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Odds and Ends

May 19th, 2013 at 12:09 am

Each week I fix a fruit salad. Same fruit. During the winter it is pricey, but we pay for it anyway because we believe it has helped us stay healthier. Our fruit salad consists of grapes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and sometimes I get wild and add an apple at the last minute or kiwi. Each night I slice a banana and then put the fruit salad over it. It's pretty and yummy, and we like it. That being said, this week DH found strawberries on sale so we had leftover salad. I took the remainder of it in my lunch. The ladies I eat with were amazed that we have fruit every night. Cleaning the fruit and cutting up strawberries doesn't take that long. I know folks are busy, but THAT busy?

I've blogged about the bread making and so far, the kids have loved it. I do have some left at the end of each day and I hate for it to go to waste so I offer it to staff. One lady who I know cooks quite a bit was shocked that it was a recipe and not a box mix for the bread machine. I told her those box mixes about $4 each and why spend so much when with 6 ingredients, you can make basic white bread? So, she asked for the recipe.

We hit a true thrift shop today and found some great bargains. I found two small American flags, made in America, a small Howard Miller clock with a picture frame, some linen napkins, a small blue and white candle holder, and an unused candle...total cost: $6 for all. I did not need any of this stuff, but the candle will go in my stash when I need a quick gift. The candle holder is for me...I like blue and white stuff. We will use the napkins, and the flags are going in our yard. The clock is going to go next to my chair in the family room because I take off my watch when I get home and we don't have a wall clock. It had been a gift to someone who works for a large milling company here in Decatur...there is a small (less than an inch wide) logo on it, but it looks news. Fine with me. Howard Miller is a famous clock maker so hopefully the clock will run for a long time...it had a battery in it and it was working.

About a month and a half ago a university offered an online course to any teachers in our district on financial matters and retirement. You are to sign up, agree to take the coursework, and they pay you $25 for signing up and $25 when you finish. I signed up not only for the money, but also, I hoped to learn some things. I have taken three modules and I can say I have learned a few things about vocabulary and such. Some of the things are common sense like emergency fund and savings accounts. But, it never hurts to learn new things and get paid to do it besides. I don't think many signed up. Oh, well.

It was a beautiful day here in Central Illinois. After hitting the library and the thrift shop, we went to Lowe's and bought some plants. DH has been busily planting tomato plants, bell pepper plants, and herbs. We sure hope for a good harvest!

On the news tonight part of the midsection of the country is forecasting tornadoes. Hope they don't get them and hope they don't come here either.

Hope you had a great Saturday as well.

Scary finances

April 25th, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I am a public school teacher in Illinois. Unfortunately, our state legislators have not made sure our pension funds have been funded like the law says and have, in fact, raided them to pay for pet projects. As a result, our state is having major issues with finances. One topic is to do away with the cost of living raises, or not have them take effect right away. With the teacher pension, one had to reach a certain age before they would kick in. I am not sure about the other pension funds.

A friend if ours is retired and he is worried. I am not sure if worried is actually a strong enough word.

When he worked, he had a position where he made good money for many years. He bought a big house, traded cars often, and traveled extensively. He and his wife did not do without.

He counts on those yearly raises...he said he isn't sure what to do if they don't come...he admitted they owe on their home, cars, have a personal loan and credit card debt.

He was truly grousing and going on and on. But one thing we did notice is they aren't cutting back. They are planning two trips and eating out almost every day. The spending continues.

His finances scare me.

The sad thing is he made good money. I really wonder where they are going to end up. It would be different if he made little and health made him retire. But, there isn't any use to try and talk to him...he feels he deserves to have all the nice things he has purchased on credit.

Tuesday Topic

December 5th, 2012 at 12:44 am

A calm Tuesday in the Midwest. My kind of day, that's for sure.

Well, calm for me anyway. Seems the boys at my school were riled up and no one knew why. So many were making such poor choices and I don't even think they could verbalize why.

I wonder if that is the problem with so many folks who are unwise with money. Can they verbalize why?

It is interesting hearing this one couple justify buying a new vehicle last week. Both felt they had to buy a new vehicle because the youngest will be driving next year. She said that they got a great deal and $3,000 cash back which just about made up for what they owed on the other one?!?

Their family isn't the only one I knew who trades vehicles while still owing money. It's one thing if you have an accident and you owed money and had to replace the car, but to go out and buy another when you didn't have the original one paid off.

I'm not nosy enough to ask, but I wonder how many cars these folks never paid off and rolled over. Maybe I really don't want to know.

What a strange economy!

September 18th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Perusing the paper today, there were two stories next to each other on the same page. One was outlining how so many more folks are having to use the local foodbanks because they can't make their money stretch after paying bills and then how many folks ordered the new iPhone and what a record it was.

Wow...some folks are spending big bucks on technology while others are struggling to eat. Wonder what's in between?

Garage sales were ghastly!

