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Archive for February, 2017

Paczki Day

March 1st, 2017 at 03:49 am

Before I moved to Milwaukee, I had never heard of paczkis, although somewhere in my dim memory I think my first husband talked about them. Are you all familiar with them? The usual pronunciation sounds like poonch-key. They're big jelly-filled doughnuts very popular around here on Fat Tuesday. That's been my only spending this week so far: $3.99 for six paczkis. I had half of one for breakfast, but found the dept admins brought in a couple dozen, so I relented and had a whole one. I think I'm in a paczkis hangover now. I rarely eat that much fat and sugar in one go-- I almost look forward to a leaner tomorrow and Lent.

In minor financial news I deposited another $25 insurance reimbursement and filed for flex reimbursements for DD's ortho and dental work. TIAA Cref is sponsoring some sort of seminar tomorrow for "America Saves" week, and I've registered for it. I hope to go after tomorrow's classes and office hours.

My major post-paczki triumph today was finding the new George Saunders' book at the library. They have a "hot" shelf, but you can't reserve the books. I'm looking forward to digging in this weekend.

Buried in grading. Absolutely buried.

Wintry Weekend

February 26th, 2017 at 03:40 pm

After a brief interlude with spring weather, we certainly have come back to winter. We've had snow the past two nights, though not as much as in MN.

A brief recap of the spending for the past few days shows I spent $15 on lunch with colleagues after our award ceremony. I didn't plan on going, but it was fun. I brought a few leftover--including the Italian bread--home for DD. I did make a vat of potato soup again from the easiest recipe ever. It lends itself to add-ins, so I threw in some leftover chopped spinach and some Boursin cheese from Christmas. I went to a old friend's 60th birthday party on Friday night, but had a bookstore gift card to tuck in his card, so no spending there.

Yesterday was more grocery shopping as the fridge was pretty empty--and my totals are back in the $60s, but we now have a very full fridge--especially with the batch of chili I made for last night. And in our ongoing effort to eat it all, I found a can of dark sweet cherries in the basement which went into a cake recipe from the Pioneer Woman site. It was good--if a bit too sweet for my tastes. We watched "The Theory of Everything" on DVD from the library. We somehow missed it when it came out--and I liked it a lot.

Today looks like it will be church, the ongoing laundry, and more of the endless paper grading. My evening class begins in another week, and while we'll be happy for the cash, I really prefer to work just one darn job. But my new syllabus has got some interesting different articles, stories, and films, so I'll enjoy it--if not the increased work load.

I'm looking forward to it being March--even if just for the morale booster!

Holding Pattern

February 23rd, 2017 at 10:11 pm

That's how I feel: we're in a holding pattern until DH starts work on March 6, and gets paid. There are plenty of other things for me to do--lots of work, lots of decluttering and treadmill time I should be considering, but we're just holding on for now. And we're in that tail-end of winter period where it's just waiting. The false spring is over, and we're back to gray.

I do have lots of activities going on this weekend--a work ceremony tomorrow, student meetings, lots of grading, a retirement party for a former colleague. I wonder if I didn't often fill these sorts of gaps with a little recreational shopping or travel and that's why I feel sort of in stasis?

My Brit friend who has gone to Nice with me a couple times is headed there this week with her cousins. I'm staying put here in Cheeseland. I see big pots of potato soup and chili in my near future.

DH's car repair showed up on his credit card, but it's not due for a month, so I won't have to transfer cash. I don't see anything in his orientation material about when they start paying him, but I'm hoping it's within two weeks of starting. I cashed another $25 out of Swagbucks, as I've been running those darn videos as I grade papers. Spending today was $8.49. The university won't spend any cash on our awards ceremony tomorrow, so I volunteered to bring a flat of bottled water. It was $2, but I had to buy a few other things to get that deal--all things we needed like cereal and pasta sauce and all cheap.

Maybe an NSD?

February 22nd, 2017 at 09:48 pm

It's a gorgeous day here, but I spent most of it inside my office and in the classroom. Nothing like 70 degrees in February to keep attendance down.

