Frugal Living - Challenge 2021 Daily Frugal challenge

jastwins

※Kaboom!・:・:・゜
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My patience is being tried and I am trying to handle a refund issue via email. However, responses have been slow regarding my refund of $54.10 and I just sent another email to my point of contact. The bank still has not refunded me for my notary license and that was caused by a timing issue of one day. Here's hoping they approve my $60 refund by the middle of this month. I also need to remind my sister that she owes me $40 (keep forgetting ) and d2 has to pay half her cobra insurance.
Last month I did very well with my online accounts and getting extra gift cards for joining focus groups or doing surveys. It was nice to have the paypal option of cash for one site and I am using Amazon for some of the others. I am saving the paypal money in one account and need to use that for a gift. The other online gift cards allow me to total up my earnings and I will cash them out closer to Christmas. Tango rewards have been easy to use and I never have a problem with my gift cards. On the troop site, I did encounter a problem one year and will only request amazon gcs since I post the code directly to my Amazon account and I believe that is safer for me.
Speaking of the troop community, I have to log in for a focus session on Tuesday and have been told I am a stand by. Whether I participate or not, I will earn the full stipend. Somehow my stars are aligning since I have not had this much luck with focus groups all year and November has been awesome.
Our House insurance sent us a refund check and we put that towards our oil bill that I paid yesterday. Crankie has not gotten much wood to chop and split so we are going to have to order that too. Luckily, the weather has not been bad and has been at almost 60 one day and the lows have been in the 30's. Since the girls are not home, I lower the heat and like it that way... Saves money and keeps me comfortable.
Tomorrow, I will go off Island and shop a little. There is a new Walmart location by my other house and I may try to do some Tada deals. While in that area, I will stop at Kohls, Marshalls, CVS and Bath and Body works. It depends on how crowded it is and if they have what I want to buy. I am also sorting through my coupons and tossing the expired and merging in the newer ones.
 

Gardencook

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We stayed home most of this week and simply used items we had on hand so not much money OOP. We ate a lot of turkey leftovers including turkey and asparagus frittata, turkey and noodles, turkey egg rolls, turkey won tons (wrappers were on markdown ;) ) and turkey divan.

I did order a bedspread and door mat from Kohl's with black Friday sales, but it was a confusing mess. We had Kohl's cash that was about to expire, but I didn't really want to drive an hour each way to spend it and Kohl's wouldn't let me see what I really wanted anyway.

The bedspread I wanted wasn't available in store and they wouldn't ship it to the store an hour away for pick-up so I had to order online for home delivery HOPING it would actually match our walls when it got here, but then I needed a filler item to get the total high enough for free shipping. They would ONLY ship the door mat we wanted to the store -- not to our home -- so we settled for another that didn't match our house as well. They folded it in half when they shipped it and it arrived with a big tear on the crease. It is a shame, because otherwise the door mat turned out to be a lot higher quality and larger than I expected.

I used a gift card we purchased at our grocery store using fuel point incentives and we got about a 60 cent per gallon fuel discount in the process, but now we've got to take the mat to the store tomorrow, because I don't want to mess with sending it back.

The order process was so complicated that a code for $10 off home didn't come off the order -- and if it had worked I would have had to find another filler item anyway. We did earn $15 Kohl's cash, a $5 Kohl's reward when the bedspread was combined with the purchase of DH's coat earlier. They added a $10 bonus to that, so using that is the main reason for traveling up to the store tomorrow. I just wish they'd build us a store, but that will probably never happen.

Today we made the rounds to four stores, so spent some money but stuck with items that were really good deals after sales/coupons/discounts and frees.

We didn't have anything in mind when we hit the first store, but we were out early for a change and that store sometimes has good discounts.

We did pick up a pound of veggie burger grind on markdown for 99 cents and some produce markdown bags for 99 cents including a couple pineapples, a bag of three pomegranates, a bag of three green peppers and some bags with about five or six apples each. They also had bags of coleslaw mix for 79 cents each. Not a bad stop for all we got which came to less than $15 total.

Next store was offering four frees with digital coupons this week so we knew we needed to go early in hopes they'd have them in stock. Thankfully, they did. Had to ask about the hand soap since it wasn't on the shelf, but it turned out they were keeping the few last bottles behind the counter at the customer service desk, so we were just in time.

The ad for that store wasn't all that great this week so I was hoping for some sort of discount so we didn't just walk out with our frees and not buy anything -- if not I had no idea what we'd buy.

The discounts didn't disappoint. We picked up a large turkey back for $1.18 after a 50 percent discount. It will be ideal for a pot of turkey soup. (I'm still not tired of turkey. :D) We also found a large turkey thigh for 30 percent off. It will team well with the fresh pineapple and coleslaw mix for some sort of Asian dish.

A loaf of multi-grain and seed French-type artisan bread was 99 cents on markdown. The total damage at that store was a little more than $4 after tax and we got more than $10 in merchandise free.

We went by Dollar Tree to pick up a Sunday paper -- which has been coming up short on inserts lately, but still better than paying a much higher price. While we were there we did a walk through to see if there was anything we needed before prices hike. We got a few spices, a couple food items, some of the clips for the kitchen I like so well and a bunch of greeting cards. We weren't in desperate need of any of the items, but at least it is a bit of a hedge against the coming price hike.

The final store we had some coupons which were going to expire today or over the next few days so they needed to be used. We also had a few high value coupons with longer expirations, but I was either worried about the supply chain or didn't know when they were going off sale so figured it was easy to get them all at once since they were in stock and I needed mega sale items to use a frozen pizza coupon which expired today..

It was a hodge-podge of other items including coffee, mouthwash, tomatoes, yogurt, salad dressing and meat marinade. Not exactly a complete meal, but items we will definitely use. We also had coupons for a free dozen eggs and a package of two scented oil warmers along with an OYNO Cat coupon from organic broth which was a good deal at the end of November.
 
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Gardencook

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It has been a BAD week computer-wise and it has been really difficult to post here. We're going to have to take my computer into the techs because the computer is now DEMANDING I do something, but Microsoft is working on another huge update in addition to the one which won't install and I don't want to get it back only to have MIcrosoft mess it up within a few days AGAIN, so I'm trying to tough it out.

Today, the Roku isn't working well either, so apparently I've got both Microsoft and CenturyLink working against me. UGH!

