Friday, April 16, 2021

Happy Birthday to Me!


Actually my birthday isn't until tomorrow but I figured I would post today...

  • I received a nice package from a friend in Japan for my birthday.  She always sends cool and interesting things like an assortment of candies (I'm guessing the lemon picture means the candies are lemon and the grapes on the other package mean it's grape candies).  She also sent the little thing under the lemon candies which I had to look up.  It's called an 'inkan' and when I looked very closely I could see it was an ink stamp of my name.  I've seen the old fashioned family name stamps in Japan but she said you can get these made at the mall now.  Japan has the coolest stuff from stationary to music to electronics to bags...everything is cute and high quality!
  • Tomorrow (Saturday) is free entrance day to the National Parks!  This is a great opportunity to get out to a national park for free if you don't have an annual pass of some kind.
  • Speaking of the National Parks, I was happy to see that both fourth and fifth graders can now get a free national park pass for their entire family!  The program used to only be open to fourth graders so it was nice to see this program has been expanded!
  • This was a nice infographic to help you determine how much yarn you need for various knitting projects.
  • Finally, here are some interesting, useful, and a few questionable lifehacks.

Monday, April 12, 2021

10 Things This Week

In no particular order...

  1. We were out at the air force base today and although I didn't quite get my camera out quick enough, I got a few pictures of the Air Force Thunderbirds practicing today.  It's always a surprise because by the time we hear the rumbling engines, the planes have already shot past us!  

  2. Yesterday we went shopping and this is what Walmart looked like.  In fact many stores in our area seem to be very short on stock (I did find lots of ketchup at the Dollar Tree.  I bought two bottles because there is supposed to be some sort of ketchup shortage now).  

  3. Here is an opportunity to binge-watch home improvement shows and earn $1000.
  4. And this town in West Virginia will pay people around $20,000 to move there and work remotely.
  5. This Saturday is free entrance day to all National Parks!
  6. A free online health conference is happening next week (I will definitely be watching!).
  7. Las Vegas is definitely back to pre-pandemic capacity!
  8. And Las Vegas recently got a Carvana tower (basically a vending machine where you buy cars!).
  9. FEMA is offering up to $9,000 to cover the funeral expenses of anyone in the US who has died of covid.
  10. Finally, I am happy that the weather has been so good lately that we haven't had to use the heat OR air conditioning for more than a week.  If we can keep this going for a month or longer it will definitely be a nice way to save some money on our energy bill!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

20 Ways We Save Money on Food

Our local and national news programs have had several recent stories about the skyrocketing price of food and it doesn't look like costs will come down any time soon.   Here are 20 ways we save money on food in our neck of the woods...

