Spending moolah & my leaky Jetta

December 20th, 2014 1 comment

We are bleeding money over here!

I decided to go ahead and buy my parents a computer for Christmas this year and it’s turned into a bit of a hassle. I ordered an ASUS from NewEgg at the beginning of the month. It arrived a week later but I waited a week to unpack it so I could configure it, and then learned the damn thing wouldn’t even turn on! It was like the power button wasn’t actually connecting with anything inside the case. I would have opened it to investigate but that would void the warranty so instead I sent it back to NewEgg for a refund.

We ended up buying a Dell from Staples last Sunday instead. It was about $27 more since we had to pay tax, but has 2.5x the memory and the hard drive is twice the size, so it ended up being a great deal once the associate forced the system to give us the price advertised in the sales ad. Initially, he seriously asked me if I was ok paying $50 more than the price in the ad since the computer was giving him trouble. I told him absolutely not and that he should get a manager to give us the correct price, which he did. We had to have it shipped to our house since none of the computers in the ad were actually available in store. Hmmm… and you wonder why these office stores are having a rough time financially. Anyway, at least the new computer works. I installed Firefox and a bazillion Windows updates on it. Now I just need to install TeamViewer and test that it works with our PC so we can help them remotely when issues arise.

This week we spent money buying gift cards with bonuses to be used during the coming year. We bought:

Two $10 Savers gift certificates and received a free $5 certificate that is good through January 10th.

One $25 Buona Beef gift card and received a free $5 certificate that is good through the end of February.

One $100 Lou Malnati’s gift card and received a free $25 gift certificate that is good through the end of June.

Two $25 Culver’s gift cards and received two free value basket coupons that are good through February 22nd.

So in all we spent $195 but got approximately $53 worth of freebies which equates to a 27% discount at places we would have spent money at throughout the year anyway. I call that a win-win! The challenge for some might be to use those certificates before they expire (something each establishment is counting on), but I just added reminders to an app on my phone so we don’t forget.

We also hit up Omaha Steaks to use up the gift cards I had accumulated. We got $100 of food for $52 out of pocket. Included in our assortment are some steaks and pork chops I’ve never tried before, so I’m looking forward to that. If you would have asked me what I thought of Omaha Steaks a few years ago I would have told you they sound overpriced and I’d never buy anything of theirs, but after years of getting gift cards for Christmas for their products, I think overall they’re a pretty good value. If you think about what you’d spend on a nice steak dinner at a restaurant, they are actually more affordable. We really enjoy their burgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausages too. The only thing I’ve tried that I would caution against are their chicken cordon blue bites. They are just terrible! I actually ended up throwing away half of them. My mom gets some from Market Day that are eons better.

During all our running around today, Joe noticed my car was leaking fluid, so we brought it to the local dealership for a diagnosis. They told us the thermostat needs to be replaced and they wanted nearly $700 to do it. Joe told them no thanks, ordered the part from AutoZone, and will replace it himself which will save us over $500 even after paying the dealership $66 to look at the car. I guess it’s a good thing that a) I’m only working two days next week and b) my commute is so short (2.5 miles each way) I can safely drive the car before it’s fixed since it’s not leaking enough coolant to cause the engine to overheat.

I’ll be glad when my birthday comes and goes in early January since then we’ll be done with the spending for awhile!

Categories: Food, Jetta, Shopping Tags:

Last Weekend’s Christmas Stuff

December 20th, 2014 No comments

Last weekend we finally put up the Christmas tree. Joe and E did the heavy lifting by getting everything out of the garage, putting the tree together, and adding the lights. I added garland, and then on Monday finished it with ornaments. I really wanted to do a green, silver, and red theme this year with the ornaments I had gotten on clearance after Christmas last year, but it turned out I didn’t have enough white lights and it would look strange with multi-colored ones, so it’s a hodge-podge look again.

2014 Christmas Tree

(Target had a Cartwheel offer for 40% off holiday lights yesterday and today, however, so I got two packs of 300 white lights for next year so I’ll be prepared.)

Saturday evening we drove out to Aurora to check out their festival of lights. It was a cute display done at their local zoo that you drive through. I’m not so sure E was that thrilled with it, but he didn’t complain because he’s a good kid like that.

Categories: Holidays, Photos Tags:

The Weekend

December 7th, 2014 No comments

Joe’s flight back from Pittsburgh came in early Saturday morning, so when he got home we ran to Walmart and Target to get some shopping done. Later that afternoon we went back out to Home Depot for furnace filters, Meijer for some produce, and Red Robin for lunch. It was renovated fairly recently (sometime between now and August). It seemed a little more cramped than before, but overall it looks great. It was also super busy. They have an online reservation system so when you check in you can walk around the mall and they will text you when your table is ready. You can also keep track of your place in line via a web URL they text you when you first check in. This would be very cool, if they had not removed our names from the list without seating us! Luckily we happened to be right there when I noticed they were seating a party of 4 that had been behind us in line and that my name had disappeared from the list. I asked the hostess what was going on and she put us back on the list but not before another two more people were seated ahead of us. She also didn’t offer any apologies. Not cool, Red Robin! I understand mistakes happen, but an apology would have been nice. Luckily the rest of our visit was nice and their burgers, as always, were delicious. I’m hooked on the Banzai one.

Sunday we did nothing. We didn’t even leave the house. Well, technically Joe did to run to Aldi to get some pork sausage for breakfast since he was having a craving. We just watched TV all frickin day! It was good, but I also felt kinda crappy not getting anything accomplished. Of course, I more than made up for it today by cleaning the house and making some Hawaiian fried rice (best rice ever; I use SPAM instead of ham, though).

Categories: Food, Shopping Tags:


December 6th, 2014 No comments

I’m starting to feel like I want to break up with Starbucks. I don’t go there often but when there’s a deal I usually treat myself. Today I decided to try their hot chocolate, but since they use milk and I’m lactose intolerant (and wasn’t interested in trying the soy milk), I only got a short.


That’s my drink on the right. Apparently it’s also considered the child’s size.

Anyway, it was not very good and I was disappointed. My cousin later mentioned that she adds sugar to hers; I hadn’t even considered that but I’m guessing it would have improved it as it definitely wasn’t sweet enough.

It just seems like one of two things happen when it comes to Starbucks drinks:

1) It’s a huge disappointment.


2) I love it and later get the worst stomachache (even if I opt for soy).

So it’s just not meant to be. It’s not you (every time) Starbucks, it’s me.

But hey, I still entered the win Starbucks for life contest because Joe loves his vanilla lattes and I do like them too but I only take a couple of sips to spare me any intestinal misery later.

Categories: Product Reviews Tags:


December 5th, 2014 No comments


Joe was on a business trip this week so I had a lot of time to kill and ended up watching some movies, including Maleficent which I watched yesterday. This story makes no sense to me. I’ve got questions! Don’t read if you haven’t seen the movie yet as there be spoilers ahead….

Where do these fairies who live in a forest find all that makeup they wear?

How is Maleficent’s wings removed while she sleeps? You’d think she’d notice that! But no, she wakes up and freaks out because suddenly they are gone. (I admit, I was a bit distracted during this part of the movie so maybe I missed a key plot point that explains this).

With all her powers why can’t she just create new wings instead of creating a sidekick and turning him into her mode of transportation as needed?

What’s the point of sending Aurora away when the curse doesn’t take affect until she’s sixteen years old?

Why weren’t the spinning wheels completely destroyed instead of put in a dungeon, and why was that done when Aurora a baby? They could have waited until she was nearly sixteen and used them until then.

Overall the movie was rather ridiculous. I guess they can’t all be winners.

Categories: Movies Tags: