Friday, January 15, 2021

Financial Friday

Happy Friday morning. I dunno about you, but I need at least one post with no political angst, worry, judgement or fear. 

Also I probably won't be posting until post inauguration after this. I need a bit of a rest and some self care so will return after Wednesday. Hopefully we have a smooth transition, praying and fingers crossed.

In my continuing effort to  be both frugal and increase sustainability, these are a few of the things on mt financial front this week, positive or not:

1.  90 percent of the time I am more than happy with my basic streaming only service and checking the news on my laptop/tablet a couple times each day and reading the Washington Post. Obviously this period in time is different. I have been trying free trial week and two week plans of all the larger streaming alternatives to take advantage of the news (my cable streaming service, Utube, Hulu Live, and now Sling).  If anything it has given me news overload, but I cannot see me continuing any of them right now, and they will end post inaugural events. So temporary free TV has been helpful but I will not move to the permanent cost.

2.  I've begun my monthly reimbursement for my part B Medicare, and $148 is heading to my bank account. This is an offering through my private secondary insurance which is not an advantage or supplemental plan. I've spent fifty of it in what is probably an unfrugal way (see laundry post below). The rest I plan to use towards a slightly larger counter top oven that will hold an eleven by seven casserole pan. I really don't see the need for convection or air fryer, but we shall see when I look. I was thinking that I should be doing some small apartment "prepping". But honestly I generally buy a couple canned items extra every time  I shop and I have not seen specific shortages of anything, although prices have risen. Said purchase will not be until mid February to keep my non spend January commitment.

3. I went through my fabric and found a host of smaller pieces. Anything that is at least eighteen inches is getting cut into napkins which I will make two sided. I am a messy eater especially in front of my  TV so these will get good use. If I have enough fairly coordinated sets I will forward them to family or save for gifting. Any pieces that are flannel will be cut and saved for wash cloths once I purchase the chenille or minky fabric to go on the other side.

4. I will have two free dinners this week, possibly with leftovers. While organizing my little desktop, I found two ten dollar outback gift cards (sent because of an order error back in Denver). Since cooking steak is not my forte and I no longer have a grill or a cast iron pan at the moment, this will get me a mainly free meal of steak, potatoes, salad and dessert (I expect to pay a tad more for the dessert inclusion, which is fine). In the normal times, Sequoia has a dinner in the restaurant area on  the third Friday of the month. Since we cannot eat together, today they have a take-away meal of salad and spaghetti and meatballs.

5. I cut my own hair again. At some point I will venture to the hairdresser or whatever. But I have (I think)  mainly managed the task of trimming my own nape, which was the only thing making me rush to a professional.

6. I am not normally a menu planner, but a grab what I have from the freezer or pantry for dinner type. I have been wasting more food than I would like, so I made a two week menu of lunches and dinners-breakfast not so much. Hopefully this will keep me from buying stuff I don't need (except for Hershey's kisses, lol)

7. My county does not offer recycling to multi dwellings, be they condos, high rises, apartments or whatever. I have valet trash and while they SAY they pick up cartons if they are tied together, I have no faith that these or anything else get recycled. I am trying to work on solutions (no large recycling spots) other than doing my best on the purchase side and fobbing some things off on my daughter's large recycling can at her house. Paid recycling pickup does not seem to be an option

8.  This morning I sent a large load including my comforter to the pick up and drop off laundry. Since I won't be going to D's house any time soon, I decided to take advantage of this on a one time basis and consider doing it once a month in the future. There is a small laundry room in the village. And I'm doing my due diligence in looking for washers and dryers with the goal of mid February delivery/installment. In theory I could do without a dryer as I dry many of my clothes by hanging them-but I have enough jeans and such that I really need both. Probably used (both electric). This is to date my only step off the ledge of the no spending except for food and supplies January commitment.

9.  According to the ever friendly and helpful IRS, my stimulus payment was mailed out on January 6 to my address of record. The IRS  being all knowing and that good stuff, I have no idea if that is here or the Denver address, so I am allowing up to three weeks for it to arrive, but probably guess more likely two. Much of that will go into the (new washer) sinking fund. But I really need new walking shoes (not sneakers as such) badly. So a good $150 of said cash will be spent down the road at the SAS shoe store getting new walking shoes. I also need a good comfy pair of around the house style Skechers at some point but that's a separate issue. Again, money will not be spent until February although put aside.

