Monday, November 12, 2018

Monday Morning-The Christmas List

As of today, it's six weeks until Christmas eve-and time for the master Christmas prep list. I'm not ignoring the Thanksgiving holiday, it's just that all I have to do for that is show up, smile, and eat. My son needs to make a green bean casserole, my sister a fruit salad, and I will simply pick up a pie that is not pumpkin-from the wonderful, wonderful bakery that is less than a mile down the road. I am one of those folks who does not miss the "hosting" part of the holidays in the least, judge me though ye may.

So for the next six weeks, my attention is mainly on said Christmas preparation, travel and the like. I have a few so called goals, but they general have to do with continuing to exercise and eat fairly well, continue my spiritual journey and do a little specific cleaning before putting up the tree and other decor. This year that also includes major insurance changes during open season.

I do have one other goal for these last couple months, as I do every year, and that is to sit down and free write (over a week as it comes to me) everything I want to do, think I might want to do, and think I might need to do. Which generally ends up being about ten times more than I will actually do. I write this stuff as it comes to me, in no particular order, and then as time permits, slowly order them by type (travel) and do whatever research is needed to decide if its realistic, and if I REALLY want to include that in the year to come. A big hint is if I've written it multiple times during my writing phase. By some time in January, I have a plan.

Meanwhile, on to the Christmas plan:

1. Doing: In the next few days I will make a schedule of those "go and see, hear or do" type things for Christmas. Drive and see the lights. This will probably be limited to a trip to our local gardens to see the lights, a local community presentation of A Christmas Carol, and a trip downtown to our German Christmas Market. We generally try and keep this to no more than three things. We COULD be doing something every single week and weekend but it's not my style. A couple craft fairs may possibly appear in the mix.

2. Making: I need to finish the following makes. There will be other smaller things I make along the way as I have time, for example I'm fairly sure I'll be making a third shawl. But these are the things I am committed to making and having finished as gifts. Knitting especially is getting done very quickly now that the weather has cooled and Netflix and Amazon prime are regular parts of my evening. Photos of all will be coming as finished.

  • The two shawls I've committed to, one ready to be cast off
  • The oft mentioned blanket for brother and sister in law
  • As much of the top of my daughter's T shirt quilt as I can finish, realizing that I will not be done since I've completely removed one fabric and starting anew
  • Fabric gift bags for all the gifts below.
  • Various tins and jars of hand salves and such for the small gifts to my groups (this is a one day intensive thing)
  • A couple scarves in college colors which generally take me a few hours to make (I tend to knit most mindless patterns quickly).
  • Food gifts which will mean another single day effort late in December. These include herbal butters, seasoned salts and so on. I'll be putting the other members of this household to work assembly line fashion. 

3. Baking: Get the following cooking done: Four dozen each at a minimum of the cookies listed below. One dozen each will go with us to Texas. One dozen will be shared at a "wrapping and cooking party" with my Denver family before we head down for Christmas.The other two will be spread among social activities and the like. Right now we have nine types and six weeks. The easy cookies will be done two a week (like two kinds of shortbread).
  • Lime Shortbread cookies, found here 
  • Orange Cranberry Chocolate Chip cookies (found in one of those cookie making magazines)
  • Eggnog biscotti
  • Mexican Wedding Rings/Snowballs-whatever name your culture and family use, but the powdered sugar nut thing
  • Decorated Sugar cookies (will be the last I make)
  • Brown sugar Shortbread
  • Chocolate icebox cookies found here 
  • Citrus Triangles found here (can you tell I like the Land O Lakes website)
  • Lemon Tarts
  • Other suggestions for my list?
4. Traveling: This year I have no real work to do. My son can only take a week off from work, so there will be no side trips. Twill be go, spend time with family, come back on shortest route. Since we take the dog with, the only planning requirement is the hotel reservation.

5. Entertaining: We are doing none, but participating in an early holiday event (said wrapping and cooking party) with the Denver contingent before we go. I have made two lunch reservations for my two social groups. Both do a kind of gift exchange (with the keep or steal model) and share cookies and small gifts. I have all of that covered as part of the other stuff.

