Friday, January 30, 2009

Coupon Winner

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

59 

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 04:34:43 UTC


Winner is - drumroll, please:


Ervie Family

  • Awesome! I'm a beginning couponer, and I think I would be more excited about winning this than any other giveaway! :)

Very cool - am happy to help a beginner out! An email has been sent, if I don't get a response by Monday, I'll pick another number.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tax refunds

OK - so I filed my taxes early (per lawyer request). And gotta tell you - doing it online is awesome. Getting direct deposit refunds would be even more awesome, however, since a company recently wiped out my checking account for a garnishment - mine are NOT going into a bank account. But, the turn around time? Incredible.

Fed tax refund - is going to a prepaid Master card. It's scheduled to be direct deposited tomorrow.
State tax refund (didn't have the option) was mailed Jan 23rd - so I expect the check in the mail any day now.

I filed on the 19th... the first day I "could" file. How cool is that? Less than two weeks from filing to get the refund? Seriously fast compared to ten years ago processing times.

Of course, top on my list of to-do's upon receiving my refund (besides paying the remaining fee for the bankruptcy) - is to get my little puppy spayed... guess who went into heat yesterday??? Oh, well, I should still be able to get an appointment for next week, I just need to make sure to keep her on her leash & monitor very closely potty time to avoid any potential boyfriends coming sniffing around.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Pressure from "A"

He's calling daily & "making conversation". Which should be a good thing. It should. But, he's calling to apply pressure to come home. I'm standing firm. He's getting resentful.

His bed got infected with bed bugs. I agree - totally disgusting and I'm very sorry he went through that. He thinks that because he only stole from me one time (which isn't true, it was twice), that I'm being unreasonable and just trying to teach him a lesson.

While I would LOVE it, absolutely LOVE it if he did learn a lesson from what he's going through... that isn't the point of me kicking him out of my home.

I kicked him out of my home because he was 20 and instead of going to get a job and support himself, he was stealing from me. I cannot afford to have him steal a dime at this point in my life (not that it's the key to why he's kicked out)... but I just can't. If he were to steal from me again (I know, I know... he's sworn he would never... but he swore the same oath the first time he stole from me... you know, the time he can't remember)... there's a possibility that "a" & I would be homeless. I cannot afford to take the chance. "a" deserves better. So do I.

"A" thinks it would do me good to live with bedbugs. I'm thinking "A" should not ask me my opinion NOR should he ask if he can come back to do laundry any time in the near future. I can pack his things and bring them to him - or he can do without. His choice. Just as living in the shelter is his choice. Just as stealing from me in the past was his choice. If he doesn't want to live in the shelter, it's up to him to figure out another alternative - other than calling me up.

It's tough... and I know it is. But, he made a lot of choices in his past that got him here. It's not up to me to "fix" his life and get him out of there - it's up to him. He doesn't seem to understand that.

He was supposed to start work this week. He didn't... I don't understand the why any more - something about the guy giving the job to someone else. Not sure I believe it... but do know that regardless, it's not my concern. I know enough to know that even though times are hard right now, there's help out there for those who seek it; and there are jobs for those who really, really want to work. He's still at the point where he doesn't "want to" look at certain jobs. He's living in a homeless shelter and still too proud to consider some options - seriously? I just don't get it. But - I don't have to. It's his life to live as he chooses and once he grows up enough to take accountability, he'll stop blaming me for all the issues.

Monday, January 26, 2009

$5 dinner challenge

20 minutes to the table - Spaghetti

I debated about posting this meal... seems obvious, and it's not like everyone can't throw this together quickly & easily... but then I thought why not. All my meals are simple, quick to throw together & family favorites. So here goes...

1 can Hunts Traditional Spaghetti Sauce ($1.09)
1/4 package of Generic Spaghetti Noodles ( $2.00 / 4 = $.50)
1 lb Hamburger (bought on sale for $1.50)
1 can generic sliced mushrooms (.49) (drained)
Diced Onion to taste (I chop a whole onion & freeze, throw a little into meals as needed ... $.20)
1 can Corn (.49)

Put a pot of water on to boil the noodles while I thaw out the hamburger. If I've bought it in bulk, I'll brown it all up at once, and then freeze 1lb of it up in a package - ready browned. If I'm out, or they have a sale on 1lb packages (which they did last week) - I freeze it raw.

