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Archive for November, 2006


November 30th, 2006 at 04:36 pm

The vet visit was $268. Ouch

Mr Mao had blood taken and a refill of his tablets. He's not too bad about taking his tablets and vitamins. He's also got a bit of an eye infection so he's got eye drops too. Mr Mao loves eye drops slightly less than he enjoys most things. To put it in perspective it is easier to bathe him than to give him eye drops. The drops are only for a week but it might be a dangerous week for me. He has ways (and claws) to make his opinion very clear.

Strangely Mao doesn't seem to mind the actual visit to the Vet's. He pretty much purrs through it and accepts in his graceful Siamese manner worship from the various staff members there.

Otherwise he was doing well. I forgot to get them to weigh him though. He's Mr Porky on his expensive special prescription vet food.

And yes, like on all visits the vet and I spoke about whether this was the right thing or whether a "decision needed to be made". We spoke about Mao's quality of life.

Vet Visit

November 30th, 2006 at 12:31 pm

I have a vet visit later this afternoon. The visit itself is about $50, I need cat food which for a case is about $50 and I think the cat will need tests.


I don't begrudge doing this for my kitty (he's been part of my life for a long long time) but I am scared about what the cost for this visit is actually going to be. I'll be happy if it ends up under $200.

Flu Shot

November 29th, 2006 at 07:37 pm

Once again our work was offering on-site flu shots to all employees. They were free but here that's not exactly a feature just a fact. I know I pay huge takes and sometimes have to wait for services. But it is nice that doing things to take care of myself aren't economic decisions.

I went on got my flu shot today. I actually barely felt it go in. The nurse giving it was amazing.

I, of course, had pain i my arm from the shot. Strangely The pain in my arm was where I thought the band-aid was and not where the band-aid actually was. Oh the other important fact about the pain is that it started coming this morning before the shot. I am pretty sure that it is safe to say the the pain wasn't real but psychosomatic.

Crossing my fingers that this stops me getting sick ths winter.


November 29th, 2006 at 07:07 pm

I'm sad. Was to have a weekend with my boyfriend and he's had to cancel because he is sick. We are in a long distance relationship (yeah we met online) and this is the hardest part of it.When one of us has to cancel a visit.

I understand and know he's making the right decision but I'm still sad.

Now to re-juggle my errands and stuff for the next few days. I still have stuff to do to get ready for the big family do we are having this weekend. I'm not holding it but I still have my contributions to sort out and food to make to bring etc.

Hump Day Blatherings

November 29th, 2006 at 09:44 am

Had a note that I had a parcel with the mail last night. I picked it up this morning. A cute teatowel and a hot pad with a cute snowmen on it. This was from an exchange on on of the coupon groups I'm on.

Also in the mail today a coupon train! I'll have to go through that tonight.

Stopped at the grocery store to pick up some of their free calendars (with coupons) to bring for my workmates. I love sharing freebies!

I like wearing skirts, even in the winter, but hate the entire pantyhose thing. I wouldn't mind if I didn't go through them so fast. Pantyhose sure aren't frugal. I stopped on the way to get some tights. At least with the Hanes tights I get more than one wear out of them.

Good Mail Day

November 28th, 2006 at 06:27 pm

Finally got my coupon for a free dove hand washing soap. This was the coupon I told a whole bunch of people about. They all got theirs a few weeks ago. I had given up on it figuring that my luck was all used up when I got the free Sonicare toothbrush.

But it came in todays mail along with a Christmas card - and even better, with NO bills Smile

Vegetable Angst.

November 28th, 2006 at 02:47 pm

I'm feeling stressed about the upcoming weekend. Its our big extended family Christmas "do" and I've been assigned a vegetable. The main dish is ham and someone is already doing brocolli and a sweet potato/squash/apple veggie dish.

I'm not a fan of dishes involving a can of campbells soup so the bean casserole dish is out. Glazed carrots perhaps, our family likes brussel sprouts but do they go with ham?