We've had a really good week with discount shopping. Tuesday was a senior discount day and the store was pretty well-stocked so we got most of the items on our list -- minus the frozen organic pizzas we wanted which were out of stock the two days we tried to buy it this week. We also got a free two-pack of scented oil freshener that day, but the coupon didn't credit and the clerk took care of that at the register.

The store sent a special promo where we'd get an additional 20 cents off per gallon of gas if we spent $50 and we were able to reach the amount without problems -- filling a large cart and receiving a mile-long receipt by the time all the coupons, mega sale and senior discounts were tallied. We only had one digital coupon that didn't credit we noticed after check-out and they refunded the one dollar at the customer service desk.

The store offered a 5x coupon on Blue Diamond almonds the next day and had the unsalted "natural" ones we've had such a hard time getting in stock. Still need to get the receipt copied for a rebate and those should be 47 cents a can if all goes well.

However, I don't remember a December where the digital coupons at that store have been as low as they are right now. Normally, I'm having to buy things with high value coupons just to get them cleared off our card to make space for more coupons. Instead, right now I've got less than a third of the number of coupons I'm allowed loaded to our card.

The fact that we can get so many great deals at the discount stores right now, means we're opting not to buy a lot of things we used to at that grocery store, as well.

Another store had a senior discount day last Thursday, but didn't have much on sale that week so we skipped it.

The sales there were decent this week. They offered us three free items -- all of which were in stock -- and they had a bunch of bonus points offers so we picked up quite a few items there yesterday. We were able to get another six cans of salt-free vegetables, more yogurt for 39 cents a carton and they had another good deal on shredded cheese. I was also out of Mandarin oranges and they offered us a decent personalized price on those.

They also have much better sales than our regular store on beer and since it just shot up another dollar at our regular store this week, we bought the limit of two as an inflation hedge. DH enjoyed a can with dinner, but I've never developed a taste for the stuff.

The only thing they didn't have in stock were the roasts from the ad, but I don't think it is worth driving back down there for just that, so we may skip the sale even though we've got a coupon for $7 off meat that won't expire until the end of the month. The first time that store offered roasts at $2.99 a pound last year they were quite nice, but the last couple times they really haven't been anything to get excited about -- way too much bone and fat.

We drove the hour each way to Kohl's on Monday to return the door mat which arrived with a big hole in it last week. The store only had a single door mat in stock which would work with our house, but it was still a nice one even though a different manufacturer and the customer service desk simply traded us across the board for it so no money OOP.

We had $30 in Kohl's Cash which we earned on the bedspread/door mat purchase and they also gave us another 50 cents Kohl's cash for the door mat trade, plus we had a 15 percent discount code so I knew we needed to spend at least $40 that day to get it all taken care of. About $15 of the Kohl's Cash didn't expire until the end of January, but we never know what the roads will be like this time of the year.

They didn't have much in the store at all that we needed, but I did notice some portable heaters and DH chose one he thought was best for about $49. After the discount code, Kohl's Cash and sales tax we ended up paying about $11 for the heater which was covered by the gift card we had used to buy the other items. With the energy grid the way it is right now, we never know when we might need electric heaters in case we lose our natural gas.

We bought a $100 gift card for which the grocery store gave us about 40 cents per gallon in fuel rewards. With it we bought a bed spread set, door mat and heater and the clerk gave us back $1.62 in cash and kept the gift card so in total we spent about $98 on the three items. Not too bad, although there was another code which didn't credit on the original order and should have taken another $10 off. Oh well!

We had a $5/$15 reward coupon from Big Lots and used it on a couple jars of beet powder while we were out of town, as well. It was out of stock at our store the last time we tried to buy it.

The store also had a couple bags of organic tortilla chips discounted to 38 cents each and a couple bags of potato chips for 75 cents. Not that we really need potato chips, but I've noticed our regular store seems to be discontinuing the smaller bags of chips and jacking the price on the big "family size" bags which are the only ones they've carried the past few weeks. Don't know if that change is permanent or just another supply chain issue. :rolleyes:

The BIG savings this week came from the discount stores. We got a nice selection of things at the sister discount store out of town the day we drove to Kohl's, but it was only a few items including California Olive Ranch oil for $3 a bottle and a couple loaves of the bread we enjoy so much.

We hadn't been to our discount store in about a week, but when we got there on Tuesday, they had just gotten a HUGE shipment of groceries. There were boxes and palates standing everywhere, making it hard to get around at places in the store, but the items we found the first day made it worthwhile to check back Wednesday and Thursday, as well. Not only was it going to take a LOT of work for them to unpack everything, but they had a lot of items set out that weren't even priced yet.

Right in the entryway, they had huge palates of what looked like sweet onions -- stacked WAY above my head and wrapped in plastic. I was definitely curious to see if my assumptions were correct and what the price would be when they were finally ready for sale.

By Wednesday, they had either sold a LOT of onions or moved a bunch to the back so you could actually reach into the boxes. They did turn out to be both sweet and "tearless" onions -- the type that cost a fortune when stores have them. The plastic outer wrap was gone and they were priced at five for one dollar. I'd buy regular strong yellow onions for that price, so definitely had to take advantage of that deal.

On Tuesday we picked up two of what used to be 16-oz. cans of canned salmon -- they're smaller than that now with shrinkflation -- for 50 cents each. Since they retail for $5 each in the grocery store I couldn't pass on that deal -- about a 90 percent discount. When we went back Wednesday, they had set out about nine or ten more cans for the same price so we got about a case of salmon for only a little more than a single can at the regular grocery store!

Of course, the reason we generally eat mackerel instead of canned salmon is that I don't want to pay the retail price on salmon, but this will be a nice treat that is even cheaper than our usual.

We got some cans of salt-free, organic diced tomatoes for 50 cents a can each day that we went there and left lots of tempting roasted tomatoes with salt behind.

The second day they also had two six-packs of organic pumpkin puree marked three dollars each -- 50 cents a can.

Two six-pack cartons and three loose cartons of organic chicken bone broth were one dollar per quart -- and very low in sodium compared to regular broth. At that price we can afford to cook with it -- unlike the usual price on bone broth.

