Thursday, January 30, 2014

Still in love

I'm not usually one to go ga-ga over much, especially tech gadgets, LOL. But, last night I was searching the apps for downloading books (hopefully some free ones) and see the iPad has a Nook app. Really? So, I download it and sign into my B&N account for my nook and Voila! - there is my nook library and I click on the book I was reading a couple nights ago and it takes me right to the page I had left off on. Ok, that was just so cool! I don't have very many books I actually purchased on my nook, but I do have a bunch of free books on there, many that I hadn't read yet, so I was happy that I still have that library to access. I'm sure I'd love it even more if I had internet access where ever I go with it, but I'm too cheap to pay for that. Maybe some day.......

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm in love

DD gave me the best gift - an iPad mini! I have been wanting an iPod for some time now. I always listen to books on cd during my commute to/from work and borrow them from the library. I've always thought an iPod would be nice to have - I could download audio books from the library website and plug in and listen. DS (ie computer geek) told her I could do the same with an iPad mini, plus have all the other features of a tablet to go with it.....a tablet to read books, access to the internet without having to sit at the computer at my desk, and other apps.

I love my iPad mini! I have had a Nook the past couple of years, which I have used a lot for both reading and accessing the internet while sitting on the couch watching tv. But, the internet on it has been really buggy the past 6 months or so, that I rarely use it for that anymore. The iPad mini is a little bigger than the Nook and the colors are much brighter. All on my own I figured out how to get the library app and download a couple of audio books. I was a happy camper driving to work yesterday :)  I downloaded the xfinity app so I could see my emails or even watch tv, if I'm somewhere where I have free wi-fi. I can sit in the living room, watching tv, and pick up my iPad and check Facebook or my email.  It's all good!  I'm sure I'll find lots of other cool things I like about it too. I love my daughter, LOL.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Weekend highlights

Well, did I get a huge surprise over the weekend! DH and DD said they were taking me to a nice dinner to celebrate my birthday. Instead I found myself at a surprise party for my 50th birthday! And to make it even more special, DH was able to get my 3 best friends from high school (and those 3 were in our wedding) to come. I have literally not seen any of them in over 25 years. Wow - it was so fun and special. Several of our friends were able to make it and even DS's ex girlfriend, which was sweet. All my siblings were out of town, unfortunately, but they all sent me a pretty basket of spring flowers.

I was opening cards and a few gifts and was then blown away by my mom's card.....inside was a check......for $2500!!! Holy crap! I showed it to DD and she said "I can't wait until I turn 50" LOL. What to spend it on?! DD and I went shopping yesterday (she wanted to buy herself some new hangers) and I took a glance at the Bissell Little Green spot cleaners again. I've been wanting one for a couple of years. I just haven't ever wanted to spend $100. They were out of stock on Black Friday when Target had them for 1/2 off. So, I'm looking and see they don't have any (just the pricier pet stain model), even the display one is gone, but price tag still there. Then I turn around and see several boxes of them on the end cap aisle and realize they are on a clearance end cap that says 30% off..woo hoo...but then notice the price tag and it was marked down 50% off. Needless to say I bought it.

Then we went to Ross, where I needed to return a $25 pair of black jeans. I decided not to keep them as they were going to be pet hair magnets. I still couldn't find any regular jeans I liked, so I got 2 pretty cardigan  sweaters and a top, all for $35, so only $10 extra.

I think we'll use some of it to have some big trees trimmed in our back yard. Some are overhanging onto our neighbors on both sides and DH got an estimate a few months ago at about $800, I think. Not what I would want to spend money on, but after 25 years of growing (just since we've lived here) it is something that really needs to be done.

I'm also going to buy myself a new pillow - mine is getting old and not enough support anymore, so DD and I are heading to Bed Bath and Beyond this afternoon. I like the foam/latex (not memory foam) pillows and that store seems to be the place I have always found them, over the years.  Maybe a new purse. I don't really like the last one I got very much, it's a little too small. Other than that I don't have any big expenditures to spend it on.........though a vacation to somewhere sunny and warm sure sounds tempting...but I won't. LOL.

Woke up this morning to find an email from my boss - giving me the day off! She is just the best. And then DD texted me that her 8am test only took her less than a half hour and her next class wasn't until 11am, so I went and met her for breakfast. Tonight I'm making them take me to a new restaurant that opened nearby. It's a local area gourmet burger restaurant (not a national chain) and the food is so good. We went on their opening day last week - had a 25 minute wait but it was worth it. We had eaten several times at one of their other restaurants while in that area, but it was 2 hours away and the closest one. So happy there is one just a mile away now. DD and I are going to split a meal and then share a hot fudge sundae dessert. DH always has a huge fresh mushroom burger.  All in all it's been a great long weekend.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crime Stoppers Edition - Episodes 2 & 3 and 4

Episode 2:
It was either Wed or Thursday night - one of the drug dealing cars (the loudest one) was revving and flying down the road leaving our neighborhood. It even woke me up from sleep at 10:30. Minutes later DH hears on the scanner that they are in pursuit of a car on the main street just outside our neighborhood. Another minute or two later all kind of sirens are blaring. They apparently cut through a grocery store parking lot and headed out to the next town, about 4 miles away. Crashed the car and the driver and passenger took off running. They caught the passenger. Over the scanner the cop gave his first name and said he wasn't being very cooperative. We are not sure if the driver was caught, but most likely. The name of the guy caught is the same first name (not a super common first name) as the renter family's son.

