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.

Day 13 of The Contentment Journal, June 14, 2019

Prompt: Debt steals your gratitude. If you have debt, what’s your top emotion around the subject?

This is an easy one.  Regret.  That is the emotion I feel, so much regret.

Okay that’s over with now let’s talk about something more fun! I found miniature orchids at Grocery Outlet for $3.99. I got 7 of them, one in every color.  I immediately stopped at mom’s assisted living which is between our home and the new Grocery Outlet built in our small rural Northern California town.  She was sitting in her chair reading the newsletter Timber Ridge puts out in her chair.

I cut out a third 49er apron for Javonn and I don’t have enough left for Jaylen’s, so I need to pick up some more. Jaylen is only going to turn 4, and I couldn’t even squeeze out enough for him.   His birthday is August 29th so I have time.  These boys are the sons of my daughter’s BFF since the age of 5!  They are now 38. My daughter lives in Reno and her BFF lives in Sacramento so it’s easy to visit on day’s off occasionally.  My oldest daughter, who also lives in Reno, middle daughter, mom to Javonn/Jaylen and a bunch of other friends, all 38+ just went to a New Kids on The Block concert at Arco Arena in Sacramento.  There were a few other late 80s groups too.  They said it was a great show.  A bunch of adult women with children, all dressed in their 80s/90s garb having a blast!

I made my favorite WW dish last night:

Butternut Squash/Black bean/Corn dish:

It has 0 points if you spray the pan. I use about a tablespoon of olive oil, but I make a gob of it, so I eat it for several days.

Okay take a chopped small (or half a large) onion and bell pepper (I love red bell pepper) and throw it in the pan that has come to a pretty hot temp.  Let the bell pepper and onion cook up for a few minutes.  Meanwhile get your prepped butternut squash (cut in medium sized chunks, I buy mine already prepped at Winco in the produce department). Throw the butternut squash in too, about 2-3 cups. While that is cooking on the stove, go grab a can of black beans from your pantry (we always keep a lot of canned beans in ours), and get some frozen or leftover grilled corn too.  Canned corn would probably be okay too, I just don’t use it.

Throw everything in your large skillet and get out the chili powder, cumin and garlic salt. I put about a tablespoon of chili powder last night, about a tsp of cumin and shook the Lawry’s Roasted Garlic Salt, several times.  Stir it around.  Add riced cauliflower if you are going for a super low point meal or cook some quinoa to go with it.  One half cup of quinoa is 3 points so put that in the bottom of your bowl (or don’t) and then the butternut squash mix.  You can garnish with plain chopped coleslaw, cilantro or even avocado if you want.  It is so delicious.  It makes a great filling for a low carb tortilla also! I have been known to also throw tomatoes into the dish.  Yum.  So glad I have some in my refrigerator right this minute!

Today is all about Pyper.  I need to get with it and be in town by 8:00 a.m.!

Promises Made, Promises NOT Kept

I talk to my sister on the phone……a lot.  It’s so nice that long distance is basically free now after many years of us both having to watch out for how much we were talking on the phone with those long distance charges and our smaller incomes and raising children, etc.

I always make grandiose plans for myself, commitments to myself and let’s face it, I just don’t feel important enough to actually follow through on those things.  I am an Obliger for anyone who is familiar with Gretchen Rubin and her books.  While reading Better Than Before the phrase “do you put everyone else’s needs above your own to the point of exhaustion?” Okay I’m paraphrasing.  That phrase hit me between the eyes.  Why yes, yes I do.  Do you keep commitments to yourself.  Um no.   I am an excellent, grade A+ obliger.  I’m okay being an obliger, I do really enjoy doing things for other people, as my past entries may show. But I really wish I had just a little bit more of an Upholder in me.

I rejoined WW recently (formerly Weight Watchers, but apparently Oprah didn’t like that name) and at yesterday’s meeting, where I surprisingly had lost 2 pounds, the topic was reset.  Reset? I know all about reset, I do it almost daily!  So I am going to make an easier commitment.

For the next 90 days I am going to use Rachel Cruze’s new book, The Contentment Journal, and write even just a few words about the days prompt and my response during breakfast, which I guess means I will be a day behind because I don’t see myself stopping right now and doing the first day’s entry because I need to water my flowers, finish cutting out the apron’s for Father’s Day I have promised to make for a friend of my middle daughter’s (actually her friend since age 4 or thereabouts), clean my house up after a whirlwind declutter yesterday evening for my granddaughter’s theatre group’s garage sale, walk my dog, and help DH make burritos (both breakfast and regular).  Sometime I need to run down and see my almost 90-year old mom at her assisted living facility (the one I retired from) and whatever else pops up today.

I want to do this for me.  I hate to think I am going to get to the end of my life having never kept a commitment to myself.  I’m 61 now and in 7 months I will turn 62.  C’mon Cheryl you can do this…it’s only 90 days!

I’m 60, OMG I’m 60!

IMG_5653IMG_5677I’m starting to think it’s now or never for me becoming who I really want to be.  I turned 60 on December 22, 2017.

