Monday, August 25, 2014

On UFOs and Other Objects.

No, not those lights you see in the sky.  In the case, UFO is short for "Unfinished Objects" of which I have a few-both physical and mental. 

 I tend to be someone who has a lot of things going at one time.  I have about six quilt tops on my quilt rack, for example.  I have more than one art work in progress, including the picture from a collage below. I have three writing projects going on that are not blog related (a frugal retirement book, a book on homemade gifts for folks who hate homemade gifts, and a cookbook for two or one) not related to blogging. As if that were not enough, I have two knitting projects (one easy and one for when my knitting group meets in case I need help).

It's not just the creative side of me either.  I realized today that I have four major trips planned, and yet I only want to take two long trips in the next year.  I've been wanting to do some arranging in the house now that I am fully settled, and I'm kind of "stuck in the middle". On top of all this, I'm trying to adjust my retirement routine-to leave a bit more down time, and to allow time for meditation or yoga daily. Twice now I've decided to sign up for on line courses in drawing and writing at Open2Learn and twice I have not finished them.

Now, just because I have these unfinished projects, that is not to say I don't complete things on a regular basis.  In the past month I've completed a quilt, designed two patterns (still trying to figure how to turn everything into PDF for downloads), experimented with at least one new recipe, and more. And that of course is in addition to two road trips.

If I've learned something about myself, I know that I'm person who often has a short attention span and changes what I'm interested in doing, on a fairly regular basis.  Fortunately this works for me because I an entire room that is my own space, and that allows me to have a quilt on the table, artwork in another area, and a computer desk.  I've always been willing to sacrifice the "guest room" into my office, I'm not sure what that says about me (my husband was the same way, so I guess we figured people would stay on the fold out sofas and we would pay for the hotel rooms down the road. Of course, we've had a few mattresses and sleeping bags on our floor a time or two as well).

I also tend to be the kind of person who at times gets into doing a specific task, even thought it may seem monotonous, and continues on. Those are the times my mind is working and I find the task relaxing. For example, I hate the cutting portion of the quilting process. But I enjoy the planning and find the sewing part very restful and that it allows me to think.  What this means is that I have a sketch book full of ideas, patterns and plans, as well as a wall full of quilt tops. I tend to like the mixing and the decorating, but not the cutting out of those decorated cookies. So I'm liable to cut out sugar cookies for three or four occasions and freeze them (sugar cookies freeze very well, do not go stale in many months and may come out tasting better, especially a chewy cookie). There are days when I have the energy to sit and look at maps for hours and those I don't.  You get the idea.

I also have my "picky" days.  Although I am a mellow person, there are times when I know exactly what I want and will wait until I can find it. Such it is with the fall quilt, where I waited since last fall to find the perfect border. Most of the time I am the queen of substitution and creativity.  Once in a while though, I can see it in my head, and until I find that image, phrase or ingredient I am, so speak, on hold

Recently a friend reminded me that I was well, retired. That means that I can do what I want when I want (or not do what I want when I want).  I can keep a half day free for meditating and reading every day if I wish (and often do).  I can take on a research or writing project here or there for extra cash and use my brain-and not do that for a  weeks at a time. As long as I don't fall into one extreme or the other, what I do is put simply up to me. 

Which means I'll just keep on keeping on. Eventually things get finished and done, and put away, given away or used. Chapters get written, cooking gets done, and travel plans get made. And so it goes this week in retirement, as I finish one fall quilt, begin another, help a client write a book and natural cleaning hacks, and try a new pulled pork recipe.

Meanwhile, I have this book I downloaded and plan to spend this particular afternoon reading and having something as simple as frozen lasagna.  I just need to take my proper place in my reading chair.  What do you think my chances are?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Necessity is the Mother of Creativity-and other thoughts this week

Necessity is the mother of invention, it seems.  I've been looking for a couple alternatives for awhile, and the solutions seem to be similar.  The nature of the beast when it comes to Christmas and holidays these days are gift cards.  I don't have a personal objection to this as such, we have college students whose needs change from semester to semester, as well as seniors and retirees for whom the best gift is not a thing, but perhaps kindle credit or a restaurant gift card.  My problem was two fold. I hate the silly gift card holders, and I always feel like I should give something along with the gift card.  I also have occasions when I want to give a really, really nice card instead of a gift, but I never found a card I liked.

