Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monday: Update on Pharmacy Battle and Bargains!

Monday morning, I received a text from the pharmacy, stating that my prescription was ready to be picked up!  Thank goodness!  A prayer answered!    I went in the early afternoon to pick it up.  The staff on duty today weren't the same staff who were there yesterday, so they didn't know that it had been unavailable, yesterday.  Even when I informed them about yesterday's drama and asked about it, all they could say was that the prescription had been filled this morning.  I am assuming the clinic was open today, even though it is a holiday, and they had seen the request the pharmacy sent, yesterday, and called it in?  Or, if it had been a computer glitch or a pharmacy error, they quietly corrected it!  It doesn't matter.  All that matters is I have another 3 months supply of medicine!  I will bring it up with my oncologist when I go to see her, next and ask how such a thing can be avoided in the future. 

While I was at the pharmacy, I noticed that they had some holiday gift wrap and bows on clearance.    I hadn't planned on buying holiday gift wrap, but I didn't have any at home and I had used up my stash of holiday gift bags, so I decided that some gift wrap and bows would be a good idea.

Dancer Inspecting the Gift Wrap

Especially since they were on sale for 90% off!  The rolls of gift wrap (130 sq. ft.) was originally priced at $7.99 each.  The bag of 24 bows was originally priced at $5.99. 

"Ooh!  Shiny!"

I wouldn't pay $7.99 for a roll of wrapping paper, but, I would pay $.79.  Same for the bows.

My total would have come to $2.17.  But, I had a $2 off coupon!  So, the total came to $.17 plus $.02 tax for a grand total of $.19!

Gift Wrap Receipt

90% off sales are my favorite! 

The receipt tells me I saved $21.80, but, not really, because I wouldn't have bought them when they were full price!  The way I look at it, I saved $2 because of the coupon. 

After I came home, I relaxed and typed up my 2017 grocery spending recap.  I also took the kitchen trash out and took the big trash bin and yard waste bin to the curb for pick up, tomorrow.  Later, I did a load of laundry, which is hanging up to dry, overnight.  My friend R called and we chatted for awhile and I exchanged emails with another friend.  Still later, I video chatted with daughter.  Need to clean the litter box before going to bed.

Today's breakfast was a banana; lunch was leftover Thai food; dinner was pasta with the last of the shrimp curry, and I am having a tangerine, now.

Today, I am grateful for:
- My medication refill was approved and refilled by the pharmacy, which I feel was an answered prayer
- A bargain on gift wrap and bows
- A day off from work
- Phone calls and emails from friends
- Chatting with my daughter

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Doctor's appointment
- Bring the trash cans in
- Put gas to the car
- Put away the laundry
- Put away the dried dishes
- Do more dishes
- Clear the kitchen counters
- Cook/meal plan for the week's lunches and dinners

How was your Monday?  Did you shop at any after Christmas sales for this year's gift wrapping, etc.?  Did you find good bargains?

Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Grocery Spending Recap

I have been inspired by Nathalie who has posted her 2017 grocery spending, to do a 2017 recap of my grocery spending, too!
Here is the link to the recap of my 2016 grocery spending.

First, a few facts:
- My monthly grocery budget is for a one person household, but stretches to cover the occasional visits from my daughter.
- It covers food and beverages, only.
- It does not include any household products such as paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc. (budgeted at $10/month).
- It does not include any health and hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. (budgeted at $10/month).
- It does not include eating out/take out (budgeted at $25/month).
- Nor does it include pet food, although, very often, pet food is also purchased at the same time as my groceries. 

For the most part, my grocery budget is set at $75 per month.  I carry over any surplus and make up any over-runs in the following month or, sometimes, two.

The exceptions are in October, when I host the monthly prayer gathering and in December, when I hold the annual almsgiving.  These two special events are budgeted for separately and those budgeted amounts are added to the monthly grocery budget during those two months.

In 2017, however, I tried to keep the monthly prayer gathering budget separate from the October grocery budget, to the extent I was able, for the simple reason I had gone over budget in August, when I spent over $72 at the Sri Lankan store and I was trying to make up for it in September and October.  In September, I did a pantry challenge and managed to keep my spending down to just over $26 and made up almost $49 of the $71 I had overspent in August.  In October, I deducted the balance $22 remaining of the amount I overspent from that month's grocery budget upfront and October's grocery budget for household groceries was set at $53 (I kept account of the prayer gathering budget, separately and came well under budget for that).

