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Archive for July, 2012

Commercials and Mindsets

July 31st, 2012 at 02:41 pm

It is me, or are there more commercials on television?

Furthermore, do these folks think we are stupid?

DH says I observe too much. For example, some of the processed foods show these fancy kitchens with beautiful cabinets, granite countertops, and perfect appliances and nothing out of place -- the gourmet kitchen to heat up a junk food snack in the microwave. Even the dog and cat food commercials show pretty elaborate kitchens! Really? Do they think most of America has the fancy kitchen of these commercials or is it a subliminal message that if you buy this stuff, you'll be like these folks?

I'm not sure the draw is for these car commercials where they drive in some of these settings like big cities and storm out and go rapidly down these streets. In most big cities, it is usually bumper to bumper during the day. I guess the car companies think we will think we can avoid the traffic and have a blast driving their car. I'll just putter along in mine and hopefully save some gas!

I wonder how many homes look as fancy as the ones in the commercial? I guess they feel it is everyone's dream to have these elaborate, fancy homes with up to date everything. Do we all buy into this? Is it a way to make folks unsatisfied with what they have and buy bigger and better?

Right now on Facebook it seems most of my friends keep putting these photos asking if we remember this and that such as a potato masher or speakers from a drive in theatre. I do have a potato masher and often use it, so I guess I not only remember it...I'm not up to date with whatever the kitchen market industry thinks I should be using. It was my grandmother's and it works just fine.

I remember Charlie Brown and Linus talking about commercialism as well as it being a sticking point in "Miracle on 34th Street." Maybe I'm becoming sick of it as well. Have we become too infected with commercialism?

A Smoking Rant

July 29th, 2012 at 12:04 am

As I've mentioned before, we are in Illinois and in a severe drought. Our yards are crispy, and things are dry. DH has been watering his garden and a couple of trees that aren't super old.

Today he came in hot under the collar. Seems he found a cigarette butt in the corner of his garden near the front of the house.

Neither of us smoke. The butt wasn't smushed like it had been stubbed out. So, apparently it had been flicked over.

I truly do not understand why some smokers (not all, but some) feel it is someone else's responsibility to pick up their cigarette butts because they are done and throw them wherever. That's bad enough. But, it is dangerous in this situation with the dry grass. If it had hit the dry grass, we could have had a fire in our yard.

We think it came from our neighbor and her kids. They were out in the yard the other day. The reason they were in the yard?

Well, a few months ago she had a fire in her house. Her garage caught fire and did major damage to her garage, her vehicle, and the contents of the garage. Smoke infilterated her home.

The cause of the fire? She put the remnants of her ashtray into the garbage can and apparently they weren't all out. It smoldered all night and when she opened the door between the house and garage it created a backdraft and the place caught fire.

So, she has been out of house for the past 4 months as she fought insurance and got folks to in to fix things and clean up.


We haven't seen any butts in the yard recently because no one has been at the house. But, now that they are helping her move back in, the family is back and in the yard smoking.

One would think after that little experience, everyone involved would be more careful.

Dastardly Darn Drought!

July 26th, 2012 at 03:15 pm

We are considered in a drought like most of the Midwest. Our city lake has dropped to such an extent that we are now on mandatory water restrictions. So far, the water restrictions let people water their gardens and lawns on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. If we don't ge some rain and the oppressive heat doesn't subside, that will probably be cut as well. In the meantime, no watering of any kind can be done on any other days, even with a sprinkling can.

DH is worried about his small vegetable garden. Before the restrictions, he was watering his tomatoes, peppers, and herbs each morning. he's been out over 1 1/2 hours today trying to get things thoroughly soaked.

I totally get why we need to restrict water. Drinking water is vital. It just means many of us may lose our gardens which means higher food prices. I see the national news is now predicting higher grocery prices of at least 4%.

That rate hike may mean some folks won't be eating very much.

Let's pray the drought breaks soon.

Thoughts of a Cynic

July 24th, 2012 at 04:13 pm

Perhaps it is the heat or maybe just the frustration...

Watching television is getting my cynical side surfacing.

We usually watch Suze Orman each Saturday night. We have been watching her for years. But, I'm getting tired of her analyzing emotions and trying to act as a therapist. Yes, I believe emotions play a big part in spending, but I want to hear more facts instead of playing the therapist.

During the school year I retire at 9 p.m. so it means I miss out on some shows I'd like to see. One of them is Restaurant Impossible. Well, I'm getting a little cynical about it as well...last week Robert was acting like a therapist and solving the family emotional problems as well as their restaurant problems. That was bad enough, but when the construction crew couldn't get a wall down, super Robert to the rescue with a sledgehammer showing them how it was done. Too bad he wasn't wearing tights and a cape!

