Home > Archive: January, 2012

Archive for January, 2012

No spender and ponderings..

January 31st, 2012 at 03:45 am

Meals today included leftovers for lunch and dinner which made for a no-spend day.

I will most likely be attending training in Boston at the end of April. I have never been to the East Coast, so I am planning on tagging on a few extra days to sightsee. Unfortunately, the hub will be in I may have to go solo. Hmmm, not so sure I wanna go somewhere Ive never been by myself to sightsee. If I invite one of the girls, it will be on my dime...but in order to go and enjoy, I think it might be worth it. Hmmm...

Tomorrow night, DD3 is cooking for all the girls. I am teaching her how to make chicken picatta. It should be fun. We were going to go to One for the Money...but the movie has gotten all sucky reviews. I dont like to waste money on movies that cant get any good we will just do a girls night here and plan our trip down to see my son later in Feb.

The week is off to a good start...

Dinner time!

January 30th, 2012 at 01:09 am

I posted yesterday that I had shopped for the week and had meals all planned out.

Tonight I am baking chicken breast for dinner. I used Ina Garten's recipe (and added fresh rosemary and skinless chicken) and the house smells amazing.

This will provide leftovers for several days.
In addition to the chicken, I have potatoes roasting that I tossed in some olive oil and lipton onion soup, green beans and sour dough bread.

Total cost is about $8

Incase you want the recipe:

Lemon Chicken Breast
From Barefoot Contessa, how easy is that?


» 1/4 cup good olive oil
» 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
» 1/3 cup dry white wine
» 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
» 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
» 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
» 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
» Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
» 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6 to 8 ounces each)
» 1 lemon

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just one minute — but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme and 1 teaspoon salt, and pour into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in eight wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for two minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

My valentine craft today....

January 29th, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I appreciate all the responses to my earlier post. I was expecting some tough love and appreciate the advice. I unpublished the post and will save the responses to try to retrain my brain going forward with requests from the kiddos.

I thought I would share the craft I worked on today. I made a little valentine gift for my co-workers. There are 10 of them, so I needed to keep it inexpensive. The little vase was $.97, the flower .50 and the filler for the vase was just pennies per. I had the doilies and the candy will just be a few cents each, so about $1.50 total per person..I thought they turned out cute!

Food + menu - coupons and sales = a well planned week ahead

January 28th, 2012 at 10:17 pm

When I was tidying up the house this morning I found the weekly flyer for the grocery store. I glanced through it and realized several of the things I was thinking of making this week were on sale AND there were some coupons on them too. Hmmm....

I made a menu for the week of chicken picatta, black bean soup, baked rosemary/lemon chicken and steak sandwiches--lunches are deli turkey sandwiches and leftovers. (I will have oatmeal for breakfast, which I have on hand.) Then, I headed off for the store..I spent $54.21 after saving $28.27 (34%). The young lady that lives with me doesnt eat red meat...mainly sticks with chicken or tuna. So I try to rotate what we have, but we eat lots of chicken. Thankfully, I love chicken. But I tossed in a couple of pieces of chopped steak for dinner...she will have to plan something for herself tonight.

I still have a premixed batch of muffin mix and some frozen berries, so Im gonna whip that up for snacks and desserts this week.

I plan to stick to the budget, although I do have an extra $25 incase we need any perishibles. Should be a yummy, healthy week!

Saturday morning musings...

January 28th, 2012 at 04:58 pm

My paycheck yesterday included the adjustments that I made in my 401k (from 5% to 8%) and prepaid medical (from $300 yr to $1200 yr). It was $190 less than usual. My annual increase doesnt kick in until next payday, but I am figuring an extra $100 net- which still puts me below my previous take home by $90 every two weeks. If the merit increase isn't approved, I will adjust the budget accordingly for 2012. But I am hopeful that at least part of the 90 will be covered with even a small merit raise.

I still need to increase my 401k to meet retirement goals, but we also need to allocate towards debt reduction- so I am trying to balance. Plus, I want to allocate some towards the hubs 401k as soon as we can change his contribution amount.

DD1 turned 30 yesterday. She is such an amazing young lady. A thought occured to me that she is now the same age my brother was when he died. I have a new appreciation for how my parents must have felt- as (in my eyes) DD1 is still my baby who has so much left to experience. I hugged her extra tightly when we said goodbye after dinner last night.