April 28th, 2012 at 02:59 am

OK, maybe ghastly is a bit strong. But, they were sad.

Each spring our subdivision does sales on a Friday and Saturday in April. DH got up early, showered, and hit them early with a list of things we were looking for as well as a list of things a friend was looking for.

He came home empty handed. He said the pickin's were slim.

I wonder if the economy is showing it's hoary head.

I suggested this to DH -- perhaps folks don't have the money to buy new stuff, so they aren't letting go of anything we are interested in, just trying to sell those things that aren't necessary.

I know the local thrift shops are booming around here. I certainly hope things start looking up for the families in my community as well as the rest of the country. Not because I feel the desire for better garage sales, but it's difficult for so many families to keep their heads above water.

News story on gas prices and the economy

March 2nd, 2012 at 12:40 am

Before heading off to work, I try to peruse the paper for a few local stories and glance at some headlines.

However, one story caught my eye that claimed that the recovering economy can withstand the rising gas prices.

I'm wondering where they got that information. Maybe some cities won't have a problem, but locally, we have had two businesses with major layoffs, and many of our folks who are employed are underemployed. I'm sure having to choose between gas in the tank and food on the table and medicine for health, many will not buy fuel and try to find alternatives or stay at home.

I'm sure our tourism will be hurt this summer too.

I remember when news stories were supposed to be factual and based on true stuff. It seems that news is often skewed by sensationalism to tell the story or the personal views of the editor. I'm a realist. If it is a news story, I want the facts, good or bad. If I want to read an opinion, I'll look on the editorial page. I really wonder where the reporter got those facts on the economy and gas prices. A generalized story on the wire doesn't mean everyone has the same situation. So, I am thinking we might have a situation where the economy might not be able to weather these gas prices...at least near me.

Just call me a skeptic!

Prices going up, employment going down

February 25th, 2012 at 03:00 pm

It's been an odd few days. We received our home insurance bill and it went up almost $100. I guess it is because of so many claims all over the country. In the almost 22 years we have had homeowner's insurance, we had one claim and it was to replace a small area of guttering when the ice storm had a tree hit our house.

Gas prices skyrocketed. I know that was everywhere in the U.S. What we find interesting is although the local service stations have already bought some of the gas, as soon as they catch wind of oil prices going up, they raise the price, although they haven't bought any of the new gas.

Our governor is trying to cut things everywhere. He's trying to figure out how he can cut teacher pensions. I understand that our state is in trouble, but Illinois teachers pay a huge amount of their paychecks for their pension. Unfortunately the legislature hasn't kept up their end of the bargain for years and has raised the pension plan to pay for projects they wanted. Now the governor wants to cut the health insurance. Teachers pay for their health insurance so it isn't like they get it free.

It is getting scary since I'm getting closer to retirement. I'm hoping there will be a pension plan and insurance plan when my time comes. Illinois teachers are not eligible for Social Security.

Our city has been hit with layoffs at two places this week. I know the national news says the recession is over, but our unemployment has remained high. Now with these two major employers laying more off, it is getting downright frightening.

Hope things are better where you are!

Planning Ahead

February 1st, 2012 at 12:39 am

A couple of the restaurants we like have Facebook pages and often they post their specials for the night. As a joke, I have been posting what I've fixed for supper. I get some interesting comments, usually folks asking to come over!

One gal asked if I ever took a night off. I said I do because I do, but I also responded that I cook things ahead. Tonight we had lasagna. I had planned it because I wanted a filling supper as well as stuff for lunches. I had already bought the lasagna noodles on sale, had a coupon and a sale on the cheese, and hubby found a good deal on ground chicken. I used the tomato sauce I made last summer with our tomatoes, onions and basil, so it wasn't the most expensive meal either.

One couple we sometimes do things with never plan anything ahead. They have called and asked us to go out to eat and I have often had to say that I had already started supper. They act like I'm crazy. DH says they fly by the seat of their pants. I admit we do eat out, but I do cook a lot too. And, I usually plan my weekly menus to use what we have as well as utilize those items on sale. Maybe I'm anal, but it is reassuring to know I have our meals planned and some fixed and ready to heat.

I think planning goes farther than just food. We plan for vacation by saving up and reading up. We save up for most things and then check Consumer Reports to see if it is a good value. I have been trying to put a bit of money away for the past 20+ years for retirement. I can't say I'll be rich, but hopefully I won't live in poverty, either.

Is it safe to assume that if you are on Saving Advice you are a planner too?

Is the American dream attainable?

November 19th, 2011 at 08:56 pm

As I catch up on my reading, Time had a story about what people think about the "American dream." It asked if people think it is attainable for today's youth, or has it become impossible?

How thought provoking! I've been talking about this with a lot of people and it is interesting to listen to their comments. Some people say they feel it is not attainable like it has been in the past because the economy is hindering the upward movement.

Yet others say it is still in one's reach, but people have to be willing to work hard and look for ways to reach it.

