Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday Morning-Frugality and Creativity

I read a lot of self defined "frugal" blogs. Many more than I have listed on the sidebar, although I am adding more as I go along. I suppose this might seem odd, me being the frugal retiree and all that. But you can always learn more!!

I actually read a large variety of blogs throughout the week. Retirement blogs (frugal and otherwise), baking and slow cooker blogs, travel and road tripping blogs, and art and craft blogs just to mention a few. I enjoy my allotted morning time, as I scroll through the blogs and websites of the day. But I have to say that the blogs, that draw me back the most often are the so called frugal blogs (whether the writers are frugal by necessity, choice, environmental reasons or all of the above)

Why?  Put simply, frugal people are creative and original. At a level beyond  many other folks, and often share more creative projects than some of my so called creative blogs do. Now, I'm not just talking about DIY stuff here, though that is included. I'm talking about creativity in all aspects of life. And since one of my internal goals is to be more creative across the board this year (as well as be more cognizant of waste at all levels), I look to these blogs for inspiration. Because another thing that is true is that creativity in general tends to inspire creativity.

Sometime back I read that studies show that creativity thrives best in a limited construct and my experience is that is true in my own life. Contrary to all those cooking shows that folks watch, if you tell me I can cook anything I want, I'm liable to stew for a good hour. On the other hand, if you give me a "chopped" scenario (for those who watched said show), and tell me I must use chicken and I have an hour, I fare much better and my end result will probably be more original. I can look at a closet full of fabric for days, but if I tell myself I simply must use up the leftover pieces of last year's fall fabrics in whatever I make for this year, I am on a roll.

Now, creativity doesn't have to do with cooking as such, or quilting. We can be creative in every life aspect, from travel to home management to hobbies to exercise. When we come up with original solutions that are unique to us, we are being creative. And frankly, necessity being the mother of invention is more than a cliche. I have been fortunate beyond belief to have visited  large numbers of museums and historical sites in Europe and the Middle East from my youth to late adulthood. I am always appreciative of the large cathedrals, beautiful art and more. But I am more appreciative when I learn WHY a certain castle/church or other building was constructed a certain way (often as much a result of necessity as art). And I am completely intrigued by the tools, dishes and like that were created to serve a specific purpose in a specific place. Especially in more ancient times.

One of my favorite blogs (I really need to link it up here),  Life After Money, is written by a truck driver who took early retirement and lives on a very limited income. Very creatively!! In fact, she just had her first art showing. And every single piece of art was made from reclaimed materials or thrift shop finds, from plastics to everything else, and her art is often backed with everything from metal mesh to shoe racks. She has even made a piece of art from parts of the body of a car. She also built her own summer house (she-shed to some of us) from found materials such as doors.

But creativity comes in smaller doses as well. After spending just a few minutes this morning, I found all of the creative and mainly new (to me) ideas. Since my goal is to try as many of these as possible, rather than linking, I'll wait until I do my version and share, if that's okay.

  • How to make your own facial masks from things around the house
  • making fall decorative swags from found object in the yard and ribbon
  • Easily re purposing old sweaters into decorative pillows and pillow covers
  • How to use dried beans and popcorn and mini pumpkins to make a fall centerpieces
  • Methods for substituting boneless thighs in recipes that use chicken breasts (we prefer dark meat and recently got alot of chicken thighs for like $1.30 a pound. Is it me, or are chicken breasts getting large and thick month by month?). Something I probably should have thought of before but had not.
  • Multiple suggestions for cooking and freezing (including for just two) from large amounts of meat like my 90 percent ground beef that was on sale in a five pound roll (it will end up being individual lasagna and bacon casseroles).
  • More ideas for re purposing clothes or cutting them up before throwing out than I can count (not just from today)
  • How to turn my old brightly colored colander (rusted on the inside, not on the outside) into a hanging planter!
  • An idea of something creative to do with a group of completely mis-matched glasses I have that I don't want to donate. My version coming soon.
  • How to make both slime and scented play-dough for free from stuff at home or a few pennies of stuff from the grocery store. I plan to do this as gifts for the homeless shelter.
  • More fall decor and entertainment hacks than I can list here.
  • Interesting articles on "car camping". While I could not just stop at a rest stop, I could see outfitting my SUV a big and either using an occasional camping space or spending the night at a safe walmart between two RVs. Interesting for the discussion at least.
  • A group of healing skin recipes to make with basic drug store products and essential oils (along with being cheap, we have multiple allergies and sensitivities in this house, so homemade neosporin alternatives are a good thing, as Martha would say).
And that was just my Monday morning post breakfast wanderings. Unfortunately, what I did not find was an alternative to jelly for the million crab apples that now adorn my front lawn. Feel free to drop by my house and grab as many as you want. Seriously!!