DD2 had to work and wasnt able to join us, she also didnt have a sitter for the lil foster guy (12 mo) he joined us. He got a little cranky and I had finished eating, so I took him and walked over and watched the guy grilling the steaks who kept entertaining the baby by making the open fire flame up. He doesnt smile or laugh easily or often, but he did at the fire flash. At one point Z looked at me, put his tiny hands on my cheeks and came in with a big slobber baby kiss. LOL. Clearly he was having fun. I just adore this lil guy. As he is developing and trying to stand, we have noticed one of his legs turns very awkwardly inward and his foot is very turned. Because his first several months were spent literally living in a carseat, it may have caused things to form wrong, so they are going to run some tests and set up a corrective plan.

The hubs next rotation home will only be for two weeks again...he loves this job and is more than happy to work the extra week when he can. However, this will probably be the last 4/2 rotation until next winter. Until then, he will be on 3/3 which will be so nice.- We can actually take a week long vacation together and go do something...maybe even a couple of them.

With my new position at work, I will need to attend an out of state training this year. My choices are Boston in May or Chicago in September. I am leaning towards Boston, simply because the training is sooner and I will be able to do my job better once I attend. The nice thing is that the hub can come with and we can take a few extra days to sight see. (We have to pay his travel and the extra nights at the hotel ourselves, but still a fun opportunity to visit somewhere we have never been!) Anyone have insight if one or the other option is mo' better?

Well, time to get at it this morning. I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!!

I asked...but will I get?

January 26th, 2012 at 03:07 am

I have never, in almost 30 years of working, asked for a raise. Until today. I get a decent increase each year, but where I fall on the payscale for my position is in a low percentile-because every year they do a salary adjustment so I never move up the scale. With my experience I beleive that there is a disconnect between where I am and where I should be.

So...I put my ducks in a row, asked for advice from a former VP of HR, took a deep breath and then just asked.

The initial response was that my reasoning made good sense and that my request is reasonable and understandable. Now it goes to the decision makers. My fingers are crossed because the increase I asked for was very fair and left plenty of negotiation room. If it happens, I will be very pleased and will have extra to go towards my retirement goals. If it doesnt, I am still VERY greatful for my job and will put it to rest.

I mentioned in my prior post that DD1 was caring for her hubs grandma, who had been released from the hospital under hospice care. They moved a couple of weeks ago into a bigger home to care for both grandma and grandpa and let them live with them. Sadly, she passed way yesterday. I am so proud of my daughter for stepping up and giving grandma a place to enjoy her last few days. Even arranged for grandma to have a manicure, which made her so happy. She was so tickled to 'go home' with her pretty nails. Grandpa is able to grieve for his lost life long partner of almost 60 years in a loving, caring enviornment.

The hub is enroute to Alaska tonight. He will be gone for the next month. We sure had a fun time this last two weeks. I booked a rental home at a resort we enjoy for his next first weekend home. Until then, DD1 celebrates her birthday, I get to go visit DS and DIL and enjoy the my new position and office at work.

Life is blessed.

Quick Vegas trip!

January 24th, 2012 at 02:57 am

I typed out a nice long post last week and when I hit send, it was sent into the ol cyberwormhole...I didnt have time to repost, so...I will try it again now.

The hub has been home almost two weeks. He leaves to go back to the slope on Wed already.

We went to Vegas this past weekend. We had a really nice time. I got a great deal on airline and hotel it wasnt real expensive...$300 roundtrip for both of us...and $300 for the hotel for three nights with a view of the strip. We played all weekend and came home with a little more than we started with. (this did not include food...which came to about $200 for the three days we were there..)

All in all, a great mini get away that we both enjoyed! (Dealers in bikinis?? really??)

Now the hub will head back to the slope for another four week stint. He is working 4 weeks on, two off right now...but when things slow down, he will go back on 3 on, 3 off.

The new job is going well. I am enjoying NOT having so much stress. I got a 5.5% raise...but am still working on a merit increase. I will be happy with the regular raise, however.

The kids are all doing well.

Dd1 recently moved into a house so they could take in SILs grandparents. Gramma is under hospice care and is down to days. I am so proud of her for taking on this responsibility and giving grandpa a safe place to land when gramma goes.

Dd2 is still fostering the lil guy she took in almost a year ago. He is THRIVING in her care and just turned one.