On Mondays we normally watch American Pickers. We even ventured to Iowa last spring to see their place. My folks had a used furniture store and later an antique shop and I get you have to buy low to make a profit, but sometimes I think their attitudes are a bit much anymore. No one knows it all, and if they are making as many great deals as they say, they don't need to be on television. They talk about buying some and selling for double or triple the amount...but that might be the value, not what they really got. In retail, one can only hope the demand is there.

Well, we've been watching dvds borrowed from the library...last night we watched a Sherlock Holmes and Watson had a flashlight. What a great flashlight it was...it light up half the room...wonder where we can buy one of those and some of those great candles in the old westerns that you could light one and the whole room was lit.

Well, I guess I'll take my cynical self and go make lunch...unless Robert wants to show me how and Suze can analyze my feelings.

Trying to stay cool

July 22nd, 2012 at 05:37 pm

It's been so hot lately here in Central Illinois. Friday was cool with the temps in the upper 80s...it made us almost feel chilly! :-)

I know some of our friends are beating the heat by eating out. I don't want to succumb to that temptation. So, I've been perusing the Crockpot recipes to try and find some things that I can fix that won't heat up the kitchen.

Yesterday I put ribs in one slow cooker, but wondered what to fix. We have mashed potatoes and rice already so I wondered if I could find a recipe for a Crockpot.
I did find one that cooked between 6-8 hours on low and it was pretty good.

Oregano potatoes

8 potatoes peeled and sliced into wedges
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup water
3 T Oregano (fresh), chopped
juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients except garlic in a slow cooker -- mix until evenly coated. Stir in garlic. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If potatoes appear to be dry, add up to 1/2 additional water while cooking.

Serves 6-8


This was pretty good and I had everything on hand. We have fresh herbs. I bet this could be changed up using a different herb.

So, I resisted the temptation of eating out and saved money and used what I had.

We went to the library and I checked out some more cookbooks for the slow cooker. Hopefully I will find some other great recipes as we endure this heat.

Meatloaf and the garden

July 20th, 2012 at 03:42 pm

It was a nice start to our Friday -- the temps were a bit cooler and there was a nice breeze when we walked this morning. It has been dreadfully hot here in Central Illinois like it has been in most of the Midwest. Still no rain, but at least a few hours of relief.

After our walk I picked lettuce and washed it and put it in the fridge. DH picked tomatoes. We are starting to get some cherry tomatoes and a few larger ones. He waters every day to keep things going.

We went to the meat market the other day and I bought both ground chuck and sausage. Yesterday I sauted onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic with thyme and oregano (onions, thyme and oregano were from our garden) and mixed that with the meat and added oatmeal, some bread crumbs, and eggs to make meat loaves. I make a topping of worchestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, and ketchup. I made 4 loaves. One we had last night baked in a toaster oven. The other three are wrapped up and put in the freezer.

For lunch today we will have the leftover meatloaf on sandwiches. I think I'm going to get some herbs and olive oil and put them on some tortillas and make our own chips. And, I think we'll have a few of those cherry tomatoes.

I saw a recipe the other day for meatloaf that had 3 meats -- hamburger, sausage,and ground turkey breast. I wonder if it is tasty.

Out and About and Mission Accomplished

July 18th, 2012 at 11:51 pm

We've been out and about the past couple of weeks. A couple of weeks ago there was a garage sale in our subdivision. We look forward to this couple's sales because they usually have good stuff marked reasonably.

This time was no exception. They had a metal kerosene lamp that had been electrified for $8. I asked if it worked and it did. I knew it was missing both the chimney and the shade, but figured for $8, I could come up with something. I also bought a couple of tablecloths and some like new jars for pasta.

As my summer quickly seeps away, we decided to go antiquing down I55. We try to do this a couple of times a year. We usually take a friend with us, but she was unavailable. My mission was to find a shade for this lamp at a reasonable price. We took the lamp with us so we could make sure we bought the right size.

The first two antique malls didn't produce the shade, but the third one had a possibility. I asked them if we could bring the lamp in and try it on...I thought it might fit, but didn't want to buy the shade and find it didn't. They said that would be fine and so we did and it did! The shade was $8. They not only sold me the shade, but wrapped it up and my lamp as well to make sure both made it home safely.

The chimney I had at home on another kerosene lamp. I figure I'll replace it when we find a cheap one sometime. But, I like the looks of lamp and it is sitting on the tablecloth that I bought at the garage sale for $2. We did see lamps very similar to this one at two different places starting at $75 so I figure we didn't get hurt.