2017 Grocery Budget and Spending Chart:

Budgeted $
Spent $
Balance (+) (-)
 Carried Over
$75 + $20.53 (carried over from January) = $95.53
$75 + $8.07 (carried over from March) = $83.07
$75 + $1.02 (carried over from April) = $76.02
$75 + $28.82 (carried over from June) = $103.82
$75 + $7 (carried over from July) = $82.00
  $152.97!  (Sri Lankan Store Total = $72.47!)
-$70.97 = -$71
$75 + (-$71)
 $48.91 = $49
(-$71) + $49 = -$22
$75 + (-$22) = $53
 $75 + $5.66 (carried over from Oct.) = $80.66
 - $1.09
- $1.09
$75 + $225 almsgiving budget = $300
$163.05 + (-1.09) = $164.14


* In May, I went over budget by $20.20 because I bought several packages of coffee for daughter, as it was on a good sale.  After much debate, I decided to write it off, as I was able to switch the cost of the coffee to another category.   As a result, I started off June without any debit being carried over.

** In August, I went to the Sri Lankan store, where I proceeded to spend over $72 on specialty items, mostly a stock pile of tea!  I made it up over September and October.  In September, I was able to keep my grocery spending to a little over $26 and saved almost $49 to make up a good portion of the $71 I had overspent in August, leaving $22 in the deficit at the end of September.  In October, I deducted the outstanding amount from my October budget at the beginning of the month; therefore, my regular October grocery budget was $53.

***$75x12 = $900 +  $225 = $1,125; total does not include amounts carried over from the previous months.

****This balance is mostly what was leftover from the almsgiving budget and will not be carried over to 2018 as it was diverted to cover holiday gifts!

Here is the recap from each month's grocery spending posts:  

January grocery budget = $75
Spent = $5.12 + $4.39 + $5.25 + $6.28 + $14.47 +$18.96 = $54.47
Balance = $20.53

February grocery budget = $75 + $20.53 carried over from January = $95.53
Spent = $10.11 + $24.69 + $51.28 + $9.14 = $95.22
Balance = $.31

March grocery budget = $75
Spent = $5.50 + $21.90 + $15.84 + $15.81 + $7.88 = $66.93
Balance = $8.07

April grocery budget = $75 + $8.07 (carried over from March) = $83.07
Spent = $22.24 + $21.87 + $4.55+ $23.48 + $7.40 + $2.51 = $82.05
Balance = $83.07 - $82.05 = $1.02

May grocery budget = $75 + $1.02 (carried over from April) = $76.02
Spent = $14.07 + $46.11 + $14.98 + $10.64 + $10.42 = $96.22
Balance = $76.02 - $96.22 = -$20.20

I went over budget because I spent $23.95 for 5 bags of coffee for daughter; after some discussion, I decided to pay for it from my gifts budget, since it was a gift for her and not really a part of my groceries. 

June grocery budget = $75
Spent = $7.93 + $14.17 + $9.67 + $5.18 + $9.23 = $46.18
Balance = $75 - $46.18 = $28.82

July grocery budget =  $75 + $28.82 (carried over from June) = $103.82
Spent = $34.21 + $2.59 + $35.43 + $14.30 + $4.61 + $5.65 = $96.79
Balance = $103.82 - $96.79 =  $7.03

August grocery budget = $75 + $7 (carried over from July) = $82
Spent = $54.15 + $13.65 + $12.70 + $72.47 (at the Sri Lankan store) = $152.97
Balance/Amount overspent = $82.00 - $152.97 =  -$70.97!

September grocery budget = $75 + (-$71): I didn't try to make up the entire deficit of $71 from the September budget; I thought I'd keep the spending to $40 or under and apply the balance to the deficit. 
Spent = $8.49 + $11.66 + $5.94 = $26.09
Balance = $75- $26.09 = $48.91 = $49 (I rounded it up!)
Amount overspent = $48 + (-$71) = -$22
October grocery budget = $75 + (-$22) = $53
Spent = $4.13 + $1.98 + $.61 + $5.94 + $12.04 + $3.85 + $6.56 + $3.49 + $8.74 = $47.34
Balance = $53 - $47.34 = $5.66

November grocery budget =  $75 + $5.66 (carried over from October) = $80.66
Spent = $18.75 + $4.25 + $6.92 + $41.30 + $10.53 = $81.75
Balance = $80.66 - $81.75 = - $1.09
(Daughter had been home for 15 days - 4 days over the Veteran's Day weekend and 11 days over Thanksgiving - and I hadn't adjusted the budget to accommodate another person for half the month, so going over by $1 isn't too bad!)