10. Oh, and stepping out of my box a bit on the menu thing, next week I am getting three hello fresh meals each for two people for a total of $22 plus tax and so on. these actually require cooking, Balsamic cherry pork chops, bulgolgi meatballs and a fancy sandwich and sides. Supposedly each has everything required, only takes 30 minutes max and all I need is olive oil and salt and pepper. If I like the meals the are great for the cost. The question, I suppose, is the packaging and if it is all reusable.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Nesting, Waiting, and Experiments in Not Cooking

And the countdown continues with barely eight days to go as I type. I waver between ignoring the  24 news cycle, and occasionally falling into the the black hole that is the news of the day online. I alternate between being thrilled that the end of the eight days are coming up, and appalled by what we are learning about planned attacks, the military and on it goes. To anyone who has wondered why the military (not the guard) can generally not be called up because of hurricanes, riots or other issues, well this is one of the examples. 

So for now I'm staying in my nest. I'm going out daily for my walks of between twenty minutes and an hour, and doing the occasional trunk only pickup. Other than that life is mainly in my apartment or on my patio. For the moment I am holding off even on the weekly drive until life resets a bit. 

Thanks to a freezing Sunday and football playoffs of all different kinds I got more crafting done in three days than usual. So very tired of ALWAYS seeing Alabama up there, by the way.



Some progress made

  Quilt squares were seamed together, and the knitting advanced a fair bit  as I got in many sedentary hours in front of quality TV.  I started pulling down the Christmas mess but then today I needed to make a run to Target for bins. I stored everything in my basement in Colorado in boxes. Texas is a different climate and I have outdoor storage so everything now will slowly go into plastic boxes with fitted lids. In my effort to return to the sustainable goals I listed last year (and which dropped by the wayside due to no thrift shops, an excessive use of wipes and other stuff) I also purchased a set of re zip seal-able and reusable storage bags. 

Today I begin my second step in my experiment of eating well and not cooking. Honestly, I am in admiration of those who cook well and like to cook. I know the general wisdom is that if you like to eat well you want to cook it yourself. To that I say, ya, not so much. Admittedly I have been spoiled by a chef husband who cooked every meal except for the occasional weeknight disaster made by yours truly, and a son and a brother who got the cooking gene I missed (I just got the eating gourmet food, I can count the things I will not eat on one hand gene). 

Back to the experiment at hand, today's trial was from Home Chef. Not one of the meals that comes with everything and you chop and prep, but rather one of the meals that comes in an oven pan and you just add the protein which comes separately and toppings if there are any. Strictly zapping or oven heating would be in better for little ole me, but I'll take the healthy option as long as it comes with minimal work. Tonight I had something called fondue chicken and root vegetables with  garlic butter sauce. My only effort was pulling the prepared pan out of the oven once the veggies were cooked, throwing on the chicken cutlets and adding the mayo and shredded cheese on top. I neglected to take a good photo, tomorrow I will try to remember.

I gotta say, the meal was very "white", especially since I had pears instead of a salad with my meal. Not that it was any less tasty or complete, just that cheese topped chicken with potatoes and carrots and pears let to a white rather than colorful mix. And what was root vegetables was, from my perspective, really carrots and potatoes-there might have been a turnip in there somewhere. For ten bucks ($19.99 for two, two person meals) the price cannot be beat, the effort was minimal and I have another meal left. After two weeks though, the price goes up to at least double what this week's two meals and next weeks will cost me. More than reasonable for what I got, but whether I'll do this every week is unlikely-and besides, I want to try the other oven ready and heat and eat meal options as well.

Tomorrow's meal is pork mini meat loaves with greenbeans. I am not looking forward to putting my hands on raw ground pork. Next week I'm experimenting with blue cheese and bacon pork chops with green beans and baby tomatoes and  basil parmesan chicken and mixed fresh vegetables. Then it will be time to try something else.

As an aside, I prefer to have no trash rather than recycling, but everything in the box was recyclable and re-usable including the ice pack. It was not delivered through the mail but through a company that specializes is food and meal kit delivery.

I've started three books and not been able to get into them for whatever reason, so it's time for me to go back to the Fantastic Fiction website or another and see what's new that I want to read. On the other hand, I have subscribed to MHZ through Amazon Prime and am binging through French,  German and Nordic cop shows at an alarming rate. I so need to update the TV list above, as well as keep better track of my reading this year. If nothing else I have the next book for my anti racism book group, a book called Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman.