If the hamburger needs browning - I brown it in a sauce pan with the bits of onion. Meanwhile I toss the spaghetti in to boil.

Throw everything but the corn into the hamburger after I drain away excess fat.

Heat up the corn & voila - a family favorite. I made some Friday night, had lots of leftovers as "A" wasn't there - he managed to polish those off in about 5 minutes when he did laundry on Saturday. $4.27 total.... funny how a lot of my regular meals actually fit into the under $5 category once you figure it all up.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Tough Love

So, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Yes, he did try to get me to agree to let him stay. No, I didn't agree to it. I had him back to the shelter by 3:30pm. He talked about how "awful" it was. I reminded him that he needed to make sure he learned his lesson from this so he gets out & never goes back. He told me he could have learned this lesson without experiencing it first hand. I reminded him, that he NEVER learns things without doing it the hard-way. He asked if that's what it was all about - me trying to teach him a lesson. I said no. This was about protecting myself & "a". I got the "I would never, ever do it again" ... I reminded him that he'd already broken that promise before.

But, after that - things weren't the end of the world. I had him take some free shampoo & deodorant that I had gotten back to the shelter with him. Had him pick out some clothes to donate that he won't wear.... he's got probably 10 pairs of pants, and only wears two of them.... dozens upon dozens of shirts he won't wear... and he went through his wardrobe and picked out two shirts to donate. hmmm... guess it's a start. He's got a ways to go.

He's got food stamps, free meals every day, a place to stay at night. He's been helping out in the kitchen - as a result, he doesn't have to go out to the street all day long in the cold. He's got a part-time job starting on Wednesday. It's minimum wage, but it's a job. He's starting his anger management classes for parole. He's got a new start. I wish him the best in getting back on his feet. I wouldn't wish living in a homeless shelter on anyone. But, he's made his choices.

I'm just glad he didn't make things even worse here, and force me & "a" into a shelter with him. He just doesn't understand how hard things are. Like most young men, blinded by their own needs & desires... and not realizing the impacts they make on everyone else. Hopefully, he's growing up a bit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Too many coupons --- so, let's do a give-away!

Updated - Contest is now closed. Will post winner soon! :-)

OK, I've been trying to find someone to do coupon trades with - not the traditional kind (who has time for that?) - but the lazy kind. I send you an envelope filled with coupons I don't need every other week or so, you send me an envelope filled with with coupons you don't need every other week or so. I've done coupon trains in the past - where there are four or five people who round-robin the coupons. And, honestly? While it "can" work great, it often doesn't. Usually you'll have one person (or more) flake out - and the train derails. Line up more people, try again? And it derails - again. The few times I've gotten on trains that did work there was usually more work involved - you have to exchange gifts, etc. And honestly? I have enough on my plate - that's just not in my priorities.

There are the fancy coupon traders - who list the coupons they want & list the coupons they have, you negotiate & away you go. A LOT of work put in there.

I did find two different people who wanted to coupon-trade. The first one received 3 envelopes from me before I stopped sending them to her - since I'd never received any from her.

The second one, we managed to trade once - but then when she asked if I was ready to trade again, I had to beg for an extension - since my paper delivery missed me two weeks in a row, and sending 3 coupons (which is all I had managed to find) - wasn't fair. When I contacted her to start up again - she never responded. Alas, I blew it.

Instead, I thought I'd work on improving my Karma. I won a coupon give-away in November, it's time to return the favor. I have 150+ coupons (first expire date is 2/28/09) - a mixed bag. A few duplicates... groceries, cleaning supplies, and even two coupons for discounts on buying a DVD. So many coupons, I'll need to stick extra postage on it.

And, it could be yours!

