Monday, April 30, 2012

Triple A (AAA), My Old BFF

Readers of this blog know that Miss MoneyPenny and sister Miss SmartyPants are going on a cruise in 2013.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my sister has pitted Costco and AAA in a bidding war for our cruise money and it got me to thinking about the first time I ever heard about AAA.  Back in the 70s, I had a friend who drove a beat up old VW station wagon that really was on it's last legs, er, tires.  It seemed like it always had a dead battery or a flat tire or she just forgot to put gas in it.  I would always be amazed when a nice man in a tow truck would drive up and get us running again.  For free!!

In the 90s, my sister and I took a road trip down the California coast and she had AAA plan the whole thing for us, including hotel reservations.  All we had to do was show up and we would have a room in a nice, affordable place.  They even had suggestions of interest for us, like we had dinner in a restaurant where "The Birds" was filmed.  That is a story for another time, but just think about two sisters bickering over who was going to get the view while the other one was having a hot flash and you get the idea

Anyway, I didn't become a card carrying member until 2003 and it costs me $56 a year, which I consider to be a screaming deal.  Their coverage covers YOU and whatever broke down vehicle that happens to be the problem.  The first time that I used them was when I was in Oregon.  My mother was in the hospital and the only vehicle that I had to use was my dad's big old Ford truck and I could not get it started, so I called AAA.  Ten minutes later a tow truck showed up and it said "Clyde from Glide" on the side of it.  I kid you not.  He had that truck running right away.

All my other calls have involved a dead battery due to Miss KnowItAll driving my car and leaving the lights on.  Three times I called and a handsome young man, Moses was his name, again, I kid you not, showed up and gave me a jump.  The last time, he said that he knew it was me when he got the call.  After that, I got the warning buzzer for my lights fixed.

AAA has a very user friendly homepage( and I was surprised at all the goodies they have on offer.  Not only do they save damsels in distress, they will plan your road trip or cruise and they also offer several different kinds of discounts, one of which is prescription insurance.  A friend of mine mentioned this because she doesn't have regular insurance.  According to their site, you will save an average of 24% on prescriptions, including your pets!!  This would be a big help if you are not covered by Medicare or your insurance won't cover your particular prescription.  They also cover lifestyle type things like weight loss drugs, smoking cessation products and wrinkle creams (yes!!.)

AAA gets the famous MoneyPenny Stamp of Approval and this award is not easy to come by, as you can imagine.  Before I forget, my sister gives AAA memberships as gifts.  Great idea for birthdays and Christmas, which is just around the corner.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Shopping at Macy's 4/28

Miss MoneyPenny and Miss KnowItAll headed out for Macy's on Saturday with our "Friends & Family" coupons in our hot little hands, but first we headed over to the Yacht Club for lunch to get ourselves fortified.  Of course, we used our $10 off coupon and had a very tasty lunch served by a charming young man who knows how to get those tips.

Let me tell you right now that I am not happy with the way Macy's has decided that a large amount of their stock is now considered "Everyday Value."  The deal with this is that these items never go on sale and coupons do not apply.  I find this to be unfriendly, but I did end up with a black hoodie ($27.98), capris ($27.98), a very nice top ($44.63) and a greatly reduced pair of pajama bottoms ($7.41.)  The only items that I could use my coupons on were the top and jammies, still not bad prices, but I really had to work up a sweat to find this stuff.

Since I am retiring May 31st, I've been giving a lot of thought to my wardrobe.  I don't want to look like a total slob, but I do want to be comfy, so this summer is going to be all about capris, shorts and jeans.  No nylons!!  Usually, I wear flipflops a lot in the summer, but they are hard on my feet so I'm looking at Tevas or Jambus.  Have you looked at the price on those sandals?  Sheesh!!  I'm going to see what I can do online through Ebates.  I'll let you know.

Retirement Update:

On Friday I received my confirmation from the state retirement system, so I am officially on my way.  I heard from Social Security a couple of weeks ago, so pretty soon I'm going to take a deep breath and quit wearing my shoulders up by my ears.  I started this process about two years ago and figured and refigured it every way I could think of.  I used up a lot of paper and made lots of phone calls.  The reason that I'm mentioning this is that unless you win the lottery, and I hope you do, a lot of ground work has to be laid and the sooner, the better.  Just sayin'.