Don't mind me I'll websurf tonight and see if I can figure out a dish that is make ahead and easy to heat up (don't want to add a last minute cooking dish to the mix)and in the vegetable category.

I'll do a relish tray and corn too as those are "no brainers".

Monday Blatherings

November 27th, 2006 at 06:59 pm

Not a very exciting Monday to be honest. Started as many Monday's do with my not wanting to get up (yeah like that's a newsflash).

This past weekend I made a wee quilt for a coworker's daughter - proof it is possible to make a quilt without buying materials - believe it or not! I had made one for her daughter before and it has become her security blanket. She's at daycare now and carrying around a small crib quilt makes her a tripping hazard (insert visual picture of topsy toddlers tripping) So I made this small 13inch square "carry to nursey school" substitute quilt for her.

Unfortunately, my coworker managed to fall on the weekend hurting herself so she wasn't in. She's pretty badly hurt so I was more worried than upset that I had to buy lunch as the original plan was she was taking me to lunch as a thank you for the quilt.

Other than that a quick trip to the grocery store so I could get shake and bake (I need to find a copycat recipe for this and make up a batch) and spinach. I had a strange craving for creamed spinach today. If only I could find the recipe for the creamed spinach made by Morton's steakhouse..that has to be the ultimate creamed spinach. Mine did turn out pretty good though.

If I was a multi-millionare...

November 26th, 2006 at 06:22 pm

.. I'd not be hawking my buy real estate program on infomercials nor would I be running around the country putting on seminars in cheap hotel conference rooms.

I mean really... if you are that freaking rich, why can't you do us all a favour and stop filling up the airwaves with your crap?

It used to be my favourite grocery store...

November 25th, 2006 at 10:13 pm

.. before the renovation!

They renovated. They took out most of the produce area and replaced it with a deli counter that sells lots of hot foods.

The veggies are now scarce. And the ones that are there are very expensive and most of them are shrink wrapped (why on earth does broccoli and cauliflower need to be shrinked wrapped anyways?)

I went to this place tonight - probably for the last time. Good deals on meat, but what point is a store where you can't find reasonably priced produce? That and a lot of the prices seemed to have gone up. Amazing how the cost of a renovation gets passed along.

The worst part of this? I'm not done with my grocery shopping. I have to go out again tomrrow for groceries.

Black Friday and Boxing Day

November 25th, 2006 at 06:26 am

With a boyfriend in the US and living in Canada I am quite aware of many of the differences between the US and Canada. Heck I'm in the US at least once a month, have many American friends etc. But every once in a while a difference in culture between the two countries hits me in the face.

Hearing all the US hype about Black Friday just hit me as "weird". Ready, steady, go shop! Here the Xmas season gradually comes upon us once Halloween is over with a Christmas parade (at least in my town) that really gets things ramped up. We just don't have that go nuts and shop day before Christmas. Well, unless you consider that to be Christmas Eve when all the procrastinators are in full panic!

However we do have the go nuts and shop day after Christmas. We don't have Black Friday Sales, we have Boxing Day Sales. Boxing day is the day after Christmas. Its the same thing as Black Friday to the deal happy consumer. The best deals, special sales, line ups, electronic stores with only 3 of that really great deal item, early openings, stampedes and craziness.

I didn't do the black friday shopping not being in the US that day. I think I'll balance that by skipping the boxing day sales too.

No deals, but I'll keep my sanity.

Cartoon from www.statehousereport.com by Bill McLemore

Now I think of it that was a dumb purchase

November 24th, 2006 at 08:23 am

Ever buy something that seems to make sense as a purchase. And then realise that it wasn't that brainy?

I bought some precooked frozen organic rice from Trader Joes. Healthy, and convenient suckered me in. It has 3 packages of rice in there that just needed to be slit and then microwaved for 3 minutes to reheat. We had one and it was good and tasty, and oh so easy.

I saw it in the freezer last night and it dawned on me that I could just make up some rice, portion it out into zip lock bags and freeze it for quite a bit cheaper than I bought that rice for.