I doubt that I will ever  have the time or the energy to try out every creative idea or solution I read about. But the more I read about other creative solutions, the more it  encourages me to try my own. This afternoon, I am going to try and cut some very bright, too big cotton dresses into sections to make gift bags. Failure or success, who knows?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Thank you everyone, for all your comments and thoughts on the previous post. I realize that we all have different needs and comfort levels. While I know it works for many, I am not satisfied with a walk in clinic, even if it is always the same doctor. I prefer a more intimate relationship. And in my case, this gal acts as both my Gyn and my endocrinologist. That said, I will not be moving with her to this new model, and have started looking at alternatives.

While I hate to turn this into a medical care debate, I would simply observe that most universal health care systems (especially in Germany in France) eliminate the reasons that this doctor is changing her practice. My physician in Germany (who was a fairly well known cardiologist and internist) had nothing in her office except for a receptionist, a part time medical assistant and herself. No medical records clerk, no benefits or insurance administrator. All she had to do was be a doctor. It's a benefit that I think opponents don't realize-universal health care gets rid of the paperwork, non-medical business portion and allows doctors to do their jobs. My thought for the day.  

Meanwhile, a few happy thoughts from this past week:

1. I tend to take on projects that are increasingly difficult, which often means that I have to take out, re-sew,  feed the squirrels with baked goods, and tear up various writings. Thankfully, after the third repeat on this shawl, we seem to be off to the races, and it is now going quickly. Still unsure if this is for myself or a gift, but I am moving onward. I also have another shawl in progress, depending on my mood. I made a small mistake along the edge for about an inch in one section, but I'm thinking I can simply sew that down. Whenever I start a project (be it a recipe or whatever) out of my comfort level, I have that middle moment when I get frustrated. Once I get in my groove though, I'm happy I tried. Don't get my wrong, I still do a lot of frighteningly easy, often mindless things. But every so often, I need the challenge! 

2. I have begun soliciting scarves and warm shawls from all my knitting and crochet type friends to give to meals on wheels. One gal, who is not a friend but heard about my plan, presented me with this lovely scarf that she made from using up all the leftovers in her yarn dresser. Since we have 400 individuals in our area, I doubt that we will have enough for Christmas for everyone with my small group. But the director mentioned that they are always looking for birthday gifts, and I think these will work for that. Another friend is making cards. 

3.  I needed to look at ways to draw back from my homeless shelter volunteer job. It' involves driving thirty to forty minutes each way, and I also want to spend more time in this pre-holiday season at home working and making gifts. I finally sat down with the young woman I support, and I will now be doing a full day one or two days a month at the rather than a half a day plus each week. This was a hard step for me, but it needed to be done. And was one of my September goals.

4. Along with the above, I am finding that pulling back  both geographically (and time wise) has really upped my satisfaction level. I enjoy going on weekend trips, and going to town for museums, festivals and the like. In fact, I'll be doing Oktoberfest downtown next week. But as far as church, regular social stuff and other things, I have narrowed my geographic circle dramatically and am so much happier. My church, recreation center, local independent bookstore, walking path, library, coffee shop and art center are all within a general five mile radius (as the crow flies of course, longer via street and GPS in some occasion.). As are grocery, restaurants and the like. My goal is to leave my little enclave for the fun, exiting stuff on occasion (and the occasional intensive volunteer gig) but to keep all the other stuff equally close to home when I can. 

I really appreciate the fact that I live where I have an independent bookstore, more than one independent coffe shop, a fair amount of small stores and non chain restaurants galore.

5. My women's group has both lunches and social events such as movie dates and jewelry making. There is a different makeup at each of these and sometimes we are three and sometimes we are twelve. But we also have a casual coffee meeting every other week and a happy hour thing every Thursday at the same place. While the lunches and events are fun, these two events (which involve the same core group of people who come as they are able, along with some other drop ins depending) are the most satisfying part of this group I created. All we do is sit and drink and snack and talk. And this is perfect. 