6. Shopping:  I keep Amazon in business, and this is no exception. I have my list set for the beginning of December, with most of the gifts and gift cards scheduled for one big shipment. There will be just a couple side trips, including one to to choose one of the gifts shown below for the yard. I buy for my kids, son-in-law and sister. For the rest of the Denver contingent we share moderate gifts (ten of us including two children) by choice. On the Texas side, we are sixteen and we draw names. I've drawn the name of a sister in law who is post stroke and arm injury so I am on the search for kitchen tools that are more user friendly. Add in a couple experience type gifts like a trip to the Brown Palace Hotel for high tea in January and all is good. While I know some folks consider the shopping trip and attendant decorations part of the "Christmas spirit and experience thing:, I am just so happy to have everything arrive in two or three shipments and avoid crowds in my middle age-even smaller weekday crowds. 

I have until about the first to decide which of these two babies to order as a gift. On the one hand we have multiple Armadillos (of the metal type ) in the yard and the cactus would fit in with the theme. One the other hand...........

7.  Decorating: This year we are not leaving until the 22nd, so we may put up a few more decorations than usual. We always do a tree, Christmas dishes and dining decor, and put all the quilts out (of which there are many) either on chairs, as table covers or whatever. We also make a fireplace display of my son's nutcracker collection and add a few other things like a wreath. We've not put out our Christmas village since we started traveling to Texas. This year I intend to put out a few pieces-and ask said kids who prefers which houses.
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Whew!! That looks like alot, I know. but except for the baking, most of that will be done sitting in a chair while watching TV, and/or directing others (the directing process). For years I did less, but this is what I did last year, it was really relaxing, and I think I have found my "level". Honestly, it's amazing how much eliminating entertaining at home and mall shopping makes the rest of Christmas more enjoyable-at least for me.

And now? Well, it snowed and was rotten cloudy for the last day and a half. The sun has appeared. I am going to enjoy my second day of not going out in the weather, and not feel bad about the fact that my walk will not be shoveled until tonight after dark or tomorrow morning some time!!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Day I Embraced Utube

And yes, I can hear the laughter now....

Seriously though. I know that many people see the Internet as a time suck. And I've spent more than my share of time perusing blogs, some of them wildly funny, as well as spending too much time on current events, Facebook chat and a ton of other things.

But if you are a person who likes to do stuff, learn stuff, bake stuff, even write stuff, the Internet is, mainly, the best thing ever.  Frugal, educational, and more. Yes, sometimes it takes time, especially when you're on a new search or not quite sure what you are looking for. I've spent an inordinate amount of time in the last couple of weeks exploring all the things I can do with my donated wool felt and sweater pieces. Some of the ideas were rejected, some of them were kept and were never used. But the search was fun, and I learned a lot.

I mean honestly, in days past I got a magazine and used one pattern out of it. Or a craft book. And I am certainly not the only person I know who has moved from the cookbooks mainly to the Internet.

But when it comes to the Utube thing, I really wasn't there. Don't get me wrong, I knew existed and all that, and yes, and I even used it. Most of the exercise videos shared on this blog came from that source. I've used it to watch multiple movie previews, and as I was learning to knit, lots of folks told me to go to Utube for instruction. Not that  really ever did.

So what changed? In the past few weeks I've been exploring how to do a few different things.  A friend suggested we go to a Paint pouring wine and sip type place and I wondered if we could do it ourselves, cheaper. I've been longing to practice my German conversational skills so that I don't lose them, and so many classes are mainly beginner or grammar type instruction (I do read German papers and watch shows). And I was feeling flummoxed by all the art supplies my kids had given me. Playing only works up to a point and while I know there are tons of classes in my community, I get socialization elsewhere and really just wanted to learn at home.  

So one day, I typed something along the lines of "cheap paint pouring tutorial". All the links came up as Utube programs, things I usually avoid in my searches. But I'm a very visual person and figured, why not see where they led me. And lead me they did.

Let me just say that someone should have dragged me here before, even if I were kicking and screaming! In short order I have found multiple videos showing how to paint pour with just detergent, acrylic paints and plastic cups. I found videos on how to weave (a tabletop loom is on my Christmas list) I found so many step by step painting videos that I will never do a tenth of them. I found multiple knitting videos including one for the blanket I am working on-which I really don't need. I found a series of videos on speaking in German and exploring Germany (worthwhile to see places I've been again), and today, I found some videos on making cloche hats, which is something I want to do with my donated felt. Heck, I even found full length classes from the great courses.

Yes, my friends, meet Mister Domestic!

I have found my people.