In other searches, I have been looking for a mug rack. I found this oak one at one of the stores. It said handcrafted by someone on the bottom. I bought it because it was handcrafted, matched my kitchen cabinets, and was cheap. I know these mug racks aren't technically in, but a friend of mine gave me these Blue Willow mugs a couple of Christmas ago and I wanted to be able to display and enjoy them.

Offer in the mail

July 17th, 2012 at 03:14 pm

Well, yesterday's mail takes the cake so to speak!

Vista Print sent me an offer for 20 free birth announcements so I can share my joy.

Lovely.

Except...I don't have a baby and am not pregnant.

Not sure how I got on this mailing list. Of course a couple of months ago I started receiving American Baby magazine. I called the magazine subscription office and was told it was a free gift from some business.

Well, I am puzzled. I don't remember signing up for anything baby orientated so not sure how some business thought I would want the magazine and now the birth announcements. I give the magazine to friend who gives it to her daughter who is a new mom.

Anyway, I had a chuckle over the birth announcement offer. I don't believe I will be taking them up on the special deal though.

DH has been watering. We live in the Midwest and haven't had rain for weeks and weeks. There are spotty showers, but nothing substantial. He brought in some almost ripe tomatoes. He lost one because a bird or animal got part of it. It was probably looking for moisture. He keeps the birdbath clean and changes the water in it for the birds, but I think everything is thirsty. We are looking forward to the tomatoes though!

Yikes...I've become my mother!

July 13th, 2012 at 03:10 pm

My mom was nosy. There is no getting around that. She always wanted to live on busy streets or roads so she could be where the action was. The last three places she lived, she got her way. We lived on a busy city street when we lived in town, when we moved to "the country" our house was on U.S. 51. Then when they downsized, they moved to another busy street.

When my great aunt died, among her things was a pair of binoculars. My mom latched on to those and used them frequently. They were next to where she sat on the couch and she would use them to look at whatever she thought deemed important.

I'm afraid I've become my mother. OK, I don't have the binoculars. We don't live on a busy street.

However, walking this morning, I was noticing what was in folks garbage cans. No, I didn't lift the lids. I haven't got that bad. YET. Friday is garbage day for our neighborhood, and it is interesting to see what folks have put out. One house had a box that once contained diapers and 4 boxes for beer. Wonder if the baby drives them to drink?

Another had lots of fast food containers, including a huge pizza box. Guess one can infer what their diet is like.

The garbage containers are kind of interesting too. One home has a neat garbage container with the address written in paint on the side. Bet their house is tidy too.

There are folks who no longer have lids. I don't fault these folks. I can't tell you how many times I've gone on the search for ours. We had one collector that didn't put it back on or inside, but threw it wherever it landed and if the wind picked it up...well, you get the idea.

I know why detectives often sift through garbage for clues...what one throws away tells multitudes.

We used to have a very limited recycling program and everything had to be separated in brown paper bags which were not returned. About a year ago, the city offered big containers and it didn't have to be separated. I know we recycle far more because there are far more items. I think we fill it up and there is less garbage.

As for our garbage, it would be kind of boring...usually bread wrappers and peelings.

Well, I've digressed here. Sorry. We live on a cul-d-sac and not much goes on here so I don't need binoculars, but I certainly have the nosiness gene! I'm not planning on moving, so I'll have to settle for checking out the open garbage cans and recycling bins.

A Busy Week So Far!

July 12th, 2012 at 03:05 pm

It's only Thursday, but I feel like this has been a long, busy week. I'm not complaining by any means, but I'm tired.

Monday we wound up making a couple of trips to the credit union, a bank, then back to the credit union. Last weekend we received the flyer from the credit union stating they had a special account for those folks over 50 that paid a bit more interest. Both of us meet that criteria, so we decided to check it out. Seems one has to open another account within the accounts and put in a mimumum of $1000, but once you open it and keep the money in a couple of weeks, you can let it drop below the $1000. We had the money because with my husband's pension system, in July he receives the "thirteenth check" which is based on how well the investments the pension did over the year. It was for $1004. So, we opened the account to get a bit more interest. While we were there, we learned their money market account was paying .4 as opposed to the .2 we were getting at our bank. I have told DH that it no longer pays to be loyal to a bank. So, we drew out half of what we had in our money market at the bank and deposited it into the credit union's money market. It is insured so we feel safe doing that.

Yesterday we drove to St. Louis to visit one of DH's relatives. We had a nice visit and ate at a microbrewery in St. Charles. It was good. None of us drink beer, but the food was good and decently priced.

Today is errands and DH's allergy shot. I have a pork roast in the Crockpot for supper so that will be yummy and have leftovers as well.