We picked up some other items as well including low-salt cream of mushroom soup and bean sprouts. It hurt to pass up Stagg chili for 50 cents a can, but the sodium level was astronomical so I told myself "no."

We found some new-to-me brand of loose tea which was a blend of peppermint, spearmint and Tulsi basil in metal canisters for $1 each, picked up a small case of mandarin orange cups which figured out to 25 cents each, and found some bags of freekeh (whole grain) for $1 each throughout the week, as well.

As an added bonus, the store gives away its boxes for free rather than crushing them, so we loaded our groceries in some nice boxes instead of having them put in bags which roll all over the place.

They seemed to have everything shelved by yesterday, so I didn't check back today -- even though they generally get a new shipment on Friday. I figured I'd already spent too much on groceries this week.

We also dropped by our older discount grocery on Wednesday and picked up a few items at good prices. They had a single six-pack of Squirt soda -- something which has been virtually impossible to find in regular stores for quite some time. They also had a small canister of Quaker steel cut oats for 75 cents. I wasn't even aware that Quaker sold steel cut oats in canisters until that day!
 

Gardencook

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Haven't really done much shopping since Thursday, due to the high winds we've had moving through for the past five days. This storm was unlike anything we have EVER seen here and the fact that the weather service wasn't even acknowledging its existence for the first four days made it an extremely strange experience. It is tough to know what to expect when everyone that is supposed to keep you informed is ignoring the fact that a storm exists.

We did head out today before the winds died down, because it was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to get home before dark when snow was predicted.

It was a 10 percent senior discount day at the grocery store, the last day of the mega sale and we wanted to get some fresh foods home before the snows hit. California has been hit hard, so who knows how much snow we'll get out of this system?

We were finally able to find the smaller bags of house brand potato chips after weeks of them being out of stock. I wasn't sure if they had discontinued them or if it was a supply chain issue, but apparently it was the supply chain. I really didn't want to be stuck buying huge bags of potato chips in the future, so was glad to see them back and went ahead and bought a couple bags with a digital coupon even though they weren't on sale. There is no saying they will go on sale after being gone so long or that they would be in stock if they did go on sale.

The store also had five-pound bags of house brand grapefruit back in stock. They are another thing we haven't been able to find the past several weeks and we've really missed them. The web site didn't seem to think the store had any, but they were in the produce department -- although it looks like there has been a bit of a weather event where they were grown. Some of them had quite a few blemishes, but I don't think it will penetrate the skin as long as we use those first.

The web site was estimating single grapefruit would cost about $2.99 each -- and the site tends to underestimate the weight on produce items, so I suspect single grapefruit would have cost closer to $3.50 or $4 each if I had weighed them. The bagged grapefruit have gone up, but with the discount $5.39 for a bag of about six grapefruit still sounded better than buying more expensive ones -- or going without as we have been doing -- so I picked up two.

We also found an unadvertised special on bags of organic yellow onions for $1.50 each ($1.35 after discount) so I picked up a couple more even though we still have quite a few left in the big bag we bought earlier. We use a LOT of onions, so they don't go to waste.

The store also had the frozen organic pizzas we like in stock. They were gone the last couple times we wanted to buy them. I had digital coupons and they were on mega sale, so we got a decent price, however, even though we bought the proper number of mega sale items, the mega sale didn't credit and we had to go to the customer service desk for the $5 that didn't come off -- plus 30 cents sales tax.

The customer service clerk thought the register didn't credit it, because we got a good deal on large bottles of mouthwash for 49 cents each after manufacturer coupon. We were having a hard enough time finding our five items for the last round of the sale, since the store was out of the large bags of frozen mixed veggies, wasn't offering mega sale on at least two items the computer said was included and had switched turkey bacon brands to a more expensive one since I first compiled my list. We wouldn't have needed to do a round at all had the pizza been in stock last week when we wanted to buy it.

They still had five pound bags of whole wheat flour on clearance for $3.43 and I received a coupon from an HCW member yesterday so got it for $2.43.

We picked up some items in one dollar discount bags, as well including fresh green beans, organic carrots, lemons and poblano peppers and they had a weekly deal on 10-pound bags of russet potatoes which came down to $1.77 after discount. We could have bought up to 50 pounds, but that was overkill for us so we only got two bags. Picked up a couple bags of discount noodle stir-fry kits, as well, so it was a profitable trip.

There is a liquor store right next door to the grocery store, so we popped in there afterward to pick up a bottle of vodka. We've been out of vanilla extract for ages, because I haven't felt like paying the astronomical price. Then last week, I picked up several jars of name brand vanilla beans -- only one bean to a jar -- for $1 or $2 each at our new discount stores.

I knew vanilla extract was really easy to make, but I've never seen that it would be cost effective with the price of vanilla beans around here. When I could get beans at such a discounted price, however, I decided to give it a try -- then the storm hit and we didn't leave the house for several days.

It took quite a bit of searching today, since the cheap vodka was almost hidden at the liquor store and I've read that you don't need the expensive stuff to make extract. The first several bottles I found didn't look like they were were going to provide much savings, but I finally figured out the cheaper vodka was farther down the row and not under the section labeled "vodka." We were able to get a decent sized bottle for $7.95, so that will be an experiment for the next several weeks.
 
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bugweena

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I've used a public library since I was a kid and at the beginning of the pandemic our library system shut down for a few months. Then offered books to go where you could check out online and pick up at certain libraries. Then they extended to all libraries for pickup and then opened with limits on how many people could be in the library and masking is required. I save a lot of $ by getting on the wait list for new books and also requesting books thru the county-wide system. If my library doesn't have a book I can request it online and I get an email when it has been delivered. As I write this I have a total of 15 books checked out--fiction and gardening! If you haven't checked out (ha) your library it's a great way to get access to books and other materials. My mom's library has a jigsaw puzzle exchange. I need to see if our libraries would be interested in that!
 

KmmCo

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Haven't posted for a while. At the stare park I did do more than I thought. I drove 75 miles to see a friend and meet his wife for a BBQ dinner. It was fun. We ended up meeting at my campsite nearer their house the next weekend. I bought the hot dogs and beer. Two days later, I went to their house and had some pizza. I really like her and can see a good friendship coming out of it....

*I have been trying to eat my own food, but I did go to Costco food court for a couple of lunches. I tried the chicken bake and it was pretty good and made a second meal (for only $2.99).

