This will be a potpourri since I don't have one really important thing to say.
Every so often, we share food with a few of our friends. I enjoy cooking and I enjoy sharing food, even if we can't meet for a meal. We had a surprise this week...someone called and said they had a surprise. They had grilled pork and gave us enough for two meals of pulled pork. Yum!
Someone on Facebook posted about instead of giving up something for Lent, how about collect a plastic bag of stuff to donate each day. That sounds like a great idea, but we have been giving stuff regularly anyway, so I'm thinking maybe of finding something each day to donate instead of 40 bags.
When I retired I joined a group at church called "Stitches of Love." The purpose of the group was to knit and crochet items to donate to various places. In the past they had crocheted lap robes. They recently started working on round knitting looms and made hats. We made hats and I took them to a few schools and they were passed out. It was fine and the schools appreciated them. However, a friend and I decided to adopt a classroom this year and we made hats for the whole class and the teacher and took them in. The kids loved knowing they were made for them. So, I brought this idea to the group and it has been interesting about the reaction. We decided to try and ask other Lutheran churches to join us and suddenly there is a zeal we haven't seen. It is pretty exciting to see people wanting to get involved with this. My DH said it is like we have a new purpose. So, that is kind of cool.
As far as grocery shopping, I've just been buying fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, and dairy. I'm trying to use up things in the freezer and pantry. It has certainly made our grocery bill go down the past few weeks. I have tried to be creative in using some of the stuff too. Hopefully that is a good thing.
Viewing the 'Saving Money' Category
This will be a potpourri since I don't have one really important thing to say.
It's a sunny, but windy Sunday here in Central Illinois! At least it is warmer. We had some pretty frigid temperatures Wednesday and Thursday. Now it seems almost like spring. I just hope it isn't getting our hopes up. I know I have been looking at a small garden area and asking DH if we should do a little fix up before planting. When we moved here almost 19 years ago, there were yard timbers outlining the small area where there were plantings. Well, like most things, they don't last forever and some are really rotting away. Neither of us are really handy, but I thought we could pull them out and replace them with some of the landscape stones or pieces to keep them separate from the lawn itself. We shall see.
We attended church and came home and did our usual brunch of scrambled eggs, cheesy grits, sausage, toast, and fruit. I'm thinking I'd like to fix some chili -- I am going to try and use more from the freezer and pantry. A friend gave me some of the beef she bought when she bought half a cow. This was for my birthday and I'm not complaining one bit. I have beans and I have canned tomatoes, so adding some onion and mushroom and spices, it should be a decent Sunday night supper. I like chili anytime and fortunately DH is a soup lover so that works out.
Because of my asthma problems, I didn't do my weekly grocery shopping which usually means Aldi then Kroger. DH and I went Friday and just did Kroger simply because after volunteering on Friday, I was tired and didn't think I could face going to two stores. Fortunately we didn't need a ton of stuff, but I do believe we spent about $20 more than if we had gotten the bulk of stuff I buy on a weekly basis at Aldi. I buy eggs, fruits and vegetables, and some dairy at Aldi.
I wasn't happy when we received our power bill. When we were gone for two weeks, we turned the heat down to 62. Our house is pretty well insulated and we have newer energy efficient windows as well as an energy efficient furnace. It was a little lower than usual, but not that much lower. I'm thinking for two weeks we didn't use as much heat and certainly not as much power since we weren't home running the washer/dryer, television, wifi, etc. I had unplugged some things like the modem and wifi as well as the television. And, we had colder temperatures the month before so I didn't think our power bill would be as much as it was. Must be all those stupid fees they tack on. Our water bill was far less since we were gone for those two weeks. I'm glad. I was going to wonder if we had someone living in our house while were away!
I continue to work on the rug I'm crocheting. I think so far, I have about $2 worth of yarn in it. I'm sure it will be more since I'm not close to being finished, but when you get full skeins for 50 cents each, it does mean you aren't spending as much.
As I have blogged before, I try to use up the bits and pieces of yarn to make things. A friend of ours runs a tea room and they have a vinyl floor. I asked her if she could use Swiffer covers and she said sure. So, we gave her two yesterday and you would have thought I had given her gold! Each week we save our egg cartons, cottage cheese containers, and other plastic lidded containers for her and they reuse them. She has chickens and sells her eggs and the cartons come in handy. I told her it was always such a pleasure to bring her things because she is always so appreciative.
I've noticed that many have posted about eating from your pantry and freezer. I need to do that more because I'm blessed to have both filled. I do need to use up a lot of the food.
Since I've retired, I've gotten back to crocheting. I'm not an expert by any means, but I can do a few things. I joined a group at church called "Stitches of Love" and we make things to donate. Our current projects have been making hats on knitting looms. We have donated to some of our public schools since winter is upon us. And it is fun, kind of like what I would think a quilting bee would be like. But one unfortunate part is we often have left over bits and pieces of yarn. So, I've been working on things to use that leftover yarn. I have made covers for my Swiffer and also donated some of the covers to the church's bazaar. I've given some away. Right now I'm making dish cloths. My goal is to have one for each day of the week so I can use it and then have a fresh one. I'm pretty close to having those made for myself. I've given some away so that's why I haven't reached my goal. I at least feel like I'm using up the yarn. I don't want to get in the habit of buying yarn before using up what I have. I checked out some books on crochet and one suggested crocheting a rug so maybe that could be my next project.
The other thing I need to work on using up is paper and stationery. I am old school and I write letters and send cards. Egad...that ages me, doesn't it? Actually, I have a couple of elderly friends who enjoy getting mail. And I will admit, I've hit the thrift stores and bought cards and stationery. I need to use what I have before I buy anymore. I rather doubt if they care if I use the same stationery or card each week.
Hope everyone has a great weekend!
It has been a busy week getting back into the swing of things so to speak. DH and I both did our volunteer stuff, plus grocery shopping and all those other things you have to do to keep up with stuff.
When we were on vacation, we picked up sea shells to share with the classes we volunteer in. I did a little presentation for the fifth grade class showing them the beach and Civil War forts. This class is fairly high poverty so I imagine very few will ever travel outside of our city unless they travel to visit family. All the classes seemed to appreciate we thought of them while we were away.
There is nothing like appreciating your home after you have been away. The kitchenette in the condo was tiny. It worked, but I feel like my kitchen is huge now so maybe that is a very good thing. I also appreciate having a stocked pantry and freezer. I cooked while we were away, but cooking is far more fun in my own place. I fixed a pork loin roast for supper last night and we are going to have pulled pork sandwiches for supper tonight. I like it when you can cook once and eat twice off of stuff.
Last summer we went to a friend's garage sale and I picked up some crochet thread. It was her mom's and it had some age to it. I finished a scarf for a shelf last night. I'm trying to do projects to not only keep my hands limber, but there is something about making something that is so very satisfying. I don't have a lot of money in it so that doesn't hurt.
It is a dreary day with some snow flurries. We had some sun yesterday and it is amazing how that little bit of sunshine lifted so many spirits.
I was reading some of the other blogs and one person had posted about the things they did this month to save money. One thing I did a few months ago was to change our cell phone plan. We had a plan and when I decided to get a smart phone a couple of years ago, the salesperson told me I HAD to have so much data. I didn't think I would use that much, but stupid me, I went with it. He promised me I could lower the amount. Well, I tried, and he did walk me through lowering it a little bit, but I felt like we were paying for far too many minutes and far too much data. We went with Consumer Cellular a couple of months ago. My old phone was shot so we bought wo new phones...I got another smart phone and DH got a flip phone which is what he wanted. Other than buying the phones outright, the rest of it was easy and a lot cheaper. We are paying a lot less, over half in fact. I'm happier with my phone than I was with the other one that was far more expensive. DH likes his new phone too -- bigger numbers and less features. He had a flip phone before, but it had far more on it than he would ever need. So, I think it another month, the savings we have gotten over switching will have paid for the new phones. The service is fine and guess what? I haven't used all the data and I'm paying for less than half of what that rep at the other company claimed I had to have!
Hope you all are having a great Sunday.
Happy New Year to all of you! Hope 2017 is a happy and prosperous year for all of us.
Last week I posted a photo of our table and tree and received some very lovely comments. I appreciate the comments and feedback and the fact so many of you take the time to read my ramblings and even comment on them. I posted the same photo on Facebook and I had to laugh when my pastor wanted to know if we had new dining room furniture. I guess the tablecloth and Christmas runner made everything look different. He has been to my home before and eaten with us. I have told DH repeatedly that moving stuff around and changing linens give things a different look.
This has been a busy week for me. Partially because DH has been under the weather so he hasn't wanted to do too much. He is getting better so that is good, but I used the time to clean and declutter. We took a bunch of stuff to a thrift store to donate this week. Some of it was hard to part with -- I hate getting rid of kitchen items, but I have run out of room and these are items I haven't used. It is crazy to keep them. I tend to use the same things over and over again. Only one item did I purchase new and that was several years ago -- everything else was bought used so I didn't have a ton of money in them. But they are useless if they are just in the cabinets taking up space.
Since I'm on the cleaning kick, I'm trying to do the same thing in my pantry and fridge and freezer. I want to make sure I use stuff before it either goes bad or gets freezer burn. Right now the fridge is starting to look a bit bare, but that is OK. It is by choice and not because I haven't been shopping. Years ago, and I might have mentioned in a past blog, there was a columnist for the Chicago Tribune named Mike Royko. He wrote a column where every week he would go grocery shopping and he and the kids would eat all the easy to fix foods and leave the other stuff. So, he made a new rule, they had to eat everything before going to the store. I'm sure he exaggerated a bit, but it was funny when he said they had to get creative with some of the stuff, like an onion, flour and some water. He said it also encouraged his sons to find friends or their families who could cook or learn themselves.
My newest vice has been crocheting and knitting on a loom. I joined a group of ladies at church and they taught me to knit on a loom and we make hats to donate. We make small hats to give to hospitals for preemies, and then we make bigger hats and donate them to schools and organizations. I also crocheted a scarf to go along with a hat and donated it to one of our places for the homeless. I encouraged my friends on Facebook to do the same because I thought they might be useful in the winter. I am struggling a little bit with the crocheting because I am not allowing myself to go crazy on buying yarn. My church has some yarn that was donated and I used a bunch of it to make the hats, but I refuse to use that yarn for stuff for myself. I did buy some yarn and crocheted a cover for a throw pillow. My mom sewed the pillow covering a number of years ago, but it was looking pretty downtrodden so I thought crocheting a new cover would be nice. I finished it and it does look pretty nice. But of course I have part of a skein of yarn, so I have been looking for little things to make that can use up the yarn. I made myself some Swiffer broom covers out of some of the leftover yarn. I am now making dish cloths. I have been experimenting with different patterns to see what I like best. As I tell DH, it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble!
Guess I better get back to cleaning. I think taking care of one's belongings is a good way to save money, don't you?
As the holidays were approaching, I was amazed at the decorating some folks were doing. Of course the merchants aren't helping much with all the advertising and how important it is to have your home holiday perfect.
I set the table for supper the other night and decided to get a few things out. Everything on the table other than the flatware was bought used. Some of it I have had for a few years. The green tablecloth was purchased last summer. It was still in the package, but bought at a flea market for $5. I say you don't have to spend a fortunate to have nice things.
A furniture company has a commercial running that the couple didn't realize their home had no style until they took down the Christmas decorations and how you should buy all new stuff to liven up the place. Yep, I bet that will fix everything, right? Maybe that mentality is what has got so many in trouble financially.
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.
Before I forget, I just want to say I have really enjoyed reading everyone's lists. I feel like I have gotten more insight to my SA friends. I also appreciate the kind comments on my own list.
It's been an interesting week. I won't say it has been the most spendy, but we did wind up spending on some things I hadn't planned. DH's surgery was supposed to be outpatient and we were supposed to be home in time for lunch. Nope. I had made vegetable soup to heat up when we got home for lunch and had supper planned, but the best laid plans. I wound up buying lunch at the hospital and buying something for DH because he was starving. We did have the soup that night so it wasn't all lost and I wound up fixing the meal the next night. I had planned on having leftovers for lunch on Wednesday, but DH wasn't sure he could handle it, so we had chicken noodle soup like he did when he was a kid. I keep it on hand and buy it on sale. So I wound up freezing the stuff I was going to have and we will have it tonight for supper. It has probably evened out as far as spending.
I have had a pair of potholders for over 25 years. They are my favorites. They are just the right size and thickness. But with all the use, they are fraying and are stained. I wash them frequently, but they look kind of icky. I bought some yarn the other day at the thrift store to use for something else and had some leftover so I thought maybe I could crochet a cover for each one. I finished one last night so I'm going to try it and see if it works. If not, I'm not out much.
A friend of mine was bemoaning the fact he went to some trade show and he didn't have the money to buy all the new stuff he wanted. I have a difficult time feeling sorry for him -- he makes a bigger pension than I, but is never ever happy.
I did can two more quarts of tomato juice. Most of it came from cherry tomatoes, but I don't want anything to go to waste. The garden is really slowing down so I'm only getting a few things here and there, but feel very blessed to have all we have had.
Friday night we were watching Dateline and the gal they were interviewing who was telling the story...well, I told my husband I didn't like her. She seemed like she was basically a high maintenance gal who married the guy she eventually turned in for murdering her dad, although she said she knew it before she married him. Seems she liked living the high lifestyle and when the money ran out, she no longer wanted to have anything to do with him. DH was teasing me that I was high maintenance too...and laughed. He reminded me I get more excited about canning jars than jewelry and I buy yarn from the thrift shops to do my little projects. My purses come from thrift shops and garage sales simply because I'd like to have something different, but would like to have a little money to put in the purse once I have it. So, yep, that's me, Mrs. High Maintenance...not!
DH has been teasing me that I get more excited about seeing Mason jars than I do jewelry. It's true. We don't go anywhere where I need fancy jewelry. I have a lovely wedding set from when we married 26 years ago and a couple of nice, but simple necklaces and I'm good for out to dinner or to church. But the sparkly Mason jars...that's what catches my eye!
Yesterday I decided to inventory what I have so far. DH has grown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, herbs, and carrots. I have purchased fresh green beans until a friend gave me a few pounds this week as they finished their garden. I wanted a list since my pie safe is full, I have some jars in the bottom of a Hoosier cabinet, and now in the bottom of the island:
51 quarts of green beans
19 pints of green beans
15 quarts of tomatoes
13 pints of tomatoes
2 pints of tomato basil salsa
1 half pint of tomato basil salsa
6 pints of onions
2 half pints of onions
6 half pints of apple jelly
6 half pints of grape jelly
13 pints of pickles
2 half pints of pickles
4 pints of relish
2 quarts of carrots
8 pints of carrots
I would have more carrots except I ran out of jars. I prefer the pints because that is about what we eat at a meal, but I punted last night and used the quarts. One of the thrift shops had pint jars really reasonable so on Tuesday I am going to stop by and see if they have them. I don't need a whole case at this point. I have about 8 quart jars left for tomatoes.
In addition, I have 3 pints of minced garlic in the fridge that DH grew and I have about 2 pounds of chopped bell peppers in the freezer.
I still need to dry herbs, but I feel like we have a good showing. I imagine before the first frost I will make green tomato relish as we scramble to pick the tomatoes. I made it last year and used it like relish and a friend liked it so much, he ate it like salsa.
I make apple juice for DH since he likes it when we have Sunday brunch. Sometimes I make far more than he will drink in a couple of weeks, so I used it to make apple jelly. Early this summer we bought grapes and although they tasted good, the skin was kind of chewy. I juiced them to make the grape jelly.
The ongoing joke around here is I tell DH I need a walk in pantry. Although it would be nice to have one, I have no idea where we would locate it and I certainly don't want to spend money. I will say that I'm going to be forced to go through my cabinets and truly purge those items I don't use such as different dishes and pots so I can make room for any other canned goods. Guess this is the initiative I needed. I tend to use the same casserole dishes and pots so it is silly to keep the ones I never use.
Hopefully all this stuff will help on the grocery bill come winter.
Both DH and I enjoy history, and his favorite president is Abraham Lincoln. Fortunately we live less than an hour away from Lincoln's Presidential Museum, his Springfield home, and New Salem sites. I've learned more about Lincoln since being married to my husband, and there are lots of interesting facts about the man and his family.
Rumors have abounded that his wife, Mary, was crazy. Well, like many folks, I enjoy a good juicy tidbit so I have been reading up on Mary Todd Lincoln the past few years. I just finished a biography and with all the details and references, I hope the author told the real story. I truly think Mary was misunderstood. She grew up in a wealthy family, but being the third daughter, she was told they really wanted a son. When a son was born, she was sort of "forgotten" but still loved. Then her mom died and her dad married a younger woman who really didn't want anything to do with his first family. Mary was sent to a boarding school during the week although she lived close enough to ride a horse to school. But, she was well educated and made to feel appreciated. She had 12 years of formal schooling which was kind of rare for women of that time. Contrast that with Lincoln's only one year of formal schooling.
The book said she married Lincoln because not only did she love him, but she knew he had the ambition and intelligence to become president. She was quite the political figure herself and understood the workings of politics. She apparently didn't get along with the Washington ladies because she was a contrary person yet also they had little in common to talk about...most did not have the schooling and educational background she did.
Her life was pretty sad overall -- lost three children and her husband was killed in front of her and her eldest son was ashamed of her and had her tried for lunacy. Many of the rumors spread about her were actual lies to benefit the person and persons who told them according to the author. Mary wasn't without faults, but after doing all the reading I have, I don't believe she was crazy. I do think she was, as the author said, pretty narcissistic and prickly, but she wasn't a danger to herself or anyone else.
So, you are asking yourself why am I writing about Mary Todd Lincoln on a savings site. Well, although she did overspend the White House renovation budget and she did spend money, she also had some sense about her. Back at her time women rarely had the opportunity to control their finances. If there were no husband, then a grown son would, or an officer of a bank would. When they were in the White House, she saved over 50% of the president's salary. When Lincoln died, he had bonds and she kept them intact. She did buy a house in Chicago, realized she couldn't afford it, and rented it out. She then let her son purchase it at a very reasonable price and even lent him money for some of his financial deals, which most were not successful. Her net worth at her death was over $84,000 that in 2016 would be worth close to 1.8 million dollar according to an inflation site.
So, I think she was more misunderstood that crazy. She did have money. She did save. Yes, she spent money and did buy things she didn't need. But haven't we all?
...and I'm not going! Tomorrow is when retirement truly becomes real. It has seemed like summer break for me, so when teachers and students return, it will hit me that I'm really retired.
I have had so many people ask me if I'm going to substitute teach. I don't intend to. I guess it's a way to make extra money, but if I wanted to make extra money, I would have continued working. I subbed when I first started out -- I was told I had to sub and prove myself before I could get hired full time so I subbed and worked a couple of other jobs besides to make it until I was hired full time as a classroom teacher. Then I also worked some freelancing for awhile because back then teacher salaries were pretty darn low.
The other thing that people have asked is what I intend to do with myself. I hope they are just making conversation, but do they really think I have to be accountable to them? I have worked over 30 years in education, and I've worked at outside jobs since I was 16. Before that, my folks had a used furniture business and later an antique shop and it was expected that I help with them so it isn't like I'm lazy. I'm not planning on watching videos and eating bon bons all day. But, I'd like to actually do some things fun that I couldn't do because I worked or didn't have the money.
This has been a busy week. DH and I went to a play at a nearby theatre and it was a blast. Yesterday we went to an outdoor market in a small town about two hours away and enjoyed looking around and then visiting the shops on the square. We didn't buy much, but the experience was pleasurable and something a little different. I have canned some green beans and some tomatoes this week, did some volunteer work at church, and even helped my former principal with something. And, I finished book 66 for this year Friday night.
We ate supper out last night and I told DH this is why I took my lunch all those years, took coffee to work in a Thermos, and we ate at home so much and had so many leftovers...so if we wanted to go out to a nice restaurant and enjoy the experience, we could because we had the money. I'm spending some money as we saw the play and then took the short trip. But, it is money we saved and we paid cash for stuff.
We were talking to another couple and I had posted the photo of my pantry with my canned goods on Facebook and they happened to mention it. The woman informed me she wouldn't can because it smells up the house. Granted, when I canned the small amount of onions we had, yes, it did smell some, but green beans and tomatoes aren't super stinky. I felt like she dismissed me as the poor relative. Maybe so, but I can't see all of DH's hard work in the garden go to waste and I think eating these vegetables is probably pretty healthy for us. I shouldn't let her comments get to me; she usually has something to say that I find hurtful. I'm sure having some tomatoes in a soup or chili this winter will make it all go down that much more smoothly and the hurtful remarks will hopefully be forgotten.
On to book #67!
Like many of you, I have some projects I have on my to do list.
One of them I was dreading was the pantry. I'm glad I have a pantry. It's not huge, but helpful to have. It's a reach in, not a walk in, but I tend to get lazy and things get really unorganized. So, this time I took everything out. I got rid of some things. I moved a few things around.
I have been looking on Pinterest for organization ideas. I really didn't want to spend any more money on baskets and such. I had purchased a couple of wire racks a number of years ago and I still use them. But, I really wanted to figure out to use what I already had.
I am going to admit I love baskets. I don't buy the expensive ones, but I buy them at thrift stores. Anyway, I thought instead of going to the Dollar store and buying plastic bins and baskets, why not use what I already had. I won't say it is photographic perfect, but my little pantry sure looks a lot better and other than some elbow grease and moving stuff around, it sure looks better.
Plus, I recycled some things I no longer use and gave them to a thrift store. So, maybe it was a win-win for the thrift store and my home. Hopefully organization will help me save money by seeing what I already have.
It's funny how once I get used to doing something, it becomes the "new normal." We eat a lot of chicken, and I often make chicken broth and put it in the freezer. During the winter I use herbs I've dried and during the summer I use fresh herbs. Many of my friends think I'm crazy when I can just buy it. Why buy chicken broth when I can make it for next to nothing? Sheesh. Plus, I know what's in it and I don't use salt for health reasons.
I finished book 45 this morning. It was one by Joanne Fluke who has a series. I've read this one before, but it has been years and it was nice to revisit it. I really like mysteries (DH calls them cozy mysteries) and I've gotten hooked on the books that are Amish fiction. Granted, they are fairly predictable, but sometimes that's just nice to kind of let go. I perused the mystery section and found a new author I'm going to try. I've not read any by this writer and there are three in the series so I checked all three out. These aren't in the new section so it isn't like I'm keeping anyone else from reading them. I finished a newer Mary Higgins Clark over the weekend and returned it quickly because I imagine someone else will enjoy reading it.
I finally received the documentation on what I needed to pay for my penalty for my pension and we drove it over Monday afternoon. I received an email Tuesday saying it was processed and now they will take 6-8 weeks to determine what my benefits will be before depositing my first check. Fortunately we have money in savings if truly takes that long. I think about some of the folks I've worked with and many of them probably didn't have anything in savings and were desperate by the time their first check came around.
Supper is a mixture of leftover stuff. We went to Aldi and Kroger earlier today for our weekly trip, but I like using up what we have before starting new on the weekly meals.
DH has been keeping our garden going by watering. It has been extremely hot here in Central Illinois. Some parts of Illinois received a decent rain yesterday, but we only received about a tenth of an inch. This is the first year he planted two cucumber plants and it is hilarious hearing him talk about how they are taking over. He has put stakes in the ground and is training them to grow up, but he thinks the plant may be knocking on the door to get in at some point. We haven't had any ripe tomatoes yet, but there are a few cherry tomatoes that are starting to turn; DH is already drooling for the taste of the first one.
Hope you are staying cool and hydrated if it is as hot where you are.
Today's news about the massacre in Orlando has made it sad for our country. People who left their homes to go and have a nice time were shot. Why one person's hate can destroy so much is unfathomable. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Makes me want to hug my DH and friends just a little tighter. Sigh.
DH has put in a small garden. He has planted radishes, onions, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers,garlic, and one cucumber plant. Our backyard is so shady so most of the garden is in the front yard. Last year I canned tomatoes and made bell pepper jelly, and dried herbs. It was a pleasure using these items throughout the year. It has saved us some money since I like cooking. DH spends a lot of time taking care of his vegetables as well as his flowers. Since I retired and we can travel when we want instead of only during the summer, we decided not to go anywhere this summer so DH can keep an eye on his plants. People look at us like we are nuts. I saw this article about raising food for your family and it said how important it was to stay around and take care of your garden. My dad grew up during the Depression and they had a garden and chickens and sometimes a cow. He said you didn't go anywhere because you couldn't leave your garden and livestock because you depended on these things for your food supply. Anyway, if you like gardening or reading about gardening, you might enjoy this article:
Well, not just my hands, actually. It seems like things are going by very quickly. I'm trying to get caught up on projects, some fun, some not so much.
We had a new roof put on last month. We saved up for it and I think it looks great. We've had some rains and so far no leaks, so that is wonderful. DH is the gardener and one of my retirement gifts was a gift certificate to a local garden place. We bought some lovely flowers which DH planted both in the ground as well as in pots and he has his small vegetable garden going as well.
Last week we cleaned the siding and windows. We don't have a power washer so this meant doing it by hand. I think the house looks better. DH wasn't thrilled with the prospect, but he does like the results.We figure it was a money saving procedure since we used what we had (Dove dish washing soap and elbow grease). I'm glad we did it when we did because the temps are in the 90s with heat index being nearly 100.
We hit some rummage sales the past few days. One had crochet thread so we bought some of it. I recently made a small dresser scarf out of a skein we bought at a thrift shop so I have some more to work with. A couple of months ago I bought a candlewicking kit for a Christmas stocking. I have the candlewick and embroidery finished and am now working on sewing the stocking together and finishing it. I don't have a sewing machine so it takes me longer, but that's fine...it keeps me busy. I plan to donate the stocking and some of the things I crochet to my church's Christmas bazaar.
I just finished book number 38 for this year. We go to the library regulary and we also check out magazines as well as books.
We succumbed to advertising and bought a bottle of Recolor which is supposed to bring back the color of things. Our front door is fiberglass and it had faded. It was stained to look like a wood door. I put that on this afternoon. It helped some. It wasn't the miracle worker stuff, but we didn't expect it to be either.
Since it is so hot, I put a pork roast in the Crockpot with potatoes and carrots for supper instead of heating up the house. I made a fruit salad for dessert.
We've spent a little money here and there, but nothing major. I hope keeping my hands and the rest of me busy, keep me out of trouble.
We were with some friends and we were talking about finances. One friend happened to mention that we were fortunate to be "comfortable." I didn't say anything really to respond, but it sort of made me wonder, is it all about luck or did I perhaps have a little bit to do with it?
I am not going to say I don't spend money. I do. But, I try to bargain hunt. I grew up relatively poor. Not dirt poor, but there wasn't very little for extras and most of the stuff I had was bought used. I saw my parents age and even though they worked hard their whole lives, they never really got "comfortable." My dad was always trying to figure out a way to make more money. He worked a full time job as well as doing jobs on the side. My mom helped run a used furniture store they had for awhile and then did garage sales and quilted. I knew once I had a full time job, I needed to figure out something for retirement because I didn't want to work until I dropped if I didn't have to.
I listened to a couple of people I worked with. Before I got hired as a teacher, I worked full time and picked up extra work when I could. I started a small IRA. They said the idea was to start saving young so the money had a chance to build.
When I was hired as a teacher, I went to church with a financial adviser and so I asked to meet with him. He was starting out like I was. I told him someone had said something about a retirement account where you pay low taxes when you retire. He explained it was a 403b and how it worked. It took out pretax dollars and then when you retire and drew it out, you paid less taxes because you should supposedly make less. Let me tell you, making what little I made at the time, taking out $50 a pay period was hard.
Fortunately I did not have school loans because I had some scholarships and worked throughout college and paid everything off before I graduated. Someone asked me how I did that and I explained that my college time, although a good time in my life, was not one where I spent a lot of money. I didn't go out partying on the weekends. I rarely ate out because if you lived on campus, you were required to pay board which was a food service plan. Spring break was spent at home. My folks helped out with buying clothes and shoes (mostly from garage sales), and snacks from Aldi. I ate more peanut butter and saltines for snacks and when I ran out of peanut butter, just saltines. I didn't have a fridge so I drank water in a glass from the fountain. Usually it was cool and I really lived it up when I got some iced tea mix. During the winter I had a little "hot pot" which was a small electric kettle and I had hot tea and hot chocolate. Am I sorry for not living it up -- not really.
Anyway, as DH and I got money ahead, the financial adviser (same wonderful guy!) directed us to other retirement options like a Roth IRA. I still have that small IRA I started years ago and it is still kind of small because the Roth is a far better vehicle for us now.
As I said, I spend money. But, I try to plan my purchases. I shop sales. Heck, I shop thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales! We save for things. We recently put on a new roof. Actually we paid to have it put on. No home equity loan here...we have been saving for the past couple of years. DH went and got the money out of the credit union account and put it in our checking account and we paid for it when it was finished. We save for Christmas and we save for vacations.
Am I fortunate? Yes, I believe I have been blessed. I guess when he implied I had been "lucky" I kind of bristled at this...I worked hard and as an educator, realized I would make more salary if I had more education so I earned a master's as well as hours beyond my master's. This increased my pay. But, I didn't inherit tons of money. I worked and saved and DH worked and saved. So yes we are fortunate, but I also think we used our brains to help ourselves. Do you think I was wrong to bristle at this friend's implication?
Another Memorial Day here in the United States. I'm not sure if other countries have the equivalent and if so, if it is on another date. I know I'm tired of all the "Memorial Day Sales." Somehow I just can't get into shopping for Memorial Day furniture or whatever when Memorial Day means so much more. Leave it to businesses to commercialize it.
In other news, I'm officially retired. A week ago today was my last day. I finished up paperwork and had a marvelous day. School districts aren't fancy dancy like businesses and usually the staff at one's school takes care of these type of things. We had a luncheon in our gym. Another teacher was also retiring and we have three other staff who are either moving to other schools or leaving teaching. The social committee decided to set up the gym as a "tea room" and it was very clever. They brought in good dishes and glasses and a local place catered the food. They even had cloth tablecloths and cloth napkins. I thought it was delightful. One committee person thought I'd be upset because we didn't go out...this is so fitting with how I live my life. We couldn't go out because we had an hour for lunch (half day for kids as a make up of a PLC day in March) and the rest of the day was meetings. That afternoon they had a "tea" for the two of us retiring and many of my friends and former colleagues came by. It was very nice and well planned. I felt very special. One of my friends said I looked very happy.
It's been almost a week since then. DH and I have enjoyed the time together. Part of the time was spent trying to fix stuff -- we had three things break...a hinge on one of kitchen cabinets, a wheel on the tray in our dishwasher, and my modem went out. Two of these are now fixed. One was an absolute pain...we live in a middle sized town with cabinet shops and hardware stores. No one carried this hinge. I finally went online. There was a distributor in a small town near us. This is an Amish owned business. We take the hinge and he proceeds to show us that the hinge wasn't broken, but the plate and instead of purchasing a whole new hinge, just replace the small piece at a whopping price of a buck. Gotta love honesty!
My first day of retirement we celebrated by eating leftover pulled pork from the school luncheon and then went to one of my favorite places...the library. DH retired from the library so we still know some of the employees. They were kidding me on my first day of retirement, here I am checking out magazines and books. Of course I did...I love reading!
We did go take flowers for some our family members' graves. One cemetery is a very old one and there are some graves that don't look like they have been visited in years. Kind of sad, but understandable if there is no one left. At one cemetery there were flags for Veterans. That is always nice. DH's dad was in WWII and has a military stone as well as a family stone. I try to take cleaning things to clean the stones.
I'm going to digress on to another topic...today's paper had Mary Hunt's "Everyday Cheapskate." Her starting paragraph stated that research indicates that many Americans are spending $1.22 for every $1 they earn. A very scary statistic, but I don't doubt it one bit. I look at the way some folks spend and continue to spend. I know my Thermos and lunch bag were kind of made fun of by many, but it saved us a bunch of money. I know I have to buy some things and I do buy things I don't always need, but I figure eating leftovers, making do with things, trying to repair things, and finding joy in what others consider simple things has certainly helped.
Hope you and your family had a wonderful day whether you observe Memorial Day or not.
In six school days, I will end my career. Eight if you count next weekend. At one of the buildings, we had a potluck and a couple of young coaches asked the other lady and me how we could afford to retire. My response was "save early and save often." They laughed because that was always my response when working with our school improvement plan so we didn't lose data. Getting back to the laughter, it wasn't a chuckle because they thought it was funny. It was actually one of discomfort. I wasn't trying to make anyone uncomfortable, but so many of these young people claim they are jealous that I'm retiring because they want a carefree life, but they buy anything and everything their little hearts desire.
I won't say I have been the best saver and that I didn't buy things. I did. I bought things both which were good and some things which were just plain stupid. Hopefully I've gotten wiser. But so many of these "educated" folks don't understand money. There are about three or four of us in the group who actively save, do without things, and live as economically as we can. With the changes in the teachers' pension system for the newer hires, saving for retirement is far more important than it was when I started out.
I'm currently reading a book about not buying a lot of things in a year. It's different than the last one I read; the author says their rules are buying things they can use like food and things like that, but to be more conscious of spending money for things simply because you want something new. He said the goal is to own what you have instead of saving money. I'm curious how the book will end.
DH has been busy putting in his garden. We had a fear of frost last night, but it looks like we dodged that bullet. I hope we get lots of tomatoes this year since I like to can them and this year I won't have to rush around canning on weekends since I will be retired. Yahoo!
Someone I know posted this url on Facebook and talked about how it is true -- so many can't come up with $400 in an emergency:
I know there are people out there due to circumstances beyond their control they don't have a decent income. I'm not writing about people like that. I'm writing about those who are not unemployed or underemployed. What I find amusing is the person who shared this has a good income, benefits, etc. This person doesn't save a penny, lost a home in foreclosure, has creditors calling about the unpaid bills, yet moans the job doesn't pay enough.Lots of shopping goes on. Lots of eating out and buying booze. Of course this person took a big vacation last year, went over Christmas to another vacation, and is planning a summer get-away.
I guess I'm getting old and tired of listening to people who won't help themselves whine how they don't have money.
Twenty-six...that's how many work days I have left. Someone asked me if I am getting emotional and I can honestly say I am not. I'm ready to be finished. State online testing has been a bear and somewhere along the line I injured my back, so coming home from work means all I want to do is rest. Last weekend I fixed some meals that I could just heat up and it certainly helped. Did have something slightly amusing happen -- I put our supper in the oven and was on the couch and fell asleep. I knew DH would wake me up because we eat at the same time each week night. Well, a friend who needed to talk came and supper wound up burning because I didn't feel like I could leave to get it out of the oven. So, best laid plans became cinders.
We went out with another couple and I guess I'm very old fashioned, but I think when you are with someone you haven't seen for quite awhile celebrating something, taking phone calls and texting is just plain rude. I can see answering the phone and if it isn't an emergency saying you'll call them back, but to have a full fledged conversation while we are sitting there. Then, to constantly text while you are sitting there -- all for non emergency things. We've been with them before and they've both received calls and talked at length while DH and I sit there. I've hinted that it is rude, but apparently we don't matter enough to get them to stop.
DH started his garden yesterday. He planted lettuce, radishes, and onions. He plans on planting carrots soon and then around Mother's Day tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs. Usually we are beyond the fear of frost then. He doesn't have a big spot, but he makes uses of what he has. I look forward to preserving things this fall, especially since I won't have to rush around and do it on weekends because I won't be working.
We hit the thrift stores and a flea market yesterday. I found some nice greeting cards that were reasonable. I like sending cards and I still write notes so I try to find reasonably priced cards. I also found some crochet thread. Our church has a bazaar before the holidays and I wanted to crochet ornaments to donate. I found two skeins that were started and for a dollar each, felt they were a bargain. If I were doing a big project, I probably wouldn't have been satisfied with this, but since I'm just crocheting small things, this will work out fine. It also keeps my hands busy at night and I've noticed they don't get as stiff and sore.
A few weeks ago we donated a bunch of stuff to a thrift store that supports a charity we believe in. Are we weird that we went in to see if some of the stuff had sold?
I've been sort of lurking around SA, but haven't had too much to say. I think it is because I'm coming home from work exhausted and after fixing supper and doing whatever else I need to do, I haven't the energy or brain power to write anything or feel like I have anything worth saying.
I finished a crocheted dresser scarf last night. I haven't crocheted for a number of years because it used to make my hands go numb. For whatever reason last summer, I found some thread tucked away and a small crochet hook and started making Christmas tree ornaments. I made one for each staff member at my school. It helped I didn't try to do them all at once. So, I thought I'd get a little brave and start a dresser scarf, just working a little at a time. It wasn't very wide because the area I wanted it wasn't very wide, but it turned out the way I had hoped and updated the look for around $4. It also kept my hands busy and I wasn't as tempted to snack if I crocheted. So, it was a cheap hobby.
I've been reading a lot. A group started a Facebook group that we post the title we read and what number for the year. The goal is to read 16 books because it is 2016. I'm at 17 and started #18. I continue to use our library so that saves money.
Yesterday was had a spring like day so DH and I went antiquing to a couple of small towns. We didn't buy anything, but had a nice time and did, as my dad used to say, "Got the stink blown off of us."
I've also been cooking a lot. Well, maybe a lot isn't the operative word. I continue to cook. I'm trying to fix stuff that we can get a couple of meals out of which makes it easier on me to get meals fixed when I get home as well as saving money. DH is fed and happy so that is what is what matters.
Last Sunday I paid bills and then wrote out checks to different accounts. We have money in three different institutions. At one, we have a Christmas club, a vacation account, and a regular savings for house improvements. At another we are just putting money in it for reserve. I also wrote out a check for my Roth. DH informed me he took "my" money to all the places last week. I laughed and said when did it become "my" money since it is for both of us. He just laughed.
Before the holidays stores had quite a few things on sale we use so I stocked up. Our grocery bills this month haven't been very high other than fresh vegetables and dairy. It's weird going into the store and not buying a whole lot, but we aren't doing without so that is good. I'm trying to use up some of the things we have in our freezer as well. I have a pot of ham and beans cooking from the ham that was in the freezer and the broth I made from leftover bits and pieces from chicken. So other than the beans and a few spices, basically an almost "free" main dish.
School has been hectic. We are doing district testing and some folks can't keep to a schedule which stresses me out when they inconvenience others with their disorganization. DH keeps reminding me it won't be long before retirement.
The house smells pretty good right now -- I made a blueberry crumble for dessert tonight. We are having a pork roast with carrots for supper. I'm also roasting potatoes and zucchini casserole. It should be a decent meal. I figure if I have to have the oven on, I might as well fix lots of things in it.
We hit the thrift stores today and I found a mini flag for $1 that was for Valentine's Day. We have one of those mini flag holders in the front of the house, but I hate paying big bucks for the holiday ones so I thought I found a decent deal.
It's been awhile since I've posted. Wish it was because I was so busy doing so many exciting things, but alas, it wasn't. The past few weeks have been a struggle because with my allergies and asthma, I've been not feeling the best. I think the worst of it is over and I feel better.
It seems like we've been spending a lot lately and I think we have. Granted, most of it was planned. We put away money all year in a Christmas account and last weekend we journeyed to a large mall where DH picked out what he wanted for Christmas. This past year we lost both our Penney's and our Sears so other than Kohls, we don't have many stores that have good bargain prices. I also bought a few things for other presents and have the majority of my shopping finished. I am planning on getting the envelopes addressed for Christmas cards, and in the next couple of weeks, will need to be doing some baking for our church's Christmas bazaar. We sell cookies by the pound so we need a lot of different types of cookies. It is a major fundraiser for our women's group and they give part of the money to missions and use the remainder for projects they have locally.
We did splurge and buy some new towels. I haven't had new towels in about a decade so that was a nice treat.
I wasn't happy that my router is going out. But, after 6 years, I guess I'm lucky it lasted this long.
I have a family night this week so I had to plan a meal that I could eat early and DH could heat up on his own. I made a huge pot of soup yesterday for tonight's supper and there should be plenty for at least one more meal and maybe a could of lunches.
Last night I made something I hadn't tried before. There is probably a recipe for it somewhere, but I was trying to chop vegetables for the soup, so I chopped onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauted them in a little olive oil. Then I cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and sauted them. I added a can of cream of chicken soup. While I was doing this, I was boiling spaghetti. I used some of the pasta water to add to the soup/meat mixture and let it cook down, then added a little more and added the spaghetti and let it cook together for a couple of minutes. I added some shredded cheese, mixed it all together and served it in a bowl. DH loved it. We also had enough leftover for two lunches after he had four helpings. Cheap meal and basically I was already chopping vegetables and I only used spaghetti because I had some left in a box. I could have used any pasta I think.
We are looking forward to Thanksgiving. I have been posting on Facebook something I'm grateful every day, many so I think about how good my life is. I am grateful for my SA friends because I feel we help each other and support each other.
Lots of things going on at our house.
We had a projected killing frost this weekend, so a lot of time was spent getting tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and onions picked. DH pulled up a lot of the plants Friday night and the rest yesterday, including his flowers and the herbs. I spent a big part of Friday night cleaning vegetables and yesterday I did some canning. The pantry is looking pretty nice. We had bought some apples on sale too, so I canned some apple juice, apple jelly, and apple sauce, and I made some bell pepper soup. We will have some of the soup tonight and I canned 3 quarts and a pint of it for the pantry. A fellow who does landscaping stopped by to talk to us and he was saying his wife has gotten caught up in the blood moon conspiracy theory and has gone crazy canning since she is afraid there won't be food available. Funny, there was something on a program saying if Martial Law would go into effect, we would be hard pressed to find food. I don't subscribe to all this, but it could be scary if you thought about it and believed it. I just like to save money and know where our food is coming from.
My school district has this wellness program where they encourage you to get a screening during certain days they have set up. The screening can be as simple as a blood test for the basics, or you can pay for extra stuff, and they included a free flu shot. I had already gotten my flu shot, but I did the basic screening. Supposedly if you signed up by a certain time, at the end of the year you will get a $75 "refund" since we pay a portion of our health insurance. I like to keep track of my vitals, so the blood test wasn't a problem and the refund this spring will be a nice bonus.
This was my payday so I finished paying bills and then figured out what goes into savings. This is the last month to put money in Christmas club since they send us the check the first of November. We have a decent amount in it. So, in November I will start over for the next Christmas. We are also saving up for a new roof. We have a few years, but figure we should have the money so we can negotiate when the time comes. I truly believe "cash is king" when it comes to these matters. When we met with our financial adviser last summer, I was afraid he would get upset over our different savings accounts. He actually applauded us for saving up for things. We have a vacation account as well and then we have regular savings. It isn't like we are actually losing a lot of interest since interest rates aren't paying squat anywhere. I like having the different accounts because it makes it easier for us to keep track. We also don't have all of our bank accounts at the same bank.
We received our water bill and there is a flyer with it. On the back of it was a photo of a rain barrel...it looks like our rain barrel! The flyer said there could be a credit if you use something like this for storm water run off. So, I need to call the city to find out if we can get that credit at some point. Every little bit helps.
DH has been fighting some squirrels. They like to dig up his front yard because they are burying nuts for the winter. DH loves his front yard and doesn't want a bunch of holes. So, I am being entertained by him running out the front door to chase the squirrels and it gives him some exercise too.
This has been a busy weekend. After getting off work, we drove about 45 minutes to pick up a bookcase we ordered to replace one. I'm trying to get things bought that we want before I retire such as furniture. We had saved for it so it wasn't an unexpected expense, but it came sooner than they said. So, I left work, we went to pick it up, ate supper, unloaded the piece, and then went to the first of two nights of celebration for my husband's class reunion. He had a wonderful time and was so happy we went. Of the two evenings, it was very reasonable -- we each bought an ice tea so that was the cost. He was a little worried that when we got home I was in bed by 10 p.m. I tried to explain after working all week and getting things done at home in the evenings I wasn't ill, just exhausted.
Saturday was busy doing some of the things I normally do on Friday night like grocery shop and laundry. We had the nice dinner for his reunion and it was a very nice evening. We dressed up. A friend teased me I needed to buy a new "frock" for the gala event, and we laughed and laughed at that. I said I didn't think they had a frock department. We both wore things we already owned. So other than paying for the dinner which we did earlier this summer, we didn't spend anything else.
Today was church and then brunch, then house cleaning and moving the new bookcase in and the old one out. After brunch I put a whole chicken I got on sale yesterday in the Crockpot. I had a bag of navy beans in the pantry that I soaked overnight. White chicken chili sounded good for a supper one night this week and then we will have enough for lunches. I made sweet pepper soup yesterday for tonight's supper and lunch tomorrow. We still have bell peppers coming on and I figure why not make use of them?
I think I'm a little crazy, but I enjoy cooking and it some ways it relaxes me when I can put things together and have something good to eat. One of the local restaurants advertised Sunday brunch for $12.99 each. I guess that isn't too expensive; we haven't eaten brunch out in years because after church we come home and I fix sausage, scrambled eggs, toast, cheesy grits, and fruit salad. I tease DH we could go out, but he loves what we have on Sundays and we figure we save a wad of money eating in.
It is easier to complain than to do something.
OK, that isn't a novel idea, is it? Personally, I'm just about fed up with the whining and complaining of some of the people who call themselves friends. Maybe it is because I'm just tired. Between work and home, I've been very busy and with the extreme hot temperatures, my patience is thin.
