A Busy Halloween Weekend

I had a pretty busy weekend. The end result is that the bedroom is ready for the trim to be nailed up and painted with a second coat, and the floor cleaned — then it will finally be DONE until the very end of our second floor renovations, when we’ll have carpeting put down. There’s no sense in doing it now, as there will still be renovating going on up there.

Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, the upstairs room was successfully repainted from yellow to lavender, as were the closets, and the trim got a coat of semi-gloss white — and I may or may not have done it entirely by myself. I plead the fifth. Let’s just say my impatience is legendary, and even more pronounced thanks to the massive amounts of hormones currently circulating throughout my body.

Saturday night was our costume party. Instead not dressing up at all and being a “Debbie Downer,” as my husband lovingly refers to me in instances such as this, I went with the second-easiest course of action: jeans, sweater, leftover devil ears and tail, and cat makeup. I felt ridiculous, but eventually forgot about the extra goop on my face. We didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m., which is a record for me in the past few months. We brought a nice bottle of wine for the hosts and I enjoyed the impressive spread put out.

Where I wasted money was on the five bags of Halloween candy I’d purchased for the holiday — we only got TWO trick-or-treaters, even though it was a Sunday. While it’s officially our second Halloween in our current home, we weren’t home last year, so I had no idea how many kids to expect. Next year, someone remind me that one bag will be more than sufficient.

On Monday I’ll be doing my invoice billing for October while waiting for the utility company to send a guy over to repair a gas line I had capped last summer. Our all-season porch room has its own gas heater, but last year we discovered the gas line was leaking. Since I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the heater back there, I just had the guy cap the line, but now I want it repaired. I should have had them fix it the first time — now this guy will have to crawl all the way back in the storage space under the room to do the repair. But I’m going to want to keep that room warm once the baby comes. In the case of a C-section where I can’t really do the stairs, I can use the room as a bedroom, thanks to the futon we have back there. And in general, it gets really cold back there, since the ductwork for our main forced-air heat was never extended into that room.

I’ll also have to squeeze in some grocery shopping. Then it will be nap time and yet another late shift at work, starting at 5 p.m.

Spending Blitz, and a Color Change

This is why I usually never go out for lunch at work: I tend to head to Target, Kohl’s or Home Depot. More often than not, it’s for an item or two that I need. Then I start tacking on purchases as I wander around the store.

Tuesday

Last weekend, I decided I hated the soft yellow we used in what will be the baby’s bedroom. My father had graciously lent his talents to the job, but I knew he and Mr. NSF were not too into the shade. Me, I thought, “Yellow will go with anything!” Oh, how wrong I was about that. Once we found out we were having a girl, I started to look at bedding and decor options. Almost nothing has yellow in it. Not even a smidgen of the color is present in most items. I probably should have looked beforehand, but hey, what did I know. And I never change my mind about things like this — who am I, again? But since we have yet to put up the trim (heaven help me, if this room doesn’t get done by Thanksgiving, I WILL LOSE MY MIND — it’s been a year since we started this project), we’re going to repaint the walls.

So on Tuesday, I went to Home Depot to pick up the new paint. Two gallons of lavender (we need to do the closets, too, since they’re a pukey green color circa 1964) set me back $50. Then I decided to get 2 pretty switchplates for the light switches, along with 7 other cheaper, plastic covers for the outlets. Another $20 gone.

Total Spent: $73

Wednesday

On this day, I trekked to the Kohl’s by my job with the intention of getting one more pair of maternity jeans (bringing my pants total to 3) and a pair of brown flats, since everything I own has heels and my back just won’t allow me to wear them anymore. In this case, I found the jeans, but apparently brown shoes aren’t on trend this year. Instead, I filled that void with a new bra (hey, the girls got bigger), a new necklace and bracelet to update my tired accessories I’ve been wearing for the past 5 years, and two baby outfits I couldn’t pass up at $6 each. I did have a 20% coupon to use on top of the sale prices and received $10 in Kohl’s cash for my spending trouble. But there was still wallet damage.

Total Spent: $71

Thursday

Target. Or as we like to call it all fancy and French-like, Tar-jay. That big red bull’s eye is a pretty darned good magnet for my money. The intent on this trip was to purchase Halloween candy and try to find those elusive brown flats. And pick up the double pack of contact solution for an insane $4.39. I had with me a 20% off coupon good for a pair of shoes, $2.50 in candy coupons and a $.50 store coupon for the solution. After all was said and done, I wound up with 5 bags of candy (for the 5-10 kids we hope to expect on Halloween), the contact solution, Scotch tape, iced cookies to bring to a party on Saturday and a sweet pair of real-suede brown flats lined with fake sheepskin for $11.99 after the coupon.

Total Spent: $41.15

The good news is that I haven’t spent too much money lately, other than on groceries, gas and bills. Oh, and on Mr. NSF’s crazy Halloween costume fiasco. I did splurge on a manicure/pedicure for $20 and on a haircut (I go a whopping 3 times a year), but I’ve also had a really good month for freelance work, most of which will be padding our savings account once the checks come in.