*Since DH got a free Sams Club membership a while back, I took advantage and have gotten a couple of tanks of gas there. It is .50 a gallon cheaper than other places in town.. Big difference!

* I took some of my paid time off last night by leaving early and will burn the rest on my last day of work. It is use it or loose it in AZ. I would have like to have been able to do a cash payout and just taken the $$, but that was not an option.

Today I do need to go get some sodas at Fry's (Kroger). At my friends she had some yummy snack mix that she got at WinCo, so I went in and bought more to take home. First time I had been in a Winco, but I kind of liked it.
 

Gardencook

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At my friends she had some yummy snack mix that she got at WinCo, so I went in and bought more to take home. First time I had been in a Winco, but I kind of liked it.
WinCo is headquartered in Boise so we have a lot of them in Idaho, Washington and Oregon, however, they've expanded all over the west the past several years.

The chain hit the town where I grew up in Washington at the very end of the 1960s -- 1970 at the latest. I can remember, because a freak tornado rolled through in 1972 and leveled our store along with an elementary school and a bowling alley. The fatalities were in the store parking lot and it took a few years to rebuild.

It was called Waremart back then -- taken from the fact that it was an early no-frills warehouse store. Since they hadn't yet invented scanners, you picked up a grease pencil when you entered the front door and wrote the prices on all your groceries yourself -- saving them the cost of having to hire someone to stamp prices. Apparently, people were pretty honest in those days. ;)

The stores have changed a lot through the years -- mostly in size. It is hard to find a WinCo that isn't huge these days, but a few years ago they did start an experiment with smaller stores again -- calling them by the old name Waremart. There is one in Ontario, Oregon we see every time we pass through.

In addition to some really good prices the bulk bins were a REAL novelty when the stores first opened and a great way to save money during the terrible economy of the 1970s. I still hit WinCo for a lot of bulk grains, beans and spices -- although not as often as I should since I get some great prices at discount stores. A lot of the bulk items are major brand names like Bob's Red Mill. You can get an idea where some of them come from by perusing the large bulk bags they sell in the bulk department.

There are certain produce items that you can always count on being significantly cheaper than competing grocery stores, however, it isn't as cheap as it used to be. They used to keep a close eye on all the competing stores and would generally price every item at least one penny cheaper than the lowest price in town. Because of that, I used to go there for virtually all our produce, however, these days I can get better deals on many produce items at our Kroger stores -- and unlike WinCo -- we get fuel points with Kroger.

These days, I kind of time my trips there to go with a BUNCH of produce items I know I can count on to be cheaper and then hit the bulk bins while I'm there, as well. However, you definitely have to watch prices these days. Last time we went, Mandarin oranges were about one dollar more than the loss leader price I'd just taken advantage of at the Kroger affiliate across the street, apples were 50 cents a pound more and things like green onions, lemons and onions were more expensive.

It is one of the few places I can buy bean sprouts when I get hungry for egg rolls, but I used to pick up my egg roll wrappers there because they were a LOT cheaper than Kroger and now they are the same price.

There are still certain shelf-stable items that are significantly cheaper than other stores, but it isn't like the old days when virtually everything was cheaper.

When you first enter the store they have what is called the "Wall of Values" which are supposedly some of the best sale prices in the store. However, the "sale price" on Nabisco Crackers I've seen the last few times was 50 cents more per box than I frequently get by watching sales at competing stores. I'd just gotten flour for about $1 per bag cheaper elsewhere and although I didn't buy it, bagged sugar had been a LOT cheaper on a five times deal the previous week at Kroger. When we got to the frozen foods and saw the price of frozen pizzas ... watching loss leaders elsewhere is definitely the way to go! :eek:

I used to go there for things like cooking sherry and vinegars, but that has changed. It was when coupons are good and in addition to low prices, the store just about always had bottles with hang tags that gave us a great price. I checked a few weeks back when we needed sherry for cooking and it was much cheaper (and probably healthier) to buy "real" sherry at the grocery store wine section than mess with the salt-ridden cooking sherry.
 
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M_Lexx

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Did not do much shopping in the past weeks but just cranking out the late Christmas orders hence a lot of pre-made stuff from the freezer. Every year I promise myself I won't do it but then again an old customer comes back and honestly I can't say 'no' to most of them since I've known them and their situations and circumstances.
Plan on going to the Russian store tomorrow and some other stores, dropping off some orders, etc.
 

Gardencook

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Didn't go out much last week, but did hit a few stores on Friday and then went out again today. The store across town was out of several things on Friday and we did have some coupons that could be used more than once to make it worth the drive.

Between Friday and today, we were able to pick up the frees the store offered and we picked up eight more cans of salt-free veggies for 79 cents and some more Triscuits for $1.99.

The store had some chicken leg quarters reduced and they were B1G1, they also had Mandarins on sale. They were an off-brand so I only bought one box Friday to try them out. I got some house brand "Adorbs" Mandarins from Kroger a few years back and was not happy with them, because they were full of large seeds and WOULD NOT peel. Don't know if it was a bad year or simply the variety of Mandarins they use for that brand, but I haven't bought them since. That made me a bit wary of the off-brand I got Friday, but they've been good so I wanted another box before the sale went off.

We stopped at another store on the way home and picked up some discount produce as well as a deal on shredded cheese and used another B2G1 free dish washing liquid digital coupon.

We've been stretching another pound of ground beef from the freezer the past few days. We cooked it up with a bunch of onions and garlic last week then used half with a bag of black beans for chili in the slow cooker Saturday and yesterday sarma casserole -- my unstuffed cabbage roll variation.

Added a lot more onions and garlic to both dishes when we cooked them. The Idaho/Oregon border is where much of the nation's yellow onion crop is grown, and since they are so good for you and we can get them fairly cheap, I always try to go overboard using them.

We picked up a bag of markdown poblano peppers and also had some markdown sweet peppers to use in both dishes, otherwise the ingredients were all pantry items we had on hand.

We finished off the leftover chili for lunch today and probably have enough for a dinner and lunch left of the sarma. Then we can start using the chicken quarters I got today. I had hoped to make Greek lemon chicken and potatoes, followed by avgolemono (Greek chicken soup) but realized I've only got six lemons left and most of those will go into tea before I get to the chicken. Hope I can find some more on markdown -- or at least the bagged lemons which our main store frequently doesn't have. Don't want to pay nearly one dollar each for lemons, which a lot of stores are charging.