Episode 3:
Friday night
It was another busy night in da hood. The drug house on the other side of the back of our property was in full swing. Their usual 3-4 cars, parked outside, engines revving, doors slamming, in and out, in and out. And lots of cars going past their house, back to the lot that slumlord's meth head son lives at (he lives in a shed on the property!).  DH called the police again. Shortly after, a what we think, was a undercover drug detective called and talked to DH. Wanted to get what info he knows has been going on. The cop was well aware of the names from both properties behind us and what they do. Mr Cop said he was out there but was in a place where he could see the cars coming in, but not the cars leaving. Then he says "do you see a pick up truck going by?" A few seconds later DH sees it stop a bit down the road from the drug house and turn it's lights out. Then one of the waiting cars at the drug house went over and met him, revving up of course. He literally drove 60 feet! Made their exchange, the pick up turned around and went back out our neighborhood and the dealer went back to the house. DH is telling the cop that the pick up is on his way back out. Cop calls 10 minutes or so later and said he pulled him over and the guy was now on his way to jail for possession of heroin. So, now we know one of the drugs they are selling there, obviously just not pot. The cop asked if DH would call him next time a car leaves there again. He ha to go take the guy to jail, but was back about an hour later. DH calls him as soon as he sees it happening again.  This time he pulls the car over for DUI suspicion, he was intoxicated on something, as well as the 2 minors in his car. Another one to jail and 2 to juvie.  Cop says he thought they had their drug dealing stopped about 6 months ago (and thinking back it was fairly quiet then) but apparently they are doing it again and it's super ramped up now - with all the "delivery" cars. Prior to that, they just used to have the buyers come straight to the house, get out and walk up to a bedroom window, make the exchange, and the buyer would leave. But even though it was alot of traffic, they usually weren't loud cars. Now the drug dealers use 3 to 4 guys to take the drugs, sometimes only as far as in front of the next property or other times just outside our neighborhood.  The detective said they are really on this one now and it shouldn't be too long before they have it taken care of. Keeping fingers crossed. 

Episode 4:
I ran out of time to finish Episode 3 last night and now we have Episode 4 to add. Not quite as busy night but they did get started about 2:30am or so. Different, very loud SUV type car, in and out a couple of times over an hour. DH called the cop's cell # and he said he had been in the area most of the night, but was out on a suicide call and would come back when that call was over. DH called him when a car came in, met up with the loud car, and then first car left the neighborhood. Cop pulled him over down the road and apparently to jail he went. A hour or so later DH called the cop that another car was leaving. He had been at the meth heads place for about 15 minutes, then stopped for a minute or two at the drug house. Cop pulled him over about 5 blocks down. It was about a half an hour later than DH heard him report in on the scanner that he was heading to the jail. Our great cop called about 4:30 this morning and said from that arrest (of 2 guys) he found a POUND of marijuana in the car. Both were habitual criminals, one being a known car thief.

So, with all my DH's help the cop has had pretty successful nights the past couple of nights. Still not getting the sellers at the house yet, but all in good time, I'm sure. I think I'm going to the toy dept and getting him a sheriff's badge :-)

Oven/pizza update

Thanks to the suggestions on trying an oven thermometer. I bought a cheap one and found out my oven is hotter than it's supposed to be, for some reason. At 425 degrees it was about 445. At the 350 range it was close to 10 degrees off. I made my yummy pizza Friday night and set the oven at 405 degrees and the pizza came out perfect.  I hope this doesn't mean my oven is going whacky - it's not that old, maybe 5-6 years old.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Prescriptions lower

With the change in health insurance plan for DH and the kids, prescriptions are now covered......sort of.....after they meet a huge overall deductible - which unless one of them ends up in the hospital every year, it's not even going to come close to ever being met each year, so we'll never see prescriptions covered. But, there is now at least a contracted pharmacy write off portion (compared to me always paying the cash price before). I went to get one of DH's prescriptions and it suddenly dawned on me I better at least give the insurance card, so the cost can at least go towards the huge deductible. Last month the prescription was $59 (cash price). This time, with using the insurance card, it was $40.23, due to the insurance adjustment.  I should save a little bit on his other prescription too, I hope. It's only about $25 a month, cash price, but there should be some discount off of that price, too. Certainly not enough to make up for the extra $400 a month in premiums, but it helps. I'd have much rather paid our old monthly premiums, with no prescription coverage, and pay the cash price than what I have been forced to pay for now.