I'm going to agree with the latter. The reason I believe this is I think people can still move up and better themselves. I think it can be difficult and challenging. However, I also think people need to prioritize what their dream might be. Plus, they need to work for it, not figure it will be handed to them.

For example, I have a friend who works two jobs. Neither job is super high paying, but could be adequate. She still runs out of money. She rents, drives a beater, and complains about her situation. I have encouraged her to budget, open up a savings account, and not rely on credit cards. A few years ago she wanted to buy a house and went to the bank to be pre-approved. When she told me how much she was pre-approved for, I told her not to spend that much because it would keep her from having any disposable income. She looked at houses and since they weren't what she wanted, she never bought one. A friend of mine had a stroke and her daughters sold her house -- very reasonable and far less than what my friend had been pre-approved for. But, since it wasn't "perfect" she didn't want it.

Another friend of mine works one full time job. It's not anything that is going to make her rich -- in fact she makes less than the aforementioned friend. But, she owns her home, bought a used car where she can afford the payments, and saves up for things. When she bought her house, she bought it at a reasonable price and fixed up what she needed to fix up to move in and has been working on it since. She will probably never be wealthy, but she feels she has done very well and is satisified with her life.

I think in a lot of cases, the person needs to figure out what their dream is and then work towards it. Yet, I think it is that four letter word that is hindering many: work. There are those who feel "entitled" to a fancy house, big car, and large salary.

If watching some of the house hunting shows are any indication, many people are not willing to buy a house and fix it up -- they want a house with all the bells and whistles like what their parents have, the parents who have worked over 40 years to achieve what they want.

I think today's economy reflects this mindset. Another friend laughs at me when I tell them we have a regular savings, a Christmas club, a vacation savings, and then another account that we put money in for whatever thing we are saving for, be it a fridge, dishwasher, or now, a new furnace. I guess immediate gratification brought about by credit cards has made saving and anticpating a thing of the past for many.

So, I wonder what others think. Is the American dream attainable, or is the youth of tomorrow doomed?

Finding a way to add to furnace fund

November 11th, 2011 at 01:41 am

One of the "joys" of being a homeowner means replacing or repairing things when they break or wear out.

Earlier this fall we had to replace our 13 year old water heater.

We figure we better start a furnace fund. The furnace was here when we bought the house -- it is over 14 years old and knowing the previous owners who replaced it, it probably wasn't top of the line. We have it checked every year and I replace the filters each month. It had quite a workout last summer with the extreme heat and so I we are hoping it will last through the winter.

So, I've been looking for ways to contribute to this savings. I found a broken gold chain and dh took it in today we received $24 for it. Not too bad for something that was sitting in the drawer.

I had to drive some for work last month and received a mileage check...it's going in the fund too.

I think I'm going to ask the credit card for a check for our cashback bonus and put that in. Plus, I'm trying to put a set amount in each month.

Now, if the furnace will be good and not break before we can afford a new one!

They're only paperclips...

November 6th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

A gal I work with recently was demoted. Not only has her job drastically changed, her salary went down almost half. This was not a sign of the economic times, but apparently, from the rumors, a result of some poor decisions made professionally.

She is now working on a regular teacher's salary and complains nonstop about paying union dues, and how hard it is to make it on this salary.

The other day she was asking me how come I don't complain about the salary. I told her because I feel like I'm getting paid a fair amount and that I feel blessed to have a job.

She said it must because I don't have kids. I told her I don't think that was it at all, but that I have a different set of priorities than she does.

This gal has always had to purchase name brand everything. She has to have the expensive purses like Coach. And one is not enough. She has to have a different one for each outfit.

She has jewelry and we aren't talking about the reasonable stuff.

And her clothes have all been top of the line, name brand items. Each week it was a pursuit to buy the latest and greatest.

I know she has looked down her nose at my shoes (which are not only reasonable, but comfortable), to my clothes, and especially my purses. OK, I'll admit it, I buy cheap purses. I have two criteria -- they have to have a comfortable shoulder strap and I need to have room for my iPad.

I told her my priorities are far different than hers and I discovered that being satisified with the things I own has made me far happier than always trying to buy the latest and greatest.

She told me she has changed and that her priorities have changed and she didn't buy a purse last weekend, even though she wanted to.

As she said that, she finished paperclipping some papers and the pile she had left, she gathered into her hand and threw them into the garbage.

They may only be paperclips, but I think it shows her character...and I am not buying the priority change. Would you?

Sweetheart Allowance

August 7th, 2011 at 07:21 pm

We were watching Suze Orman last night and some gal called in in the "Can I Afford It" segment. This segment is where you tell Suze what you want to buy and she looks at your debts and investments and money and tells you if it is a good idea. Anyway, this gal wanted to buy something and she listed her income and then her sweetheart allowance. Suze asked what that was and she said it was her boyfriend's gift to each month. I looked at dh and asked him how come he hadn't given me a sweetheart allowance when we were dating. We laughed about that. I hadn't ever heard of it. Have you?

Cash, Check, or Charge???

August 6th, 2011 at 03:08 pm

Remember when retailers would ask you, cash, check, or charge?

For awhile around here, checks were considered lethal. A lot of places wouldn't consider taking them because they had been burnt with folks writing bad ones. I guess with technology, many are more comfortable because the money can be taken out almost immediately. Which is a good thing for retailers.

My husband has always paid cash for things. It was an issue when we married 21 years ago because he didn't have a credit rating. It made getting a home loan a challenge and we paid a larger interest rate since he had no credit rating although I had a good one. He didn't have a checking account and hated writing checks. He's not thrilled with it now, but since he's retired and does a lot of the shopping, he does write a few more. He did not have a credit card and when we married, I added him to one of mine. He rarely used it, but he's getting a little more comfortable now.

But, that's not to say he or we are spending like fools. If we charge something, it's for the convenience of using the card and then we pay it off when the bill comes.

Since the US' credit rating has been downgraded, lots of business folks are on news programs talking about what it means. One gal said "Cash is king." I know that mantra has been said by many in the past couple of years.

In my own simple thinking, until people realize that they can't buy things if they don't have the cash on hand, our economy is going to struggle. The whole housing fiasco where banks gave loans to folks who really couldn't afford home and no interest and no down payments...why would they think they are responsible for paying if it was so easy?

I know the economic woes extend to more things that this...jobs being a big issue. But, until many folks live within their means and have the cash to cover the checks and charges, we will continue to have problems and we all pay for it in the long run.

Sad Stock Market Day

August 4th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

My dh was watching the stock market numbers for the last half hour before it closed...dropping almost 513 points...newscasters claimed it was the biggest drop since 2008.

Tomorrow the unemployment numbers come out...I'm wondering if we need to fasten our seatbelt for yet another drop. I hope not, but things are looking grim. We were watching the news and they said veterans who have returned from oversees are coming back and having problems getting jobs. One gal said she has applied for 300 jobs -- she wants to be a chef, but said she'd be happy at a fast food restaurant, just to get a job and her foot in the door.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Food Fee Fussing

July 31st, 2011 at 08:04 pm

A week or so ago I posted about certain grocery prices on the rise and many responded you are seeing the same thing.

Last night as we watched Suze Orman, she predicted in 2012 that things might get worse. She said if gas prices continue to rise, groceries will as well, as much as 14-40%! She said that not only does the transporting of food go up, but petroleum products are used for make plastic containers for things that we buy. I never thought of that, but she is right.

As I'm fixing stuff, I'm thinking, am I going to be doing this because I want to save money or because I have to save money?

Suze Orman suggested that people stay conservative for 2012 because she thinks things could get tight. I read in the paper yesterday that the experts are now saying the recession was far worse than they originally thought. No kidding. One of our local food pantries is giving out 100-120 boxes of food each day.

So, do you think Suze is right on grocery prices going up as much as 40%? If she is, it is going to hurt the economy even more because housing and food are necessary items and people will be using their money to buy the necessities.

New Savings Goal

July 15th, 2011 at 08:08 pm

Last summer about this time I blogged that I wanted to new stove. Well, this summer it is a new dishwasher. Our dishwasher still works, so there isn't any hurry. Yet I have found that having a savings goal helps me plan plus lets me anticipate.

My husband is a rare breed -- he carries cash and he likes to pay in exact change. As a result he often has lots of change around the house. I noticed the other day when I was dusting, that his change bowl was overflowing and there seemed to be a lot of pennies. I asked him if I could have the pennies and he said sure. Since there were far more pennies than other coins, I thought this could help both of us out.

Last night I sorted through the change and pulled out the pennies -- over $2.30 worth of pennies. I did find two wheat pennies that I saved. They probably aren't worth anything, but they aren't as plentiful so I thought it would be nice to have two of them before they no longer are in circulation. My husband is a Lincoln buff and I found three pennies that had different Lincoln scenes on the back -- minted in 2009 for his 100th birthday, so I saved those three too.

I checked my wallet and had a few pennies and some extra coins so I threw that in the bag to take to the credit union. Our credit union has one of those change things, but you have to have an account for them to use it. I also had a few extra ones. So my dishwasher account is up to $141.73 (I have added to it previously too).

I know the gurus claim we prices haven't been going up, but I have noticed an increase in many items at the grocery store, plus Illinois increased income tax this spring. It is getting harder to save for nonessentials, so it will probably take me longer to save the money for the dishwasher I want.

Yet, that is OK. It gives me more time to think about and wish for it and appreciate it when I do get it.

T is for Testing

May 15th, 2011 at 06:30 pm

I just typed the headline and chuckled to myself because if I were at work, someone would say, do you meant state tests or local assessments. But, no, I'm talking about testing recipes.

I like to read murder mysteries. One of my favorite authors is Joanne Fluke because I like her character, Hannah, but also because she has cookie recipes throughout.

I tested a cookie recipe today and I'm very pleased. It is for chocolate covered raisin cookies and they are pretty tasty. My husband liked cookies, but not raisins. I wanted to bake some cookies as a treat for my bosses for a meeting we have this week so I didn't feel guilty making these cookies and not leaving them for my hubby to enjoy. He's trying to cut back on the sweets a bit, so he's not tempted. I'm sharing it because I think you might like to try it:

Chocolate Covered Raisin Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 small package (makes 4 half cups) butterscotch instant pudding mix – not sugar free
½ cup white sugar (granulated)
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups quick rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup chocolate covered raisins (I used Nestle Raisinets, an 11 ounce bag. There was ¼ cup left)
1 cup butterscotch chips (6 oz package)
This makes a very heavy, stiff dough. If you have a mixer, you might want to use it!
Mix the softened butter, dry pudding mix, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat until creamed. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour in half cup increments, mixing after each addition. Do the same with the oats.

By hand, add the chocolate covered raisins and butterscotch chips.
Drop the cookie dough by rounded Tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Works best if you have parchment paper on the cookie sheets.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool two minutes on cookie sheets and then move to wire racks to cool.


The author in her acknowledgement page thanked one of her in-house story editors who tasted everyone one of the recipes. Now, isn't that a sacrifice?!?

Has Saving Up Become a Lost Art?

March 6th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

On Sundays our local paper prints a syndicated column by Steve Batie of Houseworks. Usually his columns are about home improvement projects or woodworking. I'm not very handy around the house and woodworking -- let's say I'd prefer not to increase my insurance premiums, but I enjoy his writing style and his well measured sarcastic remarks.

Today he wrote about people saving up for things. He said he thought most folks don't. I would have to agree. Saving has almost become a dirty word to many -- why save when you can have it right now???

I emailed him to thank him for his column, but also to say we are considered odd in our circle of friends -- we save money in a Christmas Club to buy presents come Christmas time. We have a vacation fund where we save up for a trip or two. Last year I used a small savings account to save up for a new stove. When we say we do these things, people look at us like we've sprouted antennae and we are aliens. Why not buy now and pay later? Or, put it on a credit card?

Other than big purchases than a house or a car, we like to save up for things. We did have money for downpayments on both, but that's another story.

Part of it has to do with the anticipation of actually buying something and truly owning it. It isn't an impulse buy and often something we regret. I really enjoy my new stove. I thought about it, researched it, looked at different stoves, and when I finally had the moolah to purchase it outright, decided I deserved the pleasure of owning it. It's mine and I use it and enjoy it. I'm not worrying about it being repossessed. I'm not doing without something else because I purchased it.

The same thing on a vacation. A friend of ours borrowed against his house so he could afford a vacation. I'm thinking to myself, let's see, you don't have the money outright for this trip, so you are going to borrow against the equity of your home to take a trip that when you get back, you will have to worry about paying the extra bills. Somehow, I would have trouble enjoying the vacation.

Granted, there are certain purchases you have to buy because of safety reasons. If I needed a new furnace and it was freezing outside with no thaw in sight, I'd say do what you need to do. But, to purchase an item that you want and then worry about having to pay for it later?

I think in very simplistic terms, the whole idea of not saving is what has gotten our economy in the mess it is in. In general, the Great Depression of the dirty thirties was brought in part by people buying things on credit where they didn't have the money to pay for it. They overextended themselves and eventually it hurt everyone. I think this last recession was a repeat (remember the slogan about those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it?) of that same story. People were buying more house than they can afford and suddenly when it came to crunch time, they couldn't make the payments. No money was being paid and suddenly lots of people were losing money. Excuse me, since when has it become a right for everyone to get exactly what they want immediately?

A friend of ours thought I was nuts when I suggested they make sure they had 20% to put down as a downpayment on their house. I received this comment that it would mean they couldn't buy or couldn't buy the size of house they wanted.

I guess I'm old fashioned -- I think that people are more responsible if they have a stake in whatever they are purchasing.

Although most of the folks on this site are committed to saving, I think we are select few. I say we need to make saving money a goal for everyone.

Ping, ping, ping

February 1st, 2011 at 01:06 am

The little ice crystals are bouncing off our windows and the driveway looks like a skating rink...I think the winter storm has come!

I live in Central Illinois and we are supposed to have freezing rain and then a bunch of snow...possibly close to a foot by Wednesday morning. None of it sounds wonderful, but I'm just hoping the ice doesn't result in power outage. We had an ice storm a little over 4 years ago and it didn't take long for the house to get cold with no electricity. We had a fireplace, but it didn't put off a lot of heat. I know that little storm cost us extra money because we bought firewood and ate out as much as we could not because we couldn't eat what we had, but in an effort and excuse to sit someplace warm and thaw out.

Do you hear it, the ping, ping, ping of ice hitting my window?

A new tax! Grrrr

January 29th, 2011 at 03:17 pm

The state of Illinois in a lame duck session, voted a new income tax in and yesterday's paycheck was the first time they took the additional tax.

It was sizeable. Like over $50. My last paycheck had me paying $12 more in federal tax. No, I didn't get a raise. I'm not really sure why I am paying more in federal tax and everyone I talked to said their pay was different too.

I get the purpose of taxes and normally I don't complain. But, what worries me is if the state doesn't handle the new tax any better than they handled what they previously had, will I be forking over even more in a few years?

Come on government officials...you have to do better! Fortunately I can handle less pay even if I don't like it, but I know there are people out there who can't. For some, that might be the money they are putting back to save and now it's gone. I'm beginning to think the government isn't helping people save money for themselves. What do you think?

It's Here!!!!!!!

November 27th, 2010 at 01:34 am

My beautiful new stove arrived this afternoon. The front is stainless and it has a black smooth cook top. It's so clean and sleek that I could hardly wait to fire it up!

Last weekend I saw an ad for THE stove I wanted and it was marked down. They even threw in an above the stove microwave, something I never would have gotten otherwise. We went to the store and looked at the beauty, opened the door, measured, did anything and everything one would do including kick the proverbial tires! After saving for over a year, I wnated to make sure this was the one.

I guess lots of folks buy new appliances and want them delivered before Thanksgiving. I chose today because I am off from school. The sales lady seemed relieved that I didn't need it before Wednesday.

The microwave was delivered, but the installer called and wanted to wait until tomorrow to put it in. I returned his call and thought I was being kind in saying OK, although he was supposed to come today. He then wanted to move it to Monday. I let my husband call him back because I was afraid I would get emotional on the phone. I have been so excited all week anticipating this lovely new stove and microwave. Hopefully he will show tomorrow, but I have my doubts.

I have cookies baking in the convection oven. I've never had a convection oven before so it is pretty cool. The oven window is so clear it's like watching television as I keep an eye on the cookies baking.

So, for those of you who have cheered me on, thank you for your words of encouragement. I'm very happy with my new stove.

My husband says he's happy too. I think he's pretty elated because he got a cookie from the first batch. But I think he's also secretly relieved that I prefer a big shiny stove instead of a big shiny diamond because that boy likes to eat!

Attitude of Gratitude Day 19

November 23rd, 2010 at 01:45 am

When I think of how blessed I am to have plenty, I think of those who do not. Today I am grateful for food pantries and organizations who are there to help those who are in need. I remember watching the Golden Girls years ago when Rose realized a friend of hers was homeless and that just a few bad breaks and she could be in the same spot. We are a country that is blessed to have these folks who are willing to service those who need help. I am not only thankful for them, but applaud their efforts.

Is Fiction True?

November 2nd, 2010 at 05:51 pm

I just started a fictional book on how a gal who lives in "Bedford" and was a member of high society (read snooty society) was suddenly thrown in a tailspin when her husband was arrested by the FBI for fraud. I haven't gotten to the part where she recovers, but it is interesting to read the author's take on how the once friendly folks she did things with no longer associate with her because she's poor and not deemed worthy of being a part of "their society."

Not being rich or snotty, I wonder if this is realistic fiction. I assume the author is portraying societal norms of a few.

So, while I plan on finishing this book, I did mention to my husband it made me realize I'm glad I don't feel the peer pressure to have to depend on my relationships being based on money and stature in society. My friends are not superficial based on the size of house, money in the bank, and how much volunteering I do.

As we begin November here in America, I'm trying to figure out ways to be grateful for all I have as Thanksgiving approaches. So today I would say I'm grateful that I'm not rich because I don't have to be ashamed of working. Although we all wish we were wealthy, I think it can often bring problems we don't imagine. Realizing satisfaction with what we have is far more comfortable that trying to keep up with wealthy.

For what are you grateful?

Good Ole' Days?

October 24th, 2010 at 08:45 pm

Every so often folks sit down and starting remembering the "Good Ole' Days". And, often, these days of memory weren't so good when they were being lived, but a hard scrabble way of life.

But for many, there were life lessons learned that proved useful later in life.

I've mentioned before my folks grew up during the depression. The struggles they lived through -- going hungry, patched clothes, and doing without shaped their lives and then shaped mine. I fear for having an empty pantry in case something bad might happen -- this fear was learned through their hard lives and passed down to me.

But, I also think this fear also has made me frugal in life as well as appreciative to what I have.

I admit I spend money. Sometimes I go wild and I feel guilty when I do it. But, fortunately I have the means to do this without having to do without things.

But, looking back, some of those things that were in place years ago really did save money and make sense. Old fashioned? Perhaps.

There a quote I often think about:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."
— Boyd K. Packer

If more people did this, perhaps we wouldn't have the money troubles in the economy.

