Sunday, August 2, 2015

My Target deals

I picked up a few good deals at Target today.  DD is taking the Swiffer sweeper we have for her new apartment, so I wanted to pick another one up....except I didn't think about it until we were at the store and could have brought a $1.50 off coupon with me. Oh well.  They had it on clearance for $6.98.  They also had refill packs on sale for 9.99 ea (28 count), buy 2 get a $5 Target gift card and I also had 2 $1 off coupons. Now we each have a large refill pack that will last quite awhile.

Two 30 count Quilted Northern toilet paper at $15.99 ea. I had 2 $2 off coupons! Plus a cartwheel extra 5% off. Buy 2 and get a $5 Target gift card. Always need toilet paper and was just about out from the last time I did this deal.

Gillette razor refills (DH was out) and $16.49 for a 5 count (razors are such a rip off!), plus I had a $3 off coupon. Buy razor refills and a razor, get a $5 Target gift card, so I bought myself a Venus razor on sale for $7.99, also with a $3 coupon.

Total cost - after my 5% red card discount - $66.32 AND I got $15 in Target gift cards.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Revisiting an old memory

DD and I had a fun evening at the horse races last night. She has never been before and it's something we've been wanting to do since last summer. It was still 95 degrees when we got there at 6:30 but thankfully the sun was behind the grandstands and we were at least in shade.

I have so many fun memories of going to the horse races with my family (and especially my dad) growing up. We lived near the track and it was a favorite thing of my dad to go do. Kids always get in free and I can remember all of us going, even my grandparents. I can remember several Mother's Day spent there. I'd give my mom or dad my $2 to bet for me, after picking out a horse. My dad taught me now to read the race program (he would buy the big program that looked like a newspaper) and how to read the race history of each horse. Back in the day, I can remember him on occasion getting home from work early on a weekday afternoon and we'd head over to the track (a 10 minute drive) and spend the afternoon, just him and me. One of my favorite last memories, before he passed, was he and I going to the race track while I was visiting them in Arizona one winter.

DD loved it. We didn't bet much. Usually just the minimum $2 bet along with a $1 bet on the exacta, which DD won one race - a whole $8.10 :-).  We took some sandwiches, crackers and drinks in a little cooler. I was going to park in general admission but it seriously was a VERY long walk, so I said forget that - we're paying the $7 for close parking! I wasn't walking that far in 95 degrees and then out that far at 10pm at night. $7 each to get in. DD came out ahead $3.70 and I lost $16. Can't beat that for an evening of fun.

Friday, July 31, 2015

A good politician

It's been an interesting couple of days around here. Monday and Tuesday the traffic count to renters house was over 50 and 60 per day/24 hours a day. As usual, we get nowhere with the dispatchers asking them to send a patrol car out. They want to refer us to the narcotics - which is just either an online reporting or leave a message on their phone drug tip line. We have done this regularly for 2 YEARS now. Nothing. Then they tell us if we want patrol we have to go over to the precinct and request it. When we do get a deputy out and talk with them, they all say "keep calling it in".....

So, Tuesday afternoon I went over to the precinct. I got the same front desk guy as last Jan or Feb when I went in for the same thing. He is pretty much worthless. Just sits there and nods at what I'm saying and give me no help. Tells me to report it to narcotics tip line. I said I do that constantly for 2 years now, apparently it goes into a black hole. Finally I kept pressing him for some sort of answer and he gave me a name and direct line to someone in the narcotics unit and advised the best day to call would be Thursday. Which, I did yesterday morning and had to leave a message and of course no return call. Then I pressed the issue of the dispatchers refusing to dispatch an deputy. I said "what do I do at 2am, when there is some strange person, usually with a backpack, walking up and down our private road and I don't feel safe that they are out there?!  He then said when speaking with the dispatchers to request to speak to a sergeant. I also said that we have not seen a deputy patrol our area for almost 2 months now.

