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Archive for June, 2017

Successful Lunch and the End of Class

June 26th, 2017 at 07:55 pm

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 03:39 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 22nd, 2017 at 07:50 pm

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 01:04 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 07:38 am

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 08:00 am

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 08:22 am

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 07:01 am

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 12:27 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 8th, 2017 at 06:04 pm

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 12:47 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 09:48 am

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