Garden Update:

Okay, what are we looking at here.  The first pix is the half priced tulip bulbs that I bought at QFC.  I'm not thrilled with the way they turned out.  I planted an even dozen and you can see what I got.  When they are done blooming, I'll bury the little buggers in the flower bed and see how they do next year.

The other picture is the garden after we finished planting lettuce, chard and kale.  Maybe your garden isn't all tricked out in razor wire and hardware, but then you probably don't have a crazy-ass Boston Terrier either. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Don't Call Me, I'll Call You

One day not too long ago, Miss MoneyPenny was home sick.  It was shocking to see how much the phone rings during the day.  I would just get wrapped in my blankey and heating pad when the phone would ring, over and over, all day.  I finally took it off the hook.

Now maybe you are interested in getting a lower interest rate on your credit card or want to take a survey, but I sure don't.  Also, on that particular day, I almost fell for a credit card scam before I realized what they were up to.  Beware of perky young ladies calling to tell you that the order that you just placed is fine and will arrive in a few days.  I called Chadwick's to tell them that they had a security problem but they were not too concerned.  Go figure.

For those of you who are sick of calls at dinner, go to and register your phone number.  This is actually a site run by the feds (that is kind of a scary thought) and is free.  After 30 days, you should not get any more calls.  If you do, you can go to the site and register a complaint against the offender and they will immediately be slapped in irons and water boarded.  I just made that last part up.  I have no idea what will happen to them, but this should at least slow them down.

Retirement Countdown Update:

15 more working days

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grocery Basket 4/26

Miss MoneyPenny and Miss KnowItAll are going shopping in Silvertown on Saturday and we are going to hit the Macy's sale with our coupons.  I need to figure out what kind of clothes
I'm going to wear now that I'm going to be retired come June 1st.  So this is more of a reconnaissance mission, but if I see a screaming deal, I'll be all over it.  I'll report back about what I see.

The QFC ad is just not exciting this week but there are a few goodies.  This is what I'm looking at:

Boneless Flat Iron Steak - $4.99/lb
Ranger Free Range Whole Chickens - $1.59/lb
Fresh Wild Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Pears - $1/lb
Fuji Apples - .78/lb
Avocados or Mangoes - .88/ea
Navel Oranges - .88/lb
Vidalia Onions - $1/lb

Cruise Update:

Miss SmartyPants (she didn't get that name for nothin') is now pitting AAA against Costco for the best deal on our cruise.  It never occurred to me to call the folks up at AAA and ask if they could beat Costco's price, but what a good idea!!  Now she is going to call up Costco and ask if they can beat AAA.  A bidding war!!  I hope we don't end up on a slow boat to China, but I'm game.

Food Waste Update:

Okay, what are we looking at here.  I was hoping that I could get the essence of this poor apple that got pushed to the back of the staff refrigerator.  It is really withered up and soft.  As for the pineapple, there is no excuse whatsoever.  I just didn't get around to finishing it off before it became penicillin.

And the bottle of shame?  I know I said I was going to kick the habit, but it ain't worth getting up in the morning without it for me.  What on earth do they put in that stuff, anyway?  It was like jonesing for a smoke.  I was acting like the guy from Seattle when he forgets to put his patch on first thing in the morning.  I know how bad this stuff is for me, but they don't call 'em vices for nothing.

Cha Ching: $2.00

Monday, April 23, 2012

Costco Pet Meds

You may think that Miss MoneyPenny needs to get a life if she sits around reading the monthly Costco magazine, but I read it cover to cover and almost always find something interesting.

I may have mentioned before that my twelve year old schnauzer has a bum ticker and takes medicine.  I'm not complaining here, because two years ago I thought she was a goner.  What I am complaining about is the way her pills keep going up in price.  She takes three medicines and half of a baby aspirin and it used to cost me around $35 a month.  Now it is $45.60.