I only buy brown rice anyways so that isn't an issue. And I'm sure a bag of organic brown uncooked rice is a much better value than the precooked. And just as easy (its hardly difficult to make rice).

A lesson learnt.

Cookie Baking Class Tonight

November 23rd, 2006 at 08:21 pm

A friend and I went to a cookie baking class tonight. It was a hands on class and we made a total of a dozen types of cookies.

Good Points: The instructor/leader was excellent. The recipes were varied and different but variations on old favourites - so nothing too weird. We came away with recipes and with suggestions for adaptions what to make ahead etc. We were taught a method for making dulce de leche that is oh so easy! Staff at the school did all the dishes - yeah, and all ingredients were measured out before we got there

Main Complaint: The equipment was lousy. The oven temperamental, the food processor was in the process of dying from old age and the hand mixer wasn't the greatest. A spatula fell part on us. My equipment at home, while not top of the line, is better than their equipment.

Disappointment: We got some cookies to take home but not as many as I was hoping we would get to take home.

Verdict. A fun three hours. A bit expensive but nice to do. Would definitely take another class by this instructor but would not take it at this cooking school unless they upgrade the equipment.


November 23rd, 2006 at 04:58 am

Wishing all of you in the US a Happy Thanksgiving. It is a regular work day here as we had our Thanksgiving back in October.

So in a few minutes I get myself ready for work and head out! I have a nice evening planned. Rather than make Christmas cookies at home a friend and I signed up for cooking "class" where we go to a professional kitchen and make cookies with other people. Then we bring home a share of what we all made. I'm looking forward to have good cookies without having my kitchen all messed up!

Response from Kmart

November 22nd, 2006 at 09:03 am

I wrote this post about my experience at Kmart a few days ago.


As I said I would, I forwarded it to Kmart's contact us email. I got this response from Sears, with the email title "Outbound" today.

Dear Customer:

Thank you for contacting this office and sharing your feedback. We have noted your comments, and will share them with the interested parties for proper consideration. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

Please be assured that we value your comments and suggestions. By sharing your feedback with us, you have made it possible for us to address the issues. Further, your forthright comments will enable Sears to achieve excellence in everything we do.

We value your relationship with Kmart, and hope that you will continue to make Sears Holdings Corporation your choice for quality and value.

National Customer Relations
Sears Holdings Corporation

Words can not adquately express just how loved and cherished as a customer this response makes me feel.

Anyone confused why Sears and Kmart have a decreasing market share?

Expensive Dinner (Yikes)

November 21st, 2006 at 06:37 pm

Went out to dinner tonight with one of the sales reps I work with, a client and broker. We went to this wonderful steak house. The food was wonderful and cost the earth. Salads $12, Steaks around $50 (and up), sides extra, and who even knows what dessert cost. The wine I drank was $15 a glass. This is way out of my normal league for restaurants.

With tip the dinner totalled over $700 - for 5 of us!

Wow! Glad I didn't have to pay!

Shopping and Driving

November 20th, 2006 at 07:37 pm

I drove and shopped and drove and shopped today.

I lost my CVS virginity. LOL. Hadn't shopped there before. I stayed away from the Extra Care bucks deals (didn't need the items they were on) and combined coupons and 2 for 1 sales. So I'm happy. The store had a nice energy and the cashier was very helpful and friendly.

I've decided that Bath & Bodyworks is evil because it helps me lose my self control. Good news is I took advantage of a special there and got a small gift for each of my coworkers (the antibacterial scented soap) for an excellent price. The majority of my spending there was for stuff for me from their True Blue Spa line, and I did use a coupon to offset some of it *yeah yeah* I justfy really good don't I? I spent about $25 on me so I could have been way worse. One day I'd love to go in there and go nuts on that line...

No other real shopping highlights. A funny moment when I bought some intuition refills. The regular price was $9.99 on sale for $7.99 - they were in the check out aisle (I'm such a good well trained consumer noticing them). I grab them because I have a $2 off coupon making them $5.99. Of coruswe they ring up at $9.99.

