Christmas Books – Again

amazonIt’s that time again! Last year I purchased my Christmas books at and posted that I would try to be organized enough in ’14 to buy the books earlier and buy them from where they are substantially cheaper (eg. The Stone Carvers is $10.07 US vs. $15.16 CDN). Plus, I don’t get hit with GST (Canada’s goods and services tax). Plus, I can use Amazon gift cards purchased at a discount online, or at Office Max, using my Ink BOLD to earn 5x points – things I cannot do if I buy from I’m betting I’ll save at least $30-$40 this year.

I don’t think I’m going to Calgary until January this year, so they will be belated Christmas presents. And they should all fit in my suitcase, which I can check for free when I pay with my Explorer card.

I’ve started my list and have added some of the books into my cart in preparation. I’m buying a couple for one of our sons. One of them is a large coffee table book and I’m going to buy it used, at a considerable discount (ie. $7 vs. $26). It will leave more money for his other presents (or cash). ;)

Electronic Checkbook Register

checkbook registerI’ve mentioned before that I keep a checkbook register and balance it, to the penny, religiously. Well, I was down to my last register. Since I do most of my bill paying online, I rarely use manual checks anymore. In fact, I’m still using up checks with our old address on them. We moved 3 1/2 years ago and I’ll bet I don’t get through them all before we move again!

Anyway, I needed a new checkbook register and was looking for somewhere to get them cheap or free. That’s when I stumbled upon the concept of using an Excel spreadsheet instead of a physical register. Excel comes with a template. Or there are many you can download for free. I just keep it up on my computer at all times. It’s easy. Easier than a physical register.

It’s neater.

No more calculator.

I can’t believe it took me this long to make the transition….

Reused a Jiffy Lube Groupon

grouponA number of months ago I bought a Jiffy Lube Groupon so our daughter could get her oil changed. I noticed that it was never marked as “Redeemed” and figured I’d try to use it to get my oil changed before it expired. Well, I’m still a month away from needing oil – but our son needed to get his oil changed. He was going to do it himself, but decided to try out the Groupon instead. The Groupon is for a conventional oil change and he wanted to upgrade to synthetic, which they let him do. It ended up being cheaper than doing it himself.

It’s still not marked as redeemed. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use it before it expires. Plus, as long as they don’t redeem it, it will continue to be worth it’s $21 face value.

Frontier Fly Bucks

frontier fly bucksBack in September we went up to Boulder for CU’s Family Weekend. We just went up for the day and it was GREAT! The weather was glorious and we had so much fun. Three days would have been complete overkill. Less is more. Lucky for us, it’s a quick drive. Another reason to be glad our kids all went/go to in state colleges!

Anyway, on our way out of the football game they were handing out Frontier Fly Bucks cards. Each one was worth between $10 and $50 off your next Frontier flight. We just happened to be booking a trip and were flying Frontier. I registered the cards and each was worth $30. When I booked our flights, I booked each of them separately so I could apply a discount to each vs. just $30 if I booked them together.

I’m good with saving an extra $60 any day of the week!

Open Table

opentableI’ve been using Open Table for a number of years, simply for the convenience it offers. I didn’t realize I was accumulating points that could be redeemed for checks.

Two $20 checks, in fact. And thank you very much!

It’ll be awhile before I accumulate enough points for another check. Typically, at 100 pts/dine, it takes twenty dines to earn the 2,000 points necessary for a check. It amounts to $1/dine – not enough to influence my restaurant choices, but enough that I will make sure to use the service whenever possible.

And it sure was a nice little perk last month!

Replaced a Plate and Some Cutlery

ikea dishesA couple of weeks ago I decided to use actual dinnerware and cutlery whenever we were entertaining 12 or fewer. I’ve been using nicer plastic plates and cutlery from Party City and would like to save the approx $10 it costs every time I do this.

Earlier in the year I purchased some IKEA place settings I was really pleased with. Well, one of the dinner plates went missing. Not sure how or where. Our daughter was back for summer break and had some friends living with us off and on. I checked under all the beds and the couch downstairs. No plate.

I emailed any friends and family I may have left it at. No plate.

So, I decided to go back to IKEA and buy one. I bought three, just in case.

I also counted up our flatware. I bought place settings for 12 a number of years ago. Since then we had lost 5 cereal spoons, 4 salad forks and more. I went online and was able to find place settings for four for $32. I’m still short a cereal spoon, which I will either find or buy separately some day.

Now I can set the table for 12 (minus one small spoon) and, for once, everything will match!!

Another One Bites the Dust

to do listIt’s been a LONG while since I posted. A part time job, even just 12 hrs/week, is making a big difference in my life. I really like it. The pay is embarrassing, but I like getting a paycheck.

Anyway, months ago I posted about keeping track of expenses you’d like to eliminate – some day. It took me awhile to get around to (and it wasn’t nearly as frustrating as I thought it would be), but I’ve finally transferred my writing domain ( from the Author’s Guild hosting service ($90) to Bluehost, my host for this blog. This means I can drop my Author’s Guild membership ($90/year). My expenses should go down about $150/year, if I’ve figured it right.

Laundry Day

laundryMonday is laundry day. Every 2nd Monday, that is. ;)  I do between 2-4 loads. Bed linens, bath towels, kitchen towels, my casual clothes. I tend to wash my “nicer” things by hand. I don’t spend $10/year on dry cleaning.

Jay does his own laundry and has for years. He says I shrink his clothes and there is some truth to that. I do it to my t-shirts and polo shirts, and then I hate it when they’re too short! The trick is to remember to take them out after the wash and let them air dry.

I stopped doing the kids’ laundry when they were each in their early teens. I really hate doing laundry.


sangriaWorking is proving to be exactly what I needed. It’s pretty fun and a LOT more challenging than I thought it would be (especially for the $$). I’m no longer twiddling my thumbs EVER. Amazing how 11-12 hours/week completely takes care of that.

Anyway, we’re going to our friends’ house for a get together on Saturday and I’m bringing my delicious Sangria. Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 cups rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup OJ
1 bottle red wine
1 each, orange, lemon and lime sliced

You’re supposed to mix the rum, sugar and fruit. Refrigerate everything. Then mix it all together. But you can just mix it all up and refrigerate. Making it a day ahead improves it all the more!

FAC Success

patio partyOur FAC from two weeks ago was a smashing success. :) Twelve of our friends and a couple of their young kids came. It poured like crazy, keeping the party inside for much of the time. But that didn’t seem to matter. I made Sangria – always a huge hit. And I made sure to remind everyone not to drink too much of it. It packs a punch that can really take you by surprise!

Everyone brought something. In addition, I seared some Ahi and served it with soy sauce and wasabi, cooked up some coconut shrimp from Costco, and made my killer ice cream dessert (chocolate cake on the bottom, coffee ice cream, fudge, crumbled Oreo cookies). There wasn’t a morsel left of any of it!

It was truly tons of fun. And good thing we had it at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend – before everyone was partied out, sick and tired of eating, drinking and visiting. Try to entertain during “dead” periods or at the very beginning of a busy social calendar season (ie. NOT New Year’s Eve).