It's been a busy week.
It's also been a tough week. My asthma has really kicked up and I'm having issues breathing so I'm having to do breathing treatments. It makes me tired having to struggle and coughing so much. But I know it will eventually get better.
I did an art project with the fifth graders I volunteer with this week. We used some fancy yarn that was leftovers from donation yarn that no one could use at church. We made baskets by weaving it in and out of plastic drinking cups I had cut for that purpose. Some of the kids really did a fabulous job. Some decided it was too much work and quit. I had taken in a Gullah basket to show them before I did the project. I spent quite a bit of time getting the cups ready as well as making sure I had enough materials. I hate to sound negative, but I wasn't too shocked that so many kids decided it was too much work to try and do this project. I think it took most of them that finished it about 15 minutes to complete it.
We did get our names put on the list for a new driveway. We have to wait a bit since there are five people ahead of us. I dread the construction and parking in the street, but will be glad to have a smooth, new driveway. We saved almost $8K for it just in case, but the bid came in at $5500. So, we will have money left over to put on the next project we will be saving for. As nice as it is to own our home, there's always something to fix or replace isn't there? Our driveway is original with the house which was built in 1979 so I guess the fact it has lasted this long isn't something to sneeze at. We have a hill so I guess it is a tricky pour.
We finally got our last group of tax papers so our taxes are done! Amen!
I finished the book "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella. I know it is fiction, but I think the author probably nailed the rationalization of why people spend foolishly.
Last night we went to a nearby small town and had dinner at an Amish home. Our friends are friends with this couple and the Amish couple do this every so often to make money. She served it buffet style. And it was amazing. Not good if you are watching calories, but yowza! Fried chicken, meatloaf, pulled pork, lasagna, dressing, chicken and noodles, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, green salad, pickled beets, two types of pickles, cottage cheese, homemade rolls with butter and/or homemade apple butter. And pie. Four different kinds of freshly baked pie. Oh, my! There was a large group besides us and after they all left, she handed my friends and us a container and said take some home! So we brought a few things home for another meal. I'll have to supplement a little bit, but still, that was a great deal. Everything was homemade. What a treat! Not something I'd want to do often though.
I still have some ironing I want to do today after my breathing treatment and before supper. I haven't felt like doing a whole lot, but have been pushing myself to try and get some things accomplished or otherwise when I do get over this, I will be so overwhelmed.
Hope everyone has a good week.
Viewing the 'Retirement' Category
It's been a busy week.
Not too much new going on here which is just fine. I guess I'm not one that has to have lots going on. I just read Patient Saver's blog about feeling retired and finding plenty to do. I responded I never can understand those folks who would say they never would know what to do if they retired. I find plenty to do. I just finished a two day house cleaning. My last hardwood floor is drying as I type. There's something about appreciating what you have when you take care of things.
I've read over 76 books so far this year. Most are fiction. One or two were money non fiction books, but so many say the same thing. A couple of months ago I mentioned that the library keeps a running tally of how much using the library has saved us since last March. My tally so far is $1327.20. That doesn't count the multitude of books DH checks out on his card. I'll have to ask him what his total is. We certainly get our money's worth out of the library use.
My church group has over 665 hats knitted so far. We will meet and vote next week on how we are going to disburse them. I'm going to go to a state site and look up poverty rates for the local schools to aid in our decision.
With the leftover yarn from the hats I've knitted, I've been making dish cloths. I have given quite a few of them away and now I'm saving them to donate to the church Christmas bazaar. I've seen them at local thrift stores for sale for between $1.39 to $1.50. Mine are a little larger, but I think we should put $1 on them since most of the yarn was left over and my work doesn't count.
I haven't counted how much I've canned yet. I need to do that so I can keep track of what we have. But we have green beans, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, tomato jam, sweet pickles, apple jelly, mixed fruit jelly, and grape jelly.
