Frugal Living - Challenge 2021 Daily Frugal challenge

KmmCo

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I walked to the store for my hot dog buns. The walk served three purposes: free exercise, saves gasoline, and I can't buy too much to carry back.
I got my buns on sale, a bag of markdown maltomeal cereal, a 2 liter soda, and some bagged spinach on markdown. I also found a salad kit that will go with dinner and also be my lunch tomorrow (for $1.99). Salad and smoked sausage on a bun is all I need tonight...

* I am going to make some pudding in a bit as my dessert since I have a lot of milk left from that gallon I got on sale. I already had a Jello instant pudding in my pantry stash. I will probably still bake something on Saturday to take to work.

The spinach will actually last a little bit, so I can have spinach salads with my work lunch all next week. I am trying to eat a little bit healthier.

I did load the dishwasher earlier today, but have been too lazy to do any other housecleaning yet.

I did pay a couple of bills this morning. my paycheck is pretty well gone now so the next 10 days will be some no spend time. i have plenty of food and a mostly full tank of gas so I will be good to go.... Since the weather is getting nicer, just going outside for walks is good free entertainment/exercise.
 

Gardencook

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The last few days have been productive, but exhausting.

DH found himself a Bluetooth speaker at Walmart that does work great for his computer, but he also had to buy an electrical adapter because the speakers all assume you to have USB ports to charge them. Since his went out RIGHT as Microsoft did updates he no longer has any. The biggest hassle is that he now must use wireless to make scanned copies and send them to me in pdf format. I've got Photoshop on my computer so can convert them to Jpeg. That is a step we didn't have to go through before, but for some reason he can't get photos any other way than pdf when he doesn't have a USB port.

The speaker and charger only came to about $20 which he paid with a gift card earned with rewards programs -- so no money OOP.

We bought plants on our shopping trip out of town a couple weeks back, but we've had several nights with killing frost so haven't planted yet. We've been keeping them in the car overnight and leaving them out to enjoy the nice sunshine during the day. Tonight we launched into getting a chunk of them planted.

Earlier today we had to make a dreaded large shopping trip. We've got a ton of coupons and free items from the Monopoly game, but I spoke to someone at corporate customer service yesterday and didn't care for the final outcome. It seems Albertsons expects you to change stores on your account each and every time you shop at a different store than your usual one. We're planning a trip and the representative claimed we'd need to change stores for each different stop we made in order to get our coupons to work. There is a store in Hailey, one in Twin Falls and Google claims about 17 in the Boise metro area. Can you honestly imagine having to change stores THAT many times just to use some Monopoly coupons? We really don't want to take out a full day or two visiting every single Albertsons in the metro area, but I originally thought whenever we happened to be near one we'd just run inside to see if they had anything in stock. How do you plan that in advance?

I wasn't planning to do a big shop with the $25 in cash we still had loaded to our card until after we got back home, but I didn't want to risk losing it and the $1 cash prize if we had to change stores to shop so decided to make a big trip today since we get a 10 percent senior discount the first Thursday of the month.

This year all your Monopoly coupons must be loaded to your card instead of just presenting the coupon to the clerk as past years. That meant over the past week I've had to feed in more than 300 twelve digit codes -- and I didn't even put in all the small coupons. It would make too big a mess of our shopping list! Of course, it would have been easier to scan them using the app -- which is what they expect you to do -- but we use our landline number, NOT our cell number and based on past experience I'm terrified of the confusion if we switched.

The weekly printable shopping list isn't too hard to use, because it is organized. Dairy coupons are grouped together with a header, meat items are also grouped together, etc. However, the Monopoly coupons are a TOTAL MESS and listed separately from the other coupons you have loaded!

When we got a free item with an instant win coupon it is listed one place. However, if you won the identical item with the Match 3 game on a non-instant win code it is listed in an entirely different place. By the time I added the codes for the small 50 cent and $1 coupons my shopping list was SIX pages long with four free bottles of water on one page and five more listed several pages later. One free box of organic animal cookies was buried on page 2 and the remaining two boxes were buried on page 5 -- and of course, I can't get those coupons wiped off my list, because others won free cookies as well and they don't appear to be restocking our store. They've been out the past two visits and they finished restocking the cookie aisle today without adding any new boxes to the shelf.

I guess I didn't mention that in addition to all the rest of the confusion, they had just gotten a shipment and had huge carts of merchandise in numerous aisles along with employees who really didn't like it when you had to go up and down the same aisle numerous times to look for merchandise that wasn't there.

I think we've still got close to 30 free coupons left to redeem -- many of them listed in two different places on the long list. UGH!

At least we were able to whittle about eight free coupon lines and perhaps 10 "cents off" coupons from the list today. However, we had two coupons for nail clippers, weren't able to get one last week but only found one today. That means we still have the line for the unredeemed one on our list -- so it didn't cut the size of the list.

I also added coupons for weekly sale items which our store also didn't have, as well. That means I've got to change stores and hope the coupons will work elsewhere. I did check Boise's ad earlier in the week and they seemed to have the exact same prices on the items that interested us, so I still don't understand why I need to change stores to use identical coupons. I really wanted to get some Nabisco Crackers with a deal this week that were sold out, our store apparently doesn't sell the flavored seltzer water the computer thinks it does and the Kellogg's cereal I'd hoped to buy apparently wasn't included in the mega sale as I'd hoped -- so now those coupons also add length to the list.

