Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Fitbit and Me

Today, I received my trusty Fitbit Flex in the mail.  After a good half an hour spent setting up my newest technological item, it is now firmly attached to my wrist.  Yes, I have joined the Fitbit crowd.  

Some readers may remember my talking about this earlier. My children had offered to pay for one, and in fact I had this in my Amazon wish list at one time-hence their offer. I had left the gadget sitting in my shopping basket for a couple weeks however, for a few reasons.  At this point I do not wear a watch, and I was not sure how having something constantly on one wrist would feel (I use my phone for the time, and just never replaced the watch). At least a third of my exercise time was spent doing seated exercise or in the water, and that would still have to be entered manually.  Finally of course, was the exercise/weight loss debate.  In the end though, I decided that it would be good to track my sleep and get a fair idea of how much movement I get each day. I do not think I will be disappointed.

For those who wonder, I am not the queen of technology, and it was VERY easy to set up and to adjust my goals (I am not afraid of technology, but I believe that I should be the user, not the other way around if you will). As of this first day, it seems very comfortable. I have not yet decided if I will wear it to track my sleep or remove it at night. While this model is fine in rain and other situations it is not jump in the pool or hot tub waterproof. And while I ordered mine in basic blue gray/slate, they do come in a variety of colors. They also have many bands you can order separately, which I will probably look into, fashionista that I am (not).

I would also add that many phones have smart phone apps that will offer similar functions, if you are willing to keep the phone in your pocket or in your hand all day long, and if you don't care about sleep measurements.  I have times when I leave my phone behind, and I did not want the pocket or around my neck phone option, so this was the best choice for me.

Yesterday, meanwhile, was a "field trip day".  Two cars loaded up and traveled to three different fabric and yarn shops, explored downtown and had a leisurely lunch. I purchased fabric for place mats and fabric just because, and had a lovely lunch of chicken waffles with fruit and chip
otle maple syrup. I kept in touch with my college student, as I had scheduled a few visitors.  The sprinkler guy came to blow out and set the sprinklers, I had the yard aeration scheduled and I knew there was a package coming-so I did keep checking my texts.

One text I was unprepared for. As generally happens, while my son was doing clothing and taking care of other things, the dog was out playing.  This time, when he went back outside, he found our pup with his mouth full of-squirrel hair!  It seems he finally got close enough to our complacent squirrels to grab the tail end before it ran away.  Personally, I'd say those squirrels are way to comfortable in my yard.  They spend so much time in the yard, or under or on the bird feeder, they ignore the fact that we have two canines whose primary mission is to catch squirrels!  That will teach them (and yes, I'll up the flea medicine as well)!

Now, it's time to go play with some of that fabric, and enjoy some beef in wine from the slow cooker!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Calm Before The Storm

Even though I consider myself to be a low energy, relaxed person, invariably my retirement seems to have some major activity highs and lows. The past week and my current week in retirement are perfect examples.

As someone who could be consider at homebody at heart, last week was an example of my average low energy week. When I am not traveling, I try and keep two days to be at home days where I only go out to walk or to exercise class or to the occasional daytime movie. Last week was more than two days. While I wasn't exactly sitting around the house eating bon-bons, my only serious outside commitments were a half day of volunteering, my night class, and Wednesday lunch, knitting and happy hour. I'm still experimenting with cookbook styles, but hope to have some test pages done this week. I would love to do something like this, but in a real binder. I just love pinterest


The rest of my time was spent quilting, knitting, reading two novels, studying, compiling recipes for my family cookbook, writing, working in the yard (on the seventy degree days), cooking and generally enjoying my home. Naturally, living in Denver, I also experienced to two days of heavy wet snow and cold weather (and more dead branches) before again, returning to seventy degree weather. I also spent some time doing long term planning (the list of things I want to do is a full page-how many I'll get done in the next six months are anyone's guess), planning my two vacations, and budgeting for the summer (adjusting down the housing costs and adjusting up the food, travel, and fun costs, for example).

Sewing the backing on my blue and green and white spa quilt

This year, I also opted for at home relaxation over restaurant entertainment when it came to mother's day. A relaxing day at home followed by lobster tails and steaks and lemon meringue pie cooked by my son was better than any restaurant dinner.  An entire day to do what one pleases, and ignore all clean up or yard work is a wonderful gift, even in retirement. Ever practical, my children gave me a 100 dollar gift card to Amazon-where there are so many choices I have yet to place an order. You can purchase anything on Amazon, after all. Even fabric!! I did intend to take really good pictures of food and cards, but somehow I got sidetracked.

 Meanwhile, this week is turning into one of those "when will I have time to" weeks. While yesterday was fairly calm and relaxing, until Friday I am going, going, going. Today not only do I have class, but the job of preparing refreshments for the class and finishing a project. Tomorrow, I have an orientation to my new volunteer gig (more about that in a couple days), then my usual lunch, knitting and happy hour routine. Thursday I have my new volunteer gig in the morning, and another one in the afternoon (a one time thing). Friday morning, my knitting/quilt group is going on a "field trip" to a downtown fabric store, the Buffalo Exchange, and lunch. Friday evening I am feeding my homeless women-alone because our church has a major event the same night that everyone else wants to go to.

Add to this week the fact that I need to see the new Mad Max movie, my usual art projects, and an hour walk every day and this week is well-extremely full!!

Mind you, I am not complaining, as long as every week in retirement is not like this! In truth, I've been wanting to jump into a couple of new activities.  Next week will look more like my new normal, with two full days at home, followed by class, my Wednesday group, volunteering a full day, and a day long class in T-shirt quilting so I can finally complete a gift for my daughter, a girls movie night out, and of course walking every day! 

As always, both weeks were very inexpensive. I always budget for my Panera lunch and a happy hour drink, for example, and I consider my food for the homeless my church contribution. This week, I'll have an additional lunch, and being me, I'll purchase fabric and yarn at Tiger Crafts or Wooden Spools. It's for the times like this that I eat at home, and see matinees (aside from the lack of crowds) after all.

I do have one major expense in the past week.  I've had a Verizon Ellipses tablet for some time-its a smaller tablet kind of the size of the IPAD mini, but an android (I refuse to own an iPhone for a variety of reasons). I recently upgraded to the same tablet with more memory for a mere $45, and then promptly purchased a hundred dollar case for the thing. Being a natural klutz of the highest order, this case and keyboard gives me great protection and allows me to use the tabled as a mini laptop-and I can pop the tablet out to read it like a Kindle if I like.  I'm calling this one an investment purchase!

And now, I'm off to start sewing for Christmas markets-before my crazy retirement week begins.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Yard Sales and Farmer's Markets and Pulled Pork, Oh My!

As some readers know, I am of the opinion that a good yard sale is a terrible thing to waste!  Granted, I no longer have young children or grand children to shop for, but I still find yard sales fun and a challenge. On this particular weekend I had no hot plans, and Saturday was a warm, just slightly cloudy day, so I headed off to explore the sales, and see what I could find.

This weekend it seemed that whenever I arrived at the few addresses I had written down, there were plenty of other sales in the area-whether this was because of a copycat influence or they were neighborhood sales I am not sure.  Either way, I found quite a few sales in a reasonable geographical area.  When I look online, of course, I tend to pay attention to downsizing, or moving sales.  This immediately rules out the "I am getting rid of all my baby stuff" sales, which while valuable, have little relevance to me except for the occasional purchase I make for the shelter. 

All in all this particular Saturday, I made a fairly good haul-and all of it is stuff I was looking for, wanted to get for someone else, or could use with my activities with homeless women and kids.  I purchased a spreader for the yard, and a small green machine from a couple who were doing serious downsizing (even with only a small percentage of carpet, when you adopt chronically ill dogs you need every cleaning option open at all times). I purchased a clothes tree for my room (I'll use that instead of the chair, ha!).  I also purchased two large bins of scrapbooking and craft items, from rubber stamps to wall stencils, to craft paints and more. I'll keep the most usable items for myself, and donate the rest to my church Sunday school program. Add a small table sander and a couple other items and I was done.  Unfortunately if I want to grab a large sander for my son, it looks like I will have to get up and leave the house by seven.  Do I love him that much? 

Next up was my first weekend of farmer's marketing. Unfortunately Colorado (as much of the US) had a cold winter and so real produce will probably be another week or so. This week there was lettuce, water cress, a tiny bit of spinach and some asparagus-next week should be better, and so it goes. If my farmers market is anything like yours, though, farmers produce is just half of it. My market also has a woman who sells German sausage and other items, one who sells handmade soaps, a guy who sells green chiles, and about twenty more booths,including wild honey and aromatherapy personal care products. 

 I also found a booth for a great bakery that does all kinds of cookies, including iced and wedding rings. What can I say, I've grown lazy in my retirement, even when it comes to baking. On the times when it's only two of us, I am happy to let someone else do the work if the quality is there. I left the market with information about milk delivery, some Nurnburger bratwurst (the white ones), a few iced cookies and a brochure about farm eggs and grass fed beef! 

At the end of the day, I still had time for a quick walk and some drawing and sewing time.  Dinner, of course was absolutely no effort thanks to my slow cooker (the really big one I got for Christmas). More and more, believe it or not, I am using the slow cooker-even when there are two or three of us. The food comes out delicious, the effort is low, and the leftovers can be frozen for later.  This week, my local grocery had picnic shoulders on sale for 99 cents (a great price here), and I bought a ten pound picnic shoulder.  Once I put on the rub and added some liquid (beef, coke, wine or  broth, take your pic-I used coke), I left it for a full ten hours on low. I pulled it out, used my hands to separate, and had two large freezer bags plus dinner on Friday and on Saturday-what more could you want? 

In contrast, Sunday was spent much more quietly around here. I spent some of the day putting away all those newly purchased items, doing some reading, going to church, and spending some quality outside time-including forty five minutes of attempting to tan my pale, pale body.  It seems that lots of sun is actually good for diabetics.  Who knew-but more about that later.  And while the garden is still mainly hibernating, new plants are going in.  And as always, the squirrels are out getting every thing they can when the dogs are inside, and the birds are taking full advantage of the feeder.  Which is a good thing, because eventually the squirrels will go for that as well!

And so it goes, this weekend in retirement!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How Are You Dressing In Retirrement?

The past few weeks I have been doing much clothes shopping. In fact I have probably purchased more clothing in the past few weeks than I did in the previous six months or more. These purchases have not been used or thrifted clothing, although some (but not all) have been on sale.

The  I reason for my shopping mania is really pretty simple.  I wear mainly bright, spring colors all the year around (along with almost any color of blue). Although by no means a fashionista as such, I did at one point have my "colors evaluated", and they were as they say, dead on. Since then my wardrobe on top has consisted of blue, turquoise, yellow, warm green and the like. Nary a red, black, purple, orange or other type of color has entered my life. This means that since I wear spring colors, most of my clothing has to be purchased at this time of year. While I will not find heavy sweaters this season, I can still find long sleeved blouses and t-shirts, mid weight cardigans and more.

Just a little bit of blue and green!

I'm also working to make sure everything goes with everything (as much as humanly possible without buying an entire wardrobe), so that I can a: be well dressed no matter what comes out of the closet, and b: be dressed so that I can wear whatever I put on throughout the entire day. So my cardigans and jackets are also blue, yellow and green rather than say, gray or black.

I don't know about you, but most days my retirement life can look entirely different at ten am than it does at four pm.  I am not a "change for the occasion" person.  Oh sure, I have some old clothes in my closet for working in the yard or painting the walls. I have some special exercise clothes, and some clothing I use for golf. I still have some (very limited) outdoor clothing which I hold onto even though climbing and hiking are no longer things of which I can partake.  Last but not least,  I also have a certain amount of "dress" clothing.  Most of the year though, once I am dressed, I want that to be it.

Some folks dress in jeans and a t-shirt at home, and then change for say, their book group. My problem is that I want the same outfit to fit both purposes and more. I want to be comfortable reading on the patio or creating in the studio-and look good a book group or lunch. I just want to do it all in the same clothing, so I don't have to think about it.

Don't get me wrong. I've been known to stay in my PJ's long after getting out of bed.This is retirement after all, and a morning spent reading in a lounging outfit or sweats is it's own reward (I live in a place where unexpected visitors other than family are almost non-existant). After all, I'm both a slow and late riser who needs time to stretch, warm muscles, and eat before I am awake. I've even been known to go back to bed on a painful or very cold day-more than once.  But once I am out of those clothes, I don't want to have to think about it any more.

For me, the solution has been simple. Lots of soft knit pants, and skirts-mainly black and gray, and in varying lengths. On the top, clothing that for the most part is warm green, blue (lots of blue) , yellow, peach,  and the like. This is true for the tanks, t shirts (yes, although there are no pictures here, I do wear many t-shirts-in bright colors), sweaters and jackets.  Rather than using "neutrals" I simply mix and match these outfits, and the jewelry that goes with it, which is usually bright and multicolored. I can wear a yellow cardigan with a green sweater tank. My shoes are always casual (hello Sketchers and Clark's).

