Showing posts from April, 2024

Milestone Markers

      I remember the day I turned 56. Two days later I would be officially older than my sister was when she passed away. More profound in my and my siblings markings was a year and half later when my younger sister turned 56 and two days, because now, J would forever be the youngest.       I know from my own pain and what I witnessed from my husband after losing his younger sister, losing a brother or sister, especially unexpectedly, is so hard. I've forgotten, or least not really understood, what my husbands sister and brother have been experiencing the last 15 months. Maybe I was expecting something different than what I witnessed. Maybe I'm so focused on my own grief and that of my children, I don't see. I can never know what they feel in their hearts and minds.       Today my sister-in-law is one day older than my husband was when he passed away, making her now the oldest sibling at 61 years, five months and nine days.  I don't know why day markers mean anything to

Dinners Past and Future

          I have to get to the grocery store at some point this week as we are running out of basics. I feel pretty good where we landed for my month, which goes through the 26th for groceries and household. It's supposed to be gloomy and rainy so maybe a good day to meal plan and shop. It'll likely be a medium kind of shop- restocking pantry and freezer and fresh stuff for more immediate use. I hope to get inside stuff done too as I have a few very hectic days ahead. What did we eat this past week anyway? Sunday- Baked Chicken, vegetables, toast Monday- Crockpot mock lasagna Tuesday - Son had salmon and vegetables, I had appetizers at a work event Wednesday- Spaghetti Bolognese  Thursday- Cottage pie and biscuits  Friday- Store bought take and bake pizza  Saturday- Burgers on the grill at my sister's, I brought a fruit and a veggie tray.       There's leftovers for today, plus thawed taco meat. I think I'll make an egg bake for brunch with a batch of muffins or may

Saturday Recap

     I've had "words" that rubbed me the wrong way so often lately, I'm beginning to think the lesson Thumper learned in the forest was forgotten by too many adults. I'm trying hard to ignore bothersome things that don't matter in my life, but wow, can people be insensitive jerks. To the flip side, here's my attempt at summarizing life, while trying to grab at least a simple joy or pleasure to share. This is for April 20-April 26, 2024. Saturday : I got to sleep in a bit Saturday since just the lazy older dog was here. I planned a spur of the moment get away with three of my sisters- so something to look forward to. My youngest and I had a good day playing with her kitten, lunch, coffee and chatting, zoo to walk and chat some more, and Target. I got more kitten snuggles. I brought her laundry with me as it wasn't going to work for her to come, and I like being needed. It was a full day. Sunday : It was a lazy day; both my son and I battled a headache a

Booked a Get Away

     Back in January I was lamenting that I need things to look forward too. While February was busy with my cruise vacation and a couple other things, March got long and April seemingly the same. I don't need excitement, but I feel like I need to have positives anticipation, something to give me different perspective. (But, let's be clear, not in a punch in the gut way.) Someone familiar with my general area of Minnesota suggested maybe a road trip with my sister(s). The Leinenkugel Lodge was one suggestion.       Spur of the moment I reached out to the youngest of my sisters last Saturday morning, and all were on board. Mid May we're doing a short little road trip to tour the brewery, taste, and explore some other wineries and breweries in the area. We're staying at a Hampton Inn, so not fancy but also not bargain basement. Full breakfast is included and we got a suite so after our galavanting, we can come back and play cards or just relax, with some "souvenirs&

Thrift and Such April 25, 2024

      Good Thursday to you all. I have a new staff that's a bit exhuberant and sends me a gif on Thursday then adds Happy Friday Eve. I forgive him his corniness as he has a 14 month old and a second child on the way due next month.  Not having young children anymore, I'm in a different mindset but remember the days trying to keep any energy up. I use a borrowed thrift list from Hawaii Plan with an added a "Thrifty Bonus" category, to capture things that don't really fall anywhere, but to me add to my life and are a good value. To be honest, it was not a thrifty week and recapping is slim. Saving on things we buy I spent just $27 dollars total for groceries for the week on mainly a few loss leaders and a few items at the Dollar Tree that are less than grocery stores.  I'm using credit card points to cover a hotel room and brewery tour tickets for myself and three of my sisters. It's going to be a very mini get away, but one we all need. To quote my sister,