Got our vanilla beans sliced and into the vodka to make vanilla extract near the end of last week, as well. It will now need to steep for a month before I find out if my experiment worked. If it does, we will have gotten a liter of extract for about $15 or so from the vanilla beans we got at the discount store -- and a full liter of extract should last us a VERY long time.

Sure hope it works, because I don't like the taste of vodka -- which is probably why vanilla extract tastes so bad when I get a little on my fingers while cooking. :D
 

Gardencook

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We tried unsuccessfully to take my computer into the shop this week and DH had an eye appointment yesterday, so it has been a disjointed week to say the least. Since the vision still isn't quite cleared in the eye on which he had surgery, he opted not to have the other eye done. They originally wanted to do it the week after the first one, but DH halted it when the other one didn't do as well as promised. However, they'd had him pay for the second surgery in advance -- several weeks ago -- so he had to come home and call the accounting department in another city to get the wheels turning on a reimbursement.

He also got the go-ahead from the surgeon to go ahead with another exam for the two pairs of glasses he paid for more than a year ago. Since the vision has improved in the eye which had surgery, he REALLY needs the lens for his glasses on that eye to be readjusted. He sees better without his glasses in that eye. The vision is quite good in the other eye, so that isn't as big a problem. He was able to make an appointment for next week and perhaps we can get that taken care of before the end of another year. :rolleyes:

We went to a few stores yesterday, before his appointment, but couldn't fit in all of them. We used a B1G1 chicken sandwich coupon for a quick lunch after the appointment and then hit one more store -- which shares a parking lot with Carl's Jr where we got the sandwich. Never did make it to the store across town, so had to head there today -- which was taking our lives in our hands with all the crazy driver's and getting around a bad accident which clogged traffic -- due to those drivers.

The store across town did have the free items offered this week, which was a nice surprise, so I guess it was good we went today instead of yesterday. Meanwhile, since we were passing we went by the store that didn't have the sale garlic yesterday and they had a HUGE amount in stock today. That eliminated the need to drive to to the other end of town -- which I'd already decided against.

That store also had some nice salads on markdown and some large bags of kale were only $1.39 on markdown. I just bought a bag of collards there the other day, so we REALLY need to eat greens! That store also had our Triscuits in stock so we bought more while they were on sale. The store across town only had one box of the low-salt ones we wanted.

Picked up some decent deals overall. Despite the crowds in the stores we were able to make it in and out without taking too long at any store and without losing my temper and snapping at rude fellow customers who wanted EVERYONE out of their way.

Our first stop yesterday was the new discount store -- for something other than groceries this time! They were offering a new deal each day for the past couple weeks and yesterday they had a great deal on men's socks. They got in a shipment of name brand "gold toe" socks a while back and we had picked up a couple three-packs -- one or two at the city out of town -- where we didn't realize they were discounted that day to $2.20 or we probably would have purchased more.

A little more than a week ago, we picked up another three-pack at our store for $2.99, because they had a nice set we hadn't seen at the other store. When we arrived home, an email had arrived saying they'd go on sale for $1.99 on Wednesday so we couldn't resist that deal. I checked when we got home and the same three-pack retails for more than $17 on Amazon, so we definitely got a good deal.

Years ago, I had some register rewards that needed to be used at Walgreens and happened upon a clearance deal on men's socks. They were bags of about eight or 10 pairs each -- in a variety of styles and colors -- for about $2 each. I bought a BUNCH and DH has been using "free" socks ever since. He just finished off the last bag this past autumn, so it was time to restock and thanks to the discount store over the past few weeks, he's got enough to last several more years for about $20 -- just a little more than one three-pack on Amazon -- not that we would have paid that price for them.

We picked up a very few grocery items while we were there -- including a quart of organic low sodium chicken broth for $1 and a jar of prepared horseradish for 50 cents, but nothing too thrilling.

We dropped by a grocery store for cheap garlic and found a couple heads of green cauliflower on markdown for 99 cents each, some markdown Wholly Avocado mash, a loaf of whole grain French bread for 79 cents and a few other items. The lemons we wanted turned out to be bags half the size of what I wanted, so we passed.

We dropped by the older discount store where I picked up a few items including Armor-all disinfectant cleaner for $1 and more organic, no-salt tomatoes for 50 cents. Even got some Fentiman's Pink Ginger Ale, which I'd never seen before. Fentiman's is my favorite brand, although it is very strong for those who haven't ever tried "old-time" ginger ale.

That store was also giving customers a free pouch of brownie brittle mix -- something I've also never tried before. I've always thought soft brownies sounded much better, but everyone seems to rave about the brittle.

We dropped by our regular grocery -- where they didn't have the sale garlic I'd planned to buy, but they did have the larger bags of lemons.

After lunch, we went to WinCo, which does have good prices on some produce IF you know prices well enough to compare. This week, the prices seemed much more like old times when you used to be able to pick up just about everything there for less than the competition.

The primary reason for going there was that we were out of celery, which is just about always cheaper at that store. I wasn't sure if the supply chain mess combined with the holiday would mean there would be shortages, but they seemed well-stocked -- at least on produce, which was all we needed. Celery was 88 cents a bunch, two-pound bags of carrots were 96 cents each, parsley was 58 cents a bunch, cucumbers and green peppers were 50 cents each.

We were out of beets and WinCo is the only store in town that sells loose beets. Organic beets at our regular stores runs $2.99 for a bunch that usually only has three large or four small beets -- and that's cheaper than the other stores. :oops: The loose beets aren't organic and I do miss the greens that come with the bunches, but I got to cherry-pick the smaller beets that fit the juicer better and we left with a bag of 10 for $2.02 -- which doesn't make me feel quite as guilty.
 
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bugweena

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I plan to ramp up my gardening this year. We put in a new raised bed (4x8) so that makes a total of 5 of them. I also put tomatoes in self-wicking buckets. I purchased two GreenStalk vertical planters on sale (not so frugal but they were on a great sale and they are guaranteed not to crack, etc for 5 years). I started cleaning out my hutch yesterday and found my old coupon binder. Since coupons have been drastically reduced and many not for things I purchase I haven't used it for about 3 years according to the expiration dates on the coupons that are still in there :) I had thought about purchasing a photo storage case from Michael's (on sale for $14.99) in which to store my seed packets but when I saw my binder I decided I could use it. It has baseball card plastic sleeves as well as some that have four sections per page--perfect for seed packets. It zips up so nothing can fall out.