It definitely gives me a much better understanding of why we shop Kroger when traveling. Their system is nearly seamless. Any Kroger chain store card works at any other Kroger chain store. The coupons come off without problems and you earn fuel points on your purchases which can be used at any other Kroger fuel center. The system is much easier than the confusion of Safeway (where you use a card) and Albertsons where they took away our cards a couple years ago. Since Albertsons bought Safeway it seems Safeway has taken over -- much as happened when Kmart bought Sears and promoted the Sears CEO who commenced to close all the Kmart stores. Albertsons is headquartered in Boise and was THE place to shop when DH was growing up there. :(

Our shopping trip was successful, even though totally exhausting. I tried to do a hand-written list at home to organize some of the Monopoly coupons, but we still found ourselves running from one end of the store to the other -- back and forth repeatedly -- and then spent WAY too much time trying to find the matching coupons on the printed list. Quickly realized I should have placed a page number of where on the printed list items were located on each and every coupon on my hand-printed list. Discovered that Mac & Cheese isn't housed on the aisle with the pasta or the one with the soups/entrees -- after about the third or fourth time up and down several aisles. We aren't really big mac and cheese fans, but Annie's Organic at 45 cents a box was hard to pass up.

Highlights included street taco white corn tortillas and a box of white corn taco shells for 45 cents each after sale, store coupon and 10 percent discount. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juices (64-ounce bottles), Chips Ahoy! and a box of Keebler Multigrain Club Crackers were $1.34 each after mega sale, Monopoly coupon and discount. A box of frozen veggies was about 68 cents. A large bottle of organic maple syrup: $6.29. Dannon Triple Zero Yogurt: 45 cents. Chobani Flips: 80 cents. Wilton Baking Cups $1.34 -- we've been out of them for ages, but it is easy to forget to buy more.

Then we got a cashier who appeared to be new and struggled a bit with scanning products. She was quite shocked when she saw all the digital coupons start coming off the total. Of course, $26 off our total with Monopoly prizes and $2 off bakery with a reward from last month didn't hurt any! ;)

I had forgotten the problem we've had in the past over the senior discount. When the clerks scan the discount it only takes one penny off the total. It did the same today and when I mentioned the clerks hit some register buttons and it comes off she simply said, "Well, you got a good deal anyway." She obviously didn't want to mess with finding out how to make it work. Thankfully, the bagger came to our defense and told her it should be 10 percent of the total, NOT one penny. She hit another button and the discount came off. I don't know if they know how to get the discount and just hope you won't notice or if it is an honest mistake.

Anyway, in the end more than $90 worth of groceries (well over $100 if you calculate retail instead of sale prices) came down to less than $20 -- and two grocery rewards were added to our total for this month with a personalized coupon. Half of the total (a little more than $10) was four boxes of organic whole wheat lasagna noodles that were on sale. We just ran out last night and that store is the ONLY one in town that still sells the whole wheat ones. (The "gluten-free" fad has NOT been kind to whole grain lovers!)

I made sure to take a large cart instead of a small one when we entered the store and it was quite full as we rolled it to the parking lot. Just wish we could have gotten a few more free items wiped off our cumbersome shopping list.
 

jastwins

※Kaboom!・:・:・゜
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@Gardencook I am so sorry for all the difficulties that Microsoft has caused. There has to be a class action suit in there somewhere....monopoly, the money you spend on repairs and the new speakers?? I am sure with the last Apple update that was a huge security flaw was how my information was stolen. These companies have you purchase and use their products and do not provide enough security against hackers.

I am still struggling with what to wear to my kids' graduation and bought 2 pairs of pants in T J Maxx last night. One will do and the other will be returned. The top I got from Amazon will be a keeper and I am just glad it fits.
My dad has not been doing well and my sister and mom got him a hospital bed. My brother and nephews helped bring it to their house and set it up . DAd is not sick enough to go to a hospital but has days where he is weak and cannot get up. Last weekend, he could not get out of bed. My sister and nephew helped him into the wheelchair and brought him in the kitchen and had him eat soup and coffee. Mom was thrilled and dad is happy with the hospital bed. He was even able to sit up in it on Monday.
Work has been sressful and 8 teachers callled out again today. I am so done with this job and the aggravation it causes me when you can only get 5 subs. So I just put out a blanket email and begged any staff member to help. Luckily, some teachers stepped up and everything is covered. Sadly, I will go home with a migraine today from the stress. Hoping a nap will help.
Tomorrow I will visit my mom for MOther's day and D1 will go with me. Our plan is to drive back Saturday night. Next weekend is d1's graduation and I will wait in the parking lot while she gradutes and they stream it live and take a pic. WE will then go out to eat in her college town and I hope my sister can join us. Her state , CT, has relaxed all covid rules and her girls all have lacrosse games again. I may stay over her house in CT and then go pick up d3 at her college. From there I will swing by and visit my parents and drop d3 off at the airport so she can visit her friend in Montana!!!! and I will head home. I am taking off that MOnday the 17th. Later that week, I will head up to d2's graduation and my mom is making this even harder for me. She insists on attending the graduation and I may have to pick her up if my sister meets me halfway. My sister and sister in law will watch my dad while mom is with me. Just praying that dad stays well and nothing happens while we are gone. And yes, my life is always this crazy.
Not sure what things will cost and hope I have enough money!!!
 

KmmCo

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Yesterday was kind of a chill day. I did my laundry and got the bathroom clean finally. I did a few small errands and went for a nice walk at a park. I stopped by the outdoor market, but didn't find anything that I wanted to spend money on. Some of the craft stuff is cool, but way to pricey!

* I ended up having another smoked sausage for lunch and some chips and salsa. I just was not in the mood for salad at lunchtime.

I was just going to hang out at the apartment the rest of the evening, but I ended up going to the thrift store to find a picture frame. i found two really nice ones that were still brand new. I only paid $1.99 each.
 
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KmmCo

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I did more housecleaning this morning - dusting and dishes and such. I stuck my head out on the patio and it feels downright cold today, so I am just hanging inside. The temperature isn't bad at 52, but it is cloudy and the little bit of wind makes it feel cold.

