It's Sunday. Can't say I have monumental happenings to report, but I have been busy.
My church has a small group of ladies who have a group called Stitches of Love. I asked about joining although my crocheting isn't super fancy and was told to come and they would show me what I needed to know. It's kind of a neat idea -- they make items and donate them. They use knitting looms and in the two hours I was there, I made and finished a hat for a preemie. One lady was working on an adult hat that will be donated to either a homeless shelter or a group home, and another lady was crocheting a lap robe for a nursing home. Other people were making different things too. This goes along with my challenge I posted about making a scarf to donate to a homeless shelter. I will admit it made me desire a loom so I did go out and buy a set (the box of looms were on sale). I have finished the scarf and even made a hat to go with it using the loom. I can now work on other stuff at home as well attend the group. The ladies told me not to buy yarn because they have a cabinet of it that has been donated so I look forward to seeing what they have.
I have also been crocheting Christmas ornaments out of crochet thread and I found a small table top Christmas tree that I'm going to decorate with them and donate them to the church for the bazaar. At a thrift shop last spring I found a brand new candlewick Christmas stocking and I finished it a few weeks ago and sewed the stocking and other than ironing it, it will be ready to donate to the bazaar this fall.
I have canned a little more this week. Since DH's garden is small, I get things in smaller increments, but I don't mind because I can a little at a time. It all adds up.
Ten years ago I visited the Teachers Retirement System to start the plan for my retirement. Because I had been hired and worked a number of years when the TRS deduction was lower, they had something that was a 2.2 upgrade. A number of years ago to help with the pension fund, the amount deducted was raised. It not only helped TRS, but also would help with one's own pension down the road. The lady I talked with suggested I pay the 2.2 upgrade for the years I worked before this rate hike. She said it was a good deal because if I didn't need it for my pension, I would get it back with interest. Not a lot of interest, but some. I received a letter stating that I would get it refunded to me and I could either take it as a payment or roll it over into a Roth. I, of course, rolled it over. So glad I paid that money a number of years ago. Although it was my money, it felt like found money when I heard I would get it refunded.
DH's birthday is coming up in September. I asked him what he wanted and one item he asked for was a pair of shoes like the ones he likes from Lands End. I scored a great deal...I had received a 30% off offer in an email and because we weren't in any hurry, also wound up with free shipping. I felt that was a very good deal. The shoes weren't supposed to arrive until the end of next week -- we received them a day after I ordered. I know that was a fluke because they probably aren't busy, but it felt like a bonus nonetheless.
It's Sunday. Can't say I have monumental happenings to report, but I have been busy.
Yesterday DH and I went to a couple of big antique malls north of us. We bought a couple of things at each, spent less than $40 at both, but had a great time looking.
One was in El Paso, IL. It's a small town north of Bloomington. We've been there before and they often have different things than what we see around our town. Years ago when Mary Engelbreit was hot, DH would buy me small things for my birthday and Christmas. We didn't have a lot of places to shop for it. One vendor had more Mary Engelbreit stuff that we've ever viewed before. I didn't realize she had that much merchandise out. We didn't buy any of it, but it was fun to look.
The other antique mall was in Peru, IL. It boasts 30,000 square feet. I believe it. It was almost overwhelming to look at so much stuff. Again, we saw some different things. One thing we really liked was a Morris chair by Stickley. A big name in mission furniture. Pretty cool to look at. We didn't even entertain the notion of buying it -- it was priced at $2,500. A little much for our pocketbook. But fun, nevertheless.
It's funny seeing how things are being sold in cycles. My friend collects Platzgraff Villager stuff. Her grandmother bought her a set of it a number of years ago when it was a hot commodity to buy these dishes. I remember she broke a cup and when we were going around looking a number of years ago, she showed me one and asked me to find a replacement if I could. It wasn't easy. Well, it seems that most antique places now have tons of the stuff for sale. We found some unique items for her yesterday...I didn't tell her what, but told her she will have a surprise for Christmas!
It's wasn't a super spendy day other than the gas -- we drove a little over 200 miles for the round trip and we did eat supper out. But, a local told us a reasonable restaurant and our supper was about $20 with tip and it was a decent meal so we didn't feel like we were hurt. We also picked up an Illinois state publication that lists all the antique shops in Illinois by city. So that may be quite a find in and of itself.
I've been reading up a storm this summer. I finished book #67 for 2016 a few days ago. It was actually a fictional tome by John Grisham called "The Street Lawyer" and is about a very well paid attorney who decides to leave the big firm to help the homeless. I don't know why, but it truly spoke to me that perhaps I could do a little more than I do.
I put a challenge on Facebook asking people who crochet or knit to make either a hat or scarf and donate it to one of the organizations that helps our local homeless. I didn't ask for gloves because a friend of mine who manages the homeless center says that although anything is appreciated, they prefer specific lined gloves for the best protection for fingers. I did encourage anyone who didn't craft to perhaps purchase an item and donate it. I didn't want to leave anyone out.
It's kind of funny...the people who said they would get busy making something are the ones who aren't what you would call rich. Yet they are the ones who eagerly volunteered.
I found some beautiful soft yarn and started a scarf. I've made scarves before so I didn't go with a pattern. I wound up tearing it all out last night and starting over because I found an error. I really want it to be something nice for someone.
Anyway, do you respond to challenges like this? I do sometimes, but I don't like the ones that ask for a lot. Most folks I know unless they are broke don't mind donating one small thing or making one small thing.
About this time of year folks complain that they don't know what to do with zucchini. DH doesn't grow it and we don't usually get a lot of it given to us. Last week we went to an open air market and bought some zucchini. I fix it year around anyway, but found this recipe in the Chicago Tribune a couple of weeks ago in Leah Eskin's column.
Savory Zucchini Clafouti
3 pounds young zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs
2 large shallots, chopped
2 T olive oil
1 T butter for pan
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 t vanilla
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t fresh thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon
Toss zucchini and shallots with olive oil and roast in a single layer in a 425 degree oven, turning zucchini over once for about 35 minutes until golden brown.