Obamacare and real estate taxes

July 10th, 2012 at 03:29 pm

I'm not posting this to bash or praise the president or any party...I was just surprised to find this real estate tax as part of the Obamacare.

It seems that if a couple has an adjust gross income of $250K or more, come January 1, 2013, any home they sell, they may be subject to a 3.8% income tax.

http://www.realtor.org/small_business_health_coverage.nsf/docfiles/government_affairs_invest_inc_tax_broch.pdf/$FILE/government_affairs_invest_inc_tax_broch.pdf

I guess I shouldn't be surprised about all the stuff they stick into bills as they try to pass them into laws, but I guess house sales and health care seem to be a bit distant. Guess not.

Anyway, just an FYI. We aren't close to the $250K adjusted income and we aren't planning on selling our home so it probably won't effect us. I do think I need to read what else is in this new law...in case something else effects us.

Gas Prices in our Town

July 9th, 2012 at 03:08 pm

Gas prices in our town went up twice last week...to $3.55 by Saturday. We felt it was weird since the price of oil had gone down by the end of the week.

Saturday night we drove to a smaller town north of us -- less than 30 minutes away -- to eat out with another couple. Amazing, the gas prices were lower -- $3.29.

One would think the gas station owners are in a conspiracy in our city...especially since the two larger cities, one east and one west, either around 45 minutes away, are both cheaper. I realize we aren't in Chicago or on the coasts, but trying to figure out the rationale for higher prices is beyond me.

What are gas prices in your neck of the woods?

Stocking Up

July 7th, 2012 at 02:34 pm

I live in Central Illinois. If you do not live in the Midwest and haven't watched the news, we are in drought conditions. Last night they said 56% of the country is in drought.

The corn fields around here are pitiful. It has tassled and we have had no rain. The leaves have curled and many plants are stunted in growth.

No, I'm not a farmer...I'm telling you this to tell you the next part.

I'm stocking up. We went to Aldi yesterday and I bought some bottles of oil, and some extra crackers, flour, and sugar. I predict grocery prices are going to skyrocket because of the corn crop. Today I'm buying corn meal to put in the freezer. The sugar and flour went into the freezer as well. I might even buy a little more beef to put in the freezer, but it doesn't keep THAT long.

The reason I bought some of these items...well here is my reasoning. Sugar -- I believe the price of sugar will go up because many things are made from high fructose corn syrup. When there isn't as much corn to make this corn syrup, sugar will be used and the demand will increase.

Flour -- people will start using flour in place of corn products.

Oil -- a lot of vegetable oils are made from corn and the lack of corn...well you get the picture.

As for beef, well, the price will probably go up because the price of corn will go up to feed those cattle.

Also on the national news was with the extreme heat, cows aren't giving as much milk...I wonder if we will see an increase in dairy products as well.

My pantry isn't bulging by any means, but I thought I'd pick up a few extra things to ofset major jumps in the coming weeks.

Feeling Guilty

July 6th, 2012 at 01:16 pm

I'm going to 'fess up here...I feel guilty spending money on luxuries. I like a bargain, but I like nice things as well.

DH is retired. We are blessed he has a nice pension and Social Security. I work full time and have a good job and benefits.

We just returned from an 8 day trip to Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Niagara Falls. It was with a church group on a bus. Our hotels and tours were paid for, as well as some of the meals. We had saved the money and paid cash for everything except for one expenditure of $20. We had cash left over from the trip and put it back in the bank. DH bought a tie in Boston -- hence the $20 charge because they were closing down the register and didn't want cash. He bought 3 ties for $10 in NYC. I bought 4 packages of tea in Boston as a souvenir for friends (read less than $10) and postcards in each major city. We had a nice time and I'm glad we don't owe any money other than the $20.

Once a month we have massages. I rationalize them that they seem to help my arthritis. I don't see a chiropractor, but I do know I feel a lot better after. DH says the same thing. It is paid in cash each month.

I spend money on fruits and vegetables when I grocery shop. Very little ever goes to waste because we eat at home quite a bit. I try to hit bargains on other things.

I collect Blue Willow dishes. I did buy a couple of items and put them on the credit card, but I pay the credit card off every month.

Sometimes I look at the money we spend and feel guilty. I don't need Blue Willow dishes. I'm sure I could make it without the massages. As for the trip, life would go on without it. I validate the buying of fresh fruits and vegetables because I think it keeps me healthy. I only missed work this year because I had food poisoning, not from my food.