*I had salad for lunch today. I picked a Qdoba burrito for dinner last night and only ate half, so I am going to heat the other half up for dinner tonight. I can supplement it with some extra salad or chips/salsa if need be.

*I finished the last of the ice cream in a root beer float last night. I had some pudding yesterday too and will eat some more of it later today. It was a big box of pudding, so I may end up taking some for work tomorrow. I decided to bake a small muffin package that makes 6 muffins for my other work treat.

I think I will do a little catching up on my youtube channels tonight. I am getting pretty behind on a lot of them...... I tried to read a little yesterday and it was making me sleepy, so I am skipping that today for sure.

I am just so tired lately.... I am thinking that after I leave my job, I am gonna need to sleep for a month at least. :D I am actually glad that I am not really planning anything big before September. July's trip home will be pretty chill. I am planning on only driving a couple hundred miles a day at the most. In August, I am planning to not do any huge things. I just have some little house projects that need done at some point.

I need to kind of be prepared anyway for any problems with my pension payout, so not spending any more money than I have too until September is a good plan for me. By then, I should be able to get it straightened out. I am prepaying my water and phone bills thru the summer. I will only need money for food and gasoline.
 

Gardencook

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We did another dreaded big shop at our regular grocery store. Had a bunch of paper and digital coupons piling up, the mega sale was decent and the store gave us another $5/$50 coupon so decided it was a good chance to use it -- plus the store is giving two times fuel points Thursdays through Sundays in May. Thankfully, pretty much everything we wanted was in stock.

Got some really good deals after mega sale and manufacturer coupons: Darigold butter ($1.49 a pound), a smaller bottle of Scope mouthwash (99 cents) and a larger one of Colgate ($1.99), a bag of Kauai and a can of MJB coffee ($2.99 each), a jar of guacamole salsa (99 cents), Palmolive dishwashing liquid 99 cents, Mr. Clean Scrubbing Sponge 2-packs ($1.49).

Non-mega sale items included one-liter bottles of Poland Springs water for 67 cents after sale and coupon and bags of Oreo snack cookies were 99 cents with a five times weekly deal.

Aveeno lotion was also on a five times deal, but they only had three of the ones I wanted with SPF-15 for the summer sun. I've got plenty of other lotions without sunscreen, but my arms are ALWAYS bone dry year-round. (Don't understand how you can have oily skin and dry arms, but ... ) Got them for $3.99 each -- retail $9.99.

Two eight-packs of Dial Soap came to $4.98 total after a high value digital coupon that arrived that morning.

Also found a head of cauliflower on markdown for one dollar. Broke that up into florets and put them in a Ziploc bag for snacking.

The receipt claimed we saved 63 percent, but the savings are usually higher than what the receipt claims at that store.

After that, we ran a separate transaction and picked up another Big Lots gift card for a 4x fuel points event that added 200 fuel points to this month's total -- 20 cents per gallon.

Big Lots offered a free bottle of hand sanitizer this weekend and I've gotten a bunch of coupons the past week so needed to start using them. They sent a $5/$15 reward coupon, a 20 percent off "friends and family"-type coupon, a 15 percent off birthday coupon and the receipt printed out a $10/$40 coupon.

We got a receipt survey so with double points on the groceries, four times points on the gift card and the receipt survey we added 410 fuel points to our total for the month -- 41 cents per gallon discount. We also bought three P&G products so should be able to get points through the rewards program -- IF all goes well.

They still had a few cans of Campbell's Well Yes Soup on the clearance shelf. We got a couple cans of roasted chicken vegetable, a can or two of Southwest chicken and a can of sweet potato and corn chowder. They had also added a couple boxes of Pacific brand Southwest chicken soup so I picked up those, as well. They were all on markdown for $1.00. They also had a can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom regular $1.25 on clearance for ... $1.25. I passed on that one. :confused:

Also picked up some Annie's Organic whole wheat "bunnies" on markdown for $1, some cans of unsweetened tropical rooibos tea that looked interesting to try marked down to 50 cents each and a couple of bottles of sweet chili marinade for 37 cents each. We were just about out of cumin, so picked up a jar of that, as well. After coupon our total came to a little more than $10 which we paid using a gift card we'd purchased on a fuel rewards deal at our regular grocery store -- so no money OOP.

We also went by the discount grocery. Hadn't been there in more than a week since the owner's been focusing on big bags of frozen foods that won't fit in our freezer. He's also gotten a load of soda pop and a couple loads of Little Debbie Snacks -- none of which we needed. However, they had put a few new grocery items on the shelf, so we got a good deal on whole wheat tortillas ($1.29), white cornmeal ($1.49) and a couple cans of chili -- artisan and no beans -- 89 cents each.

Then they had a box of free pharmacy items they were giving away on a "Freebie Friday" promotion. We got a bottle of pricey aspirin, a box of pro-biotics and a bottle of milk of magnesia. Could have had two more, but didn't see anything else we needed.
 
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KmmCo

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*Worked two hours of OT last night. They asked me if i wanted to work and I told them that was the wrong phrase because the answer to "want to" was no, but that I was willing to stay for for the $$ :D .

I have been doing chores this morning laundry, dishes, trash out, etc. * I also sold an item on marketplace for $4 and the lady picked it up just a bit ago. Breakfast was late (11 am) so I am not really hungry for lunch yet. I will probably have a smoked sausage link with a little spinach salad. I still have a lot of those links left and a lot of brats in the freezer too.

* I have dinner prepped. It is a small pasta bake with some garlic toast - all ready to pop in the oven for dinner tonight.