Butter a 9 inch round baking pan, sprinkle with half of the cheese
Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, flour, vanilla, 1/2 t salt, and a few grinds of pepper, set aside
When vegetables are roasted, toss with thyme, zest, salt, and pepper to taste. Let cool a few minutes.
Scrape vegetables into the prepared pan. Pour in egg mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese. Set on a rimmed baking sheet and slide onto center rack of a 425 degree oven. Bake until clafouti is brown, slightly puffed, and set (knife stabbed in the center should come out clean) 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a bit. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
I made this last night and DH liked it. Thought I would share.
Today is the official day of my retirement. A group of us went out for breakfast. We met at a local place and it was funny, when this restaurant posted their lunch and dinner menu on Facebook, they congratulated me on my first official day of retirement. Kind of cool!
...and I'm not going! Tomorrow is when retirement truly becomes real. It has seemed like summer break for me, so when teachers and students return, it will hit me that I'm really retired.
I have had so many people ask me if I'm going to substitute teach. I don't intend to. I guess it's a way to make extra money, but if I wanted to make extra money, I would have continued working. I subbed when I first started out -- I was told I had to sub and prove myself before I could get hired full time so I subbed and worked a couple of other jobs besides to make it until I was hired full time as a classroom teacher. Then I also worked some freelancing for awhile because back then teacher salaries were pretty darn low.
The other thing that people have asked is what I intend to do with myself. I hope they are just making conversation, but do they really think I have to be accountable to them? I have worked over 30 years in education, and I've worked at outside jobs since I was 16. Before that, my folks had a used furniture business and later an antique shop and it was expected that I help with them so it isn't like I'm lazy. I'm not planning on watching videos and eating bon bons all day. But, I'd like to actually do some things fun that I couldn't do because I worked or didn't have the money.
This has been a busy week. DH and I went to a play at a nearby theatre and it was a blast. Yesterday we went to an outdoor market in a small town about two hours away and enjoyed looking around and then visiting the shops on the square. We didn't buy much, but the experience was pleasurable and something a little different. I have canned some green beans and some tomatoes this week, did some volunteer work at church, and even helped my former principal with something. And, I finished book 66 for this year Friday night.
We ate supper out last night and I told DH this is why I took my lunch all those years, took coffee to work in a Thermos, and we ate at home so much and had so many leftovers...so if we wanted to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy the experience, we could because we had the money. I'm spending some money as we saw the play and then took the short trip. But, it is money we saved and we paid cash for stuff.
We were talking to another couple and I had posted the photo of my pantry with my canned goods on Facebook and they happened to mention it. The woman informed me she wouldn't can because it smells up the house. Granted, when I canned the small amount of onions we had, yes, it did smell some, but green beans and tomatoes aren't super stinky. I felt like she dismissed me as the poor relative. Maybe so, but I can't see all of DH's hard work in the garden go to waste and I think eating these vegetables is probably pretty healthy for us. I shouldn't let her comments get to me; she usually has something to say that I find hurtful. I'm sure having some tomatoes in a soup or chili this winter will make it all go down that much more smoothly and the hurtful remarks will hopefully be forgotten.
On to book #67!
On an earlier blog, I mentioned DH's cucumber seemed to have a blight. Fortunately only one of the two plants did, and we have been getting some cucumbers. I made pickles yesterday and they are canned and in the pantry. Some we will use and some I will give away at Christmas.
Right now, our tomatoes are going very well. DH has a very small garden area, but what he does have, we are making the best use of it. We had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and when given the choice for eating, DH likes regular tomatoes sliced. So, I juiced the cherry tomatoes and canned that.
Unfortunately we don't have room for growing green beans, but someone we know does. We are going to go and buy some today. I've been buying them all along and canning them so we will have them. This may be the last go around however because the extreme heat earlier made the beans stop, then we had better weather, and it's been hot here, cooled down a couple of days, and it is supposed to heat up again.
I don't know if we truly "save" money by buying the beans, but I know I like knowing where they came from and since I don't can them with salt, I figure it is a health benefit. I have a pie safe that I am using for a pantry and it is full with beans, pickles, tomatoes, onions, and jelly. I will have to find further storage as I continue to can, but what a good problem to have!
Today didn't turn out the way we had a anticipated. We were supposed to see a play in St. Louis this afternoon, but DH got up with a severe tummy ache and we didn't think we could chance it. He's still pretty weak and tired. We had to lose the money, but better than getting hours from home and getting really sick.
I am trying to stay quiet while he rests so I've been doing some decluttering and organizing. I had a drawer where I kept writing paper and cards. I had gotten an accordion file free a number of years ago, so I decided to organize the birthday, thank you, sympathy, get well, and plain cards using it. I also had holiday cards, but not enough spaces to put them. But, I sorted everything before I started. How in the world I have ended up with about 25 extra envelopes is beyond me. I'm not throwing them out. I'll probably find a use for them somewhere down the road. Most of the cards I purchased at thrift stores and flea markets. One place we frequent, I had bought a package of different cards and the next time I came in, she gave me two more packets and said she noticed I bought cards the last time and since we frequently come in to look, she thought I'd like them. That was especially kind of her. I guess I'm old fashioned, but I like sending cards and notes. I write an elderly friend of mine once a week and I try to use different paper or cards so it gives her something different to look at.
A number of years ago DH and I went on a trip and he found a hand painted lighthouse clock that he liked. The clock itself was just a round clock, but when I had looked around at different shops, I couldn't find a replacement. I was looking today at a clock I had purchased at a thrift shop a couple of years ago for a dollar. While I was dusting it, the clock popped out. It made me think maybe it might fight the one DH really likes. It does and DH is a happy boy. Wish I had thought of it sooner!