My next goal is to continue the decluttering project I've been working on this summer. I have a few boxes packed already. There are some other items I know I want to box up. I have been saving newspaper so I can wrap the stuff in it so it doesn't break.
One of our grocery stores puts out a monthly "Penny Pincher" coupon book. Most months there isn't much in there. This month they had sugar on sale even cheaper than Aldi. Since I bake a lot for the church bazaar, I thought I could buy the limit of 2 of them for this. There were a few more items we could use so we made a trip of it since we were on that side of town. I told a friend I feel like between canning and finding some of these bargains, I'm preparing for winter. My folks grew up in the Depression and when fall came, my mom and dad always bought stuff on sale and stock piled it in case we would have bad weather and couldn't get out. A couple of friends of mine basically shop each day or every other day so they think I'm weird. Maybe so, but there's something reassuring seeing some of this stuff in case we need it. Plus, I try to get stuff on sale.
Prayers for those who were effected by Harvey and those who will be hit by Irma.
It is hard to believe today is the last day of July. The garden is going gangbusters which is good. Tomatoes! Lots and lots of them are coming on. I spent some time canning them Saturday. I looks like I will be canning some more this afternoon. No complaints about it either! I know it was sure nice this last winter to open up a jar of tomatoes and taste that fresh tomato from the summer. We have shared some tomatoes with some friends and they keep commenting on how good they are and they are.
My pie safe (where I store most of the stuff canned is starting to fill up. This past week I have canned some green beans, tomatoes, made sweet pickles, and made mixed berry jam. I buy fresh fruit every week to make a fruit salad that we have some once a day. With the extra fruit (some of the packages are larger due to it being in season) we can't eat it all so I put it in the freezer. When I get quite a bit saved, I then cook the berries together and make jam. I enjoy the jam, but I also plan to give some away at Christmas time. I make up baskets of goodies to some of my friends. Most of us don't exchange purchased gifts per se since we basically have what we need or too many knick knacks.
The garlic looks like it is about ready to be harvested too. I usually pick it and then clean and mince it and store it in olive oil in the fridge. We don't get a ton, but enough to use it throughout the year and have some extra cloves that we plant for the following year.
One of my husband's friends seems to have a problem with my husband's green thumb. It is almost to the point of jealousy. I don't know why. This person is very talented in so many areas and can do so many things. DH, and I love him dearly, isn't mechanically inclined. We usually have to outsource many jobs. But the lawn and garden are his speciality. As DH says, no one can be good at everything. Just wish his friend wouldn't have such problem with his ego and appreciate what DH can do.
Our pastor is retiring in two weeks. We will miss him dearly, but his replacement appears to be a good guy as well. The church had a retirement luncheon yesterday and a short presentation to thank our pastor for his service and caring for the congregation. It was very touching to see all the lives he has touched. I took my camera and took photos of and then uploaded them to the church's Facebook page. I then created a video to put on my page since I put in things I wanted to say.
We went to the Beef House on Wednesday over in Indiana. It is well known around here for good food and these amazing rolls. We actually did this on a bus trip and saw a play in addition to the meal. I just couldn't get over the feeding frenzy some of these people were a part of with the rolls. They are huge. Bigger than a large fist. Of course like most bread, they will bring out as many as you want. Well, so many at our table wanted to take some home. Not just one, but 2 or 3. They were snippy with the servers who didn't bring enough bags the first time. These servers were high school students donating their time in hopes of getting tips. Anyway, the ladies at our table were fawning over these rolls with that glint of greed in their eyes. The rolls were delicious when they brought them out...warm from the oven or warming drawer and very fresh. But white rolls tend to get stale very quickly. Guess these folks thought they were getting something for nothing. I wonder how many really ate those rolls or threw them out when they got home. Most of the people on the trip weren't poverty stricken, so I guess the offer of something free was too tempting. I didn't bring any home. I'm not above eating leftovers, but couldn't imagine even a few seconds in the microwave would make the rolls soft and good again. Plus, I'm trying to cut down on the carbs a bit.