So this week, I was sorting through all those fabric scraps left from various projects in a large bin in my sewing room (I'm having a yard sale next weekend so it's time for a quick organizing effort).  My first go to for creating things tends to be fabric, even when it's not quilting as such. My project today was to combine the two in some way.  So today I designed some "quilted cards'. I made  a bunch of themed mini quilts that were greeting card size.  These were very quick to make with minimal stitching and I am simply taping them to the front of blank cards-they can be a gift as well as a card and cost me nothing since they were made of things I am throwing out.  They can also be put in a frame later. I hope to have a bunch of these to photograph later this week.  While I was at it, I made mini bags with handles in various gift card sizes-these were also free, and give me room enough to put a gift card and a small memento or candy or whatever else I decide to throw in at the last minute.

Other thoughts this week:

  • I knew I had a fear of heights.  I just didn't know how bad it was.  I'm never going to be the girl looking over the glass at the Grand Canyon. I may take the scenic train under the Royal Gorge bridge but not drive over.  Much as I'm looking forward to next years cross country train trip, there are some areas where I will be nervous because of the height. Being the road tripper that I am, I returned home via back roads through Taos and then the oldest city in Colorado, Los Rios.  One of the stops on my return was the Rio Grande gorge, a bridge that goes down more than five hundred feet.  Let's just say that good intentions were just that.  My camera and I never even made it off the edge of the bridge. I'll leave it to someone else to take a good picture of the bottom of the gorge.
  • Three or four blogs as well as Yahoo have shared and discussed the fact that at least one restaurant in California has decided not not allow strollers, high chairs or booster seats or loud children. I must be out of the loop, because I am amazed at the vitriol of some of the arguments.  I'm a parent who took her children out to eat at a variety of restaurants around the world.  But I did not take my kids to "fine" restaurants until the teen years.  And even during that time of life, there were times when my husband and I had our date nites deliberately at locations we knew would not have children.  I think there are enough restaurants available to families that a restaurant here and there that bans kids (or has a separate adult room) can be tolerated and even embraced.  But then I'm one of those crazy adults that actually applauded when my local movie theaters decided not to let children under six in movies after 8 PM.
  • As many readers know, one of my regular gigs is to provide dinner for a group of homeless women and then have some kind of activity (this is a residential home where 20 women with physical and mental issues who have been long term homeless stay until they are ready to become independent.  The stay can be quite awhile).  Most months I enjoy coming up with different themes for the evening.  This week it was a slap together effort because of my trip. On the day in question someone made white bean and chicken stew and I grabbed a pile of ice creams and toppings with no thought to much of anything.  Our "activity"?  One of the group went online and read of the theme lines of various brands (from as far back as 1950) with the challenge to name who the ad was sponsored by.  As disorganized as we were, these women still had a wonderful evening and asked us when we were coming back. I do need to remember that perfection in my volunteering area is not always required.
  • Amazon now has something available known as kindle unlimited.  I think it aims to be a Netflix of sorts for kindle books. For a fee, you can read an "unlimited" number of books. Since they had a free trial, I figured I would check it out.  I used my five page amazon wish list as a test list.  These is a list that I generally use for library reserves, buying a few kindles here and there.   While I did take advantage of my free month, for me the program would not make financial sense. Most of my fiction reading is current police procedural fiction.  Someone else might have better success, depending on their reading habits.
Meanwhile, It's time for me to start my two Open2Study classes, work on those sewing and crafting projects, get to work on my book, and take some time to laze on the patio during these last few weeks of summer.  Hopefully I will get a chance to get lots more photos up in a couple days here.  Happy weekend all!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Frugal Retirement-A Few Days In Santa Fe

We all have different lifestyles in retirement.  While many of my fellow retirees are taking off on long journeys, I'm finding just the opposite is working for me.  A couple longer (two weeks) trips throughout the year and some short breaks in between are what work best for me. I NEED to be at home, and this schedule fills all of my needs.

As many readers know, I just returned from five days or so in Santa Fe-a trip that was just about the right amount of time for me. This trip ended up both being fairly frugal, and the perfect blend of activities. I'm not an adventure retiree.  While I appreciate nature, I generally do it in horizontal or seating position much of the time.  This week, I stepped out of the box for a brief period of time (against doctors orders), but the rest of my trip fulfilled my basic needs of life.  Please forgive the lack of photos. As some know, I dropped that camera on cement, and I've been trying to learn how to use my camera on my phone. Its a process.  Anyway, onto my weekend.

