Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This has been my day in snowy North Carolina

Remember peeps this is North Carolina, not one of the states from up north ways.  We can handle tornadoes, hurricanes etc.............but not so much when it comes to snow.  Usually in this part of the state we get ice but last night we got snow.  I think it is pretty.  I didn't mind going into work because I don't want to waste a vacation day.  It would be nice if I could have come in a few hours later but as it was I arrived at 7:45 in the morning. 
this was the passenger side view on the way into work.  I think the television station was wrong when they said all major thoroughfares were clear to go.  This is Highway 70.  Does it look scraped to you?  I didn't think so

this was the view from my front porch


So now I am home, getting ready to cook some dinner, turn up the heat, watch some tv and get ready to do it all again tomorrow morning.
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good grief it's snowing.....................let's call it an emergency

For the love of all that is holy, you'd think we were in blizzard conditions.  Schools were closed today but yet it did not start to snow until about 5:30 in the afternoon.  Facebook is lighting up like a Christmas tree.  And my employer says we don't close for anything. Nope I do not work in healthcare.  No one will lose their life if I don't make it to work but yet I'm expected to be there.  With bells on.  One thing I do need to do is buy some good winter boots.  This part of North Carolina does not get much snow but when we do we tend to walloped.

photo via sassyecards.com

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What is your criteria when purging?

Is it a timeframe?  Like if you don't wear or use an item within a certain timeframe you toss or give away?  Or do you just get ruthless and toss it?  I've got to toss a ton of stuff and I keep getting stuck on the fact that I MAY need it sometime in the future even though I haven't used it that much now.  My home is bit over 1500 square feet with virtually no storage space and we have loads of junk.  So guys tell me how you decide and where do you take it?

Cheers!

Another Cash Only Rant/Post

Well I got a letter from my credit union.  My debit card MAY have been comprised.  They did not list the merchant.  I'm assuming it's Target but now there's news that Michael's may have been  hacked as well and I did shop there at one point during the holidays.  I can not remember if I used debit or cash.
Either way it's just one more straw to break this camel's back.  I was telling dh that I am seriously considering only using the debit for gas purchases.  This will be a pain as it means I always have to have the cash on hand to do other shopping.  That also means I have to carefully plan these jaunts which goes against my nature, if you know what I mean.  I found this video from another blog and I think it's quite cool, a family living on cash only. 

The more I live on cash the less chance of my debit/credit card being compromised.  Tell me what you think.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I have a heart for the working poor

I don't know about you but I'm not so sure that this country is on the upswing.  I keep hearing about layoffs, foreclosures, food banks and charities being stretched even more to accommodate more requests for help.  This bothers me and sometimes I feel like a deer in the headlights, frozen in place, not knowing where to go or what to do.
I understand that some people make very bad decisions but I truly believe that most people are hardworking folks, doing what they can to put a roof over their head and food on the table.  Not everyone can pull themselves up by the bootstraps, climb that corporate ladder and get out of their circumstances.  What is a family to do when they are used to the husband making 60 grand a year suddenly finding himself making 25 working a retail job where he can only afford insurance for himself?  What about the single parent who gets a week vacation and MAYBE, just maybe a week of sick pay?  What are they to do when their child gets sick and they have no more time and they can't afford to take a day off without pay?  What about your neighbors where the husband got laid off and the wife is the only one bringing home a paycheck?  They've raided their savings, his retirement and the future is looking bleak?  Now I'm going to bring up some hot political topics:  food stamps and unemployment benefits.   I am not here to argue one side or the other but I will say that I truly believe that cuts in both will put strains on charities, agencies, and food banks.   The local Catholic Parish Outreach here is straining to help people. 
What can I do?  It's hard to volunteer at places that help these people because they need volunteers during the work week and I work.  Most soup kitchens around here don't serve on the weekends.  I'm not sure why because people are still hungry.  Most ministries are open during the week as well. 
I think of Judy and what she is doing at her local parish, teaching people how to shop for food in a healthy, frugal manner AND how to prepare that food.  You know so many people really don't know how to prepare this type of food.  They are used to boxes of mac and cheese, hot dogs and frozen pizza.  Do DHHS offices offer recipes to their clients?  I don't know but I think it would be a wonderful way to help. 
This is an old video but I think it is a good illustration of what I'm talking about. 