Friday, January 24, 2014


I am $200 richer - just for putting some money into a Capitol One savings and checking account for 50 days. That was a sweet deal that I am so happy I was in a position to take advantage of. Now, I need to decide what to do with it and the $500 in the savings. Should I just keep it all there or transfer it all back into my regular savings? It is a much better interest rate, but still only pennies, really....34 cents on the $500 compared to like .01 on my regular bank savings. I think for now I'll leave the accounts open and transfer the $125 checking bonus money to the savings account. I wasn't planning on spending it anyway.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back to dark blonde

I finally got off my butt and colored my hair last night. I had purchased the wrong box of color right before Thanksgiving. I meant to get the Clairol Foam and got the regular Clairol....which is drippy and hard for me to do and never turned out very well. So, I've gone almost 2 months past when I should have colored my hair! It really wasn't looking too bad. I was tempted to grow it out and see just how much white there is, but I couldn't take it anymore, so I ran to Target and picked up some of the foam type and got it done. Plus, I just got it cut last Friday, so it was a good time to color. Target had all of the Clairol foam on clearance for $4.88. Which probably means it's going to be discontinued? And I had no coupons! I looked online before I left and there was a $3 coupon from the inserts, but I didn't have it.

Which brings me to couponing. My mom has stopped taking the Sunday paper, since she spends most weekends at her boyfriends place. I don't take the Sunday paper because every time I tried it was a total pain. The papers were wet. When I complained about that they would throw it at the front door to try and get it under the covered part and at 6am on Sunday mornings it would slam against our screen door - waking everyone in the house up. Another time I tried to have it delivered (after they finally started putting the papers in plastic), it was just noisy hearing them come into our gravel driveway at 6am and turn around. I don't like getting up at 6am on Sundays! And at that time I was able to get both my mom and grandma's coupons from their papers.

Now, I'm trying to decide the best way to keep getting them. They are $2 at every store within a mile from me. There is a store about 3 miles that sells them for $1. Plus, I don't always go out on Sundays and when I do, half the time I forget to pick up a paper. I see you can buy whole inserts online, but they are usually more than the $2 I would spend for the paper. But, I'm really missing out on some savings by not getting the inserts every week. I need to figure out how I want to start getting them.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hump Day and Crime Stoppers edition

This is feeling like a grumpy hump day. It's raining. DD let one of the dogs in the house on her way out the door and now I have muddy wet paw prints through 3 rooms of carpet.  I'm just going to let it dry - seems like the dry dirt comes out of the carpet with vacuuming easier than trying to wipe it up wet and just grinding it in more. Work is a headache from the first email I opened - my boss is dealing with a company trying to valuate our company and not understanding why we didn't match our budget for 2013 (done at the end of 2012). Well, was just a guess based on the factors we knew at the time. It is what it is. And now we have a much lower budget done up for 2014, based on what we know for our 2014 income - which we estimate to be quite a bit lower due to a contract change with our biggest customer. The valuation company wants our 2014 forecast to match our 2013 actuals...well, that isn't going to happen, at least for this year.  I think my boss has such a big headache dealing with it all that she forwarded me the emails to get my opinion. I had to read through them 4 times to wrap my head around what the valuation company is trying to ask/get from us. I guess my responses back to her were on the money and I think she just needed some support that my responses were exactly what she was thinking, too.

DH's mission in life right now is to run out the drug dealers. A good mission, but I'm tired of listening to him go and on about it. Yesterday he went around to several houses in 2 housing developments that back up (with a wood fence) to our neighborhood. The constant in and out of loud racing cars has got to be annoying them as much as us (they are actually closer to the main road then we are). He wrote up a letter, asking people to just take a minute to anonymously call the sheriff non-emergency line and give the street of where all the activity is going on. He talked to a few people and left a copy of the letter on the other's doors. Most of the people seemed apathetic to what is going on literally 30 feet behind their back doors! DH had talked to a sheriff yesterday and he said the more people that call the more they can make this area a priority. The druggies either got their meth made or a shipment in of whatever they sell...Monday night 3 cars going in and out (there is only one private road back into our neighborhood - one way in and one way out). They'd come back to the house and wait there a bit, with their engines running. If they got cold they'd start revving it up louder, then out they'd head (loud mufflers) to make their delivery and 15 minutes later back again. This literally went on all day yesterday, until about 11 last night. 24 hours of it! At least the traffic up and down the street we live on has really gone down the past 10 days or so..the cars involved seem to be back at the other drug house down behind us and therefore just use the main road that our side street links to.