Every time we see one couple, they have to go into great detail about their illnesses. Even when we receive an email it is a laundry list of this and that. The gentleman tends to exaggerate his problems...it is like when he is tested for cancer, he wants to have cancer. If a doctor says something could turn into cancer, he brags he is a cancer survivor. I think it is ridiculous; we have friends who are cancer survivors who fought bravely and some lost the battle. I think his is more attention seeking. As we age, I know our bodies start breaking down. I am not denying that, but some of the problems they have could be prevented by making other choices. They, of course, do not want to hear that. I wish I could find a nice way to say I don't want graphic details of their health issues. There is another couple we associate with that if she doesn't turn the conversation to how much she hurts, she must consider it a waste of a conversation. I no longer ask these people how they are because I don't want to hear more details than I can handle. Yet they persist in telling me. So, I have the struggle of being a friend and listening yet inside I'm screaming, "Noooo. Don't tell me anymore!"
This is the same with with money issues. One couple always complains they have studied their budget and they need to save money. So, they use coupons when they eat out. Of course they eat out every day. It has gotten to the point it is embarrassing to eat with them because they want to use a coupon and press the server in letting them use it even if they don't follow the standards the coupon states. I don't mind the use of coupons -- I just don't like people to try and cheat by using them. If I suggest they eat at home, I get excuses on why they need to eat out.
We know this other family that is always complaining they need more money -- she left for the weekend to go to a party in Chicago. Meanwhile they need some major home repairs and she will soon be whining about that. Her justification is she needed to get away and be with the girls.
For so many, Facebook has become Whinebook.
OK, rant over. Thanks for reading. sorry I whined.
In other news I have been figuring out new ways to use bell peppers. DH planted just a few plants, but have they gone to town. What a great problem to have, right? Supper tonight is sweet pepper and tomato soup. Last night I made sweet pepper jelly (found the recipe on Pinterest) and we will be having it over cream cheese and having crackers. We have shared some of the peppers with friends too.
My pantry is filling up. I canned one quart and two half pints of tomato juice last night, as well as having some of the juice for our soup tonight. Last weekend I canned 3 quarts of sweet pickles -- I gave one quart to the lady who shared the cucumbers with me.
One of the local stores had quite a flyer out on sale items. We bought quite a few things to stock the pantry on things we normally buy. I spent a couple evenings last week inventorying what I already had and then matching coupons to stuff on sale.
No school tomorrow so that is a wonderful holiday to look forward to. Plus, the stock market won't be open which the way it has been dropping, that might be a good thing.
Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.
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
Geeze, it is hot out there. They predicted 90 and my car thermometer said it was 91 over an hour ago. So glad we have a/c. I remember growing up we didn't and sleeping wasn't easy being hot and sticky. I know we are very blessed now, even if we do complain about the bills.
Started back to school last Thursday. Our building is not air conditioned and it was warm. I dread tomorrow after it being closed up all weekend and so hot. The good thing is this is my last year; my intention is to retire at the end of this school year. Some of my friends are already doing a countdown of school days.
My church is doing a capital campaign and last Sunday I posted on Facebook a query -- if I baked something would people be willing to donate for whatever it was? I had a decent response. Last Monday I dropped off a loaf of zucchini bread and today I baked 5 loaves of banana bread. Two have been delivered and three go tomorrow. Tomorrow evening I am fixing a meal for a neighbor for a donation as well. People have been generous so that has been nice.
One of my older friends no longer emails, so I have been writing her a letter every weekend and mailing it. She says it is like getting to visit with me each week, so that's kind of nice. Do you still write letters?
It's getting near supper time. We are going to have some leftover pork roast from the other night with some leftover vegetables, but I think I will have to come up with some starch. I like the option of cooking once and having a meal or two off of whatever was fixed, even if I have to add to it. Saves money and time.
Today is the last day of my summer vacation as school begins for staff tomorrow and the students return on Monday.
What a summer this has been. I can't say I've saved a ton, but what we spent was anticipated. We planned on taking two small trips and everything was paid for.
I did wind up buying more canning jars than I anticipated, but that is a mixed blessing, no? It will be nice having the food this winter and not buying as many groceries.
As an educator, it is always exciting to begin a new year, but it is also sad to think my vacation time is over. Yes, I know, that's the beauty of vacation...enjoying the time off, but returning to work.
One thing I'm not looking forward to is packing lunches again. I don't mind fixing lunches at home, I just dread packing lunches to take to work. I don't know why, it isn't difficult. I guess it is just knowing I have a limited amount of time to eat and I don't want to have to little or too much, and there are some days the pickings are slim...that's when I resort to crackers and peanut butter from the pantry. Oh, well. My eating from stuff at home saves us money so we can do all those fun things during the summer.
DH and I went to the Amana Colonies on Monday. It is about 4 hours away from our home here in Illinois. We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast and enjoyed two meals in Amana. Breakfast the following morning included two different types of quiche, toast made from homemade bread, oatmeal, muffins, and fruit. They had two different juices available: mango and orange. DH cannot drink orange juice because of his acid reflux so he tried the mango and really liked it. We were back home Tuesday in time to have supper. It was a nice getaway and we had saved the money to go and fortunately gas prices weren't too expensive. Here is a photo of our room:
Since being back, I told a friend that I wish I could make some mango juice. The next day she messaged me that Kroger had mangoes on sale for 99 cents. I bought some and made two quarts...DH said it was just like what he had and was delighted.
DH harvest our garlic and I cleaned and minced it last night and packed it with some olive oil. A friend gave us some a few years ago to plant and we've been doing it ever since. I keep the minced stuff in the fridge.
I decided to try and make some more pickles and followed the recipe for bread and butter ones. It said to wait for a few weeks before eating them so they can get the full flavor. I canned 5 pints and one half pint.
I also canned two more quarts of tomato juice this week. Unfortunately with the lack of rain and the heat, our tomatoes are starting to slow down. Hope we get some more before this fall because I'd like to have a few more to can and have on hand.
Yesterday I pulled up the remainder of the radishes. DH had tried a second planting and we got a few, but the excessive heat kept them from growing like they should. We have had a bunny eating the lettuce so there isn't too much left. I did pick some yesterday and wash and put it in the fridge before he got the rest.
One of our local stores (it is a chain around here) sends out a coupon book at the first of every month. Usually it is for things we don't buy, but this month they had potatoes as part of the coupon. I used quite a few coupons this time for things we normally use...the prices are really cheap. I bought two boxes of tissue for 69 cents each. I need it for school because I leave it out on my desk so at that reasonable price, it isn't too expensive. Our grocery bills continue to be lower since we are using so much produce either DH has grown or has been given to us.
The friend I wrote about early did a nice surprise...she took some of the bell peppers we have been sharing with her and stuffed them and gave them back so we could have them for supper. There was enough for a couple of meals.
Another hot weekend scheduled. I don't think we will be going too far. I'm happy to be home and read a library book.
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