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'Stuff' what to do with it?

September 6th, 2016 at 01:20 am

In our quest to declutter and downsize, we are finally starting to go through all of my parents things. Its been almost 8 years since my dad passed, and 6 since my mom. My mom had a full set of depression glass, my dad a small collection of silver coins. What to do...

My mom's depression glass is carefully packed away- in several boxes. Very beautiful, very fragile, but not something me or my girls have space for, nor do my girls want it. My dads coin collection, probably less than $500 is in a box, not taking up much space....but again- not something anyone really wants.

What do I do with keepsakes like this? Each year, my dad kept a journal..those are a no-brainer...I will keep, no question. But when it comes to things they collected, what to do?

They are heartbreaking to part with, but then just taking up space to keep. Suggestions? Do I keep for grandkids...do I sell....

Free magazine subscriptions and other savings!

September 4th, 2016 at 05:38 am

Unfortunately, I dont have an update for Z. It is two days later and there has been no word from or sign of BM and Z. We dont know if they are on the way, if plans changed, or what happened. This isnt uncommon for BM to change plans without any notice. DD2 held off on registering the kids at school in case something like this happened. I am still hopeful that they will arrive by Monday.

Today I made a big pot of chili so that I could make a batch of chili bean burritos for the freezer. I love having ready made dinners, and this is an easy one that I enjoy. The chili cost about $8 to make- and I had enough for 10 burritos and at least additional 5 meals of chili. Nice, easy, cheap! I stopped at the store and got celery, onion, carrots and a ham bone for red beans. I will make those on Monday. I also picked up a jar of pasta sauce on sale for $2 which I will use for 2-3 dinners. I got sandwich stuff, fruit, and enough meal makings for about 10 days for $84. I am going to try to stick to that budget for the next week, or longer. I have chicken breast in the freezer for lettuce wraps. and lots of stuff in the cupboards.

We have verizon phone service- they have a rewards program that I have never paid attention to, but each month we earn points for. The past couple of weeks I have been checking it out. I was able to get 2 free magazine subscriptions. I also got a couple of gift cards for 10% off at stores we shop at- an instant $10% savings! and there is a local BOGO dinner coupon where I like to dine...one dinner last 3 meals for me...so I will get 6 Thai meals for $15. We have over 400k points...so we will never run out - since most of the deals I am selecting are 1000 pts or less! I plan to keep an eye on deals for Christmas and birthdays. Much of the stuff is not anything I would buy, so I will be using points sparingly- and only on things we will use or need. (Unless it is 100% free, like the magazines- 1= Rachel Ray, and the other was Woman's Day)

I am enjoying the long weekend this weekend. No real plans. Which is nice.

Where is the time going

August 11th, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Boy, this year has FLOWN by. It's hard to believe we are already half way through August!

I would love to report that we are closer to our annual financial goal than we are, of paying off the remodel debt, but alas...

We had to get our AC repaired this summer. Cost $1100.

The hub, who works on the North Slope of Alaska had all overtime cut back for most of this year, which was a significant reduction in monthly income. Frown

Before I realized the income reduction, I had increased our 401k contributions- and now I dont want to reduce them...NO NO NO

DD2, single momma, lost over $500 in monthly benefits because she made $80 too much last year...I am still scratching my head over this logic. She is a great budgeter, but is needing some help each month for necessities.

And then lots of little things that just added up.

So, we are no where near where Id hoped this year and the forecast through December doesn't look much more promising for paying off the house remodel debt.

Hopefully, overtime will be reinstated next year...but if not, we are still making strides...just not as fast as Id hoped. At least we are going the right direction...

This weekend, my girls and I are going to see the Lion King in Portland. This trip was paid for months ago..so we are all looking forward to a weekend out of town.

Oh, and I am super excited...I just noticed my blog has now surpassed 10 million views! Holy Cow!

End of vacation

June 5th, 2016 at 12:59 am

I am wrapping up a week of vacation this weekend. We started the week out camping last weekend, and then came home on Tuesday to a heatwave. Ive thoroughly enjoyed the week off- I had gone about 7 months since my last week off.

I go back to work for a week, and then the following week, I am off for 4 days to attend a wedding in upstate New York. It is expensive to travel to a wedding. wow. Between airfare, rental car and hotel, I have spent a small fortune...the wedding is a 'theme' wedding, which would have required added expense for a costume, but I am good just going in my normal clothes. I assume I should give the bride and groom a gift...(this is my cousins daughter)....needless to say, this trip hasn't helped our tightened budget.

My son called a few days ago to invite me to go to Arizona with him for a long weekend in July. He is scoping out locations for business expansion and wants to take a look there. I am so excited to spend one on one time with him! The business is paying all expenses, so my expenses should be minimal.

Budget-wise, I feel like we have taken a step or two backwards. The hubs 'winter season' was cut short due to the fluctuating oil prices which was a cut in finances that also put the hub home more- which usually costs more. I would have liked to be farther along in our payoff goals this year, but we are not. Also, we have a trip planned to Hawaii next spring and ticket prices are double what we paid last time we went- ouch.

I am happy that he still has his job- hopefully unemployment isn't in our future.

I earned my FREE bike finally!!

May 11th, 2016 at 03:12 am

A year ago, I signed up for a program at work to earn a free bike. Yes, FREE. It is part of our wellness program and the offer was to ride 30 round trips to work, or 5 miles on your lunch hour and you earn the bike up to $500. I picked out a super cute beach cruiser in sky blue. I live much to far from work to do the round trip to and from work, so I have rode on my lunch hour. I have TWO more rides this week and my rides are DONE. YAY! I cant wait to bring my bike home and start using it just for fun. Later this month we are going camping and I will get to take my bike and enjoy it there!

Today was a no spend day. I always have coffee at work, free- and I took my lunch and then just had a simple dinner at home. Tomorrow should be another no spender.

Our new dog is doing great. He LOVES to fetch, more than any dog we have ever had. So I am getting some exercise in each night playing with him. He is such a sweet boy.

This coming weekend I am going to the coast for a day trip. A couple of years ago I found a long lost friend- he and I were children on the same street in southern California until we were about 8. THen, our families moved and it took 43 years before we reconnected. The magic of social media! I found him on facebook and as luck would have it, he and his wife moved to Oregon last year. It has been fun reminiscing and getting to know him again. His wife is so fun, and we have a great time together. So I am heading over to spend the day with them- and very much looking forward to it!!

Happy Mother's Day

May 8th, 2016 at 04:31 am

To all my SA friends, Happy Mother's Day!

I am preparing for a family breakfast tomorrow morning by making a blueberry French toast bake tonight and letting it set overnight. My girls are all coming over for breakfast, so I thought a nice treat was called for. A day old loaf of French bread, some milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and blueberries...and a yummy treat is ready to pop in the oven!!

DD1 and I went to a street fair today- and one of the booths had fresh strawberries on sale for a great price. I have some dark chocolate chips, so in the morning I will make chocolate covered strawberries as an added treat.

The rest of the day will be quiet. Just resting and preparing for another busy work week.

I wish all of you a blessed Mother's day!

Worked from home today!

May 5th, 2016 at 03:25 am

Monday and Tuesday I travelled for work and got to stay at the beautiful coast condo overnight. Yesterday was a 12 hour day with the work and travel home. Today, my job let me work from home, which was much appreciated as I didn't feel like getting dressed and driving 30 mins to and from work. I got quite a bit of work done, and even squeezed in a short nap. Smile

I received my refund today on the cupcake holder that I bought last week from Amazon. It had arrived broken. I don't understand why they didn't package it better- there are now 8 reviews complaining about the problem. Rather than waste time reordering, I will see if one doesn't become available elsewhere locally so that I can spy before I buy.

SG (inherited black lab) continues to do great. He is losing weight, playing lots, and gets along GREAT with all of the other doggies. He is such a joy.

GS birthday party

May 2nd, 2016 at 04:13 am

This weekend was my GSs 12th birthday party. My DD2 had asked if we could have it at my house and so we did. It was a sleepover party with GS and three friends, his sister, and DD1's son and daughter. Ended up with 10 kiddos, 7 adults, and 5 dogs. Thankfully, we have two acres for activities! I made lots of cupcakes, and they turned out yummy and cute. Some slept in the house, some in the 5th wheel, and the boys all wanted to sleep out in a little open cabin..I am sure they got cold, but they seemed to love it.

I was POOPED today, but I think everyone, especially the birthday boy, had a great time.

Today was a go nowhere, spend nothing day. I just had zero energy or desire.

Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be traveling for work- meaning all my meals will be paid for. (sweet!)

SG (dog) is doing great. He has lost some weight, which was really necessary. He loves to fetch, and so we play fetch A LOT. While I am travelling the next couple of days, DD3 will watch him. He is an exceptional dog. Extremely well behaved and just a good boy.

I'm not sure I am ready to go back to work already tomorrow. But alas, duty calls.

Free is good! Cupcakes in my future!

April 28th, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Recently a co-worker brought cupcakes to work. She had them in a really cute cupcake carrier and they were super delicious. The combination of the carrier and fancy frosting made them absolutely adorable!

One of my goals this year was to start a new hobby- and I think, with 6 grandkids, cupcakes might be a good choice. I found a cupcake holder that I liked on Amazon, but it was $39-so I held off thinking maybe it would make a good birthday gift idea for the family.