Daughter remains the same-not better but not worse. I still await my turn on the vaccine list and am actually on two waiting lists. Son in law is taking daughter to Fredricksburt, Texas for her birthday in February (as essential employees they will be fully innocculated but still doing all the social distancing stuff), which will be a nice break for her. I also expect to continue to mask and isolate once I have gotten my two shots, although I will feel a little better and more free.

Whenever that happy event happens

Friday, January 8, 2021

Meanwhile, In My Little Corner Of The World..........


Sitting in bed tonight answering comments on my phone in between knitting  in bed, which has become the new reading in bed.

Thanks for everyone's comments, sorry that I did not get a chance to respond to all. Feel free to continue to comment. In will continue to allow most all comments but the commenters who missed my editing this time will not be around again. I'm adding multiple blogs to the side this week, as well as removing just one or two. Most are not retiree related and some may even have something to do with food or creation or frugality. As to people who complain that I delete comments. Yes. That's why I have moderation. It's my blog.

I briefly had another wake up call this morning when I saw that Nancy (who if FAR from my favorite person gives the Dems a bad name on more days than not) had contacted the generals about the codes.  The had me having a Martin Sheen "Dead Zone" moment there.

In other news here at Casa Barb, my daughter has tested positive for Covid, exactly one day after taking the first vaccine. She says she is just tired, has bad cold symptoms and no sense of taste or smell. Her husband went and got tested and he is negative. He's going to discuss what's appropriate with his job, which also tests daily. At home he has moved to the guest room, they are distancing and both wearing mask (wonder how that's going with the dogs). She did text me that "Having no taste and smell is very unsettling". I can only imagine. Thankfully since she's an essential person who got ill at work, this is two weeks paid leave. I am trying to make sure from afar that she is caring for herself. 

This is a new pattern (photo from Color Connections quilts) and I am going to do this in bright SW colors and get it up on my wall. My new quilt to do for February (see Chreative to do list)

I of course am back to my lazy, "hide out at home except for walking or doing trunk pickup from the store"ways. I think about taking a long drive or exploring walking trails but I'll feel more comfortable doing that in the spring when at least some of the populace has been shot in the arm. Here in Texas we are at 1B which means (for this state at least) 65 and up or chronic condions. The vaccines are arriving slowly and I am on the list at a local health clinic (they've been receiving about a hundred a week) and hope to make the cut by February sometime. For the first one.

Definitely not my first choice in fabrics, but I was ordering online from Joanne's and I need to get rid of the Christmas decor.

Today I did do a brief "pop out" and picked up a few things from Target (using them more than Walmart or the grocery right now as they have two hour drive up for anything in the store) and bought batting (the insides of a quilt) to finish a quilt and fabric to make throw pillow covers for the large and small pillows. It's not exactly what I thought it was when I saw it online, but it'll work until what I really want is in stock. Which is similar in colors with more red and muuch more sothwestern. I'm on a no spend reset month but I had a Joanne's gift card. I also have another gift card-one of those so called entertainment one that's good at about ten places including Macy's and Bed and Bath. I'm either going to order a small eight inch round lectric skillet to use on my stove or get sensible stuff like fridge shelf liners. Once in awhile even I must be sensible, I suppose. 

I've rejected some small appliances, and embraced others (getting a cover for my oven so I can put things like this on it). A Toaster oven upgrade thad holds and eleven by seven pan is in the works post no spend period.

We're supposed to have rain and non sticking snow showers on Sunday (one of Texas' brief forays into winter days). It will be forty degrees but it will be down to as low as 29 overnight, so after taking my sunny walk tomorrow I will  be nesting. Knitting on my new pink short sleeved sweater (I think the blue one is too heavy for Texas so I have temporarily left it aside to think about), doing some sewing, reading my new Amazon Reads book, watching my Nordic show on Mhz.  Oh, and yes, there might be some packing up of the Christmas things. I am going to make a seasonal year round tree but it's going to be one of the ones shown below, not a green one. 

Just not sure I can look at a pine tree year around, even a small one. So this will be the substitute

There might be some actual cooking of some real oven mustard brown sugar pork chops (now that I have an actual chef knife and slicer to attack the previously mentioned hunk of pork in my freezer) and the baking and freezing of portion sized muffins and cake. There might be.

