A New Year and New Resolutions

Or New Plans…whichever you prefer. I have not been great at keeping resolutions or even plans, but I am going to try for just one year to change.  If it doesn’t happen this year 2020, the start of a new decade, then I am going to stop beating myself up and just live.

I seriously think life will be easier IF I make the changes in myself and my daily life.  My problem is I just don’t keep promises to myself.  But this year 2020 I am going to do my best to be different than the past 62 years!

I am coming off a 2019 No Spend Year and a Disneyland vacation with my whole little family, all three daughters, their husbands and my three darling granddaughters.  It was a blast, but my old bones are really not enjoying the rides like when I was younger.  You really get thrown around on those things.

We rented an Air BNB that my middle daughter found and it was lovely.  It was 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms! It was only a little over a mile from the park and only 1.7 miles from Daiso!

My No Spend Year actually started 11/1/2018 so I felt like I was living in a period of grace that last couple of weeks of 2019 so I did spend some money, but not a lot.  I took a lot of food to Anaheim since we drove with a big ice chest in the back of the Toyota Tacoma! My Mercedes Benz needs to have the struts worked on and our mechanic suggested we not drive it to Anaheim from Humboldt.

Onto the resolutions or plans (haha)……….

  1. Complete 20 quilts, complete not make the top or the top without borders or the entire top and then not finish it.  One of the purchases I made with the full support of my husband is a Handiquilter Sweet 16!! It was an exceptional price at https://www.sewingmachinesplus.com/index.php during the last two weeks of 2019 and I was so excited when my husband agreed after we checked with his best friend who bought one from a long arm quilting teacher for MORE than what the price was at Sewing Machines Plus.  They offer free shipping in California so it really felt like the time was right.  I figured out it will take about 40 quilts or less to make it worth it, so there you go! Besides the fact that my brain has made some kind of “switch” that I really have no desire to spend money, not even on fabric!
  2. Read 20 books! This should be easy peasy as it is one book every 2 weeks.  I used to be a completely voracious reader in my younger years and unfortunately my husband’s TV watching has become all to easy to do.  I have a list that my oldest daughter and I started while on vacation from the 2020 Challenge at The Modern Mrs. Darcy web site.
  3. Use my time wisely by making a to do list each evening for the following day.  Be up and ready to start my day showered with my daily clean-up done all by 8:00 a.m.  Stick to the time blocking of my day along with my daily deeper chores.
  4. Plant seeds for flowers and whatever I have in my seed box.
  5. The usual weight loss, floss my teeth, be nicer to my husband…

My biggest “vow” to myself is to find a home for everything in my house and to make a list of where everything is.  I know this sounds weird, but my husband inherited a bunch of stuff from his hunting partner/mentor/BFF of over 30 years.  His wife had put everything into those tubs from Costco, only have sized……and on each tub’s lid was a list of what was in the tub in a sheet protector taped with blue painter’s tape.  On the side of each tub was a number.  Accompanying 33 tubs was a binder.  It was divided into two parts.  The first part had a number with the accompanying list typed.  The second part of the binder had every item in those 33 tubs alphabetized with the accompanying number of the tub, said item lived.  OMGosh, when I saw it the organizing angels started to sing.  I knew right then that I needed to do this for all the stuff in my house that was not used very often, but was cluttering up our home, and did not have a home.  Like for instance, my dog’s car seat!

I was in a bad accident 9/30/17 that totaled my 2006 Toyota Camry that only had 73,000 miles on it.  My poor little rescue chihuahua, Lila, was thrown from the back to the front and was very shook up.  She was fine thank God, but she was so shook up that instead of barking all the strange men coming to the window, but actually licked the hand of one of those first responders! That’s when I knew how traumatized she was!

Unfortunately I got sick on 12/29/19 after our return from Anaheim so I am not going to be holding myself to these time or productivity resolutions until I am 100%.  I thought I was feeling better, but after taking my mom to the new medical provider, I have felt worse so I’m giving myself as long as I need.

Bring on the new decade, I feel ready!

Y is for Yesterday, Sue Grafton

I’ve missed Kinsey Milhone! I really love this character that Sue Grafton created in the early 1980s.  I have read almost every single one and I can’t believe it’s almost over.  Luckily since it has been over 30 years since I started reading these books, I can start over and won’t be able to remember them.

The book is set in 1979 and 1989, at a high school.  My oldest daughter was born in 1979.  She’s 40 now.  Eeeek!  I’m not great at writing book reports so I will just say that I thoroughly enjoyed another case and the side story that ran in the background that included a dog.  I love dogs.  I love dogs that are characters.

I talk to my older sister a few times a week, sometimes more than once a day, like today and I told her I had just finished this book.  She has never read one and I think after my gushing, she will!

My No Spend Year

We are older and did not handle our money like we should have.  I had to retire early due to chronic pain and my husband is getting very tired and can’t retire for at least 5 years and a few months when he gets full Social Security.   We have made every mistake in the book and then some.  Never, ever did I consider that I would not be able to work as long as I wanted.

Since “retiring” I try to do as much as I can to take responsibilities off my husband and while doing kitchen chores I like to watch You Tube videos.  Mostly I like watching frugal type videos. I came across Coffee With Kate at some point.  Last fall, 2018, I came across a vlog about a No Spend Year. In the past I did a challenge of not buying any new clothes or shoes for a full year. I did that several years ago. I thought about it for about a minute and decided I would do it. As I remember you make your own rules, but  I decided to go completely nuts and not buy ANYTHING we did not need.  The first thing I did was inventory our freezer and pantry, then I decided to do cleaning supplies and personal care products. 

The second  thing I did was talk to my husband, but any discussion about finances makes his eyes glaze over and he becomes grumpy. I evaluated our spending for 2018 and two things stood out.  Our grocery and gift categories seemed ridiculous. I had already done Christmas shopping for 2018, and I realized that my No Spend Year would be over in time for Christmas 2019!  I made gifts, including twin 3 year olds really cute aprons for their birthdays. I made my granddaughters the same thing. I have a ridiculous amount of fabric as I am a quilter.  I made baby quilts for a baby shower for former coworkers also.  I’m currently working on a quilt for my 3rd son-in-law. The other two already have theirs.  

For groceries, the plan was to cut spending down from $6500 in 2018 to a goal of $5000 for the year.  vowed to not go into a grocery store without a list. I also placed a 6 month moratorium on meat purchases. My husband has never met a meat sale he did not like. He did 99.9% of all food chores before I stopped working, for 35+ years.  We have a very full freezer and in fact have a whole turkey(20 pounder purchased at Costco after Christmas for $5, he bought 4) and several other packages of meat in my daughter’s freezer. I decided to cut back even further a few months ago when I realized we were still throwing too much food out and am attempting a Zero Waste Kitchen (can’t remember where I got that idea).  We stopped menu planning and use what needs to be eaten each day.  We have a vegetable garden and are still harvesting tomatoes from our greenhouse (I live on the coast of very northern California, Humboldt and we can’t grow tomatoes or peppers without one, well they will grow but not ripen).  

For instance, in August I made my daughter a lemon cake with lemon frosting from scratch, and then a chocolate with chocolate frosting for my husband in September.  I froze the rest of both frostings.  I pulled them out a few days ago when my 5 year old granddaughter was over and she wanted to bake cupcakes.  I used half a box mix and those frozen frostings. We eat the same thing until it’s gone or we are sick of it.  We found a New York cut roast that had been in our freezer way too long.  It fed us from Sunday-Thursday. I used it in salads and we had fajitas made out of it along with normal roast and potatoes. 

I also have done quite a bit of batch cooking this year.  My adult daughters also like me to make them the same! I have 3 dishes I mainly make that were my most used over the years.  I also freeze extra soup and chopped onions/bell peppers and anything else I can if I cannot use them before they go bad (Zero Waste Kitchen). I made jams and have frozen 3 gallons of blueberries. 

We make our dog’s food. Lila is an older rescue chihuahua.  She does not have many teeth and choked on her kibble one day.  It was so bad doing the Heimlich actually crossed my mind, but how do you do that to a dog?  She finally hacked out the kibble and that day we started buying her whole food that was so crazy expensive, we started making it ourselves.  She hit the lottery when we adopted her!

I helped a friend move and she gave me a bunch of clothes including my new favorite jeans!  She also gave me 107 hardback books!

I pick my oldest granddaughter (11) up on Tuesdays and we go to the library and pick out books.  Cheap quality time.  We also bake when the granddaughters visit.  They also love to work in the garden, harvesting, picking berries (strawberries and blueberries) and clean the chicken coop!

For meds I get my high blood pressure medication in 20 mg, but only take 10 mg, so I save money cutting them in two myself. 

Our health insurance was going up to just under $2000 in January of 2018 so we dropped it and joined one of those religious based medical sharing plans.  It is Liberty Medical. We pay $479 a month. My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2018.  Liberty Medical will pay nothing first year, $50,000 second year (which we are in) and regular coverage after the second year ends. We have been able to cover all his costs and his medication is working great!

I divided up succulents and trimmed back geraniums and have a ton of starts.  I will use those as gifts.  All three of my grown daughters want succulents.  I got a bunch of cuttings from my mom’s audiologist’s office (I asked first) and they really grew.  We have chickens for eggs.  I give the girls any half bad vegetables and throw the rest in our revolving compost bins.  

We started keeping our aluminum and CRV deposit plastic bottles and glass containers instead of just dumping them into the recycling bin that the local garbage company furnishes for bi-weekly pickup. 

I have a 5 gallon bucket in my bathtub that I put the removable head in to catch the water until it heats up.  I also dump leftover water into my plants or into that bucket.  I use it to either fill the toilet tank or to water my plants or flowers.

We did have challenges.  When we were notified our power would be off for up to a week this fall, we decided to buy a generator because there was the real possibility of losing the meat in our freezer. We had very little warning but generators were gone almost immediately.  We were lucky to get our vehicles filled with gas the night the power went out.  We found a generator 3 hours away and my husband drove up and bought it, we used it for 4 hours before the power came back on.  A week later it was out again for a few days. It felt like a real luxury having power and we shared with the family next door, alternating plugging in their refrigerator and freezer with ours. I purchased a new pair of walking shoes when both of my pairs started coming apart at the soles.  I’m old so comfortable shoes are important!

My No Spend Year is up, but it has become such a way of life that I am continuing indefinitely.  We have paid for the house we are renting for 5 days in Anaheim at Christmas for our 3 daughters, their husbands and our 3 granddaughters.  The exterior painting of our home was completed yesterday.  We also decided to rip up our carpet and refinish the hardwood that was underneath.  The floor also was completed yesterday. Those were both hired out and we used our home/car account money.  

After we arranged all that to be done, my vehicle stopped recognizing the key.  I called my son-in-law who gifted the car to me and he said that had never happened to him. Then our washer stopped draining.  The washer was fixed, but the repairman (who has been coming to our house for years) told us to start saving for a new one.  It is 10 years old to the month! Luckily the dryer is still working fine.  We have also noticed that our cooktop is emitting a strange smell so I am calling for same repairman to come and take a look.  I’m a bit concerned that what we thought was a hefty, well funded home/car savings account will be empty before too long! 

I’m working to get our spending down even more in 2020.  At the same time I am continuing to spend as much time with my family and support my husband as he continues to run our business.

August 24, 2019-My Baby’s Birthday!

My baby #3 is 32 today.  She has two babies of her own who just turned 5&11.  Ally decided, 5 years after her first season, to play soccer again.  Pyper wanted to play as soon as she could so both had games today. Pyper’s two games were first, followed by one for Ally.  It was unseasonably warm for Humboldt County today, out at the Redwood Fields in Cutten.

For many years my baby played soccer, not recreational fun soccer, but serious class 1 traveling team soccer.  #3 was a gifted athlete who was good in several sports, but really good at soccer.  If you can believe it, I videotaped almost every single game she ever played. By the time #3 began at age 5 or 6, I can’t quite remember, her older sisters had long since switched from sports to cheerleading.  #1 and #2 daughter were not really gifted athletes though #2 did quite well at a triathlon when she was 10. She finished in the middle, but started out poorly with her swimming.  She did not realize she could swim however she wanted so she fell behind, but once she was biking she caught up well and running was good too.  But #3 was the athlete of the family and we spent so much time and money nurturing this love.  #3 was quite shy, hung out more with the boys playing soccer out in the fields at grammar school.  Being an athlete was a real plus for her.  It brought her built in friends and lots of positive affirmation.

So once again we are up early, packed our portable chairs, drinks and snacks and we head out to the soccer fields to start the process all over again.  The only thing more enjoyable than watching your children play sports is watching your grandchildren!

Day 31 of The Contentment Journal, July 1-3, 2019

Okay I’m having trouble with this.  I have been looking up “humility” and I think part of my issues of not following through, being scattered, all my “issues” could be the way I was raised. I have a hard time considering myself or my own needs at all.  I almost always put everyone else ahead of my needs.  I go out of my way to be friendly and helpful to strangers. Our parents taught us humility and to never build ourselves up, absolutely no bragging.

Sadly my elderly mother was talking about people at her assisted living facility “building themselves up”.  I was horrified.  I mean I know my mother is judgmental, but good grief.  I told her that a lot of people who live at her assisted living facility have led fascinating lives.  Did she ever consider that maybe they are telling the truth?

