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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Update on Tmobile cell phones

Amazing! I had ordered the phones with customer service on Friday at 4pm (day after thanksgiving) and paid the extra $15 or so for 3 business day delivery. The CR informed me that the phones most likely would not go out until Monday being so late in day, etc. At 6pm last night, a knock on the door. Had to turn on outside light since it's getting dark already and it's the UPS guy with 2 (TWO) packages ... yup, both phones showed up. Funny, the CR said that he was only going to charge shipping on one since they would both be going out together ... Needless to say, this is great! I now have MY phone to use for the week, well, really, sons phone since he has mine, but I have my SIMS card in it now. Daughter has hers and she's just tickled pink. She has a free day at school as today is BAT tesing & she doesn't take since she's a junior. So 3 hours of school to play with new sidekick ... what a life!! :) Jan

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tmobile cell phones

I have cell service with Tmobile. The plan is $69.99 for 2 phones with 1000 anytime minutes and of course, free tmobile to tmobile. The 3rd phone is $9.99, so that bill runs $79.98. Add on the $19.99 for the unlimited text messaging (believe me, I fought it for 2 years and kids had to cough up anywhere from $20 to $80 a month) and all the crap taxes (what does that stuff mean anyways???) and the bill is around $120 a month. Not as cheap as I’d like it … but then again, a convenience that I am willing to pay for. Being teens, they are hard on phones, but not as hard as most. Just upgraded them to newer ones in August 2006. Cost $29 each. Daughter lost hers by December, got a cheapo loaner phone and paid the $19 for a new sims card. She used the cheapo phone for months. When I upgraded to the razor I have now for mothers day ($25) I gave her my old nokia flip. Nothing fancy, but better than the mini brick she had J Son was at band practice, (I think) bouncing around and busted the screen on his phone. Well, when you do that, phone is useless, can’t see who called, can’t see who you are calling, etc. Not to mention, the phone was in silent mode at time of damage and well, doesn’t do any good if you can’t SEE the phone ringing! So, he’s been using the cheapo loaner phone for 2 months or so. Daughter comes home from school one day. “Mom, my phone won’t get a signal!?” Sure enough, not getting any reception. Well, the two kids have been sharing the phone for a month now, so I finally agreed to try get new phones. Friday, day after thanksgiving. Go to the t-mobile store. Know exactly what I’m getting. Razor for son, sidekick for daughter. Birthday presents. Oh look, a razor, free with 2 year contract. Oh even better, the sidekick is $49 with 2 year contract. Step right up, this is what I want, give them my info. “Total for the sidekick, $179 plus tax.” Huh? Apparently, I don’t qualify for the super cheap price as an EXISTING customer. Hmmm. But if I choose to upgrade (as they say, partial upgrade) I agree to extend my contract for 22 months. No matter what the sales girl says, no matter what the manager says, nothing makes any sense whatsoever! I end up walking out of store. Go to my car, flip open my phone & call customer care. Tell them my dilemma. Tell them the problem I have. I’m an existing customer. You know my billing history. You know my PAYMENT history. And yet, you want to penalize me, not allow me to have a discounted rate on a NEW phone. Hmmm… Guess what? Got both phones for $39.00 plus shipping and tax. Woohoo. $5x.xx makes me feel much better. The phone itself is actually cheaper than the store. They told me that the store would not be able to match the price, so I went ahead and paid the $15.00 for 3 day business delivery. Geesh. Moral of the story AND frugal tip of the day? Don’t just accept what the person behind the counter has to say. Dig deeper, make some phone calls. Don’t be afraid to STAND UP for what you believe in! My point was that I’m a good customer and I had no incentive to stay with tmobile the way I was being treated!