I have no clue what I am pulling out of the freezer for tomorrow. I am noticing that I do have a little more space in there. The only shopping I am doing is for fresh veggies, milk, and sodas until I get rid of everything here.....

I am getting ready for my vacation at the end of May and will prep food to take with me. I saved my two liter bottle to freeze ice in for my cooler.

Best news of all - DH started back to work today with the okay of the doctor. He ran out of leave and has been without pay since mid - December. His first check will all get eaten up by the back due health insurance premiums though. At least he will be getting paid, by the time I leave my job at the end of June. I need him to keep working for about 2 more years while I do some seasonal jobs to really have what we need to travel and enjoy "real retirement" in a couple of years. I have enough to "survive" right now. I just really want out of my current high stress job. If I can pull in a little bit of $$ with seasonal or part-time work for two more years then I will be in much better financial shape to "thrive".

I am sticking to the US for travel right now and in a couple of years when DH is retired, then we can do some international trips.

*It is a nice day out today so I will probably do a nice walk this afternoon on one of the many paved bike trails in town. It rained a few sprinkles one day this week and I want to try to not repeat the muddy hike I had last week... Tomorrow, I might plan on a drive somewhere to just get out of town for a little bit. It is pretty limited where you can go on roads here though. Maybe I will go to Wasilla and visit a couple of thrift stores or something......
 

jastwins

※Kaboom!・:・:・゜
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As I prepare to do the most traveling I will probably do all year, gas prices are higher than ever. Just to have peace of mind, I am filling up on my island, where yesterday a gallon of regualr was $3.29 and who knows what it is today. I should have filled up yesterday, but just forgot. At least we are not out of gas like in some other parts of the country. It is a shame that some stations are price gouging while Colonial pipepline pays $5 million ransom to the hackers!!!???? D1's graduation is tomorrow and I am travelling with her and her boyfriend will follow us. He will take d1 home as I continue on my journey to get D3 from college. She successfully booked a storage locker and is having a friend help her get her stuff there. It seems the place is closed on Sundays and I will be at d1's graduation Saturday. This is a huge help to me and the cost was not too bad. D3 will head up to school earlier this year, so the most she will pay for the storage is 3 months.
We will meet up with my sister and I will stay over her house to save on paying for a hotel. I love spending time with my nieces and their new Labradoodle puppy, Tessa. She is a sweet gentle dog and they are all crazy about her. When I pick up D3, we will head to my mom's and I have to take d3 to the airport the following morning. It will be one long weekend. My dad is in the hospital and I hope to be able to see him. He is being treated for an infection, but at 89, he is slowing down and getting weaker. Not sure when and if they will release him.
 

KmmCo

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I did a really nice long walk around a place called Westchester Lagoon yesterday.. Lots of other people had the same Idea as the bike/walk trail was pretty busy.

*The pasta bake was good and I still have half left for today or tomorrow..... It used up the last of my white cheese that I had. I made it meatless with a tomato sauce and the cheese.

*I went to Costco for gas yesterday. It is $3.09 at Costco and $3.19 everywhere else..... We use the north slope crude here in Alaska and it is all processed at Alaska refineries. I can't get local groceries as 95% of food is "imported" from lower 48 but I can buy local at the gas pump at least.:cool:

I still have not decided what to pull out of the freezer to cook. I might do something like the frozen crab cakes that I have in there. I think there are some frozen potatoes of some type too, Tator crowns or tots maybe? I am pretty unenthused today about what I want to cook....

I have a pile of receipts to record on the budgeting app that I use. I am getting lazy about that lately too.

* I went to Kroger as well and picked up 2 liter sodas, some bananas, and some potato chips, and a markdown muddy buddy chex mix bag. Total spend was $6.47. I forgot to get milk though, but I have the powdered and evaporated milk here if I think I need it this week. I don't want to go back in the store this weekend.
 
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KmmCo

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*I made a couple of cups of the powdered milk up.

* No bake cookies got made and are cooling off. Late lunch is in the oven too. I settled on the crab cakes and tator tots.

I have the dishwasher running right now. After that finishes and I eat lunch then I am going to go out for a while and do something while the sun is still shining. It is already almost 3 PM here. Sunset is not till 1040 pm here now and there is a good hour of twilight after that, so plenty of day left. I am definitely gonna miss the light when I head back south.
 

jastwins

※Kaboom!・:・:・゜
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Good news...the Hospital sent my dad home today.
gas was $3.19 and I filled up my car for $45, paid with the money my mom gave me for Mother’s Day!
My SBKC $20 Visa card arrived in the mail today. I am sure I will use it this weekend
 

KmmCo

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I ended up taking a short drive to the other side of town to look for a different park to walk at yesterday..... I am glad though that I live where I do as I can't see any advantage to living on the NE side of town. Costco and Walmart are just as busy there and my commute would be a bit longer to work. Closer to the military base just means more noise.

*Dinner last night was a smoked sausage on a bun and some potato chips. I am sorely lacking veggies but I did snack on some fruit yesterday.
I have some more broccoli out to add to my crabcakes this next week though. I plan on taking them a couple of days for work. I guess the pasta will be Sundays work lunch.

I have some individual chicken breasts and I think I will take one out for dinner tonight. I can do the broccoli as my veg and maybe just cook up a cup of rice to go with it. I might do teriyaki on the chicken and make it kind of an asian meal.
 

KmmCo

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*Last day to contribute to 2020 IRA, so I threw $200 into my Roth with todays paycheck..... I didn't max my 2020 IRA or even come close - cost of living here in AK is too high to have much $$ leftover. If I find that I have $$ leftover this summer when I start drawing pension, I can still contribute to 2021. I do plan to put some $ in from my Christmas time temporary job though most of it will go to my future travel fund.....