Oktoberfest..........coming soon!

6. And finally, I am loving the "it's not yet fall". A few leaves have dropped and changed. But it's scheduled to be close to ninety for most of this week (and then settle down into the high seventies and mid eighties next week). The nights have cooled, but the days are hot, making a perfect transition to our warm fall. In a couple weeks, it will be time for harvest fest, Oktoberfest, putting out some fall decor, thinking about pumpkin recipes and making sure I have a cardigan in my car at all times. I'll be ready then, I'm not now.

Today-this weekend actually is - one of those "not do much" periods. I'm going to do a teeny bit of housework, casually work on my knitting and sewing ass the mood strikes, keep the dogs company, and enjoy a lot of football very quietly. One adult child is a Colts fan and one is a Redskins fan and both teams play each other this weekend. I, as they say, will be Switzerland.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

When Your Medical Provider Ups the Ante-I Need Your Thoughts!

This morning, it was time for me to do my quarterly blood work. AIC, vitamin D panel and a few other things. Or rather, it was time to do my quarterly blood work a month and a half a go and it somehow slipped my mind and the office did not remind me or call me.

Anyway, this morning I was up and dressed at an abnormal time. My blood work was not of the fasting type, but they try and do most of their draws in the morning so they can be picked up by the lab. And that was okay for me, for just this day.

As I was sitting on the sofa, getting ready to leave, my son (who sees the same provider), as me if I had gotten a voice mail. When I asked him what voice mail he was talking about, he said he got a voice mail yesterday that said the practice was cutting back on the patients they saw, and he may be looking for another provider. I had heard nothing about this and since I was headed over to the office, would find out what the heck was going on.

When I got to the office and asked about said phone call, the receptionist smiled and told me she would have the patient advocate talk to me after my blood draw. This did not sound like a positive thing to me, mind you. So, after being poked and giving a few vials, I wandered back to the "patient advocate" office and sat down and spoke to a gal named Ashton, said patient advocate.

The short version? My doctor has decided to join an "executive health" primary care group called MD/VIP. The advertised advantages of said group? Travel Advantages, electronic health records that are personalized, supposed 24 doctor availability, same day appointments, longer office visits and visits that are on time. At least this is what's in the pretty brochure I got.They even have a personalized app for all this. 

Sounds good, yes?  It should, I suppose. Because the price for this advantage is an additional 1800 bucks a year. And since not all current patients will be accepted into this program, the first folks who ante up the quarterly payment will be included.

So I'm in a conundrum. Does this so called "executive health program" add enough value to join. Is the 1800 addition to my insurance co pays worth the difference? Even if it's not, do I REALLY want to look for another doctor? I'm attending a meeting with the doctors and to learn about the program in October.

Meanwhile, though, I would love your thoughts. Especially the medical types who read my blog. Admittedly I like the idea of my doctor having more time for my needs, if that were to actually happen, and I'm extremely, extremely happy with my current doctor. But $1800 annually is not exactly peanuts. And I do have to wonder if the rewards are worth all the commitments.

What do you think?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Monday Morning-Forgetting my Limitations

This morning I am barely able to get out of bed. I hurt every where, and tossed and turned all night.  It is my own fault, there is no one else to blame.

I have always said that even with chronic pain and health issues, I was not going to limit myself. I baby myself on the bad days, and do what I can and more on the good days. I don't exercise except in place or in the water, but I'm willing to walk and extend myself when I go sightseeing or to festivals with friends. There is, however, one thing that I simply cannot do any longer, With a huge period. And that, my friends is stairs (other than an occasional one or two step entryway situation at someones home). Stairs do not increase strength or agility for those of us with arthritis, and in fact they are a detriment. My doctor has been telling me for years to ignore stairs except for the type above, and I usually listen. I am after all the kind of gal who will go out of her way to take the handicapped ramp.

Yesterday, however, I went off the rails and in a big way. Today I am paying for it, and I expect to pay for multiple days.  You see, on Saturday my sister in law called me and said that she had been given four front row, on the ground seats to see the Rockies play the Dodgers. The Rockies are in first place, it was supposed to be a beautiful day, we were going to brunch, I don't see my brother and sister in law as often as I would like, and so I said "sure".