To enter, leave a comment. Contest ends at 10:00 pm CST 1/30/2009. Sorry - only US Addresses mailing addresses. If you do not have a blog or profile that contains your email address - leave an email address in your comment so I can contact the winner. I will e-mail the winner & request their snail-mail address. No response in 3 days, and I will pick a new winner.

Hungry for more? Try Bloggy Giveaways, No Time Mom or Deal Seeking Mom for more giveaways.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Not looking forward to tomorrow

So, "A" gave me a call. Per his parole officer, he can't just not speak to me. I do appreciate that of her, I do. But it's easier to stay tough when I don't talk to him.

So, he has a job- 4 hours a day at a call center. He's due to get food stamps starting Tuesday. He's staying at a shelter where they have to leave at 8:00 am & return no sooner than 4:00 pm and it's a first in situation where if you come in too late, you may not get to stay. Includes free meals though. And, he's helping out in the kitchen, cooking lunch & dinner... so when he isn't working, he's helping & not having to go to stand in the street waiting for their doors to open again.

So, he filled me in, and then mentioned that if he does get the better paying job in Ames, and if he has enough money saved up, his parole officer will let him move to Ames. I said to keep me informed, and if I could help by packing up some clothes or moving furniture to Ames, I will.

He wants to come home for the weekend. Do laundry, pick up some more clothes, etc. I told him that if he really wants to do laundry or pick up some clothes, that I could pick him up tomorrow morning, but that he cannot spend the night. I could drop him back off at the shelter. He's not happy about it, but I don't want him thinking he can swing back home to stay whenever he wants either. He's on his own now... but I also want him to be able to stop by for a visit or holiday, or also to be able to access his things. So, one morning, one afternoon - no evenings or nights.

I am SO NOT looking forward to this. If he gets even the slightest bit nasty he'll have to find his own way back to the shelter. I'll remind him ONCE that I'm doing him a favor and that he's a GUEST and should behave as such. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Loving T-Mobile

BTW this is not a pay-to-post, I just really love their service!

I've been a customer since 2003... and I am in no hurry to change that fact. They were among the first to automatically allow existing customers to get free replacement phones after being a customer x amount of time. Admittedly - they require a new contract when you get the new phone. But, since I've rarely had issues with call quality and they have the best prices for my situation (with the previous teenager use, unlimited text messages, etc)... I have no reason to complain.

At least four times in the last six years since becoming their customer, something happened to drive my phone bill sky high. While I was out of state & my mother became seriously ill, to times when my teenager went from not using the phone to having a girlfriend he spoke six hours a day via the phone to... etc. Each time, I called t-mobile to change the account to keep it from bankrupting me... and each time, they were able to make the change effective back to the previous billing time period. Each time they saved me literally hundreds of dollars. And always with a smile in their voice and always with a thank you at the end of the call for being a loyal customer.

I've been having intermittent issues with my phone for over a month now. "A"s phone (on the same account) has no issues. It happens at work or at home... but basically, a perfectly good call gets disconnected mid-call at the under 60 second mark. Repeatedly. When it first started happening, I thought the other person had simply lost connectivity or hung up by accident, or something. But when 75% of my calls started having this happen - whether they were on the phone or cell - at home or driving - I called them or they called me... it was obviously an issue. For the obvious possible issue? I was always sitting - so it wasn't because I was moving around and had a loss of signal... I had a full set of bars... and a full battery. So, something was up. I finally broke down to call them and they suggested that they have a technician drive out to the area to check signal for anything that might be going on. I felt that since "A"s phone showed no signs of the issue - that it was over-kill. They agreed it was probably my phone.

But there was an issue - it was no longer under warranty. They suggested I upgrade my phone - only I was a full six months shy of the date that I would be eligible for a free upgrade. I was ready to throw in the towel & see if I could find a replacement on eBay. But, guess what??? They made an exception and allowed me a free upgrade. Again, I did have to agree to an extension to my contract. But, honestly? Who cares! They are awesome and they are taking care of my needs. I can't ask for more. I'm thrilled!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Filing for Chapter 13

OK - spoke to a lawyer on Friday. Gave her 50% of the cost for filing... copies of my Credit Report, copies of my paycheck stubs, and copies of my taxes.