With DH back to work, finances should be a little better too. I have been picking up car insurance and other bills that should have been paid out of his paycheck......
 

Gardencook

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We decided to take a bit of an excursion for our anniversary week. We were able to cut quite a few corners, but since it was our anniversary we didn't want the trip to be bare bones. We had a couple good-size fuel rewards which cut the cost on some of the fuel we used. We used the $1 discount on the way over and the 60 cent one on the way back, but DH had to top off the tank with 3 cent discounts a couple times when we didn't need a full tank.

I did quite a bit of research beforehand and found a couple nice Air BnBs then we also stayed at a couple small motels with kitchenettes for two nights. Considering some places we went are the haunts of billionaires (not just millionaires) I couldn't believe we found the reasonably priced places we did. There are gems out there if you look hard enough. ;)

With all that has been going on, we just wanted some time to be by ourselves and decompress away from crowds and this trip gave us the opportunity. A lot of places still haven't re-opened due to Covid anyway.

The first day we drove through Arco, Idaho and Craters of the Moon. (We missed seeing the movie, even though we've seen it before. From what I understand, none of the national parks are running them yet.)

We stopped for the evening in Hailey, Idaho where we had found a small mom & pop motel that had recently remodeled kitchenette units for a REALLY reasonable price. The reviews were great and accurate. The place was spotless and made a perfect stopover. We weren't even awakened by the private jets flying in and out of the airport across the street. You wouldn't believe the size of some of those things!

The kitchenette consisted of a mini-fridge, two burner range, microwave, toaster, dining table, kitchen sink and all the dishes and utensils we needed -- just perfect for some snacks and preparing breakfast in the morning before heading out. We did splurge a little on dinner at a brew pub in Ketchum that night, but it wasn't check-in time at our motel yet. Ketchum is right outside Sun Valley and it is tough to find a room in that area for less than $250 to $600 a night in the OFF-Season right now! I did reference another reasonably-priced option in Ketchum IF we don't want the kitchen some time in the future.

I'd only been to Sun Valley one day in my life -- to pick up and drop off DH when he covered a conference. I drove down to Twin Falls to shop that day, because it had stores we didn't have here. DH has been there a few times, but not for many years. Twin Falls hotel prices are always higher than surrounding areas, because it is only about an hour and a half from Sun Valley.

Both Hailey and Ketchum have pros and cons. Ketchum is the nearest to Sun Valley, but it only has one small independent grocery store. Hailey is about 10-12 miles farther south. The towns are almost next door, but Hailey has both a large Albertsons and a Natural Grocers. You really can't go wrong in either town IF you can find a good rate and don't feel you need the luxury of staying at Sun Valley.

You may as well not bother to try for Sun Valley in July. That is when the tech giants arrive for their top-secret annual conference where the media is banned and no one is allowed to talk about what goes on inside. Worldwide media outlets converge on the area to get a little film footage of celebrities entering the lodge and dodging every question that is fired at them -- but a little film footage is the ONLY story they ever get while they are there.

The next day we wandered around Sun Valley a bit and mostly spent our time checking out Ernest Hemingway spots -- which we've never had the time to do in the past. There is a Hemingway mural in town made up of thousands of photos of his favorite spots in Paris. He is buried at the Ketchum Cemetery, there is a memorial to him facing east toward the rising sun near a creek. The Silver Creek Preserve is only a few miles southwest of Hailey. It was one of Hemingway's favorite hunting spots and is now owned by the Nature Conservancy. They actually print a list of his favorite bars, but we didn't bother with those -- many would have been closed anyway.

The Sun Valley Lodge still has the room where Hemingway stayed while he was there which you can rent for a small fortune. I've heard bell boys have let some fans in to see it if it isn't rented, but we didn't have the courage to ask. lol! We just spent some time looking at the celebrity photos in the halls and enjoying the swans which are permanent residents at the pond out front of the lodge.

The Ketchum library has a small exhibit of items taken from Hemingway's house. The library actually owns his house, but the address is kept private and no one is allowed to trespass because the neighbors don't want tourists around. Apparently, there are signs everywhere if you get too close. They've turned the house into a writer's creativity spot by invitation only.

We also took in the Sawtooth Botanical Garden -- even though it is off season and very little is budding yet. The elevation is nearly 6,000 feet so they are still getting some very cold nights -- but then we are too. Admission is only $5 or $10 for a family, so worth the cost no matter the time of year.

The next day we headed to Twin Falls. I found what was basically a little "mother-in-law" suite for half the price of most of the motels in town and we got a bedroom/bath with queen bed, small living room and full kitchen for a couple nights with very low fees -- almost a two-for-one deal. I love staying at VRBO/Homeaway places when we travel, but the fees can really hike the price. This was our first experience with Air BnB, but it won't be our last.

We loved the place, the only snag was that we weren't aware the owner was going to be using the freezer on the beautiful new stainless steel refrigerator we saw in the photos. We like to freeze ice for our travels, but weren't expecting a turkey, 30 pounds of French fries, a case of hot dogs and several industrial-size bags of taco meat to be filling the space. I suppose most of her guests don't use the freezer, so she uses it for extra storage. We were able to move the turkey to the back of the fridge for our last night without it thawing and rearrange some things to get our containers frozen, but it took some creativity. Otherwise we loved the place.

We booked two nights in Twin, because aside from Shoshone Falls we have never really gotten to explore the other numerous waterfall parks in the area. We piddled away most of the day hitting several parks, walking some docks on the lakes and Snake River and enjoying the multitude of goslings at one of the lakes. The parents watched us carefully, but some of the goslings wandered right up to us hoping for food. They are obviously used to humans. The marmots weren't afraid in the least either.