Right now, this is what (mainly) works for me. Of course, tomorrow morning I have to de-fat a ten pound picnic shoulder and get it into the slow cooker for pulled pork. Some how I think I'll be wearing pj's for that one-which will then go straight into the laundry!! Maybe I should have a get filthy while cooking clothing category?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Two Hour Project and a LIttle Light Reading-A Lazy Saturday In Retirement!

Sorry folks, I think we are live again!!

I spend a fair amount of weekend time at home now that I am retired. Not because I have a boring life, but because one of the advantages of retirement life tends to be the "off-peak" life. Much of my retirement activity is done during the week (and usually the day light hours.  Be it grocery shopping, taking a college class, or even going to the movies, whenever possible I prefer to do these things when others are working, and avoid weekend crowds and traffic.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I do on the weekend. Many of my family and friends still work, and that is the only together time. Most concerts and festivals are on the weekend......well, you get my drift. Tomorrow, I'll be going to church, out to dinner, and maybe even to a weekend movie (I am willing to brave the crowds for the new Russel Crowe Gallipoli movie).  

Today however, as with many Saturdays, I've enjoyed a day away from crowds. I've slept late, played on the patio with the dogs, walked, and read some mindless drivel on my kindle. I also spent a little over two hours sewing a lined tote bag to hold my yarn when I am traveling or meeting friends to sit and knit.  A little cutting, a little pressing and sewing, and my bag is finished (and lined with the dark blue fabric)! 

Next on my list is this dino quilt for my nephew.  For whatever reason, I get many more requests for girly quilts than I do boy quilts. Now that I know my three year old nephew is a dinosaur fiend, this will be my next afternoon or weekend fun.

As for that supposedly light reading, well, my other reading assignment is this little academic gem of 95 pages, which I need to evaluate before my theology class on Tuesday night.  Somehow, I think this one will keep me busy well past the weekend.  Happy weekend all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Revisiting The Road Trip-Day One Denver to Moab

For those who have not figured it out yet, I am one of those people who can turn a four day visit to see family into a ten day or more road trip.  What can I say, that's just the way I roll.  I hate to fly (there are no words) and probably will only fly again if I go back to Germany or to Grand Cayman or have an emergency). One of the advantages of being retired is time, and plenty of it.

When plotting my drive to Seattle, I was looking both to make it as scenic as possible, as well as to be not repetitive (remember, I'm the girl who can find ten ways to drive to see my daughter in Dallas). Although I am not a huge planner as such, my sister rarely gets to go on road trips.  Add to that the fact that she has live in Denver since college and never been to Moab or Canyonlands parks, and a unique trip was born. Unfortunately I am still looking through my photos and she has not sent me her pictures (me being the driver and she being the photographer and all).

Day one involved a shorter drive, from Denver on I70, through the Rockies into Utah.  This drive is more scenic every time I take it, especially the second half of the drive which goes through Glenwood Canyon.  I'll say here that I70 in Utah is the most desolate drive, with a scene that looks like a mountain crater. 
a side drive well worth the time
Fortunately we took the scenic road to Moab, taking Utah scenic byway 128 to Moab. This is certainly longer than taking the highway route, but worth every extra minute.  This road is very unique, with large sandstone walls, the Colorado river and move.  It's also "open range" which means you may have to slow down for beef on the hoof. In our case it was just past calving season, and one baby cow actually started chasing us!

After checking into our motel the Sleep Inn (our least favorite stay on our road trip, the room was VERY warm and we could not control it, seemingly), we had a relaxing dinner while watching Wisconsin lose to Duke, and prepare ourselves for the next day.
beautiful downtown Moab
you really have to climb to this one-literally
Even though this was not my first trip to Arches National Park, it was still breathtaking! Eventually I will get the many pictures I took, good and bad, sorted out and share more.  It's enough to say that half a day spent in the park was not enough. Had my sister been alone, she would probably have hiked the second half of the day. As most of our trip, the day was warm, sunny, and made up for the not very pretty drive that followed in the afternoon, through northern Utah and the Sat Lake Corridor.

The cost for day one of our trip (not including gas which I'll total at the end), was $112 for the motel, $20 for a very nice dinner (breakfast and lunch were packed) and ten dollars for the car at the Arches.  All and all well worth the money!

Next time, let me tell you about those Idaho survivalists!!