Late yesterday afternoon DH was outside with the dogs and kept hearing a faint alarm going off in the distance. An hour later he kept hearing it. It kind of sounded like it was coming from the house directly across from us (their back yard is what we face) or maybe the house on the other side of them (which is empty due to foreclosure). Finally he got in our car to drive around the corner and see if he could tell exactly where it was coming from. He still couldn't tell which house it was (one sits on an acre lot and the other 1.5 acres), so I tried calling the house directly in front us us, but no answer, so he called 911 and a fire truck came out. They determined it was the empty house - someone had broken in the back sliding glass door (along with part of the fence in front). They wouldn't go inside, in case there was someone inside, so they had to call the police and wait for them to come out - which ended up being a long time. DH stayed there and talked with them quite awhile (they were the ones who came out for our illegal garbage burning call in early December). While sitting there the same 3 drug dealer cars when in and out like 3 or 4 times. The firemen finally said "are those the same cars that just went by a little while ago?" So, then they said the same thing - just keep calling it in. The best part of DH sitting there, was he was finally able to get 2 of the cars license plates #'s (DD and I had already got one of them last week, while following the little truck down our street). So late last night, as you can hear them revving up and still going in and out of the neighborhood - DH called it in again, this time with car descriptions and license plate numbers. The cops did a drive through and later another cop did one and sat with his lights out across from the drug house for about 15 minutes. Haven't heard any of the cars since.  Hopefully, when our good next door neighbor gets back from his long vacation next week, he will join in the fight, as he said he would. He just didn't want to make waves before he left on his 3 week vacation, which I don't blame him.

That poor foreclosure house! it's just going to end up a demolished mess. It's such a nice house too, with a nice yard, on an acre lot. I'm not really sure what is going on with it - county records still show the lady owns it, not the bank yet, and they moved out like 6 months ago. They were a nice family - a couple in their 40's or 50's who's mom owns the house. She has MS and they lived with her to help take care of her, but she needed to go to a nursing home and with the house underwater and broken into 3 times that year, they just decided to move out and let the bank have it. Sad that it's taking so long for the bank to take it over and get it sold. The fireman said it will likely end up burned down by vandals or squatters before the bank takes over and sells it. That makes me so sad, it's always been one of my favorite houses in the neighborhood. The lady that lived there the first 15 or 20 years we lived here was always outside working in her yard, like every day and was so nice and always a wave or a hello if we were driving or walking by. Then she and her DH divorced and she couldn't afford it on her own, so sold it to this latest family. They kind of kept to themselves, but seemed nice and took care of the place.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Back from the dentist

Well, this is going to be the year of dental work, it appears. Good news/bad news today. I went to the endodontist for the consult on root canals on 2 bottom molars next to each other. The main one showing bad in the x-ray is a molar I already had a root canal done 20 some years ago. Dentist thought I'd need root canals on that tooth and the one next to it. But, the endodontist said the tooth next to it still has nerve (did the cold sensitivity test) so is only going to do a root canal on the one tooth - or I guess re-do the root canal. I go back next Wednesday for that procedure. She did drill into the existing crown today and put some stuff inside that will dissolve what is in there now. She also said root canal procedures have come a long way in the 20 or so years I had this one done.

Then we discussed my front tooth and the one next to it. Old injury from when I was a kid and I had a veneer done about 15 years ago, with no root canal said needed at that time. Veneer is old and tooth is getting darker again, along with tooth next to it. X-rays and cold test done today show they are both dead and need root canals. So, I guess that is next on the list.  I was going to go into my regular dentist tomorrow and he was going to do a conservative treatment of composite/veneer (based on our discussion last week when I was in for cleaning) for cosmetic purposes, but I've decided to cancel that appointment, have the root canals done in the near future, and then have the cosmetic part done after. My endodontist assistant said there are several options - bleaching the teeth from the inside, veneers, or crowns, so I guess I will wait and see what is recommended after the root canals are done. After this root canal next week is done, I will only have about $600 left on my dental benefits available for this year.  At least that is what I am able to calculate based on the info she gave me today on what the first root canal is costing. She is going to give me an estimate on the 2 front teeth root canals when I go in next week, so I can see how much out of pocket I will end up with.

Now, my question is trying to decide which way to pay for it.  Next weeks root canal is going to cost me an estimated $330 out of pocket. I currently have $1630 available credit on my care credit card/account. So far, each charge I have made to it (2 for dental and one for vet) I was offered special financing terms - 6 or 12 months no interest, which has worked out great for me.  But, this year I also am using an FSA account and have about $1300 left on that for the year.  I did not estimate anything for dental, other than the $50 deductible, as I had no way of knowing if and how much work I would need.

So, do I just throw all this dental work that will be done this year onto the FSA and pay it that way? That would mean all the other things I had estimated to pay with the FSA money would then have to be paid out of pocket - which is about $100 a month in prescriptions and co-pays. Or do I put the dental work on my Care credit card and (hopefully) get 6-12 months no interest financing and pay it off monthly that way.  I guess either way I will have more money going out every month  - either to cover my regular monthly medical expenses or in a payment to the credit card. I'll have to think about this for the next week (until I have to go in for the root canal and pay the endodontist my share) and see if either option will really make a difference.

I am so ready for all of this to be over with...too bad it's just starting!

Monday, January 20, 2014

New debit card

I've already earned $9.48 in cash back using my new Pay Pal Debit card, and I think I have another $6.50 in pending.  I was hoping I could also pay the health insurance monthly bill using it, but apparently I can only use my bank account. I am going to call and double check though. That would earn me $6.71 each month.  I'm getting use to using it, but there are a couple of drawbacks. It takes a day or two to deduct from my checking, so I have to be careful I have enough to cover. This shouldn't really be a problem, unless I'm getting close to payday and low on funds, but I also have overdraft protection on my checking and as long as I deposit money by the end the day there is no fee. I check my balance daily, so this should be an issue.  Not to mention, I budget pretty carefully, so I know beforehand if I'm getting low.

The other part I don't like is every transaction shows up on my checking as "paypal", so I can't go back an look up a specific transaction by merchant name. I can only get the detail on paypal, though I don't really see on there where you can search merchant names. Plus, I use to see my spending category totals, and of course this won't work now that every thing is under one transaction/merchant name. I will miss having this, but for $20+ a month extra, just for doing nothing extra other than using the card, it will be worth giving up, I guess. I could manually categorize the expenses......ok, that's most likely NOT going to happen :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday update

I feel boring lately and can't think of anything interesting or exciting to talk about!

Work is just plugging along, as always. My new raise went into effect on last week's paycheck, so that was nice. With all the other pay adjusting I did, it was kind of hard to see the effect. I added $55 withdrawal for FSA, removed the $25 deduction for the kids dental insurance - plus both of those are before taxes, so not quite the same amounts, net. Then add back in my $100 per paycheck raise.  Taking taxes into consideration on the health stuff - I'm getting about an extra $74 per paycheck.  Plus, when purchasing prescriptions and doctor co-pays, etc. I get to use my FSA card and not pay out of pocket, so basically getting back $110 a month from the FSA.......WHEN I remember to use it! I went and picked up one of DH's monthly prescriptions yesterday for $28 and forgot to pay using the FSA debit card.Sigh......

When DH gets interested in something new he always go all out with it. Probably part of his OCD tendencies. He hasn't gotten really interested in anything for awhile (Facebook, probably being the last thing a few years ago) but now his new hobby is guns. It's all guns now. He talks about them, reads about them, watches you tube videos about them, talks to his friends who are gun enthusiasts (quite a few of them are, actually). We now own 3 guns. 2 used ones and one new one.  The first gun was the home defense shot gun which he bought from Craigslist for $500 and from what he's reading and his friends say, he got a really good deal, since it came with a lot of extras. This was back in November and was paid for out of our general monthly money - money that typically goes towards home and garden stuff, but with it being winter, expenses have been low and I had the extra money. The 2nd gun was a small, conceal carry pistol that he purchased new for $450. This was used out of my bonus money. Then last week, while we were at the shooting range/gun store the guy told him of this used gun they just got in that was a good deal (of course). It was so clean and the guy said it probably only had one magazine shot through it. It was $650 and their new ones were $1000. It was one DH had looked at when buying his other pistol, but decided against it due to the price. We decided to buy it, though DH is thinking he might try to sell it and see if he can make a little on it. 

All in all, I'm just looking at these purchases as shifting my money from savings to an investment. Still assets we own and from all I can gather, they definitely hold their value. At least he's finally spending money on something that holds it's value. DH and I talked yesterday and he is now on a moratorium on gun buying for at least the next 6 months. But, boy, all the accessories sure add up! And gun ammo is hard to find. The night we went to the range was free ladies night, so DD and I were free to use the range. We tried DH's 2nd gun purchase out. I'm still not too comfortable or good at it. DD is amazing! She picked that gun up and shot within the target circle every shot but one. Three of her shots were practically right on top of each other.

DS still has no news on his work visa (it's ridiculous, eh?) but has been working on several large website deals he made. One for $5000 and another for $4000, so I think he'll be ok while he's waiting for the work visa. He got a $2000 down payment on the $4000 website last week (so he bought snow tires that he got a great deal on for $400) and should be done with the website in the next few weeks and get the balance. The company on the $5000 website is almost ready to launch in the next week or so, and then he will get paid his $5000.

That's all I've got.......oh and I get to turn 50 this year! Wow....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Savings update

Payday was today and I was able to transfer $500 to savings of money left over from my previous paycheck. Yay me!  My current savings/EF now stands at $2546.  I'm feeling really good about this amount. It's certainly not enough to cover something major, like a job loss, but definitely a good amount for those Murphy visits....emergency vet bill, car problems or a house maintenance breakdown.

We haven't heard from the company owners yet on what our bonus program will be for 2014. At our meeting in December they said they were still working on the details and would let us know if in a few weeks. It's been a month so far, but no details yet.