Yesterday we took the train to Chicago and on the way home, chose to buy a sandwich and a bottle of water for our supper instead of buying the pricey meal in the dining car. After finishing the water, I put the bottle in my bag to bring home to recycle. It made me think of growing up when soft drinks were served in glass bottles. When you bought the soda, you paid a deposit and when you returned the empty bottle, you received your deposit back. Talk about recycling! You didn't have to check the bottom to see if the recycling place would take it! And I maintain that a soda doesn't taste as good nowdays in plastic container or aluminum can as it did in an ice cold bottle!

Plus, we had the entertainment of looking at the bottom of the bottle. My dad worked for Coca Cola bottling company and at the bottom of the bottle would be stamped the name of the city the bottle had originally been bottled at the first time it was used. It became a contest to see who had a bottle from the furtherst place.

Today I made what I call "Clean out your kitchen lasagna." I can't give measurements for anything. I had half a pound of sausage that I had cooked with onions and bell peppers. I had bits and pieces of different cheeses. I had a partial container of cream, a partial container of sour cream, milk, leftover lasagna noodles, and a few grape tomatoes. So, I thought a casserole could be this lasagna. I did open a small can of tomato sauce since I didn't have enough tomatoes, but the white sauce was thickedn with some butter and flour and it looked pretty good. It's sitting the fridge with two other casseroles we will be enjoying this week after I get off work.

Maybe we can define the "good" in the "Good Ole Days" as the good learning that took place.

So, what are some ways you are using it up, wearing it out, making it do, or doing without?

Monday Mumblings

August 16th, 2010 at 11:29 pm

It's Monday and back to school. Actually, since one of my schools is a balanced calendar school, I have already started back to work. But today was the official first day for many of the buildings in my district.

This means I'm on the look out for recipes for quick and easy things for dinner. Actually, I call it supper, but most call it dinner. You know, the whole tomato, tohmato thing.

Speaking (writing?) of tomatoes, I was looking at my file of recipes and discovered this one that I thought I could change using fresh tomatoes sliced thinly:

Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes

Three 14 ½ ounce cans whole tomatoes, drained, any variety
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place the tomatoes in a 13x9 inch casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top each with a pat of butter. Generously sprinkle the cheese over the tomatoes and broil for 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatoes are heated through and the cheese is bubbly.

Since it has finally cooled down to the low to mid 80s, I can embrace my oven once again. And if something has cheese, it HAS to be good, right?

Anticipation

July 25th, 2010 at 07:05 pm

The more I listened, the more angry I've become.

I was minding my own business, working in the kitchen this afternoon, and my hubby was watching a program on HGTV called "My First Place." We've watched similar episodes and so many of these folks tick me off.

What irritates me is so many of these "kids" think their first home is supposed to be totally up to date with high end finishes, a basement to entertain in, a yard to show off and entertain in, a kitchen that a gourmet would be proud of, a master bedroom big enough for a ball room and a master bath that is not unlike a spa.

They grouse about so much being wrong or out of date or too small. When I write with something being wrong, I don't mean it is broken, but it doesn't look like the way they expect.

And these two guys weren't sure what they could really afford. One worked two part-time jobs and the other had a full time job.

This isn't the only show that is like this. House Hunters often has guests very similar. Granted, if I were giving big money for a house, I would expect certain things, but unless you get to build your house, I would think there is no "perfect" house.

I guess I'm tired of these folks wanting everything perfect right away. We've lived in this house for 12 years. We've updated and fixed things as we could afford it. Some of the stuff has been changed to match our personal tastes. I would love, love, love a walk in pantry because I have pots, pans, and assorted kitchen gadgets stored every which way to fit. But, I'm not giving up a room or building on to get this wish list item. I just drool when I see Ina Garten's organized pantry. I still have the room for my stuff, it just isn't as organized as I wish.

When we bought this house, we bought a house we could afford -- the bank told us we could borrow far more than we did. We did not buy the biggest or fanciest house in the neighborhood. In fact, it is a little smaller than the first house we bought and it wasn't huge. It is the smallest house on our court.

It's been fun planning and anticipating changes. Six years ago we replaced the kitchen cabinets. I still am thrilled with these cabinets. We kept the same layout, but these cabinets actually stay together when you open the drawers. I have a lazy Susan in the corner cabinet so stuff doesn't get lost in the dark abyss. We kept the counter top because we couldn't afford a new one. Three years ago we changed the counterop to a fancier laminate than we had. I like it, it cleans easily, and it doesn't over improve the house.

Two years ago we replaced the plywood bookcases in the family room with oak ones and had the fireplace mantel replaced -- the fireplace was rough brick and it had a big board that reminded me of one of the railboard boards under a track. Each day when we sit in the family room, I marvel at how nice this room looks. Would I do that if I moved into the perfect house 12 years ago? Probably not. I'd probably take it for granted.

So, I have released a little steam about these folks wanting everything immediately. Perhaps it's the way they have been raised -- they feel entitled to the very best. Or, perhaps it's at the urging of the television producers -- I imagine a lot goes on that we don't know.