I also have been looking at garden planners but none of them seemed to have all the features I wanted so I printed out free printables from various sources on the internet and personalized it to what I wanted in it. I used an old 3-ring binder, appropriately green in color, and put in some tabs and some sheeet protectors. As I dream about and plan my spring garden I will change it around as needed. Our first frost-free date is April 6-8 depending on the source. And according to the planting guide I printed out I should be starting seeds indoors around mid-January.

I've also been going to a local greenhouse for two years now (the family used to sell at the big farmer's market but due to COVID and health issues they decided to sell plants out of their front yard). They recogize our truck coming down the road and when we're in a different car they don't know who we are until we get closer. She gives me discounts on overstock and end-of-season plants! They have great veggie plants as well as many perennials and annuals. We purchased a lot from them when we landscaped around our DIY patio. I would much rather give my $ to a local family with great plants grown on the property than to my Lowe's or Home Depot (althought I do hit them up for clearance plants :)

Dreaming of my spring garden here on Christmas eve in NC.....
Happy Holidays all and best wishes for a happy, healthy, productive, and FRUGAL 2022.
 

KmmCo

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Okay, I have been slacking again on the posting;... I wrapped up my job in Phoenix, visited my friends in Surprise once more, and scooted up to near Albuquerque NM for my housesit. I hung around the extra few days in Phoenix thinking i had to work on the 23rd, but they sent the termination paperwork on the 22nd so I got out of that last bit of work.... I got a huge paycheck on the 24th because it had a bonus on it of $1000! When I got here on the 25th where I have WIfi, I scheduled a bunch of bills to go out today. I will get one more check next week for just one day of pay (Sunday into Monday).

I picked up a few items at Winco in Surprise AZ to bring here with me. I also hit up Walmart before they closed on the 24th for a few items. I still had to run to walmart today for soda and milk.... At walmart I have been using my Amex gift card that I got in Missouri for the timeshare presentation. I have about $60 left on it.

Saturday and Sunday, i just chilled here watching movies and playing with the dogs. Today Walmart was my only outing and I did laundry this morning. They have Roku and netflix here so plenty to watch on TV. I also brought a book inside, but have not had time to get to it. Taking care of these 3 dogs is kind of labor intensive though. The youngest pup likes to put everthing in it's mouth and I have had to take a few things away from it this afternoon. I will be here till New Yeats day.

* So far, I have been getting creative with getting rid of some leftovers into repurposed meals. I had a stir fry last night and some bean and cheese soft taco for lunch today. I am gonna get rid of an extra hamburger patty tonight for dinner - just as a hamburger with some chips and maybe fruit.
 

Gardencook

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Wanted to get out Sunday to see if there were any decent meat markdowns, but the snow took most of the day to dig. As soon as we got the digging done, another whiteout would begin. It wasn't worth chancing getting out on the roads. We didn't make it out until late yesterday after another dig.

We had a $7/$7 meat reward coupon and we didn't want it to expire. By the time we got to the store there wasn't much to be had, but we did find a couple pre-stuffed turkey breasts marked 50 percent off. Would have preferred to only buy one, but one was just a little less than $7 and the other was slightly more than $6 so we had to buy both to make the coupon work. I couldn't find any smaller packages of meat that we needed to use as "fillers." We still got two nice breasts for about $6.

We got a free canister of hot cocoa mix using a digital coupon and could also get a bag of cough drops for 49 cents after digital coupon, but the ad at that store went off December 24 so we don't have a real "sale" until tomorrow.

We got some nice markdown sweet peppers three to a bag and a bag with about five Mandarin oranges for $1 each at the next store. We also picked up a couple markdown salads.

The final grocery store had some deli spicy fried chicken wings on markdown and some chicken salad on markdown for 99 cents. I don't really care for the chicken salad by itself (it is just chicken and mayo), but when we doctor it with a bunch of vegetables and pickles it isn't bad. We definitely can't buy the ingredients for that price and with NO rotisserie chickens in the stores due to the weather, I figured we'd better get it. Who knows if we'll be able to get fresh chicken in the meat department by next week?

That store also had a nice bag with five small zucchini and a bag with four lemons for 99 cents.

DH decided over the weekend he needed a new robe with all the cold weather. His old ones are several years old and the belts are falling apart. I warned him that it was probably too late unless we could find something on clearance since they're now trying to get rid of winter clothing and will start bringing in spring merchandise. Compounding the problem is the fact that robes aren't really in style right now so few stores sell them.

I checked online and Walmart had one like what he wanted, but it was on clearance so not available for store pick-up and anything else we could find to order came from outside vendors so wouldn't credit toward the amount we'd need to get free home delivery.

Kohl's had one -- also on clearance -- but it was only available for store pick-up 60 miles away. The weather was turning bad, so we knew there was a good chance we wouldn't be able to get there to pick it up and we didn't want to take a chance on it.

The reason we were looking online was because we really don't have much in the way of department stores any longer. Corporate America wants us to drive the 60 miles to shop in the multitude of department stores they've still got there. We checked our local Walmart and Fred Meyer online and neither of them sold robes in store. The last time we checked Penny's the prices were outrageous and selection was terrible!

I knew we'd have to hit the shopping hard locally if we had ANY chance of finding the odd robe that was available in any of our stores, because we honestly don't have much choice.

Yesterday, we went to the new discount store which does sell clothing. However, the only sleepwear they had was for children. The men's clothing was all outerwear.

They closed early last week and had an extended holiday weekend, so I knew they wouldn't have gotten any new merchandise. Checked the food while we were there and only came away with a jar of McCormick paprika ($2), a jar of whole grain mustard (75 cents), a few cans of low sodium chicken broth (50 cents each) and some Lara Bars (25 cents each).

TJ Maxx didn't have robes either, but we did find a pair of slacks for DH on a clearance rack for $12, so it wasn't a total loss.

Our last hope was Ross Dress for Less where they had one and ONLY one men's robe in the entire store! It was on a Geoffrey Beene on a clearance rack for $12.99 -- which was actually quite a bit cheaper than the online options which were a HUGE hassle to order.