It's been pretty darn quiet in our neighborhood since Sunday night. I've actually got to sleep all night the past 2 nights......without waking up to hear DH calling the cops or hearing him going outside to see what is going on. I know it won't last....the cockroaches will start coming out of the woodwork when they feel it's not so risky..but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.  I think our good neighbor is going to join in the fight soon. He is out of the country for most of this month and didn't want to start stirring up the pot before he was gone and leaving his house alone for 3 weeks. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

One down......

We had some excitement in our neighborhood last night at 11:30pm.  We are the 2nd house from the corner of the main private road that serves our neighborhood. There is only this main private road in and out. At the corner of our road and this main road, the police pulled over one of the drug dealing cars that are in and out of of neighborhood constantly (but unfortunately not one of the two cars that are specifically up and down our street day and night). The driver took off running and jumped a fence into the housing development on the other side of the street. DH has a scanner so could somewhat gather what was going on. He called for back up and search and for the next 10 minutes all you could hear was police sirens as they were all coming. It took them an hour but the K-9 unit finally found the driver of the car and reported in he was caught and in an ambulance on his way to the hospital and then they had the car towed away.  One lowlife scum gone from the neighborhood! Four more to go..........

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What's wrong with my pizza dough?!

I have been making a homemade pizza for close to a year now. You can find the link here:

It is DELICIOUS, especially the dough/crust. I have been making the pizza probably 2-3 times a month because we love it so much. It is from a recipe I found in a magazine and uses thawed out Rhodes frozen dinner rolls as the pizza dough (super easy!). The pizza has come out perfect every time.......except for the last 2 times.  The time before last it actually burnt on the bottom. This week I tried again and while it didn't burn, it came out a bit crispy on the bottom. In all my previous baking of it, it came out as a soft crust and perfect. I can't figure out why it is overcooking now. I make it the same way every time, nothing has changed, so it really has me baffled. It is disappointing because it is really our favorite dinner.  I guess next time I'll try cutting down the cooking time a minute or so and see if that helps.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting ready now

DD and I are getting her ready for college and dorm living next Fall. Starting early, so it isn't all a big financial hit at one time. On a Black Friday sale I got her a new down alternative comforter for her dorm bed (she wanted one like she has on her bed here at home). I don't even remember now exactly what I paid, but I think it was under $20 for a $100 comforter.  She has a duvet cover picked out and she plans to pay for that. She is going with teal colors. The other day her and a friend went to the craft store and then each made something for their future dorm room (they aren't going to the same universities). DD made a picture holder. Covered cork board in fabric (teal and white) and then some ribbon criss-crossed to hold photos (I can't remember what they are called!).

With her $25 Kohl's gift card, $20 in Kohl's cash I gave her, and a 20% off coupon she bought a mini-Keurig that was on sale for $99, so she got it for less than half off the sale price.....and it's a cute teal color :-)  With some recent Kohl's rewards cash she earned, she bought a plastic plate and bowl to have in her room.

She's so organized and a "list" girl, that I'm just letting her take care of knowing what she needs for college life. She used to pack herself to go spend a night or two at Grandma's when she was 4 years old and she packed and remembered all what to take better than me - haha!  She does plan on buying herself a new laptop. She wants one of those Windows touch types. With all the money she has in the bank (over $7,000!) and the money she'll earn between now and next September, she'll have plenty to buy herself a computer and other extras she wants. What a saver she is! She's been looking at photo's of the dorm rooms for ideas. At first she thought she'd raise her bed and put the desk under it, but now she said she's just going to raise it a little, for a storage area underneath. She doesn't want to have to climb a ladder to get into bed. I have a feeling she's going to have to bring stuff home, LOL, she has a lot of clothes and shoes and will think she needs them all. Plus a big tennis bag, etc. But knowing her organizational skills she'll get it all to fit!

She has morning classes this quarter, so is back to working weekends again. Boo...I liked having her free weekend mornings to hang out with, go run errands, etc.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I finally got myself back in for a dental cleaning. I was negligent while we were broke and going through the bankruptcy, etc. - because I knew I'd probably need work done that wouldn't all be covered by my insurance and couldn't afford it. But we are in a better place financially now and after having the tooth break last May (and subsequent root canal and crown work done) I knew I needed to start taking care of my teeth again and getting back in for regular cleanings.

Apparently the tooth next to my bottom molar that had a root canal done on it a good 20 years ago is showing signs of being infected, as well as a bit into the roots of the tooth that already had the root canal/crown done years ago. The dentist explained that root canals last a good long time, but not forever. So, now I have to make an appointment to see the endodontist again. Bleh!