December Grocery/Almsgiving Budget = $300
Spent = $28.82 + $52.19 + $31.74 + $17.79 + $22.20 + $10.31 = $163.05
Balance remaining = $300 - $163.05 + (-$1.09) =  $135.86

Over all, I think I did well with my 2017 grocery budgeting.  For the most part, I kept to my budget, each month and when I did go over, I either covered it with another budget category or I made it up in subsequent months.

My monthly grocery budget in 2018 will remain $75/month.  I think this is a reasonable amount for me and one that I can maintain, as long as I keep a tight rein on those shopping sprees at the Sri Lankan store!  LOL!

How did you do with your grocery budget in 2017?  Will you keep to the same budget in 2018 as well?  Or will you make some changes?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday: Battling the Pharmacy, Again, and January Grocery Shopping Week 2

I had a fairly restful day, today.  I woke up, once, in the early part of the morning and felt rather tired, so I went back to sleep (after a visit to the bathroom) and slept in!  I still felt somewhat tired when I finally woke up, so, decided to take it easy.  Daughter called to say good morning, I had a cup of coffee, read some blogs (I am behind with my reading and commenting), and replied to blog comments.  I do thank you all for all the lovely comments you leave, really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

My neighbor T didn't call as usual at 11:00 a.m., this morning, for our weekly Sunday morning check-in.  So, I waited for a bit and called her to see if she's OK.  Apparently, she's down with a stomach flu!  I checked to see if she had been to see the doctor and she said she had and she is on medication and the BRAT diet.  I asked her if she needed anything and she said no, her daughter had been to see her and had brought her everything she needed.  Anyway, I assured her that I will be home tomorrow, if she needed anything.  I will call her again to check on her, tomorrow, too.

Later, I called the pharmacy's automatic refill line to request a refill on my prescription for the cancer medication I have been prescribed and was told the prescription order had been cancelled! What?  I spoke to the pharmacist, who said the same thing and said they will have to call the doctor on Tuesday, as tomorrow is a holiday.  Oh, dear!  I am supposed to take this medication every day and I t had just one pill remaining!  The information on the bottle said there were 4 refills remaining and the authorization is valid until September 2018!

So, I decided to go over to the pharmacy in person and do battle with the pharmacist!  LOL!  It was the right thing to do. They couldn't (or wouldn't) tell me when the cancellation had been placed on the medication or by whom - I have a feeling it is a computer glitch - but eventually, after some discussion, and me asking them what happens if I get cancer again because I didn't have my medication, they gave me 2 additional pills to take me until Tuesday, when I can call the oncologist's office and ask what on earth is going on!  I am supposed to be on this medication for at least 5 years, maybe even 10.  I can't be fighting with the pharmacy every 3 months for a refill!  Perhaps, it is something to do with the insurance switch over on the 1st of this year, but I purposely kept the same insurance coverage, just so I could avoid this type of incident!

I should have also asked about my inhaler, which they were going to put in a request for re-authorization, the last time I was at the pharmacy (on Dec. 30 or 31).  But I forgot to ask about that while I was there and, perhaps, it was for the best as they might have got confused (2 different doctors and clinics).  It could also be that the clinic didn't reauthorize the inhaler (this is the daily one I am supposed to take, 2 puffs twice a day for asthma) because they got confused since the doctor had changed my prescription for the rescue inhaler!  In any case, I'll be seeing this doctor on Tuesday, so I can ask her about it, again (I asked her, last time, too, and she was supposed to renew it then, but, apparently she didn't?)

Life was so much easier when they gave me a piece of paper with the prescriptions written on it and I could check it before I left the clinic!  These days, they are required to submit the prescriptions online and there's no way I can verify anything!  Between the clinic saying they put in the request and the pharmacy saying they didn't receive it, I am kept waiting without medications.  I have reduced my inhaler dose to 1 puff twice a day, in order to make the inhaler last until I see the doctor, next week!   I am not being negative, just stating the facts!

After that, I did my grocery shopping for the week - bread ($1.99), milk (1/2 gal., $1.99), bananas (@$.49/lb. = $.68), and tangerines (@$.50/lb = $.92):

January 14 Grocery Shopping

I didn't need anything else as I still have plenty of vegetables and some fruit from last week's shopping!

1/14 Receipt

As the receipt shows, I bought two more bags of cat food (remember, I feed all the stray cats in the neighborhood!  Yes, I am that crazy cat lady!).  Now I have an extra bag of cat food, to stock up for when I have my surgery and can't go shopping or lift weights while recovering.  I'll probably buy another couple of extra bags when I shop next, too, and might get another bucket of kitty litter, as well (for Dancer).  Daughter will come down to be with me during the week of surgery, but she'll be working from home and won't have time to run too many errands for me. 