  1. We shop at several stores every week or two to get the best prices.  The 99 Cent Store has great prices on produce and some dry goods (although some of their products are $1 but have been greatly shrunk over the size of the same product at a grocery store so it pays to pay attention to these things).  Asian and Mexican stores have great deals on meat and produce, our military base commissary can have steep discounts on some items, and Costco/Sam's Club are great for buying food in bulk (like rice, canned goods, giant boxes of oatmeal, etc).
  2. I shop ads and usually only buy loss leaders and sale items (when the cashier rings up our groceries even she will say "wow" when the grand total comes out to be less than half of the regular price!). 
  3. I use a store app for a local grocery store and save lots on their app-only deals (one week it might be a loaf of bread for 20 cents or a big bottle of laundry soap for $1 along with many other discounted items each week).
  4. We always compare prices when shopping.  Sometimes there are bulk packages of items that actually cost more than smaller packages of the same items so hubby always uses the calculator on his phone to determine which is the cheapest per ounce.
  5. Also when shopping hubby tallies up the cost of each item as we go through the store so he knows exactly how much we should be paying at checkout.  I've lost count of how many times our groceries didn't add up correctly when we were checking out; sale prices don't register, the app stops working, discount prices aren't loaded into the store's computer...if the cashier doesn't ask for the amount hubby has on his calculator we figure out why and this always saves us money.
  6. We cook most of our meals at home and from scratch.  It's so much cheaper and healthier than eating out at restaurants everyday or buying pre-prepared/highly processed food.
  7. We bring food with us whenever we go out for the day.  Hubby makes and brings coffee with him, we whip up sandwiches or wraps for lunch, and for breakfast, if we have to be out early, we will usually bring homemade granola or breakfast sandwiches with us.  
  8. If we do eat out, it is almost always free (except for the tip).  Hubby gets lots of comps for playing poker so meals in casinos are free and friends and family usually give us restaurant gift cards for birthdays and other occasions so eating out is usually a (free or very cheap) treat.
  9. Our tricks for saving money when eating out include ordering tap water to drink, splitting meals (hubby and I always split meals and usually still have leftovers to take home), never ordering appetizers or desserts (the entrée is probably already more than 1000 calories, tacking on a soda, soup/salad, appetizer and dessert can shoot the calorie load over 5000 which no one needs to eat in one sitting!).
  10. I've broken my bad habit of hitting up the local Starbucks every day.  I got into this habit back when I was working and my coworkers and I would stop by Starbucks almost everyday that we had meetings.  Needless to say, this is an expensive--and unhealthy!--habit.
  11. Occasionally I will use coupons to buy food and household items but I don't do this very often as the coupons are usually for highly processed foods (like Pop Tarts and Hot Pockets...stuff we don't eat).  If they had coupons for flour, sugar, or other staples I would definitely use them!
  12. We don't buy in bulk very much anymore because there are no more kids in the house.  Other than a few staples, like rice and oatmeal which we eat quickly, buying huge quantities usually means some will go bad before we get to eat it.
  13. We shop the discount racks at the grocery store.  The day old bakery rack often has a half dozen croissants or a dozen rolls for $1 which is a great deal and they are still pretty fresh.  The close-to-expiration meat bin can often have great deals as well and our grocery stores usually cut the price on seasonal items the week after major holidays (we have bought several hams and turkeys at deep discounts this way).
  14. We cook in large quantities when we have guests and provide almost all meals at home for them.  Taking guests out to eat would bankrupt us--both because we get a lot of guests and because the restaurants here can be expensive--so we always cook for our guests when they visit.
  15. In general, we cook in family-sized quantities then freeze the leftovers in individual portions.  This is a great way to have instant meals on nights we don't feel like cooking.  In fact, we've kept one of the cousins fed through the entire pandemic this way--each week we take seven servings of frozen meals and deliver them to her!
  16. We try to eat mostly vegetarian/vegan meals as much as possible.  Besides the health benefits, a pound of meat shrinks down to maybe 3/4 pound after cooking while a pound of beans grows exponentially after cooking.
  17. When we do buy meat, hubby freezes it in individual portions so we only unfreeze a small amount of meat at a time.  One steak can provide four or five meals for us!
  18. Each week I clean out our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and rotate food to make sure nothing expires before we can use it up.  Any little bits of leftovers get turned into things like smoothies (berries, a little spinach, a banana), fried rice (bits of leftover meat and vegetables), soups, etc.
  19. We like free food!  We each signed up for a bunch of restaurant birthday freebies, local restaurants sometimes have freebies (I recently got a free Starbucks drink at our local grocery store with an app coupon, Krispy Cream gave hubby a free donut when he showed is covid vaccine card), and friends invite us to parties where there is always food, etc.
  20. Stuff we don't do but would consider if needed: dumpster diving (many people love to do this), hitting up food pantries or meal programs, shopping discount places like Aldis (we don't have one of these stores in our area unfortunately) or WinCo (we haven't been to this store yet, it is a discounter that takes cash only no credit or debit cards), working at a restaurant in order to get a free meal (I did this all through college and rarely had to buy food this way), gardening (unfortunately we don't have enough yard to do this), etc.

Monday, April 5, 2021

A Nice Quiet Weekend

Our Easter weekend was rather uneventful which was just fine.  With no kids around, Easter is kind of a non-event for us these days.  On my walks this weekend I found...

...more roses...

...and these chairs which were sitting on the curb with a free sign on them.  So of course I snatched them up, hubby tightened up the legs, and they are good as new!  Not sure if we will keep them (we don't really need them) or sell them on Facebook Marketplace.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Summer in Las Vegas

You know it's summer in Las Vegas when the roses are blooming!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Happy Easter Weekend!

It's Easter weekend already!  This seems to be a very early Easter this year!  While it's been pretty quiet around here, there are a few things happening this week...

  • Las Vegas is open for business (see photo above of the Golden Nugget pool!).
  • It's going to be a little over 90 degrees in Las Vegas this weekend (I love the heat!).
  • Our latest couple of visitors just left.  They were vaccinated and ready to go on vacation so they came to visit us which was a nice change of pace.
  • My allergies are killing me.  Allergy season comes early in the desert!
  • The IRS reversed their rules on taxing unemployment so it looks like I may get a refund on the taxes I paid on my unemployment from last year (we already filed our taxes so the refund will just be sent to our bank account automatically).
  • I was walking around the outlet mall this morning and went into my favorite store (Kipling) and there was a famous (?) YouTuber from Thailand doing her livestream from the store and showing off different Kipling bags.  Seriously, it is never boring in Las Vegas!
  • While our guests were here they wanted to look at new houses as they are thinking about moving here so we went along to look with them.  The houses we went to look at in a new subdivision by our house were $700k to $800k (!) for what seemed to be pretty basic houses (3500 to 4000 sq ft).  That is a crazy price for a house (IMHO)!  
I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!