But I came armed--coffee in a travel mug this morning, quiche and strawberries in my lunch bag and plenty of tea in the office.

I hung around so I could talk with a nurse practitioner about editing her capstone project. She was lovely, it sounds like an interesting project, and we negotiated a lower rate than I usually charge since it sounds like an easy project. She hope to get half of it to me by spring break. It won't be a lot of cash, but we are trying to build a solid relationship with the nursing school, so this may also help me get to know some of them better.

On the way home I deposited my flu shot reimbursement and DD's babysitting money. Wednesday is our spaghetti night, so it's been an easy day with only one problem with a student who seems to appear and disappear all the time. We'll see if he can straighten himself out. Off to write tomorrow's exam.

A Slight Complication

February 22nd, 2017 at 12:43 am

Against my advice, DH decided to tell the unemployment folks he turned down work. The fact that he turned down and accepted work on the same day doesn't seem to matter to them, so they're holding his unemployment payments until it goes to some sort of committee. Now it will be at least a month until he gets any unemployment, but if they rule in his favor, he'll get the back payments.

So we remain on a tight budget. I could move money from savings, but I'm determined to hold tight until his first paycheck. That should be mid-March. I get paid in another week, and my long overdue flu shot reimbursement arrived today. The insurance company still owes us for two more. I bought dog food today and filled up the gas tank totaling about $48. I have noticed how little day-to-day spending we've done. Another $20 on groceries, a couple of takeaways, regular coffee (even the cheap stuff) add up to maybe $500 or so a month. And I've done NO unnecessary clothes shopping, no house purchases except for DD'2 $10 FB desk chair.

I have three recommendation letters to write tonight for students. I wish them well, but I hope the job-hunting and recommendation season ends soon. I could spend hours weekly on these.

DH had lunch with a former colleague today; an expense but good for networking. Over 100 more people at his old firm got laid off today alone, including the woman who laid him off.

Free, French, and Fun!

February 19th, 2017 at 11:03 pm

DD and I just got home from seeing a cute French film, Belle et Sebastien II. Our university is hosting a French Film Festival, and all the films are free. It's also free to park on Sunday. We did buy a good looking cake in support of a youth program in Haiti. All the Francophone countries are showing films so there's quite a wide range. As a bonus, DD gets French extra credit for going. I'm going to try to go to a few more while it lasts.

We did the weekly shop yesterday, but I blew the $50 budget buying another 99ct/lb turkey breast and more milk than usual--but we just about hit $70.

DD had a great time at the anime convention. We're going to have to get used to her being out later. We feel like old fogeys (sp?), but she has a much better social life than we do. We watched more of The Crown, and I graded papers.

On Wednesday I'm meeting with a nursing doctoral candidate looking for dissertation editing help. That could be a nice bonus. I'm not sure I need more work now, but I can put some other things on autopilot. No other spending to report--but am scuring the Target ad for other things we need.

Finally Out of the House

February 18th, 2017 at 06:47 am

So, I left the house for the first time since the death cold grabbed me on Tuesday. I went to a meeting at school, stopped for a cheap frozen turkey breast and a loaf of bread and came back home. Total spending $11.42. It was a brown-bag meeting so I packed a lunch, made coffee in the office, and managed to take two of the spare bagels left from the earlier meeting home.

We also gave DD $40 for making the dean's list at school. She's heading off to an anime convention tomorrow with friends. My other budget triumph was a batch of very good stuffed shells made with the $1 sale cottage cheese and some leftover shopped spinach. I made enough for leftovers, but alas, we ate them all.

Our Blu-Ray player been having issues finding our wireless network lately. We've tried lots of tips, but while the Blu-Ray itself works, the receiver wasn't, so DH hooked up the free Roku we got as a public TV bonus gift. Works like a charm now, so we finished watching the pretty good-Aussie series, "The Code." We only made it through the first season, but I liked it.

Lots of grading yet to do, and a fair amount of cooking and errands tomorrow. Anyone have Presidents' Day off? Not me!