Oh, and that Target pickup?  I ordered a little thing of Valentine Hershey's Kisses.  And got a family sized bag. I may need to fill up sandwish bags and leave the kisses on a hall table somewhere before I eat them all.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Call it What it Is

 I want to say I have no words, and I probably have many of the wrong ones. But there is a need for words, and lots of them. Over and over and over  in no particular order.

It's not just the mob. It's all the people who have enabled Trump so he can enable the mob. There is no we agree to disagree any more. I don't want to hear it even if you are a family or friend. As I posted on FB this morning, my "tolerance and understanding and agreeing to disagree" with regard to Trump voters has left the room. They/You voted for him. You cheered him on, you enabled him, you gave him power, you thought he was funny, you enjoyed the "deplorable" monniker. You are complicit.  Whether you voted for the man, whether you are a congressman or woman who encouraged him in the hope of some money and support, you are complicit. The blame does not just fall on the mob, or on the man who inflamed them. It falls on all of you who put him there. And those of you like all the Republican congress people who remained silent as well. 

This is not how democracy works. This is how a revolution in someplace like Venezuela works. The idea that Trump is free to continue his life in the White House (or wherever he runs to for the next week or two) is apalling. How much more damage can he do in that ten days? There should be a 25th Amendment inovcation, and he, his son and his lawyer should be arrested for insurrection and charged and the FBI and Secret service should find the identity of everyone who invaded the Capitol and charge them as well. 

America showed what it really thinks of Black People yesterday and it was heartbreaking. If African Americans and others of color had been scaling the walls, they would have been shot in the face and the head. Instead, the Capitol Police (who in my experience are VERY good at what they do in a crisis) simply yelled across the lawn for them to stop.  Why were the National Guard and the CP not standing on the steps. Is it just black people vs white people, or is it this one guy and his supporters.

I'm trying to find something positive in the fact that our countdown is only 13 days and that maybe a reputation may have been ruined. That Mitch McConnell can kiss his majority goodbye, and that Stacy got her revenge. But we cannot just go on. The people who did this need to be accountable. Now. By whatever method that is. As do the people who just stood by and watched, and I don't just mean for last night only.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

A New Retirement Budget for a New Year - Sort Of


Sooo, at the moment I am not interacting with my family. The combined long term care/rehab center that is one of two facilities my daughter travels to has seven positive Covid cases.  She is only treating two, but because of this we will not be visiting and she will not be stopping by.

At some point she has offered to come by and pick up my clothes and bring them back if I leave them outside, and we will probably be able to talk then from twelve feet apart with me on my patio and she in the parking lot, but our every ten day get togethers and her occasional stop-by visits are on hold. Not sure how they decide safety issues but I assume it is probably fourteen days after the last positive test. So for now, I am incommunicado with pretty much everyone except the nice folks who load my groceries and the people I see on my walks that I wave to and briefly chat with. And zoom pals. A washing machine is one of my February goals. I see lots on FB marketplace, but they would have to be trucked in and installed, so I need to compare that with a basic model at the new appliance store.

Anyhoo, to the topic at hand. The budget, or my halfway version of a retirement budget. I rarely share annual budgets, not because I object to sharing numbers that are specific (I've done that more than often enough) but because I don't do a budget as such. Generally I do an end of the year summary recap of where everything has gone,  both for the readers and myself-this year between Covid, moving and who knows what else, I'm ignoring that step. I have shared new budget numbers each time I've moved and went in to depth when I arrived in Denver. Since I am in a new place, with a couple large number differences, I figured this is the year I would "plan" rather than "adjust after reviewing", or at least plan as much as a seat by her pants retiree can do, if you will.

I've been here in the Lone Star State long enough that I have a fair idea of what everything will cost. I've done online shopping, gotten groceries and delivery, received my first and my second bills in almost every area, changed over insurances, adjusted medical coverages for the new year, and all that other good jazz.  So here we are.

I suppose this is not an actual budget, but a guideline if you wills (and I expect the percentages will not exactly add up to that just under 3000 money total:

1.  Because I get my secondary insurances through my husband's employer, ALL of my medical coverage is gone before my bank deposit. This includes Part B, my retiree health insurance, and added this year, a high option dental package with no waiting period and no maximum benefit amount-of course, I'm unsure when I will be comfortable in using said dental coverage and treatments. This  is approximately ten percent of my income in total. Yes, I am aware of what these numbers seem like to many of my readers. There are both advantages and disadvantages to working for the feds and they are pretty equal. This one is an advantage.