Now I have to start thinking about Christmas.

Choosing a Halloween Costume, the Hard Way

Not Mr. NSF's costume this year... or is it?

I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween. While I (sort of) think it’s cute when little kids get all dressed up, I can’t say the same for myself. Each year, dear friends invite us to a Halloween costume party, and every year, I acquiesce. I suck it up and head to one (or six) Halloween store each year to pick out a costume I’m sure to hate. I’ve yet to actually enjoy a costume as an adult, so why would I start now?

Mr. Not-So-Frugal goes crazy over Halloween every year, at least when it comes to costumes. No homemade costumes for him — we have to buy some gruesome mask and prefab outfit that immediately starts unraveling once you take it out of its non-returnable package. Most years, have to make some sort of alteration to it.

This year is no exception. After a long day of driving around the northern part of the state and running errands on Saturday, we still had to stop at three stores for the magical Halloween costume for Mr. NSF. He had some idea of what he wanted, but couldn’t quite get it together. He didn’t find exactly what he had in mind and we finally headed home, where I was free to ignore his costume ramblings.

At the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, he was out of the house. He hit not one, but TWO Halloween stores, and came home with a mask from one and the rest of the costume from another. When he heard me stirring awake and hitting the head (my morning pee is now so long, it puts Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own to shame), he jumped into the costume and decided to scare the crap out of me soon as I emerged from the bathroom. After taking off said costume and shaking it at the cat, who proceeded to run like a bat out of hell throughout the house to get away from it, Mr. NSF realized the costume was damaged. This was followed by a second realization — he absolutely was not happy with said costume. Well, that lasted all of 3 hours.

This necessitated a trip during halftime to store #2, where he COULD return the $29.99 costume. The $15 mask that went with it, from store #1, was not returnable. He came home with a completely different costume, also costing another $29.99.

I won’t reveal his sacred costume here lest I ruin the “surprise” part of dressing up for our friends’ costume party. And also because, who knows, perhaps he’ll change his mind AGAIN. After all, he still has 4 days to find yet another costume…

You may be wondering what I’ll be wearing to the party. If I have my way, I’ll be using my bulging baby bump to get out of dressing up for this ‘holiday’ celebration. Don’t get me wrong — I’m more than happy to hang out with my friends and nosh on all the delicious food and chocolate. But the costumes, I can do without.

Just show the pregnant lady the candy, and no one gets hurt!

The Worst Halloween Treats, Ever

As an adult, I just can’t get behind Halloween. Sure, I go to costume parties almost every year, but the holiday just doesn’t have the same allure for me that it has for many others who start getting excited about it when September rolls around (my husband is included in this bunch). As a kid, it’s a time to play dress-up and beg for the candy you’ve been deprived of all year — and then eat it with reckless abandon until you either fall into a diabetic coma or your parents come to their senses and take it away.

But some of the “candy” — well, it was absolutely useless. Mere filler in our trick-or-treat bags (yes, we used bags. I believe they glowed in the dark, too). Here’s the worst of the worst, from what my poor memory allows me to remember.

The Crappiest Halloween “Treats” of the 1980s

Necco Wafers. If I wanted a chalky, near-tasteless wafer, I’d go to church and receive communion! C’mon, now.

100 Grand. In my entire life, I’ve never seen anyone go out to the store and pick up a 100 Grand bar of their own volition. This nasty candy only comes out of the woodwork at Halloween — probably because it’s on sale and people are trying to buy the cheapest candy they can find.

Mary Janes. What were these? I don’t think I ever ate one — I knew they weren’t chocolate! Wikipedia tells me it’s a taffy-like “candy” made of molasses and peanut butter. And… wait for it… they’re made by NECCO. Well, that explains it.

Chunky. A hunk of chocolate (so far, so good) with peanuts AND raisins. #candyfail

A stack of pennies — wrapped in tape. We had a neighbor up the street who was nice enough, but when it came to trick-or-treaters, she decided handing out pennies was the way to go. But we had to give her props for taking the time to put them in nice little stacks kept together with Scotch tape.

Circus peanuts. I’m pretty certain I received some of these, loose, on one or two Halloweens. Ew.

Apples. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just plain ol’ apples — not even the candied kind. If we wanted healthy snacks, would we be out begging for candy? Luckily for us, all those myths (and some actual instances here in New Jersey) of sickos putting razorblades and pins in apples saved us from this Halloween indignity.

Boxes of raisins. Same thing as the apples. I put raisins on my cereal as a kid, so they had a healthy connotation. These were also left in the trick-or-treat bag to rot.

Treats I loved

Rollerball pens. Back in the 80s, I thought this was a super-cool alternative to candy. I didn’t know this neighbor well, so I don’t know what he did for a living. Maybe he was a dentist and abhorred the idea of giving out sweets. No matter his reasoning, I applaud his ingenuity, and love this type of pen to this day.