We also got a bit closer look at the ramp Evel Knievel used in his unsuccessful attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in 1974. It is still standing and you can see it from many points along the Snake River Canyon, we've just always seen it from a distance. Finally found the park at the bottom of the canyon that allows such beautiful views of the Perrine Bridge, as well, and found the spot along the road where you can get EXTREMELY close to the Perrine-Coulee Falls.

We stopped at a couple stores on our way out of town the next day. Since it was morning we got some nice markdowns including a small bison roast (retail $15.99) for only $6.

That day we headed for Boise with hopes of finding our way to Ritter Island State Park and the Thousand Springs Hydroelectric Plant this time around. We tried when we traveled the area a couple years ago, but never could find our way to the park. We were nearly as unsuccessful this time. DH had to stop and ask directions at least three times as we wandered through back-country roads without a clue whether we were on the right track. Even though it is a state park, the signage is TERRIBLE.

The park was worth the effort once we finally got there. In addition to marmots and lots of birds we even got to watch a small beaver lunching away on lily pads in the middle of a pond. It was a beautiful spot for a picnic lunch. On our way out of town the first day we stopped at a local grocery which often has good deli markdowns. I grabbed four nice wraps -- normally $5 each -- on markdown for 99 cents each. We ate two our first day and the last two at Ritter Island -- along with some chocolate chip pumpkin cookies I'd picked up on markdown.

We found another Air BnB in the Boise area that was far from our usual rut. It was another "mother-in-law" suite with one bedroom/bath, small living room and full kitchen located on some acreage quite a distance out of town on the Boise River right across from Eagle Island State Park. We could walk down to the river and just enjoy the sound of the rushing water to decompress. Several homes in the neighborhood have horses and the lots are large enough that many have man-made duck ponds. There were lots of Canada geese and ducks. One night we saw a snowy egret at a neighbor's pond as we were driving to dinner. The last night we saw wild turkeys wandering the property.

We were supposed to have a dining table right outside our unit, but a huge windstorm blew it over and broke the glass top right before we arrived, however, there was another nice table nearer the water where we ate several of the meals we prepared.

The owners even left fresh eggs from their chickens in our fridge before our arrival.

They had a rooster who seemed a bit confused about his job responsibilities. IF he crowed in the morning it was generally a few hours after sunrise, but you could count on him crowing up a storm every evening about an hour or two before sunset. Sometimes he'd even crow a time or two when it was pitch black out. Apparently, he decided to treat us with a sunrise serenade the morning of our departure when he crowed a couple times about 5:15 a.m.

They also had a couple sheep we could occasionally hear and a cute little puppy popped by to meet DH a couple times when he was loading/unloading items from the car. There was a cat who really wanted to be friends the first night, but was a bit skittish. A walking stick was leaned up against a tree and when the cat was almost ready to come near us, he rubbed up against it, knocked it down and I'm afraid he thought we'd thrown it at him, because he kept his distance after that.

The air conditioning was going when we arrived to keep the place cool. With some effort, DH FINALLY figured out how to turn it off with the digital keypad. From then on, we simply left the windows open all night to enjoy the fresh air and nature sounds, then closed the windows around late morning to keep in the cool till evening.

The owner noticed we were toting plants (I have a favorite nursery in Boise I love to shop when we get there early enough in spring that residents haven't bought everything. Their season is a LOT earlier and warmer than ours!) Before we left he offered us tomato plants they had raised in their greenhouse, since they planted too many this year.

We loved the surroundings, but it was definitely a distance out of Boise in Meridian (the city which passed ours for second place in size quite a few years ago now.) It was almost to Eagle which is even farther out of Boise and the abode of the very wealthy. It was worth it for the peace and quiet, but also made it more difficult to get to our usual spots. I always enjoy the two Boise Grocery Outlets and they haven't built stores in Meridian or Eagle yet. We didn't actually make it to the Grocery Outlets, one Big Lots store or a favorite Asian grocery until the day we left town.

We did manage to do some shopping at chain groceries close to the rental and got some sales and discounts that provided more than enough food. We did go into Boise once in a while. We hit the Morrison Knudson Nature Center run by Fish and Game. It has a nice educational trail with observation windows allowing you to peak into the river in spots, as well as observe some huge sturgeon, a beaver dam and a man-made waterfall.

We also hit favorite parks along the Boise Greenbelt. We had some bread starting to get old, so fed the geese and seagulls at Anne Morrison Park, walked the nature trail at Kathryn Albertson Park and wandered around Julia Davis Park, as well. Unfortunately, there was a weirdo filming a VERY long video in front of the Lincoln statue there, so DH only snapped a photo cutting him out. We couldn't get one with DH sitting on the bench by Lincoln and it was too early for the rose garden to be in bloom.

We stayed in Twin Falls for another night on the way home. We've always got so many stores we want to visit on the way out of Boise that we didn't want to make a dash for home the same day. They recently built a new hotel with kitchens there and he wanted to check them out. We got a reasonable rate and it was clean, new and quiet, however, like many similar low-cost kitchen hotels there was NOTHING in the way of utensils for the kitchen. We got a two burner stove, but no pans, a toaster but no plates on which to place it or knives for the butter. This sort of place it exactly what I had in mind when I put together our small "kitchen kit" a few weeks ago. It wouldn't have been enough equipment for a longer stay, but we had everything we needed for last night's dinner and this morning's breakfast.
 
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KmmCo

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@Gardencook I sounds like you had a nice getaway.

I am on vacation next week and am prepping for my getaway today. I probably won't leave until either Fri evening or early Sat Morning. I am going to Denali for a couple of nights then on to Fairbanks/Chena Hot Springs. After that I most likely will swing east for a long two days drive down to Valdez for a day or two.