Targeted

February 16th, 2017 at 05:59 pm

I need some inspiration from my SA buddies. I did a textbook review for a publisher, but instead of sending cash, they all seem to be using Tango giftcards lately. I thought the most useful one would probably be Target, and I hoped they'd just let me apply it to my redcard, but after a lengthy chat session with the very nice rep, it seems you need to use them every time you shop either on your phone or through target.com. Ugh

I know me--if I let it linger I'll forget all about it, so I like to use at least a chunk of it on Target.com. We have no pressing needs, so I think I'll spend some on laundry detergent (man, am I fun), my DH wants an air compressor to keep our tires inflated, and we cold probably use a new set of sheets. But it's $300. Maybe I could set a weekly reminder to buy whatever we might use and that is on sale?

Other ideas from you brilliant minds?

Hey Robin?

February 16th, 2017 at 02:11 am

We haven't heard from you for a week or so. You ok?

Drum Roll? Nah.

February 15th, 2017 at 06:19 pm

After lengthy discussion, it seems clear the DH wants to take the regular job, not the contract with the possibility of it turning into a job. He's very slightly concerned he'll be bored, but he always keeps himself entertained outside of work. It also has the shorter commute--probably a minimum of 15 minutes each way --which adds up and is aggravating.The other folks keep calling him back, but I think he's decided. They don't need him though, until 6 March, which means we'll continue on a somewhat spartan budget for a while. I think the smaller paycheck compared to the other job is not much of a concern. He just needs to keep an eye on his spending. Lots to think about, but he's about to call them and accept.


We continue to eat through the freezer and pantry. Here are some embarrassing revelations. Yesterday DH ate chili from the basement freezer that I have NO idea of its age. But he said it was fine and appears to still be alive. I really should be better about labeling. I'm much too sporadic. And I found a box of alphabet pasta in the far recesses of the cupboard. I'm relatively sure that we have had it for years. I'm throwing it in the latest batch of soup. If you don't hear from me, well, you'll figure it out. Dry pasta has a long shelf life though, right?

I'm home with this awful cold--drippy nose and miserable. I got as far as getting dressed and picking up my bag this morning before giving up and going back to bed.

In other minor financial news, I cashed $25 out of Swagbucks and found 2 cents in the parking lot yesterday. And I read a capstone project to keep that cash coming.












Well, Let's Call It Flux.

February 14th, 2017 at 08:29 pm

Just as DH wound things up last night and we both sat around our precious kleenex boxes whining about our colds, he opened his e-mail to yet another job offer.

We spent some time discussing it then and some more time in the morning. Pluses? It's closer to home saving him several hours a week in commute time. He likes the people, and they're eager to have him. They have a solid benefit package and it's not a contract; it's a "real" job.

Minuses? The other job would expand his skills more, is a bigger company with slightly higher pay. And he's committed to the other contract agency at least verbally.

The unknowns at the first offer trouble us. He doesn't want to get into the instability of another contract. Often the benefits offered by agencies in terms of salary and vacation disappear when full-time work is offered. They hired him without meeting him in person and he has no idea what it's like. But it is more money--enough to make us think a while.


We're still unsure. And I'm eating lots of chocolate to help my cold and my decision making. I'm sure it must help.

He's asked for a day to consider, but we'd like to tell the agency soon if he decides to turn them down.

Ugh--Lots of Spending

February 13th, 2017 at 08:38 pm

Today my DH took his car in to have a few things fixed. We planned on spending about $500, but things were worse than we thought, and by the time I got home from school, he had spent $1500 on it. I'm not sure that beater is worth $1500, but I guess he felt he needed to have a car ready to drive to work next week. This was not helped by the massive head colds we both have developed. I think we could have taken a couple days and bought a used car. We have the cash for it--but we both feel lousy and he just went ahead with it. He's trying to talk me into swapping cars with him. Uhmm- no. No. I am not a car person, but I picked my car out, care for it, saved for it, took on an additional class for it, and as much as we're partners he cannot have my car while I drive the huge monstrosity he wanted. Penny wise, pound foolish. Ugh.