I spent $5.58 on my groceries only (without the cat food).

January Grocery Budget = $75
Spent to date: $40.14 + $5.58 = 45.72
Balance remaining = $75 - $45.72 = $29.28

For dinner, tonight, I had some of the leftovers I had brought home from my aunt's house, and a side of cucumber slices (not pictured):

Dinner: Thai noodles, beef, shrimp, and green beans
Today, I am grateful for:
- A restful Sunday and being able to sleep in
- The pharmacist was willing to give me two additional pills to tide me until I can call the doctor's office to find out what's going on with my prescription.
- I am able to make my inhaler last until I see the other doctor on Tuesday
- A warm, sunny day
- Leftovers from the prayer gathering for dinner

Today's accomplishments include going to the pharmacy and grocery shopping, checking on my neighbor, and chatting with my daughter.

How was your Sunday?  How is your grocery budget coming along, this month?


On Saturday, I spent a relaxed morning, catching up on blogs and responding to all the comments you had posted about my walk on Friday and daughter's drawings.  Daughter thanks you all for the lovely comments about her artwork!

Later, for lunch, I tried out a new recipe and baked some rolls/muffins.  Sybil had posted a link to some dinner rolls she had made and they sounded very yummy and easy (flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and mayonnaise).  I read the reviews which said the rolls were very salty as given in the recipe (1 tsp.), and Sybil said she used no salt, at all, so, I reduced the salt to 1/2 tsp., and used Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise, since that's what I have.  But the recipe was very easy and quick to mix up.  According to the recipe, it makes 5 rolls, but I was able to make 6:

Muffin Rolls

They reminded me of baking powder biscuits, similar to the ones I like to get from my favorite fried chicken place!

Split in half to show the texture
They were very good!  I think they would be perfect with some soup!  Another time, I might add some cheese or herbs to them (some rosemary might be nice, I think).  I mentioned them to my daughter and she wanted to try them, too, so I sent her the link to the recipe and she made some, too.

After lunch, I washed all the dishes that had piled up on the sink.  I think Dancer puts them in there when I am not at home! 

In the evening, I went to the temple as they were having a special ceremony during which 1,000 tealight candles were lit as an offering of light:

Some of the 1,000 tealight/candles

After the candles were lit, blessings were chanted and refreshments served.

Then, I came home, changed out of the all white clothes I wore to the temple, and got dressed to go to the monthly prayer gathering at my aunt T's house.  My cousin and her daughter gave me a ride there and back.  It was aunt's 90th birthday, earlier this week, so, after the prayers and dinner, we presented her with a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to her.  Aunt had ordered Thai food for dinner and later, she had us all take plates of it home! 

After I came home, I chatted a bit with my daughter. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to attend the special ceremony at the temple.
- Being able to attend the monthly prayer gathering at my aunt's home.
- Being able to celebrate aunt's 90th birthday.
- My cousin giving me a ride to the prayer gathering.
- Getting together with family and friends.

How was your Saturday? 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Daughter's Week in Pictures

Today, my daughter sent me these pictures she had drawn of herself in her planner, each showing an incident from her day and the outfit she wore that day!  She drew them in what she calls "chibi" style, which features big eyes, big heads, small bodies, and exaggerated expressions; it is based on Japanese anime style of drawing.

Monday - first day back at work after two weeks of vacation, she was afraid she might have forgotten how to do her job!


Tuesday - she played a new video game and fell in love with it, she says:


Wednesday - she said she was very productive at work:

Wednesday: Note the flames of motivation in her eyes!

Thursday - she got her flu shot and received a $5 gift card!

Friday - she accidentally drowned her salad in in salad dressing!


I love how she captured the highlights of each day this way! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday's Walk

Today, I went to the office and had a relatively productive day, work-wise.  I also called the surgeon's office and left a message, telling them when my pre-op check up was scheduled.  I'll probably call them again, when the tests have been done.
Today's walk was more of an errand.  I had to go to the bank, so that's what I did during my lunch break.  The bank I go to is only a couple of blocks away from my office building, so it was a very short walk.  But on the way back, I took more pictures, this time of a set of sculptures.

Sculpture 1

As far as I know, these sculptures have no name.  There are two tall sculptures that look like headless animals with impossibly long legs, one at each end of the row of sculptures, and six big reclining abstract animal forms between them.  The six big sculptures resemble headless hippos or bears, to me, but this one looks a lot like a bloated carcass!

Sculpture 2

 Especially when viewed from this side:

Sculpture 2 - Another Angle

Or, maybe they are just blobs, as someone is supposed to have said when the sculpture was first installed!