A few days ago I went back on Amazon and up popped an offer for $80 in free credit if I got an amazon credit card. Hmmm....so- I got the cupcake holder, a tool for frosting, some heavy stock cupcake liners (which helps maintain their moisture and makes them bakery like)...and got it all for FREE. The cool thing is that the boxed mixes turn out great in these liners...so dessert for birthdays and holidays will be fun and way less than a store bought cake!

And I got everything today...just in time for my grandsons birthday party this weekend! Now I cant wait to start creating.


April 10th, 2016 at 04:06 am

The last couple of weeks have been super busy ones at work. I am actually filling in for a vacated position during a very stressful period. I am so blessed by a great team who surprised me Friday with a gift certificate for an hour long massage as a thank you. I enjoyed that luxury this afternoon. OMG. Then the hub took me to a nice dinner. I am so relaxed tonight.

My former brother in law passed away on Monday, leaving behind his beloved dog. The arrangements that BIL thought were in place for his dog fell through after he died, so I am happily taking the dog, a black lab. DD2 went to pick him up (11 hours each way this weekend) and he will be 'home' tomorrow.

The hub is home from Alaska for three weeks. This will be helpful in transitioning our new lab into the family. I didn't count on a new inside dog, but given the circumstances, will make it work.

$100 credit for military, yes please!

March 17th, 2016 at 03:55 am

I was looking at the website for our Mexican cruise in November and realized that the hub can get $100 in shipboard credit for having served in the military. Sweet! So we filled out the document and will send it in. But that got me thinking, what other benefits is he entitled to...so I did some searching and found a plethora of places willing to give discounts for former military. We had no idea. We knew about Lowes, and saved about $400 when we bought our appliances during the remodel...but there are many places that give like discounts. Restaurants, stores, hotels. We just need to start asking, and so we will. Smile

My cousin, who lives in upstate New York, asked me to come back for her daughters wedding in June. So last night I checked and found reasonable tickets- that I was able to upgrade to first class using the hubs free upgrade codes. Since he flies so much, we get either free or reduced airfare and can also upgrade a few times a year. So, in June I will be making a quick trip back to NY (upstate) for the wedding.

I also will have to take a business trip this year...so lots of travel in the next several months. Depending on where I go, I can get a BOGO airfare, so maybe one of my daughters can go too!

Since I love to travel, I am looking forward to all of this...should be fun rest of the year!

Enjoying the weekend!

March 13th, 2016 at 06:44 pm

Happy Sunday!

Weekends are such a priceless commodity for me. Work is crazy busy right now and downtime is my sanity saver.

I am in a program at work that will 'forgive' $500 of an interest free bicycle loan if the employee does 30 5 mile rides during the workday. (To/from home or on lunch hour) I live 15 miles from my job, so, I have been using my lunch breaks to make the rides. It takes me about 30-35 minutes usually. I have until May 15 to finish 12 more rides. Its rainy season right now, so hopefully I will have ample days to knock them out! I want to bring my bike home so I can enjoy it without having to go back to work after I ride!! The perk is part of our wellness program- and ends with a free bike! I opted for a cute beach cruiser- a perfect gramma bike, but not as easy to tackle hills as some options. So, I just avoid hills. Big Grin

We have decided to take our first ever cruise in November, to the Mexican Riviera. Since we are on the west coast, it is the least expensive cruise for us. Our vacation budget is sufficient enough to cover it- and we have always wanted to try one. We are pretty excited. If we like cruising, we will probably plan an Alaska cruise in a couple of years!

The rest of our vaca time this year will be spent camping or staying home.

I will need to attend a conference for work this year. Right now my options are Colorado in August or Las Vegas in December. I am not sure which I will attend, but will probably tack on a couple extra days to either to sight see.

Otherwise, things are plugging along. Just trying to tackle the remaining remodel debt as we can.

10 years!

March 11th, 2016 at 05:55 pm

Today is my 10 year blogiversary! Wow.

Ten years ago, I was semi retired to care for parents and help my son start a business when I stumbled on to this site while searching for ways to make ends meet.

What a fun journey its been getting to know many of you, both here, on facebook and some in person!

Thank you for all the amazing advice, friendship and support everyone has provided over the years!

Today I am attending a funeral service for my next door neighbor. He died in a boating accident last week. Very sad story. We have lived next to him and his wife for 20 years and it is so hard to believe he is gone.

We decided to have our taxes done this year, to see how my turbo tax estimate compared. Holy cow. $3000 difference. I am not sure what button I didn't hit, but instead of paying we are breaking even. I WILL TAKE THAT!! Yay.

Our goal of paying down the house remodel visa is going well. We started the year at $25k and now have it down to $8700!! I moved savings to pay it down so quick, but comparing .75% to 7.99% was a no brainer. I am confident that, barring no unexpected expenses or paycuts, we will reach our goal of paying that off this year. And that, is one giant step closer to my now 4.5 year goal of retirement..as my kids would say, "BAM"...lol no idea what that means.

