Friday, April 18, 2014

Finally a 3 Day Weekend

It was a wonderfully relaxing day off today.  The HVAC guy came to start up my cooler and shut off my furnace in the morning which got me out of bed before 9am.  I spent the day watering my garden and trees, tidying up the house and yard, and watching movies.  My Desert Willow trees are blooming.  Aren't they pretty?  They smell good too.  I bought them 2 years ago through the electric company's Trees for Tucson program.  They survived being thrashed by my puppies and now this one is a little bit taller than me.

I have planted 7 trees in my yard.  Soon I will have shade!  Then I'll probably sell the house, move back to my property and plant more trees!  I planted trees on my property when I lived there but last year's freezing temperatures and last Summer's lack of rain killed off 2 of them.  There is only one left and I am not there to cover it or water it so I don't know if it will still be there when I move back.

Here is my little dog patiently waiting for me to finish watering the garden.  He dug a small hole, lay down in it and put his head on my foot so he was all comfy.  

I also changed my nephew's Summer flight so that he doesn't have to change planes.  That means I have to pick him up in Phoenix but I'm willing to do that at least until he is 16 and has a little more airport experience.

2 more days of no work!  3 day weekends are just lovely.  I need more of them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mortgage Update for April 2014

Since I got my tax refund already, I had money in my checking account so I decide to make my extra mortgage payment.  I paid $1,500 towards the principle instead of the usual $1,200 which makes the total come to $60,265.  I was very good about not spending any extra this month and keeping my grocery bill down.  I've also lost 10 pounds so far by sticking to my healthier eating habits, not buying junk food and not snacking at work.  It is tough for sure.  Sometimes I really crave popcorn but I only eat it on the weekends.

I did go ahead and spend money in advance for my nephew's plane ticket and computer camp this Summer but that comes out of a different spending category so it doesn't count.

If I keep up the extra $1,200 a month then I will have the mortgage paid off in 3 years and 6 months.  If I can continue contributing $1,500 a month I'll have it paid off much sooner.  Next month:  In to the 50's!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Freeloaders No More

The people at work like to ask me how my quail are doing.  I mean, I don't have kids so what else are they going to ask about?  So, my boss asks me how the quail are doing.  I say they are still on strike.  He says maybe they are molting.  I say do quails molt?  He doesn't know.  Finally, yesterday, I remembered to look up "do quails molt".  And the answer from, YES.  And it lasts for around 4 weeks.  Ok, so it usually happens in the Fall but here in AZ we lack seasons, especially this year.

I was thinking that I haven't seen an egg in around 4 weeks and I go out to feed the quail.  Guess what I saw?  An EGG!

Yay!  I can go back to my tradition of collecting an egg a day and having a pan full of tiny fried eggs on Saturday.  How fun!  One of these days I'm going to order some hatching eggs so that I get more quail and lots of eggs.  I don't know which gets higher priority, hatching more quail or buying goldfish for my aquaponics project.  Maybe I'll ask for both for my birthday next month.  12 Quail hatching eggs $10.  6 goldfish $3.  Affordable and fun!  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Puttering

What did I decide to do today?  Well, it wasn't painting my bathroom.  The dogs woke me up at 7 and after we went outside and I watered the my baby trees I thought I would be ready for a morning nap but I couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to take the dogs for a walk before it got too hot.  When we got back home I wrestled my chi-weenie dog and managed to clip his nails which saved me a trip to the groomer.  He is so bad about getting his nails clipped.  I made ham and eggs for breakfast.  My boss went out of town and gave me some ham.  I love free food.

After breakfast, I picked more cherry tomatoes from my plants that never die and watered everything.  I have a few seedlings coming up:  2 squash, 6 corn, 4 green beans.  Then there are the green onions, the sweet potatoes that will probably never grow, and marigolds that re-seeded from last year.  This weekend is the air show and it was fun to watch the planes fly overhead.  My house seemed to be in one of their flight paths.  Here is the re-fueling plane with helicopters.

My mother called and asked me to bring a shovel when I visit her next weekend so that we can plant the grapefruit tree that she got for her birthday last week.  My shovel was propping up my quail stand so I got out the wood and power tools and screwed a crossbar to the front of the stand eliminating the need for the shovel.  Since I had the power tools out and I found a suitable piece of wood for my kitchen window shelf, that became my next project.  But first I finished watching a movie...or 2.

It doesn't look good yet but there is a shelf behind the curtain rod now.  My green onions and romaine that bolted are almost too tall for the shelf.  I want to lower the curtain around 4 inches so that the rod is even with the shelf.  I don't like the top curtains.  They came with the house.  I left them up though because the window is so dirty.