So I am going to take some time………

In the meantime tomorrow is my youngest daughter’s 13th wedding anniversary! She was a sweet 18 year old girl and now she is a 31 year old mother of my two darling granddaughters. We are going to the Elks Club with the kids for a barbecue.  My husband bought fireworks too!


June 30, 2019, The Contentment Journal

The first 30 days of Rachel Cruze’s The Contentment Journal is done.  I have always been grateful when I actually THINK about it.  Well for the past 30 days I have thought about it every single day.  My family is my priority, no doubt about it.  I am so grateful that my three girls are close, that I have three darling granddaughters and 3 fabulous son-in-laws.  I love my husband and am so lucky to have him and to have found him when I was only 12 years old. He was barely 12. He has stuck by me through the complete change in my life, when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I could no longer be the same person I was before the pain started.

My discontent is mostly from not being able to do what I want.  I want to be able to work hard and not have the limiting pain that I have.  I want to sew all day without pain. I want to stand on my feet in the kitchen as long as it takes to make a bunch of freezer meals and not be sorry at the end of it. I know the only thing I can do is take care of myself.

Trying to be content and grateful when you suffer chronic pain every day of your life, can be a challenge.  I sometimes wallow in self-pity, mostly when my pain is a bit out of control. But then I remember that I will feel better after I rest, or take a pain pill, or sit in my recliner with my heating pad.  I know my husband will cook dinner and clean up if I am unable to do it.  I wallow in wishing I could still work and take some of the stress off my husband that comes with being the sole breadwinner.

I wallow in that I am the only child of my almost 90 year old mother who lives close enough to see her on an almost daily basis.  I wallow because I feel so responsible for her. I feel like it’s my job to make sure she has quality of life.  Yeah I wallow a lot.

But after this 30 days of reflection, I feel strongly I will be wallowing less!


June 29, 2019 The Contentment Journal

Today is another day of reflection….oh wait, the 29th is.  Well I am always a day behind anyway so I am reflecting today on the past week and looking back over the past 30 days.

First day 24: This day was to reflect on vacations the best you ever had.  We have not taken many vacations over our 40 years of marriage.  Our first vacation was when my older girls were 2 and 4.  We went to Santa Cruz and stayed with a friend whose parents had a summer home in Felton, CA near Santa Cruz.  My husband turned 25 on that trip and we had a great time on the beach boardwalk. That was 35 years ago.  We went camping many times, took the girls to Disneyland 3 times and had lots of weekend trips with sports.

The best “vacation” I have experienced was our trip to Hawaii in 2014 for my oldest daughter’s wedding.  We spent a wonderful week with our family.  My middle daughter’s wedding in Las Vegas in 2018 was a close second.  Again, the entire family except the bride and groom at a home in Las Vegas with a pool and a relaxing time.

For our 40th wedding anniversary in September 2018 my husband and I went on a cruise to Alaska. A relaxing time with beautiful scenery.   I will say I am a homebody so vacations do not really interest me as much as spending time with our family together.

Day 25: Prompt-What parts of your job do you like most now? My “job” is wife/mom/grandma/daughter/sister/friend.  I love everything about being a homemaker. Having worked almost my entire adult life I savor the time and the ability to decide what to do each day.  I visit my mom as much as I can since she is in assisted living.  I enjoy my granddaughters, my garden, my sewing room, even cooking.  I like to stay busy.

Day 26: Prompt-Have you ever set a really big goal for yourself and met it? I am in the middle of a big goal, paying our home off in 3 years starting at $99,999.00 on 1/1/2019. I’m pretty sure we can do it with a no spend 3 years (not buying anything we don’t need).  Besides the fact we have spent way more money in our life than we should have!

Day 27: Can you remember a time when generosity really moved you, either doing or receiving-One year I got a very unexpected Christmas Bonus from Mad River Hospital.  It was over $600.  My husband and I went to Target and spent it all on Toys for Tots.  It was so much fun, I absolutely had a great time and it was so moving to see the representatives from The Marine Corp when we took the gifts to them.  I had to fight tears the entire time.  I hope to be able to do that again some day.  We do buy gifts every year, but not $500 worth!!

Day 28 was a bit painful. Thank back to when you were a child and someone set aside time to make you feel special even though they didn’t have to how did it make you feel.  I cannot remember anything as a child.  As a teen (still a child) my husband had a cake made for my 16th birthday and I felt very loved.  It was a white frosting cake with the decor being a lightbulb and it said “you turn me on”.  It was so sweet and I should have seen right there his love language.  Food, preparing food, taking care of people is definitely what his love language is as he has shown over the past 41+ years.

In reflecting over the past week, I have been struggling with my inadequacies in organization.  I am going to spend this day of reflection on being grateful for what I have in my life, my family, my home……….and use that gratitude to do a better job for my family.

I’m ready to move on to Humility!

Day 23, The Contentment Journal, June 24, 2019

Today’s prompt is about friendship.  I have a lot of aquaintances, but only a couple of good friends, one being my older sister who is just under 3 years older than me.  I don’t know if there is anything I wouldn’t tell her.  We have been a strong support for each other over the years, but now we both deal with chronic pain.  I was first with the chronic pain and fibromyalgia diagnosis.  A few years later she started having severe pain in her joints and was  diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. So I don’t know what I will do when I lose my sister.  Hopefully I will go first!

I have a wonderful group of friends I met on the internet many years ago and we have stayed friends over the years.  I have met two of the ladies in person and hope to meet another soon.

Day 22, The Contentment Journal, June 23, 2019

Today is another reflection day.  I was thinking about what I learned this week and it mostly involves gratitude for my husband and how hard he works.  It was very evident to me this week as he was called out of town and I was pretty much forced to help cover as cashier at our car wash.  This involves lots of standing and walking on cement.  Thursday I worked 7 hours and Friday I worked about 8 hours.  Saturday I was in a lot of pain and then again today I feel pretty bad and am hoping I feel good enough tomorrow to do a little housework.

My granddaughters were over today and Pyper (4) finished two 9 patch blocks.  She was so sweet and proud of herself.  She wanted to bake a cake, so we did.  I made frosting and she frosted it herself, then I made a raspberry cheesecake ice cream.  The taste was great, but the cream cheese was clumpy so the texture was off.  I probably did not let the cream cheese come to room temperature.  I had it out for a few hours and thought that would be enough.

So my reflecting, again, is not taking my husband for granted and do as much as I can to make his life easier.  He does a lot because of my fibromyalgia, but I am hoping to use my time wisely when I am feeling good.

I also bought new walking shoes to try to walk Lila more.  I was thrilled they were $30 off.  I decided to get the more expensive pair because they had a thicker sole and just felt better on my bad feet.  I was totally prepared to pay the full price.  We got to checkout and they were only $39.99 instead of $69.99.  Hoping they work out for me.

Day 20 and 21, The Contentment Journal, June 21, 2019

Day 20 prompt is about priority and spending, What top two areas you spend the most money? Well I pulled up my YNAB report for year to date.  It is almost the end of June so it is a pretty accurate picture.

My two highest categories are medical and gas, but I don’t think that represents priorities, it is just the way it is.  The next two are Food and Gifts.  This is not surprising and I am okay with it.  In 2018 the amounts spent on food and gifts was ridiculous so I cut back a lot for 2019, am being much more mindful of spending.  I am also making a lot of gifts, but I am still spending a fair amount on gifts.  I would like to cut it back some.  So far this year I have spent $1351 for gifts, down almost $3000 for the same first half of 2018, absolutely shocking!

Food- Oh My Goodness! We eat very well, but our freezer was so full at the end of 2018, we were actually spilling over into KT’s freezer with turkeys that were ridiculously cheap and 40 pounds of chicken breasts, also super cheap at 99 cents a pound. So I called for a moratorium on all meat purchases to make room in our freezers.  So we are down about $2400 over the first half of 2018.  Again, I want to keep up with this trend.  Somehow our freezers seem kind of full again.  I did an inventory of both our freezer and pantry at the beginning of the month of June. I need to keep up on it and continue to do a good job with as little food waste as possible.

Day 21 prompt is what do you do for fun when it is just you? I sew.  I love to sew and create.  I cannot believe I didn’t do it for so long.  I learned to sew when I was pretty young, then had a semester in 9th grade where Mrs. Puryear made us rip out anything that was not perfect!  I made so many clothes, Ron’s shirts, and then I had the girls.  I just didn’t have time anymore.  I am so glad that I have time now.  I also love to garden.  My two favorite hobbies.  I also like embroidery, knitting and crocheting.  I love to make things for family, friends, and even people I have not met.

My goal is to make quilts for children, military babies, St. Jude’s, Project Linus, whatever I can.  I need to make sure I use my time wisely because I sometimes waste a lot of time.  I’m working hard on this!