Sculpture 3

Sculpture 4

Sculpture 5

 But this sculpture seems very poignant to me:

Sculpture 6 back

It's almost as if it was sleeping or praying:
Sculpture 6 front

The other tall sculpture at the other end of the row:

Sculpture 8

On the way back to the office, I walked through a small park which has several mature Morton Bay fig trees:

Park with Morton Bay Fig Trees

When I got closer to my office building, I noticed that, in a crack between the sidewalk and the wall, a Morton Bay fig seedling was growing as nature tries to set down roots, even among all the concrete!

Seedling Growing in a Crack

"Grow where you happen to fall, even if it seems like one of the most hostile environments!" 

After I came home, I called Aunt C to check on her (she had a dental appointment, today, and had been rather nervous about it, but she was fine, afterwards).  Later, I video chatted with daughter.  She sent me some pictures she drew - I am going to post them in a separate post. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- It being Friday and the end of the work week!
- A long weekend to look forward to, since Monday is a holiday
- Public art to see and enjoy, even if I don't understand all of it!
- Another sunny, pleasant day
- Safe commutes to work and back

Friday's To Do List:
- Leave a note for gardener friend M - DONE; he planted my grapevines (2) for me
- Go to the office - DONE
- Call the surgeon's office - DONE
- Text cousin - DONE (called aunt, too)
- Call the temple - DONE

How was your Friday?  What do you think of today's sculptures?

Thursday: Continuing the Walking Tour!

Today, I woke up feeling much better.  No light-headedness.  I guess I might have been dehydrated, yesterday.

I went to the office, as usual, and had a productive day.

I called the clinic, in the morning, and managed to schedule my pre-op check up with the doctor.  Of course, it took several calls as they claimed they hadn't received the faxed order from the surgeon's office, when I first called.  So, I had to call the surgeon's office and asked them to fax it again, which they did, I guess, because when I called the clinic back, they said they received it.  But the girl scheduling the appointments was at lunch, so I was told she'll call me back.  I stayed at my desk and ate my lunch (sandwich) at my desk and waited for her call.  She eventually called a little after 2:00 p.m. and gave me my appointment date (towards the end of the month; they said they didn't have an earlier date).  Now I need to call the surgeon's office to let them know, as they need to schedule the surgery within 10 days of the pre-op tests.  I tried calling them in the late afternoon, but I guess they were closed when I called or they had put their phones on hold! 

It was another sunny day, which warmed up from a 52F at 9:00 a.m. to 70F or so in the afternoon.  I went for my walk in the afternoon (after I had heard from the clinic).  I went in the opposite direction, when I went for my walk, today.  I took a picture of the Molecule Man, which is a sculpture showing 4 athletes coming together to congratulate each other after a game:

Molecule Man Sculpture
I probably should have tried to zoom in or crossed the street and gone closer to take the picture.  The sculpture is made of aluminum panels and are full of holes to depict the water molecules that make up over 90% of our seemingly solid bodies, according to the artist, Jonathan Borofsky.   Apparently, there are similar sculptures by the same artist in several other places, as well, including one in Berlin (depicting 3 athletes). 

Before I took the picture, I waited for two pedestrians to walk by.  One of them offered to pose for me, and when I shook my head, he offered to take a picture of me!  I laughed and said, "No, thank you".  I guess he thought I was a tourist! 

Downtown is full of public art displays; I am always passing by them when I drive, but one needs to walk to take pictures.    I took a couple of other pictures, too, of other sculptures, including this one of the Wishing Bells/To Protect and to Serve, by artist Sook Jin Jo:

Wishing Bells/To Protect and to Serve
There are nine cedar pillars and 108 bronze bells:

The 108 Bells

The 108 bells represent the Japanese custom of ringing the bells in Buddhist temples 108 times to ring out the Old Year and to ring in the New Year.

The Plaque Describing the Sculpture

I've taken it easy after I came home, this evening, too.  I called my friend R to check on her, replied to blog comments, exchanged emails with a friend, chatted online with daughter (who finally got her flu vaccination, today, and apparently received a $5 gift card in the process!) and just relaxed.  
Today, I am grateful for:
- Feeling better
- Getting my pre-ops scheduled
- Telephones and fax machines!
- Another fine afternoon in which to walk
- So many interesting public art displays to see
My accomplishments today include: going to work, scheduling my pre-ops, and going for another 30 minute walk.

Friday's To Do List:
- Leave a note for gardener friend M
- Go to the office
- Call the surgeon's office 
- Text cousin
- Call the temple

Can you believe we have already completed one-third of January?  Didn't the month just start?