Easier cleaning with a cuban mop

Because my house is tile throughout except the bedrooms, I am constantly looking for a better way to clean the floors. I figure over 2000 sq ft of tile ... that's a lot!
I've used the wonder mops, the regular squeeze mops, everything. I've used tile cleaners, pinesol, fabuloso, etc. Nothing ever made me 'happy' so to speak. I've even been on my hands & knees which let me tell you is NO FUN whatsoever, although hubby did make a smart remark one day that did not help him get lucky that night :)
So a friend of mine who lives on the 21st floor ocean front condo showed me her latest find a few months back. A cuban mop. Swore by it. She has those expensive italian stone tiles on her floors. Loved the mop. Ranted and raved. Said it only cost $9.99 at Target. Hmmm. Just 2 pieces of wood screwed into each other.
So I just keep that in the back of my mind ... and continue doing the hands and knees cleaning for a bit longer. I do have to say, nothing gets the floor cleaner when you do it on your knees, I suppose cuz you can see everything up close?
So I go to the grocery store a few weeks later. In the cleaning aisle to buy some bleach & other stuff. Oh! Theres a cuban mop. Hmmm...only $4.99? I pick up each one four there. None, except one, lays flat on the floor (lesson #1, make sure the wood is not warped). Oh, what the heck, let me give it a shot. I know, you look at the first picture and like, huh?
Get the baby home. DH makes fun of it. I really can't wait to try it out. Get my little red bucket, fill with hot water, pour some bleach into it, grab a white hand towel (we have tons, dh always brings 'gifts' back from his trips) drop towel in water, wring out, toss on floor, wrap up & start mopping.
HOLY SMOKES!!!!! I'm sold!!!
1. Uniform coverage
2. dries much quicker
3. covers a lot of area quickly
4. a clean mop head each time you do it
There are a lot more selling points that I have. You can even use this as a dry mop, which I've done to catch all the hair & such from me & the kids & the part time cat!
Because I'm still new at this, I can't figure out how to add more than one pic to the post so I've added the others to the side line ... sorry, when I figure it out, I'll put where it belongs!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Son leaving for Mexico

The band is off to Mexico tomorrow. The parents of singer are having all the boys (ok, it's only 4 kids!) spend the night tonight so when the shuttle shows up in the morning, no worries that everyone is there :) Smart idea, huh? There website is: www.myspace.com/ravensdoom - they've got pics, a few songs that they've recorded on there, and of course, the postings from 'fans' :) My son is the bass player. Good for him. I am very very excited for all 4 of them, but also nervous too :) This is the first time that they have performed as a group, and the arena is 4000 seats. Whoa! I don't know if they realize how big that really is? They perform on the 29th but have intereviews & I believe they are doing a music video while there. As he has broken his phone & his sister's phone no longer gets reception, they've been sharing the one loaner phone we have. I've ordered them new ones (daughter gets the sidekick id & he will get a razor which cost me $50 for the 2 of them with 3 day shipping), he will have to take my fushia cherry blossom razor with him. Poor baby but I still wanted him to have a phone just in case ... (remember to keep an eye out on cell phone services, upgrades and aggravations) So they leave on Monday and come back the following Monday. I wish them all the best of luck! Take lots of photos so I can post some & hopefully someone will take some video!

Saturday night dinner

It was just me & hubby, son was at band practice and daughter was at work. Had steaks that I had taken out of freezer on Wednesday that I told hubby we HAD to eat them. 2 tbones that I had bought on sale a few months ago @ $5.99/lb (cheap compared to now!) 1 lb shrooms we had gotten from produce store for 99 cents 1/2 red onion from freezer leftover red wine & white wine 1 can of beef broth (50 cents this week) 4 oz blue cheese that I picked up for $2 (cheaper than normal) I had made a key lime pie earlier. Wanted to do for hubby's birthday but he's been under the weather & I've just been busy. This was so easy, and much cheaper than buying: 1 graham cracker crust (was on sale for 99 cents and I had a 30 cent off coupon, otherwise would have made from scratch) 1/3 cup key lime juice. I buy the bottle which I can find next to lemon & lime juice in stores. It cost $1.39 for 16 oz 4 egg yolks (picked up 2 1/2 dozen for $3.80 ... not cheap but less expensive) 1 can sweetened condensed milk ($1.00 on sale last week) whip cream or topping of choice sliced almonds if on hand (no) beat egg yolks & milk til smooth. Slowly mix in juice. Pour in pie crust. Bake @ 375 for 20 minutes. Allow to chill in fridge to set up. Top with whip cream & almonds. Heck of a lot cheaper than $10 for a full pie :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving

Because we do not have family any where near us down here, we usually share with other friends OR just do something totally untraditional, such as go on the boat! The past few years though, we’ve traded off hosting with another couple that live here part-time. They have started to make it a point to be in Florida for Thanksgiving since it’s turned out to be fun! Last year was to be our turn to host, but we ended up going up to Indiana at the last minute. This year, we were going to host again, but then hubby had his reconstructive surgery and we all knew that it wasn’t going to work. So J & K are hosting again! J We always fry turkeys, and K will always insist on roasting one too. Generally, when you fry, it doesn’t make sense to only do one as the biggest you should do is 12 lbs or so. For the cost of the oil, hassle of bringing out, setting up & cleaning fryer, you better be doing more than one!! We do anywhere from 3 to 4. I had picked up a 10.07 lb last week for 69/lb. They just didn’t get any cheaper than that this year. Did have a coupon for $5.00 off a turkey over 12 lbs for Albertsons, but of course, all the turkeys were like 18 lbs. Since we don’t roast in our house, no sense in getting it, in my opinion. Have not been able to find another small one though. J did, 2, as a matter of fact, so we will fry 3. I will also (or rather, hubby will) make stuffing and stuffed mushrooms. I (me) will make a warm spinach/artichoke dip, dinner rolls, and a green salad. Was going to make a key lime pie, but I believe K said that she was going to make some pies too. K & J will make the mashed taters & gravy, greenbean casserole, sweet potatoes, and there was something else she was going to make too (besides turkey & pie) … but can’t remember! I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Remember, the average thanksgiving dinner is around 3,000 calories (which does not include the usual snacking before & after!), so be aware!!

Saturday night, Friends and Lemon Drops

Because hubby has been getting a little stir-crazy from laying around after the surgery, I thought we would have a few friends over ... Got all 3 crockpots out, made potato soup in one, spicy meatballs in another and the last one was the italian beef. All 3 ended up being spicy, which we don't mind, but I'm sure a few of my friends thought we were trying to kill them off :) One of my g/f that came over was returning my lemon drop set. This is just a glass bowl with 6 (now only 5) tall shooter glasses. The purpose is to keep the vodka chilled in the glasses. My sil had gotten it for me a few years ago for christmas and it's been a hit at the parties every since. Anyways, to my surprise, she had a glass blower friend make her another shot to replace the one I had broken. It's so cool!!! Thicker than the others (which is great cuz the others are thin), and has this cool little squiggly design thats suppose to be a lemon on it...it's really neat. So that one is MINE and during all parties, no one is allowed to use it except me! :) Thanks Fran! So...back to the evening. Fran (who was returning the set) also came with a bottle of Svedka Citron vodka. Hmmmm... the bottle was like $10.99 and it is 70 proof. The smell of it was awesome. Definately lemony. The taste ... wow. I am a huge fan of Absolute Citron and insist on it for lemon drops. But that stuff is expensive! Guess what? I've got a new vodka at almost 1/2 the price. The 3 of us girls drank ALL of the bottle. And the next morning, no one had a hangover (one of the downsides to cheap vodka, nasty hangover!). Kathy was having shots too, until her hubby reminded her that his 16 year old son was coming in at 5:30am Sunday and it was going to be a long day if she continued, which of course, made the rest of us egg her on to ignore him. She's smart though and knows when to stop, which she did shortly thereafter :) It's always good to see friends. Hubby pretty much stayed on the patio most of the night. I think he only had a few drinks (jack with a splash of coke). He was very tired all the following day but now I see it looks like he's fighting a cold (at least I hope thats what it is!). But I know it was good for him to be outside & visiting for a bit ... So what was frugal? Hmmm .... the fact that everything I made for food came from the pantry & freezer (no special trip to store) and the vodka! Wow!! I still can't believe it :) Jan

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another chilly morning!

