Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Staycation Calendar is Getting Full

Last weekend my sister and a friend went to the Renaissance Festival (not my thing). Apparently Deb asked my sister what I was doing in retirement and Sue said "Oh, she's being a social butterfly these days, as always".  Deb said that she thought I just stayed home all day and crafted and read, and Sue responded, that yes, I did that for a day or maybe two a week.  The rest of the time, not so much!!

This is the truth of my life. Some people like to get themselves out of the house a little bit each day in retirement. I like to know I'm staying home all day, or just the opposite. Some days, I probably look like the homemaker and crafter extraordinaire, and other days, well, I'm not. If I'm going to sew or draw or whatever, I want to do that all day long. If I'm going out, I'm going out.

At this time of year, my week is often less evenly divided. While I prefer to mainly stay at home in the summer months, and travel other seasons, I do try and fill up my "summer vacation" as much as possibly. For as cheaply as possible, especially this summer with wedding and travel expenses approaching in the fall.

This morning I looked at my calendar  for the rest of the summer and well, it 's pretty much there. I still try and keep Sunday and Monday at home times (except for church), but many of the other days have at least something going on, even if it, just afternoon happy hour. While I might like to get a long weekend in there somewhere, my summer vacation at home is pretty darn full. And the calendar tells the ever loving tale.

I've also done it pretty darn cheaply. I could get even more "skint", with effort. But the only real costs are my gal group lunches twice a month, the pop corn and candy I buy with my five dollar movie and the occasional museum outing. It's actually pretty amazing how cheap the rest of the stuff is.

Granted, much of this entertainment is due to programs through the library, county or city and on some level, yes, taxes were used to pay for these benefits. Still, I'm going to three free outdoor concerts so far, I'm taking a one day class in pastels and a one day class on photo engraving through the library (plus they have a regular drop in craft and chat program). There is a huge Irish festival that is free entrance if you volunteer a couple hours, and a huge arts festival that is free except for the beverage you'll need if it's ninety degrees.

All of which keeps me busy, entertained and out of the stores. Except for the craft supply stores. Because between the free art classes, a Utube series on artistic collage and my natural need to create, I need supplies. Even though I concentrate on recycling, upcycling and reuse these days in my sewing and craft projects, some new inventory is a "need". Someday I need to get a hobby other than reading that doesn't require inventory, I suppose.

Until then, I need to decide which two of these collections to get. Which ones do you think I picked? Which two would you have picked. For yourself or for me?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday Things

Thank you everyone for all your response to the post on Social Security. I appreciate all the responses and views-and for not responding to everyone in a timely manner, due to various circumstances.


1. I've been mainly incommunicado because on Friday my keyboard finally gave up the ghost, especially on the top two rows. Nothing. Nada. So yesterday morning I went online to Amazon and turns out, my new keyboard was one of the many things I could get in the same day if I ordered it in the morning (if I ordered at least 35 dollars worth of stuff). I don't use a computer or laptop, I just have a large tablet and a Kindle Fire that I use for reading and watching videos so I needed a replacement quickly!!  
I figure if it's red, I can find it wherever it goes

2. You all know that I have been fine tuning my fitness routine (Zumba Gold was not sustainable). It seems that my rec center , bless their hearts, just got a new piece of equipment-a recumbent cross trainer! It's such a new thing, most fitness centers don't have it. So my routine now includes walking the track a couple times a week for as long as I can (twenty to twenty five minutes) and then at least thirty minutes on the machine. For those wondering, it is not almost the same as a recumbent bike and this article probably explains the difference the best. 

3. This weekend was my sister-in-law's birthday. I thought about making her something, and even about planning a future experience like a paint and sip. She still works and cares for her ailing mother, and they order in a great deal. I ended up getting a fifty dollar grub hub gift certificate. It may be more of a he and she gift than just a she gift, but I know it will be used. And while it may not have been "frugal" on my part, I'm pretty much committed to giving consumable or experience gifts or hand made things only-and right now there is absolutely nothing they need.