Bags of chips. Further up the street, about 2 blocks away, was the house where they gave out the snack-size bags of chips. Naturally, by nature of their larger size (but not weight, of course), we thought we hit the jackpot. To this day, this family owns a popular grease truck from which they sell hot dogs and these blessed bags of potato chip goodness.

Full-size candy bars. Perhaps these neighbors were just trying to outdo the rest of the block, but as kids, we thought they were the bee’s knees.

I’m sure some of you can scare up some horror stories about your Halloween trick-or-treat booty. Let’s hear ’em!

Budgeting for Baby

It’s truly time to do something I never do — write out a budget. On paper. Something we can try to stick to when the baby arrives and all of our spending priorities change.

Right now, our “budget” is in my head. I just know what we can spend, and what we can’t. We manage our finances well, so it’s not too difficult at the moment. Although I have been spending more on groceries lately, due to my voracious appetite.

But once diapers, doctors visits and all of the “preparatory” spending come into play, it’s a whole new ballgame. And then there will be infant daycare, the costs of which are going to be more than $1,000 a month, most likely. I’ll have to start pricing that out and making phone calls soon, too.

I have dreams of convincing the hubby to drop some of our ridiculous platinum-level Verizon FIOS features — the movie channels alone cost $30/month, but I know that’s Mr. NSF’s biggest interest. He doesn’t have hobbies, unless you call watching every move ever made a hobby. We do have four cable boxes. We can easily get rid of two of those, the basement and in the bedroom. That leaves our main television in the living room and the one in our four-season porch room, which is going to make a fantastic playroom, thanks to a door I can close and lock away all the toys and clutter — obviously, when the baby isn’t back there.

So I need to stop planning and start doing when it comes to this budget.

It’s incredibly humbling to know that every financial step — and misstep — that we make will have an effect on our daughter. And that encourages me to become even more frugal in our everyday lives, so that we can meet all of her needs and spoil her a bit.

Water Conservation in Our House

As we got ready to head out for the day on Saturday, Mr. NSF decided it was time for a shave. What drives me nuts about this is that he runs the hot water full-bore the entire time, while all he needs it for is to rinse the razor. Can’t the same be accomplished with a bit of water stopped up in the sink or by turning on the tap just at the times he needs to clear the gunk off the razor? I shave in the shower, so maybe I’m just as bad when it comes to wasting water. When I brought it up to Mr. NSF, he said, “You’re going to get on me for running the water during my once or twice a week shave?” I suppose not, but it irks me. He’s also the only man I know who rocks a beard during the week for work (cleaning up the neck area) and goes fresh-faced on the weekends. Of course, this also means the man can actually grow a beard in about two days flat.

I feel similarly about the dishwasher. Although it’s my favorite appliance in the entire house, I wonder if I’m wasting water when I use it. Naturally, I only run it when it’s full, which means once a week around here. But does it use more water than if I’d just done the dishes in the sink? I’ll have to do some research on that to figure it out.

I know we don’t use a ton of water, because our water bill only costs $30-$35 per quarter for the two of us in our 1,900-square-foot home. But I still love to conserve water whenever we can.

Conserving Water Tips

1. Don’t run the water when brushing your teeth. I never do this. In fact, I used a cup full of water to rinse for years. Now, I just turn on the tap a bit when I’m done to rinse my toothbrush and mouth.

2. Don’t allow the water to flow while shaving. Like I said before, this drives me bananas. Use the stopper and fill up the sink halfway. Use this water to clean your razor.

3. Always run the dishwasher and washing machine when full. You’ll never catch me doing a load of dishes  or laundry for just a few things.

4. Let your lawn go brown. There’s really is no need to water the lawn every day, other than for vanity’s sake. The only time I’ve done this was when we seeded a few bare spots. Unless your area is in a drought, the lawn will survive. And if you are in a drought, leave the water hose alone! I also saw an interesting article about “drought-resistant lawns” — instead of grass, the lawn is landscaped with plants and greenery that don’t require much water to survive.

These are the things I do to conserve water. Anything I’m missing?

Sick in the Head

I’m home sick — with a cold or sinus infection, I’m not sure which. But I have a crazy runny nose, a headache that could put down a boxer and the requisite cough that goes with it all. I feel like my head is stuffed with all sorts of nasty things.

And I can’t take any medicine to make me feel better because I’m pregnant. So that means I’ll just be heading back to bed to suffer.

I love you, little girl, but this no-medicine thing is going to make me crazy if I continue to get sick through the fall/winter, as I usually do.

Got my flu shot a few weeks ago, so hopefully I won’t get that this year. I was good with it last year, too — no flu, after having gotten the flu twice in each of the previous seasons.

Perhaps later I’ll indulge in a cup of decaf tea, but for now, this little mama is headed back to bed.