In the meantime DH had decided to shoot another email to our county councilman's assistant. She was the one who set up the meeting a few months ago with the neighborhood watch organizer (who agreed that won't work in our situation). She is currently running for a county position. He wanted to let her know we voted for her and even though she (and her boss, the councilman) haven't heard from us recently, our drug problem is still as strong as ever.  He also gave landlord neighbor a courtesy call saying this is totally out of control the last 2 days. He must have talked to renters as that afternoon/early evening it really quieted down.....until around 1am when about 5 or 6 of the methheads were outside our gate just hanging out, making lots of noise and making gestures, as they know the cameras are there. A call to the non-emergency dispatch to request a deputy come out resulted is same as always, so DH requested a call back from a sergeant. When asked why, he said "because I do not feel safe for myself or my family and that is what the officer at the precinct told us to do". A minute later a regular deputy called back.

Yesterday morning, right after I left for work, DH sees this pick up driving slow down our street, stopping in front of our house, then stopped at the renters, came back slow, stopping again in front of our house. Then the phone rang. It was our district county commissioner.....outside on our street! He pulled in and talked with DH about the problem.  His first notice was all the illegal building code violations going on at renters and the landlords property directly on the other side of us. DH says, ya, we've tried that process but got nowhere, and he said, well, I sure can.  Then he said he was heading to a big county budget meeting (at the big new county facility near our house) and just wanted to see all this first.

Around noon DH gets a message from his assistant that the sheriff is also at this meeting and our neighborhood drug problem was brought up. Sheriff said they have added patrols now to our neighborhood.  Then around 3pm DH gets another call from the commissioner that he wanted to come back again and was bringing a code enforcement guy with him. They can see most of the problems from our property, without having to go onto the other properties. So, that is an angle that is being worked. He also said landlord will need a business license if he has rental houses.

It was a busy evening with drug traffic again last night, but it turns out one of the cars that drove by early evening was actually the commissioner out again! He was showing someone else the situation. DH is also sending him several of the pictures and videos from our security system showing all the traffic - one shows a drug deal done right in front of our good neighbors driveway.

I appreciate our councilman and the attention he is now giving our situation. Sadly, though, he also said our head sheriff is pretty worthless. Let's hope something gives and we finally get this resolved. These aren't just crappy neighbors - these are people breaking the law, day in/day out and getting away with it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The sugar experiment

Looking for something to watch on Netflix a couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary called Fed Up, about all the sugar and processed food we consume and how it relates to obesity. While I don't have a weight problem, I do consume a lot of sugar. I am constantly tired. I get through my work day and most evenings find myself having to take a nap after dinner. Most weekends I take a nap in the afternoon. I am tired of feeling so tired all the time.

Whether the movie exaggerates the issue of sugar and processed food (I'm sure to some extent they did) it is obvious I consume way too much sugar in my daily diet. The food I eat is, for the most part, all processed food, of which most all of it contains added sugars. In addition to all the sugar I don't need, most of the food isn't even "real" food with all the additives, etc. I watched several other similar documentaries and basically came away with the idea that I want to try and cut as much sugar out of my diet as possible (to see if it helps with my energy level) and I want to try to reduce the amount of processed foods I was eating (which is pretty much a given, when you cut out added sugar). I was also not going to use artificial sweeteners, which apparently have the effect of making your body think sugar is coming it's way and it's impact on the body.

I started my sugar reduction 10 days ago. For the most part, I have not eaten very much of anything with added sugar. Fruits and dairy, with sugar naturally, I am not counting. I also realize this will not be something I can just do over night, or even in a week. A lifetime of habits are hard to change. While I do have a bit of a headstart in getting off sugar - I do not drink soda. One can of soda has more added sugar than a person should consume in a whole day. My DH normally drinks 2-3 of them.  UGH!