2.  My monthly, regular/stable bills average around forty five percent right  now. These include rent, electricity (heat is electric), internet (no cable), my unlimited data cell phone, car insurance, renters insurance, the few subscriptions I have (Prime, Netflix, and so on), and church/charity commitments.  Some of these are optional and are not what others would consider generally as "bills" or "commitments", but I've included everything that is regular each month, and these are all auto debited.

 At the end of the year, and when I do my monthly and annual Quicken updates, I do break these down more (housing, utlities, subscriptions, auto costs). But for budgeting purposes, these fall under "monthly commitments" for my general planning.  I do expect some minor adjustments here. The temps have not been much below fifty degrees for heat purposes,  and even though I have ceiling fans in every single room I see the electric possibly jumping a bit mid summer (I prefer to pay the amount each month rather than average). And my car insurance is at liability and I may wish to add collision/comprehensive. We'll see. I also at some point, may break down and actually add minimal depends on how much I miss sports as sports returns to more normality.

3. This leaves approximately 45 percent for the rest (I can see the above jumping to fifty and the what's left to forty percent, which is peach however it works out). Now, truth be told, in normal years, this would simply be a lump and I would transfer what was left at the end to savings. This is how it has been the last few years.  But I rely on pension and social security, rather than pulling extra out of investment accounts for emergency or other large payment. 

So this year, I am going to try, try mind you, to put if not half of this then a third into the first two categories which probably really should be combined into one. I have been lucky enough since I sold my house (and because of my health care choices) to have no large unexpected expenses (we won't discuss the moving thing for now). But have some possibly looming categories (see below). While I generally don't feel hampered with my two legged stool being SS and pension, there are occasions like this when I look ahead, as it's not just a case of taking out an extra couple percentages from my retirement in the next year.

  • Savings/Emergencies: Mainly to be used for unexpected and emergency expenses including those of my kids and to be put away to help kids by either buying into home or adding on a mil area when time comes (my monthly income is enough that if kids have access to it all, with some savings and my medical insurance they should be able to do whatever they need for me). My health insurance covers anything that Medicare does not cover, so while I may have occasional out of pocket costs, I am not worried at this time about a giant scary bill. I do however need to plan for those in home care expenses  that often are not covered right now by insurance.
  • Savings/Sinking fund: For any long term plans, including travel and vacations when we can get back to it properly, car expenses (never again will I finance a car, ever), annual contributions to kid's IRA funds, and anything else undefined that is a want and not a real emergency.
  • Groceries/Household Supplies and Needs:  Food, household necessities and small household items as needed (like a drying rack for my kitchen), basically anything that I can order via the grocery section of Walmart or Kroger. In reality I do NOT get personal products or paper products from the grocery but from Subscribe and Save or Target (I really like their Everspring brand). I suspect this amount is VERY generous, but that's okay. Anything not used will be carried over to the next month (I use a kind of virtual or written only money envelope system). This also includes four prescriptions gotten monthly, all generic. If I were to add a medical category it would be about 25.00.
  • Spending:  Everything else that I might spend on on a weekly or monthly basis.  Stuff for the house, crafting stuff, clothing and shoes, entertainment when we can entertain ourselves again, kindle books.  Right now, that spending includes mainly take-out, additional entertainment subscriptions for at home sanity, stuff for the apartment, and an awful lot of crafting/creating/general self entertainment supplies.  I think (hope) that by the last third of the year that spending will be directed more in areas of clothing, dining out, day trip expenses and other such things (of course, I could be dreaming, who knows). Again, anything not used one month is simply added to the virtual money envelope.
Not included in this general plan:  My insurance company reimburses me for part B, so I'll receive that monthly deposit of $140 or so (I have not even looked yet to see what  the new part B cost actually is), and any pension COL increase if we get one (not usually decided until well after the first of the year and started in March or April). Also not included are gift cards earned or doing things like volunteering for research panels or in person consumer surveys, or occasional income done by doing online research on a contract basis-rare but fairly well paying for someone who can read and scan quickly.

All of these secondary sources are used as spending. Common wisdom would say to automatically add these to savings and in a pre-retirement world, obviously i would. In my current retirement life, knowing my long term plans, I prefer to spend this money on my current quality of life, and direct money from any of the areas above into savings or sinking funds as needed.

