by Charlotte Street off Tottenham Court Road. Don’t eat Mexican, just don’t.
This is a big restaurant area: http://www.stchristophersplace.com/

Not sure what else you’re particularly interested in. We do lots of history and literary things, but happy to help in any way I can.

Almost NS Day

June 12th, 2017 at 02:01 pm

I almost got through the day with no spending, but then buckled down to reserve something for our last two days in the UK. We want to be near friends in Windsor so booked something in Maidenhead/Taplow. It has been a challenge to find something private enough for the four of us under $200/night. We had a lazy day; I watered the garden, did some laundry, and we watched the Tonys and read. I also made my first three Mason jar salads for lunch and cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot to keep the house cool. We'll see how the salad lunches go!

MonkeyMama--my next post is for you!

Birthday Spending

June 10th, 2017 at 07:27 pm

It's my DH's birthday, and we're going out to dinner tonight. I'm going to make a fruit tart for dessert, and spending more than I should on his gift--but will combine it with Fathers' Day. He loves the symphony, and we rarely go, but am buying a season package. At about $300, it's more than I would ever spend on a birthday, but it's a seven concert series, and combined with Father's Day, well, still expensive, but heck.

It will make him happy at least seven times and will be a fun night out for us. I count it money well spent.

We worked in the garden this morning. It was hot, I'm sunburned and stiff,but the planter box--about 12 feet long and under the picture window--is all planted, watered, and ready to roll. Except for one more hanging basket, I hope my garden spending is done.

Garden Center Spending

June 9th, 2017 at 01:04 am

I always feel like I spend too much at the garden center. But speaking with my Mn girl friends last weekend, I think I'm being too tough on my budget. We have a big patio, a raised bed garden, several flower beds, and the front of the house to plant. There was hardly anything here when we moved in, and I've gradually added, divided, and added more--mostly perennials
But I like pots of flowers on the patio, at least two hanging baskets, and I'm forever fussing with the front. I tend to buy at least a flat of annuals, potting mix, and a few annuals along with more perennials. It does add up, but I usually buy small plants. I'm often a bit torn between patience/frugality and wanting instant garden gratification. That hit home today as I've torn out the vines that used to dominate our front planter box, determined to give it a bit more light and zing. I bought the smaller reduced price plants--but really wanted to buy the $10 size. I've started from seed in the past, but usually am so busy in the spring. I've also gratefully received divided plants from others, but still long for instant results. I guess I should be glad that after three years, my mailbox day lily and the snow on the mountain are finally fabulous. How much do you guys spend on yard/patio, etc?

Errands and More Errands

June 6th, 2017 at 07:47 pm

Not quite as productive as I wanted to be this morning, but managed to take a friend's old light fixtures to the charity shop, buy DD a few more summer clothes, go to the bank, and drop off book donations and library books. And a load of laundry on the line. In more financial news, I just transferred $243 to my 100K fund. That came from three sources: $25 from Swagbucks, $154 from reading capstone projects, and $64 from selling some old jewelry. I'm happy to see that fund increased a few bucks by interest bringing it over $3000.I still haven't decided what to do with the $300 teaching award cash, but the check's in the bank.

I still need to go to the garden center, but if I buy a gift card to the garden center from my church, they donate 15% to scholarships for Tanzanian kids, so that may have to wait for tomorrow.

Dejunked and Had Fun

June 5th, 2017 at 04:48 pm

Ooh, I had fun in Minneapolis over the weekend. We sold a lot at our garage sale--mine was mostly cheap and small, but my friends sold air conditioners, pictures, dishes, etc. My BFF and I went to a vintage place in the uptown neighborhood and sold a a bunch of my mom's old earrings, including singletons they use for hat trimmings. We ate out one night, breakfasted out one morning, and had cocktails by the river another night. Very fun and made $68 on the jewelry and another $82 on the garage sale items. The driving was smooth and easy, I packed lunches and water so spent nothing on road food. I'm throwing the $68 into my 100K fund tomorrow, I think. The check for my teaching award also appeared, but I'm not quite sure where that's headed yet.
I sold a few things on FB before I left so will add $4 to that total and another 75cents I found in Minneapolis on Hennepin Avenue

Bits and Pieces

May 31st, 2017 at 12:26 am

Little by little some things are selling on the FB lists, and I have a charity pickup tomorrow for some others. Tomorrow folks will pick up an air pump and DD's outgrown swim cover-up. Someone will come on Thursday for a few books. I've been a bit unhappy about not being able to add much to my 100K fund this month as I'll need my adjunct salary to help pay for our UK tickets, but delightfully, I got a check for $13.90 for a class action suit that I'll round up to $14 for a small but cheering addition. Tonight I'll go through more boxes of things to see if i can sell anything else. The cash is nice, but the real point is to clear some clutter. I'm also on a fridge clearing mission. Soup is in the future!

UK Planning and Spending

May 30th, 2017 at 01:56 am

We had our planning meeting with our daughter's BFF's family on Saturday night to talk through England planning. I think her mom really wants to join us! But it's all systems go--and I booked flights Sunday, and after looking at hotel prices in London, booked a two-bedroom airbnb for six nights instead. The airbnb also gives us plenty of options for breakfasts in, access to laundry facilities, and other meal options. It's a self-contained flat with a full kitchen etc. And--it's in my old neighborhood in London so I know the shops and transport very well. I thought about exploring a new part of the city, but finding a two-bedroom with three beds for under $200/night was a triumph. Now, of course, the girls want a day trip to Paris. DH would prefer to have a day to himself in London, maybe with his brother or BFF, so we'll trade off who has the girls so I can have the following day with my London colleagues.

Real life also progresses here. I spent more than I wanted to at the garden center, as usual. We spent Saturday clearing the raised beds and doing lots of weeding and chopping. I also drove DD to Half Price Books where happily we bought nothing and got $12 for her outgrown books. I'm making several boxes for the upcoming garage sale. Lots of things can go. Plenty to do!


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