Next was cooking chicken in bulk for the week and finally, a nap.  After doing the dishes and having a bowl of ice cream, I fixed the curtain in my bathroom.  I brought a tension curtain rod from the shed out at my property (I love shopping in my own stuff for free) and cut a white towel to fit the window to block the sun.  Then the shear curtain went over that.  It looks better but it doesn't match anything in the bathroom because it is green and the rest of the bathroom is grey-blue-gold but that will change sometime soon whenever painting gets on the top of my list.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Too Hot for April

It is hot. April is too soon to be complaining about the heat but mid-90's are too hot.  I didn't get my swamp cooler started up yet so I have to wait with all the other no-A/C people until the HVAC service people are available.  I tried looking up "how to get your evaporative cooler started for Summer" but then I realized that my tall ladder is out at my property and I don't want to go out there this weekend.  I'll just turn the ceiling fan on high and partake of some nice cool drinks while I wait.  You know, ceiling fan + humidifier = my own private evaporative cooler!  I also have a portable evap. cooler in the shed.  I could clean it up and see if it still works.

Other than trying to stay cool, my weekend is pretty open.  Here are the top 3 projects that I could do:

-Paint the master bathroom (just primer)
-Continue setting up the 4'x4' quail habitat.
-Figure out what to use for a kitchen curtain.

I really should paint the bathroom to get it off my list.  I have to look at it many times a day and it keeps popping up in my mind and saying "paint me!".

It will probably be too hot to work on the quail cage because I plan to sleep in and by the time I get up it will be hot.

I found a new idea for the kitchen window.  It involves a plant shelf and power tools.  It would be great to complete this project also because, like the bathroom, I look at it multiple times a day and it distracts me because it is unfinished.

So those are my plans as well as the usual laundry, sweeping, cooking, and hanging out with the dogs.  I love relaxing weekends!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Check Hunting

I decided to drop by my bank on the way home from work today to ask about re-ordering checks.  The teller looked up my account and then had to ask the manager.  She said that my checks would cost $23 which is less than the online through the bank website price of $29.  She politely offered to order them for me but I declined   I knew I could do better elsewhere.

Looking up 'best place to order checks', I found a top ten list and started my research.  The first 2 companies looked promising but either their website wasn't easy to search by price or there were other fees.  I ended up back on the Walmart site and designed my basic checks for $7.46 plus shipping.  I'm 42 years old and this is the first time that I have ordered checks independently from my bank.  I feel like a rebel.  Haha. Now I just have to wait patiently for 2 weeks until they arrive.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Monday-Eve Again

Another weekend flew by.  My sister and her friend came to town and we celebrated my mother's birthday with a turkey dinner.  I spent an hour attempting to glue my mom's St. Francis statue that had blown over in the wind.  My fingertips were covered in super glue and they still would be if my sister hadn't suggested sanding them with an emery board.  It worked great.  The St. Francis' birdbath didn't go back together exactly as it should.  A few pieces were missing.  I think some paintable caulk and some touch-up paint would fix it right up but that is a project for another day.

Today was a relaxing day.  I watered the garden, pulled some weeds, picked some orange-red tomatoes before the birds got them and dehydrated some turkey strips for dog treats.  I bought some expensive dried chicken dog treats (last month) and I don't know which of the additives are the cause but they give my dogs horrible gas which is unpleasant to say the least.  I thought that buying True-Chews made in the USA instead of China would be better for the dogs but certainly not these.  I should stick to dehydrating my own turkey.  The dogs love them and there are no smelly side effects.

9 more days of work until I get a 3 day weekend.  Yay!  I think I can make it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Over-Looked Expenses

There are some random expenses that I can't seem to remember, like annual dog shots and checks.  The first one is kind of in my budget.  I mean, I have a dog category in my budget but I usually spend all of that money on dog treats because I am a terribly over-indulgent dog parent.  The other one, checks, is only needed every 3 or so years depending on my check writing requirements.  Most of my monthly expenses are done online with a credit card or directly from my bank account.  There are still a few hold outs like the water/sewer/trash bill which had to be paid by check.

Anyway, I have both of these bills this week.  Luckily they are not large bills.  Dog shots are only $24 at the discount clinic and basic boring checks are ... let me just look it up here...yikes!  $30!  That's a little more than I expected.  I'll have to do a little research tomorrow to see if I can find them cheaper or if I get free checks with my account.  I get free checks with my other bank account that I use for my emergency fund.  Maybe I should stop using Chase checks or only use them when an in-state check is required.  If I have to pay $30 I bet I could make the next set of checks last a very long time.