Brrrr....we woke up to another brisk morning! Woohoo!
Temp. at 5:30 was 57 at my house. Quickly, I turn off the alarm, deactivate the chime mode & run like a mad woman to open all the windows and let that cool fresh air in! We live all summer for these days :)
I'm hoping that this will have some effect on my electric bill. I've been running a steady $400 to $500 a month since April :( That is a big chunk of money considering I'm used to $350 being the most every and that's usually for August. In August this year, it went to $575...that was just too much to deal with. So I've been trying to cut back where I can on electric, and trying to encourage the rest of the house to do the same. Here are some of the things I'm doing but couldn't tell you if it's really making a difference or not since FPL now adds a fuel charge on that matches the current price of fuel:
Less drying - trying to dry for 30 minutes & hang up to dry the rest of the way. This is really a battle since we have 2 adults & 2 teens and lots and lots of clothes. My mil actually made a joke when she was here "I'm trying to figure out how 4 small people can make so much laundry" ... I hear ya! I have 2 of the wooden clothes drying racks one of which is huge. But still. Wish I had a clothes line but they just arent' acceptable in south florida. Actually banned in some areas (which reminds me of the website: laundrylist.org)
Cranking air conditioning up during the day. We have the programable thermostats but unfortunately, dh has them set to run so the house stays cool. 76 over night, 77 during day when we are at work. Recently convinced him to change to 77 around 1am, back to 76 around 5am and back to 78 at 8:30am. I've had these suckers on hold at 78 round the clock, especially on the east side of house. However, seems like I can hear them (especially east side) running constantly so not sure if this was very effective? The east side of the house actually has a florida room (all windows) that faces west and north. The west windows get full sun at around 3pm til sunset. What a pain. Beautiful view but need to keep the shades closed otherwise it bakes!
TVs, lights, computers, etc. Just turn them off when not using. Need I say more? Apparently so as no one does this but me!!! :)
Have not gotten around to the phantom things (you know, vcrs, etc.) that run juice when not in use. Have changed a few of the lights to those cfl's ... the outside garage lights that run sundown to sunup. Hubby insists on these being on because the boat is out there in the drive, and well, theft does happen. We've already had 3 trailers and one boat stolen. If this one got stolen I don't think he would ever be the same!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The neighborhood cat

Comes by every morning between 5am and 6am. I am usually up by 5am Monday thru Thursday since the kids have to be getting up & ready for school. He will come to the back sliding glass door and just sit there, front paws on the ledge. Once he sees you coming, he starts rubbing against the door and if you don't open it up quick enough (for him), he will stand on back paws and start scratching at the glass "Hey! Let me in!". He's a bengal cat. Once I figure out how to post pics, will post one of him. He's been in the neighborhood for about 6 years or so. No front claws. Fixed. For years, could not get any where near him, would always dash away from you, skittish. About a year ago, me & hubby came home one night & I swore I must have hit the cat with the car the way he was meowing. We got some chicken (canned) and put some on a plate & he wolfed it down. Told hubby that he was starving and he was soooo skinny then. He started coming by every few nights, right when it got dark out. Then the kids started playing with him with little balls or other things they had around the house. The cat was a kick to watch play, wild little thing. Then he started coming in the front door. Just a little. The first time I closed the door, he dashed through the house, low to the ground, making this god awful mewling noise. So much for that!! :) Now, a year later, can't get rid of him :) We all know his routine. Even the neighborhood (for the most part) considers the cat mine. The cat actually belongs to a gentleman down the street. I think it was a former girlfriends cat that was MIA when she left. He's a little odd. Known to drink alot, beat up on people, take advantage of females (financially), etc. He moved out over the summer to live with another girlfriend for 2 months. After I found that out, I said screw it, the cats mine ... guy breaks up with her, moves back in the house & has the NERVE to ask one of the neighbors to "tell that girl that has my cat to send him home" ... yeah, I'll get right on that! We have sinced renamed the kitty. His name is Kiki. And Kiki spends most of the day in the house sleeping. He likes to prowl around outside at night, against my wishes. Occassionally will sleep over, but usually wakes up around 3-4am insisting to go out. Since he has never used the litterbox in house, I let him out with the assumption he needs to go potty. Kiki has had several run ins with other animals. Not sure what but there was a time where I actually put a note on the original owners door telling him he needs to check his cat out. His cheek was all swollen and eye closed. Not sure what he got into. Kept sending the cat home and finally (45 days later) he took cat to vet. Cat showed up that night with cheek shaved, stitches and paw still sticky from iv. Booted him out to go home, figuring he had to have antibiotics & a collar to wear. Didn't see him for 5 days. Then he came back all over, good as new. At that time, I didn't want to spend the $400 or so for a vet bill on a cat that nots mine. NOW I would. :) He's mine :) So there you go, you've met another member of my family. Off to figure out how to post pics! Jan