4. I'm almost finished with my bird house-it needs more embellishment and pop in the next couple days-I'm going to use painter's tape and paint stripes on the roof and add atars. I have put aside my patriotic table runner. While I know many people do the patriotic decor thing all summer, I don't. And would rather move to working on those bright flamingo and similar fabrics as well as a funky beach style birdhouse that I can leave out until September. 

5. My daughter has chosen the colors for her backyard wedding at the end of September, and I am wearing blush pink. A color I probably have not worn since I was twelve, mind you. I'm looking forward to it, but I'll definitely need to work on a tan-fake or real- a teeny bit before said day. I'm now on the search for a maxi or mid dress that is not too formal for an outdoor Saturday afternoon event. Wish me luck.

6. And finally, while I haven't discussed it here to date, I am planning to do an intensive two week volunteer gig in Tuscon working with refugees at the border in October, immediately after daughter's wedding. I'm still researching places to stay and such, but I have taken the step of commitment. I've decided that my schedule allows me to do so, and this may be something I was meant to do, semi crippled body and all.

Back soon for some regular posts after I get caught up on comment response and other blogs and such!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

I Took SS Early, And I'm Not Sorry

Thank you to everyone who has responded. This has been an interesting conversation with many perspectives. My tablet keyboard has kicked the bucket (after more than 2 years of abuse including food and drink, so I can't complain). Another one is on it's way and I'll be back to posting and commenting soon!

So, recently I was discussing the pros and cons of when to take Social Security-with my siblings who are younger and have different "dates" than I do, and with some other pals. Especially with my sister who has had at least two count em two, companies basically go under with her bennies, and who will retire on SS and a couple hundred dollar a month pension barring some miracle in the next five years.

I also recently read at least two blog posts where' the topic has come up, plus I know this is a concern of others.  So I thought I would put in my two cents, from my perspective if you will.

First let me say that I am not a math type in any way. I did what thought was right for me at the time and I still do, but if you want to read the comments here, or here, you may find a better idea of the math to take under consideration.

Personally, I took Social Security at the absolutely earliest day I could, which as a widow was age 60. Without widowhood I could have taken it at age 62 and I believe my "full date" being born in 1951 was 65 (now maybe it's 67?). It should be mentioned that I was not working, although if I had social security would have been offset one dollar for every two dollars earned up to my full retirement age. After that, there is no offset and one can earn as much as they please.

Going on eight years later, I have absolutely no regrets. None, nada, and yes, I continue to read on this topic regularly, and am aware that many financial advisers would consider me not so smart.  From my reading, I am not the only one to make this choice, and in fact, statistically, most people who take early SS do not regret doing so. Admittedly, for some it is not a choice, but a requirement to survive,

My decision was based partly on current circumstances at the time, to be sure, such as not being able to get a job at 55 anywhere after taking time off for caring at hubby and having a minor child at home. I ended up being a widow and forced early retiree with my two legged retirement stool being a federal pension and social security (while others mainly have SS and deferred retirement savings/investments).

 I COULD have lived without it had I found it necessary.  I still had a very small amount of what was left from my husband's life insurance that I hadn't need to use to live on, and a federal pension. But I was at a point in my life where I wanted to make some investment purchases (I hate that phrase, but sometimes it fits), look at possibly moving and downsizing again (the downsizing part saves money, but the moving can be a money pit in the immediate future). I also wanted to do some travel that might be physically taxing (read maybe climb at places like Mesa Verde and Mexican Pyramids and so some serious hiking) before what I knew was serious bone degeneration took me out of that running. 

A three week road trip through all the western states with my son, staying at all the best hotels and eating all the best food was the kind of thing I could not have done, throwing caution and price considerations to the wind. And while to some this may sound frivolous, the ability to do that while I still (mainly) had my full health with my disabilities was a gift to both of us. I will still at that place where I could go, literally, all day long physically.

And I have aways had the ability to not spend all of that monthly check and put it away (although I have admittedly never thought about investing as such as other people I know do). If I need to do any more rightsizing, I am in a position to do so, as well as lighten the load. Right now, instead I am looking to create a dedicated medical savings account and some other "sinking funds" for the long term. I feel comfortable that age I age my finances will keep me comfortable and safe, and I am prepared to lighten that proverbial load as needed in the future.