Do any of you volunteer at soup kitchens, ministries, food banks?  If so, what are you noticing?  Is it getting better or are more families using these services?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Practicing Hospitality

So this year I am focusing on frugality, simplicity while practicing hospitality.  Now that can seem like an oxymoron but I hope to learn this year how to be hospitable without robbing our savings and not going nuts in the process.  I have a couple of books I've read in the past and will start reading again this year. 
Some of the ways to make hospitality easier is to have a notebook with various ideas, menus, info from previous attempts.  The purpose is to have all of this information in one place, easy to find and put into practice.  Another thing I think that will make practicing hospitality easier for me is to keep my home in a tidier state on an ongoing basis.  How many of us would love to have someone over but we panic at the thought of someone seeing our home.  I'm not talking about being Martha Stewart ready but still keeping my home tidy, picked up ready to receive guests at a moments notice. That will take work for me as I tend to be lazy.  And the food.................oh goodness.  Once again I'm not talking about being a sous chef but having some easy recipes and most important the ingredients for those recipes on hand at all times.  That will take some effort at the grocery store and may cost a bit more at first but I believe that this will even out in the long run. It can be as simple as some cans of soup and cheese slices for grilled cheese, to the ingredients for Mexican soup to spaghetti.  The list goes on and on.  Only we can decide what is a good/simple/tasty recipe to serve to others.  I don't believe that what we serve or how our home looks will be what our guests remember as much as how welcomed they felt in our home.  How many times have you visited someone and although their home was beautiful and the food lovely you kind of felt like you were a burden?  The hostess running around, talking about how much work they've done.  I don't know about you but that makes me feel guilty.  This has really happened to me a couple of times.  The hostess meant no harm by her remarks but I felt like I had put an extra burden on her and for that I felt guilty.  And homemade food?  Well if you are a great cook and that is your thing then go for it but I, myself, have no problem with using cut and slice cookie dough, frozen pizza or Country Time Lemonade.  Once again I think it is the thoughtfulness that counts.  If you choose to use paper products, go for it. I would not be insulted if you served me food on a paper plate but for me..........unless it's a large crowd, or unless I have some really beautiful, festive paper plates, I will use my Fiestaware.    I think it should be rather easy to have a couple of different types of beverages in our homes at all times.  Even if you don't drink soda you could find a deal on soda, buy it and have it ready, or mix up some of the Country Time.  And if you live in the south well folks down here love some good ole sweet tea.  Sweet tea is the wine of the south ya'll!!!  Keep some good smelling candles on hand or if you are concerned about allergies, keep some unscented candles on hand to light to give your home that "homey" light and feeling.  Scent is important to me. 
Well I think that is enough for now.
What suggestions do you guys have?  What has worked for you?  What hasn't?  Do you practice hospitality or intimidated by the thought? 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hurricanes beat Philly!!




That's hockey baby!!!  Let's go Canes!!

Does your job require you to be at work during bad weather?

oh my goodness............snow was in the forecast for late yesterday afternoon, evening and early this morning.  This forecast sent untold numbers to grocery stores to buy bread, milk and the usual storm stuff.  Heck one of coworkers left work early yesterday so his wife would not have to drive in "it".  It really didn't happen.  Sure there was a trace amount of snow on the ground but good grief Charlie Brown.  The television stations went on and on about it.  Sometimes I wonder if they like to "create" these stories so they will have something to report about. 
My job sent out an email telling us basically we are expected to be at work then at the very bottom we are told that if we are concerned about our safety then stay at home.  Which is it?  We are not in  the  healthcare industry.  No one's health is compromised if we are not there. 
Think about what bad weather really costs us:

  1. If you stay at home, you have to use 8 hours of vacation time.  I consider my time off as extra money in the bank. 
  2. If you don't have time to take, you are out of luck-so that is a day without pay
  3. The work that will be waiting on you when you do return
  4. The "wrath" or at the very least , the somewhat less than happy response you will get when you do return to work.  ummmmmmm  your coworkers that did make it will most likely be hot with you
  5. If you do go to work and get in a accident, then that will be costly as well
So as an employee you have to weigh this decision very carefully.  Several years ago I along with my manager were the only employees who came in that day.  It was not fun for me and I got annoyed because no one really showed any appreciation for it.  That gives you something to think about the next time it happens.
Does your job require you to come in during bad weather?  Does this cause problems for your family?
Does it bother you if you come in and those who live closer to work can't make it?  If you don't make it do you have to use vacation time?