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Property Taxes

It's that time of year where the annual property taxes are due. Oh joy! I look forward to this month all year long NOT! We do not escrow taxes or insurances through our mortgage. I highly recommend that everyone seriously consider this. Being in the business that I'm in, I constantly see where people have a negative balance for escrow for various reasons, primarly, forced place insurance. Whoa! It can cost quite a bundle and is a major hassle to get cleared up, especially when you are selling and time crunched for an accurate payoff. So the taxes are due and payable with a 4% discount by November 30th. That means that if I want my 4% discount, I've got to cough up a whole $5,200 and change. I thought HEY! I'll pay by AE card so I can at least get the points & then pay the AE card in December (I have the cash, just barely and would really like to see it earn a little more interest). But in order to do that, they will charge me $170 and change as a 'convenience fee'. Hmmm. That kinda defeats the whole 4% discount, doesn't it?? I guess I'll just sit here on the 30th, in front of the computer, and at 4:45pm, will go to the BCPA.net website and pay my taxes online at the last possible minute. :( It needs to be done. We are luckier than most though. We've lived in our beautiful intracoasatal front home since the mid 80's ... so our tax value is very very low. The assessed value is very very high, however, with the wonderful "Save Our Homes" bill, they can only increase my tax value by 3% a year. :) Woohoo. My neighbors, who bought there house a few years after us but did not homestead it immediately (had a home in chicago that they thought would serve better with a homestead) pay around $20,000 in property taxes. Yup, that's 20 grand. I don't know how they do it! I don't know how alot of people do it. That would be why the big issue with the state is Property Tax. My big issue would be Property Insurance, as there is nothing to keep the cost down there. We pay flood, hazard AND wind. The wind runs around $4000 a year. Hazard is $1500 and flood is $700. At least by paying all this ourselves, we can keep an eye on the real picture of what it cost, what we are paying for, etc. Can really get away from you if you don't pay attention!! Ok, that's all for now. Time for me to log off & go home.

Frugal doings for 11/15

Frugal doings for Thursday, Nov. 15th. Being that we just got back from our 48 our trip to Kentucky, it’s hard to stay focused on being frugal BUT I must stay on track!! This morning started out with grinding my coffee beans from the B1G1F sale ($4.79 for 2 lb of beans total) … then fed the son cereal and daughter just ate a banana. I know, not a real breakfast but at 5:30am, who can blame her for not being hungry?? I made a bagel and scrambled an egg to make an egg sandwich. Hubby got 2 slices of whole wheat bread with peanut butter. He doesn’t normally eat breakfast, but with all the meds he is on, he needs to. Kids are buying their lunch at school to the tune of $2.50 each. Packed up leftovers for me & hubby which was spanish rice, leftover taco meat, leftover onion & diced tomatoes and then topped that with a little bit of the taco sauce. Also put together a small salad as I ‘seem’ to be gaining weight since I quit smoking 2 weeks ago. Not sure if it’s my imagination, the fact that my mil dried my work clothes in dryer OR if I really am gaining weight ALREADY! Dinner tonight will be 4-way chili. Boiling up some spaghetti noodles, topping with the leftover chili from weekend, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and a bit of diced onion. I ‘need’ to run to the store, but not necessarily today. Not even before the weekend. But it’s such a hard habit to break! J Jan