Where am I going with this, you ask.  In the April issue of the Costco Connection magazine they have an article about pet medicines.  They have a program called Costco Member Prescription Program (CMPP) for members that do not have prescription drug coverage.  Guess what!!  They consider your pet part of the family, so their prescriptions qualify for this program and you will be getting the lowest possible Costco price.  Pinch me.  I must be dreaming.

The way I'm gonna work this one is tell my vet that I'm retiring, and due to the fact that I'm going to be pretty broke COBRAing my own insurance for 18 months, I need to control costs.  So please write up Pici's prescriptions so that I can take them to Costco and save some money.  That should do it.  He may not be happy about it but I'm sure $45 a month won't make or break him.

P.S.  I don't work for Costco.  I'm just working their deals.

Cruise Fund Update:

Old balance = $692.48

                    +      2.75 (Free slice of pizza after 10 slices - don't forget to use those loyalty cards)

New balance = $695.23

Friday, April 20, 2012

Grocery Basket 4/20

Now you know how music crazy Miss MoneyPenny is.  When I heard that Dick Clark died the other day it brought back some sweet memories of his show American Bandstand.  We only got NBC out of Roseburg on our antenna, but at the home of one of the older girls in the neighborhood they had a big fancy dancy antenna and could get ABC, although pretty fuzzy, so the older girls would all gather over at her house in the afternoon to watch the show.  They would let me watch sometimes if I could keep myself under control, which was hard because half the time I didn't know what the rules were going to be for that day.  As you can tell from this picture, this is where we learned to rat up our hair and use white lipstick.  All very cool, indeed. 

I learned how to do the Stomp, Mashed Potatoes and the Twist from watching this show which was out of Philly at the time.  The kids who danced were on the show every day and looked just like regular people.  We used to speculate about these couples and worry that they were having a fight if they were acting coldish to each other, which was hard to tell as they were also trying to be cool.  I had a crush on one of the guys and would watch for him, scheming on how I was going to get on the show and whisk him away from his girlfriend and dance with him.  I've always had a wild fantasy life.

Anyway, on to the QFC ad.  This week's sale has a few items that I'm looking at and here they are:

Herbal Essences Shampoo - $2.49ea (coupon PG/4 for $1 off 2)
Fuji or Jazz apples - $1.29/lb
Mangoes - $1/ea
Pears - $1/lb
Romaine & leaf lettuces - $1/ea
Red, orange, yellow peppers & English cukes - $1/ea
Strawberries - $1.49/ea

Cruise Fund Update:

Old balance =$691.03

                    +       1.45 (cash rate discount on dental copay)

New balance = $692.48

Miss SmartyPants and I are looking at Costco Travel for our cruise.  It is looking like they have the best deal and you know how I feel about Costco.  It is a little unsettling to think about everybody on that cruise being a card carrying member.  At least we will a conversation opener like: what is your favorite Costco item?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It is so hard for Miss MoneyPenny to be a cool mom.  I drove up to my son's house the other day when it was so sunny and beautiful.  He took one look at me and told me "lose the clip-ons, Mom."  How embarrassing!!  I told him that I couldn't drive without my driving glasses and it was sunny, hence, the clip-ons, and that prescription sunglasses are expensive, and that I already have to keep track of several pair of glasses, as it is.  He just smirked at me.

So, where am I going with this one?  Right to the eye doctor, of course.  I want to look just like Jackie O, so when I called to inquire about the cost of new sunglasses, I was given the bad news.  These things are not cheap, as I had feared.  When I asked if there was a cash discount, she said it was 10%, which isn't wildly wonderful, but it is better than getting an icepick in the throat while you are falling down the stairs.  I stole that line from the guy from Seattle.  I hope I got it right.  It just cracks me up.

Anyway, I asked because I received a 5% cash rate discount at the dentist the other day when I paid my copay.  What I'm getting to here is, that this is something we need to think about when we are paying for services.  I don't think that it will work at QFC necessarily, but it seems to work in the medical profession.  It seems that small businesses hate credit card fees and would rather pass the savings on to us.  Worth checking out, don't you think?