So there you have it. My budget plan/spending plan whatever we shall call it for a new year, in a new place under new and unusual (for now at least) circumstances).  It's as much of a plan as I can put together and as always a moving target. Now I can put the planning aside and go back to my spur of the moment life. If only Covid would allow me to do so in full!!!

And so ends the annual budget post.

Note: In Texas at least, we are at 1B vaccination wise, to include those 65 and above and those with chronic contributing conditions. Since I am 69 and have at least one of those, I qualify. Some people managed to get one of the few that our county health department had at a drive up vaccine site. I'm keeping my eyes open and my phone alert but it could be next week or it could be February. My daughter cannot get one yet, and I'm ambivalent about that. On the one hand I understand that "medical people" can include everyone from hospital workers to the guy or gal who checks your eyes and that's a wide net. And I do think that it helps the overall case load if those of us who are at risk are vaccinated sooner rather than later. On the other hand, if you work in a facility with at risk, occasionally positive patients.........


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The New Year Comes-Looking Ahead to January

So this is it, here we are on the eve of the eve of the new year. I'm not sure this year is deserving of a recap, and if it was, that recap would be a post or rather three or four or five.

In the long run I feel (hope) things will improve, at least in the second half of the year.  In the short run, in many ways we are entering a time when 2021 will be a similar, and possibly worse for while, version of the past year. 2020 2.0 if you will.

Thankfully, we have a new president (and I can always hope, right) at least the temporary diminishing of the Orange One within the next month. Whatever 2021 brings us politically (and it will not be all good), at least we are over the Trump hurdle for now (knocking on wood).

My next couple of days will be laid back. I expect a very brief visit by my daughter today perhaps to assist with my tracker which is stuck in place (if not, I'll just reset it). Assuming I can get a delivery or a pickup sometime tomorrow, I'll be grabbing some of those frozen appetizers, eggnog and some fruit and veggie sticks to make it half way healthy as I celebrate the even in my own quiet way.

I could not tell you when the last time when I (we) went out for the Eve, other than maybe walking across the street. My late husband spent many years as the executive manager of a large private club, that being the largest holiday of the year, and he would tell you that tomorrow evening is when the amateur, twice a year drunks hit the road and that he would not be on the same highway with them if you paid him. If I can't get a delivery/pickup, then I'll make do with the goodies around the house which are not without value and perhaps make a one person cake. I do expect to be awake to welcome 2021, but may do so in the bed with a book in hand and pillows at the back. I may even order myself some booze that is not wine or beer (I don't understand how I can tolerate and enjoy alcohol but no longer either of the other two, I tell ya). Do they make ready made Brandy Alexanders, I wonder?

New Year's day looks to be more different, as the many years I drove from Denver to Dallas we spent our second Christmas around the football screen. But I have plenty to do, and Friday is supposed to be clear and sunny if cold, so a walk may be in order.  Along with a section of pork roast from the large pork loin that is not a pork tenderloin.

As for the coming month? Even in Texas there is some winter in January, so I'm prepared to do things like exercise inside, but still walk outside when I can and embrace some winter things like tea, hot chocolate with marshmallows, the heavy throw that is on my lap as I knit and the chance to wear my nice heavier sweaters. And perhaps a hot toddy or two or some bourbon in my hot chocolate (see above note re booze).

I won't call it planning or goal setting, but these are the things I would like to have happen in the coming month. Whether they happen is still to be seen.

  1. I want to try for a no spend, resetting January except for food, gas and medical stuff. I need to make some master shopping lists instead of getting things as I think about them piecemeal, large or small. I mean last night it got windy, and I was thinking to myself, "gee, I should get some patio table clips". And so it goes. Exceptions will be small bits and bobs of craft/sewing items if needed (doubtful) to finish the projects further down the list. And dog visit assistance if needed (comes under essential).
  2. I hope to begin and mainly finish a hand made gift for each offspring(both have February birthdays and both expressed disappointment and no hand made, crafted items for Christmas.
  3. I'm detrmined to read ALL the current books on my kindle before adding anything else. I have an Amazon reads, four Kindle Unlimited books, some library books and some  got  free via book bub or whatever. And that does not count the crafting and cooking books. The one could take me well into March.
  4. While it's cool and true slow cooker weather, I want to make some large meals (or as large as it will hold) so I have some home made "freezer meals" to cut down on take out, heat and eat and frozen dinners. And do the same with some baking. After that I can just keep on keeping on keeping on, cooking a large meal every week.
  5. I need to sign up for an Olli course (virtual here of course) both to keep the brain cells on a good path and to include another virtual people interaction event in my life. Great Decisions comes to mind
  6. I need to get a Shingrix shot (Yea, I know, I know). I'd add in getting the Covid vaccine but I don't think either one will be available to me until well after January.
  7. Obviously, I want some crafty/sewing projects finished: do a small quilt top and bind and quilt for charity, keep working on my current knitting so I can finish my placemats and home decor projects.
  8. I need to get my eye examined and scanned. This is well past due and I would ignore it, considering the nose to nose requirements involved in some portions (even masked nose to nose), but I have a small freckle in the back of one ey and it's been over a year. So off I go.
  9. I plan to think hard about beginning a craft specific blog (so I can share ALL the pictures and projects multiple times a week) and start the writing if I am (yes, this is a continuation from last year not followed up on in a timely manner).
Along with that, I plan to read, watch TV, craft (knit/quilt/sew/draw/whatever), take walks, bake a little here and there, do some yoga, zoom with friends a couple days a week and generally stay in my nest, patio and close to home.