Well who do I want to be?  I want to be the grandma that every little girl could hope for.  I want to be spontaneous and able to pull out art/craft  projects at a moment’s notice.  I want to enjoy sitting in the backyard watching the girls, realizing these days may be long, but the years are very short.  I want to enjoy being silly and cooking and gardening and reading with them.

I want to be a wife who patiently listens (I really need to work on that one), and I want to be able to cook a decent  meal when my husband is too tired to do it (he is the family chef).  I want to be able to enjoy things my husband enjoys just for the sake of making him happy (watching marathon Food Network….ugh).  I want to not worry and allow my husband to take care of me.

I want to be a mom that my daughters can talk to about anything, (well except maybe sex).  I want to not give advice and realize that sometimes the girls may just want me to listen.  I want to be able to help them when they need help and I want them to know they can always depend on me.

Also I want to stop driving myself crazy not being able to find things, or wait until the last minute to do things.  I want to be more relaxed.  I want to exercise and maintain a healthy weight.  I want to keep my house clean enough to never cringe if someone stops by.  I want to make a difference.

Which brings me to quilting.  Before Ally was born (I cannot believe she is 9!) I went with my daughter to a financial class that was put on by the Navy wives at Camp LeJeune.  After the class, the moms were all given care packages that included a hand crocheted blanket.  The first though I had was, “wow someone or a group made all these different blankets”.   I knew right then someday I wanted to do the same thing, only quilts.

This year I finally started.  A little girl who is an Army brat was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma not long after I met her in the little quilt shop I work in occasionally.  She was visiting her grandmother who brought her in along with her aunt (who is a regular customer).  I quickly bonded with her and when I heard about her cancer I offered to make a quilt for her.  The aunt is a pretty new quilter and gratefully picked out the fabric.  I made an easy quilt for her, a local long arm quilter quilted it for me for free, and I sent it off.

I met a quilter this year at the shop who makes quilts for military babies in Southern California.  I knew God orchestrated that visit to the shop since I only work one day a week generally.  I told her my story and she gave me her name, address, email address and told me they would make sure anything I sent would get to the right place.  I am so excited to get started on making a few this year.

My other quilting goals…..oh my I have so many, right now it stands at 12 for family.  But first I am reorganizing my fabric and sewing room and giving it a good cleaning.  I  have two quilts cut out and cannot wait to get started!

My World Starts Over Again!

After 4 years in the Assisted Living industry, I have retired once again.  My job was very rewarding, but also very stressful both mentally and physically, so I once again have quit working.  This time I have no plans to ever go back to work.  I am not sure if anyone will read my blog, but I want to use it as an online journal, so to speak, which is exactly what I said last time!

My dear sweet husband of almost 38 years has been very supportive of me in making this decision, but I have to think he kind of likes me taking on some of the jobs that he does in addition to working full-time running our business.

This is my 5th week being retired.  I thought for sure I would be totally up to date on cleaning, organizing and our yard would be worthy of a tour.  Hahahaha…..not even close!  So I will do a little bit every day to work towards those goals.

Last weekend was our 40th high school reunion and it was so much fun.  We could not have had a better time, seriously.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and talked to people who were not my friends in high school and my husband did the same.  I cannot say enough about it!  Ironically my husband’s favorite teacher passed away on Sunday, the last day of our reunion.  Dennis Cahill taught biology and Ron even talked me into taking one of his classes one year.  I barely passed!  I don’t think Ron ever got anything less than an A in Mr. Cahill’s classes.  He will be missed.

This week I am in SoCa as Pyper turns 2 today and Ally will be 8 on the 18th!   WordPress has a lot of new looking icons, so I am going to have to learn to post pictures all over again!


2015 Journaling

I think typing is so much easier than writing!  I think this means to keep a journal/diary I should just keep up on my blogging. If anyone reads, great, if not fine too. I want to look back at what was happening in my life that I may have forgotten.

2014 was so busy with OD’s wedding in Maui March 20, 2014 and GD2 born in August.  Along with that I was promoted in July and work is busy, busy, busy.

I have settled in and it is time to try to start improving my life again.  Thanks to meds Fibro is under control and I can get a lot done as long as I stop before it is too much!  Work smarter, not harder.

Purging and organizing: I have been reading and participating in the Konmarie group on Facebook and have learned a lot and finished my clothes.  Still have lots to do, but I feel it is doable.

Gardening:  The yard waste pile from the last 27 years is gone!  We will be planning a new garden after closely watching the sun over the last year, picking out the new spot.   With the drought we did not garden last year, but I think we are good to go this year water wise.

Quilting:  Aaahhh my first love.  Always have several projects going!

I also plan to do more reading again.  Currently I am reading W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton.

Money:  20% to retirement savings and making sure we keep up on meal planning!

I plan to enjoy the girls as we do not know how long they will be with us.  GD2 almost has a tooth through.  GD1 is smart as a whip.  She loves school and her family and she makes a point to let us know.  She is a sweetie pie!