Plus, it sounds like down the road I will need a root canal done on my front tooth and the tooth next to it. I injured my tooth playing wall ball when I was in first grade. When I was in my late 20's the tooth started getting a little dark looking. Dentist said the tooth wasn't dead and didn't need a root canal, so they just ended up putting a veneer over the one front tooth, which he also said would only last maybe 10 years. It's been 15 years now and the veneer is wearing off and the tooth next to it is also getting darker....which this dentist is saying that eventually I will need a root canal on both of them.  Sooner than later, rather than having it get infected. He offered a "conservative" option for now (since I have to have the lower root canal done now/soon) to put another veneer/composite on the tooth, so it at least looks better for now.  Then in 6 months  or a year (probably next year, as I will end up using up my $2000 in dental benefits limit again this year) I'll have those root canals done.  Bleh!

Gotta be done, but no fun, for sure. At least my gums were not as bad as I feared and need no work. I just need to be more diligent about flossing daily.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I was not expecting that

Today was my annual review at work. The company started doing regular annual reviews for all employees in Dec/Jan a couple of years ago and I was one of the few "odd ones" who ended up getting my review, but my salary increases were in July, instead of both happening at the same time. Last year was no different - I got my review last Dec/Jan and then got my raise in July.  So, it was time for my review again, but I got a big surprise with it! Another salary increase!! $200 a month, thank you very much.  That goes a nice way into helping offset the $400 a month health insurance bite.  Last July I was making $66k a year and now with 2 raises in the last 6 months I am now making $75k a year.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Debit rewards card

I have a Paypal account.  Mostly used for ebay sales and purchases, though we rarely sell anything via ebay anymore. I do have a Bill Me Later account linked to it, which I have used quite a bit, though I pay it off every month there is a charge on it. (No way I am paying 23% interest!).  I decided to get the Paypal debit card.  I thought this might be a better/safer way to make online purchases (that don't take Paypal directly as a payment method) and not be giving out my bank debit card info.

I just got the card today and see that there is a 1% cash back bonus on most all purchases. When buying something at a store, in person, I just have to use the "credit" option when checking out. So, if I pay my regular monthly bills and expenses on this card (the funding source is my checking account) I will earn 1% back. That could easily be $20 a month! I'll have to figure out what all I can pay with it, but should be just about everything except my house payment, home equity loan payment and my payment to mom for the loan. Groceries, Target, Walmart, bills I pay online, health insurance, etc. Kind of a roundabout way to have it come out of my checking, but I guess it's no different than using my Target debit card or my Shell gas card, which just take the charge right back out of my checking within a day or two. I'll just have to get in the habit of using it all the time now and get my online bill paying set up to use that card now. 

To help offset the $400 a month increase in health insurance I've managed to find the following extra money:

Changed DH's phone plan $12 a month savings - though I'm offsetting $8 a month of that with our new Netflix service (which we are loving)

Cancelling our monthly pest control bill of $44 a month to replace it with DH applying the pesticide himself at approximately $1.15 per month cost.

New debit rewards of 1% cashback - should be at least $20 a month, I'm estimating.

We have cut down on hot water usage, so should see some bit of reduction in our electric bill. DH decided since he hardly ever leaves the house and it's winter and he's not outside getting dirty doing yardwork, he's just been taking a shower every other day. I've been trying to do the same a couple of times a week - if I'm not going anywhere on a weekend day or one of my work at home days.

Not even close to $400 a month - haha - but it's all I've come up with so far. Hopefully DS getting his own insurance eventually and another salary increase due in 6 months will then offset it.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Downhill neighborhood.

Our neighborhood is not getting any better. I can't remember if I wrote about this or not, but the slumlord neighbor was able to purchase another piece of property for sale, so now he has 3 lots, the newest being directly behind his rental property. Now his meth-head son pretty much spends all his time there, so at least we don't have to look out of our kitchen or family room window and watch him sit in his container (it's like the box off a small delivery truck with no door on the end anymore) and get high.  The firewood that he had left (that the county had ordered him to remove) just ended up getting moved down to the new lot, but now the county is also aware of this and will be watching closely for signs that he's still trying to do the firewood business. That's about the only good thing that has come out of slumlord purchasing it.

They thought with the new property being tucked back in a corner they could start burning garbage again. Luckily the fire dept was able to get there before they realized what was going on and caught them in the act - during a burn ban and of course burning stuff that isn't allowed, even if there wasn't a burn ban. Then, with a little more info from DH, the fire dept got the whole history and since property owner (aka slumlord) has already been warned the next time he burns he's getting in big trouble with the clean air agency (this was about a year ago). Since it's the same property owner, the warning goes with him to any of his properties, so fire dept passed it on the the clean air agency and now slumloard is getting a big fine in the thousands of dollars - sounds like close to $20,000.

His renters in the property at the end of the street continue to let a drug dealer live in his little pickup on the property. He is in and out all day and night. And over the past couple of weeks there is now another car that is doing the same thing and a guy with long hair in a pony tail that comes and goes on foot or a now we have 3 people that don't live there going in and out all the time. This is a little road/driveway that is just supposed to serve as access for 3 now has more traffic in the past several months than in the whole 25 years we have lived here.