Years ago I found some small pillows and my mom had made cases for them. DH uses one in each vehicle to support his back. He claims they are too soft and folds them up. I took an old shirt of his and recovered one and put more stuffing in it to make it more solid. He says he likes it, so I'm going to do the same with the other. I had been saving that shirt for a couple of months until I got around to doing it. I don't have a sewing machine so sewing it by hand takes awhile. Unfortunately DH has gone through his closet since then and has donated a bunch of clothes so I don't have another shirt. We were out thrifting yesterday and I found a shirt that I think will work. It was far cheaper to buy the shirt than it was to buy the material. The funny thing is the I bought the stuffing at a garage sale one of DH's friends was having selling her mom's stuff. The stuffing must have been purchased in the 80s or 90s because that's when the store closed. It was very clean, still sealed, and the whole bag was 50 cents. I bet I didn't even use half of it so I'll have enough to do this other pillow.
I did some canning this week. I added to the pantry by canning some green beans and tomato juice.
Supper will be bland tonight since DH isn't feeling his best. That's OK. I don't mind bland. It was kind of nice catching up on some housework and organization today.
Hope you have a great weekend.
I'm getting that feeling I get about this time of the year.
No, it isn't horrible, just a feeling that while I'm canning, I might run of out jars. I have stocked up, washed up, and been buying jars at garage sales.
I always think I have enough, but sometimes we get more bounty than I have jars. A good problem to have.
Part of the problem is I sometimes share stuff with folks, and I ask them to please return the jar and the ring when they are done. One couple is faithful about doing so. But so many aren't.
Am I the only one who has this issue?
Like many of you, I have some projects I have on my to do list.
One of them I was dreading was the pantry. I'm glad I have a pantry. It's not huge, but helpful to have. It's a reach in, not a walk in, but I tend to get lazy and things get really unorganized. So, this time I took everything out. I got rid of some things. I moved a few things around.
I have been looking on Pinterest for organization ideas. I really didn't want to spend any more money on baskets and such. I had purchased a couple of wire racks a number of years ago and I still use them. But, I really wanted to figure out to use what I already had.
I am going to admit I love baskets. I don't buy the expensive ones, but I buy them at thrift stores. Anyway, I thought instead of going to the Dollar store and buying plastic bins and baskets, why not use what I already had. I won't say it is photographic perfect, but my little pantry sure looks a lot better and other than some elbow grease and moving stuff around, it sure looks better.
Plus, I recycled some things I no longer use and gave them to a thrift store. So, maybe it was a win-win for the thrift store and my home. Hopefully organization will help me save money by seeing what I already have.
I haven't had too much to blog about lately. I'm not complaining, mind you. Just trying to figure out a routine that works.
I did wind up spending some money for a new exercise bike. We had been hitting thrift stores and garage sales, but couldn't find one. Yes, there were a couple out there, but the speedometer didn't work on either of them. I didn't care about the speed, but wanted to keep track of the miles. My former exercise bike's display quit working a couple of months ago and then it started having issues with the chain. Neither DH and I are mechanical enough to figure out the chain and since I had purchased it used a number of years ago, we figured I had gotten my money out of it. We did take it in to the place and since they sell both used and new, they gave me ten bucks for it. I felt that was a deal because I didn't have to pay the garbage man or think it would go into a landfill. Maybe someone else can fix it and get some use out of it.
Yesterday we went through kitchen cabinets and got rid of drinking glasses and mugs. DH wasn't thrilled with the prospect at first, but afterwards, he was OK with is since we can now see what we have and not have to stack glasses. I went through the pantry as well. We will be eating some things that are close to the use by date. I also got rid of some items that I could donate. A few years ago I bought a lunch Crockpot at the church rummage sale. It was handy to take lunches in. I still worked so I donated it. Donated a bunch of other stuff today as well as mugs and glasses. I like the fact the pantry is organized. I've been checking out Pinterest for ideas. The only sad thing is most of the pantries shown are walk in; mine is a reach in. But there were a few and I did get some ideas. It looks better and hopefully I can keep it tidy.
It's supposed to heat up this week. I know it is summer, but we had a hot and humid June. Fortunately we don't have any major appointments that we have to do this week.
Due to the extreme heat, no one at the Farmer's Markets has had green beans. One of the stores did get some in from Florida and they were on sale. I canned 12 quarts and one pint of green beans this week. DH dug up some of the onions he planted and I canned 7 pints of those. My pantry is starting to fill again. That makes me happy.
It's been an interesting financial week to say the least.
Almost 30 years ago I started a 403b. I had met this person who was a financial advisor and although I didn't know squat about retirement accounts, I knew I had to do something besides a savings account and a checking account. Since I was a teacher, he said I qualified for a 403b. It was with Lincoln Financial and through the years, it really seemed to be going OK, except when we had the huge recession.
Then the feds decided to change the rules and school districts had to do some other things. The way I understand it, they could be liable for financial things if they handled it on their own, so my district hired a company called Gatekeeper that would take care of sending my pretax 403b. Except the catch was I could no longer use Lincoln, I had to use one of the 5 companies they worked with. I wasn't happy that the first three payments didn't go to the right company that I chose and so I lost out on some interest until Gatekeeper finally got their act together and put it with the company I chose. This company hasn't had the same dividends that Lincoln did either. So, now that I'm retired, I called my financial advisor and asked if there was any way to move my 403b from this later company to Lincoln. Unfortunately, no. But, I have learned a couple of things while all these queries have taken place. First of all, because of the federal rules put in place, anytime I want to take money out of my 403b, I have to get a form filled out from the district stating I am retired and I am not working anymore. Really? This is my money. It isn't like I was going to take it out and squander it.
So, the financial advisor came up with another plan. Roll the 403b money into an IRA so we can eventually remove it from the company and park it in another IRA that makes better interest. Easier said that done, apparently. The company told the financial advisor that we had to have a letter from the district and then fill out a written request. So, they typed all that up and I took it to the payroll department. The very nice lady shook her head and said no, since Gatekeeper was the one that "handled" your money, you have to fill out this form to get permission to request to do anything with your money. Sheesh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. So, I am going to return to my financial advisor's office with the "official" form so we can start over. Somehow the skeptic in me thinks someone somewhere got a pay off to make it so difficult to get access to what is my money. All I want to do is put it someplace that pays something.