Loyalty pays!

February 19th, 2016 at 03:05 am

Today I received a thank you from my credit union for being a loyal member. They paid out their first every loyalty reward to members! And even better, they put it in a special new account that pays 2%apy! My thank you - $129!!! wow, just for doing my banking there. Of course, I am just gonna "let er ride" and enjoy that nice rate on my free money! Hopefully, this will be an annual thing- definitely something to look forward to- I wonder how many other credit unions pay out loyalty rewards??

In other financial news, its two steps forward, three steps back -again. I calculated taxes and we are having to pay both federal and state for a grand total of almost $3k! OUCH. The sale of the city house really impacted our deductions this year. So, I upped our quarterly tax payments so hopefully next year, we at least break even. :/

My back is slowly feeling better, but the pinched nerve is still there. When I sit a certain way at work, or bend my neck wrong, my arm and thumb go numb and then have the 'pins and needles' feeling. bleh.
At least I am not in 24/7 pain anymore. I can handle bursts- its the constant that wears thin. Dr. said if it wasn't better in another week, we would talk about an MRI. Thankfully, I upped my flex pay for medical this year anticipating extra dental expenses, so I have a cushion for tests.

DD1 noticed that there are a couple of great musicals this year in Portland. In August, Lion King will be there..and I would LOVE to see it- so we are looking into it. If there is a way, we will most likely go!
Last year we saw Wicked and it was such a great experience!

Goodbye to grandpa

February 10th, 2016 at 04:48 am

I mentioned in my last post that DD1 was at the hospital with grandpa who has Alzheimer's after he fell and fractured his pelvis Friday afternoon. Sadly, grandpa never regained consciousness and passed away yesterday. Poor DD1- she quit her job last Friday to be his full time caregiver and is heartbroken with his sudden passing. Frown He adored her and felt safest when she was there to take care of him. Of course, because of his advanced Alzeimers and the fractured hip, everyone, including DD1 know he is at peace. It just happened so fast. New Years Eve DD1 and I were playing Sequence and grandpa came out and sat at the table, so we gave him cards and let him "play"...he could recall many of the cards and even laughed when we cracked jokes with him. I know he was understanding us- even if just a little. Rest in peace dear grandpa- you brought so much joy to everyone and will be dearly missed.

I am still struggling with the pinched nerve, so I haven't felt up to doing much budgeting or pretty much anything else. I will sure be glad when things heal and I am back in the saddle again.

Hi Gramma Ray, I remember you!

February 7th, 2016 at 05:36 pm

Words that melted my heart yesterday!

Backing up just a hair...DD1 caregives for her hubs step-grandfather. He has alzheimers. He fell Friday and fractured his pelvis. He does not do well with change in his environment and was very confused when he was admitted to the hospital- so DD1 spent the night with him to provide whatever familiarity and comfort that she could. (Have I mentioned how VERY PROUD I am of this girl?) Her only request, a coffee Saturday morning...

I was keeping her company at the hospital when DD2 showed up with lil Z. He looked at me and said, HI GRAMMA RAY, I REMEMBER YOU! Do you still have your doggie? Awwwww... a few minutes later he said- Gramma Ray, why do you keep hugging me and giving me kisses?? lol. He wanted to just sit on my lap and listen to stories about when he was "little"...cause, in his words, he is a BIG BOY now...age 5. And handsome, I might add. Then he said, I just want to stay here forever...but we reminded him that he would miss his mommy and gramma. He said I have 3 mommies...and pointed to DD2 and me and said his mommas name. AWww....

Sadly, his visit was brief since we were at the hospital and grampa was not doing so good. But I cant describe what that lil visit from Z did to this gramma's heart.

My back and arm are a little better this morning, which I am so happy about. I actually feel like getting up and doing things today- and after a week of being in pain, my house needs attention and I have a couple of projects from work that I need to spent tima on. And I need to pick up some groceries to ensure I take lunches and make dinners all week! And, and, and... how far behind you can get in a week!

Lil Z - Pinched nerve and a 2016 Goal Update

February 6th, 2016 at 04:52 am

Ouch- I somehow pinched a nerve in my back last weekend. I think it was the combo of sleeping in a new bed (at the vacation rental) and on a different pillow. I broke down today and went to the Dr. This isn't the first time I have had a pinched nerve- so I am familiar with how to nurse it, and just as I suspected, the Dr agreed with my current strategy of ice, heat, meds and practicing the physical therapy exercises...and said if it still hurts in two weeks to let him know and he will order an MRI.