The trek around town was a chore, but I guess it was a profitable trip in the end. Considering the weather, we definitely don't feel like leaving the house today. Hopefully, my computer might be ready tomorrow and then we'll have to go out again. DH called and the technician said they had to make some "repairs to the software" before the nightmare features update would install, so they had just started the installation a short while before he called. If only Microsoft would quit releasing software that must be "repaired!"
 

KmmCo

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Just hung at the house again yesterday and watched lots of TV.

*I made a good steak sandwich for lunch from some steakum's that I got at Winco for $1.49. I still have onion, steak, and peppers left for another meal.

* Dinner was a stirfry from some odd and end stuff. I had a little rice left, some teriyaki chicken (from a carryout meal), bell pepper, onion, and a lot of snow peas. I just used what I had - tossed in a little soy and went with it.

I am running another load of laundry this morning. Just a small load of my clothes. I did the dishes last night after dinner. The pups are all napping right now. It snowed a trace overnight, but the pups went out to play anyway this morning. A couple hours later the snow is almost all melted off. I will need to clean up the mud though near the door. I did put an old towel on the floor and that caught some of it....

I had a hamburger patty left from grilling at the campsite in Arizona and it was so big that I sliced it in half to eat for lunch the other day. I might warm the other half for an easy lunch today. I have some leftover sweet potato and corn to use up for my side. (I had those for my Christmas dinner with a slice of hamsteak). I am trying to get rid of all the odd and end leftovers before heading home on New Years Day.

I have decided just to go on back after the housesit since it is getting so cold here. I can make the drive in a day. I am going to make a plan to get some things done at the house in the next 3.5 months, then I am going to go to Sitka AK for my summer job.

I have been looking at what is available in town for shopping, etc. in Sitka. I found a laundromat in case there is not one at the lodging that is being provided. I also found where the McDonalds is for some free Wifi when I need it. I also saw that there is a Salvation army thrift store in town too so I will definitely check that out in case I need anything else.... Fred Meyers is there too and has pretty much anything that I would need to purchase. No walmart in Sitka or Juneau though.
 

bugweena

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I found a marked down roast and used a $1 off wine tag. Cooked it with potatoes, onions, and carrots in my instant pot. I haven't used it much in the couple of years that I have had it but I have been watching some youtube videos and hoping to use it more. Especially in the spring/summer when I want to be out in my garden after work rather than the kitchen.

Also found some marked down ground chicken. I got three 1# packs for .99 each. I found a recipe online for ground sesame chicken to serve over rice and we will try that tonight.
 

M_Lexx

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Went on a weekly grocery run today, got a few of clearance deals, namely at Kroger: $0.69/ sweetened condensed milk, $3.75/2-pack of butter, $0.25/English muffins and bagels, $0.50/fresh dill, cilantro, $0.99/Pillsbury all-purpose flour, at Walmart: $1.25/bunch of celery, at Food Lion: $13.01/ribeye steak for New Year's eve celebration.

Got another $0.25 powder Poligrip for my father at the Salvation Army, they seem to release one or two every week to keep people coming in and my best find of the month there was a couple of Club aluminum heavy pots complete with lids, $2.99 each and that day they rolled the dice literally and I scored 30% off. (On a slightly sarcastic and heavily defensive note I do like heavier pots and pans and don't care about 'metals leaking, leeching and leaping in', gluten-protein-whatever-is-in- free fads since I absolutely don't intend to live forever, those are good pots and I never cook anything acidic in aluminum).
 

Gardencook

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Yesterday we got some snow, but nothing major so we went by a few discount stores. I needed a new meat thermometer and we were tired of being stuck inside. Did find one at the older discount grocery for $1.99 along with a few other grocery items. Just an old fashioned (non-digital) meat thermometer is running at least $10 at grocery stores these days.

We did go to the variety store owned by the grandfather of the discount grocery owner while we were out and found a good deal on some men's natural multivitamins and the aspirin I use. I have NO idea what we ended up paying for anything, because that store has the most complicated discount sales you can imagine. The gal explained it, but neither of us understood. I think the first one you got one free and any after that, you bought one and got two free -- but the B1G1 only applied to certain items and wasn't advertised or marked in the store.

Whatever we paid, it was a GREAT deal. We got four bottles of vitamins and six bottles of aspirin along with a few small items for about the price we would have paid for one bottle of vitamins elsewhere.

We didn't have time to run next door to the grandfather's discount grocery, however, since the weather was beginning to turn when we got out and it was getting late.

We thought we might have to take the computer back to the shop late this afternoon. We did have a couple hours before we had to be back home to phone. The weather looked decent -- famous last words. The sanding truck came through shortly before we left and in retrospect, I guess I should have known the city street crews had advance notice of what was coming. :rolleyes:

We can get around town okay between storms, but try to get back up our hill before the storms get too bad and major highways around us are closed and those that are open around us sound like they are much worse than here.

The new discount grocery posted that it had a new shipment of groceries so we ran over there. They kind of hinted in a FB post that sometimes their groceries come from semi trucks that tip over, so I suspect that they must have gotten some of the groceries from all the trucks that have been tipping from windstorms all across the country. There are several stores within the regional chain though, so they must have sent the stuff I wanted to another store.

Most of what they had gotten was snacks and chips, which we didn't need. DH did find some Lara Bars the other day for 25 cents and he wanted some more so we knew it wouldn't be a wasted trip.

Did pick up a few additional items, including a box of low sodium chicken broth and a box of Westbray soy milk for $1 each and some Kodiak chocolate pancake and waffle mix for 75 cents a box. Silken tofu was 50 cents. The big find was a single can of corned beef -- retail more than $6 -- for 50 cents.

The extra bonus -- the store gives away its boxes instead of crushing them all. We loaded our groceries in a couple nice sturdy boxes with handles.

The weather was fine when we went into the store, but there was a blizzard underway by the time we exited. We had OfficeMax rewards that expired tomorrow, so had to go there instead of heading straight home.

We concluded our shopping quickly, picking up a free fireproof security box with our rewards cash.