Two days ago I was leaving in the morning to go to breakfast with my mom and see a small one gallon gas can laying on the side of the road, near our garbage cans. A review of our security cameras video shows the car that has been going in and out the past couple of weeks driving by and drop the gas can out his door.  He then stops several yards down farther (still right in front of our house) and proceeds to sit there for a good 5 minutes. Then he gets out of his car, opens his trunk and then shuts it and gets back in his car and drives away. Ten minutes later (because when they leave they always come back in 10-15 minutes) he comes back and drives right by the gas can laying on its side.  DH thought about it awhile and then decided this could very well be a threat.....they know we called them on the can put the pieces together......DH called the sheriff and he came out and pretty much blew us off as over reacting, but as a good friend of DH's (he's kind of a bad-ass biker dude, would never want to mess with him!) said: call and at least get what they did on record.  And we have it saved on video. DH had just left the can laying there.

Last night was cars and/or people in and out all night long (and of course they aren't quiet cars). We even have on video 2 guys walking down the road (one was the meth-head son of slumlord) and one of them picking up the gas can and taking it with him. Then at 3:50am (DH can't sleep when they are doing their runs up and down the road) DH sees on the camera a guy walking down the street, carrying something he is swinging back and forth in his hand and just then the little pickup pulls up. He hands him whatever he was carrying and the guy keeps walking and the pickup goes towards the house. Sure enough 10 minutes later the pick up starts up and is leaving (again!) so DH has had ENOUGH. He walks out (with our dog) and up to the fence as they are driving by - just to let him know he is being watched and the kid (early 20's) stops and gets out of his truck and says "what?" and DH told him he's not bringing this shit on our property. (Kid tried to say he was just coming back to pick up some clothes.) This little road he is on and just did his drug deal on is our property and the easement to use it is for the 2 property owners that live past us. Then the kid just turns around and starts to get back in his truck and DH did a bit of yelling and then came in the house and called in a drug deal to the police. The little truck never really ever leaves the neighborhood - he just either goes to one of slumlords other 2 lots or he does down to the known drug dealer house kitty corner behind us...which is exactly where he drove to.  DH saw through our video on side and back of our house that the cops did drive down there a few minutes after he called, but doesn't sound like they did/found anything. The officer who came the other day when DH called said they would increase their patrols in this area.

I think our next move is going to be contacting the county again and checking into what slumlords ex-daughter in law (who used to live in the rental trailer) told us. She said the trailer is not rentable in the condition it is in and that slumlord was told by the county that only he, as the property owner, would be allowed to live in it. Might be worth pursuing and see if her info is correct.  I also submitted a "tip" to the county drug tip website. Gave info that cars and people are going in and out of this small private road for 3 homes all day and night. Maybe that will help get this area on more watch too.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snag averted

I've just been facebook messaging with DS this morning. He's been on the ball and getting his Canada problem figured out, talking to an immigration agent. Apparently the agent at the airport was totally wrong for several reasons. First he's been a visitor to the country several times without any problems, so there was no reason to deny him entry or limit it to 2 weeks. Secondly, with his work visa in progress,  he's granted "implied status" as a temporary resident while his visa is in process. The agent told him all this plus directed him to the same info on the immigration website. He's also gone ahead and applied for a "visitor extension". So, he is ok to stay up there and doesn't have to come back. Now we just keep keeping our fingers crossed his work visa is approved soon.  The agent looked his application up and said looks like he is very close. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another snag

It's sure being a bumpy road for DS trying to get his work visa and stay in Canada while he's waiting. I questioned him a couple of months ago if he would be able to stay longer than 6 months as a visitor (which would've been the end of December) and so he supposedly checked into it and they said it was ok. He also said that when he crossed the border last September to go back up there, they asked how long he was staying and he said he didn't really know - he had just applied for his work visa. They said nothing and stamped him through.

Well, he flew back up there New Year's Eve night and going thru customs/immigration they decided since he doesn't work and doesn't have thousands of dollars in the bank to support himself that they are only letting him stay for 2 weeks. He has to be back out by the 15th of January. He said the 3 people in front of him were turned away and had to go back right then. He has been telling us all along that once he gets his work visa he doesn't have to come home to the States and then go back (like he did to apply). Now he is telling us he does. I have a feeling he knew this all along and since (he feels) he is getting close to having his visa approved, then what was the point of going back up there now? He might as well have waited the time here, if he was going to have to come back home soon anyway.

At this point we are just letting him figure this out. He got enough money from Christmas and selling that old laptop that he can pay for his flight back home. It's looking to be about $330 one way. The immigration even called the guy he stays with to verify his story and he told them they are supporting him while he is there and waiting for his work visa. Now I guess the plan is that guy and his wife are going to see if they can vouch for him to stay longer......but I don't really see the point of trying to do that, if he has to come back to the states once he gets his visa approved anyway....other than he has a girlfriend up there now......that's a whole other story.......