As many of you know, I am a visual learner and worker (If I've said that once, I've said it at least twice). If I am going to edit one of my son's papers, it needs to be printed out. Telling me to stitch a line and then do so and so, doesn't do much. Pictures help some, but observing a real person do something, at knitting group exercise class and elsewhere makes a huge difference. And being able to stop the video, go back and watch one section again? There are no words. 

I honestly don't know what took me so long. Maybe I saw a couple low quality videos and figured they weren't helpful. May earlier on I wasn't willing to sit and watch and mistakenly thought that a simple pattern with instructions would work just as well. I do know that for a long time I equated Utube with things like funny videos, and pranks and such. My bad, as they say.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

First Man

And no, I'm not talking about that movie about landing on the moon

Instead my friends, I'm talking (happily, I might add) about the new first spouse here in Colorado. Yes, my state has now elected the first openly gay governor in the country (In years past, a governor admitted being gay immediately before resigning, and there is a bisexual governor, not elected as such). As Jared Polis prepared to move into the governor's mansion here in a few months, he brings with him two lovely children-and a long time (very long time) partner). So yes!! Colorado has a first man.

As if that were not enough, we also gained a Democratic representative in my area. Something that pleases me even though the Republican was a man of honor who got screwed over by Trump. The Republican party took away all his money and support six weeks ago-simply because he was pro refugee. But that's another story.

In other election news, Beto lost to Ted Cruz as we mostly knew he would. But he scared the shit (literally I expect) out of old smarmy Ted. He leaves behind a huge war chest and an organization for the next Democratic candidate in the future purple state. And at least three Democratic representatives rode his coat tails to oust a couple long time Texas representatives in some traditionally VERY conservative areas of Texas(farewell Pete Sessions)! And for my conservative/Republican pals who I encourage to read and comment as alway, the smarmy was intended. No one. No one in Texas LIKES Ted Cruz. They vote for him because, well, he's the Republican. As a person? They love George Bush and barely tolerate Cruz, for the most part,

Meanwhile, the Senate stayed red, yes it did. But the congress, not so much. Which means, no repeal of health care and no cancellation of care for pre-existing conditions. It means no carte blanche for the orange haired one. Most importantly, it means the two "I"s as someone said. Investigation (get those tax returns and proof of gifts together, fellas), and impeachment. Hopefully it also means some actual legislation. This is when we figure out if Trump is actually capable of compromise in order to get what he wants (I realize that this may come as a shock to many of my liberal friends, but I suspect he is. I expect to see a new Dream act and possibly infrastructure).

I did find it interesting that although the exit polls showed people were mainly happy with the economy (even though many new jobs are minimum wage types and the cost of living is higher than wages in some areas) the primary issue of voters was health care. Most of those folks who screamed about the new health care act in the first couple of years, are not willing to take steps backwards (especially when it comes to Medicare, Medicaid and pre existing health conditions).

Last but not least, we now have two Muslim women, a Native American woman, more than a few female veterans, people of color, and the youngest person ever to win election. I'd say the blue side did okay.

And God willing, I won't receive a phone call, flyer, or piece of mail having to do with politics for at least a year. Maybe.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

What Does "Free" and "No Spend" Mean, Exactly?

I'm slowly working on that book list to go with the TV list. I get almost all of my library books on Kindle through Overdrive and Amazon, so my "your content and devices show everything I've done kindle-wise and kindle-unlimited wise.  I'd like to also post a list of everything creative in the past year, but I'm very bad about taking photos of things donated and gifted at times. The list may have to be written with two pictures.

Often, when I post my Five Frugal Things posts, someone will (usually by email) remind me that the library isn't really "free" because we pay for it with our taxes. Or they tell me that I paid for that stuff that I used from my stash to make free coasters.

Along with that, there are those that are convinced that a no spend day (week, month or whatever) is self defeating, because you will simply buy the stuff the next month.
While I could write a separate post on the value of stepping back, holding off spending and re-evaluating for a week or a month, there is some truth to their point, for some people

When it comes to the "free" or "I spent no money today" thing, on some level, those folks are right again. I mean, while I get lots of free things, lots of ways, most of the stuff in this house was paid for, at one time or another. On the other hand, thinking about that could make you crazy. I mean, suppose I tell you that I spent a money free day on Sunday (today). I 'm watching football and a Netflix show. I drank instant hot chocolate with whipped cream from my pantry and fridge,  and as I type am cuddled up with puppy and my quilt (truly free as it was made and given to me by my quilt group). Dinner will be pulled pork made a pork shoulder harvested from my freezer, cooked with a can of coke (on hand) and seasonings (in my pantry), with rolls and coleslaw (purchased today). In this case, everything but the quilt cost money-at some point. So, how to do the math?

Everyone has to figure expenses and out of pocket costs in a way that works for them, but this is generally how it works for me: With a few exceptions, I don't count anything that comes from my monthly base expenses as being extra or out of pocket costs. In my case this includes my share of the house rent (which also covers the property taxes that pay the library costs), gas/electric, cable bundle (which I'll give up when they stream European soccer live), my cell phone bill, the water bill. Also, those few subscriptions that I consider a necessity (which these days just includes Netflix and Prime).

I suppose there might be some exceptions. If I decided to do a huge Christmas display outdoors, I would include the electric cost. If I bought five new trees and had to hand water and soak them for a month, I would figure that into the cost. In general, I consider these to be my base costs. This month, total cost of all these bills-rent, cable bundle, electric/gas/water and phone- cost $1050 (a low water month and that single month that is in between air conditioning and heat. I also had no data on my phone, a rare occurrence). As far as gas for my car, I fill up at the exact same times. If I drove across the state to a festival, I would figure the cost. Otherwise, not so much. Yes, I know my bills are on the low side, but downsizing and sharing a two level home with one of us on each level was a choice, specifically because of this reason).

When it comes to stuff on hand, it works kind of like this:  I bought $24 worth of yarn on sale with coupons in order to make this blanket. There will be stuff left over from this, especially when it comes to the two secondary colors. If I use that extra yarn to make a project later down the line, I consider it a no spend item. This week, I made two doll quilts for my upcoming bazaar-out of fabric left over from other quilts. I knit a scarf from a skein left over from another projects. On the other hand, I did get a brand new skein of yarn in order to make a cowl, and as I figure my out of pocket expenses for the week, that will get included.

When it comes to groceries, I have a pretty steady monthly grocery bill based on shopping sales and loss leaders, filling my pantry and so on. Last week, I mentioned that I spent less than $30 on groceries for three people, and we ate from the pantry and freezer. Obviously, I paid for all those groceries once upon a time. But this week, my only expenses were those out of pocket ones mentioned earlier.

On the other hand, I recently bought those ten pounds of Land o Lakes butter for Christmas baking, a separate expense above and beyond normal grocery shopping or needs, even when stocking up. I'll also be getting nuts, real lime juice and other things to bake many, many dozens of cookies and other Christmas goodies. Those items, like other things, will fall under my Christmas budget. As the lobster tails I get for a birthday dinner fall under the entertainment budget rather than groceries.

When I buy the fabric this week to make my daughter's T shirt quilt, that will also fall under the extra spending category. If there is extra fabric left over to put on my shelf and I use it to make a small item, I'll consider that as a "no spend" project. This year, I plan to give my women's group hand salves-made with lotions and butters and oils on hand, and given in mini jars that are stored in my garage. I'll consider this gift no cost, with the exception of the new Christmas lids I'll put on the jars and any ribbon I add.

Finally, I don't count "volunteering with benefits". If I go to the local theater, sip a glass of free wine, hand out programs and generally point people in the directions of their seats, I get to see said play/concert/comedian for free. I consider that free entry. If I was still working an hourly wage, I suppose I might look at it from a different angle-although I doubt so as I wouldn't really be working during that time.

Everybody comes at these types of things from a different angle. As a frugal gal who often talks about frugality and no spending on this blog, this is where I (mainly) come from: Unless there are out of pocket expenses, or said expenses increase that base monthly bill number in any major way,  I consider my day no spend or "free". And when I talk about making something or doing something for free, or having a day when I didn't spend any money, this is what I mean, and where i come from.

Last week, I sat in the middle of my craft room/studio (whatever we're calling my small space that serves many functions each day). I looked around at all the supplies I had and made a large, stream of consciousness list of things I could make with mainly no cost (a few projects needed a small additional purchase). My list included coaster sets with leftover fabric, earring sets with beads and stuff on hand, lotion bars with essential oils and molds and other stuff on hand, and small projects made with bits of leftover wool. Obviously I paid (or was gifted in many cases) for the fabric, jewelry supplies, paints and pencils, essential oils and yarn once upon a time. Now, however, just like my food pantry, these are things of hand. So if I say I entertained myself without spending any money by trying to make my third pair of earrings,  I mean I didn't take any money out of my checking account today.

Tomorrow (Monday) I plan to finish those gift bags and work on my knitting. I have two books downloaded to my kindle from the library and don't know which one to begin. I plan to walk ten minutes around my house six times, and work out with the weights and bands in the basket on my reading table. Breakfast will be eggs and juice and English muffins, lunch will be leftover pulled pork and dinner will be a ham and potato casserole pulled from the freezer. In the evening I'll play on the computer and watch football.

While it might not be a free day, it's surely a no-spend one.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Five Frugal (And Creative) Things

Sorry folks, somehow the week just got away from me. I wasn't even that busy but reading and other things, well, they got in the way!

1.  I did spend extra time on a couple projects this week and put my Christmas crafting and baking away. My church is having a bazaar and craft sale the weekend of the 10th and I needed to get some contributions in. I tend to be the kind of person that gets the fabric/yarn/paper or whatever and makes what she likes.Some of that gets kept, some of that gets gifted and some gets put into the "I made it, now what?" pile or box. I had two doll quilts and two doll quilt sets with matching pillows already in the box-those will go to said bazaar. I had a set of Christmas cocktail napkins ready to go and those will also go in said bazaar box. I had a skein of pink/peach/white and soft green yarn that knits up fast and that will be a large cowl (the kind you can lift over your head). Last but not least, I was in the Mart the other day and saw bunches and bunches of bright fat quarters and ribbons-which I am turning into re-usable gift bags. To sell at the bazaar, use for my small gifts and give away. Yes, I do like bright Christmas colors. It's night now, and I'll try and post brighter pictures of all tomorrow over on Instagram or Facebook.

2. I went to knitting group, happy hour, and had lunch with my various groups. total expenditure less than $20.00. Tomorrow is my church lunch bunch, but since I'm a late riser and they meet at eleven thirty, I usually settle for an appetizer and a drink since I will have had breakfast late. Also tomorrow, I'm headed out for a relaxing afternoon of hot chocolate and craft-fairing. The hot chocolate is from my Starbucks rewards, and when it come to craft-fairing I tend to be one of those thankless people that says to myself "I can do that at home". So splurging is always a possibility, but rare. Except for earrings, you can never have too many earrings.

3. Baking season is upon is, and my local grocery store has Land O lakes butter on sale for 2.40 on one of those "buy ten get so much off deal". Since I make piles of Christmas cookies (and frosting), buying ten pounds of butter is a no brainer. Christmas cookies can be frozen for up to two months, so the baking (on my schedule and by my mood has begun).

4. Except for salad mix, fruit, milk and rolls we have again eaten completely from the pantry and freezer this week. Hopefully there are better meat sales next week. We did grab a deli chicken for tonight. Otherwise we've had southwestern chicken and pasta, turkey casserole, oxtail stew, and breakfast. Tomorrow, taco salad casserole and Sunday a huge pulled pork.

5. I exercised around the house with my on weights or walked the mall (without spending anything and avoiding those obnoxious soap sellers who keep begging you to smell their stuff). I read two library books and started a third (decided to read the Rebus series before watching the show). I did not go to see A Star is Born (I know how it end's I'll wait till it's free), or Bohemian Rhapsody(waiting for five dollar Tuesday) and instead relied on Netflix and Amazon Prime for my video entertainment.

Now, I'm off to iron more bags, prepare for my nice Saturday alone, and decide if a monthly book club is worth adding to my schedule, now that I've eliminated everything but church and my gals group and my knitting time........who knows?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Frugal Retirement Friday!

For my fellow TV series types, especiall the Aussie, British, Scandinavian series types, note that there is a new tab on the top showing the series I have watched and what I want to watch and what I hated or left. It is not complete and doesn't include things like GOT. I'm sure there are things missed and I will update as I can. I also hope to make another tab with the books I've read this year by type (most of my books are library books on my Kindle and Amazon keeps those in my "content" even after being returend). I would do one of completed projects if I could think of them all.

As I write this, my sister is on one of two job interviews and I am crossing my fingers this time. For years, since the newspapers made one of their "final employee cuts" she has been working a variety of contract and temporary type jobs. Interesting as all get out in many cases, but no benefits of any kind (vacation days to retirement) in all cases. She's in the last few years of working and would like to do some intensive saving. One of the jobs would in in Golden (with sis refusing to drive on  470, for those who live in Colorado), the other much closer and both either government or government serving type jobs.