For me, I know anticipation is part of the fun of fixing up my unperfect home.

Hometown Challenge

July 2nd, 2010 at 02:44 pm

Our hometown put out a challenge. The challenge was for people to spend so much a month in locally owned businesses. I don’t remember the amount, but it was not a huge amount …I’m thinking maybe $50.

I think it is important to try and support the businesses that are owned and run by locals. Although chains seem to offer lower prices on many things, it is the locals who truly support local economy because they live and work in the community.

We try to buy locally when we can. I like to see the little guy (or gal) become a success in business if they truly want to run one the right way. And, it seems most of these folks truly appreciate our business.

As we start the July 4th weekend, perhaps we can rejoice in the freedoms we have, and one of those is the freedom to patronize the businesses of our choosing. Although not in the Declaration of Independence or Constitution, it is one of our rights…we don’t have to, like the song says, “owe our soul to the company store.”

Saving for a stove

July 1st, 2010 at 02:40 pm

Only my husband knows my secret and until two weeks ago, he was blissfully unaware.

I want a new stove. Read…want, not need. My stove is a few years old and it works fine. I try to keep it very clean not only for appearance but also for sanitary reasons. I will admit I hate cleaning the oven though!

But, I want a new ceramic cook top stainless steel stove. I like sleek shiny items for the kitchen like many men like sleek shiny sports cars. I don’t have the room or the budget for a professional stove and with my asthma, I’m not sure I could have a gas stove anyway. Last summer we purchased a new fridge because ours was dying and it was old. We decided to get a stainless steel one since almond was a hard color to buy around here. That’s what we had before. We were limited to what we could get because in the 1970s when our house was built, they didn’t allow for huge refrigerators and we certainly aren’t redoing the kitchen for a fridge.

So, I have been saving a few dollars here and there to save up for this luxury item.

Yesterday we stopped by the auction and picked up $28 for the stuff we took there. We normally donate our items to a charity, but these were items I didn’t think they’d want or take so I have $28 to put in my stove fund. We plan on taking a few more items next week. We aren’t making a huge amount, but we are cleaning out the shed and the garage and getting rid of stuff and hopefully getting a little closer to my goal. I still have a ways to go.

My husband gave me his extra change and I have been squirreling change for the past couple of months and we took it to the bank to put in the stove account. He wondered why I was putting money into this little savings account a few dollars at a time. We keep a small amount of money in it as an emergency fund. So, I finally told him. And he’s gladly gotten on board because he says he knows he’ll enjoy my use of it when I get it.

I am up to $284.74. I have a ways to go, but that’s OK. I think saving for it will make me appreciate it that much more.

So now you know my secret! Maybe I should also save some extra to hire someone to clean the oven!

Things v. experiences

June 29th, 2010 at 02:44 pm

Things v. experiences. I read somewhere over the weekend that people feel that folks who talk about the things they buy come across as self centered whereas people who talk about experiences do not.
I wonder if that is true.

I would say by reading the SA blogs, it is. The folks who blog about experiences often talk about doing for others whether it is family or donating to the food bank – they look beyond themselves.

Very few blog about things, and if they do, it is matter of fact, not a brag fest.

I do know a friend who is totally tied up in the acquisition of things. He is not happy unless he is pursuing the purchase of something or purchasing something. And then the bragging begins. He makes decent money, but because of his spending habits, has had to refinance the house so he could vacation. While he was waiting for the refinancing, he was very irritable to be around because he felt he didn’t have any money to spend. It has become more and more difficult to talk to him because unless he has something to brag about, he doesn’t have much to talk about. I would say he’s pretty self-centered. I think he’s trying to fill a void in his life by filling it up with things. His idea of a vacation is going shopping. My idea of a vacation is relaxing and seeing things.

Most of the people I do enjoy time with talk about experiences and things they saw and we either learn or laugh. It’s a give and take relationship. We enjoy each other’s company and seem to never run out of things to talk about.

So, what is your take on this? Would you concur that folks who talk about things all the time come across as self-centered?

Let the excitement begin...

June 27th, 2010 at 05:53 pm

I am not a yelling type excitable person. If they put me on a game show, they wouldn’t keep me because I am pretty quiet and tame.

But, I’m excited! Our church is going to publish a cookbook! Should I have typed that in all caps? I enjoy looking through cookbooks, but to be honest, those glossy professionally bound cookbooks are a joy to behold, but I don’t use all the recipes from them. Some of them have things I'm not sure I can find at the local grocery!

It’s the cookbooks published by those folks who cook every day that I think have a great deal of merit.
It's like finding the dog eared recipes your grandma loved and cherished and you fear were lost.
They are the tried and true recipes from the people around us that we like and trust. We get to peek into their meal time a little bit to see what they like and cook.

How many times have we been to a potluck where we’ve tried something and immediately asked, “Can I have the recipe?”

Well, the sharing of recipes has begun. And I can hardly wait to share mine.

So, I AM EXCITED!


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