Humor in Life Challenges

      Just a pretty photo from St Thomas - not a disappointment even through the clouds.        My boss is a unique, say what she thinks kind of person. At times, it's annoying because she may not know as much as she thinks about the subject at hand. ( Fortunately, she accepts when she was mistaken and corrects or apologizes.) Mostly, it's refreshing in a work environment that is guarded about every word choice, and anything said publicly has to be vetted by seven layers of communication approval. It didn't surprise me that she found the book, Disappointing Affirmations by David Tarnowski, who has an Instagram of the same name. She brought it to our leadership meeting to cut some of the tension, and later to a Happy Hour just because.  Disappointing Affirmations Instagram      I won't repost to take his ownership. But if you click the link above, it's to his account and you can fill your eyes with memes with some lovely photos, part of the humor. Now, warning, on c

Leaning into Retirement Details

      Planning for calm waters and smooth sailing ahead.       So many of you have interesting retirement post headers. Mines just boring, but descriptive. I've been learning things with my poking, emailing, and looking things up. I'm signing up for a two day retirement seminar through my work held in May. It's highly suggested to do this if you're within five years of retirement. Some information will be remedial as I've been in a planning to plan phase since before my husband died while figuring out his timing. I'm hoping that seminar closes the loop on any unanswered questions I still have. I'll start this summer working with financial planning guidance, the timing on drawing down my other retirement pots.       Based on what I learned, the best financial move (other than to keep working, but that's not the point) is to set July 8, 2025 as my official retirement date. There's a variety of reasons for this date.  I'll be past 59 1/2 so no penal

Dinner Past and Plans April 22

     I'm getting more variety since my son eats almost double what I do, then eats leftovers for lunch, so not a lot of repeats for me. He's neither picky nor a fan of ready made meals or convenience foods, where inflation has really hit, so I think we've had a reasonable budget with healthy meals. There's a few indulgences, but those are offset other meals or the next day.  Here's what we ate this past week. Sunday- Green lentil dal, palak paneer, basmati rice, naan Monday- Assorted leftovers, spinach salad Tuesday - Grilled turkey, cheese with tomato and avocado, with Tomato red pepper soup. (It was a cold wet day and hit the spot) Wednesday- Cavitapi with Alfredo sauce, mussels for my son Thursday -Hamburger rice hotdish ( which was a hit with my son as he thought it was risotto as it turned out so creamy and I used several cheese varieties and seasoned heavily with garlic and parsley). Definitely adding to a rotation. Friday-  Salmon (son), a sandwich ( me), he

More of Life-Recap

      I am trying to think each day about things that currently or will add bits of joy to my life. I go in phases of optimism and a bit of fear that more shoe (not just the other one) may drop. Here maybe is a good place to focus on the hints and when there, good things.  Week of Sunday- Saturday, April 14-20, 2024. Sunday : We had sad news that my sister's FIL passed away late the night before. He was 92, and had outlived two wives. He was blessed with a large beautiful family. I had a successful Menards run and looking forward to getting my yard improved. I planted starter flower and veggie seeds. Had all three kids for dinner.  Monday : After the beautiful weekend, we got one more day of milder temperatures before the rain came in. We need the rain after the barely any snow winter. I had a break in my day so got the big dog to the dog park for a good mid-day play.  Tuesday : I was impressed with the knee specialist. He was up beat, but honest, and took the time to make sure I h

Thrift and Such April 18

          I thought about taking down my haphazardly thrown together word purge, but then thought again.Every now and then I read a comment that makes me question how I come across, or lead to false assumptions, then I think about how I come across in real life. I don't want pity, but do want my own timeline and space to keep processing the day to day experiences I was not prepared for. Enough on that, but thank you for those that left kind words.       My thrift review covers an odd Thursday - Wednesday time period. I'm trying hard to keep living expenses as low as possible to hopefully put towards home and living improvements and saving towards an early retirement, while still enjoying time with family and friends. I'm follow The Hawaii Plan's format for tracking because it resonates with how I'm approaching thrift as well. Particular call out to her "For Others" category as it's so important when managing our budgets, we still give of ourselves in

Never Without Hope

      I'm trying to slowly build a new solo life, albeit with my family and friends in it. I recognize I'm not truly alone. I'm sorry if my posts the last few months since restarting blogging haven't always felt positive. I've just been writing about my reality and the challenges of making life work now, and processing that my husband has passed away and I really miss him and the life we had. I'm grieving for the future life that we will never have together. It takes time to readjust when you've had a certain path for a long time. I've never been without hope though; I've been sad, tired, and often lonely, even in a room full of people, but not hopeless.       I don't know why I'm writing this post.  I guess to provide assurance to anyone reading that I'm ok, or maybe to myself that I'm ok. It's good to have all my kids close, though they've had disrupted paths too. I hope they build lives filled with joy, and with people to b

Did I have Goals for April?