We had our financial overview for our car and home insurance this week. Never had one before. I was afraid it was going to be one long sales pitch. I was very pleasantly surprised. We took some things off the homeowners (jewelry being one rider) since I have sold most of the jewelry I had other than my wedding set.
Unfortunately DH's cucumber plants have a blight. I have gotten a few cucumbers, but the plant is starting to look sickly. This is the first time he has tried to grow them. We purchased some cucumbers at the Farmer's Market and with the few from his plant, I made sweet pickles yesterday. I also made apple jelly. DH likes apple juice with Sunday brunch and after reading articles on store bought juice containing arsenic, especially those from apples from China, I make juice for him. I apparently have gotten overzealous and had lots of juice, so I decided to make jelly. So, I have some jars of pickles and jelly for the pantry.
DH's small garden is starting to produce. We had been getting lettuce and had some radishes and onions. He replanted the radishes so we are waiting on them. But, we had some cherry tomatoes, a cucumber, and a bell pepper along with lettuce yesterday. I made a nice fresh salad for supper. We have shared some of the lettuce with a couple of people since we have more than we can eat. One person begged us for any extra garden stuff. We had extra lettuce so I gave it to her husband and never heard a word from her. I finally messaged her and she hadn't gotten around to using it. Makes me think she was more in love with the idea of having fresh produce than actually eating it.
We hit the garage sales today and found some nice things. Scored a brand new in the box Cuisinart food processor for $20. Also found some table runners that were very nice and very reasonable. We went to some sales that we didn't buy anything, but we figure getting out of the car and walking around was at least good exercise.
No big July 4th plans here which is fine. The weather forecasters are calling for rain on Sunday and we need it badly. Supposedly it won't mess up the afternoon/evening festivities for the holiday, but as much as the farmers need rain, even if it did, it would be a blessing.
Still waiting on news of my pension. All the paperwork has been turned in. Supposedly pension pay day is the first weekday of the month. I checked the bank account and no money so I guess and hope it comes through in August.
Hope you all have a wonderful July 4th.
It's funny how once I get used to doing something, it becomes the "new normal." We eat a lot of chicken, and I often make chicken broth and put it in the freezer. During the winter I use herbs I've dried and during the summer I use fresh herbs. Many of my friends think I'm crazy when I can just buy it. Why buy chicken broth when I can make it for next to nothing? Sheesh. Plus, I know what's in it and I don't use salt for health reasons.
I finished book 45 this morning. It was one by Joanne Fluke who has a series. I've read this one before, but it has been years and it was nice to revisit it. I really like mysteries (DH calls them cozy mysteries) and I've gotten hooked on the books that are Amish fiction. Granted, they are fairly predictable, but sometimes that's just nice to kind of let go. I perused the mystery section and found a new author I'm going to try. I've not read any by this writer and there are three in the series so I checked all three out. These aren't in the new section so it isn't like I'm keeping anyone else from reading them. I finished a newer Mary Higgins Clark over the weekend and returned it quickly because I imagine someone else will enjoy reading it.
I finally received the documentation on what I needed to pay for my penalty for my pension and we drove it over Monday afternoon. I received an email Tuesday saying it was processed and now they will take 6-8 weeks to determine what my benefits will be before depositing my first check. Fortunately we have money in savings if truly takes that long. I think about some of the folks I've worked with and many of them probably didn't have anything in savings and were desperate by the time their first check came around.
Supper is a mixture of leftover stuff. We went to Aldi and Kroger earlier today for our weekly trip, but I like using up what we have before starting new on the weekly meals.
DH has been keeping our garden going by watering. It has been extremely hot here in Central Illinois. Some parts of Illinois received a decent rain yesterday, but we only received about a tenth of an inch. This is the first year he planted two cucumber plants and it is hilarious hearing him talk about how they are taking over. He has put stakes in the ground and is training them to grow up, but he thinks the plant may be knocking on the door to get in at some point. We haven't had any ripe tomatoes yet, but there are a few cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn; DH is already drooling for the taste of the first one.
Hope you are staying cool and hydrated if it is as hot where you are.
We attended church today and part of the message was a parable in which a lamb is talking to his father saying how jealous he was of the pigs wallowing in the cool mud on such a hot day.
Papa Sheep told the lamb not to think about getting in the mud because "lambs don't wallow."
Of course the lamb waited until papa was out of sight and jumped in the pig pen and oozed into that cool mud...but the mud not only stuck to his legs, but to his coat as well and he became stuck. He cried for help and the farmer came and rescued him and cleaned him before putting him back in the fold. The father told the lamb the reason you don't get in the mud is we aren't like pigs, we get stuck in the mud so we don't wallow like them.
The message was basically this: we need to listen to our dad's advice.
A pretty cute parable for Father's Day, don't you think?
So, what advice did your dad give you that has served you well? One thing my dad always encouraged me to do was if anyone ever offered to teach me something, let them because you never know when it will come in handy.
How true that was. Long story short, I worked for a small newspaper in the late 70s. One of the typesetters called in sick so the other one after press time asked me if I wanted to learn to typeset. I said yes, and she did. That little education helped me pay for my college because it was a skill that I could use to make money.
I am just plain frustrated. I'm not good at waiting to begin with, but this is about to drive me crazy. My first official day of retirement was May 24, but the retirement system had to wait until the district sent the information to them. Now I'm waiting until I hear from them to pay the penalty I have to pay for early retirement. I feel like I'm playing the waiting game. I called last week and was told that if I don't get my first pension check in July, I will get it in August which sounds good, but it will have the last few days of May, June, and July on it. The taxes will take a chunk out if all of it is included. Ouch.