Here is my typical daily diet for as long as I can remember:
First thing in the morning I have a cup of coffee, with 2 teaspoons of sugar and approximately 2 TBSP of creamer, with added sugar. (sometimes I buy the sugar-free version, with artificial sweeteners)
About an hour later I have some chocolate Carnation instant breakfast in milk. More added sugar.
If there are sweets at work (often times there are) I WILL eat them...donut, muffin, cookies, etc.
Lunch - Campbell's soup at hand chicken noodle or New England clam chowder. A granola bar (with more added sugar). When I am working from home I tend to snack throughout the day (yogurt, pudding cup, etc) and don't really eat lunch, per se.
Snack when I get home from work/while making dinner - whatever is handy: cookies, ice cream bar, brownies.
Dinner - oftentimes something processed that I just have to heat up. A couple of times a week I make a casserole or something from scratch (pizza) and about once a week we have steak and a vegetable (canned). We rarely eat salads. A common side is applesauce, but I have always purchased the no sugar added kind. Another common side with dinner is a jello cup.
Evening snack - again, whatever junk food is around. Chips, cookies, etc.
Weekends are worse for snacking on junk. I usually buy donuts and have 2 of those.

I honestly don't know who many grams of sugar I consume on an average day. I do know I about died on day 2 or 3 when my boss went to get herself some lunch and brought me back a chocolate chip cookie from Subway! I told her about my diet change and I put the cookie in the office kitchen for someone else to snag up and eat.

The past 10 days I have reduced my coffee to a smaller cup, add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 T of creamer. I haven't been able to cut this out yet, but each day the coffee tastes a bit more "normal" to me and I'm not wishing it had more sweetness.
Breakfast is a bowl of Organic "Cheerios" and Organic milk.  OMG, I love these! DD is hooked on them too and we are already on our second box of the cereal. No sugar added and they just taste so light and good. Other days I have a scrambled egg with 9 grain toast.
mid morning snack (if I have one) is usually a banana.
Lunch is an apple, carrot sticks, and some crackers that have no sugar added.
After work snack is some no sugar added peanut butter on the crackers - or even just off the spoon. Or a handful of walnuts or a hard boiled egg.
For now, I'm mostly working changing my breakfast. lunch and snacking and not worrying too much about dinner yet, though several times I have just had a big salad with organic greens, added with walnuts, cranberries, hard boiled egg. etc. Yesterday dd and I found some ogranic salad dressing with no sugar.

Cutting out the sugar hasn't been too bad, though I find myself craving it especially in the evenings. The only time I caved I had half a cookie. Have I felt more energy? A little, is all really. I'm still tired by late afternoon and evening, but other than one evening, I haven't taken a nap. One evening, after work I even washed my car, which I really doubt I would have done before. I still ended up taking afternoon naps during my days off last Friday - Sunday. As, I work on getting my dinner meals with less processed foods and added sugars, I am hoping I will see more of a change. I am also working on finding healthy snacks that I can have on hand, so I'm not tempted by the bucket of licorice or the chips and cookies in the cupboard. One thing I read was that your skin improves with cutting out sugar, so much that several articles/blogs I read they said other people actually noticed the change in their skin. Before starting this I felt my skin on my face. It pretty much felt like I was brushing my fingers across a piece of cardboard! Now it feels softer and smoother. I don't think I'm imagining it.

I am also trying to buy organic now and that is a whole new world. Walmart doesn't carry a whole lot (but those "cheerios" are excellent!) and I may have to start doing some of my shopping at another nearby grocery store that has much more selection of organic (where we found the salad dressing) produce and dairy.  Honestly, the thought of eating foods that are filled with additives, growth hormones, and gmo's just makes me sick, along with the conditions those animals are kept in. Somehow a chicken or cow that gets to graze outside and actually eat grass and grains, rather than modified food so they will grow faster, seems like the way to go.  It's definitely more expensive food, but seems worth it. DD and I both liked the taste of the organic milk (at twice the cost) so much better. I also like the thought of eating produce that isn't sprayed with chemicals and pesticides.

I know so many have strong opinions on what people should eat and there are so many debates on whether to eat meat and dairy. I honestly don't care what anyone else eats (I'm not even going to try to convert DH) and my diet and (new) opinions on foods won't be preached to others. I really don't like reading or hearing people on their high horse about what is the right foods to eat, like their opinion is the only way.  I'm just doing this for me, and hopefully start to feel a bit more healthy. I'm not counting calories, or trying to lose weight. I just want to eat better and hopefully feel healthier.