DS and DIL are all settled into their new jobs and home. They moved to northern Calif just after thanksgiving for better job opportunities and they are doing great..I am SO proud of them!

Life is good!

ps...Papa...happy 79th birthday. I so wish you were here to celebrate with. I miss you soo much.

Vegas Bound tonight!

January 20th, 2012 at 06:22 pm

I am on vacation today and Monday. The hub and I are flying to Vegas tonight for a mini get away. Other than local jaunts around Oregon, we havent been on a trip in quite a while. Neither of us are big gamblers, I just found a great deal on flights/hotel and there are so many other things to do there for a couple of days. (I had hoped to watch Green Bay play on the mega screen this weekend, but *sniff* they lost last weekend to the Giants. However, the 49er/Giants game should be a good one....)

The hub is home until Wednesday, then he heads back to Alaska for 4 more weeks. The $$ from the extra week in the rotation is nice, but this is just temporary for the ice March or April, he will go back to 3/3. I have made sure to work the budget so that the extra goes to debt reduction or savings and is NOT part of the normal budget.

Three weeks into the job, and I am enjoying having the reduced stress level. I decided to take this term off from school and just relax. Since the hub has been home the last couple weeks, it has been REALLY nice not to have to worry about studying and deadlines.

The kids are all doing well. My DIL found a good job and so she and my son are FINALLY financially independent from mom. Smile I actually got paid back a little this month!! SO proud of them. I am going down to visit them President's weekend next month...and am so excited to see them all!

My DD1 is moved into the new house and SILs grandparents are there with them. Grandma was released from the hospital to hospice and only has days to weeks. I am SO PROUD of my daughter for taking on this responsibility and making grandmas final days comfortable and giving grandpa a soft place to fall when she goes.

DD2 still has the foster baby. He turned ONE last weekend and there were no phone calls to check on him from any of his family. SO SAD...but again, I am uber proud of DD2 for taking this lil guy into her family. He has been with us for 8 out of his 12 months...I hope he stays permanently. He is a sweet, sweet lil guy.

I went to a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) luncheon this week. Basically, a CASA is an advocate for a child who is in foster care. The CASA is court appointed to make sure the childs best interests are a priority while they are in the system- it is a minimum 2-3 year commitment and more preferably a commitment to that lil person until they are 18 (and beyond). There is such a need for volunteers in our community. I am seriously looking into becoming one. I am going to another meeting to find out more about the details.

I have gone back to having my hair done in a salon. The reason is that my friend who lost her son (22)to cancer this past year is the owner of the salon and her business has been struggling- she struggles to find the strength to get out of bed each day and to put one foot in front of the other. Her heart is so broke. The first couple months it wasnt unusual to find her curled on the couch in the waiting area, not having served a client all day. Her customer base dropped and she almost closed. But last night when I got there, she had a plan, a little hope and seemed to have turned a corner. She is staying busy and finding additional ways to draw customers in. She surprised me with a manicure using gels while my hair was processing. I love the look this morning and am considering regular manicures now. Helping my friend this way is so worth it.

Welp..time to get packing...a fun weekend awaits!!!

Hub on his way home!

January 13th, 2012 at 02:31 am

After a four week stint, the hub is on his way home tonight. He is enroute from Anchorage to Seattle now and will be home at midnight if the flights go as scheduled. He will be home for two weeks and then back to work for four more weeks. While he is home we will go to Vegas for a couple days, but also leave plenty of time to relax and rejuvenate.

I am anxious to see my paycheck tomorrow. In January of each year my job gives staff back 10% of all interest earned/paid between our savings and loan accounts. It is a wonderful perk. However, I also upped my 401K contribution (from 5% to 8%) and raised my pre-paid medical from $30 to $100 per month to cover some extra medical needs this year. When I checked what was pending to deposit tomorrow it was over $100 more than either my 10% was more than I expected, or the increases didnt go through yet. I am anxious to see which it is.

I will also find out next week what my increase will be for this year. I know it will be at least 5.25%.

I took tomorrow off, so I have a four day weekend to spend with the week I work three days and then have the next four off for Vegas- gotta love a schedule like that!!

I thought I would share this fun photo. My Son and DIL were out shopping and realized their daughter was people watching....or vis versa...the sweetness of youth..made me smile!