I filed my tax return on Saturday - with any luck will get the refund before she files the official paperwork so I can use that money the way I please instead of the way the trustee sees fit.

My wish list?
- Replace my broken printer (so I can start doing internet coupons) < $50
- Pay the portion of the lawyers fees I can't cover with my next paycheck (if I get it fast enough)... if it's too slow, I can pay with my second paycheck... but honestly? I won't get any of it anyway if it's too slow - around $300
- Pay for Kyra's Spay (six months overdue) & hernia repair - quoted around $300 - but am going to a new vet to try to get it for < $200
- Trip to NY???? to see the "real" Dr House hoping for flight for < $300 (average); and other expenses at $200-300 - since I'm still planning on getting to stay with Phil when I get there :-)
- Emergency savings ... should leave over $1000 after my other items are covered, if not more.

Am discussing options about my car with the lawyer. I LOVE my Toyota Rav4, absolutely love driving it, riding in it, having it. BUT, I do NOT love the fact that its now 5 years old, that I've spent over $3000 in repairs in the past 12 months, and that the interior is a bit the worse the wear (my own fault), nor the amount I'm paying/still owe for it. This is the first time I have ever driven the same car this long.

The good news is that it seems to still be running really well... and given what repairs I did have to do, there's no reason I can't put another 50K miles on it with minimal expense. The problem lies in the fact that I'm now making a car payment for $600/month on an older car... I owe approximately $16K on a vehicle that if I could sell it, would only sell for $9K.

I do not qualify for a new car loan... already tried that in November... If I could turn this car in and NOT still owe the balance $7K? Then I think I would. There's a local company that works with a lot of new "immigrants" (not sure they're all legal) - that will sell me a car for about $500/down and $300/month payments - however, there is no way to know if that car will last even 10K miles, let alone a couple of years. Driving to Iowa City twice a month so he can spend a weekend with his father is a bit dicier if you aren't driving a dependable vehicle.

It's an option... and if it could mean that I was out of trouble with the balance for the existing car loan? I may end up taking it. I'm still debating it... the risk of breakdown triples with an unknown vehicle... if I'm toast about the balance of the car loan? I might as well stay with my current vehicle (better the devil you know???). Either way, my monthly amount will probably decrease. However, instead of having this paid off in 3 years, I'd end up probably with 4 to 5 years before this car is paid off. So - we'll see. The lawyer is talking with the car loan holders to see what options they'll consider.

$5 dinner challenge

Sausage & Poorboy

Honestly? as much as I love eating poorboy? I learned how to make it while camping and it tastes tons better at a campground over a campfire ... with the wind chill down in the negative 20s for a few days... I felt like I needed a bit of a reminder of warmer days. Cooking it in the oven works too... not real sure why it doesn't taste quite as good?!

Italian Sausage or Polish Sausage or whatever-hits-your-trigger... recently on sale for 2 for $4 - so $2

Poorboy:
3 chopped potatoes ($2 for 5 pounds... ? maybe a pound?) $.40
Half bag of baby carrots ($.88) $.44
One chopped onion ($5 bag) $.50
2 TBSP butter $.08
Salt to taste $.08

Wrap up ingredients for poorboy into either a Reynold's foil bag (or cheaper option is to make one by making a pocket of foil & sealing it up with the contents. Place on cookie sheet & cook in oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees. About twenty minutes before it's done - cook the sausage on the stove top.

I love to eat cooked onions - but my son doesn't. I chop my onion into four big chunks ... and then I can pick them out of his servings, and chop them up & mix them into my servings. I actually don't care much for cooked carrots regularly - but cooked this way, I do... must be all that butter.

Total for a meal for a family of 4? $3.50 ... not too bad, not too bad at all.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I don't believe in Feng Shui

However, every experiment I have ever done in it - has shocked me with the results.