photo Raleighskyline.com
 

       

Monday, January 20, 2014

And the winner is.............................

ta da.....................................Herbal Mist-the paint sample on the far left.  It has more green in it.  I can't believe I went from grey to a paler green within the span of a few hours.  DH made a good point.  The lighting in our stairwell is quite dark and the grey would make it even darker.  I am constantly complaining about the cave we live in.  So this should make it brighter and plus we do love colors that remind us of the coast.

Behr Herbal Mist-middle row far left!!

So my husband is Bob Vila

Well maybe not Bob Vila but Mr. Frugalingtown is going to do some painting this week while he is off and I'm trying to choose some gray colors.

I'm trying to stay neutral but still have color if that makes sense.  We've had the same old boring builder beige since we moved in and that was in 1991.  I want to change it up a bit. 
Slate
has a blue tint to me-kind of Williamsburg Blue
Fusion
looks more grey to me

Gray Timber Wolf
looks a bit too silvery for me


Right now I am leaning towards the Fusion as it looks more like a true grey to me.




 

This is Garner

Just a cute sign in my town.
Garner, North Carolina an All American City

Do you have the day off?

I do..........I've done a couple loads of laundry and drumroll please...............went walking in our local park.  I walked 1.5 miles in 36 minutes.  I won't qualify for the summer Olympics but for this fat couch potato, it's a good start.

Next I will take a shower and take my car to be inspected.  It's due by mid February.  North Carolina has started paying car taxes and tags at the same time.  I don't know if other states do this or not but this is new for us.  Obviously the car has to be inspected first then I can go online and pay if I choose.
I'm not sure if I like this method but I have no choice.  So I've got to man up.

I listened to Daily Audio Bible on my walk.  It's pretty neat to hear God's word while looking at his creation.  Sweet...................

Thursday and Friday this week I will be attending suicide prevention classes at my church.  I won't be working some kind of prevention line or anything like that but it will give me the tools to be able to better recognize signs from friends and family who are considering this option. Three years ago a friend/coworker killed himself and just a few months back a good friend of my husband who was also a chaplain killed himself.  One shot himself and one hung himself.  As far as I know neither exhibited any signs that they were considering this.  So I don't know what to expect from taking these classes.
My friend's suicide was very hard for me, I can't imagine the pain his family experienced.  I went to my pastor and a Stephens Minister to talk about it.  It was that bad.  His funeral was the worst I ever went to and that includes both of my parents.

I hope we also learn how to minister to the family members who are left behind in devastation and despair and guilt. 

Well enough of the Debbie downer................just wanted to let you know what my week is looking like right now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

oh well...........tonight I unjoined Weight Watchers

Fact is yes I am obese.  Fact is now I am not in the correct mind set to join Weight Watchers.  Now I am going to continue with eating healthier and incorporating some kind of exercise, mostly walking but also some swimming.  And if I can find a Zumba class that fits my schedule, I'd like to try that.

Oddly I don't feel like a failure but unjoining.  I have never followed through with anything in my life, except my marriage.  I start, stop, start stop.  I have good intentions.  We all know what they say about good intentions.

It honestly is not totally about what I eat but that I am not physically active at all.  When I had my back surgery I walked every day, sometimes 2-3 times a day to rehab.  I was getting fitter and I looked better and lost weight. Simply by being more active.  I stopped when I went back to work.  I am dog tired when I get home and I would have to get up quite early to do it before work. 

Fact is I have to find a way to work walking into my schedule.  Simple as that.  On tv today they mentioned a study that if you work out in the morning you do better.  Have better results. 

Fact is 2014 is supposed to be the year of frugal/simple living and adding another bill to the budget was not the best decision.  Especially when I can do many things free of charge.

I believe that WW is a good group and they help a lot of people.  I just can't or don't want to do it right now.  You have to be ready and that I am not.

Oh well.........onto the next step.  Somehow someway I'd love to be 40 pounds lighter by the end of 2014.  I have a lot of work to do.