Me?  I'm getting a quote locally and then making a decision after I've compared it to Costco (where I got the clip-ons) and see which one is the better deal.  I'm not in a big hurry.  After all, I do have the clip-ons and I've only gotten a year out of them.  I can't believe that he didn't notice before.  Nobody humbles you like your children.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Costco Coupons 4/12-5/6

Now you know that Miss MoneyPenny is a lover of all things Costco, and as good luck would have it, my daughter-in-law works there.  Being a family member comes with a Free!! membership for me but it also means that I don't get their coupon book, so I either drop by and pick one up at the Courtesy Counter, or Miss KnowItAll brings me hers.  Thank you, very much.

Costco coupons are the real deal because they make their good prices even better.  It looks to me like they have their coupons on a three month cycle, but don't quote me, so I try to stock up on my items so that they will last at least that long.  We all know that isn't hard to do since everything there comes in size Warehouse.

I have found Costco to be the best place for Special K, Palmolive, Spray 'n Wash, Refresh Eye Drops, supplements, Starbucks Coffee, Kleenex and Neutrogena Rainbath.  Guess what?  There are coupons for these products this month (4/12-5/6) and I'm gonna use them.  There is also a $70 coupon off a set of tires, so if you need them, jump on it.  I think that their tire guys are great and they take good care of a lady.  Don't forget the free tire rotation service that comes with your purchase.

I just recently noticed that QueenBeeCoupons is starting to publish a Costco price list, which is located on the right sidebar of her blog.  She hasn't got everything and she is geared toward young families, but I still find it helpful.  I make the guy from Seattle a loaf of bread every week and was starting to realize how expensive yeast at QFC was.  I noticed that yeast was on her list and ended up getting a two pound bag for the same price as the six-pack (1/4 ounce each) that I bought at QFC.  I know, I know.  That is a mountain of yeast, but it seems quite happy in the fridge.

Cruise Fund Update:

Old Balance = $291.03

                     + 400.00 (Tax refund)

New Balance = $691.03

It is starting to look like Miss SmartyPants is going to live through tax season, so in a few days, after she has recovered her sense of humor, we will be deciding just how important that porthole really is.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Grocery Basket 4/12

Miss MoneyPenny has a dear friend who is a nutritional therapist and she is always laying into me for using coffee creamer.  She says it is the worst of the worst and it is not my friend.  I usually just ignore her and pour away, but she gave me a printout of an article by Gary Taubes that really shook me up.  He is a science writer and has written a lot on the subject of sugar, including a couple of best selling books.  His most recent is Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.

I would be the last one to suggest giving up sugar, but this guy has really shook me up.  As you know, Miss MoneyPenny battles the bulge, which is probably the least of my worries after reading what he had to say.  Have you ever heard of something called "fatty liver?"  Me either, but it seems that it can lead to all kinds of bad things that I'd rather not think about.  And who knew that insulin was a hormone?  It is starting to look like it might just be time that Coffee Mate and I break up.  Sob.  It ain't gonna be easy because I'm addicted to the stuff.  Really!!  I'll keep you updated on how I do with this.

That being said, here are the things that I'm looking at this week from the QFC ad:

Seattle's Best Coffee - BOGO
Rosarita Refried Beans - $1
Oikos Greek Yogurt - $1/5.3oz
Nature Made Vitamins - BOGO
Farmland Country Style Ribs - $1.99/lb
Ranger Free Range Whole Chickens - $1.59/lb
Wild Caught Dover Sole - $5.99/lb
Cauliflower or Broccoli - $1.49/lb
Kiwis - 3 for $1
Navel Oranges - $1/lb
Jazz Apples - $1/lb
Private Selection Organic Salad - 2/$5
Tomatoes on the Vine - .99/lb
Organic Strawberries - $2.99/16oz

While I'm over at Chimacum Corners tomorrow, I'm going to pick up some of their organic cream for my coffee.  I have no idea what I'm going to sweeten it with as I'm told Sweet 'n Low is also bad for you.  This is not going to be easy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Food Waste Redux

One of the things that I'm planning on when I retire is to get a better hold on the old grocery budget and address food waste in the MoneyPenny household.  Tall order, I know.  It seems to me, and I hope that I'm being realistic here, is that the lack of time is my main problem.  I usually take the time to plan my grocery spending, but then I run out of weekend before I get everything cooked and prepared.  Then I go out to lunch or dinner and something sits and festers in the fridge.  I'm sure you are familiar with all of this.