Several years back, when "a" was no longer sleeping through the night after having done really well for a long time. I moved his crib out of the corner and to a place where he could see out the door. He started sleeping through the night immediately.

Several years before that - when my life wasn't going very well... I'd read that if you place the things you desire more of in your life in the NW corner of your home - that it would help drive more of those things to you. What did I have at the time? A mountain (literally) of dirty laundry because we'd had a few messes, I didn't tackle it right away - threw it in this corner... and it grew & grew. I cleaned it up; and moved my "bar" over to that corner (to attract more entertaining); a vase with flowers on it (to attract romance) and put my suitcases in storage behind the bar (to attract travel). Within six months I'd had three "parties" when I hadn't had any in the two years before; I'd dated three men & gotten asked out by a woman... one of the men was a dear friend's brother who lived overseas and we carried on a long-distance relationship for almost a year. And, my son traveled to New Zealand & Australia; I went to England & France; and we both spent a week in Florida & the Bahamas.

When I started working at the location in Newton, IA... I figured out very early on that the place was a really gossip-y place. I'd overheard several conversations about me. Normally I don't really care if someone gossips about me... I'm not overly secretive, so it's not like I'm not an open book. But the things they were saying weren't just hurtful & personal, but they really put my future at the company at risk because they were putting down my skills. I dug into feng-shui again... and found that a small "gold" (i.e., only needs to be gold-colored) rooster placed on your desk and pointed towards the co-workers is suppposed to reduce the talking behind your back. No real proof that it worked, however, if someone was talking behind my back I never did find out about it after that. And in fact, I started getting a ton of compliments on my skills. And you know that "sense" that you get when you walk into a room and someone has been bad talking about you? That went away completely.

So - honestly? I still don't believe that these little tokens - that having a little gold-colored rooster sitting on my desk makes any difference at all. I think I believe that it's the being aware of what you want and doing what it takes to change things that probably is the reason things change. BUT, I can't deny that the co-incidence that these things seem to work means that I'm open to more experimentation.

I've been having money troubles, right? And I was laying in bed last night trying to remember how to improve your "wealth" ... I'm going to have to look it up & try something... but while I was thinking about it, I remembered that whole NW corner of your home thing. Guess what's in my NW corner? The laundry room. Guess what's in it? Besides dirty clothes, the trash can, the recycling? (which by the way, I have way too much of those things in my life right now)... the cat's litter box. I know you're supposed to scoop it every night. I do try to scoop it regularly... but, honestly, it'll go a day or two, if not three between scooping sometimes. Guess what I have too much of in my life? Just guess. poop would be the correct answer. "a" who is five and a half, and was fully potty trained for a year and a half, has decided that the bathroom is just not worth using. The puppy? thinks it's too cold to poop outside suddenly (gotta admit - 20 below is awfully cold for squatting, but what am I supposed to do? Other dog's poop outside...). Having a dirty litter box in the NW corner of your home in a Feng Shui frame of mind - is literally asking for more poop in your life.

So, first thing today... I rearranged the laundry & the litter box OUT of that room. Enough is enough, I give. I'll try it. I'm still calling it an experiment though, because honestly? Why would moving a litter box from the laundry room to the bathroom help with potty training a young boy & a young dog???

I'll let you know in a few weeks if it's helped. Meantime? I'm going to go dig up how to get more wealth in my life!!!! (besides playing the lottery)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tough love

So, "A" was stranded, and needed to get back to town before his parole officer blew up at him - and didn't have a ride. I said that if he could wait until the weekend that I would be willing to pick him up & drop him off somewhere... that it was up to him to figure out the where.

He spent the entire drive (which was twice as long as it should have been thanks to a jack-knifed semi on the interstate) playing me.

You'll be proud - I stuck my guns.