Admittedly, I am what someone else called a "Bird in the hand" kind of gal. I also don't want to have to think to much-at least about finances thirty years down the road. Which is why the longer I live on the Pension and Social Security as opposed to doing the math about how much to withdraw each year, the more comfortable I am with the fixed income thing. Yes, this is lightly off the topic at the top of the mast today,  but still worth sharing with others who are or may be in the same position.

Yes, I have had to create my own "savings" for things like health care. And yes, on occasional I may have to make adjustments, but each year I know how exactly much money I will have-both annually and each month, and that's fine with me. And yes, I understand that SS may not be there for future generations but it is now, and if they lower monthly payments later on, then I will be even happier than I am now about said decision to take that early money.

Again, this is from my perspective. And again, I know it goes against much of the financial advice. I am not against financial advice, and I recognize professionally trained folks for what they are, as well as what they know. 

But sometimes you need to look at all the information provided, and then go with your gut. Be it with your finances, serious medical decisions or anything else. As long as you can live with that decision-and I'm doing pretty well with that one.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Musings

A few (or more) thoughts post weekend:

1. I seem to be even having more attention issues as usual when it comes to my projects-hence this is not "Making it Monday"!  I've been doing lots of craft and art, just not on the same item. I have one half of a sweater completed. The same with the patriotic bird house and table runner as well as a couple other projects. Hopefully I'll settle down and finish the painting of the birdhouse by tomorrow, and maybe I can get some pics up on FB or instagram. I just keep flitting!!

2. Speaking of that sweater, even within the same eyelets, the yarns are not necessarily in the same order. So the back shades of yarn will differ from the front as the colors change. Definitely bright. Bright, bright, bright!!

3.  I had a conversation with my sister I have been meaning to have about dinner hour issues. She gets home at seven, walks the dog, and then often works in the yard, especially at this time of year. I told her that I would need to start eating closer to six thirty and either keeping hers in the oven or chilling it so she can zap it. I hate to do it but I simply CANNOT eat at seven thirty or even eight on regular basis any more. Because of this, I'll also be buying more healthy convenience items like deli chickens and quiches or cooking in the slow cooker where things can remain on warm. Having said all that, I went to five thirty church this evening and then out to dinner with the son, meaning we at at close to seven thirty. But it's a rarity.

4.  I've been going through that clothes inventory, and making lists of things I will want to add. Things I might add that are not going to get bought during the summer unless they are that 47 dollar shirt that I found on clearance for less than ten dollars. I need to come up with a blush maxi dress or midi dress for my daughter's wedding in September, and have some other upcoming major purchases I want to plan for. So except for long sleeved shirts (I have four) and cardigans (not enough) my goal is mainly replacement as part of natural attrition. So far, no blush dress as such, they all seem to be peachy, color wise.

5.  I've made some change to my gals group. Starting in July, while we will have happy hour (food optional) once a week, we will not have a lunch every week. Both for the budget and the waistline. We have two lunches and a Sunday brunch (at a restaurant called Bacon-and yes, exactly). Other than that we have a five dollar movie day, coffee and conversation and walking, and a meet up at a free evening outdoor concert at the local library. I'm trying to both lower the lunches and create more events where people can casually meet up as I will not physically be here the month of September and much of October.

6. I forgot to mention that on Thursday I took my first Zumba Gold class, which literally kicked my ass!!!!!! I was completely exhausted the next day-which is probably a good thing this class was not for me. I need more of a low impact aerobic class without all the steps. I mean seriously. This woman included Bollywood style steps, Cha-Cha, Meringue and so much more. My coordination level does not allow for that. I could do the steps or the crazy arms but not both.I think my exercise future is pool aerobics on Monday, Dance aerobics on Thursday and plain old walking and or Tai Chi video the other days with weight training. 

7. On Saturday I was supposed to go to lunch at a local brewery and then check out the market they had on their grounds (crafts, food trucks, antiques, you name it). I was also supposed to go possibly to a local quilt show held by a guild. I wimped out in full. I ended p reading much of the next Nevada Barr book, sitting outside with the dogs, and making crab cakes. It puts me behind in my "craft fair/farmers market goal", but I am going to a farmers market on Wednesday, as well as another gals day out thing on Tuesday. I have to be really inspired to go out on a Saturday if it's something I can also do on a week day.

8. I cancelled two subscriptions through Amazon: Kindle Unlimited and PBS Masterpiece. I do love the Great Courses Plus but am considering losing that one because I don't watch enough as well. Those savings will go into my saved saving challenge account, at least through the summer.

9.  One of those barely legible things written overnight in my journal was "take a family holiday". As in go somewhere as opposed to just spending a week at Christmas together and occasionally another week together at her Dallas house or my Denver house, Working on it for next year after daughter gets her Master's here. I'm thinking a cruise but we will see.

10.  And finally, I am always glad to see that we have at least one soccer team in this country that is capable of playing on the international stage and actually winning-sorry, men!

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Frugal Retiree Finally Tackles Her Wardrobe, Part One (a long post)

It's no secret that I have been wanting to come up with some kind of capsule wardrobe for at least a year now. For both financial and organizational reasons. Unfortunately, when I began my investigation of how to do this, I found that the "33" items were not nearly enough, especially if you consider accessories (seriously, I have earrings for every outfit or at lest every top and dress).

 Also, the seasonal thing four times a year would never work for me. Except for my heaviest sweaters and jackets and my shortest shorts, everything is left out. It snowed just before Mothers day and got to almost eighty in February. See my point? I think about doing a summer/fall, fall/winter, winter to spring kind of thing, but I mean seriously. Thinking about that that hurts my head!!

And so for awhile I had been considering the year around wardrobe, but had not just figured out how to do it. I understand that for many this is the anti project 333, either because you want a completely different look each season, not that many clothes out or whatever. For me, I would prefer to have a wardrobe where I can wear the 3/4 in sleeved top with nice shorts, or layer one of my short sleeved tops under sweater. So I had already decided that this was what I should try. And once a found a website that was-sorta-going in my direction I decided to take her list and make it my own.

A couple qualifiers in my personal quest:

1. I've never been "styled"  have no desire to be styled but I absolutely know what I like. I HAVE had my colors done, and in my case even with the change to gray, that has been very accurate. I adjust the colors a bit sometimes and often look for a lighter hue, but in general the colors work.

2. I don't wear neutrals as such except in terms of bottoms-so the "have five neutral shirts and two brights or trendy" is not my think. I want my clothes to be in the colors that I use from the chart:  Light/dark green, violet/periwinkle, blue and turquoise, with the occasional yellow or peach and warm pink and a couple neutrals of navy, cream or gray (no browns). Yes, I have a bright true blue sweater that I wear with a bright warm green top-and it works. I even have the earrings to match.

4. I live in the land of casual. In theory you might need a jacket to wear to the best steak restaurant in town, but you could probably wear said jacket over dockers, a graphic T and sandals.

5. I dress once for the day I plan to have, I don't throw on shorts  and a T and then change my clothes when I go out. Which is why my plan will have those soft shirts and pull on pants and even fleece pants-because I don't want to have an organized wardrobe with a dresser full of around the house clothes, I want to account for everything. Organization wise, fashion wise and budget wise. Tomorrow I am going to walk with a friend in the morning, meet someone for lunch at a wine bar, some home and spend time with the dogs and either knit or sew. I will wear the same thing all day unless I opt for fifteen minutes of vitamin D in a sundress.

6. And last (for the moment) as some regular readers know, no wool or gabardine or even linen can touch my knees. Fabric must be stretchy, knit and soft (or crepe like) even for casual clothes.

7 And really truly last, I do have a small (very small) subset of truly dressy as in going to volunteer ball or a wedding group of clothes not included. Basically three semi formal dresses and a wrap.

So, on to my attempt to organize the clothes I have and plan for the future. On one of my many forays into the deep pit that is Pinterest, I found  this link to a web page and attendant clothing chart. Now, I am only using this for a guideline. My numbers will be different, my types of clothes will be different (do I really need that many tanks if I am not using them for layering?). Her list of pants doesn't show crops, for example. I wear crops or shorts in the summer (yes, even in public, sorry over 40 fashion police). But I don't wear "capris" because of the place they land on the leg.