So many restaurants and stores, along with the renovated architecture!

On Sunday morning, off we went. A quick ride to the light rail, where they have a ramp or I can be assisted with two steps. Then an easy ride downtown, where I walked on mainly flat ground along the streets, through our beautifully renovated Union station and out to a restaurant near the ballpark where we had brunch. I had blue corn and blueberry pancakes with pine nuts (along with sausage) and brother and sister in law had Chorizo Benedict and regular Eggs Benedict respectively, both on top of friend Navajo flat bread. Very yummy!

Then we headed out to the park, joining the street crowds, waiting to go through the security line and walking down the promenade of our beautiful stadium. Until it was time to go to our seats. The problem with sitting on the ground level? Forty steep steps. Forty of them. All with no handle or railing. And that was just the going down part. There are no ramps and no elevators. I admitted to myself that there was no way I was going back up until the game was over, vowed only to drink enough to stay hydrated (it was a day of full sun, almost ninety degrees), slathered on the sunscreen and settled in to enjoy myself. Which I did, in spite of the fact our team lost the game. 

It was much sunnier, butt we were in the section on the middle of the right, first row. Lots of foul ball ducking!!

And then, my friends it was time to climb back out and up. Up those forty steps. With assistance, which I hate to ask for, and more energy than I had. After that, a leisurely walk back to the light rail, a quick ride, and home to my car. At which point I was already moving, very, very slowly. I also grabbed three KFC dinner meals, recognizing how bad things were going to get.

This morning? Obviously I will get out of bed. But I'm moving at half speed, even for me. I ache and have serious pain in places where I shouldn't, including my back. We are not talking the normal post workout/extend yourself type pain. I know what that looks like (and feels like). I have a couple errand to do (how did I end up with not enough regular length pants to get through the week without laundry?) and the limited stretching is probably good for me. Tonight is my night to help with the diner at the shelter and I am going to crap out and drop off food rather than participate, such is my pain. Other than that, lots of sitting, relaxing, at least one hot shower and lots of doing nothing.

And those hand prints from grabbing the wall? No kid to blame them on here. All me. All me.

From now on, I'll do a better of of listening to my body, taking care of myself, and yes, saying no. Even when it involves family, and even when I would rather not.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Left Arm, Right Arm...

You may notice some new blogs on the sidebar. A few of them are outside of the retirement/boomer wheelhouse. I have included at least one natural healing blog, a craft blog or two and even a slow cooking blog. Feel free to scan right by those if you like, but since the title is blogs I'm reading now.........

Yesterday, I had planned to remain home all day. Tuesday is generally a quiet day around here and I usually just leave the house to exercise (by walking the mall and hitting Panera with friends, or aiming for the pool or silver sneakers. Both son and sister leave the house early and don't return until six thirty or so, so it's time for me to be alone and play with the dogs.

I was prepared to not leave the house at all. I was due to receive my new phone, the email I got promised only that it would be there before 8PM and so I was settled in. Hamburgers were thawing in the refrigerator, and I had a knitting and reading plan. Said phone arrived around eleven thirty or so. I spent the next hour sitting and downloading apps, updating and doing on the stuff to bring said phone back to where I wanted to be.

And then said plan few out the window, as often happens around here. My breakfast had been very non/breakfasty, and I am a girl who loves her breakfast food. On a whim, I decided to take myself, my journal and book to Village Inn. Where I had a waffle, a sunny side up egg, and sausage and juice. For lunch. At one pm. While I listened to a group of women play bridge, at a table behind me. At the Village Inn.

Sated, and knowing that I would be eating the evening's burgers without buns, I headed to King Soopers (Kroger to the rest of the world) to grab some eggs and a couple other things. With three people who eat eggs from every morning to every third morning depending, we go through some eggs. 

Seeing that the store was mainly empty, I walked over to the pharmacy counter, and said "I need to do either the flu thing or the pneumonia thing today, do you have any suggestions as to which I should do first?". Said pharmacist smiled at me and said, "Oh, you can do both at the same time". Now, while I don't love needles, I also don't generally have a reaction to vaccines, so after a moment I thought sure, why not. Let's get it all over at once.