But it wasn't easy. He tried the "I'm so sorry" - then he tried tears - which were so fake it wasn't even funny. Then he got angry. Then he got nasty. I offered to let him off on the interstate. I reminded him I didn't need to put up with anything - I was doing him a favor. Then he tried guilt and more nastiness. He went so far as to accuse me of having cut off all maternal feelings for him. I had already explained that I was doing what I thought was best for everyone and didn't even respond to this latest accusation. He then went so far as to suggest that he would commit suicide at the mission. I reminded him that he'd already played that card repeatedly about 18 months ago - and when I wasn't sure if he was serious or not and got him into counseling and called the police repeatedly to intervene he'd laughed in my face and told the police I was delusional. I made sure he understood that I wasn't going to play that game again. He felt I was being heartless - I reminded him of how I had done everything in my power for over a year to help him get on his feet while he did just about everything in his power to avoid it. And, that stealing from me destroyed my trust in him. Oh, he would never do that again. I laughed out loud. Like didn't you say that right after the first time you used my debit card without permission? And a week later, you did it again? Why would I believe a word out of his mouth?

I told him that everything was in his hands. I told him that I honestly hoped for the best for him and that he would take this experience (as bad as it is) as fuel for the desire to ensure that he never got himself into this situation again and turns his life around; and keeps it turned around. I reminded him that being homeless instead of living with me opens up new programs that he's now eligible for and that he should take advantage of everything he can to solve his own crisis.

I also told him that I loved him enough that I did care what happened to him and did want to talk to him. But that my "helping him" only keeps him from helping himself. And, I'm done enabling him. I also told him that if he was anyone other than my child... that I would have refused to ever speak to him again after he'd only done half of what he's done to me. He claims that what I'm doing isn't love. If it isn't love then why does it hurt me so much? If I didn't love him I wouldn't care that he struggled. I wouldn't have brought him food & extra socks. I wouldn't have given him a ride either.

He was angry still when I left him at the front door of the mission. He felt I should have waited to make sure that he had a bed first. But, I had offered to give him a ride to town... I had not offered to drive around until he found a place to stay or tried to con me more and see if he couldn't get me to change my mind.

Unpleasant. And unfortunately? Probably just a taste of things to come in the future when we talk. Last time he didn't speak to me for six months. Of course, silence would be almost easier at this point.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freebies for January

OK - total for December ended up being: $25.05 - good news is that January is already ready to beat last months with only my first trip! :-)

Walgreens trip 1/16/2008
-Windex - b1g1 free - $3.79 x 2 - Manufacturer rebate on purchased one $3.79 (even though I only paid $2.79 as I had a $1.00 off coupon)
-Oust Air Sanitizer 4x$3.79 - b1g1 free store special plus b1g1 free manufacturer coupon - didn't pay a red nickel on any of them.
-Orajel Cold Medicine - $8.79 ( even though I paid $7.79 with coupon)... this is actually paying off in spades as the store is offering a full rebate + 10% of the sale price AND the manufacturer is offering a rebate. So I paid $7.79 and am expecting $18.45 in rebates on it.
-Revlon Matte finish makeup - I picked up some eyeshadow (choices were somewhat limited) - $4.99 (full rebate + 10%)

Total to date? 36.52

Won't have too many to add for the rest of the month, but I'm still hopeful that I'll see some more free deals yet this month.

Edited 1/24/2009 - one more item this week - again from Walgreens:
- Elite Auto Vent Air Freshener - $4.99 (actually getting 4.99 + 10% back from Walgreens PLUS a full rebate from the manufacturer - so I'll get $10.48 back.

Total to date -- $41.51

Thursday, January 15, 2009

$5 dinner challenge

OK - so it isn't Monday - my bad.

And, also technically it isn't a $5 dinner for four - it's really $10 for two dinners for four - I'm going to include it here anyway ... since it does meet the basic requirement... feeding a family of four for less.

First Dinner - Roasted Chicken & Cheesy Potatoes & Peas

Whole chickens were on sale for $.88/lb (I bought 2 so I can freeze one for future meals).... $4.32 for the chicken in my crockpot as I type this.
Generic Augraten Potatoes - $.88
Chunk of Velveeta to turn the generic potatoes into yumminess - ($4.5 for the bar/ divide into 6)... $.75
Frozen peas (bag for $1 - five meals in a bag) $.20
Various seasonings added to water in crock pot - $.50 (garlic powder, onion salt, chicken bouilon, etc).