That six letter word is driving me crazy. Or crazier. We have so many of them and so many of them say don't discard. I have been going through drawers and did get rid of a bunch of stuff.
I have two boxes of stuff to donate (non paper items). I recycled a bunch of stuff that could be. The shred pile has grown considerably as well, but still have a ton of papers that we are keeping. It is discouraging. I threw away some photos. They were photos I took, no people in them, and although at the time I thought they were great, now I don't think so . I had a scrapbook of things when I first started teaching over 30 years ago. I pulled out the photos and have either mailed them to the people who were in them if I could find their addresses or dropped them off to local folks.
One of our stops today was the library. As my husband was getting in the car, a guy wanted him to roll down the window. I told him not to because I knew it was a panhandler. They hang out in the library parking lot quite a bit. One of the guys who was associated with the homeless shelter has been on the news saying not to give them donations because their needs are being met at the local homeless shelter and they want the money for drugs and/or alcohol. One gal argued with me the other day. She said she needed money for coffee, I told her the shelter which is about 4 blocks away has free coffee. She told me she was thrown out and I just walked away. You feel sorry for them, but I don't want to give them money for drugs.
It's isn't super hot and humid here today (this weekend it was horrific for the first of June) so I decided to use some of the apple juice I've made to make apple jelly.
I make our own juice and apple sauce because I don't want product grown in China. I've read about where many of the fruits and vegetables grow there and it scares me. Plus, I don't use as much sweetener for either. I use cinnamon and nutmeg while the apples cook and add a little sugar, but not much. When I make the applesauce, I put in a little maple syrup while blending it and it gives is a good flavor, but not too much sweetness. Anyway, I've made quite a bit of applesauce and I have far more apple juice than my husband can consume. So, jelly it is!
I use the jelly throughout the year and I try to make up extra to give away at Christmas. I've been kind of fortunate that I've found jelly jars at the thrift stores lately. I have a few friends who save the jars for me, but many don't, even when I ask them to. I hate to appear cheap, but besides the work, jars, lids, and rings do cost money.
It's been a productive day overall. I washed, dried, and ironed the kitchen curtains and washed the kitchen window which is a pain in the patootie for me to wash because I'm short and have to stand on a step stool to wash the windows as well as hang the curtains. I've done some laundry besides, and some cleaning, made the jelly, and penned three letters.
I think I felt like I needed to really be productive because yesterday we drove to Chicago to visit a friend of mine from college. It was a nice visit, but I'm not sure driving 3 hours each way for a two hour visit was worth it. We didn't do anything else because we had to meet my friend at a certain time and by the time we finished our lunch and visit, if we had ventured any farther, we would have had to fight rush hour. I wasn't in any mood to do that, so we came home. And I was exhausted from the driving so I was ever so glad to be home. My friend was generous and bought our lunch so our trip was basically for gas. Is wasn't the cost of the trip, but the weariness of all the driving that makes me wonder if it is worth it.
Today has been quite a busy day around here. DH and I cleaned house. I am happy that we did and I like having a clean house. I just threw in a load of towels after putting fresh ones out after freshening up the bathrooms. They weren't dirty, but I have found if I do touchups here and there, they don't get bad either.
Lunch today was chicken and noodles. I had purchased a whole chicken and cooked it in the Crockpot the other night with some spices, herbs, and a few vegetables to make a good broth. We had some of the chicken for dinner, and I used the rest to make chicken and noodles with the broth. I also froze the extra broth so I will have it on hand for something else. So, we have had three meals from that chicken and I think one more is on the horizon. Not enough to make it an entree, but we may be having potluck for dinner one night with the leftover pork chops from another meal. I like having extra food because it means it is easier to put meals together. I usually have some soup in the freezer so if we need a quick meal, I can thaw and heat it up, but I used the last of it. So, that is on the list to get done.
Well, after my rant the other day, I can say a couple of things seem to be worked out. I emailed the city librarian about the fact our books weren't checked in and we were getting fines. He emailed a response and within an hour, we received a phone call from the person in charge of circulation and our books were checked in and the fines wiped out. That was a relief. DH checks out bunches of children's books because he reads to classes during the week. It's one thing to pay a fine that you truly owe because you were late and we have done that without grumbling. But it is a whole different story when you owe fines on stuff you returned on time or before. Right now DH has 24 books out and I'd hate to see what the fines would be if he returned them and they weren't checked in.
Yesterday the neighbor kids played on another street. Hopefully they will find the other street a better fit for their kickball game. I don't like being a cranky neighbor, but I don't like it when you've had to ask them more than once to stay off your property and there is so little regard for both your request and your yard and plants.
I don't know when you get the ads for your grocery stores, but we get two of them on Wednesday and one on Thursday. I do wish we'd get them all on Wednesday because I prefer to make my lists on Wednesday night. So, i have to make a tentative list and finish up on Thursdays before I go shopping. Oh, well.
I just finished a fictional tome last night. If you like Fannie Flagg books, this one is similar, but it is a Christian novel. It is "Velma Still Cooks in Leeway" by Vinita Hampton Wright.It is set in a small town and kind of an interesting outlook.
I have been working on knitting hats for my church group. We meet tomorrow and I like to have some finished before we go and work some more. I have been making Swiffer covers and dish cloths out of the leftover yarn. I have a feeling one of the dish cloths is going to be wild because I have lots of different colors, but not enough to make anything out of just a couple. One of my friends has a tea room and I have been giving her some of the Swiffer covers and the dish cloths and she is delighted. She told me she didn't care about the colors, and on the dishcloths, she intends to throw them in bleach so eventually they will all be faded out. I just like that I can use up these leftovers. I have lots of dishcloths for myself now and can use a clean one every day since I have made so many. Guess I'm rich in dishcloths. I used a Swiffer cover today to polish our floors. I bought some special cleaner/polish and like the fact I'm not using a disposable pad, but can wash it when I'm finished.
It is sunny here. Not super warm, but a pleasant spring day. We had so much rain last week that is makes it seem so much more like spring when we have a couple of days of sunshine. Hope things are nice where you are too.
It was a nice surprise -- it was sunny this afternoon. It was supposed to be rainy. So, it was like a gift -- a pretty spring day!
It's been busy around here. Not too much out of the ordinary, but busy. Well, one thing big..we bought a new car. I'm not going to apologize for buying a brand new one. Yes, I know a used one is better because of it doesn't lose as much value. But, we are at a point in our lives we don't want someone else's problems. We deal with a great dealer and any service we have needed has been fabulous. Actually, DH got the new car. I got his old one which isn't that old...a 2013. He's a happy man and that's what I value. I tease him that he has a new lady in his life. Men and their cars!
Other than that, I'm just trying to keep my head above water on things. We finally got our taxes done. It seemed like we waited forever to get one of our 1099 forms. We are getting a small refund. We would rather get a small refund than pay. One of our friends who is also retired is getting a huge one. We can't figure out how.
Since I've retired, I have tried to keep a schedule on cleaning the house. I tried doing that when I worked too and sometimes couldn't, but as a retiree, it is easier. I did then when I was off school in the summers. My mom would ask why I would do this, but I told her it was far easier to clean the house when it wasn't really bad then it was to have to do a deep clean. With my asthma and allergies it is helpful if I keep the house pretty clean.
I'm on the call committee at church as we seek a new pastor. Our current pastor is retiring so we have been working on finding a replacement. Plus I volunteer at two schools and do some other things at church. I'm pretty satisfied with how my life is going and I have found I am not spending a lot of extra money (OK, except that new car). I guess I'm not a high maintenance person.
Today I visited with a lady who is 93. Fortunately she still lives at home. Her sons look out for her. We were talking how little things mean to her now. She was always a careful shopper, but she said it doesn't hurt her to part with things anymore. I know some of you have blogged about decluttering and have voiced this same opinion.
DH has been working in the garden putting in lettuce and radishes and onions. I'm already looking forward to eating them!
Hope you have had a nice Sunday.
Years ago I had a sewing machine. It was my grandmother's. Big heavy "portable" thing that you had to be a weight lifter to put it on a table. I used it. A lot. I then decided to buy a newer machine with a cabinet. My mom was an expert on machines and she picked it out and we brought it home. We both used it. She used it far more than I did. When I moved out, I gave it to her since she was using it more than I did. When she died, I didn't have room for it, so I gave it to one of her friends who had a daughter who wanted a machine. It's been ten years since my mom died.
Since I am retired, I have time to do more than just sew on a button. I decided I wanted a machine. I found one at a thrift store for $20. It isn't perfect, but it works. It also isn't as heavy as my grandmother's. I have no idea what happened to my grandmother's machine, by the way. This one has a few problems, but for the little bit of sewing I plan to do, it is workable.
Yesterday I decided I wanted to try and make a cloth grocery bag. I had no pattern, but I measured one and made my own pattern. As I'm pinning the pieces together I just felt a degree of satisfaction. I won't be making anything big or fancy, but it certainly is nice to make something I can use. I bought some scrap material for $1 and I didn't use it all, so my bag will be less than a $1 when I get it finished. I decided to crochet the handles so I'm not quite finished with it.
There is something so satisfying to creating something and finishing it, isn't there?
I think I may have mentioned a group from church where we knit hats on looms. One of the reports for the local paper is a school chum and I told her about our goal of making more hats than this year and adopting some classes next year and giving them hats. The story did make the paper and as a result, we have had four people donate some yarn and a couple more promise. It's kind of nice when people like to get involved. Anyway, here's the link to the story if you are interested:
To follow up on an earlier post, I did cancel the subscription to the Sunday Chicago Tribune. It wasn't easy. I wrote a letter to the editor of the Trib and I haven't seen it published, but received another phone call this morning begging me to reconsider. I refused. DH said he didn't want me to have to bother with it anymore and I'm relieved.
Hope your Friday is a good one and if you are Irish or Irish wannabe, hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day!
Life has been busy around here. DH and I have worked to get the house ready for fall and winter. DH is still trying to take it easy after his surgery so things take a little longer. But, we've gotten many of our summer items put away. I finished drying herbs and have them ready to use as I cook. The hose is emptied and put up and the rain barrel has been dismantled and put away as well.
Each year my church has a bazaar for Christmas. In the past I've donated what I could, but time constraints have limited me somewhat. This summer as I went to thrift stores and garage sales I had a few items in mind as I shopped. I wanted some table top trees. I also wanted some crochet thread. I found both at different places very reasonably. So, off and on this summer I crocheted ornaments for these trees. The beauty of these ornaments is they don't take a ton of thread so I could buy already started crochet thread and make a few ornaments and not have a lot of money involved. I finished three trees and took them to church so they are ready for the sale. I also found a candle wick Christmas stocking kit new in the package for 99 cents. Candle wicking is a form of embroidery. I worked on it this summer too, finished the embroidery part and then sewed the stocking together. It will also be donated. I forgot to iron it when I ironed some other things the other day.
A couple of months ago I joined a group at church called Stitches of Love. This group makes a variety of things, but a couple of things everyone works on at one time or another has to be these knitted hats that are made on a knitting loom. They taught me how to do this and I've made both hats for preemies and then hats to donate. We've donated to three schools so far. In one of the closets there are tubs of yarn that have been donated so we can use that if we want. I had some odds and ends of the yarn I've used to make these hats, both from the stuff I've purchased as well as the free stuff and I wondered what I could do with it without waiting to make one big projects. I discovered a pattern to make a cover for the Swiffer. So, I made one for myself out of the scraps and tried it and it works pretty well. So, I went through the tubs at church and found bits and pieces of yarn and have been working on making these covers to donate to the bazaar.
All these projects aren't major things, but they have kept my hands busy and hopefully will help out either the bazaar or the children we donate the hats for. As far as cost, other than buying the looms retail, everything else has been bought used at thrift stores and garage sales or gleaned from the yarn tubs at church. I don't know if I'm saving money, but it is pretty decent entertainment for little money.
Happy Halloween! We are ready for the trick or treaters tonight -Stocked up on candy. Our ranch house has a garage jutting out and unfortunately our good city doesn't believe in more than one street lamp per cul-d-sac so it is kind of dark for those little ones to walk around the side of the garage to the front door. So, we normally open our garage door and have our lights on and the kids just walk up our driveway and get their treats. My husband loves handing them out and seeing the little ones in their costumes. Although I try to catch candy on sale and use some of the coupons, it isn't a real frugal experience. But, we figure it is a neighborly thing to do, and in some ways, it is entertainment, especially being the kids dressed up. Each year I pull out this large plastic lighted pumpkin. I was just thinking we have had this thing at least 20 years. We had it our other house for a couple of years and we've lived here 18. Amazing how things last when you take care of them, isn't it?
Like most of you, I've always tried to hit the sales at grocery stores for this and that. I normally shop at Aldi for most of our items, but there are other things we pick up here and there. We have a County Market that puts out a coupon book every month and it goes for about two weeks. Usually there is only one or two items that we will get and sometimes it isn't worth it to make an extra trip. But this one had bacon on sale, butter on sale, as well as deli ham. Deli ham that is normally $8.99 a pound for $3.99 a pound. And, we were out on that side of town, so it wasn't a special trip. After we finished our shopping, I told DH what a pleasure it is to be retired and not have to scramble on weekends to do this sort of stuff. I feel we are truly blessed to be retired and be able to take advantage of sales like this.
Soupy as I'm making soup. Lots of it. Although it's still pretty warm here in Central Illinois, a frost may be coming at some point. I'm trying to use up the many bell peppers we have as well as some other vegetables and making soup. Actually, I made a large pot of soup Friday and I'm making another today. I found celery on sale at Aldi last week and bought a bunch, and bought some other vegetables to go with it. I found an English roast marked down almost half at Kroger's so i put it in the slow cooker Friday morning and then cut it up and used half in the soup Friday and the other half today. I pulled tomato sauce I had frozen last fall to add to the soup and then also used barley and lentils. The current pot is simmering away. Once it cools, I'm going to put it in smaller portions and store in the freezer for easy and quick meals. Fortunately DH and I like soup and can eat it year round. Plus, it is a good way to use up stuff.
As for the Fix It Friday, wish it was my idea, but alas, it was not. I read an article that students in textile classes at Illinois State University set up a station and called their time "Fix It Friday" and sewed buttons on and repaired slight tears for other students who don't know how to do this. They said it is one way to keep items out of the landfills that are still perfectly OK. I know most people reading that are wondering what that is about, but I can attest, there are folks who once they lose a button, throw the garment away. I worked with a gal who had a nice pair of khakis and the button came off. I told her if we could find a needle and thread, I would sew it back on for her, but she said not to worry, she would use a binder clip to keep her pants together and throw them away when she got home. I couldn't believe it. She said she just buys a new pair when it happens.
DH and I are enjoying retirement. Last Tuesday we went on a bus trip to The Hill in St. Louis. We ate lunch at a restaurant (it was included in the trip price) walked around and looked in two of the Italian grocery stores, went on a tour of a mom and pop soap making store, enjoyed the smells of two bakeries and bought a small piece of Italian flat bread, had some gelato and when we arrived home, pulled some soup out of the freezer and heated it up for supper. Yesterday we went to Morris, Illinois, which is about 2 hours north of us. There is market the second Saturday along the Illinois and Michigan canal and they have foods, crafts, and flea market stuff. We walked around the market, bought two cinnamon rolls for breakfast today, walked around the lovely downtown, bought s small dish of ice cream (DH adores ice cream), and drove home and felt we had hit the jackpot. And you guessed it, we had soup last night too. We weren't super hungry after having the ice cream and why go out when we have soup at home?
A friend of ours says he is shocked at how we are spending money. Well, first of all, we've saved for years. All those years of scrimping on this and that and eating leftovers so we had money put away. We aren't taking major trips this year. We like the small, short ones. Plus, it gets us out and moving and walking. What we've spent so far hasn't hit one savings account so we aren't overspending. Plus, we eat at home a lot when we aren't out and about. This same friend and spouse admitted they eat out just about every meal. No thanks. It isn't special anymore. Plus, other than a few restaurants, there aren't many places we like all that well to have to eat out every meal.
Well, time to check on the soup!
It's funny...I've been retired for awhile -- I retired the day after school was out, but with summer break, I didn't really count it until August 15, the first day of school going back in session. So, lots of people have asked me how I like retirement. I can say I like it a lot.
I'm a sort of schedule person so after the first week, DH and I got into a schedule. We go to bed about the same time every night (later than when I worked since I don't have to get up super early anymore) and we get up around the same time every day. We got into an exercise and shower routine. He walks and I ride an exercise bike. I don't handle the sun or outside due to allergies. I try to do laundry on certain days because there is a comfort to that for me. I plan to grocery shop on Thursdays because it isn't as crowded, but the stores have their aisles pretty well stocked.
Today isn't the first day that it has been such a joy being retired, but as hot as it is today, I don't have to go and work in a hotbox known as many of our elementary schools and return tonight for open house. I can't tell you what a relief that is.
Yesterday my chiropractor asked me how I liked retirement. I guess because I'm not traveling all the time, they think I'm bored. I'm not. I cook, I read, I've canned, I clean, I visit with friends, and lately, I've been taking care of my husband due to his surgery. It's just nice not having to rush around and worry about getting enough sleep and getting to work on time.
One of the ladies I used to work with was always either late or cutting it close. She posted on Facebook that it finally happened -- she and her spouse overslept and the principal came to their house to do a check. In all the years I worked at different jobs, I was not late because I overslept. I would have been so embarrassed. She wasn't -- she thought it was funny. Maybe I'm too old fashioned and strict with myself. I don't find is amusing. It annoyed me to no end when she and other folks who were always running late felt it was OK for other people to pick up the slack because they couldn't and wouldn't get to work on time. Ah, that's no longer my problem, is it? I'm retired.
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!
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.
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.
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?
Another weekend and another time the maid didn't show up! Of course she didn't...we don't have a maid. But a gal can dream, right?
We took down our Christmas decorations and put things away yesterday. After church and brunch today, we went to work of cleaning house. I think the house looks bigger after we put away our decorations. I usually put some things away when I set Christmas stuff out. Then when we put away the Christmas decorations, I pull out some of the stuff and it is like having something new. I know, I'm weird.
We had a small ham for Christmas dinner and supper. Today it made an appearance chopped up in scrambled eggs for brunch and tonight, hopefully it will have its final and encore performance in sandwiches. I'm not a huge ham lover -- I can eat it and enjoy it the first time or two. But, I tire of it easily, yet I am too frugal to throw it away. I've tried freezing it before and it was OK in ham and beans, but nothing to write home about.
We had a delightful Christmas and like so many of you, everything was paid for in cash. Well, sort of. I did put some things on my Discover card to get the extra cash back, but paid it off when the bill came.
Yesterday supposedly was to be a big shopping day. We didn't participate and help the economy. There really isn't anything we needed. DH picked out what he wanted for Christmas and I picked out some of what I wanted and he chose well for the rest. I'm indeed blessed.
The countdown continues for retirement. I have 95 school days left barring any snow days. Part of me is very excited and part of me is scared. My pension will be smaller than my current salary. I am not eligible for Social Security since I am a teacher in Illinois. I keep telling myself that with no outstanding debt and the fact we are careful with our money, there shouldn't be any problems.
I do have a question though. I plan to retire in May. Do I have to fully fund my Roth IRA before I retire, or do I have the rest of the year to fund it?
Hope you all have a wonderful prosperous new year!
It's been a busy couple of weeks. School started for teachers August 13 and students returned August 17. We had some very hot days (most of our schools are not air conditioned.) But, like most educators, we are optimistic about a good year. We have a new principal at our building this year and if the last 7 days are any indication, he's going to be a winner! A strong leader makes a workplace so much better.
DH planted a small garden and we have been enjoying tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs. We had hoped to get more tomatoes this year so I could can quite a few, but our tomatoes have really dropped off. A friend and her brother have kept us supplied in green beans. Another friend gave us some sweet corn. And I have acquired cucumbers to make pickles from a variety of places. I have canned what I could and have quite a few things for our pantry. There is something about looking at what we have that makes me feel good. Weird, eh?
Before school began, I had meetings in the district. It was funny how old habits pop up. We were given ample time to go out to eat. I took my lunch and ate there and worked and I took my coffee instead of stopping and getting some for the morning. It was interesting because some of the folks were already complaining how money was tight. Imagine that!
I plan on retiring at the end of this school year. I didn't get a special deal or retirement bonus or anything. Someone asked me how I could plan to retire so soon (I'll be 55.) I said we saved and paid off things. Our home is paid for. Both vehicles are paid off. Other than our every day spending and bills, we don't have any outstanding bills. Basically, we have lived below our means. We met with our financial advisor last summer and when he saw our budget, he was astounded. He said that so many folks "finance" everything and are never prepared at this stage in their lives. So, unless we have some major thing come up, we should be doing OK.
I was telling a young person the other day I was planning on retiring and we were talking about Roths and 403bs. He said he and his wife don't have money to save. I told him he needed to find money to save, even a little bit, because it is over the years that it increases. I could tell he really didn't want to think about how to save money; it is far easier to complain you don't have it instead of trying to figure out ways to save it.
Our meals for this week:
brunch: scrambled eggs, sausage, grits, toast, fruit
Baby back ribs, mashed potatoes, greens beans, fruit
Pork tenderloin roast with carrots and onions, roasted potatoes
Leftover roast with sweet potatoes and green beans
Quiche with leftover sausage, sliced tomatoes
Chicken with barbecue sauce, roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, roasted vegetables, fruit
Just got off the phone with a friend who is a retired teacher. She has been retired 28 years and we were discussing the pension system in Illinois and the changes in insurance.
She and her husband were savers when they were young and when they retired, they had investments that were decent. Her husband has since died and she has been careful with both her pension and her savings. We were talking about how the market in the years before she retired went up and down and although they didn't save vast amounts at one time, the compounding interest throughout the years certainly paid off.
A person we both worked with retired ten years ago. His pension is over double what she draws. And he put nothing aside all those years although he made far more money than she did because he wasn't always in the classroom.
Right now Illinois has some major pension problems. One of the things the legislators are looking at is possibly doing away with the cost of living raise. It isn't that pensioners wouldn't get one, but it wouldn't be compounded like it is now. This person is scared that they will no longer compound because he isn't sure how he can make it.
It is sad, isn't it? No, I'm not saying it is sad about his worry about the cola. It is sad that he never planned ahead to put anything away in case something came up. Although he draws a large pension, he cannot make ends meet and often gets a loan from his home equity to give him spending money.
I find that scary. Especially since this is someone who is educated. Yet he lives for the moment and buys expensive toys. He has made fun of me for being "cheap." He's usually making fun of me for something so it really doesn't bother me, but we figure he has quite a balancing act when it comes to paying bills. Yikes!
Educated yes, but lacking common sense. Wouldn't you agree?
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.