I came across this great graphic by the people at Door to Door Organics and thought you might be interested. 

Food Waste Update:

I feel really guilty about my latest entries.  The bowl is a roasted cauliflower soup that I made and it didn't taste that good.  Instead of trying to fix it, I forgot about it.  The tomato actually has fuzz on it.  I read that tomatoes should not be put in the fridge, so I didn't.  The jar is some pesto that is older than I am.

Cha Ching:  $7.00 (ouch!!)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mornin' After

Miss MoneyPenny aways takes the day after Easter off from work to recover.  Now I know you are going to jump to the conclusion that our Easter celebration includes a drunken blowout, and you would be wrong because we need to bring our A-game to this little party.

My kids put on a fabulous feast and we never know from year to year what the menu will be.  Sometimes it is the family tradition - ham, which is good but boring.  One year we had barbecued ribs and all the sides that go with it.  Yum!!  This year it was fajitas and they were crazy good.  For the last couple of years, my granddaughter (who is preggers!! surely Miss MoneyPenny is way too young to be a great-grandmother!!) has been bringing jalapeno poppers and they are the bomb.  I helped her make them and they are a real workout to put together but totally worth it.

Desert deserves it's own paragraph.  My daughter-in-law stayed up until midnight the night before putting together a triple layer, made from scratch, carrot cake.  We ate every last crumb and it had enough frosting, but in case you needed more, she had a bowl in the fridge.  Don't you just hate carrot cake with stingy cream cheese frosting?

My son, the plumber, decided several years ago that he needed to make Easter a little more interesting, so he came up with idea of the "Adult Easter Egg Hunt."  This involves 60 plastic Easter eggs, hidden diabolically all over his five acres.  And that acreage includes ravines and forest.  Inside of these eggs are little pieces of paper with numbers.  The numbers are for your turn at the wall, which is scratch tickets duct taped up in several rows.  We are talking competition here and the rules are terrifying and you can be disqualified for the least little infraction.  I've actually seen somebody cry, which worked because they were let back in.

This may not sound like it, but this is hysterically fun.  We've hunted our eggs in gale force wind, sleet and driving rain.  This year it was sunny and warm - almost felt like we were cheating as we dug around under ferns and climbed trees and stuck our fingers in scary places to get that very important egg.

My parents, Granny and Bubby, were really big on holiday traditions and it thrills me that my son is keeping it all going...even if I do have to take a day off to recover.

Cruise Fund Update:

Old balance = $259.03
                     +    32.00 (Easter scratch ticket winnings)

New balance = $291.03

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grocery Basket 4/7

Miss MoneyPenny was happy to see that QFC has a good sale going again this week, but I do have a couple of observations.  What is the deal with neither Safeway or QFC putting their eggs on sale?  Is this not Easter weekend?  Sheesh!!  Talk about mean spirited.

The other thing that I noticed is that QFC is selling fresh halibut for $16.99 a pound so jump on it.  I was kind of surprised because the world's best fish lady gave me all these reasons that it wouldn't be under $20 this year.  I'm not complaining here.

Here are the deals that I'm looking at:

Starbucks coffee - $6.99 (S/3/25 coupon for $1.50)
Tide - $4.99 when you buy 4 (S/3/11 coupon for $1.00 - I'm told that detergent is a good deal if you can get it for .10 an ounce)
Philadelphia Cream Cheese - $1
QFC butter - 3 for $5
QFC sour cream & cottage cheese - $1/16oz
Gold Medal flour - $2.50/5lb
Wild caught halibut - $16.99/lb
Asparagus - $1.38/lb
Driscoll's strawberries - 3 for $5
Green onions or radish bunch - .50/ea
Tomatoes on the vine - $1.99/lb
Yams or sweet potatoes - .99/lb

This morning when I got up it was 25 degrees.  The hummers were working hard trying to get at the frozen nectar, so I took some shots.  I'm thinking of taking a photography class up at the College when I'm retired, so maybe you will have better pictures, but you get the idea.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Big Announcement!!