Today is going to be a lot of cooking and meal prep. I made muffins already for breakfasts for a few days. I am going to do a batch of cookies to take with me. I plan to make some tuna salad or chicken salad before I leave (for lunch sandwiches). I have some frozen soups that will go in the cooler for a few of my dinners. I will probably take hamburgers and smoked sausages to grill too. Nothing to complicated since I am cooking on a one burner camp stove or on the campground grills......

*I need to go to the store for sodas and a few other odd and end items that I want today. I am finishing up leftovers for lunch and dinner so nothing special there.

*I worked one hour OT on Tuesday, but Wed I just bolted out on time since I am starting my vacation time.
 

KmmCo

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Spent $50 at Fred Meyer on my soda run. I ended up getiing chips, ice cream, some produce, cheese, and hamburger buns. One bag of chips was free (B3G1 free) and so was a box of cheez-it's with the Coca-cola purchase. I also picked up 6 King sized candies marked down to $1.09. I figure I can split them in half for work break snacks over 12 days. ( Hard to believe that I only have 17 days of work left now....)

The hamburger buns are sourdough buns, so I figure that I can use them for my sandwiches. I won't eat eight hamburgers over the next week for sure....

I went ahead and made another batch of the no bake cookies and I put most of them in a container for my road trip. I will eat a few today though.
 

KmmCo

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I cooked pulled pork overnight and am taking it to a coworkers house for lunch. Her husband is going to look over my van before I take off on my trip..... I ran into walmart last night to get BBQ sauce, cole slaw, and some extra buns. I am taking a bag of chips and a can of baked beans over too for the sides. ($6.50 spent...) Still not sure if I am getting out tonight or tomorrow morning. I don't have to worry about daylight either way since it is light till 11 pm and the light is back before 5 am.

I looked at the Denali bus tours and decided against it. It was sold out on Sunday and doing Monday would push me too far into the week to do all the other stuff that I want to do. It is not going as far into the park either as the one after memorial day is. I might check again to see what is available in June. I am going to still go into the park and visit the dog kennels as there are self guided tours for that. i can hike around the visitor center area a bit too. I am going to camp outside the park though as the state park campgrounds are nice according to coworkers.
 

Gardencook

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Well, it was great while it lasted, but for some reason it never lasts in this town. I don't understand it.

Probably about two years ago we had a great little discount grocery open in the corner of a discount store owned by the owner's grandfather. The discount grocery did so well, he expanded into a larger store. During the worst of Covid last year, he closed the old store and kept his employees on the payroll while they moved to the new location. The new store did a booming business. It always had customers when we were there.

A couple months back he bought a BUNCH of new freezers so he could start selling frozen goods. I was happy at the time, hoping he would be able to get a variety of overstock items. Instead all he is stocking in them are big, restaurant-size bags of frozen chicken, fries and vegetables from fast food joints. Apparently, he has swung some sort of deal with a frozen food supplier. I wouldn't mind trying some of them IF we had the freezer space, but the bags are so large and fast food really isn't what we want to live on anyway. The prices are probably good if you are in the market for such things, but they don't work for us. I can generally get smaller packages of such items for the same price per pound watching coupons and mega sales -- and the packaging size is more what we want. We'd be eating the same thing night after night after night with the larger packages.

I noticed a couple weeks ago he mentioned taking the store in a "new direction" so pretty well suspected he was getting away from the good stuff he's been getting. Right now he has a LOT of empty store space, because all he's been getting is frozen foods, tons of soda pop overstocks and things like Little Debbie snacks that are close to pull date. None of that is something we need, but I've been hoping that perhaps it was just taking him some time to regroup after the huge investment he made in so many freezers.

We hadn't been in since before our trip so checked today, but the food on the shelves is REALLY getting scarce after all these weeks without restocking. We didn't find anything we needed. I asked if he'd be getting a new shipment eventually and got the answer I'd been fearing. They aren't sure if they are going to do the shelf stable discount foods any longer. The clerk told me they are reconsidering how they'll do things going forward.

When our store first opened, he was splitting truckloads with a family-run discount store in neighboring city. I'd been shopping that store since I first discovered it a couple years earlier. However, several months ago, that store merged with another small regional discount chain and the last time we visited there, they also seemed to be phasing out groceries.

I don't know if the new chain doesn't want to split trucks with him, if they just don't want to deal in groceries which leaves him stuck or if it is simply the usual delivery chain problems created by Covid/the economy. So many people have been out of work that discount groceries are popular, which drives up competition and consequently prices. If prices get too high, store owners can't make a profit. I know the owner of our store was having a tough time getting a load several months ago and then it was delivered a lot later than he thought it would be, so perhaps that is what is driving the "new direction."

The owner's grandfather tried bringing in discount groceries for a while and I got really excited. We had a really great year or two where he got overstocks from a restaurant supplier and we lived like kings. We regularly got things like reindeer roasts, bison and blue potatoes BEFORE they were available in local grocery stores, big bags of pre-chopped produce and mixed baby salad greens -- again before any store in town sold them by the bag. We attended frequent potlucks at that time and on numerous occasions I was able to get the huge gourmet cheesecakes that they sell for multiple dollars per slice in restaurants. They were too big to buy for just ourselves, but worked great for potlucks.

Then that abruptly stopped. Apparently, someone had out-bid him for the contract and he could no longer get the food.

However, a few times after that he did purchase some big loads of salvage groceries and we picked up all sorts of great shelf-stable health food and specialty store type items. He is getting older and that didn't last too long. It was all he could do to keep up with the loads he'd buy at discount store conventions in Las Vegas a couple times a year -- and of course, those conventions were cancelled with Covid, so that store hasn't gotten much in the way of new merchandise the past year either.