My numbers will increase in some areas, at least to start. I'm beginning with the "rule of sevens", in most categories, with the theory that if underwear and nightwear is sufficient I can get to ten days or two weeks without doing laundry (I would rather scrub the potty than do laundry). Unlike her chart, probably one top in each category will be neutral and all the rest will be in "my colors". 

So my tentative starting point for the tops and bottoms is this:

7 tanks (until I decide I do not need them and I'll include "cap sleeve" type stuff in this
7 Short sleeved tops
7 (presentable, no stains and so on) knit type shirts/tops long and short sleeved 
7 Sweaters
7 Outer pieces (cardigans, kimonos, ect, I don't wear jackets). This will not include the heavy coatigans that we wear here instead of coats of which I have two or three (last year I wore a real coat four times).
7 Pair of long pants which includes jeans, leggings and straight pants,
5 pairs of relaxed, knit pull on style pants that are clean and can go outside (read pull on velour, so called 7 day knit pants and so on).
5 Pairs of crops/shorts.

Lauren's list includes 52 pieces, and this is that without the dresses and skirts and shoes.. Her list does not include accessories. This list is closer to 66 than to that, which is fine-two seasons of clothes build into a year, if you will. And this list includes so called around the house clothes.  * I don't garden or do home improvement so I don't need icky clothes as such, and I don''t own workout clothes. Once or twice a week I hit the pool and I wear those soft knit things listed above there and back. I do Zumba once a week on a day when I have no other obligations and the same is true. I DO have about 5 Sleeveless casual knit dresses that I wear about the house on warm days (and may throw over shorts so perhaps should include them). And I am unashamed to admit that I often stay in my nightgown until ten or so and get dressed.

My goal in those pieces of seven is to have one top in each of the colorways above plus a neutral (navy/cream or gray). Right now, as you can see from the photos, when it comes to my short sleeved tops I am very uneven. I have three green short sleeved tops, two blue, one gold and yellow-and a pink one with a split on the top that can't really be worn year around. So I need a pink, a purple or lavender, and perhaps a cream top to replace some of those duplicates. 

Not yet sure about the gold pineapple shirt, hence the tag remains.

not cream, but my favorite top

An on sale substitution for the pink perhaps?  As you can also see, I am not into button down shirts, but prefer pullovers that are a bit fitted.

Even so, I'm not going to get rid of anything unless I hate it right now, which means my load is will still be uneven. I have a group of things I don't love to go to the consignment shop. Will I elminate a top when I bring a new one in? Probably, the decision will be which one.

My next post on this topic (sometime within the next week or so) will involve something close to a full inventory (written only), which may drive me to drink.

Meanwhile, what do you think. Would this work for you? Is it too many clothes in a year? To few? Do you bother to coordinate your clothes?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Girls's Day Out (And Age Hits Me In The Eye)

So last night, an hour or so before bed, I noticed this "thing" in my peripheral vision. Every time I turned my head it went away and when I pulled off my glasses to brush of my face to see if something was there....nada. It took my awhile to figure it out, but yes, you probably guessed it. As I was sitting in bed, I texted my daughter the medical type and said "I think I just got my first eye floater".  It had to happen sometime, I suppose, and I seem to be getting  used to it already.

Through happenstance I had my annual eye exam this afternoon-which was good because both last nite and today in the movie, I felt like I had brief flashes of light in the corner of my eye once or twice.  After one of those computerized scans, check for macular issues and so on and so forth, the eye doctor said I was good to go...but if flashes come upon my eye instead of in the corner or get worse and so on and so forth .......(apparently with the first floater in each eye there can be a risk of separation). She also showed me where  in my left I a floater was coming sooner rather than later. On the other hand, everything was okay, while I have the beginnings of a cataract in my right eye, it wont be an issue anytime soon. And my eyes show no evidence of my diabetes at all.  So all is mainly good with the world.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I took a break from knitting and went to see Rocketman with the gals, The frugal retiree did not go on five dollar Tuesday, and she did get both M and Ms and popcorn ( put them together like a trail mix). That's a good ten dollars left off my saved saving challenge because I made a spur of the moment decision. But every once and awhile you just gotta.