Second ugh? Last night the dog came in from outside and began retching. This continued for a couple of hours in varying degrees of distress. By 11 p.m. we took her to the emergency vet where the symptoms magically disappeared. This morning she was considerably better with still an occasional coughing retching episode. I think she ate a burr and it's stuck. I pulled one out of her paw earlier. She's eating fine and acting mostly fine, and I'm hoping it will just subside. But the emergency vet is always a fine place to drop more cash. This of course contributed to our worsening colds with little sleep.

Sometimes the best thing for this sort of day is a hot bath and maybe a nap. DH is napping but I have class planning. And dinner. And maybe laundry. Glad i don't have a class tonight and hoping for an early night myself.

Four Jaunts

February 11th, 2017 at 11:37 pm

I've turned into such a homebody lately, but it was great to get out last night and today.

I went out with university friends for drinks and appetizers. Someone gave us a card for 25% off for educators, and the six of us made good use of it. Happy hour wine specials and absolutely fabulous crispy Brussel Sprouts with goat cheese and honey. Honestly, they were fabulous. We also ordered a plate called Middle East peace with hummus, babaghanoush and beautiful warm pitas. It was lovely and fun. Lots of worries about our jobs, but so good to get together and reassure and help each other. I paid way more than my share to help some of the others, but it was only $23.

Today I bought a hot pink desk chair off a local FB list for DD. She's been making do with a raggedy old chair that needs paint and a new seat cover, and this was adorable and $10.

Yes, you can see that I've been loosening it up a bit.
But not too much. We needed a little breather.

Today the three of us drove out to where DH's new job will be on the 20th. It is a bit far, but I'm really hoping for a car pool buddy for him. We then went together to the grocery store which is usually a recipe for disaster, but I think he's really gotten behind my stricter shopping. The local grocer had great loyalty coupons this week and we spent (drum roll) $44.16. Ok--we still have a few things in the freezer, but most of it was shopping with a detailed list, electronic and paper coupons, and attention to the special offers.

We got through Season 4 of Homeland last night and are #98 (no kidding) on the waiting list at the library for Season 5. I see an evening of work and Netflix ahead of us.

Soup!

February 10th, 2017 at 07:41 pm

Lately the moment we finish eating one batch of soup, I start another. Gone is the veggie soup; we're on to slow-cooker potato which smells fabulous right now.

DH is at his interview and will stop and take the pre-employment drug test on the way home. This is yet another interview for a job other than the one he's accepted. Worth talking to people, right?

CCF's list got me thinking about my pantry/freezer progress which has been pretty darn good. A couple weeks ago I bought 10 lbs of potatoes because they were 59cents for the entire bag. We like potatoes, but not that much, so we've been throwing them in soup and having the occasional baked potato with toppings for lunch. But I swear they're multiplying in the pantry. Today's soup used six of them. I also pulled out a jar of mincemeat. Put mincemeat in the lima bean category for me, but the old Brit loves mince tarts, and sometimes his mean wife actually gets around to making some. It seemed too putzy this week to make tarts, so I used the bar recipe on the jar and froze half. I only wish I liked them. I'm making a batch of brownies too with chocolate chips since I seem to have an abundance of them--particularly the mini ones that DD used to like in pancakes. The pantry looks much better, but I could and will work through it for another month or so. Lots of pecans to use, so maybe more granola?

I'm very slightly loosening the purse strings--drinks out with friends tonight and maybe a small Valentine treat for all of us. But though we've mostly managed to live on my salary, we still have ground to make up once DH starts work on the 20th. It's an ongoing mission.

NSD Yesterday

February 9th, 2017 at 09:31 pm

Y'all know I have a traveling bug, but I just turned down a weekend in NYC with friends--partially needing to make up for the one-salary stint, but also it's too tight a weekend for me in May. I'd have to leave the last day of the semester, and by then, I really need downtime more than a big city jaunt.

I had a weird "visual anomaly" for the past two nights that I was worried might be a retinal tear, but the opthamologist now says is a migraine event. I've never had what I'd consider a real migraine, but after the exam yesterday and pupil dilation, I had a whopper of a headache.