On to day 11!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dodged a bullet

The oil leak on DD's car turned out to be an easy minor fix. It was just a ferrule fitting that had come loose on an oil line on the engine. Easy to get to and a quick 5 minute fix. Whew!!! We are all super relieved and turns out friend had other errands down in our neck of the woods so he really didn't have to come out of his way much.....and hey - now we have a car trailer we don't need! Just kidding. Though it won't get used a lot, there are definitely times it will get used and for the minimal cost we put out for it, it will get it's use. I'm also happy that DH was willing to just find something used and low priced, especially for something that won't be needed on a regular basis. We didn't need anything fancy, that's for sure.

DD ended up staying home yesterday waiting for our friend to show up to work on her car. We really had no idea what time (just sounded like afternoon) and she spent most of the morning kind of whining to me that she could go with BF and his family to take relatives sight seeing and be back by about 4:45. But they weren't even leaving until noon. I said it's going to take a lot longer than 4 hours to sight see, based on where they were going. (Plus, I know her BF and family - there was no way 8 or 9 of them were all going to be ready to leave by noon.) Finally, I just said to her "you know my feelings on this, I'm not saying anymore. It's your decision". Afterwards, she told me it was the right decision to stay home, because they didn't even leave until 1:30 and didn't get back until like after 6:30pm. Even though her car ended up being a simple fix, I think it was important that she was here - it is her car and responsibility.

We finally had some much needed rain this weekend, but back to the 80's this week. I just got an email from my boss that the office is pretty quiet this week - owners and other managers off on trips or vacation, so I'm free to work from home as much as I'd like. I told her I'd come in today, but work from home tomorrow. Sometimes I just need a break from home, haha.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oil leaks again

Even though it was just Wednesday that I last made a post, it feels longer than that.  DD is having car problems again - still with the engine leaking oil. GAH! She had quite a bit of engine work done about this time last year and still has had it in another time or two since then. She just needs this to last about 10 more months, until she finishes school and can get a job and a different car.  We have a close family friend, who owns a repair shop, who works on it. Problem is he's like an hour and a half drive on a good day (which is like rare anymore). DH doesn't think she should even drive it at this point, it's leaking so bad, so good friend said he would come to our house and see if he could figure out what it's problem is now and fix it. (he really is a nice guy and barely charges DD anything).

First, friend told DD he would come down sometime next week to look at it and see if he could fix it at our house (without it having to be towed to his place). Very nice of him. Then, he either talked to DH last night or this morning and said he'll come down Sunday instead, look at it and either have lunch or dinner with us, depending on when he got here. DD has been gone all weekend with her BF and I was pretty sure they had plans for tomorrow too. I texted her that friend was coming sometime tomorrow lunch or dinner time, not sure yet.

She was like "well, I can't be there tomorrow, I have plans" (her plans are hanging out with BF and doing some sightseeting with some of his out of town relatives). I kind of had to do a little tune up on her. I said you have a vehicle that is leaking oil really bad, driving it all the way to friends shop for an hour and a half to 2 hours could very possible seize up the engine and it would be done for. Said friend is going out of his way to come and try and fix your car and for cheap. If it were me, I'd be changing my plans so I could take care of my car.  Coordinating with friends schedule and getting her car fixed takes priorty over having some fun. Sometimes things come up and your plans have eto get changed. Then she replies back "well, it's just frustrating that the plan has changed again" and I replied, "well apparently coming down on Sunday is better for his schedule rather than making a 4 hour round trip during his work week! Plus, it's not as far for him to come from  home, as it is his repair shop". I got an "ok" reply back. I'm sure she's not happy, but that's part of being an adult and being responsible - especially when someone is offering to help you out so much!