FWIW - and I know I'm coming late to the party, with others having seen this- I loved, loved loved the movie. It was fantastic, fantastic.

What's more, almost all the previews are things I will probably go see (but then I'm a movie in the theater buff, which is why I usually go for five dollars, because otherwise I would be broke). Said previews included Yesterday (just because it's Beatles music) the new Terminator (which takes place right after Terminator 2 without all those others), Gemini Man, and the Kitchen.  The exception of course, being Men in Black. I mean really, what were they thinking.

And now I'm off to list tops and make that annual year around capsule wardrobe chart for Friday!!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monday Musings-Brain Dump Edition

It's Monday morning and I am pretty exhausted. 

Last weekend was another of my church's family promise week (Homeless families stay at our church, and I am in charge of the food and the evening hosting). These days I choose short term intensive volunteering for more reasons than I can list here. Most of them have to do with the level of involvement with those I help, but some of it has to do with the fact that then there are "off weeks" and months even that are completely mine. As opposed to the weekly commitment year around of so many hours. This particular week during my involvement I completely missed any sewing, most reading and most exercise so I am ready to get back in the groove for awhile.

I've been doing this kind of short term intensive volunteering for a year now, and I've decided I'd like to take it on the road, especially where it is needed. I'm looking at taking half or the full month of October to volunteer down south with refugees, and later to do another intensive two week gig away from home. More on that later.

On top of that, we've had a crippled dog this weekend. On Friday the little Chi-wa-wa went to the vet (she has a heart murmur and lung issues and takes lasix, but still manages to park and run and eat and walk and so on). In addition to her checkup she had her nails cut and they cut deeply into the foot-meaning the sent her home with a wrapped food on Friday and we had to bag it when she went on the wet grass and street to walk. While she has been miserable to be around, she seems to be feeling better. Yesterday when I left the house for awhile, she chewed that ever-loving bandage (that went all the way up her leg) off, tape and all. This morning I had her foot looked at and all is well (surprise). She also pooped and peed on the vet while examination was going on-expressing her own frustration with being cut!!

I did manage to get all of my squares cut and marked for my red, white and blue runner so the sewing will be fairly easy today and tomorrow,  and I threw the (obviously yet to be ironed) patriotic quilt on my table in the fireplace room. We also bought some african Violets and pots for my sister in law's birthday that are resting there for now. Im thinking about getting her a one time box from Sunbasket as well.

Today I'm back to my mainly at home Monday schedule. I do need to run to the store and get hamburgers for dinner along with one or two other things that cannot wait for my weekly Clicklist order tomorrow afternoon. I'm also wandering out of the house as well as spending off budget to get my son a new coffee maker-it's time to give this old thing a good burial-I don't think it is even donatable, as it occasionally spews. We have a Keurig and a regular coffee maker because a certain person in this house needs immediate coffee or she cannot let her dog out or open her eyes, and the other person drinks three or four cups. Me, I'm the tea or cold carbonated caffeine gal. 
very, very old

very, very new!

Last week, during that period when I was totally sleepless? As well as reading I grabbed a journal and started writing whatever was in my head, in no particular order. I started out writing things I wanted and needed to do and by the time I was finished I had partially illegal scratches on multiple pages. Notes that said everything from do more, be adventurous, learn to embroider, go to Arizona and even "I need milk". And yes, to answer the question, things I was surprised about when I looked at all the scribbles the next day! A brain dump in the extreme. Yesterday afternoon, I attempted to put that stuff in some kind of order in my regular two month journal, because I decided that if it was something I wrote in the middle of the night, it was probably worth remembering. I still haven't translated all of it, but it's working, and there's a lot of "do, do , do" whatever that means. My son says I'm obligated to write a missive on everything I wrote. I don't know about that, but at least something was gained from my sleepless even with a Benadryl night.

This week, I'm skipping knitting to go to the movies! I have knitting and sewing to keep me busy, a new Nevada Barr book, lunch and happy hour plans, and a plan to begin working on my annual capsule wardrobe ideas using the photo below. 

All of which could be derailed when I phone Wednesday evening to find out if I am actually called for jury duty again!  Hopefully if I do it will be as short and sweet as this experience!