Miss MoneyPenny is finally going to do it.  I've been threatening for a long time and now I'm taking the leap.  After over 28 years at the Library, I'm throwing in the towel.  My last day will be May 31st.

This may come as a shock but once I told everyone and got signed up for Social Security, I started in on a good old meltdown.  You do know about the seven stages of grief?  I'm in the stage known as PANIC!!  Even though I have very carefully thought and planned this out, it is still very scary - almost like bungee (sp?) jumping.

I have always worked and sometimes at two jobs, so my life has been structured around the job.  I have been in hurry-up mode so long, I fear that I may have become addicted.  When people ask me what I'm going to do, I tell them that I'm not going to do anything.  They get all worried and are probably thinking that I will lay around in my jammies all day and read novels.  Sounds great, doesn't it?

Seriously, the first of June is when I really start going after my veggie garden and I thought it would be nice to actually have as much time as I want to work outside and lay around on the deck.  I want to get up when I wake up and go to bed when I feel like it, and take long naps.  I look forward to spending as much time as I can with my friends, rather than always rushing.  And of course, the first week of retirement will be spent on the Oregon Coast with Sister SmartyPants.

So you see how this is going.  I have a few ideas up my sleeve for later, but right now, I've got a bad case of Senioritis.  I remember well how it feels to be a high school senior right before graduation.  Hopefully, I won't behave THAT badly!! but you can never tell.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time for the Hummers

These guys are so darn cute!!  When I put the hummingbird feeder out, it is the beginning of my spring/summer outdoor life.  I had my first visitor 10 minutes after I hung the feeder yesterday.

Every year my daughter-in-law calls me and asks me how to make the nectar, so I thought that I would beat her to the punch before she makes that call.  Back in the old days, I didn't have a clue how to make the nectar so I just purchased those packs of ready-made nectar.  You know the stuff with the red coloring.  They love it but it probably isn't that good for them, so here is my easy peasy full-proof method.

1 cup white sugar
4 cups water

Boil the water, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves and is clear.  Done.  Let cool before you fill the feeder.  Keep the rest in the fridge.  That is it.

I keep a close eye on the feeder and keep it nice and clean.  We don't want sick birdies.

I don't know about your hummers but by summer my guys are getting pretty aggressive.  They have no qualms about dive-bombing you while you are sitting out on the deck enjoying your ice tea.  I don't know if they are trying to run us off or just funning with us.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Full Pink Moon

The sixth of April is the Full Pink Moon, or, also called The Little Frogs Croak Moon, which I think makes more sense, as the froggies have been croaking their little hearts out down by the creek every night.  What a beautiful spring song that is.

You may be wondering where Miss MoneyPenny is going with this one.  As it turns out (shock!!) Easter is next Sunday the eighth.  For me Easter is always all over the calendar, never having understood how the calendar people pick the date.  So now I'm gonna tell you because the guy from Seattle researched this and this is how the formula works:  Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.  Whew!!  I wonder who thought this up, anyway.

Now that we have that out of the way, here is a picture of my shopping trip on Friday.  I stocked up on Tide (5 for $3.99), Starbucks coffee (4 for $6.49) and Colgate toothpaste (4 for $1.00/food bank.)  These prices are after the promotions and coupons.  I have very strange looking grocery carts.

You may remember that my parakeet Stevie Nicks has been terribly lonely so I brought home Eddie Vedder and they seem to be getting along very well.  Stevie is even letting Eddie play horsey with her, or maybe they are playing doctor.  You decide.  Stevie is the yellow bird.

Cruise fund update:

Old balance = $33.24

Costco/Amex Rebate = $130.00
Piggy bank change    =     64.50
Free coffee drink       =       4.50
Senior rate movie      =       1.00
Rebate check             =     25.79

New balance = $259.03

Now we are trying to decide if it is worth paying $500 to $700 more for a porthole.  Miss MoneyPenny has claustrophobia so this really is an issue.  I'll let you know how this works out.