The cashier says no problem, after I show him the tag (well it was right there no need a price check on aisle 21) and he says "oh I'll just do the coupon twice if that's okay". I said sure but won't you be off. Where upon he told me they get too many coupons to count them (huh?). I was sad there was no scanning code of practise. I really need to look into that to see if there is one in the US and how to know if the store participates and what to do when stuff rings in wrong.

A investigation for another day I think, LOL.

The border was easy but I didn't end up going into duty free - I was in the wrong lane and traffic was bad.

Shopping and Travel Day

November 20th, 2006 at 05:52 am

I'm toodling on home today - will be leaving here in an hour or so. I'm going to break up the driving with a healthy dose of shopping.

First on the agenda is my first CVS shopping trip ever. I am not yet up to the extra bucks deals and shenanigans some get up to but they have a couple of deals that look good that I want to nab.

Then I'm thinking of a stop at Joann's or Michaels. I'm knitting a "dish cloth" afgan and eventually I am going to have to go from the gross straight needles I'm using (they are the finest *ugh* quality bright green plastic 1970's vintage needles) to some round needles If the afgan is going to be of any usable size.

Another stop will be at a grocery store in NY to pick up milk and eggs. NY state has even lower milk and egg prices it seems than PA. And so much lower than at home.

Most likely the last stop before home will be at the duty free for some booze. I'll wait til I'm home though to start enjoying.

Its about a 6 hour drive home but with stops and traffic I'm planning on more like 8 hours.


November 19th, 2006 at 06:33 pm

I have been really slow getting into couponing when I've been in the US. I've clipped them in the past but not really used them.

Today I did use some! Yeah!

The first act. Spent $6.14 at Eckerd for about $15.50 worth of groceries. combined a store coupon, a manufacturers coupon and a buy one get one free coupon in order to get 2 items, and got a few other items with just manufacturers coupons.

The second act was at Giant Eagle was combining sale items with a buy X get this item free coupon, and using the we double coupons under $1 to get a free toothbrush. This doubling coupons thing is new to me so that was pretty exciting (I need to get out more I know).

The third act was using a "free coffee coupon" at my favourite coffee place on the way home. A girl has got to celebrate right?


Frugal and Different Pasta Recipe

November 18th, 2006 at 09:59 am

This makes quite an inexpensive and very tasty meal. I made it on friday when my boyfriend came home for lunch. This is definitely on the make again list and I'm putting it here so I can find it the next time I want to make it. Took about 25 minutes to cook. I always keep any wine that hasn't been sipped in a timely fashion for cooking and the rest of the ingredients were pantry items.

Pasta with Lentils,Wine and Tomatoes


1 large onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed (minced)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 cup red lentils, washed
15 oz can tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water - approximately
1/2 cup red wine (I used white wine) Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups pasta (we used whole wheat rotini)


Fry the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil until soft and then add the garlic, cinnamon, lentils, tomatoes, wine and water and bring to the boil. Let the mixture simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

A little before the end of the cooking time for the sauce, bring a large panful of water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir, then let the pasta boil uncovered for 7-10 minutes or until just tender. Drain the pasta and return it to the still warm saucepan with some salt.

Either add the lentil and tomato mixture to the pasta and mix or just toss the pasta in the remaining tablespoon olive oil then serve it on warmed plates and spoon the sauce over it.

Adapted from recipe at http://www.vegan-food.net/recipe/1216/Tagliatelle-Verde-with-Lentils-Red-Wine-and-Tomato-


November 18th, 2006 at 09:07 am

We went to a really nice party last night. I had ended up going very simple and made a cheese ball (shredded sharp cheddar mixed with cream cheese) and a black bean dip (black beans, salsa, vegan mayo, Tabasco). Both ended up with rave reviews and were quick and easy to make ahead of time. We are at another party tonight and I have another cheese ball and the rest of the crackers for tonight.

The party was fun though we had more than a few geeks there. Conversation ranged from protractors, to iambic pentameter, monty python, movies, to science fiction from past decades (who wrote better Heinlein, Asimov.. etc).