DH and I did the grocery shopping today. We used to do it on Friday, but I'm trying to change over to Thursday. Aldi didn't have a couple of things, but the manager was checking us out and he asked if he found everything and I told him about two things they didn't have. He asked us to wait until he checked out the next person and he would go look in the back. Sure enough he did and they did have one item we wanted. That was kind of him. Kroger sent us some coupons on things we normally buy so that helped. A couple of my friends are like me and they cook and eat home a lot. We talk about what we fix and get ideas from each other. I sometimes think we spend a lot on groceries, but then I think how much it would cost to eat out a lot like some of the people I know do.
Speaking of eating out, DH and I did eat at a relatively expensive place last night for our 26th anniversary. We each had a beef filet and it was a delicious supper. And we paid cash for it!
Today's news about the massacre in Orlando has made it sad for our country. People who left their homes to go and have a nice time were shot. Why one person's hate can destroy so much is unfathomable. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Makes me want to hug my DH and friends just a little tighter. Sigh.
DH has put in a small garden. He has planted radishes, onions, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers,garlic, and one cucumber plant. Our backyard is so shady so most of the garden is in the front yard. Last year I canned tomatoes and made bell pepper jelly, and dried herbs. It was a pleasure using these items throughout the year. It has saved us some money since I like cooking. DH spends a lot of time taking care of his vegetables as well as his flowers. Since I retired and we can travel when we want instead of only during the summer, we decided not to go anywhere this summer so DH can keep an eye on his plants. People look at us like we are nuts. I saw this article about raising food for your family and it said how important it was to stay around and take care of your garden. My dad grew up during the Depression and they had a garden and chickens and sometimes a cow. He said you didn't go anywhere because you couldn't leave your garden and livestock because you depended on these things for your food supply. Anyway, if you like gardening or reading about gardening, you might enjoy this article:
Well, not just my hands, actually. It seems like things are going by very quickly. I'm trying to get caught up on projects, some fun, some not so much.
We had a new roof put on last month. We saved up for it and I think it looks great. We've had some rains and so far no leaks, so that is wonderful. DH is the gardener and one of my retirement gifts was a gift certificate to a local garden place. We bought some lovely flowers which DH planted both in the ground as well as in pots and he has his small vegetable garden going as well.
Last week we cleaned the siding and windows. We don't have a power washer so this meant doing it by hand. I think the house looks better. DH wasn't thrilled with the prospect, but he does like the results.We figure it was a money saving procedure since we used what we had (Dove dish washing soap and elbow grease). I'm glad we did it when we did because the temps are in the 90s with heat index being nearly 100.
We hit some rummage sales the past few days. One had crochet thread so we bought some of it. I recently made a small dresser scarf out of a skein we bought at a thrift shop so I have some more to work with. A couple of months ago I bought a candlewicking kit for a Christmas stocking. I have the candlewick and embroidery finished and am now working on sewing the stocking together and finishing it. I don't have a sewing machine so it takes me longer, but that's fine...it keeps me busy. I plan to donate the stocking and some of the things I crochet to my church's Christmas bazaar.
I just finished book number 38 for this year. We go to the library regulary and we also check out magazines as well as books.
We succumbed to advertising and bought a bottle of Recolor which is supposed to bring back the color of things. Our front door is fiberglass and it had faded. It was stained to look like a wood door. I put that on this afternoon. It helped some. It wasn't the miracle worker stuff, but we didn't expect it to be either.
Since it is so hot, I put a pork roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots for supper instead of heating up the house. I made a fruit salad for dessert.
We've spent a little money here and there, but nothing major. I hope keeping my hands and the rest of me busy, keep me out of trouble.
We were with some friends and we were talking about finances. One friend happened to mention that we were fortunate to be "comfortable." I didn't say anything really to respond, but it sort of made me wonder, is it all about luck or did I perhaps have a little bit to do with it?
I am not going to say I don't spend money. I do. But, I try to bargain hunt. I grew up relatively poor. Not dirt poor, but there wasn't very little for extras and most of the stuff I had was bought used. I saw my parents age and even though they worked hard their whole lives, they never really got "comfortable." My dad was always trying to figure out a way to make more money. He worked a full time job as well as doing jobs on the side. My mom helped run a used furniture store they had for awhile and then did garage sales and quilted. I knew once I had a full time job, I needed to figure out something for retirement because I didn't want to work until I dropped if I didn't have to.
I listened to a couple of people I worked with. Before I got hired as a teacher, I worked full time and picked up extra work when I could. I started a small IRA. They said the idea was to start saving young so the money had a chance to build.
When I was hired as a teacher, I went to church with a financial adviser and so I asked to meet with him. He was starting out like I was. I told him someone had said something about a retirement account where you pay low taxes when you retire. He explained it was a 403b and how it worked. It took out pretax dollars and then when you retire and drew it out, you paid less taxes because you should supposedly make less. Let me tell you, making what little I made at the time, taking out $50 a pay period was hard.
Fortunately I did not have school loans because I had some scholarships and worked throughout college and paid everything off before I graduated. Someone asked me how I did that and I explained that my college time, although a good time in my life, was not one where I spent a lot of money. I didn't go out partying on the weekends. I rarely ate out because if you lived on campus, you were required to pay board which was a food service plan. Spring break was spent at home. My folks helped out with buying clothes and shoes (mostly from garage sales), and snacks from Aldi. I ate more peanut butter and saltines for snacks and when I ran out of peanut butter, just saltines. I didn't have a fridge so I drank water in a glass from the fountain. Usually it was cool and I really lived it up when I got some iced tea mix. During the winter I had a little "hot pot" which was a small electric kettle and I had hot tea and hot chocolate. Am I sorry for not living it up -- not really.
Anyway, as DH and I got money ahead, the financial adviser (same wonderful guy!) directed us to other retirement options like a Roth IRA. I still have that small IRA I started years ago and it is still kind of small because the Roth is a far better vehicle for us now.
As I said, I spend money. But, I try to plan my purchases. I shop sales. Heck, I shop thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales! We save for things. We recently put on a new roof. Actually we paid to have it put on. No home equity loan here...we have been saving for the past couple of years. DH went and got the money out of the credit union account and put it in our checking account and we paid for it when it was finished. We save for Christmas and we save for vacations.