We have friends who constantly spend on things. They tell us they deserve these things. He draws a larger pension than DH. His home is not paid for. For years, when he worked, he made far more money than DH and I did put together. He bought a bigger house, a fancier car, and more things. His home is filled with them. He bought fancy jewelry for his wife. And the quest continues for buying more, more, more.

A few years ago we paid off our home. It was a goal that we had -- we intended to pay off the house before DH retired. His mom died and with the selling of her property (shared with his brother) we paid off the remainder of our home. We then used the money we didn't need for the house payment to pay off a vehicle. So, we didn't owe much money and started saving money. Then we could take a big trip like we did this year.

I cut corners whenever I can. I use coupons on the things we would normally buy; I make a lot of things from scratch. We buy used whenever we can. We pay cash for everyday items so we aren't tempted to overspend. If I do use the credit card, it is paid off as soon as the bill comes.

I still feel guilty when we do spend money, but I guess it could be called a guilty pleasure. Perhaps saving up for things is one of the reasons we save...but sometimes it is difficult to spend that hard earned money!

Walks

July 5th, 2012 at 03:01 pm

As a part of trying to stay healthy, DH and I have been going for morning walks. We enjoy the time together and feel it also helps our physical health as well as mental health to keep moving.

We walk around our neighborhood. It seems scary to see so many houses up for sale. I guess there have always been homes for sale, but usually not two on the same court at the same time.

In another thought, I get frustrated when I see folks not thinking of those who walk. One house always has cars sitting over the sidewalk. It's one thing if they have it because of doing something and move it by the next day, but these vehicles always stick out and it means walking in the street. One clown has this huge travel trailer that sticks out over the sidewalk and the hitch thing is rusted. I always worry I'm going to run into it and scratch myself.

A couple of weeks ago we were walking and a bull dog ran out of nowhere and started barking and snapping at us. We think it belongs to one of the folks who usually has cars sitting and blocking the driveway...we think the owner of both of these is a cop. Guess that speaks volumes, doesn't it? Fortunately a neighbor saw the dog and called it off of us, but I was truly frightened he would bite...he was barking so hard he was foaming at the mouth. He was a large bulldog and could have done severe damage.

There are some homes where the trees and bushes hang out over the sidewalk and snag as you walk. I know lots of people like yucca plants, but when it snags your clothes as you walk by on the sidewalk, it needs to be tied up or trimmed.

Although I'm grousing, I admit I enjoy the walks. I like seeing what folks are doing too. One house is getting a new roof today. We have had horrible heat the past few days and they were out early. I don't envy the roofers their job with this heat, but I'm glad the folks are getting a new roof.

I also like seeing what people have planted for their landscaping. Some folks really love to have flowers. We have seen quite a few tomato plants as folks strive to get that homegrown taste.

One thing I really like is as we walk, most folks wave as they drive by or speak if they walk by. It gives us a sense of community.

Buying Love

July 3rd, 2012 at 02:41 pm

An aquaintance of ours has grandchildren. He appears to care for them, but every conversation he has about them, usually contains what major purchase he made for them or with them.

I don't mean to sound cheap, and I enjoy being generous with those I love as well. But I don't purchase stuff for folks for each time I see them, even if I see them a couple or three times in a week.

This person loves to shop and I think part of this scenario is the pleasure of shopping. But, I also think there is a competition there between the other grandparents...this person wants to be thought of as the generous one. Believe me, these grandchildren are not poor and are not doing without -- the parents have good jobs and take good care of their offspring.

I reflected the other day about my grandmother. She was kind to me and she often bought me gifts for Christmas and birthday. But, she didn't have the money to constantly purchase gifts. I didn't feel like I was unloved by any means. She gave me something else -- her time and attention.

In a way, I sort of feel sorry for this person because he must feel he has to buy his grandchildren's affection. The sad part, he can't afford all this spending.

Heroes

July 1st, 2012 at 07:17 pm

We just returned from a vacation. It was a bus tour with a group from a church...the gal who organized it all is the youth director. It was a fabulous trip and we had a nice time.

She gave us a heads up almost 9 months ago...we figured she had something planned and had been saving for over a year...so, other than the $20 we charged for something, every single thing has been paid for as far as the trip. Our bus, hotels, and a few meals were part of the "package" and the rest was paid in cash that we had saved.

We visited Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, and Niagara Falls. We saw places where we started our country over 200 years ago. We also visited two memorials of tragedies that happened over 11 years ago.

Flight 93 Memorial

We saw the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA, and the 9/11 Memorial in NYC. Both were sobering to think these innocents got up and went to work like normal and didn't return.

9/11 Memorial -- NYC

As we get close to celebrating our nation's birthday this Wednesday, let's remember all the heroes, sung and unsung.