The only thing about a party is that one gets home way too late. You know you are getting old when staying up late is more of a threat than a promise!

Kmart Rant

November 17th, 2006 at 02:01 pm

I think K-mart needs to look at how they provide customer service to customers.

The store near here is bright, clean and well staffed. Prices seem good.

Too bad the many staff members they have spend the time being bored and not serving customers.

One till open at 4:30 pm this evening. That is it for the entire store. I line up behind the 10 or so other people in line. The staff member wandering around ambles over to find the missing cashier - they were over in the corner having a chat. Finally a new cash opens up and the line gets a bit smaller.

This new cash that I end at has three staff members manning it. Granted one was new and other other was training. The third person there moping about was going on about being bored. I just looked at her and said "you won't be so bored if you work". She shut up after that and didn't look at me and quickly vanished.

It is pathetic. The store is almost empty and its not so that you are in and out of the cash-out area in like 2 minutes. If I knew Kmart wasn't crowded and had no lines I'd be shopping there more. I hate lines.

Senior management there need to spend less time hiring consultants and more time getting back to the nuts and bolts of how to run a successful retail operation. It isn't rocket science. Just make it easy for me to spend my money.

Embarrasing Moment

November 17th, 2006 at 01:07 pm

I was at aldi this afternoon to pick up a few groceries. Got the stuff I needed. Didn't go crazy - the total was $15.80. But I only had about $14.50 in my wallet. You know that frantic few minutes you get to spend searching for money while the line to check out grows?

I had the most amazing cashier. He finally said he would cover it. Can you believe that. I shamefacedly got my groceries packed and bundled and out to the car. Then went back in - I always have change in the car and brought him the money I owed him back. But he wasn't at the cash then so I gave it to one of the other cashiers to give to him. She made a fuss of it and told the other cashier so I'm pretty sure he will get him money back.

The towering stack of freebies

November 17th, 2006 at 06:36 am

I haven't been here to my boyfriends in PA in a month. He doesn't mind me using his address. So I do. Smile I get freebies sent here.

Today's haul is a huge one!

Empty Box meant to be Swiffer Duster Walmart
Folgers Gourmet Selections Coffee
Downy Simple Pleasures Detergent
Downy Simple Pleasures Fabric Softener
Cheer True Fit (Walmart)
Gillette Fusion Razor
Playtex Sport Tampons
Sunsilk X2
John Frieda Brilliant Brunette
Coupon for free Weight Watchers Cereal
Olay Definity (Walmart)
Nicorete Gum (Walmart)

I'm amazed at the amount of stuff even though I'm bummed about the swiffer duster (hope it was the boyfriend who took that) because I really did want to try it.

Had to borrow money

November 16th, 2006 at 08:42 pm

Got up this morning early and dropped Mao off at the kennel. He really likes this kennel - the woman who owns it is real animal lover. He was eating and drinking before I left and was checking out the "facilities" when I left - this after being there about 10 minutes. I'm blessed to have found a place for him to stay he is so comfortable in. Right now he's in a room on his own (they aren't very busy) so his cage is open and he can roam around which is nice for him. At 23 and being blind he doesn't do much roaming but its nice he can if he decides too.

Went into work for half a day after this. Okay, so it was planned as half a day - it ended up being longer. My director called my team leader and I into a meeting that ended up being 2 hours. Which meant I had to stay later than planned. One of our sales team deciding to say an insurance product had a certain feature it didn't, didn't help either. I got to be ms bee-itch, and say "undo what you did cause its not in the contract". Even if I was ms nice I couldn't help because the client negotiated this coverage for their employees - so if we deviate we aren't payed for it. Insurance companies hate paying out money they aren't reimbursed for. We'll see how this plays out. Hopefully our sales people will fix it.

Anyways, the title of this post. I had planned to leave at noon. I didn't. My wallet (mistakenly) was in a bag in the car so I didn't have it at the office. So I borrowed $10 from a coworker for lunch.