Am I fortunate? Yes, I believe I have been blessed. I guess when he implied I had been "lucky" I kind of bristled at this...I worked hard and as an educator, realized I would make more salary if I had more education so I earned a master's as well as hours beyond my master's. This increased my pay. But, I didn't inherit tons of money. I worked and saved and DH worked and saved. So yes we are fortunate, but I also think we used our brains to help ourselves. Do you think I was wrong to bristle at this friend's implication?
Another Memorial Day here in the United States. I'm not sure if other countries have the equivalent and if so, if it is on another date. I know I'm tired of all the "Memorial Day Sales." Somehow I just can't get into shopping for Memorial Day furniture or whatever when Memorial Day means so much more. Leave it to businesses to commercialize it.
In other news, I'm officially retired. A week ago today was my last day. I finished up paperwork and had a marvelous day. School districts aren't fancy dancy like businesses and usually the staff at one's school takes care of these type of things. We had a luncheon in our gym. Another teacher was also retiring and we have three other staff who are either moving to other schools or leaving teaching. The social committee decided to set up the gym as a "tea room" and it was very clever. They brought in good dishes and glasses and a local place catered the food. They even had cloth tablecloths and cloth napkins. I thought it was delightful. One committee person thought I'd be upset because we didn't go out...this is so fitting with how I live my life. We couldn't go out because we had an hour for lunch (half day for kids as a make up of a PLC day in March) and the rest of the day was meetings. That afternoon they had a "tea" for the two of us retiring and many of my friends and former colleagues came by. It was very nice and well planned. I felt very special. One of my friends said I looked very happy.
It's been almost a week since then. DH and I have enjoyed the time together. Part of the time was spent trying to fix stuff -- we had three things break...a hinge on one of kitchen cabinets, a wheel on the tray in our dishwasher, and my modem went out. Two of these are now fixed. One was an absolute pain...we live in a middle sized town with cabinet shops and hardware stores. No one carried this hinge. I finally went online. There was a distributor in a small town near us. This is an Amish owned business. We take the hinge and he proceeds to show us that the hinge wasn't broken, but the plate and instead of purchasing a whole new hinge, just replace the small piece at a whopping price of a buck. Gotta love honesty!
My first day of retirement we celebrated by eating leftover pulled pork from the school luncheon and then went to one of my favorite places...the library. DH retired from the library so we still know some of the employees. They were kidding me on my first day of retirement, here I am checking out magazines and books. Of course I did...I love reading!
We did go take flowers for some our family members' graves. One cemetery is a very old one and there are some graves that don't look like they have been visited in years. Kind of sad, but understandable if there is no one left. At one cemetery there were flags for Veterans. That is always nice. DH's dad was in WWII and has a military stone as well as a family stone. I try to take cleaning things to clean the stones.
I'm going to digress on to another topic...today's paper had Mary Hunt's "Everyday Cheapskate." Her starting paragraph stated that research indicates that many Americans are spending $1.22 for every $1 they earn. A very scary statistic, but I don't doubt it one bit. I look at the way some folks spend and continue to spend. I know my Thermos and lunch bag were kind of made fun of by many, but it saved us a bunch of money. I know I have to buy some things and I do buy things I don't always need, but I figure eating leftovers, making do with things, trying to repair things, and finding joy in what others consider simple things has certainly helped.
Hope you and your family had a wonderful day whether you observe Memorial Day or not.
In six school days, I will end my career. Eight if you count next weekend. At one of the buildings, we had a potluck and a couple of young coaches asked the other lady and me how we could afford to retire. My response was "save early and save often." They laughed because that was always my response when working with our school improvement plan so we didn't lose data. Getting back to the laughter, it wasn't a chuckle because they thought it was funny. It was actually one of discomfort. I wasn't trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but so many of these young people claim they are jealous that I'm retiring because they want a carefree life, but they buy anything and everything their little hearts desire.
I won't say I have been the best saver and that I didn't buy things. I did. I bought things both which were good and some things which were just plain stupid. Hopefully I've gotten wiser. But so many of these "educated" folks don't understand money. There are about three or four of us in the group who actively save, do without things, and live as economically as we can. With the changes in the teachers' pension system for the newer hires, saving for retirement is far more important than it was when I started out.
I'm currently reading a book about not buying a lot of things in a year. It's different than the last one I read; the author says their rules are buying things they can use like food and things like that, but to be more conscious of spending money for things simply because you want something new. He said the goal is to own what you have instead of saving money. I'm curious how the book will end.
DH has been busy putting in his garden. We had a fear of frost last night, but it looks like we dodged that bullet. I hope we get lots of tomatoes this year since I like to can them and this year I won't have to rush around canning on weekends since I will be retired. Yahoo!
Someone I know posted this url on Facebook and talked about how it is true -- so many can't come up with $400 in an emergency:
I know there are people out there due to circumstances beyond their control they don't have a decent income. I'm not writing about people like that. I'm writing about those who are not unemployed or underemployed. What I find amusing is the person who shared this has a good income, benefits, etc. This person doesn't save a penny, lost a home in foreclosure, has creditors calling about the unpaid bills, yet moans the job doesn't pay enough.Lots of shopping goes on. Lots of eating out and buying booze. Of course this person took a big vacation last year, went over Christmas to another vacation, and is planning a summer get-away.
I guess I'm getting old and tired of listening to people who won't help themselves whine how they don't have money.
Twenty-six...that's how many work days I have left. Someone asked me if I am getting emotional and I can honestly say I am not. I'm ready to be finished. State online testing has been a bear and somewhere along the line I injured my back, so coming home from work means all I want to do is rest. Last weekend I fixed some meals that I could just heat up and it certainly helped. Did have something slightly amusing happen -- I put our supper in the oven and was on the couch and fell asleep. I knew DH would wake me up because we eat at the same time each week night. Well, a friend who needed to talk came and supper wound up burning because I didn't feel like I could leave to get it out of the oven. So, best laid plans became cinders.