Christmas Gift in Action

January 8th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

For Christmas, I gave my son and his family an annual membership to the Sacramento Zoo and adjoining Fairytale Town. They are new to the area and their money is so tight, so I thought this would give them something free to do all year. Normally, a day pass to these two parks would cost them over $40 - but they will get in for free anytime they want to go.

They made their first trip today and I thought I would share a couple of the pics...

This is my grandaughter enjoying one of the feathered friends...

And this is my grandson petting a snake...oh my.

It sounds like they had a great first visit. The membership allows them to take two extra people anytime they go- so an added bonus is now family wants to visit because they can go to the zoo!!

I have been cooking this afternoon getting meals ready for the week ahead. Plus, this is my week to take dinner to the local homeless-teen shelter- so I have made soup, lemon chicken and have the chicken all cooked for the shelter meal. (This is a smaller shelter and I have to cook for only about 12 people)

The hub comes home on Thursday...pretty excited to see him- this was a four week stint and he will be home for two and then back in Alaska for another four.

Change in Plans

January 8th, 2012 at 02:00 am

I was supposed to have a free day today. My daughter had to attend a foster parent class and she needed a sitter for the foster baby. I had asked my other daughter to help me, and offered her $20 to help. So we spent the day hanging out - the lil guy started running a fever about mid-day and just wanted to be cuddled the rest of the day.

Let's backtrack a little.....I have a big heart for him, his first 4+ months were spent in a car seat. Mom was very young and immature, dad was very abusive. Lil guy learned to drink a propped bottle and lived with a soiled diaper for hours on end. When my daughter got him 7 months ago, his head was misshaped from staying in one position and he had NO leg strength from never using them...and a horrible case of diaper rash.

In the past 7 months he has gone from a very withdrawn baby to when he wants to cuddle, we cuddle. He slept in my arms for almost 4 hours. The housework and reading suddenly didnt seem important and I loved every second today.

Since I was occupied, Big Grin I offered to get pizza delivered for lunch. $30 + $20 for my helper. So $50 for the day today. But cuddling a lil guy who cautiously appreciates affection was priceless. Slobber, goobers and all.

Tonight I am just hanging out at home, watching Crazy, Stupid Love...(just started).

Its been a great day!

Will 2012 live up to expectations?

January 7th, 2012 at 04:31 am

Just a random rambling...

Today was interesting. I had three different people mention that 2011 was one of their worst years and then proclaim that 2012 would be better. Each of them put hope into 2012 being a turning point. They said it already FELT like a better year. I have to wonder if this will be THE YEAR that allows people to breathe a collective sigh of relief....or if it is just hope built on a shaky foundation.

I can see positive changes in my kids situations...there is definately financial relief for the hub and I. But am I confident that this is a long term turn? Not so much yet. I remain cautiously optimistic.

My new normal is to spend frugally and save what I can. Pay off what I can, use up what I can, wear out what I can and save for the next rainy day.

Housing prices still have not turned around..unemployment rates are dropping slowly, but not in the jobs that sustain long term, banks that arent failing are getting creative on finding new fees to find profit...and then reversing the decisions at the cost of consumer confidence....but I think in listening to others, people have gone back to basics of family, friends and what is really important. In the credit union world....a penny saved seems to mean something again.


Maybe things are turning around afterall. Just with a new, "new normal".

Time to brag...

January 6th, 2012 at 04:37 am

My son moved his family to Sacramento in November. As a mom, it was so tough to watch them go- but I gave them a hug and wished them luck as they drove away...hoping that they would realize that dreams can come true. They settled in, my sons job flourished and daughter in law accepted a job offer for $4 more an hour than she made here. Between the two of them, they now can not only make it each month financially, but they will start getting ahead. I am so proud of and for them. This was a big scary move...but I know that this will help them become independent and more successful as a couple.

Then, last night my DD1 called to ask my advice. They want to take his grandparents into their home to provide foster-type care for them. Grandma is not doing well, and grandpa is struggling himself. They found a house that is big enough for all of them, and DD1 will continue to stay at home to care for them and the kids. Grandpa is so greatful to know he and his wife will be welcome and cared for in her final weeks. I am beyond proud of my daughter for taking on this responsibility.

DD2 continues to foster the little guy (almost 1) He has been with her and her family since he was 5 months old. To him, she is mom, and we are his family. Some days it is tough to have another little one under foot...but she is determined to give this little guy some stability. I am so proud of her too.