     It's mid month and while going into April (just wanted March done), I had things to get accomplished, I didn't really make goals. None the less, I'm inspired by a few bloggers doing mid month check-ins. Here's my accomplishments for the month so far. Create space for my son. This is ongoing as I keep pushing myself to purge useless, unneeded, and unloved items from the house. He's here and has a bed to sleep in, place for his stuff, but we're a bit on top of each other, and he doesn't quite have a great storage system. It'll get sorted.  Purge computer hutch and surrounding area. I want my son to have the back end of the family room as sort of an office, gym space. Why is this task so hard for me? Nothing done yet. My son can do it, but there's things I might want to keep. Maybe I should just use the arm method- swipe my arm and let it all fall into a garbage bag and not even look.  Update house title and the car my youngest drives in my name.

Dinner Lately and Ahead

      I'm attempting to manage our grocery budget while filling up a healthy man with a good appetite and continue eating for my health, weight loss (slowwww and hopefully steady), and both of our enjoyment. Neither of us are opposed to adding beans and rice to the menu, but not exclusively. Here's what we ate this past week. Sunday- Chickpea and vegetable masala, basmati rice, naan Monday- Baked Italian boneless skinless chicken thighs, twice baked potatoes, cabbage salad with extra cucumbers and carrots Tuesday - Homemade version of Chipotle with beef tacos, cilantro rice, refried beans, potato ole's ( I know, mixed restaurant dupes)  Wednesday- Spaghetti and sauce with onions, peppers, and mushrooms  Thursday- I joined my friend, son had salmon, broccoli and baked potato  Friday- Pork roast, mashed potatoes, and beans  Saturday- leftovers during the day as hungry, went to my sister's for cards, hanging and she had a sloppy joe and other food spread       Groceries bo

Sunday, Sunday

       Yesterday was a mix of productivity and enjoying the weather. The rock project is going to be slow going, but will get there. I got some raking done, and the garden weasel out to loosen soil in a few spots to put grass seed down. I'm going to give that a try before investing in sod. I wish I had taken before pictures, but here's how the yard looks now after the tree surgeons tackled the spruces and trimmed the maple. I'll have good sunlight. I know the spruce will need to come down eventually.  Neighbors fence that will line up to mine. It needs a good scrub so need to figure out what will clean the almost algae like growth. The barren yard, with little grass but now will get good morning sunlight. The fire pit has to be moved or eliminated. I might redesign the rocks to be the place to put a chiminea log burner. The best look to see how tall and how much had to be cut to create the right clearance.       I'm holding off putting the patio set out until the fence

More Life Stuff

    I get caught up in my own issues, stress, glimpses of happy, I too forget life is going on for everyone.       We had, still have a scare with a younger adult member of the family. He ended up hospitalized with some sort of small intestine infection, was sent home multiple times as "just a bug"  from Sunday to Wednesday when finally admitted. I don't  know so won't go into details, but the early news was so scary, and regardless, he's got a long road of healing ahead.       My good friends, hubs best friend, went on a cruise the last full week of March. It was their first long vacation without their beloved dogs, having lost one two summers ago, and the younger in the fall. They had a good time, but while gone, her daughter delivered her baby three weeks early and she missed her first grandchild's birth. Baby and mom are doing well, but she's sad, and so's her daughter over the missed shared experience. I know they'll have many more experiences

Thrift and Stuff and Nice Weather Coming

      I've just been blogging away- it helps me. I feel like it gives me a mental challenge plus it's like I'm talking with friends. I really appreciate all you who've been hanging out with me.       Since I'd much rather spend money on travel and gifts for others than junk and bills that could be avoided, I'm watching my spending. I'm going to keep going on weekly, Thursday-Wednesday, focus on thrift. It's sort of been a beautiful week- after Monday being rain soaked, though today's predictions are for rain. We need it so not complaining. I appreciate that we don't  need much heat right now, plus no air conditioning. I'm a bit wary of how much bills might escalate with my son living here, water and gas in particular, so saving elsewhere is appreciated.  Saving on Things We Buy I skipped most convenience items when I shopped and stocked basics for pantry, fridge and freezer. With two to cook, we use the time to chat and share the duties.  Whi

Fence and Back Yard Plans

      I got confirmation for the property survey prior to the fence posts going in- they'll come sometime before May 3. I need to get tree trimmers scheduled to cut my pine branches to have at least 8 feet clearance. Plus, there's a tree we did not plant in the corner of the yard that just needs to go. I need tree people who'll haul away the branches as having that much piled up in the middle of the yard will be just a mess. I don't mind if the tree gets cut up in logs to keep but would prefer it go too. I have no idea how much it'll cost, but I'm budgeting a lot. It needed done even without getting the fence put in. My neighbors were great last summer doing the lower branches, but all needed to be cut higher and it's just not safe without the right equipment.      I got on the fence schedule for posts May 9, but if based on clearing needs to be delayed I can request that. This starts a process of putting in the posts, then up to four weeks later, they put i