We went out with another couple and I guess I'm very old fashioned, but I think when you are with someone you haven't seen for quite awhile celebrating something, taking phone calls and texting is just plain rude. I can see answering the phone and if it isn't an emergency saying you'll call them back, but to have a full fledged conversation while we are sitting there. Then, to constantly text while you are sitting there -- all for non emergency things. We've been with them before and they've both received calls and talked at length while DH and I sit there. I've hinted that it is rude, but apparently we don't matter enough to get them to stop.
DH started his garden yesterday. He planted lettuce, radishes, and onions. He plans on planting carrots soon and then around Mother's Day tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs. Usually we are beyond the fear of frost then. He doesn't have a big spot, but he makes uses of what he has. I look forward to preserving things this fall, especially since I won't have to rush around and do it on weekends because I won't be working.
We hit the thrift stores and a flea market yesterday. I found some nice greeting cards that were reasonable. I like sending cards and I still write notes so I try to find reasonably priced cards. I also found some crochet thread. Our church has a bazaar before the holidays and I wanted to crochet ornaments to donate. I found two skeins that were started and for a dollar each, felt they were a bargain. If I were doing a big project, I probably wouldn't have been satisfied with this, but since I'm just crocheting small things, this will work out fine. It also keeps my hands busy at night and I've noticed they don't get as stiff and sore.
A few weeks ago we donated a bunch of stuff to a thrift store that supports a charity we believe in. Are we weird that we went in to see if some of the stuff had sold?
This week has been our school district's spring break. It has been a pleasant time off for DH and I. We didn't do anything extremely exciting, but did get somethings taken care and had a chance to relax.
When I was in college and if we had any type of spring break, I went home. There wasn't money to do anything extra and I didn't think I was missing out much. I guess, from what I've read, that many felt spring break was a time to travel and party. Guess I missed that memo. Of course some of the people I know who attended college and participated big time in spring break festivities are also the ones with huge school loans because they apparently really couldn't afford to go anywhere either, but added it to their school loan amount.
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I like seeing and keeping up with friends. But, there are times when seeing some of the posts, I get a feeling I'm missing out. For example, some of the people I work with left town on spring break. They are posting photos and talking about what a great time they are having. I guess it is the media version of the post card: Wish you were here.
One friend has the money to travel. But a couple of them I don't think really do. Yet, the posts continue. Drinks, food, partying.
Part of me thinks I'm missing out. Then I sit and think and realize I am not. Five years ago DH and I went to Charleston, SC, over spring break. It was a planned vacation and we went then instead of taking a vacation during the summer. It was fun, but the whole time I kept worrying if the weather got bad, would we get back in time. It sort of made the trip a little less fun.
DH and I have gotten things done around our home this week. We went to Teacher's Retirement System to talk over some details, and we have eaten some meals out. We shopped and found some bargains on things we needed. Each night I had the privilege of sleeping in my own comfortable bed. So, no, I didn't miss out.
This is also Holy Week and attending Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services are important to us. I wouldn't want to miss these services.
Maybe I should post a photo sitting in my chair drinking my glass of water...nah...they wouldn't get my point.
It's not mine. Supposedly it is for progress. But it is a shame nonetheless.
I shot this photo last June. That's my husband standing in front of this beautiful Burr Oak. It had been on his family's property. There was a twin at one time, but it died. Yet this majestic tree has been standing tall and proud.
Not for long, apparently. A developer said he has to cut it down for a fire line for the new hotel he's putting up.
An arborist thinks this tree is between 200 to 300 years old and was probably mature with Abraham Lincoln rode the circuit through Macon County and Central Illinois.
My husband and I were married under this tree and its twin. Last summer we renewed our vows under it (with permission from the land owner).
It's sad that progress often kills natural beauty. As I said, it's a shame.
A couple of weeks ago when reading someone's SA blog, it was mentioned that someone was reading a book, "A Year Without 'Made in China.'"
So, I wanted to read that book and it worked out because our library had it. I checked it out and read it. It was an interesting read. I know that not everyone lives the way I do, but I think she could have been more creative in some areas of purchasing. It is scary how much China made items have flooded our lives. I looked for her email and there wasn't one, but I would have suggested that on some items she try thrift stores and consignment shops to buy used things.
Most of the things in my kitchen are not new. Yes, I have a few things from China, but very few. Many of my pots and pans are older. I've been going to estate sales and thrift shops and finding pots that were made by Revere in Clinton, Illinois, a number of years ago. (I live 30 minutes away from Clinton). Most of my casserole dishes are Pyrex and Corning from years and years ago. My dishes are blue willow and came from England or USA. Granted, I can't get away from China on some of the electronics, but I sure have made an effort.
I continue to count down until retirement. We are down to 52 school days. Each weekend I rush around thinking I've got to get this, this, and this done before Monday and I'm looking forward to not having to do that.
Last weekend I dropped off some books to a friend who was going to read to a class at my school for Read Across America and were talking about this and that. He is probably one of the cheapest people I know and I was shocked to learn he buys his laundry detergent. I don't judge people on stuff like that, but the fact he doesn't like to spend any money, I was kind of surprised. So, I told him I would give him some of the stuff I make and see how he likes it. I made a big batch yesterday because I was getting low, so I gave him a small bottle to try. I wonder if he will decide he likes it well enough to make it.
I made a big pot of chili today. I like chili, but DH doesn't. A friend of mine is spending a lot of time at the hospital with her husband so I thought I could give her part of it so she can heat it up for some meals and freeze whatever she doesn't eat. This will give me some for lunches too. It was nice being able to use some of the tomato juice and tomatoes I canned late last summer for the chili and some of the basil I dried.