Nerve pain just sucks. It makes places hurt that really aren't hurting and causes muscle spasms that can drop you to your knees..this one is in my upper back/shoulder and its causing my whole arm and wrist to ache....two more weeks. (yippee)

It is annual bonus time at my job. We have the opportunity to leave the bonus in an account that pays 2%- which I would love to do. But because we owe on the remodel and I am paying 7% on that loan, I will apply the bonus towards that debt. (A 2016 goal is to pay that debt down or completely off, depending on the hubs work schedule) Right now, it looks like we will be able to pay the full $24.5k off this year.(yay)- It is already under $20k. And THAT gets us a giant step closer to our 5 year goal!

This is also pay raise time. I received a 4.5% raise. I had already upped my 401k 3% this year. We are checking to see if the hub can up his- he may have missed the deadline. If he is not able to, I will up my Roth contribution another 2%.

Some of you may remember little Z from my older blogs- our little foster boy that lived with my daughter from 4 months until he was 3. Well, he is in town this week and has spent the week with DD2. I get to see him tomorrow!!! This is the 3rd time DD2 has seen him since he left 2 years ago. It will be great to see him, he has grown so much!!

Happy February from our winter get away!

February 1st, 2016 at 04:42 pm

I am currently on day 4 of a 5 day vacation to the winter resort that we try to visit each year with our friends. We are renting a cute house, and when we split the cost, it is about $100 per night per couple. Not bad for a wonderful winter get away.

We have ate most meals here at the house, which saves money and allows more time to visit and enjoy the hot tub!

The guys really wanted to see a couple of movies so those are our splurge. We saw The Revenent on Saturday. None of us had ever seen an imax movie, so we decided to try it. Disappointing. I couldn't really tell a difference for the $17.10 per ticket (ouch)

Today, we are going to see 13 Hours. We will see regular movie and go to the 3pm matinee.

My next time off from work isn't until our camping trip in May, so I am really trying to make this trip DOWN TIME.

The hub heads back to Alaska in 2 days. I haven't been as diligent with my goals while hes been home, so I am eager to get back into full swing this week.

Next weekend, I plan to revisit all of our bills and see if there are any I can shave and save. I try to do this once a year. Usually I find at least one or two things that help.

Well, back at relaxing. Happy February everyone!

2016 Goals

January 3rd, 2016 at 09:40 pm

So far, 2016 is off to a great start. I set some new goals for the year. Financial, physical, and household.

Financial is to pay off the remodel loan of $24k by year end. This is a stretch goal if the hub works 4/2 rotatations- but he has heard he may work 3/3s. If so, I will need to adjust this goal to pay $15k by year end. In order to accomplish either, we will have to buckle down on spending choices.

My physical goal is a 3 pronged goal. the first prong is to utilize the gym at work at least 3 days per week. This is a new perk that has just been built and features all the equipment I need. The second is to eat healthier- and I have identified a meal plan that will help me accomplish this- I am on week 3, and doing fine! The third is to knock out my remaining 15 - 5 mile bike rides by May 1 in order to earn my free bike!! End goal is to be 3 sizes smaller by year end. Big Grin

Household goal is to go through all the stuff this year. My parents stuff, my stuff, storage stuff...and reduce stuff by at least 50%. There is a Goodwill just down the road from my job. Weekly or biweekly donations until I am at goal should help get there. I may try selling some of it- but if selling it holds me back from achieving the goal, it will be donated.

We have several mini trips planned this year. The first is in a couple of weeks. Our annual trip to a resort not too far from here with our dear friends. We are going for 4 nights.

Right now, the rest of the trips are camping. We didn't get to use our 5th wheel for camping last year as much as we wanted...although it was well used as a substitute home for us while the remodel was being finished. This year we plan to take it on the road much more!

I increased my 401k by 3% and will increase the hubs 3-5% depending on his rotation schedule.

Looking forward to seeing goals come to fruition this year!

Merry Christmas Friends

December 26th, 2015 at 05:10 am

For all who celebrate, Merry Christmas to you! I hope your day was filled with joy-

For all who do not celebrate, happy Holidays!

I am enjoying a peaceful night of quiet and reflection- thinking about what went well in 2015, and what I want to accomplish in 2016.

2015 was actually a very good year for us. The family is healthy and happy- we made some great new memories, and achieved many of the goals set.

My boss asked me last week if I plan to retire eventually. He was just genuinely curious and I didn't feel at all that there was an ulterior motive behind the question. I explained that we are on a (now) 4 year plan. Everything will be paid off, except the mortgage, in 4 years and we will have a nice savings built. The hub will work for several more years- as he is younger than me- but in 2020, the option to retire is there for me if thats the route I want to take. I was reluctant to say out loud that retiring is the plan in 2020, but left it that my option to do so is there. I will be 59 by then.

DD3 turned 24 yesterday. Hard to believe. Time is sure flying anymore.

I love the week between Christmas and New Years. For me, it is about setting new goals and planning for everything we want to do for the next 12 months. There is something about the new year that motivates me. How about you?

Active Shooter - Department of Homeland Security

December 3rd, 2015 at 02:29 am

This post is informational and intended for everyone.

If you aren't aware, the Department of Homeland Security has information and resources posted to help us self-educate in regards to an active shooter situation. I highly recommend people taking advantage of this information and preparing themselves, loved ones, etc. should you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Here is the link:

It is heartbreaking and maddening that all of these situations keep happening. But they do. The best defense is being prepared. Know what to watch for and what to do during and after to stay as safe as possible.


Bring on December!

November 29th, 2015 at 05:17 pm

I finally made time to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10. Buh-bye windows 8, I wont miss you one bit! I really enjoyed getting a better product free!

Black Friday ended up being a no-spend day for me. I just didn't see anything in the ads that made me want to fight the crowds or even shop online. I actually just worked, rather than take a vacation day. I have done a pretty good job of shopping sales this year and using coupons to get all of the grandkids gifts. Some, like my grandson's new concert ukulele- didn't have a sale, so I paid full price, but for special gifts like that, I don't mind. I really avoided computer and gamebox gifts and instead went for STEM items, building sets, art kits, outside games, etc. Things that they may not go "WOW" about on Christmas morning, but hopefully will pull out when the holidays settle down and make them think or learn new skills.

All of their gifts are wrapped. I also got each family a family gift- a board game, some jellybeans, popcorn, and a sand kit.

The adults will get cash or gift cards. This is not only easy and requires no wrapping- but certainly lets them get exactly what they want. I am totally at peace with not shopping for the 'perfect' gifts for the adults anymore- as I do special things all year for them.

My son and his family will be here on the 18th for the weekend. We will do our annual 'road rally' and gift exchange on the 19th. The road rally is an annual tradition the teams up different family members in each vehicle and they have a list of tasks they have to accomplish within a set time period. I plan it and the kids and grandkids participate- it is always great fun for everyone.

My son in law and DD1 are hosting Christmas dinner on the 25th.

Which means- with the exception of final touches on the road rally planning, I am pretty much ready for Christmas and am so relieved that I don't have a long list of things to do between now and then.

Work is another story. I am super busy and will have some long days this month. Which means I need to BALANCE work/home and not burn out.

Wishing all of you a peaceful month ahead.

10 year lookback

November 23rd, 2015 at 02:10 am

When I first started this blog, in 2006- I was working with my son, helping him start a business and also taking care of my parents. Back in those days, I was practicing very frugal living- and loving the challenge.

To supplement my income, I was breeding labs and working with the hub in his firewood business, splitting, stacking and selling firewood. Hard work, but enjoying the opportunity to be at home.

In the almost 10 years since- both of my parents have passed- and sadly my sons business failed.

I had went 'all in' on his business and invested most of my retirement savings into it. I knew it was risky, but I was so confident in my son and his determination. And when it finally failed, I knew the failure was because of the economic downturn of 2006-2009- rather than my son not giving it 100%.

I went back to work in 2007...and in the 8 years I have been back to work- I have rebuilt my retirement to where it was in 2006.

And now, 8 years later, my son is starting year 3 of rebuilding his company and doing great. 2016 marks an important turn in events- as he will start paying back my investment this year. This will put my retirement goals on the fast track- and for that, I am excited!!

If we stay on course, I will easily retire in 2019 or 2020- which will be 58 or 59. If my son's business continues as it has- he wants to hire me part as an advisor- which would help him and supplement my income nicely.

By then, if all goes as planned, our bills should all be paid in full with the exception of the house.

Free flu shot today!

November 3rd, 2015 at 03:30 am

One of the many perks my job makes available are annual flu shots. Today was flu shot day...and I partook. My arm is cranky tonight, but my body will thank me when flu season passes without incident (I hope!) Free preventative maintenance is good!

The holiday bug has bit me early this year for some reason. Maybe it's the excitement of being 'home' finally- but I am happy to have the Christmas music on and may even start decorating soon. I know, a little crazy..but that's where my mind is right now. Of course, I have to gather up all the decorations from the storage here, in town, and wherever else Ive spread it out over the past 6 years!

I have NO idea what to do for everyone this year gift-wise. I am leaning towards a memory maker rather than things- a family getaway, tickets to a show, I don't know. Gotta put that thinking cap on.

This coming weekend I am driving down to visit my son and his family. I miss them and have spent so little time with those grandbabies- So, Friday I hope to get off a little early to make the 5 hour trip down and will come home on Sunday.

An unexpected gift

November 1st, 2015 at 03:31 pm

Every other year I plan a long weekend trip with my kids to a resort a few hours away. I rent a big house and we all stay there- Just the adults go and we play games, visit, have a themed party and visit. This year, I was fortunate to bring my cousin, who I haven't seen since my brother's funeral 27 years ago. What a treat that was. It was like time stood still and we were kids again as we caught up with each other's lives. My kids loved her and her husband.