Unfortunately the preparation took a little time. The young clerk tried to get me approved about ten times and then called me from my shopping. Seems that those of us with original Medicare (meaning it's our primary) are few and far between. She had been trying my other insurance the entire time. A quick explanation had her looking confused, but contacting medicare-with the end result that in about five seconds both shots were approved. And they were finished before I knew there was a needle.

Today? I'm a tad bit sore and will probably have limited knitting time. But I've got a couple of those pesky it's your birthday month health tests/vaccines/issues out of the way. Still no  mammogram appointment though! And I need to take one of those at home colon tests. And while I realize that I have really good health insurance, I also need to say, thank you Medicare!  I got my pelvic MRI bill in the mail, and my fee is a whole sixty bucks. I'll take that,  and free vaccines, thank you very much. This was the first year I got the "senior" shot by the way.

The waffle was a spurge-both in the caloric and financial sense. Especially since today is my  one day of the week (normally) day to grab either tea or hot chocolate (to soon for that) and a lemon pound cake slice on my way to knitting with the gals, and may hit happy hour afterward. But sometimes, you know what, you just gotta do it.

As Scarlett would say, tomorrow is a another day!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy Labor Day..........Some Things That Are Making Me Happy

Here we are at Labor Day!  In Denver, we have partially cloudy mid seventy skies (unfortunately much of the cloud/haze is from fires to the north, so windows are closed). Tomorrow it heads back to the sunny eighties!

Meanwhile, things making me happy (and one not so happy thing)!

1.  The fact that I am sitting at home, chilling, knitting and reading. Not that I would object to a barbecue as such, and son may end up grilling lamb steaks. But in retirement I no longer feel the need to take advantage of every single three day weekend and holiday. In fact, unless family togetherness demands it, I avoid entertaining on extended holidays along with travel. Today my son had one of his rare full days off and we actually spent it doing some organizing and TV binge-ing. Works for me.

2. In the area of un-happiness, my phone fell out of my hand, face down onto the pavement in the parking lot at the grocery store. No screen cover could save it on this occasion (I don't use a case). The poor screen is so shattered that I cannot use it even underneath a screen cover.  The happy news, however, is that that monthly smart phone insurance I pay is well worth it, as I am getting a brand new Samsung S9+ tomorrow via FedEx for less than $100. 

3.  I FINALLY went to the monthly Saturday lunch outing with the women of my new church-and had a wonderful time. While I miss the church I went to in some ways, and will still travel there on occasion there is SO MUCH to be said for a neighborhood church. I mean, whether it's Sunday morning, mid week or late night volunteering (This church serves as an overnight host for the homeless four times a year), said church is literally three minutes driving from my house!! 

4. I'm moving mainly to smaller projects on the quilting type front and finding it is making me so much happier. I'll finish the large quilt tops I have done, and occasionally make a gift of a quilt, but it seems my interests have moved to smaller projects (bags, table runners, napkins, pillow covers). I dunno, perhaps my attention span has slowed down? I know my attention has wandered as I pick up new hobbies, and much prefer more immediate results in many things. Whatever the reason, my happiness quotient is up in this area.

5. I was thrilled to find this yarn. It is called a "shawl in a cake" and has enough yarn (for less than ten dollars) to make a full sized shawl. Pictures cannot do this yarn justice,  even with an extreme close-up. I now have two shawls going. I suspect one of the reason I am moving to smaller sewing projects as well as sketching and knitting is portability. I can work on this stuff in the garden, in front of the TV, on the road, even at church. I do love quilting but it really holds me to a single place, ya know?

Happy Day, be you traveling, grilling, or just sitting in the back yard or in front of the TV!

Friday, August 31, 2018

She's Back,......September Goals

Summer is definitely not over here in the high plains (no matter what you may have heard, Denver is not "in the mountains"). The next two week forecast is for highs between eighty and ninety although the nights have cooled down enough that no air conditioning is needed.