A month or so ago I gave another friend my extra cast iron skillet. He was wanting one and I happened to have an extra that I wasn't using. I wasn't perfect in appearance and I was afraid he would be turned off by it, but he wasn't. I made sure it was seasoned before I gave it to him. He retired last year and is doing more cooking and he told me he has used it for so many things. I'm glad because I'd like to think he is getting some enjoyment out of it. He did credit me with getting him to cook more. That was kind of him.
I've paid bills, reconciled the checkbook, put money in savings (yahoo!), and updated our church's Facebook page. Hopefully I'm ready for another week.
I've been sort of lurking around SA, but haven't had too much to say. I think it is because I'm coming home from work exhausted and after fixing supper and doing whatever else I need to do, I haven't the energy or brain power to write anything or feel like I have anything worth saying.
I finished a crocheted dresser scarf last night. I haven't crocheted for a number of years because it used to make my hands go numb. For whatever reason last summer, I found some thread tucked away and a small crochet hook and started making Christmas tree ornaments. I made one for each staff member at my school. It helped I didn't try to do them all at once. So, I thought I'd get a little brave and start a dresser scarf, just working a little at a time. It wasn't very wide because the area I wanted it wasn't very wide, but it turned out the way I had hoped and updated the look for around $4. It also kept my hands busy and I wasn't as tempted to snack if I crocheted. So, it was a cheap hobby.
I've been reading a lot. A group started a Facebook group that we post the title we read and what number for the year. The goal is to read 16 books because it is 2016. I'm at 17 and started #18. I continue to use our library so that saves money.
Yesterday was had a spring like day so DH and I went antiquing to a couple of small towns. We didn't buy anything, but had a nice time and did, as my dad used to say, "Got the stink blown off of us."
I've also been cooking a lot. Well, maybe a lot isn't the operative word. I continue to cook. I'm trying to fix stuff that we can get a couple of meals out of which makes it easier on me to get meals fixed when I get home as well as saving money. DH is fed and happy so that is what is what matters.
Last Sunday I paid bills and then wrote out checks to different accounts. We have money in three different institutions. At one, we have a Christmas club, a vacation account, and a regular savings for house improvements. At another we are just putting money in it for reserve. I also wrote out a check for my Roth. DH informed me he took "my" money to all the places last week. I laughed and said when did it become "my" money since it is for both of us. He just laughed.
Before the holidays stores had quite a few things on sale we use so I stocked up. Our grocery bills this month haven't been very high other than fresh vegetables and dairy. It's weird going into the store and not buying a whole lot, but we aren't doing without so that is good. I'm trying to use up some of the things we have in our freezer as well. I have a pot of ham and beans cooking from the ham that was in the freezer and the broth I made from leftover bits and pieces from chicken. So other than the beans and a few spices, basically an almost "free" main dish.
School has been hectic. We are doing district testing and some folks can't keep to a schedule which stresses me out when they inconvenience others with their disorganization. DH keeps reminding me it won't be long before retirement.
The house smells pretty good right now -- I made a blueberry crumble for dessert tonight. We are having a pork roast with carrots for supper. I'm also roasting potatoes and zucchini casserole. It should be a decent meal. I figure if I have to have the oven on, I might as well fix lots of things in it.
We hit the thrift stores today and I found a mini flag for $1 that was for Valentine's Day. We have one of those mini flag holders in the front of the house, but I hate paying big bucks for the holiday ones so I thought I found a decent deal.
I rarely feel caught up on everything, but for some reason, this afternoon, I felt like I was ahead in enough things I could pull out some cookbooks and see if there were any recipes I'd like to try. I refuse to go and buy anything at the grocery so it meant finding stuff I already had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
I saw a recipe for chicken breasts where you marinate them in Italian salad dressing and then roll in crumbs and bake off. I had planned on having chicken, so that something I am fixing.
What I really thought I'd like trying is a Quick bread. It is a Parmesan bread.
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 T of baking powder
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup of milk
1 t sugar
1 t oregano
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese
You mix the first seven ingredients together and put in a greased 8 inch cake pan. You put the cheese on top and bake 18-20 minutes.
I changed the recipe before putting it in the pan. I added a little more milk because the dough seemed dry. But it turned out great! I think this recipe is a keeper!
Hope you all are having a great start to 2016! So far, mine has been very good.
DH and I went out to eat last night and then to church. We came home and relaxed. This morning was a relaxing morning as well. We didn't eat any of the foods that are supposed give us a lucky year; we had leftover vegetable soup. A friend gave us a Pike's Peak Roast and we had it for supper the other night and I used the broth and the leftover meat for soup. We've had three full meals out of it and I still had enough to freeze for another small meal.
We did go out and do a little shopping. Found a couple of things on sale and used a coupon to save a bit more. It was stuff we would have bought anyway. Just happened to find it on sale. We also bought furnace filters which weren't on sale, but necessary nonetheless. I figure maintaining the furnace is important and hopefully saves us money by not using a clogged, dirty filter.
We did go to the grocery store and pick up bread, milk, and fruit. We will be eating from the freezer and pantry for everything else. We need to use things up so they don't go bad or get freezer burn.
I know some make resolutions for the new year. I do not because I usually tend to "forget" them and do whatever. So, I'm just trying to make wise decisions as the days go by. I am trying to get things organized. I tidied up my closet today and believe me, it needed it. I have been going through drawers and areas so I can donate things. The other day I organized my thread. I have been buying spools of thread at estate sales and garage sales. I don't do serious sewing, but I do hem my slacks and I do some mending. I have amassed quite a few spools and it was getting to be a problem seeing what I had. So, I decided to put them in a shallow drawer on their sides so I can see their colors. It sure makes it easier to find what I need. Lately I seem to be mending quite a few things.
I did splurge yesterday and bought some crochet thread. I have an old bureau that I have had for over 40 years. I like it, but the top is narrow (it has three drawers on the top, two stick out further than the center one) and I have used a folded runner for the past few years over it. I decided to buy some pretty crochet thread and crochet myself a runner in the right width. Yep, I'm living dangerously, aren't I?
Hope your New Year is a fabulous one filled with many blessings.
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