My Life Has Shifted Again!

Oh Lordy, I have a full time job and have for 6 months.  I LOVE my job, but it does not leave time for much else.  Or I should say with my fibromyalgia I don’t have the energy and while my pain is SO much better than it was 2 years ago, it still limits me.

We have great health insurance, which is very important and some extra money to put into retirement.  I won my Social Security claim and will get a check for 2 years.  I of course was denied, then my new job was plopped into my lap (I was NOT looking for a job), I called my lawyer to say forget the Social Security application.  He said we should at least go ahead with a closed claim. 

I am convinced I would have been awarded full Social Security because the Voc Rehab person could not really find another job in my category…and I was awarded my claim in about 10 minutes.

I would like to buy a Temperpedic bed with my award.  That is my plan anyway.

Until then I continue to work hard, quilt when I can, and look foward to some gardening.

I cannot quilt AND garden because of time, so I must get six more baby quilts done before I start gardening!

My dear son-in-law is in Afghanistan and my 4 year old granddaughter and my daughter are living with us while he is gone. I pray constantly for him and am grateful for our blessings.

Tuesday Garden Party, May 29, 2012

Just a quick note to say I am home from South Carolina where I had a great time.  My DH tried as best he could in the garden, but I spent all afternoon Sunday weeding and I have hardly made a dent!

Will get back to regular garden blogging next week as my oldest is here visiting from Reno.  My youngest daughter, son-in-law and 3 year old granddaughter are also here for the month of June before my son-in-law reports to Camp Pendleton in San Diego! (HURRAY!!)

Needless to say I have much to get caught up on!  Look forward to catching up on everyone’s posts.

Grandma to the Rescue

Even if it is across the US for 7 weeks!  My Marine son-in-law has new orders and my daughter is booked solid with her photography business until the end of May when they prepare for their move to San Diego, Camp Pendleton.  I thought this day would never come that they would be in the same state as I live!  My darling granddaughter had been attending a day care/preschool, but was coming home with stories that were not very reassuring.  After the third day of this, I got a phone call.  It took me 24 hours to be ready and off I went…..

I have spent the past two weeks cooking and shopping and reading books and even getting some sewing in.  I brought my Bernina and my BabyLock serger with lots of fabric and everything I needed to work on my Farmer’s Wife quilt blocks and other projects.

I was very lucky to be in a local quilt shop when a friend/customer of the owner came in with fabric swatches she bought at a sale at Environments, Inc, a preschool-kindegarten furniture manufacturer and wholesaler of educational books and toys.  I immediately called my daughter to meet me to take me to the sale along with my granddaughter since my son-in-law needed my car (the kids traded in their two cars and bought a new Juke thinking they were moving to Hawaii as this was my son-in-law’s first orders, only to be changed). 

We looked up the address, put it in her navigation system and off we went.  It was a part of Beaufort my daughter had never been to, the industrial part of town, which is unlike any other industrial area I have seen (except where I live).  It was even more beautiful and rural with the businesses hid in the trees.

We finally found the right spot and there was a parking lot sale of really great kids furniture, books, toys AND fabric swatches from Robert Kaufman, P&B Textiles, and Hoffman Fabrics.  I started picking up the little bundles that were marked $1.00 or $2.00.  I asked an employee how much for a few of them that were not marked.  She went over and asked an older gentleman and she came back and said she could “mark them down”.  I wanted practically every single one I picked up and there were not many people at the sale, it was winding down clearly.  I finally asked if she could find out how much for “all the fabric”. 

The same gentleman came over, looked at the table of samples and said, “How about $50.00 for all of it”.  SOLD!!  Except this lovely lady proceeded to find all the fabric samples under the display tables, in other boxes until we had so much it could hardly fit in my daughter’s car with half the back seat folded down…..along with over 60 books, Melissa and Doug puzzles and preschool/K workbooks perfect for my 3.5 year old granddaughter!!  In all I spent $175.00. 

I counted out $100 worth of fabric when I got home, and it was a very small amount of the total fabric.  Not to be political, but I couldn’t help but think when Nancy Pelosi (from my state) said “we have to pass the bill to find out what is in it”.  Well I had to buy all the fabric and get it home to see what I bought!!

I have spent 2 days organizing by fabric line, and now am pulling off the cardstock stapled or grometted (is that a word) labels and putting in zip lock bags for shipping. 

I have so much fabulous fabric, when added to my huge stash at home…..I really cannot buy anymore fabric unless it is a solid cream or white to contrast with all the absolutely fabulous fabric I bought.

When I get home towards the end of May, I will try to post some pictures.  I just finished with the batiks…just beautiful.  I think this was a bargain of a lifetime! 

So I am not home to participate in my usual Tuesday Garden Party.  My husband has been really good at texting me pictures of my blooming tulips and pink columbines.  The forget me nots and blue columbines are probably blooming too!

Until then I will be playing and cooking and cleaning and walking the dog and playing with fabric!