The trip was a huge success, everyone had a great time!

But the REAL treat happened after we got home.

My cousin had one extra night here before her flight- so we went through my parents old photos. We reminisced and since she is a few years older and remembered a little more, I learned a little more about my relatives. Such fun.

I was looking for one specific picture to give to her- the picture had her mom and dad in it- and she has very few of those since her parents divorced when she was fairly young.

I couldn't find it...so I was searching through everything. My mom had stored an old latch hook rug that I made for my dad when I was 17 in a pillow case. I had assumed that was all that was in the pillow case and had never pulled it out. BOY was I wrong.

When I pulled out the rug, out fell some amazing treasures. A pair of my brothers cowboy boots that he wore as a small boy, an old Italian wool suit of my moms- a beautiful lace dress that looked like a prom dress from the 50s.....and a box.

The box was very pretty, very 50s. Inside, 16 love letters that my dad wrote to my mom in 1957 when my dad was 24 and my mom only 19 - all in perfect condition- they had been carefully opened and stored- WOW. My dad was living with my cousins parents when he wrote the letters, so as we read them, we each learned a little more about our parents. It was such an amazing find.

The letters ended about the time my mom and dad were married and later that year, they welcomed my brother who was 3 months premature.

I feel like we were meant to find that wonderful treasure together. It was an incredible end to a wonderful reunion. And I now have some new family heirlooms to pass on to the next generations some day.

Baking day!

October 12th, 2015 at 04:28 am

I spent most of the day today in the kitchen! Loved every second.

I made a huge batch (68) of ronza's- I used 6 lbs of ground beef, two sweet onions, lots of garlic, and sauerkraut...oh and 68 frozen roll dough balls. Once they're baked, you dip em in mustard and YUM. My parents used to make these, and I love carrying on the tradition, making a big batch every fall..freezing them and then popping a couple in the oven anytime Im craving one. It cost about $37 to make 68...so .55 cents each. A meal is usually 2 for me, so nice inexpensive meals to enjoy!

When I was done with the ronzas,, I baked a big batch of heath chip peanut butter cookies for the hub. They aren't my fav, but what he wanted. There are plenty to take some in to my co-workers on Tuesday. The batch made 3 dozen, and I spent about $4 on supplies, so those were under .20 per cookie.

The day was even better once the Packers won. (woot)..

Tomorrow, Columbus Day, my work is closed, but it is used as a training day for staff. We start at 10am and go to 4pm, so it is a short day- and then I have Friday off so I am looking forward to a short work week!

Being that tomorrow is a training day, lunch is provided.

Thanks to just staying home and baking, today was a no spend day.

Busy, busy October!

October 10th, 2015 at 04:24 pm

Construction is done. I have paid the final bill and now know exactly where we stand for paying off the bills. My goal is to have it all paid in 4 years. But in return, we have pretty much a new home that shouldn't need too much maintenance for many years.

We still have 2 expenses coming, the heating/air unit and a banister for the stairs...but we could make do without either if need be while we save. (we have a really good wood stove and a log deck to feed it)

My kids surprised me last weekend with a trip down to San Francisco to Levi's stadium to see the 49ers play the Greenbay Packers. If you know me, you know I am a HUGE Packers fan...the kids love the 49ers. This was a bucket list adventure for me. We had so much fun. Frugal, not so much- but definitely a wonderful shared experience for the memory books. And we were able to site see around San Fran for 2 days and have a ton of fun.

The hub is home again for three weeks. This weekend is a quiet one. I plan to bake tomorrow. Since it is October, ronza's are in order. (think hot pocket filled with beef and sauerkraut dipped in mustard- yum!)

Next weekend I get to go on a 3 day trip with a couple of girlfriends. One of the moms owns a timeshare, so we get to go stay at a nearby resort super cheap. We will hike, play games and visit. Us three haven't done a trip like this in about 7 years, so we are excited...this will be a frugal trip with most meals cooked at the condo we are staying in and the activities all free. Just good friend time.

Then, the following weekend, its our bi-annual family trip to a different resort. Just the adults, and a weekend of fun and being together. I get to have all my chicks in the same nest for 3 days!! I budget for this trip, so even though its not as frugal...it is already paid for. We make all but one meal at home, and the entertainment is enjoying each other, walks, games, puzzles, and some cocktails in the evening.

Needless to say, October is one busy month this year!

A feel good story!

September 23rd, 2015 at 09:51 pm

My daughter's grandmother passed away last year and left my daughter a Ron Lee clown collection that she had built over many years, along with her hutch to house them all. My daughter grew up admiring these clowns and was so touched that her grandmother left them to her.

My daughter rented a u-haul to bring it all home and then realized she really didn't have room for everything in her home- so she put it in a storage unit that her ex rented.