Meanwhile, on the money front:

1.  I spent around thirty  dollars max on food this week. There were no sales as such worth grabbing on the front pages of any of the papers, so other than milk, juice, eggs and produce my only purchases were a couple things missing that I needed for the two large and frugal slow cooker meals that (along with leftovers) fed us until yesterday. Everything else for all meals was stuff in the pantry/freezer. I used boneless chicken thighs on hand purchased on sale to make chicken with wine and mushrooms (using a bag of mini carrots, veggies and spices and wine-we always have wine-on hand) with which we had herb biscuits. I also made a gigantic slow cooker full of the chili I talked about earlier with bacon, beans, tomatoes and seasoning. I also confess that I made cornbread from a jiffy mix. 

2. My sister very kindly ordered Chinese last night (I had Sesame Chicken) in order to repay me for my lost bathroom rugs. TMI perhaps, but we adopt dogs with special needs and hers has a very mild case of Crohn's disease that has occasional flareups. I suppose I should be glad she used my master bath instead of the carpeted living room or something else, bless her little heart.

3. My gal's group went out to late breakfast/early lunch one day (at a new place we won't be revisiting),  and a quick happy hour this week. On Wednesday I had my normal knitting get together -this week with no happy hour. Total out of pocket? Twenty one dollars-which would have been less if Starbucks hot chocolate wasn't calling me on the way to knitting, 60 degrees out or no. Unfortunately I kicked myself in the foot later in the week by having a hot dog and a diet root beer float-a contradiction in terms I suppose-at the local A&W while running an errand. I love rootbeer. Even diet rootbeer.  

A great example of an author I discoverd during my subscription to Kindle Unlimited (need to write about that as well) and then continued reading!

Other than the above, I entertained myself by watching the new British show The Bodyguard on Netflix, and watched some of Unforgotten as well. Not sure what I think of the first at this point, truth be told. I also got multiple books from the library (it's always feast or famine with that reserve system), discovered Utube in full after years of Instagram, played with the dogs, and right now I am amusing myself by watching the leaves fall from the trees (knowing that next week it'll be clean up time). I'll write a post about my half a day going doing the Utube rabbit hole later. 

6.  More constructively, I got a large part of my big blanket done and need to buy the other colors of yarn, worked on a chapter of my craft book,   and have been ripping out two quilts. I'm unhappy with the color I picked for my daughter's T-shirt quilt so am starting all over, and the same is true with the border of my simple triple nine patch. Sometimes, it just happens. As for all that felted wool, I have it out where I can be seeing it and "becoming one" while I decide what to do with it first. 

Moving from a really bright royal blue fabric to this colorscheme in various fabric for my T-shirt quilt.

7. We have not bought Halloween candy and probably won't. Not because I'm a holiday Grinch as such, but because last year we had about five doorbell rings and because Wednesday it's supposed to be sleety. So for the first time in a long time, if ever, I'll be turning off the light, and hiding on Halloween evening. And trying not to buy candy just for us.

8. On the down side, I have not done any earnings, even passively on the phone or using my grocery rebate apps this month. Absolutely none, I just ignored the whole thing. I'll try and do more starting next week.

9. It's not a frugal fail as such but I've been taking about doing some baking (I live with someone who can eat pretty much as he pleases), like mini coffee cake muffins and coffee cakes that I can cut into pieces. I've done nothing. Nada. Maybe next week. 

As found on the Brooklyn Farm Girl Blog

10. I got $400 quoted glasses elsewhere for $120 online, and four days later I'm still thrilled.

Next week there will be more spending. My twice a month big errand day and grocery sale shopping, plus I need some supplies for some ongoing Christmas projects like more blanket yarn. I hope to have a few posts between now and Christmas starting Monday of next week on the DIY stuff I do for Christmas and easy food gifts I make and such. I'm also trying to tell myself I don't need to go to one of those craft and sip type things at a local brewery, with a houseful of crafting here. But beer? People? Crafts? Maybe I can find a Groupon.

Finally,  completely off topic comment/question. For those nurse/medical type or others who have the same issue. I believe that I have Ulnar Nerve Entrapment Syndrome (even though I don't have the tingly fingers). The inside of my elbow feels like a bee is stinging it. Does anyone have this? Know more about it? Can I do anything except use a heating pad and sleeping with said arm out as straight as possible?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ordering Glasses Online-My Review Of Zenni Optical (Part 1)

Many of you may remember that back at the end of June I had my eyes dilated and got a new prescription-something that I had waited two years to do instead of one, lazy gal that I am. While the prescription adjustment was not terrible, my distance had gotten better and my up close eyesight (the reading part) had gotten worse. So I needed new glasses,  but my eyes were not so bad that I could not use the ones I had (scratches aside).