Jamba Juice is almost across the street, but it is the most heavily traveled thoroughfare in town which is actually the old highway to Yellowstone National Park. We considered skipping the juice, but really needed to use a gift card we've had for a very long time. We didn't want to get it earlier, because ice cold juice sounded better in a warm house, than driving around town in frigid temperatures.

We made a nice pot of homemade soup for dinner -- from ingredients we had on hand. Just the thing for frigid temperatures.

Sure hope our heavy snow moves on to Boulder County, Colorado tomorrow where they certainly need it. The wildfires created by the high winds today are such a tragedy. Hard to believe only a short distance up the road, Interstate 80 in Wyoming was closed AGAIN due to blizzards, while Boulder was such a tinder box there was nothing to stop the fires once they got going.

Meanwhile, The Sierras won't have power restored to many areas for a couple weeks and are running out of fuel and groceries with road closures that keep them from getting restocked. The supply chain is going to be so broken the next few weeks, we dread to think what is coming in the new year. :eek:
 
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Gardencook

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We were close enough to the next reward level at some stores that I hated to see the points expire at the end of the month, but I wasn't sure what I could find to buy based on the ads. We went to the stores Friday, hoping we'd find some markdowns that would get us there without purchasing the larger items which I really preferred to purchase when they would credit toward January rewards.

The first store did have some nice markdowns including some natural beef patties and produce. That store also gives five fuel points for bringing our own reusable bags and since one of the bags of markdown apples read the wrong sku and the clerk had to fix it, she thought she was giving us credit for a couple extra bags. That would have gotten us to the next level, but for some reason NONE of the bags credited and I had to go to the customer service desk where we lost the extra credits leaving us nine points short. Thankfully, we found enough produce discounts at the sister store to get us three points over the required amount.

We finished off the month with a one dollar per gallon fuel reward as well as a 30 cent one we can use next month. We also used a one dollar per gallon fuel reward from last month on the last day before expiration. However, since the weather was so bad, we didn't go out of town and had to let a 20 cent one expire.

The points offers at the other store were very confusing. We'd get three times points on any meat purchase over $15 and four times points on any bakery purchase over $10 -- but we rarely spend that much on either item. There was a two times points offer on produce, but produce tends to be a lot more expensive there and they didn't have produce loss leaders this week.

They did have some grass fed organic ground beef on markdown and I really wanted a roast, but NOT on Friday. If I buy one, I'd prefer to get it toward the end of the sale, but I'm not sure I dare get one, because we've got other meats that need to be used and I've got some vegetarian recipes I want to try.

My math was discombobulated on Friday and apparently DH's was as well. Mine had to do with trying to juggle reward points, trying to count meat purchases to go above $15 and multiplying them by three while trying to add all of that to our other purchases while figuring out IF the digital manufacturer coupons would work with the store coupons and whether they would count toward the rewards level or not and then counting the number of yogurts that we were purchasing.

I considered the roast, but in addition to getting us to the fuel level it would leave us needing to buy a lot more ground beef than I wanted in order to reach the next reward level after that! I finally decided to just get enough ground beef to go over the $15 amount and skip the roast, but at the register the ground beef rang up cheaper than what the sale tag led me to believe it would and the meat only came to $14.67 so we didn't get triple points.

The digital coupons also worked with the store coupon, but didn't count toward the reward. Still it was the last day before expiration. In the end we got a great deal on Sargento cheese -- 99 cents each for two shredded and one block. We also got four more boxes of Triscuits before the price goes up again.

By some miracle the points came to three dollars over the points level we needed -- due mostly to the fact that neither DH or I counted the correct number of yogurts -- which were a great price. I still don't know how both of us could be off by that many yogurts, but we couldn't have gotten much closer to the amount we needed so it all worked.

That store allows you to combine rewards from two months, so we didn't cash out and will combine them with what we earn this month. The fuel rewards are virtually worthless there, so we usually cash out for grocery rewards and IF we decide to buy a roast next week that should get us quite far toward a January reward with the three times points -- without worries about them expiring right away.
 
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KmmCo

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Made it home yesterday. A day later than I intended. The family came home on time on Friday night and I drove to a rest area right outside of Santa Fe to sleep. The heavy ran started that night. In the morning as I drove uphill to Santa Fe I got into snow for a while, then more rain north of Santa Fe. I stopped for a breakfast sandwich in Las Vegas NM and by the time I got to a rest area up the road, it was a full on blizzard with whiteout conditions. Slow going all the way into Raton, where I stopped for gas and lunch. As it was starting to clear a little I deciced to tackle the pass and get to lower altitude in Trinidad. By the time I got down the hill, I realized I would be driving in the dark if I tried to get home. Hotel reservation made for Pueblo Co even though it is only a couple hours from home.

The next day (yesterday) I waited till 10 am to leave the hotel and the sun was out with better road conditions. It was an easy 2 hours straight to home.... I made lunch and dinner at home out of leftovers from my cooler. DH was at work and I went to bed before he came home.

*I woke up this morning realizing it is Pantry Challenge month from one of the food blogs I follow. I am game for it and will let you all know how I do. I ate out on the 1st on the road, but leftover lunch got heated up in the microwave at the hotel for dinner.

*yesterday I had steak um on some regular bread that I found here at the house for lunch. I ate a Halo with that.

*For dinner I had bean and cheese nachos - refried beans from a can I opened at the housesit and a little bit of Mexican blend cheese in a container here in the fridge.

* I found 2 hot dog buns in the van when I was cleaning the food out of there and will do Steak um again with one of the buns for lunch today. That should finish off the Steak ums.

I have a pound of frozen hamburger thawing in the fridge and will make something for dinner with that. I will let you know what i come up with....
 
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KmmCo

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I have a timeshare week expiring before I get back from Alaska, so I looked to see what I could get. Orlando here I come at the end of January! DH has no vacation until September, so I am going it alone to Disney World for a couple of days.

I paid $169 for the timeshare exchange fee. $11.20 plus points for the flight, and for $201 reserved an economy car rental at Fox (i have not used them before and am debating about making a second cancellable reservation at Budget just in case.) Travel bargains can still be had out there.

I have not bought the theme park tickets yet because I am not sure how many days I want to go. I will make that decision next week. There is no lack of things to do in Florida and I can always go to the beach on either coast if I want for the day.... Kind of a spontaneous decision to do this, but I was trying to find something in between my ski reservations that would be fun.
 
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