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Archive for June, 2016

This and That

June 23rd, 2016 at 08:32 pm

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. Smile 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.

Lambs Don't Wallow

June 19th, 2016 at 11:00 pm

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.

Frustrated about the pension

June 16th, 2016 at 08:09 pm

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!

Sad Sunday

June 12th, 2016 at 11:13 pm

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:

http://www.wellfedhomestead.com/how-much-should-you-plant-in-your-garden-to-provide-a-years-worth-of-food

Busy Hands...

June 11th, 2016 at 09:37 pm

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. Smile

Fortunate, Lucky, or Smart?

June 3rd, 2016 at 07:55 pm

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?