Counting Down to Retirement

      We have goofy work weeks, Wednesday to Tuesday. As each Tuesday ends, I count down either to March 4, 2025 or July 8, 2025. Today that count will be 48 or 66 weeks to retirement. I have to the end of the calendar year to decide if it will be March. I won't go beyond July 8th though, no matter what, which brings me to the 66 countdown.       March 3 is my 10th anniversary, a nice clean calculation period to determine my pension payments. I wouldn't start drawing though until seven years later, official retirement age for my work, so as not to lose a percentage for retiring early. Waiting until July gets me a few more paid holidays, three to be exact, and brings me to the next CD maturation date. It gives me four more months staying on health insurance avoiding much higher premium costs and of course, my salary, my HSA and 401K deposits would continue.       There's too many things to go into about my decision factors. It's work and stress load, it's my health a

Meal Options on a Budget

      Before grocery shopping, I thought about meals for the week. I seem to be thinking of Monday- Sunday as the week, which I guess, since work week starts, that makes sense. This was a list to drive grocery shopping and may or may not happen this week, but rolled into next or even the follow week. Some ideas are based on use it up items. I'm sort of cascading as well, building a few meals off similar or same ingredients. Assume all will have a fruit, vegetable or salad with unless heavily featured in the main dish. Potato cheese soup and egg salad sandwiches Egg bake with cheddar and veggies Breakfast for dinner-sausage gravy, eggs and biscuits Homemade pizza with sausage and peppers Goulash  Hamburgers and homemade French fries Cottage pie Tacos with rice and beans Stuffed peppers Tuna hotdish Sweet and sour chicken and stir fried vegetables with rice Tortellini Alfredo (son grabbed some frozen muscles and per his request, I'll set some Alfredo sauce aside for him to enjoy

New Week-Productive???

      I tried to be productive on Saturday and made a long to do list. Dust and vacuum Bathroom 1 Bathroom 2 Hard floors mopped Purge pantry and organize  Clean refrigerator and freezer  Purge computer hutch for sons use Suggested meals plan (options ) Grocery store   Post office, just drop off to mailbox  Washing office day bed comforter ( dogs like to lay up there and occasionally one of the girls sleeps there, so wash frequently )  Spread the yard debris compost pile- hope there wasn't a wasp nest in it, or if so, done before stirred Rake and seed front yard patchy spots  Clear entry bench Clear porch clutter  Shift more things and purge more in garage to fit both my and sons car Take a good walk Make lasagna for supper   I crossed out what got accomplished and add to it for today. Yikes, so much not crossed off. If more purging goes to evenings or next weekend, I'm good with that.  Bake muffins Church A good walk Help daughter 2 with taxes and some Roth paperwork  Finish b

Thinking About Family

      Life is unpredictable, and scary, and overwhelming some times. Having family that can help through all the uncertainty has been my lifeline, even with the challenges. I love my children more than life, which is why their sadness, disappointment, stress, and anxiety fills me with those same emotions. Their happiness is equally shared.       Recently my son moved back to our home state and will live with me for the immediate calendar. From a practical perspective, cultures that promote multi generational living have gotten it right. Collectively, I feel like we can make better decisions and leverage each other's strengths and mitigate our deficits in a single household. It's just not the American way though is it? Independence and self reliance is the optimal goal. Heaven forbid going what's perceived as backwards to regroup by living again with a parent or sibling.       My son needs time to think about his career and living plans. California sucked so much out of him,

Two Adult Cooking for A Bit

     With cooking for two most nights, I'll get more variety. My son is a pretty big and healthy eater. I think we'll do a lot of chicken, plus fish for him occasionally. I'll do a lot of curry, pasta, and rice dishes, planning leftovers for lunches. We both like variety in seasonings and spices. He likes eggs both omelettes and as part of breakfast sandwiches or burritos. I'll pick up bacon and sausage when on sale to add flavor and a bit more protein but also add veggies like spinach and mushrooms. I'll make up both breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos in couple day increments whenever prepared for grab and go as his schedule might be very last minute.       It'll be similar to last winter when he stayed to help and then during the strike periods last summer. I have a planned budget I'd like to stick to- with two of us to cook, we can share the efforts and avoid expensive convenience foods. Neither of us are picky eaters, plus he's happy to eat