And finally, DD3. She is going to school and doing her best to be independent. She is such a sweet soul.

I dont think there is anything more important or rewarding to a mom than to have my kids all making great decisions and giving this game of life all they can to make it work.

I am, truly, blessed.

My new job description is exciting. I think I will enjoy all of the opportunity ahead.

The hub comes home a week from tonight...he will be home for two weeks- while he is here, we will be going to Vegas for a few days. very, very good.

Its evaluation time...

January 4th, 2012 at 06:24 am

My self evaluation was due today. I always struggle scoring my work- but also feel better after I am done and have outlined my accomplishments for the prior year. It was a very busy year with lots of checkmarks. If my boss agrees with my score, I should get a 5.25% raise, which will be nice - expecially in a year that many financial institutions have wage freezes or are laying staff off. I have also aksed for consideration for a merit increase since I am taking on new responsibilities..but I will be happy whether or not the merit increase is approved. (This is the first time Ive ever asked for anything above what was offered so I am interested to see what happens.)

Today was a no-spender. Pre-planning for weekly meals really does help. Tomorrow I will need to get gas, but I shouldnt have any food or other expenses the rest of the week!

All in all, the first day in my new job went well. I am in limbo still as all of the changes are in process, so my new stuff doesnt officially start until the 9th...and I have already passed my old stuff on to the person taking that job I am using the free time to uber organize my office and set some goals for this year. I will have a job description on Thursday and will meet with the team on Friday to discuss the reorganization. Change is not always the easiest thing, but this one feels like a good one - especially once I wrap my head around the expectations. Smile

I am very blessed.

Back to Work..

January 3rd, 2012 at 02:36 am

Tomorrow I go back to work. It is officially my first day in my new position. I hope I like it!! Because of some changes at work, my department is no longer...and I am now over risk management for the cu. I love the detective type work I will be doing, and I wont be supervising a full department, so it will be much less I dont have to take a cut in pay- I might even get a raise. All in all, not a bad deal. The biggest plus- I am no longer managing facilities, so toilets are now someone elses problem Big Grin.

I continued to organize today. I made a menu plan and have all meals planned for this week. My lunch is packed for tomorrow and I will take bagels and creamer for breakfast all week. My meat is marinating for teriyaki chicken tomorrow night...and I made a chicken enchilada pie that is in the freezer for I am all set until Saturday!!

The hub and I are going to Vegas when he is home this time. It is a quick trip..arrive Friday night, fly home Monday...just a fun get away. The flight was cheap and the hotel was only $85 per night (Treasure Island)...I am excited to get into a little warmer weather for a couple of days. Neither of us are gamblers, so we are primarily going for the sights and fun.

The Ducks won the Rosebowl today!! (Sorry Wisconsoners)

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2012 at 06:32 pm

Happy New Year to all! I hope the year is off to a good start for everyone!

I started the year off by upping my 401k allocation to 8%. My employer also contributes 8%- so one step towards my 5 year plan.

I also upped my prepaid medical at work to 1200 for the year so that I can start getting some stuff taken care of that I have been putting off and also to have some of those 'fun' milestone tests done now that Im 50.

Ive spent the past couple of days decluttering and organizing. I have several big bags and a couple of boxes set to go to Goodwill.
I spent about $50 dollars yesterday on a storage rack, some plastic tubs and bins and a label maker. I have a closet designated for grandkid toys that is always an eyesore. So I pulled everything out, organized everything and tossed all the broken toys and those missing parts. I have to say the before and after are dramatic and it feels great to have that monster under control I also cleaned and organized my (walk in) closet that was getting hard to manuever around more!!!

It feels great to be off to a good start. I am getting some of my motivation from a site called Pinterest. If you havent visited, its just a site filled with random ideas. But I am also just really ready to be more organized. I have done MAJOR purging at work as well. I love starting the new year off a little lighter on STUFF and a little more focused on gratitude.

The hubs job is going awesome. He is working at a remote camp as the sole mechanic. He is getting lots of overtime, which he loves. Yesterday there was a cold weather advisory that exposed skin would freeze after 15 minutes....umm...he primarily works Im sure he stays layered up. But Id take a pass on But again, he LOVES it. So go hub! And the added money is helping us catch up and planand hope for the future.

Well, Happy New Year friends.