This weekend was probably the perfect example of why driving and road tripping is the best alternative for me.  Rather than camping or staying in a hotel, my home away from home was a rental outside of the city, high on a hill. Surrounding by silence and Russian sage, this was the perfect vacation getaway. No noise, beautiful views, well appointed rooms-and just ten minutes to the plaza.  Renting this house gave us a chance to be in vacation rather than tourist mode for the most part.  The kitchen allowed breakfast and occasionally lunches (food which we brought in coolers) and a single evening of grilled steaks on the patio. It was a perfect happy medium.

So what did I do during this little respite?  

I briefly stepped out of the box and went to Bandelier national monument, where one can see cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, standing walls and kivas. I'm sure my doctor would be shaking if he knew.  For those of you who have been there, I did not, repeat not, climb the caves, but walked the path and observed from afar. I know my limitations. I did climb up the fifteen steps at the far end so that I could see the petroglyphs-a decision which I will be paying for for a couple weeks. As someone who lives with chronic pain, this was not my smartest move, but ended up being worth it. 

I spent a day at the plaza, exploring churches, galleries, museums, the state capitol and more.  I never met a church I was unwilling to visit, and Santa Fe was no exception. 

I spent one day exploring galleries and foundries. I watched blown glass vases being made, visited a foundry where they make sculptures, watched potters, and generally enjoyed the Santa Fe art process. I purchased absolutely nothing, but may be ordering a hand blown birds nest with gold leaf and hand blown eggs. I also spent a day visiting the art colony of Madrid and the Turquoise Trail.

Last but not least, I spent a day vegging in my beautiful adobe house with the butterflies, hummingbirds and solitude.  After all, I was on vacation, and what better vacation than peace and quiet, the perfect vista and a good book.

I also went to the opera for a mere $15, and experienced a concert on the plaza while eating ice cream and sitting on a park bench.  While the opera can be pricey, Santa Fe includes opera internships.  Every year they put on apprentice opera shows, where they show eight different scenes from various operas. Everyone is an apprentice or student, from the singers to the folks who do the makeup. You would not always know it however-its an impressive night for little cash, with my favorites this year being a Verdi excerpt along with Anna Bolena.  Lots of entertainment for very little money.

My trip to Santa Fe would not be complete without many visits to New Mexico restaurants, or at least that was what my co travelers thought. Me, I know nothing about the difference between red and green chili.  Fortunately all of these restaurants also have other alternatives. My first night I had raspberry soup, blue cheese and walnut salad and flan, and the evenings progressed from there.

For those who are wondering, while Santa Fe can be an expensive area, in this case the price of a trip was more than reasonable.  Our house slept at least four and ran $300 a night. A deal at the price when four people are sharing. We ate out four nights and each time one of us picked up the tab. Was the accounting perfect?  No, but it's worth it to us and this averaged between eighty and one hundred dollars a night-a planned purchase. To offset these expenses we brought food in coolers from home for other meals and the steak dinner, and all felt we had a wonderful time.

As for my other out of pocket tourist type expenses?  $10 for the museum, approximately $10 for other entrances.  Fifteen dollars for the opera. $30 on optional mementos  that were useful and loved (a pair of green bead earrings and an O'keefe poster).  Add that to my travel cost and all and all I'd say the trip was rewarding on all levels.

Hopefully I'll get some more pictures up soon, along with  a description of our "taking the long way" drive home.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fixed Income Retirement-Asking the Readers and Making Some Budget Adjustments

Every year , as I move toward September, I start evaluating all of my expenses and looking at making some comparisons on insurance costs and things like that. I'm not sure why that is. I know many people do that in January and I have tried.  It may the residual effect of working a school year schedule. It may be because my husband was a finance guy and the fiscal year was the standard. Heck, it may just be that summer is by far my laziest time and when I stay at home the most, and I look at September as a starting up again of sorts.  Whatever the reason, it works for me.  This is also when I plan things like my travel schedule for the year and look at the coming social and holiday season.

This year, I've begun my evaluations as early as August.  I've been in my  new house and living in my new situation for a full year, so in many ways this is the perfect time for me.  While I don't go online and start comparing figures and so on until September, I have make a few adjustments, both up and down in my financial thoughts.

For example, I've decided to refinance and stretch out that car payment to a normal length and lower the payment from the four hundreds to $160 a month.  Will it take twice as long to pay off?  Sure, but I can live with that.  And although I'm adverse to paying interest in general, with the low interest rate I'm getting, I can live with it.  And yes, I plan to pay off this car and drive it until it dies.

On the other hand, I am going to "up" my insurance costs a bit, at least temporarily.  I still need to compare with other insurance rates and figure in September this will improve greatly.  However, I've had a two thousand dollar deductible for a very long time.  Recently I was hit a couple times.  The first time was by a teenager who was so busy looking at the cop handing out a ticket on the side of the road that he plowed into me when I stopped.  The second time was when a car lost a tire and it (the tire, not the car) came running down the hill in the middle of four lanes of traffic and hit me head on-with nowhere for me to go.  Those are the first times I have been involved in an accident since somewhere around 1999.  After numbers crunching, I decided the small increase in my monthly rates was worth it to me to have my insurance guy deal with anything greater than this kind of fender bender. I believe that my accident history is such that my insurance rate can take the hit-at least once.

After one year, I'm finally able to estimate heating costs for the coming year.  I choose to pay for real services each month.  I still need to check water bills for these last two summer months, but for the rest I have a good feel.  For those who are interested, my bill is both electricity and heat, with three people living in 2600 square feet.  My highest winter bill was $200, with me keeping the heat at 74 during the day and 67 at  night (yes, I do NEED it that warm). So far my highest summer bill has been 145 with the air set at 79. My highest water bill this summer has been $35 and that is water only-sewer and trash are separate. Those are complete bills, not my share.

Now this is where  I ask the readers. It's time for me to rethink my smart phone plan. I now have a three phone family plan with Verizon and basically we are paying 210 or $70 a line-everyone paying their own way.  This is a contract and I am now looking to pay of my contract and then use the same phone on a pay as you go plan. I would prefer unlimited texting and in network calls, but I am flexible. I can control my date usage, but I do use my phone as my GPS on the road.  Please share what you use and if you are happy with your service!!  I'm not looking for another contract or phone purchase situation as such, I just want all my options. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Meanwhile, I've recently written a couple comments and an article (offline) about frugality and deprivation-or rather the lack of it, as well as frugality and cheapness.   I may have briefly shared my inner cheapskate a bit.  I'm headed to Santa Fe for five days-an easy six hour ride.  We're doing a large family thing at a huge beautiful house on the outskirts of the city with a small town center near by.  Today I was talking with my sister in law and asking her what I should bring from home so that we could cook. To which she replied "Good grief!  Just bring what you want to eat on the road.  There is a great Safeway there ans we will just buy eggs and things like that there. I'm just bringing a few spices for the one night we cook.  We'll at out the rest of the time".   She's right.  This is a vacation, and even though we're staying in a house with a kitchen, I prefer not to cook on vacation. Sometimes I have to remind myself of the fact that I'm a cheapskate other times so that I don't have to be one in times like this.

And on that note I'm off for just a short break. I've only been to Santa Fe once, for one overnight, and that was two days after New Years Day. I'm looking forward to four days of exploring-gallery hopping, enjoying the museums and plaza and lots of eating.  We'll take the scenic route home through the mountains and gorges.

Happy weekend all!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Natural Solutions for Those Aches and Pains-I'm Experimenting

 I have severe osteoarthritis, but I also have external damage (from falling on my knee off a bike, and falling down stairs onto cobblestones and landing on the left knee).  For this as well as other reasons, I've ruled out a knee replacement operation anytime in the future. You can find a bigger explanation for my choice on that one elsewhere on my blog.. Although this is a frugal blog, my reasons have nothing to do with health care issues, but rather is mainly based on my research.  I've also ruled out almost all prescription pain meds such as Celebrex, up to now at least. In fact, up till recently the only pain medication I took were my three hundred to six hundred of aspirin nightly.

The problem is to weed my way through the weird and the real alternatives, and find what works for me.  By way of clarification, I'll explain here that I do believe in alternative therapies such as teas, oils, acupuncture and other choices, as well as believing the influence on diet in some diseases. So, I will probably try almost everything eventually, and am always open to new suggestions and ideas.

To start with, I've started doing only alternative exercise. Working through the pain is a no no for me, and my doctor. Yes, I may feel some some soreness and yes that old phrase "move it or loose it" is accurate. But pain is indicative of a problem. When I do walk it is generally not for "exercise" but a stroll around the neighborhood. I save my aerobic type stuff for in a pool or doing chair exercises (yes, they do get your heart rate up). I  do SOME kind of exercise every single day, even if it is only chair exercises. I'm going to start doing exercises in bed before I get up in the morning. These changes are slow, but I believe that they will help. Note: I forgot to mention, until someone reminded me, that I also do leg and weight exercises to build up the muscles around the joints.

Meditation is often advised as helping (with lots of things, not just pain). I do a seated yoga routine. I've downloaded a meditation program/app to my smart phone so I can use it on the go if I need to, but so far my only meditation is the yoga, in reality.  This has helped everyone I know, and I'm really, really terrible about quieting my mind, so I hope it will be helpful.

Someone finally educated me on the differences between heat and cold in joint pain, and the proper use of both.  I personally prefer heat, but sometimes ice is better.  When I exercise I heat the joint before or during exercise if I feel the need (actually, I work out in a very heated therapy pool)    The ice, I save for after exercise if I needed. I like the feeling of heat better but it does relax the blood vessels which is not always best for joints when they are inflamed.  My pain is often on the outside, the nerves, so I never really do real well with this one.

I'm starting to  massage my knee and I'm going to go to a professional masseuse. I don't just massage it for a minute when it hurts, I massage it with oil,for a long time.  Just like I might have massaged my husbands feet for fifteen minutes to half an hour, I do the same with my knees (in my case one is worse than the other by far). Part and parcel with the massage is the aromatherapy. So far I am using peppermint and eucalyptus or lavender. I'm not sure how much is the aromatherapy and how much is the massage, but this has been a HUGE help to me and my pain.

When it comes to the foods portion, I'm still in the research phase.  There are not a great deal of absolutes in this area, from what I have found so far. I'm just not sure an all over healthy diet is not the best solution. I eat  a fair amount of fish. broccoli, blueberries, olive oil and orange juice, all foods that supposedly fight arthritis.  However, I have not taken to eating turmeric or ginger in any form. When it comes to foods that are said to  inflame, I'm a white sugar white flour girl who now attempts to cook half and half with brown or whole wheat.  Unfortunately I'm also a full glass of milk at bedtime gal, and supposedly most dairy foods are inflammatory and irritate joint tissue.  This one is a struggle.

I've started adding these changes to my routine, and we'll see what happens. I'm heading to Santa Fe in a week where there will be lots of walking (but no climbing on ancient Indian ruins) and exploring.  I'm babying myself a big this week, and expect a day or so of R and R when I return, but this is what works for me.

I still have other changes I want to make, and changes I want to explore. I've started taking ibuprofen during the day and aspirin at night (I take 300 mg at bedtime, so if I need something else I add the aspirin). I'm not ready to jump into acupuncture quite yet, explore more serious supplements or explore the edibles now available in my state (although I do plan to discuss it with my general practitioner at my next appointment).  There are teas and tincture's and there is a cream that is only prescription in the us (but I could get over the counter in Europe) that I may go back to.

I'm hoping these lifestyle and therapy changes will increase my ability to move on the ground, decrease my pain, and not alter the way I live my life too very much.

So what about you? How do you treat pain (arthritis or otherwise) if you have it? Do you look for new solutions, or stick "traditional" choices? Is it working for you?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Living Richly in Retirement-The Lazy Frugalista

 Pets are a joy, yes a joy I tell you!  Last nite my coon dog and beagle were out in the back yard.  I heard screaming and ran outside, afraid that they were in danger from a raccoon or worse.  Well, folks, what did I find but a dead baby raccoon in my beagles mouth.  That's right.  MY DOGS KILLED A RACCOON.  Admittedly a baby, but still.  They have the taste of blood I say!  Tomorrow we go to get rabies boosters, and the animal is being tested.  Life is truly an adventure.

I live on what is basically a true fixed income in retirement.  A pension and a social security allotment create my basic income. Added to that are research and writing projects and quilt sales and other ventures such as Christmas baked treats and gifts.  However, those are irregular and depend on both my mood and energy as to when they fit into the budget. I work when I want to rather than because I need to which means that base amount is where I stand.

Recently I was talking with an "in real life" acquaintance.  Her husband is ready for retirement (she stopped teaching early) but she is fighting it tooth and nail.  She is afraid that she will have to give up "everything".  More importantly, she has visions of making her own laundry soap, super couponing, changing her own oil and more. In other words, she looks at retirement as physical drudgery AND deprivation.  I don't know her finances or after work benefits, so I cannot comment to much on that one (although I would observe that right now he is doing all the drudging).

This particular group discussion included both early and late retirees, all with varying incomes.  Our advise to her was similar.  We all do SOME labor intensive frugal things (cleaning our houses, mowing the lawn), but those things vary on interests and priorities.  We also all do some so called investment frugality-occasionally spending money or effort that will pay off in the long run.  Again, the things we do are all different.  In my case I make gifts from scratch, bake, can, do my own house repairs.  All things that I enjoy. I don't garden, change my oil or spend hours clipping coupons, on the other hand.

Most of my little group of sewers agreed that their biggest method for saving money (and effort) was the things that we simply no longer did-those things eliminated from our lives or for which we found free and cheap alternatives.  We all need to look at ways that save money, and I don't mean to belittle that.  Adjustments are very often made in retirement, and for some people solutions mentioned by me will not work.  Still, for comparison, below are the things that I no longer do, have cut down on, or have found a viable alternative for-without spending extra physical energy or money (most of the time).

Do remember as you read this list that I'm a "lazy retiree" who enjoys chilling at home, spending time with friends, the occasional road trip, a fair amount of hobbies and the occasional new skill challenge.

  • I don't eat fast food, ever (except of course with one small exception, that being the rare WhichWich egg salad sandwich).  On the days when I am out of the house all day, I have a small cooler.
  • I don't eat out as much as I used to, generally no more than once a month except when I am traveling. I am not a great cook but I like cooking on occasion and eating at home and cooking is no longer the stress it was during work life.
  • I don't buy fiction and rarely buy non fiction. I used to, as many readers know I kept Amazon in business for almost six years while living in a foreign country with no English library. I now have a good library system and take advantage of free kindle books.  On those rare occasions I buy non fiction reference books, they are used and I have checked them out of the library too many times.
  • I don't shop recreationally, although I once did. I entered retirement with a four season wardrobe, and have mainly replaced things as needed with plenty of time to look for the best price.
  • I don't go to malls.  Enough said.
  • I don't have expensive hobbies (with one exception).  While most of my hobbies are crafting, discounts and sharing and coupons make them as cheap as I want them to be. I receive gift cards for craft stores and fabric stores almost exclusively for the holidays and birthdays. I belong to a knitting club that meets at a local independent bookstore (free, with the occasional hot chocolate or tea thrown in). I belong to a walking group (free). I belong to two book groups (free). All of these groups meet a free venues where free instruction is also often offered. I do belong to a monthly movie group, that requires entrance fees and popcorn purchases.
  • I don't do expensive entertaining. I tend to thing this is an area that many retirees get to let go of. I do brunch on occasion, a cookie or tasting party where everyone brings something, or round robin dinner groups.
  • I don't do expensive or international travel.  This is not a value judgement, as I did this for many years.  I've simply decided that traveling the open road as cheaply as possible works for me these days.
  • Cheapskate that I am, I no longer do the hours long extreme coupon thing. I buy loss leaders and produce and dairy products once a week and we eat mainly casual and simple food with leftovers that are reused. I do have a well stocked pantry and freezer and enjoy doing all my own baking.
  • I don't have a high maintenance grooming routine. In retirement I have a short simple classic cut that almost anyone can do. I use basic skin care and personal products and have a four season mix match wardrobe (black yoga style pants with bright colored tops, coordinating skirts and a few  maxi dresses. Nothing needs to be dry cleaned or ironed and my jewelry items all go with almost every outfit.
  • I don't belong to a gym, even in a four season climate.  Occasionally I drop in for a daily fee to use the pool in our rec center.  Mostly I walk and do yoga and aerobics at home using utube classes
In all fairness, there are things that I do in order to save money.  I do try and keep these time suck kind of activities to a minimum or to concentrate them at seasonal times to get them out of the way.............
  • I do allot a certain amount of my day to a quick perusal of online discount, deals, freebies and coupons and the like.  This does not take long, it reaps huge rewards in a fairly short period of time.  However, if I do not do this for a full week, I don't panic and have more than once put it aside for a more rewarding activity in the short terms
  • I do canning, and gourmet baking, both labor intensive items, but ones that I enjoy.  They save me money, provide unique gifts, and occasionally make me money.
  • I do cook intensively on occasion (once a month cooking type stuff), however this is not a regular occurrence and so I don't mind.
  • I/we do most of our own seasonal maintenance (emptying out gutters, rotating mattresses, putting screens out if needed, cleaning windows).  Again, these are not regular occurrences and are so less bothersome.
 There you have it. Ways that I have eliminated less important things from my life (or found free alternatives) to keep the budget in check while not feeling deprived. In fairness there are also things that I "don't do" that have to be done by someone else. I don't mess with my own car, or mow my lawn for example.