Just after the beginning of the year, the ex was in the process of moving when he slid during a baseball game and dislocated his foot- he was subsequently out of work for 3 months- and he got way behind on bills. His phone was disconnected, he had to move back in with parents for a short time and the bills for the unit rental went to his prior address. Time went by and sadly, the unit was auctioned off without their knowledge. (or at least my daughters..)

When the ex figured out what happened he was reluctant to voluntarily tell my daughter and several months went by.

This past weekend, my daughter and her sister decided to get the clowns out of storage and figure out how to start enjoying them .. only to learn that they were gone, and had been for over 6 months. The girls were heartbroken. Their grandmother's clowns meant a great deal to them.

So, my daughter turned to Facebook and, using a couple of public spaces, posted her story asking everyone for help.

Guess what? Someone knew the guy that bought the unit.

The guy that bought the unit is retired military. When he initially went through the items, he was perplexed why someone would let this collection go to auction- but when he called the storage place, they told him that the owner had had cancer and disappeared. (The ex HAD gone through cancer surgery and treatment the year prior to dislocating his foot. The storage guy assumed he had died.)

So the guy that bought the unit sat on the items- not sure what to do. Then, this past weekend he was contacted by a friend about the Facebook post and learned that the owner was heartbroken and looking for her grandmothers clowns. When he heard her story, he contacted my daughter and said that he had wanted to return the items- his gut told him someone, someday would be wanting these back.

He originally paid almost $400 for the unit .. the price he has asked to return everything "good karma". He is just happy that there was a happy ending and wants to give back the items free of charge.

A reported has asked to put the story on the front page of our local news and stated that feel good stories are too few and far between.

We are so thankful that this story has such a happy ending. And I am wondering what we can do to repay this retired soldiers generous gift.

Holy gas bill!

September 15th, 2015 at 02:49 am

I am super-duper excited!!

I filled the tank on my new-to-me car today and it was a whopping $41. I used just over 16 gal to go 500 miles or 30 MPG...WOOT! My old car averaged 18-20 so I am super happy!

The hubs hand is about twice its normal size tonight- and he hurts. But the stitches are healing already- so he is on the mend. He is missing 7 days of work- which hurts and already stretched budget this month- but we will make it work. I think he will have the option of making up the time at the other end of the hitch, which will make it a wash-but we will see how he does.

We have separated the dogs- the younger one will be kept in a pen by himself and the two older labs will stay in another. (Thankfully we have 2 - 60x60 pens on the property.) DD3 isn't ready to give up on her pup. She has had him in obedience school once before- and I am not fully convinced this was him as much as it was the older lab being overprotective. We will just have to make sure they stay separated. But I will be on higher alert and watching for any signs of aggression- if there are any, the pup will have to go- but hopefully, this will solve the issue.

Plugging the financial hole that is a remodel and spending on NFL Sunday Ticket

September 13th, 2015 at 07:14 pm

Happy SUNDAY...and football season SUNDAY to boot! WOOT.

I have been on vacation this past week. We decided to make it a stay at home week to get settled into the house. We didn't get as much done as I had hoped, but we did make progress! We didn't get to the storage unit, so we will be paying another month rental on that. Since the hub leaves for ALaska on Wednesday, it will be at least 3 weeks before we can get things moved.

I ended up buying a new to me used car this week. I got a 2012 Hyundai Sonata- which has been very well cared for and has low miles. I opted for the extended warranty and lifetime oil change options, to hopefully extend the life of this car well into retirement. I loathe the whole car buying experience-seems like there should be more transparency with car buying- it is such a nebulous, frustrating process and its impossible to know what kind of deal you're really getting. Bleh- I will be perfectly happy driving the same car forever if it means avoiding those freakin car lots.

Tomorrow the contractor is coming to finish the punch list and we will make the final payment. It will be nice to have the last check written to know exactly where we stand. Then I will get an aggressive repayment schedule in place so that everything will be paid off in 4 years. Update- the contractor stopped by to say it will be at least Wednesday before he can come finish...and so it goes...

We are fully enjoying the kitchen. I have baked and cooked every day. Today I have a big crockpot of red beans and sausage cooking to go over some white rice tonight. It will make enough for several days of yumminess! I have a loaf of banana chocolate chip bread on the counter- and we have left over tri tip, smoked ribs and baked beans with bacon in the fridge...so we are set on meals for most of the week.

I splurged on NFL Sunday ticket this year. I didn't get it last year and really missed watching the games that weren't televised. Football is my weekend entertainment and having the program averages $10 per week...which is justifiable for me. Big Grin I will use my allowance to pay for it. My Sunday fun is set until January!

Today I am getting laundry and meals planned for the week ahead. I wish vacation was a few days longer, but alas, its back to work I go in the morning!

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