I will see you all on the other side of the year!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Merry Christmas and All That Jazz

 No belated in there, as it's still the Christmas season. But I hope whatever you and yours did in this different Christmas time, you were able to embrace the season, no matter how different.

We had a fairly low key Christmas (although we usually do these days since the larger family no longer does the "big day for twenty people" thing). I went to my daughter's on Christmas eve night when I did laundry and we watched Star Wars and had pasta (I did midnight mass in the bedroom on my tablet, so thankful for virtual church options).

On Christmas day we had stockings between the three of us, ate brunch and then relaxed and chilled..naps, TV, games, knitting, interacting with all the puppies..until early afternoon. We zoomed with my son, I phoned my sister for a long chat, and then there was more relaxing while SIL made a slimmed down Christmas dinner of smoked prime rib, potatoes, creamed leeks and roasted brussel sprouts. There may have been pecan pie and ice cream in there somewhere. We played a game after dinner, and then I looked up and realized it was nine in the evening, so spent the night again as loading the car and then unloading the car with gifts and food and two huge bags of laundry in the dark was not something I wanted to do. 

My son in law gifted me with a really good set of knives (that is supposedly dishwasher safe), much nicer than I deserve at my not that great a cook level. I probably will never use a boning knife. But I really needed knives, now I can cut down that pork loin that is not a pork tenderloin temporarily frozen in my freezer. My son got me a new watch tracker as a replacement for the Fitfort that I know some of my readers have which did not work for me. It was only in the thirty dollar range, but I am loving it so far, even with the larger face. I wore it to sleep two nights but will not every night. I also got macrame supplies and a good macrame book (like I say, new hobby every year), a rotating quilt mat and a few gift cards which I will use mainly on the kitchen area of the apartment-downsized appliances, more dish cloths that I can get rid of disposable stuff, that kind of thing. Oh and also a small electric skillet that is like eight inches around.  

In theory today should be a quiet Sunday as always, with dinner being pasta casserole sent home from DD's house. But I should break down some boxes and get rid of wrapping and tissue and at least store it or put it aside, and since we have rain coming for three days I should try and get an outside walk. Maybe, perhaps. It may be that knitting on the patio will suffice for my outdoor time this lazy Sunday.

Mainly I am finalizing the annual budget and making sure I have everything I need in my annual planner for the coming year (which includes months and weeks, and then a section of things like books to read, monthly budgets and so on. I have a journal that stays by my bed for writing). I will share the budget (probably still a moving living thing) next week, as well as my start on what my creative or "making" goals will be for the year.

For January I am going to experiment with a monthly rough menu plan. No way I am shopping for a month, ten days is about my limit, but I want  rough it out for budget purposes, so it'll be an experiment in progress. The grocery budget was about $300 this month, which is not terrible plus some specialty Christmas baking stuff. I just did a large Target drive by pickup that included vitamins, pain killers, dish soap, hand soap and all that good stuff, so January's food budget should literally be just food. Onward and forward and all that.

I'll be making some changes to my sidebar, possibly letting go of a couple blogs but definitely adding a few more, some of which are mentioned on Kathy's current post on retirement blogs. I like to keep the list not too long, but I also wanna include allt he blogs I love or think other people will love. Some of the new blogs will be frugal, crafting or food blogs, and not just on the topic of retirement.

Happy Sunday and 3rd day of Christmas to all...........