Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Frugal Retiree's Fall Bucket List

Today is one of those rare days when I  am suffering for my night owlish-ness. Such suffering will be worth it in the long run (the reason for my seven am awakening was the fact that we are getting new basement window wells as well as a couple of egress windows). In the short term however...ouch

In other news, the fall equinox is today. So I get to actually put out and photograph all that fall decor! Of course, blog wise, I got the jump by a day, since I updated to some fall "blog decor" the other day. The weather seems to sense that fall has officially arrived, because while we still have  eighty degree weather for a couple more days, then we go down to a more "fallish" seventy and sixty degree range. Although this close to the sun, on clear days, that seventy still feels like eighty.

Meanwhile, I think it's time for a bucket list for fall. This list is mainly about me, doing things for me, or just plain fun things-for the most part. I've not included regular habits or things like that, mainly because I've started a journaling system and write about those daily. It also doesn't include any travel other than day trips as it looks like I'm gonna be nursemaid for a full month somewhere between now and Christmas. 

My son is waiting on call backs for surgery scheduling while he decides what the best time in terms of Business school, and how long he can live with the pain. If there are any professor/instructor types reading this, should not being in a sling for three weeks qualify for some kind of assistance via typing? This year's classes including almost all IT related classes and this is his typing hand.  My Christmas travel plans may get shot if he decides to live with said pain until the winter break (plus I doubt he can go that long with the pain and lack of sleep).

And finally, while winter begins the 21st of December, I do have some "Christmas goals" that you will see at the bottom. Cause in this house, Christmas prep begins the day after Thanksgiving. 

And so, onward and forward to Autumn!

1.  Take that previously discussed four day weekend-when I am not doing things for the guy with no working arm or helping the guy recover from surgery on said arm!

2.  Take at least one class on a new to me art or sewing technique

3.  Make five pumpkin recipes

4. Go to the Botanic gardens when the fall leaves and flowers are fully in bloom

5. Knit one fall thing for me and make one fall piece of jewelry (and perhaps sew the a fall decor piece),

6. Take five one day outings between now and the holidays-Oktoberfest and some Christmas Markets in the mountains are on the list.

7. Go to a play at the downtown arts center

8. Continue bullet journaling (more later-best thing I've done in years) and begin bible/prayer journaling

9. Organize my closet for the fall/early winter season and see what I need to put on my wish list.

10. Get a more organized bedtime routine in place-because even a night owl needs a system for slowing down in the evening. Especially when she lives with non-night owl types.

11. Assuming either the Rangers or the Rockies get into the play-offs start looking for tickets. In both locations after season ticket holders are chosen, there is generally a lottery.  All this, of course,  is dependent on team performance!!  

Christmas bucket list:

1. Make a gingerbread house or similar decoration

2. Make Christmas jewelry

3. Go to the Nutcracker ( missed it last two years because of travel and illness)

4. Attempt to document all the Christmas ornaments including the ones given to offspring as to where they came from and meanings they may have and so on and so forth.

5. Think about having a Christmas cookie exchange party (again, my fall and early Christmas are still dependent on so many things when it comes to my injury issues and son's upcoming surgery).   

And there you have it. I've kept this list short and sweet, at least for me. Fall is my  main sewing and crafting season and I spend a great deal more time in my studio (to the point that I am using my friendly Alexa device to remind me to get up and exercise after forty minutes). I have not included any "habit" type stuff like do yoga every day both because those are fairly entrenched and because I journal them every day. And finally, there is pretty much nothing about the house. Because other than continuing to decide whether to repair our pergola or turn it into an outside "gal cabin" and getting the fireplace checked out, that can all wait until the early spring.

I'm working on some major updates post URL loss/replace on the blog, and hope to be able to link up to other bloggers and their lists soon. Meanwhile, do go check out Tamara and Jodi and their fall goals, as well as those links from other bloggers.

And now, it's Thursday cooking night, and I am off to get the ingredients for a baked potato bar-in all it's glory!!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Knitting and Sewing and Sewing and Knitting-Retirement Style

Sorry folks, but by now I think you know that at least once a week in the fall, you're gonna get a reference to football. In this case, the Colts lost in overtime, the Redkskins actually won a game and the Bronco's kicked the Cowboys all the way back to Dallas. Which means the girls are happy as can be. My son and son-in-law on the other hand?  Cryin' in their beer.

Officially, fall is not yet here. In fact, there are a bunch of decorations setting on the small table in the fireplace room, as well as fall quilts patiently waiting to get set out - supposedly we're waiting for "real fall" or the equinox, but the truth is I haven't had the energy yet to decide exactly what goes where (things do not remain the same from year to year around here!). 

Yes, you can see my messy kitchen table in all it's glory!

My patio is also loving our Colorado indian summer. Nights in the fifties and days in the mid eighties means that every thing has perked up everyhwere!  And yes, the little white dog is loving it as well!

I've  been working on my fall bucket list, which I'll post in the next couple of days, along with a bunch of other bloggers. This fall, my list is mainly about fun and pampering me (with the exception of a few things). Fall fun, after all.

Meanwhile, Tuesday is a day I don't "leave home", except for my workout time (which is on hold through  physical therapy).Today I spent the morning chilling and searching the web.  This afternoon?  I hope to be a little more energetic.  As part of my mainly zero based Christmas (more about that later), I've begun working on those handmade gifts I'll giving both to others and myself this year. I've slowly been working on the "big project", that triple nine patch quit. Since I want a huge amount of variety in the different small squares, I have been buying lot's of small amounts of vintage fabrics. Once the strips are done, I can move on.  

I've also purchased some lovely alpaca yarn, and right now I am trying to chose between various shawl patterns for my sister.  Is alpaca cheap?  No, but this shawl will be made by me and singificantly cheaper than a store purchased alpaca shawl in a boutique. I also plan another shawl for my sister in law, and one for mysef. I'm making a long, rectangle shawl/wrap for me because that's more my style-and honestly, warmer on those cold days. Occasionally even the Frugal Retiree opts for long term quality at the price, and so it is with these projects.

A free pattern found on the Lion Brand website

I forgot to share with you all that I did finish my green mini shawl/wool and alpaca scarf, and am now on the search in thrift stores for the perfect pin to hold it in place. It just happened that the way the scarf was knit put the striations of the yarn at a perfect angle. I decided I would rather have a slightly larger scarf and an even edge in this case than a lacy edge that used more yarn.

And last but not least, last year I  made four different Christmas table runners that I never finished or sold through my little Facebook page. This year, those will most likely be family gifts as I finish them-accompanied by luxurious homemade bath sets if I get the time (officially one one side of the family we draw names for one large gift, but I like to give something small to each family group or household as well). 

And there you have it, my Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning creative options. Which project to begin today? I'm thinking this afternoon I'll spend some time on that vintage quilt, and knit tonight. It'll be an excuse to watch some TV with no meaningful value (translation: the mindless enjoyment of whaterver Britsh cop show I choose next)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Five Frugal Retirement Things

So, my injured shoulder is coming along-I suppose. Instead of a painful arm and bicep area, my shoulder is throbbing, and it sometimes feels like a hand is closing on it and re-opening.  I also occasionally have warmth and tingling.  Obviously there is much more healing to be done. I'm avoiding an Xray, because a shoulder injury like mine requires an MRI. And me inside an MRI machine?  I'd scream so loudly the entire hospital would come running.

Other hand, my son has a torn labrum (the muscle that crosses the shoulder from front to back as I understand) along with a separated bicep.  He'll need surgery and three weeks recovery time somewhere here this fall, and will probably never be able to work in food and beverage type work ever again. If it's not one thing it;s another.

As far as frugal accomplishments this week?

  1. I took my torn, spindled, smelly and just plain dead Sketcher go-walks to the Sketcher store at the mall. Where I purchased brand new Sketcher shoes. That were so comfortable I told them I was walking out with them. Frugal because they'll save my knees and legs and because I did not buy $125 SAS shoes!
  2. I loaded a few very inexpensive things on my Amazon list, as saying "no gifts" to my kids rarely works. This way they won't go over budget giving me "something for my birthday".
  3. I have the Amazon Turk thing down to a well smoothed machine and am earning anywhere from five dollars to ten dollars a day spending a little over an hour (during which time I am also running videos and doing "passive earnings" while watching an episode of Ozark each day)
  4. My rec center has a daily drop in rate (my retirement health insurance does not cover SS so I pay whether I go to SS or the pool). Normal rates for seniors are $4.25. Buying 30 punches lowers the drop in cost to $3.00. And twice a year, they sell those punches for half price-meaning my entry will be a buck fifty each time!
  5. In a moment of Karma, just as I was deciding not to make any more of a couple products selling or gifting version of items that I'll show another time, I was contacted by three groups wanting to buy some of my fall personal product sets and American Girl doll clothes and so on. The purchase price for the few I sold will easily cover the cost of the gifts and giveaways already made. A win/win for all involved.
I've also been working out at home, sewing and knitting at home, going to my knitting and book and lunch group-all of which cost no money this week-except for my happy hour time after knitting, when I had a spicy salmon roll or two (the lunch was paid for with a gift card)

What frugal thing have you done this week, if any??

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sharing With My Readers: Lessons Learned From my Retirement Fall

And of a coordinated person. Or try.
In April of this year, I had quite the serious fall. The blow by blow description of that fall can be found here, as well as the comment and discussion that followed.  Suffice to say that I fell down my front steps, onto my front bushes and ended up on the grass.  After a surprising spring snow. Also, it would be fair to say that my late night screams shook the neighborhood.

After picking myself up (with lots of help), taking a couple Tylenol Arthriits, and taking a nice warm shower, I did a quick self evaluation. There were no broken bones that I could see. Everything moved, I felt.  Everything hurt like hell, but it moved.

Move forward to a few days later when the injured side hurt terribly.  And I could feel a welt on my left hip. After giving my son the camera and asking him to take a picture of as much of my body he felt comfortable with (and I did), we ended up with a partial hip and side and photo which showed, a frightening array of color ( Then I realized that I may need a second long mirror for something like this in future, as my bathrom is definitely not one of those mirrored all around things). To appease family, I trotted myself off to my primary care provider-mainly because with the severity of the bruising I was concerned about the welt and possibly a severe hematoma. She checked bruising on the bod, asked how I felt, if everything was moving, and prescribed pain and ice.

In defense of this doc who I generally love, I'll say that she has always been respectful of my sense of what may or may not be wrong with me and generally encourages her patients to evaluate and express needs and then she follows up. So.....I probably should have been more expressive on my and and she should perhaps have been more diligent on her end.

It was a rough early summer. I cancelled a trip that would have involved lots of walking during that time. I started working out with weights to help my balance. I took something to help me sleep nightly for a couple months. Eventually, the bruises healed and I was back to mainly normal. A weaking who used one pound eights. Only.  My right arm continued to kill me.  Not at the shoulder, but beginning at what I guess you would call the shot area and going down. In other words, muscle pain. Severe muscle pain.

 After a month or so of self medication and exercise, finally I decided it was probably a torn muscle and asked the doctor to send me to physical therapy.  And here is where life get's interesting, and my earlier mistakes put to light, if you will.  The arm pain?  Is completely caused by the shoulder.  Manipulation of the shoulder has made the arm pain much better (albeit not gone), as has the direction to not raise the arm above shoulder height for any reason.  Not gone, but better-at least right after therapy. And eventually, I will need to have an Xray. To see what happened. And if it will heal itself or something will have to be done at this late date.

On some level, this has been a serious senior health awakening for me. Leg degeneration aside, I tend to be a do what I can and live with it moment, don't do what I know I can't and try and strengthen what I can. Me having a "senior" fall?  What are you talking about!

I also tend to be an "Oh, I'm fine", type of gal. I mean, once I helped off the ground, I walked, I showered, I dressed and did those basic issues with no issue. No issue except pain. Only, I wasn't really ok.  When I went to the doctor, I should have asked for some Xrays. Later when I was healing and the arm still hurt, I should have asked again, or at least made a second doctor appointment. And yes, the doctor should have probably  suggested Xrays. But she is congizant of cost to her patients at all times (which is an overall good thing), and she asked me how I felt-as did her assistant. I will need to talk with her about this at my next appointment, surely.

The bottom line? Learn from Barbara. I have strong bones except for in that darned leg, but even, so as we age bones change-as does our flexibity to bounce back from injuries like this. Had I had Xrays, or even some serious shoulder manipulation, this might have shown up. Again, it might not have. But I'll never know.

So for now? No yoga. No weights. The pain mainly stops me from even trying to reach over my head. When I cook on Thursday, someone else will have to pull down the heavy plates on the shelves and the big bowls. And that's just the begninning of my journey.

And I will do everything necessary, no matter how it looks, to never, ever fall again!!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Some (late) Retirement Goals For September

Happy Sunday everyone!  Before anything else, I have to say it:  Football, I have missed you!!.  It's the first full weekend of both college and pro ball and I am in football heaven. And with all due respect to my fellow football fiends from other areas, to have both Ohio State and the Patriots lose on an opening weekend is no small thing (sorry, fellow readers, but it's football, folks, not politics)!

Meanwhile, onto goals, albeit belatedly.  I joined in with lots of other bloggers to come up with a long list of summer goals, and expect to update and share fall goals soon enough.  But I am an "immediate" person when it comes to deciding what to do. So after seeing Tamara, Juhli, and some others come up with monthly goals, I've decided to jump in. Especially since I calendar (and journal stuff) on a weekly and daily basis, this is what works for me. So, onward to the goals.

This may seem like too many retirement goals, but many of them are more habits or continuations (like exercise and meditation) that I am just using as enforcement. Cause I'm the kind of woman who needs enforcement when it comes to certain things.
I could not find the attribution for this as the link doesnt work, but I love it anyway!

  • Continue doing yoga and stretches since I cannot exercise with weights and bands any more and get an X-ray if needed (see below).
  • Read two books again this month out of my comfort zone
  • Make either a cool fall necklace for myself or sew a fall colored scarf.
  • Finish one Christmas gift (a table runner already partly done) and start another (a knitted shawl). The big quilt is a long term project and I'll have process photos soon.
  • Help as much as my poor body allows (which is not much) to remove the myriad of small rocks from the back of our house since we are getting egress windows! Also do what needs to be done re: moving furniture
  • Go to Oktoberfest and a craft fair
  • Find a really cool fall wreath for my front door (yes, occasionally I buy decorative stuff instead of making it. Like wreaths).
  • Try and make my passive earnings goals through Swagbucks and InstaGC for the rest of the month.
  • Write a full chapter of a book and finish my frugal deals blog
  • Figure out if I can do a project 333 with 66 outfits (or somewhere between 33 and 66).
  • Come up with something fun yet affordable for my kids to do for my birthday since these days both kids (27 and 47) are broke full time college students. My daughter has decided working full time in grad school is not going to work for her. My Fall weekend for me is not from them.
And there you have it. I probably should have put a couple more house things on this goal-like we really need to get our carpets cleaned before Christmas decorating. but so it is. 
Explanation time:

I have not shared here up to this point that I have an arm that is still excruciatingly painful from my late April fall. It's actually the arm, not the shoulder (where you get your shot, if you will), but I've finally broken down and gone to PT, where the expert thinks the shoulder got hurt and it affected the arm. Either way, no more working with bands or weights any time soon. And while it did not (I don't think) tingle before the PT, it is now. Does that make any sense at all, medical folks?

I've been intrigued by the idea of the 33 piece wardrobe for each season. Only.  I live in Colorado. Where last November it was below freezing one day and seventy five two days later. Yes, if you have barometer induced migraines, I imagine it can be a pain. Which means I need flip flops and tanks. And turtle necks and cardigans. So I'm thinking more of fall/winter and spring summer wardrobes. We'll see.

For the fellow readers, my books this month are Alias Grace (I really hate Margaret Atwood, but I'm going with the book club flow), and The Sandcastle Girls. Some parts of this book are difficult, but it is fascinating, especially for this history geek.

And so it goes, this Sunday in retirement!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Frugal Slow Cooker-Lasagna Soup

I know, I know, it's not really fall. It's still warm out, including in Denver-although it's cool at night. But if you are like me, you're probably read for comfort food. And while I love summer grilling, the nature of the beast is that it often requires more expensive meats like chops, chicken breasts and so on.

I'm all about frugal food, laziness and taste. Trying to find ways to cook frugally in retirement is a challenge I still work on. Especially as a downsized family of two who don't love leftovers, at least on the next day..Because this recipe uses cans, I use it as is, (so I dont have half a can of crushed tomatoes sitting around)  Normally, I make smaller amounts or halves of recipes that are this big.  Our investment  in a small slow cooker has been amazing and well worth it's weight and cost.

Note: because I am a lazy cook, I use my own decision on browning veggies and meat before throwing them in a slow cooker. Since this has ground beef, I do so. But I rarely brown the stew meat I use for Italian stew, and rarely can you tell the difference when I do.

Note two: There are many places around the web with similar recipes. I wrote mine like this because I want to be able to use whatever I have on hand, and not be "committed". In a perfect world, mine would be half pork and half beef. I've seen recipes with chopped zuccini for example. But I tend to be the dump type of soup cook (with a few exceptions like Zuppa Toscana).

I cup ground meat (pork, ground beef, ground chicken, or sweet or hot italian sausage or any mix of the above)

one cut up onion

Two cans of tomatoes, use your judgment. I usually used two cans of diced, but one of crushed, two of crushed, one of each, what works for you or what you have on hand. 

The equivalent of four cloves of garlic. I use jarred, but whatever works for you.

A box of  broth (I always use vegetable no matter the soup, for flavor, and usually low sodium)

A couple peppers, again, use your judgment depending on price. I have had to give up green peppers, even chopped, so I often eliminate this. Tragic, I know.

A cup or so of mushrooms, depending on taste and allergies-I tend to think of mushrooms as their own food group.

Black olives, sliced-again, depending on taste, budget and allergies

Italian type seasoning to your taste, or just basil, parsley, salt and pepper. (I start with a teaspoon of each and move upward at the four hour tasting).

Spinach, frozen and thawed or fresh, two cups or so. Trust me, unless you absolutely hate spinach, it needs this one.

Pasta noodles of your choice. I tend to get lasagna noodle and just break them down, but it's your choice of pasta. I would say six ounces or so.

Toppings on hand. For us that's usually shredded or granular Parmesan, and whatever cheese we hand (Real ricotta is one of my personal splurges, I actually want to learn to make it). Sometimes Ricotta, sometimes Mozarella. And parsley.

  1. Saute the veggies and ground beef as much as desired
  2. Throw the meat, seasonings and everything but the pasta and chopped spinach into the cooker
  3. Cook on slow for 7-8 hours. If you are home, stop the middle, stir and taste and judge seasonings, especially garlic (also it's own food group).
  4. Cook the pasta al dente and drain (my next experiment is just to throw the pasta in, but I'm afraid with this much tomato-ness it will not work) I cut the pasta into strips or squares if I am using lasagna noodles)
  5. Fifteen minutes or so before, add the chopped spinach and pasta.
Spoon into bowls and add toppings on hand. 

In our house, this eight serving soup usually ends up like this: half is used for dinner and perhaps lunches the next day, and half is immediately frozen for another day-so this ends up being four servings. This could have been cut in half, but I personally like two different kinds of tomatoes (plum and crushed) and so I did need two full cans. If you were happy with one can of tomatoes, you could probably adjust the other down.

Also, in this house, we generally always have various kinds of tomatoes on hand as well as a couple kinds of ground meat. Had I not had the kind of noodles I had, I would have simply used whatever (smaller) pasta I might have on hand. So for the most part, it's something we can make depending on what's in the pantry.

And there you have it, this week's fall slow cooker meal.Next week, I'm looking to combine a butternut squash/sweet potato soup recipe using three different one's Ive seen online to my own taste (because, among other things, turmeric is not my thing). 

Saturday, homemade soup. Sunday, homemade soup for lunch. Sunday night? Homemade quiche made in a regular pie crust. But that's another story.