Spent so far - $6.65 - first meal

Day 2
- pick off meat from bones from leftovers from chicken & toss in fridge
- boil chicken bones, skin with leftover veggies, or past-their-prime veggies, & some veggies from freezer ($.40) with lots of water for a couple of hours - drain and voila - chicken broth; If I'm not making this on the weekend, I throw it in the fridge & cook the soup the following evening; but, if it's Saturday or Sunday, I make the soup same-day.

Spent so far $7.05

Day 3
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Combine Chicken from leftovers with chicken broth,
plus 2 cans diced Tomatoes $.59 each
1 can Tomato sauce $.49
2 TBSP Salsa (jar $4 - maybe almost a tenth used) $.40
1/2 cup of Enchillada seasoning (I'm making my own now, though I used to use packets from the store)... about $.50 worth of seasoning and far less sodium than the packets
with 3-4 cups of water

Spent so far $9.62

Good part of this is that it makes enough soup that I have LOTS of leftovers. I freeze them up in individual containers and usually get 5 or 6 lunches out of it.

So, two dinners plus five lunches for under $10? Not too bad.

I can't take all the credit for this - the concept is "Rubber Chicken" and I picked it up & ran with it. Honestly? Anything containing Chicken Broth & bits of chicken could probably take the place of the second meal... but I'm like addicted to Chicken Tortilla Soup ever since I started making it... and even though I eat it again almost every other day at work? When I run out??? I get a little anxious & want to make it again right away. And for the money? It's not a bad option to stretch the budget & eat well.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Anti-climatic Friday; but still a tough weekend

So ... haven't posted yet about kicking "A" out of the house. Kept thinking that the worst was yet to come. But, so far so good. Thursday he seemed to finally decide that I was serious about the whole thing and started asking around for places to stay. Friday after work, I got home and he wasn't there. He took a change of clothes & his phone and nothing else.

Saturday he did call to tell me that he had a job interview on Monday and was staying at some friends until then in Ames. Haven't heard a peep from him since.

As much as I am thankful we didn't have to have a confrontation on Friday and didn't have to deal with additional stress. I still got to say that it's been hard. I feel like I've taken a kick in the gut. I'm still fighting off general depression - add to it a feeling like I've failed him (even though I fully realize I've gone above and beyond trying to give him extra chances); and the stress from my finances that even though I think I've got a handle on everything - I know deep down I really don't and am right now at the mercy of people who don't show much mercy to anyone. And basically? I'm walking a high wire without a rope.

I've retreated to my bedroom most evenings and all weekend. I'm anti-social. I'm frustrated. I'm unmotivated. And it's not fair to "a". So, tonight the plan is to NOT retreat to my bedroom. And even if I can't be super-mom right now - to at least spend some time with him and spend time chatting him up. He loves his video game... so hopefully we can spend some time playing that tonight and get a little reconnected again. We'll see.

In the meantime - I'm investigating filing for bankruptcy again. Another creditor managed to slip through the grasp of this debt solution company - and they tell me that I'm not covered for this debt. It's obvious now that it's a no-win solution. I know - I know - you guys have been trying to guide me for a while on this - I just had to be stubborn about it. I had purchased a money order yesterday for their next payment - and I'm thinking I'm going to turn around & cash it back out & try to use it for saving up for the lawyer. I've got another $800 money order for the car payment... and honestly? if they have to restructure my debt anyway - paying that right now to the finance company simply means it will take me that much longer to pay the lawyer - am wondering if I shouldn't cash it out too and do what I can to stall them until I find the lawyer. Shouldn't take me more than two weeks to get in with a lawyer and get them started on the process... at least that's about all the longer it took me last time I thought I was going to file bankruptcy. Should-a could-a probably should have went through with it then. But, stubborn ol'e me - I keep thinking I can figure things out on my own and I keep battling long after anyone else would have given in.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Tag

TAG! ~ YOU'RE IT! ~If you opened it, you have to do it. It only takes a couple minutes! Then, send it back to the person who sent it to you and the rest of your friends!