The bottom line for me at least is that I spend the majority of my time doing free or almost free things as the mood strikes, relaxing as the mood strikes and not worrying around the rest.  I am able to live the lifestyle I do because I do a few high energy frugal tasks, hire out a few tasks, and eliminate and set priorities n how I spend my time and money. I am not an expert but this lifestyle works for me.  Just sayin.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

This Week in Retirement-Low Spend, High Return

It's Saturday morning and I'm sitting in my favorite blue chair looking out the window. My quick and dirty trip to Texas to see my daughter and widows group is over. I'll be happy to take a longer one in the fall, but mid July was not the best time to visit Texas.  On the 8th of August I'll be heading out for a week in Santa Fe.  Meanwhile, my past week has been mainly spent close to home, and yet full and rewarding.  After driving twelve hours in a day, and injuring my foot somewhere down the line, I was ready for some laid back time.  Even dialing the energy way back, this week has been both relaxing and rewarding in full.

On Tuesday, I started a free online mini class through craftsy in figure drawling and then plan to take a for fee class in drawing with colored pencils. These will be my first in person  art classes. I've taken some painting and design classes and realized that I probably need some basic drawing classes before I move further along. I'm used to take in person classes, but the advantage of these online classes that I work at my own pace and can go back and look at the class again.  I also started a new kindle book, and walked as much as I was able (yes, that's all bruising, not dirt....don't ask). Dinner was some quickly grilled meat, with salad and bread from items on and, with more reading and meditating on the patio.

Wednesday, as I always do when I am home I went to my weekly knitting group that meets in our locally owned bookstore.  For three to four hours we knit, share ideas, talk and visit and then we head over to happy hour, were wine and appetizers at discount prices are on the menu.  We've also decided to meet in the evening once or twice a month for other craft projects such as card making and painted stemware. Dinner afterwards was a casual roasted chicken with sides from what was on hand. My summer food shopping technique is to have grillable meats, and a basic fridge and freezer full of easy to throw together items to have with-this includes frozen breads, fresh salad items, cut vegetables to have with dip, corn, and fresh fruit.  If someone feels like it we may make a pasta or potato salad, but with a well stocked fridge and pantry we can eat at the spur of the moment.  My walking was still minimal and I am not jumping in the pool until the foot is entirely healed, so some seated yoga and elevation was in order.

Thursday I started a second and third book (one on canning and gourmet food gifts and one a detective novel). I spent the first half of the day in my studio making a quilt (need to get some pictures edited). The second half of the day I puttered around the house (something at which I excel). My puttering included some working on the patio, organizing of my studio and office, a brief baking spurt,among other endeavours.  I also added a very short walk and some meditative time on the patio.  My evening was spent watching the large TV screen, catching up on recordings of the Bridge and Murder in the First (which for some reason reminds me of the old two season TV show Murder One, which I now want to see again!).

Yesterday was my "busy" day in this laid back week.  After a book group, I went to the dermatologist and had a spot on my face "frozen".  I then returned home to get my cooking on.  Once a month I cook and plan an activity for a residential women's shelter for women with physical and mental issues.  They
had asked for taco salad (the rest of the time they get shipped in food that is mainly canned or frozen and reheated).  I adjusted and made a taco salad casserole, with chips underneath, the meat and refried beans cooked together, and topped with onion, tomato, olives, lettuce and cheese.  It was a success and so good that Ill make two smaller versions for home, one to freeze.  Our fun for the night was playing bingo, with lots of free prizes from the mail!

Since I try not to go out amongst the shoppers and tourists on Saturday, today will be spent relaxing on the patio with the books and drawing materials, and doing the necessities of life such as laundry, dusting and vacuuming. Tomorrow I'll go to church and take a leisurely Sunday drive.

Next week, my energy will be up a bit more. I plan to go and see Chihuly at the Botanical gardens, visit the Irish Festival, get ready for my yard sale next Saturday,and finalize my Santa Fe plans.  This in addition to drawing, reading, sewing, quilting and enjoying summer to the fullest-even at my slow, relaxed 

And now I'm off to finish that sewing project, if I can just motivate myself to get up!!