Friday, September 1, 2017

6 Frugal Retirement Things-And a Recommendation

Many of  you who stop by fairly regularly know that I am a great believer in going to the movies-in the movie theater. I believe that there are certain movies that are simply worthy of theater viewing, no matter the size of your flat screen TV. I know that the reason the movies cost so much is because we as viewers require more expensive movies to attract our attention. And honestly, I simply enjoy the movie recliner, popcorn and drink experience.

While this may sound odd for some having a frugal retirement on a fixed income, I see at least a couple in theater movies a month-by taking advantage of movie rewards, discount gift cards and cards earned through passive means such as Swagbucks.(For those of you who also do the Swag thing, this is how I use mine, as apposed to for the holidays. On fun and travel).  

 All of which leads me to the movie Wind River.  Because I am who I am,  I am not a big fan of giving folks summaries, or watching extended previews. I believe both situations unwittingly give too much away. I'll just suggest you see it. In a theater.  You'll be glad you did. Trust me.

Off to the frugal and semi frugal:

  1. I did NOT sign up for the aforementioned Movie Pass by Netflix. Although I adore Netflix, a quick perusal on my community word of mouth Facebook groups and such led to many disgruntled folks who had not received a card in three weeks, found the app difficult to use, and had difficulty speaking to a real person. I'll wait and see if they get the kinks out, because for someone like me who sees at least to real movies a month it could a great deal.
  2. After seeing the movie above, I took my sister to a large yarn store.  Because I am a big believer in giving someone something they both like and can make use of. By allowing her to wander for a half an hour or so, feel the the yarn and look at the colors, have an excellent idea of the yarns she likes. Since the yarn store did not mind, I took some pictures of yarns and labels and have a good sense of what to do for the shawl she has requested for Christmas.  
  3. We were eating down the freezer before my August vacay to daughter and son-in -law and were down to the bottom layer. So the protein larder was, basically, bare. I grabbed boneless chuck on sale for-wait for it- $2.00 a pound, and a whole pork sirloin roast on sale. While it is still summer in terms of temperature (and we will surely grill this holiday weekend), we were beginning to think about fall food. Cooking these two will be a start and leave frozen leftovers for another meal.
  4. At Christmas, I had purchased a couple Toys R Us gift cards for my little niece and nephew in Seattle. I misplaced one, so I had purchased another. Then, of course, I found the original-which had been sitting in my wallet for awhile. I did a quick coupon search and am now prepared to buy a pile of diapers, which I will send to Houston on a truck leaving this week. I also had a few of those five and ten dollar gift cards with purchase that Target gives out and figure I'll buy as many travel sizes as that will cover. I'm working on quilts to donate, but this is more immediate assistance.
  5. I went to Walmart (I live near one of those super-dee-duper Walmarts that actually looks almost like Target and at least as clean) and bought two pairs of pull on knit pants for ten bucks each. I'm at that in between place that a couple bloggers have been, and have two good pairs of long pants. While these are actually a little loose, they are yoga style pants and will work fine on the days I go from sewing to yoga class to errands and home.
  6. And finally, I had been wanting some instruction in playing with the myriad of art materials I got from my daughter. She gave me an expensive set that included watercolors, good acrylics, oil paints and both regular and watercolor colored encils. Eventually I may want to take a class, but my first goal was simply to play until I decided which medium to take further. So I needed some inspiration. A quick search of art journal promts that were free, as well as a discounted class on took care of that. I'll start with the free guidance and move onto the paid later-although I'm not likely to be sharing my artwork, anytime soon.
And now, off to enjoy the holiday weekend. At home. Because my natural laid back, doesn't take much to excite me personality goes off the deep end in traffic. Especially holiday traffic, when the majority of people need to go back to driving school or never learned how to drive the first time. So I'll enjoy my back yard, grill a bit, visit family in town and in a perfect world, get all the strips for that fancy quilt cut out!

Now, how about you?

The Frugal Retiree's Fall Bucket List

Today is one of those rare days when I  am suffering for my night owlish-ness. Such suffering will be worth it in the long run (the reason...