~ Two names you go by: Penny & Mommy

~Two things you are wearing right now: Slacks & a Long-sleeved shirt

~Two things you want very badly at the moment: Get out of debt & get healthy

~Two people who will most likely send this back: Phil & not sure of anyone else

~Two things you did last night: housework and shaved the dog (matted too badly to try to take in for grooming as-is)

~Two People you just spoke with: youngest son & Stacy

~Two things you're doing tomorrow: clean house and do laundry

~Two longest car rides you've been on: Colorado & Arkansas

~Two favorite beverages: Pepsi & Pepsi

Now, here's what you're supposed to do ... And please do not spoil the fun. Hit reply, delete my answers and type in your answers. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know INCLUDING the person who sent it to you.

New Year - new start?

So, I haven't made a New Year's post yet... guess I'm still in shock over everything that has happened in the past year (plus a couple of extra years before that that weren't the best).

Got served notice on Saturday for a debt that was supposed to be handled by the Debt Settlement Company. Sent it on to the Debt Settlement Company who called me back to tell me that this account isn't included. Not sure why not. Kind of - totally - frustrated. Of course, mid-call my cell battery died & I couldn't call them back. Am waiting for them to return my call which was - hmmm, it was on the credit score I sent you for the input of the list of accounts... so why didn't it count?

In the meantime, I've called the attorney to offer to start making payments again, knowing that if they've reached this point, even if I do convince the Debt Settlement Company to add this account - that anything we do here isn't going to keep them from garnishing me unless they agree to accept the pittance I can afford to pay.

Worst case? I figure out how to cut my expenses even further and figure out how to live on a paycheck minus garnishment. Assume that means that my car gets repossessed. ugh. We'll see.

I'm doing what I can; not to say it isn't frustrating. We'll see.

On the up side (is there one?) - "A" hasn't been home for two days. Either he's in trouble and trying to avoid calling me. Or he's stuck out of town (when he shouldn't be) and doesn't want to tell me to admit to it. Or, (and in my delirious world, I'm choosing this option) he's found a new place to live. Dare I hope? Of course, bad influence as he has been? "a" believes that he's not home because he's in jail. Cute. Isn't that cute. How sad is it that a five year old automatically assumes that if you aren't home, you must be in jail - again. I never told him where "A" was when he was in jail. But "A" didn't keep it quiet... and "a" is no dummy. It's sad, though.

I spoke to his probation officer & there is only one program out there that would provide housing - Fort Des Moines - and per her? This is NOT where I want my son to go... and he hasn't done anything terrible enough to require that he go there. He'd be better off living at the YMCA or another homeless shelter. So, if he does show up between now & Friday - that's where we're going to drop him off. If he'd rather not stay there - nothing to prevent him from leaving.

Wish me luck. If things get bad enough, I'm going to call the police to escort him to try to avoid any physical violence. See why I'm dreaming that he's magically found a new place to live?

Monday, January 05, 2009

$5 meal for a family of 4

Easy-peasy Goulash

1 lb of hamburger (browned) - bought on sale for $1.87/lb
1 cup of elbow macaroni (bought large package on sale for $3 - estimate I get 20 meals out of it) $.15

1 tablespoon chopped onion - bought for $.68 - chopped & frozen ahead of time - $.08

1 can Tomato Sauce - $.48
1 can Chopped Tomatoes - $.59
1 can Stewed Tomatoes - $.69

Pinch of Paprika - $.06

Throw it all in a pot with a can of water & bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer & cook for 10 minutes.

Easy & simply-flavored to please the boys... one of my go-to meals that I make almost every two weeks.

Served with Corn on the side - $.48

Total for a meal for four $4.40 - and we all usually have two helpings each plus have a little leftover to take for lunch future meals. Freezes extremely well.