Which is a good thing, because even with discounts from places like Costco and the like, for a pair of regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses ( A necessity in Colorado), I was looking at a minimum of eight hundred dollars and more like a good thousand for two basic pairs. Ouch, ouch and more ouch. 

An idea of the options on the opening screen

Since I was not in immediate need, I decided to research online glasses. I shared my plan on this blogpost,  posted on my local Next Door (where I got a piles of mostly positive reviews) and then decided to do my due diligence online via reviews and the like. After almost two months of research (and being in no rush) I decided to try Zenni for my glasses. They were among the cheapest and I had excellent reviews. 

Photos of my glasses as they appeared on

Now, I had my eyes checked at Pearl Eye Vision, where they had absolutely no problem with giving me my prescription and measuring my pupils as well. My understanding is that any optician is required by law to give you your own prescription. As far as the pupillary distance, you can easily measure it yourself or stop by any "eyeglass shop" to have it done. The third thing I needed were the measurements of my current glasses, which in my case were on the inside near the temple, and after the style and model number.

Armed with this information, I headed to Zenni to begin my search.  They guide you through the process, and it was fairly simple. I chose what kind of glasses (no line progressives) first. Then I entered some measurements-the bridge, the length of the sides and the height of the lenses (which is more subjective). In general, the guidelines I read said that you had about a two mm differental allowance when looking at glasses and the glasses that pulled up for me were generally in that range. I also had to enter the width of my glasses, the one place I measured myself. In this part of the process I could have specified shape (cat, round, rectangle and so on) as well as materials and even color and metallics.  I opted not to do that and just see what the glasses shown would be. 

This photo and the photo below show the color variation in the glasses better

My results pulled up about three pages of glasses, and I explored at length. also gave me the option of uploading a photo and "trying on" various glasses to compare. Eventually, I decided to go away from my tortoise shell-y colored glasses and go with a darker blue-a change for me, but I also knew I was probably going gray and that might be a good contrast. The lenses were slightly bigger than my old glasses. I also took a risk, and decided to go with glasses that were a couple mm smaller than my old ones, as my old ones were falling off every time I bent over. 

At this point in the process I entered my prescription-an easy matter, even with my progressives and the pupillary distance and began choosing my lenses. There were many options and I wont go into it here, except to say I chose the best of the "recommended" lenses that were Photocromic (changing) and gray. An experiment in darkness, as my current sunglasses are amber. I also chose a basic anti reflective coating, not bothering with a "blue blocker" because I have a blue shade on all of my devices that I can adjust for day or night. Finally, I did not choose sunglasses because at this point we were at the experimental stage. I did choose clip-ons to go with the glasses, being prepared to order prescription sunglasses depending on my satisfaction level (a screen print of my receipt is below).

I ordered my glasses on 9 October and decided simple priority would be fine. My glasses arrived yesterday, and I unpacked and put them on immediately. My prescription is not greatly different and so far I have not felt any adjustment issues. Said glasses were tight on the temples, but I did some bending with online instruction, and for the price I paid for these I have no problem whatsoever paying twenty five bucks for "professional alteration" if these do not loosen up a bit here.

While I'll wait to take an "on my face" picture until later in the day, the glasses are pretty darn close to the up close and personal picture that appeared in Zenni. They are extremely comfortable aside from the temples which I will adjust as needed, and I like the fact that the lenses are a bit bigger. While they are still considered the cat eye style, they give greater coverage, which I think I like.

I have not walked out side to see how well and how much the glasses will change (I know they don't change in the car, hence my clip ons until I get sunglasses). I've obviously only worn these a day, and will need more wear and tear to see how the glasses handle and how they loosen up on their own. The frames themselves seem as well made as any Pearl Vision frame and the fact that there are no initials on the side of my glasses bothers me not a whit.

After 24 hours, my Zenni review, without going outside is an A-both on the cost and on the performance side. My glasses, including shipping, were $120.00. I could, at this price, get a backup pair in a different color, sunglasses, and still not have spent as much money for a single pair as I probably would have even at Costco.

As I said, I will post a couple other reviews as we progress, but at this point I honestly do not see what's not to like about online glasses!

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