I haven't spent a dime since Saturday, but DD had a dental co-pay today that DH paid. I'll get that cash back from flex. I am going out with friends for drinks tomorrow, and although he's committed to the job offer, DH has another interview tomorrow.

Job Offer!!

February 7th, 2017 at 11:24 pm

Well, it's not his dream job, and it's sort of a longish commute, especially for my public- transportation- loving DH, but it's a solid offer. The minute he hemmed and hawed, they raised their offer. It's a contract position at first, hopefully leading to a regular position in a few months. He's now contacted his other possibilities and told them he has an offer. They've given him three days to think it through. If the other closer jobs don't respond by then, he'll certainly take it.

He is not overjoyed about the commute, and we may have to consider another car sooner rather than later as his is quite the beater, has no a/c, and needs a new emergency brake. All of that is do-able, and I've already talked abut audio books for the commute. And we all know it's easier to get a job when you already have one.

I wish he was excited about it, but I think he's quietly happy. And if he can get settled into it now, he should be able to start a graduate class in the fall if there's something good in the evenings and online. The money is even slightly better than what he earned before which helps balance the longer commute.

I'm starting to feel a bit relieved, and eager to see how the next few days pan out.

Monday Monday

February 7th, 2017 at 01:21 am

Good classes today, but on the way to school I noticed my gas gauge appears stuck. I thought I had more than a quarter of a tank, but it read empty on the gauge--and the digital display.

After teaching I headed home--and voila--the gauge seems to be working again. But just in case, I filled the car, noted the mileage, and will track it in case it stops again. I also stopped at CVS for some 17 cent toothpaste. Yep, that's some fun.

More dire news from the university about demographics and enrollments. I think I'm ok, but the dip in the birthrate 18 years ago is not helping us. DH and I ate leftover taco dip on tortillas for lunch. It didn't look pretty, but it was tasty. We ate leftovers for dinner with a nice salad.

Best news--I got a haircut. And color. I was starting to look like, well, Wolfman Jack maybe? I have lots of hair and it needed attention.

DH's phone interview went well, and he has another tomorrow. We remain cautiously optimistic.

Spending out of pocket was 11.73 for toothpaste and gas. Haircut provided by gift card from last week.

Back in the 50s

February 6th, 2017 at 03:17 am

My grocery bill, that is--not the temperatures. The budget was not helped by my DH spending another $55 at the liquor store, but we were out of many things. He's starting to chafe at the restrictive budget a bit. I ran our numbers, and if we indeed put away enough for property taxes, DD's 529 and small contributions for both our IRAs, $200 month for groceries, and our other misc bills we have $300/month discretionary spending. That figure is without an adjunct income from me or DH's unemployment, so I guess we have a little wiggle room.

That said, I'm starting to fret a bit, but there's not much I can do except encourage on this end. I'm not ready to adjust my withholding or my pension contributions yet. I'm not sure that small economies are going to help me breathe a lot easier. I think we need a job offer. DH has another phone interview tomorrow.

I also think I to do a better job of self care. I've been having too many late nights, not enough exercise, and too many sweets. I have a haircut tomorrow, it's Monday, and I'm going to be better. Stamina is called for.

Free Bagels and a NSD

February 2nd, 2017 at 08:53 pm

Bruegger's Bagels was celebrating their birthday this morning, and I popped in for three free bagels. I (really) ate one in the car on the way to the university but saved the other two for DD who loves their Asiago bagels. Such a simple thing but a nice little treat for still very-frugal me.
My non-frugal office mate scolded me for not going out to lunch with DH while he's unemployed telling me I had no bills. Excuse me? No mortgage maybe, but plenty of bills still.

I had very good classes today which is always fun, and best news of all, my adjunct university offered me a summer class. It's composition--not my favorite subject, but still. That means I'll have summer cash when my regular university salary is over. That gives us a lot more breathing room and we could probably make it even if DH doesn't get a job. But I think he will. Still, a relief.