In the old days DH would have just loaded it in our enclosed car trailer and took it to car repair friend. When son went out of our life, so did our nice enclosed car trailer (worth about $6k - long story) 2 years ago. DH has wanted to replace that car trailer for over a year. Yesterday he found a cheap, used, open wheel car trailer on Craigslist that would fit his needs. Nothing like we had, but still will work for his needs. It had good tires on it, along with a winch and equalizer hitch. He also talked the guy down $500 (he's getting better at that!). So, I pretty much reduced the savings account to buy it, but with my paycheck next Friday I will pretty much be able to replace what I took out. There's a few little things to fix on it (some wiring, etc) and that will give DH something to work on. One more thing "put back right" in some small way, after DS never returned so much of our family racing assets. Now, if it turns out friend can't fix it and needs it at his shop, DH can haul it up there.

Yesterday was my day off (gosh, I am loving these 4 day work weeks with Friday off!). I had nothing planned, so I just went and did the weekly grocery shopping. First to Target for a few things, then to Walmart for the rest. After that a stop to fill up my gas tank for next week. I didn't feel rushed either. Usually I do it Saturday mornings but always feel a bit rushed because there are still so many things to get done around the house the rest of the day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Daily stuff

I worked from home yesterday, so I could go with DD to her foot specialist doctor appointment. Her 2 big toes are AWFUL! She has always had really thick toenails on her big toes, but the last year or two they started getting dark, thicker and even uglier looking. When she was home on winter break I took her in and she saw one of the docs at the place DH and I go to. He prescribed an oral medicine for 3 months. Nothing changed and during Spring break she went back in and saw a different doctor (actually a PA), who kept her on the oral med for another 3 months, along with a topical antifungal medication. So, a few weeks ago she went back to the doctor (this time finally getting in to see my doctor) who told her those medications don't work and she was referring her to a foot specialist to have her nails removed.

Foot specialist, first off, said it usually takes a full year to see the results of the oral and topical medications. AND she was only supposed to be on the oral medication for 3 months, because it's dangerous to the liver (the docs did at least do liver tests on DD while she was on it), so he wasn't very happy about that. He also told her that if he removes the nails it doesn't grow back. His recommendation was to give it the rest of the year and see if the oral meds start working on the nails (he could see 1mm of clear growth on one nail). He ground her nails down much thinner and is having her apply some topical mediation. Twice a day on the affected toenails, once a week on her other nails and top of feet, just to be safe, along with some shoe spray.

Weekend before last, when I was vacuuming the last bit of the house, my vacuum started making a weird knocking noise. I tried to see if there was a clog. DH was super busy that day (and over-doing it) out in the shop, so I didn't want to bother him to take it apart, so I parked it back in the closet to wait a few days. I took it out and determined it was the rotator brush making the noise and assumed it was the belt. It seemed a bit loose and in 2 1/2 years had never been replaced. I went and got a new belt (which then I could tell the old one was really stretched out), but that didn't help. DH then took a look at it and somehow the rotator brush seemed like it got bent. It was not spinning evenly. Weird. I went online with Bissell and a new one was around $23. Then I found an after market one on Amazon for $15. It's made of wood - not plastic! When's the last time you saw that?! The reviews on it were all great and everyone said it worked better than the original part. Thanks to 2 day Amazon Prime shipping it showed up yesterday. I put it on, along with the new belt and worked like a charm. Plus DH had taken it outside and really cleaned it out. It was so nice to vacuum again. I was going nuts seeing the carpet - we get so much dog and cat fur.

DD was already approved for her apartment lease and signed the lease last night. They asked for a co-signer, since she is a student and no income. I thought it would be an application where I would have to give my employment, salary, etc. I assumed they would do a credit check on me and a bit worried that our bankruptcy might affect me being able to co-sign, but if nothing else, Grandma could certainly co-sign (she's paying for the apartment anyway). They emailed me the co-signing form and it was just a statement saying I agree to co-sign/pay the rent if DD doesn't. It asked for no personal info. It had to be notarized, so we ran over to our bank and had them notarize it and I scanned it and emailed it right back to the lady (plus she needed me to mail the original back). Last night, DD got the email that her lease was done and ready to be electronically signed! She was so happy and excited.

I will write more about this later, but I have started cutting sugar (and by default, most processed foods) out of my diet. Day 3........I'm surviving :)