**Update** A quick search on the internet and I found these Walmart checks.  I never would have thought to look at Walmart for checks.  One box of 150 duplicate checks for $7.46.  That's a lot cheaper than $30!  I'll keep looking tomorrow and see if I can find any better deals.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Potatoes Out, Green Onions In

Seems like it was Friday just a few hours ago and now it is Sunday night with Monday looming ahead.  Saturday started with a trip to the vet clinic for yearly shots for one of my dogs.  He hates the vet and usually bites someone but we made it out of there with only a few close calls.  Then we went to my mother's house to help her do some organizing and yard work.  She has a tiny yard but the sun was hot and I couldn't spend a lot of time out there without taking breaks every 15 minutes.  I found some green onions that were outside in a pot waiting to be thrown out.  I brought them home and added them to my windowsill garden which is looking much better after a week.  The sweet potato moved to the garden because it just kept growing roots but no leaves.  Maybe it needs some soil.  Now I have green onions, celery, lettuce, and more green onions.  I'd like to add garlic next.  I hear it grows well on the windowsill too.

Today I got up the courage to review and submit my taxes online.  A few minutes later I received an email "Federal tax return has been rejected".  Ahh!  Panic!  It turns that I didn't write my nephew's complete name.  The form asked for first and last name only but he has 2 middle names which I left out.  I had to give him 2 first names and 2 last names to get the whole thing on the form.  It was accepted the second time so that was a relief.  Now I will wait patiently for my tax refund to magically appear in my bank account.  I am so glad that is over for another year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mortgage Progress for March 2014

Another $1,200 went toward the mortgage yesterday bringing the total down to $61,902.  I'm almost in the 50's!  Only 3 years and 7 months left.  I'm beginning to think that 3 years and 7 months is too long to wait so I am going to try to increase my extra mortgage payment to $1,500.  Giving myself spending money each month seems to result in too much junk food in the house and a wide selection of dog treats for my chubby dogs.  If I add more money to my mortgage repayment plan, it won't be there to tempt me in to making purchases online so that fun packages arrive at my door.  Then I won't get frustrated when the boxes don't arrive as planned.  See, that solves 2 problems.  I'll try it for April and see if it is a reasonable goal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Little Rant About Online Store Shipping Policies

Two weeks ago, I  bought a replacement Tracfone for my mother.  It was a $30 basic phone with extra large buttons.  Nothing fancy.  I eagerly tracked the package's progress and finally the day came for delivery only, it wasn't delivered.  I got the dreaded "Delivery Exception" notice.  What the heck?  Turns out that their free shipping with FedEx needs a signature for delivery.  Not just any signature either.  The last name and address have to match the package.  Never would I have thought that a $30 phone would need my signature!  If I had known that, I would have had it shipped to my work, of course, that probably would have created a new problem since the address would not have matched my ID.

I went back to the Tracfone checkout page and found the "signature required" information in light grey text hidden in the bottom paragraphs of other information.  I had to call FedEx and ask them to hold the package for me so that I could pick it up after work.  Unfortunately, there are no FedEx stores near my work or my house.  The closest one was 15 minutes out of my way.  Not too bad, but still.  I shop online for convenience not to have to drive across town to pick up my package.

Then, today, I was supposed to get a box of dog treats.  I bought more than usual in an attempt to get the best price.  I've never had a problem with delivery before but there was that notice again, "Delivery Exception".  Nooo!!!  This time they wanted an indirect signature which means I have to sign the paper that they left and they will deliver it tomorrow.  Not a big deal but still irritating.  I sent the company, Value Pet Supplies, an email and asked about the signature.  They replied with a long email that said that their shipping policy is spelled out under the help section and over a certain dollar amount they require a signature.  Well, it would have been helpful if that notice was on the checkout page.  I could have had it delivered to my work even though I don't really want to hoist a big box of dog treats in to my truck.  Now we are back to the "convenience" of shopping online.  Is it too much to ask that online stores warn me before they require a signature?  Not everyone sits at home all day waiting for their packages.

I should use this little inconvenience to help me break my online shopping habit.  My dogs don't really need more dog treats and buying in bulk only makes me give them more treats so I'm not saving any money.  I like getting packages at my door.  I don't think I have ever received a bad package.  I get lots of junk mail and bills in the mail but packages are always fun.  I'm just going to have to think of some other way to amuse myself.  Perhaps something cheaper.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Update From the Windowsill

Ooo...looky!  Little green leaves!  Ok, it isn't really that impressive.  That is a whole week of growth.  I certainly won't be living on windowsill lettuce and celery.  I think the outer leaves are decaying as fast as the inner leaves are growing.  That kind of cancels each other out.

They still look kind of cute in their sundae cups though.  It's probably a better use for those cups anyway.  My diet is going well and I'm slowly shrinking.  The weather has been in the 80's and it is getting too hot to walk at lunch.  I'll have to ride my exercise bike after work instead.  I should take the dogs for a walk but after having run in to more than 3 loose and unfriendly dogs while walking, I am a bit scared to go.  I don't think I can handle 3 dogs on leashes and a big stick.  I need more hands.