Still, it's Labor Day weekend. And while it won't be fall for a few weeks, September is upon us. After my completely lazy, non traveling, sit on the swing and nap in the yard kind of summer, I am now ready to head back to something akin to a normal retirement schedule. Whatever the heck that is. Next week, I'll be back to blogging at least twice and probably three times a week. Starting on the 9th, my routine church activities and book clubs and such return post summer. And while I have enjoyed  (both mentally and physically)  the extreme down time, it's time to ramp things up a bit. I mean I know people think that I am running around, but seriously, other than going out to lunch and happy hour, I have been doing almost nothing, nothing I say.

And so, about those September goals. Usually I try and go for a single goal (or no more than two) in different areas of my life. But some of these are ongoing goals that will extend for awhile and are just for my accountability, and some are actually fairly small reminder goals (the if you don't write it down, it won't get done, kind of goals).

And so it goes, my goals for September (I'll also try and join up with the fall goals linkup later on in the month...), kind of by life area, kind of sort of, maybe, in some kind of order.

Money goals:
  • Return to the aim of between five and ten dollars a day average casual income. Casual as in no more than an hour spent on the computer researching or whatever and only mystery shopping when I feel like it. 
  • Make a quarterly budget
  • See if the grocery budget can be tightened a wee bit as we move away from grilling and more to other kinds of cooking 
House goals:
  • Get the carpets cleaned  We have carpet in one room on the floor level of the house, but it is the living room that goes directly out on the patio and we have dogs with health issues. So we need this room,  the steps to the basement and my sister's carpets cleaned sometime before we start moving things around for fall and winter decorating.
  • Get my bedroom purged and closet organized, a bag at a time.
Family Goals
  • Plan an October long weekend trip for my birthday with my sister. This year we are looking at Glenwood Springs or Santa Fe, because of all the smoke anywhere further north.
  • Try and see if I can even get a half a day to do something special with my son. He's working forty plus hours a week as a restaurant shift manager, and going to school 3/4 time so this may be easier said than done, but it's a goal.
  • Get back to doing something small for my daughter, who I saw in April but will not see again until the holidays because of mutual traveling and the fact that she also goes to school full time in a master's program and works full time.
Social/Community Goals
  • Cut my volunteering at the homeless shelter back from one three hour morning to a longer day every other week (I drive a half hour to get there and these allows me to provide staff support and do something with the residents but lessens my "running round" time and energy).
  • Cut back my sponsorship and activities in my women of a certain age group to no more than one event a week (plus happy hour or coffee on occasion) if that.. Both because it works for me to cut back (for more nesting and creative time) and because I want to encourage other members to step up on this and suggest things that I might not, like a bike trip or a regular walking group. I deliberately made this a Facebook group so that, unlike Meetup, anyone could suggest anything and members could get together on their own.
Personal/Challenge/Stretch myself/Personal Spirituality type goals
  • Get to the pool at least three times per week and plan my cooler weather workout routine so that I can work out at home if it's dreary or cold.
  • Complete one online course this month (Great courses usually have anywhere from seven to twenty lessons). Right now I'm looking at a seventeen session on sacred music as the most likely option.
  • Read one book that is out of my mystery/whodunit/police procedural comfort level (open to suggestions as long as it's not  romancy or anything Regency).
  • Try and blog thrice a week (I'm channeling a stage musical song here). My goal is to move the blog even more to lifestyle stuff  with some frugal creativity and other things thrown in. We'll see how that goes.
  • Choose a big project. I have a lot of small, creative and other projects in my life, but I have decided I need a larger, long term project. At this point I know it will probably have to do with writing and/or genealogy, but we'll see.
  • Add five minutes of meditation/contemplative prayer to my morning and evening routines.
  • Get my mammogram done (oh, Joy!!)
Creative/DIY goals
  • Finish one knitted shawl (for a gift), one scarf for the meals on wheels folks, and choose the next project. I knit really fast these days and this is my TV time, so it's an easy no brainer.
  • Finish one larger projects (probably a fall quilt) and one smaller project (stll to be chosen!
And there you have it. As I look at this list, it seems like an awuful lot. But mainly, it's more that I am a list girl, and this is my list. And these are all things that I WANT to do, but they are not the type of things that I will cry about if they don't get done. Rather,  I'll either keep moving them onto the next month's list, or decide they aren't worth doing at this point in retirement.

Meanwhile, happy almost September!!

Monday Morning-Frugality and Creativity

I read a lot of self defined "frugal" blogs. Many more than I have listed on the sidebar, although I am adding more as I go along....