Before that we had three Grocery Outlet stores in the region which I thought surely would thrive here just like they do anywhere else they open them. Our city was the last of the three to get a store, but it was also the last to lose the stores as they closed one-by-one. I STILL DO NOT understand HOW we lost those stores when they do so well everywhere else. The economy is always so tight here that people are always looking for a bargain. It HAD to be poor management, but I believe each store is individually owned so were they ALL so poorly managed?

Before that we had a large, national freight company headquartered here which was family owned. When merchandise was damaged in transit, apparently it covered the cost and then gained control of the merchandise, so it started selling the goods in a store located in back of its offices here. The store did so well that California dealers started offering the manager surplus goods to sell in the store and he built a thriving business.

However, the family accidentally lost controlling stock in the freight company and it became a victim of a hostile takeover by a Chicago company. Despite the fact that our store was doing multiple times the business and making money hand-over-fist, the new company opted to close our store and keep open the Chicago store which was on the verge of going under.

A year or more after our store closed, the manager opened his own store. He said the California dealers kept insisting he could make it on his own and since the economy was rock bottom here those years and he couldn't find another job, he took the plunge. I loved his store and frequented it often, but the last time I spoke with him he said he was having trouble with the dealers sending him pallets of salad dressing and mayonnaise he couldn't move rather than the good variety of merchandise they had at the start. Then the next time I tried to shop, the store had closed.

Can't see how our current store can make it selling nothing more than large bags of frozen chicken and vegetables, soda pop and Little Debbie snacks, but perhaps I just don't understand where his income lies. Sure hope we don't lose his store like we have the others.
 
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KmmCo

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*There was a ton of bbq pork left over, so I brought some of it home along with some beans. That is dinner tonight.

I am not leaving until tomorrow. It is cold and rainy anyway tonight so I may as well sleep in my own warm bed. I have a few things that I can do here this evening too....
 

Gardencook

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Trader Group
Went to a few different stores today.

First store was across town. It was the last day of the sale and there were some deals I didn't want to pass, however, we came home from traveling with enough food that I waited until the end of the sale.

Picked up a few Monopoly frees and used some cents off Monopoly coupons, as well. Then we got two nice packs of chicken for six cents total using a reward coupon from last month. I already mentioned that on the free thread.

They've had InnovAsian entrees on for $3.49 all month, but I didn't want to get them before we left and we had a big bunch of stuff from Grocery Outlet when we got back. We were able to pick up two InnovAsian per day, so got our limit. Also got deals on Ritz Chips ($1.38 after sale and coupons) and Yoplait (29 cents each after sale and printable coupons). I'm hoping to get back for more InnovAsian before the end of the month, but have to use up these two first.

House brand sliced cheese was $1.49 with digital coupon, house brand ketchup was a little more than $1.00 with digital coupon and a box of plastic cutlery was 74 cents after digital coupon -- that is destined for a bag we always take when we travel and will be handy for roadside picnics. I've already got paper plates and napkins in the bag. They also sent a couple special coupons that got us a bag of potato chips for 84 cents and a 28-oz jar of mixed nuts -- retail $12.99, on sale for $7.99 with a final cost of $3.99 after 50 percent off coupon.

Had a bit of a snafu on a couple items. The store has a weekly mega-type sale that is usually mix-and-match. This week, I noticed it didn't say that. I stopped at the customer service desk to ask and the employees said it was mix-and-match like always. Apparently, it wasn't, because I asked specifically if I needed to buy two pizzas and two oatmilks to get the deal or could buy one pizza and one oatmilk to make the required two or more -- I also bought cracker/chips, but since there were three bags they weren't affected. They said I could buy one pizza and one oatmilk, but the register charged me full price, so I had to go back to the customer service desk where they refunded my money.

Then we were close enough to an offer for two bonus rewards that we picked up a few extra items like MJB Coffee which was on sale and for which we had a high value digital coupon. We got enough points from the purchases for two and a half rewards which we'll roll over for next month. We've still got some rewards left from last month that are expiring at the end of this month. We'll use those so we can save the ones we earned this month.

We went to our little discount store next -- the one that sells a variety of merchandise, not primarily groceries -- however, we found four boxes of Triscuits there that were right at pull date and only 99 cents.

We went in to pick up a few more 99 cent paring knives with sheathes, since they work really well for travel. We also decided we needed a can opener in our travel bag so picked up a cheap one for 99 cents. They also had a box of zipper sandwich bags and zipper quart bags I'll put in the travel bag, as well.

We were finally able to locate a nice night light for $1.49. Ours went out and I'm tired of feeling my way blind through a dark hallway at night!

Final stop was our regular store where I honestly hadn't planned to pick up too much, since the store was offering double fuel points on weekends and only single points today. However, they had a nice bag of lemons, one of organic grapefruit, one of tangerines and another of cucumbers for $1 each on markdown. They also had some nice markdown salads including some that will go perfectly with the chicken we got at the other store.

This was the last day to get cartons of ice cream for $1.77 with a five times deal -- of course, we could only get one due to lack of freezer space -- but I was buying gourmet ice cream on mega sale on the weekend, so saved that coupon till a week day. The register surprised me and took off an additional best customer coupon I had making the carton something like $1.32.

I checked the rest of the sale items for which I had coupons and thankfully, the shelf tags indicated the sales last a bit longer so I didn't have to lay out money on them today and get only single points.

We had a deal for 200 bonus fuel points on an Arby's card expiring today, so picked up one of those, as well.

Doing quite well on fuel points again this month -- which will come in handy with gas prices rocketing upward so rapidly. They certainly came in handy on our last trip. We had a $1 per gallon discount on one fill-up and an 80 cent per gallon discount on another for that trip.
 
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