I'll repay it back on Tuesday when I'm next in the office. I'll have to bring her a little something as an interest payment. I'll keep my eye out for something unique this weekend to bring as a thank you.

Free Stuff - got one, gave some

November 15th, 2006 at 08:06 pm

I gave away 4 of the 5 Schick Intuition Razors that I said I would give away (the other one got given away yesterday. I made one person very happy yesterday and 4 people very happy today. I'm glad I was generous with them and didn't keep them all so I had free refills. The warm fuzzies I got were worth more than the refills.

The mail brought me the Sonicare e5500 toothbrush that I signed up for as part of a Bzz Blast. I agree to fill out a couple of surveys and they give me this really rockin' toothbrush. Of course I did a quick search online - this retails for $88.99 at drugstore.com in the US. The cheapest Canadian price I saw was just under a $120, though $169 was mentioned as the regular price here. I'm blown away at the cost of the freebee. I hope it ends up being a great product!

A rant about the extra cost when buying in Canada is likely to be forthcoming at some point. I'm mellow about that right now as I'm heading to the US tomorrow for an extra long weekend so I'm able to take advantage of shopping opportunities (gotta love PA with no sales tax on clothes).

How reading blogs helps me.

November 15th, 2006 at 10:15 am

This morning I was musing about the blogs I read and what I get from the blogs I read. I get something from blogs that I have never got from articles on finance.

Articles on finance go on (and on) about the theoretical perfect way to do things. They are full of rules and methodologies. But to me it all comes across as academic. The theory works for me but I can't, just cause I read the article put it into place.

Blogs are full of people's real life experiences about what they are doing. About how they work with all the rules and methods in a real life setting. They talk about how things actually work on a practical level, and more importantly, how they cope when life happens. It is so easy to get on the bandwagon, but in reading people's blogs you learn how to get back on it.

So thank you all. You are all helping me in my path towards implementing the things I know I need to be implementing.

What to bring to the party?

November 14th, 2006 at 07:11 pm

We are heading to two parties this weekend. I want to make dessert stuff to bring. But they want munchies/appetizers. That is one of the laws of the universe - that if you are in the mood to bring something that the host will prefer (I'm one of those guests who always ask) that you bring something else.

The boyfriend is vegan. I don't want to bring a fruit tray. I'm more thinking on the lines of hummus and guacamole. With something OTHER than tortilla chips. Last party we had people brought a total of 5 bags of tortillas. We had to give some back!

Frugal, vegan, delicious and wonderful. I think I'm off to recipezaar. I love my hummus but is there a statute of limitations on how often you can bring something to a gathering before you get known as the "hummus lady"?

Ethics and Free Stuff

November 14th, 2006 at 12:01 pm

A couple of freebees have made me think about my ethics.

Shick Intuition. There was a freebee offer for this product a while back. Agree to be an ambassador (or some such thing) and they'll send you razors to give out to your friends. I got them and thought about keeping them all for me. It would have saved me from buying refills for a while. However, I'm keeping one of them and giving the other 5 out (I didn't have one). I was feeling wrong about keeping them all. But this I think "works" me.

There was another freebee a while back that I heard about but decided not to ask for. A charity (health related) had a freebee of address labels. I gather that would do two things - get you on their list and give them the opportunity to hit you up for a donation. I hadn't planned to give to that charity so to take money from a worthy cause seemed wrong. I don't want to add to the overhead when money should be going to help fight the disease. It also made me wonder about the charity and how they used the funds they were given.

Tuesday Thoughts

November 14th, 2006 at 05:51 am

Slept really well again last night. Two nights in a row! This is unusual for me. I bought Melatonin on the weekend. Seems to be doing something.

While rested I'm still going to get my vat of coffee to take to work. I'm also going to take a larger lunch than I did yesterday so the bright shiney signs of the drive through are not so alluring.

Todays plans include sending off some coupon trains, more on the insurance paperwork I have, a massage (scheduled) and getting the oil in my car changed.

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