Friday, January 17, 2014

I joined Weight Watchers last night

I know that some of you will say, dumb move.  Save the money and do it yourself.  I've tried that and it's not working.  I know some of you will think I'm weak to need a group to help but that's too bad.  The fact is I'm obese.  Not fat, obese.  There are many reasons why I want to lose the weight:

  1. my health-duh-that's pretty obvious
  2. I'm tired of being tired
  3. I want to be able to bend down and not feel like I have to grunt
  4. I'd like to buy clothes again that don't go above size 12
  5. Walk up stairs without getting winded

There are other reasons as well. 

The leader seems very nice, understanding and energetic!  The group seemed like a lot of fun with several men in attendance.

I need to lose about 74 pounds to get to the upper end of my target zone.

Please don't judge me but I do ask for prayers and good thoughts and of course if you have great recipes to try, let me know!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Let me tell about the weather in North Carolina today

Freezing temps earlier in the week and today..........................drumroll please..............
Tornado warnings and here in the damage in my neighbor.  This is just one of the homes.  It is right around the corner from our house. 

I was out to lunch with my bestie and we're getting ready to leave.  I hear the waitress tell other customers to please get away from the windows and prepare to take cover as a tornado warning has been issued for us.  So I call my dh and ask him how it is at home.  He said it's not bad but it's getting worse.  Then he starts texting me that funnel clouds have been spotted............tree limb down, power out etc..........So we stay at the restaurant as I don't want to become a human misselle in my car.  This is what I saw as I turned into the neighborhood.  I tried to upload another photo but it won't for some reason.   Down the street a really big tree is sitting right smack dab in the middle of their home.  If you live in North Carolina just a few hours you could possibly experience several different kinds of weather all in the same day.
 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

When you've cut your budget to the bone

What's next?  This is just a post to start a converstion and hopefully give some helpful information to someone out in blogland who could use it.

This is for that family or person who is in financial danger: either they lost a job or the salary they make can not meet their bills.

For starters..........have you really cut your budget to the bone?  Have you cut out cable?  Yep, cable.  I know............we love to watch sports in my house but if I lost my job or couldn't pay my bills, out goes cable and I will go back to basic tv.  I know this cut could be painful but it would have to happen in case of emergency.

Cell phone..........call your provider and see if a deal can be worked out.  If you don't have a landline, you need basic phone services somehow.  Can you go to a basic plan that does not include texting, or taking pictures?  Once again, I know this may hurt but it would need to happen in case of emergency.

Utilities............can you contact the companies to work out a payment plan?  Some will work with you while others won't but you never know until you try.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

You can't reduce your mortgage/rent payment so that has to be primary importance.  You must keep a roof over your head.  I personally think that you also have to keep the water.   I mean come on we need water to survive but..use it wisely.  If you have an older dishwasher it may be more economical to hand wash dishes.  Put one side of the sink to wash, and fill the other side with clean water to rinse.  Don't let the faucet run on and on.

Use products as little as possible.  Figure out how much dish detergent, laundry detergent/fabric softener you really need and use that amount. Find out how low you can go until you reach the ick point.  Vinegar is excellent as fabric softener.  It cuts down on residues on clothing.  The scent does not linger either.  One reason I love blue Dawn detergent is you really only need a little bit.  I find bargain dish detergents are no where near as good.  I end up using twice as much compared to Dawn.
Vinegar mixed with water is also an excellent overall cleaner.  I like to mix in some essential oils to make it smell better.  Bleach works wonders as well if you can take the smell.  Baking soda is good to use as a scrub.  Mix a bit of baking soda with liquid soap to make a paste to use as a kind of "soft scrub".  Baking soda is also good obviously for cleaning commodes.  Put some in the bowl, scrub, mix some vinegar.  Wait for Mount Vesuvius to stop exploding and voila a clean commode.
Some folks use baking soda as deodarant and toothpaste.  Not me,I can't do that.  Yuck.
Cut down on other products as well such as toothpast, make up, shampoo, conditioner.  I do shower every day but maybe I could cut down on the amounts I use. Once again experiment until you reach the ick factor. 

If you've done all of these plus myriad of other ideas and still find yourself in a bind then I would suggest you need to go somewhere to ask for help.  That help could come from many place:
  1. family
  2. friends
  3. church
  4. charities
  5. government
these are just a few of the place one could go to.  I don't want to debate welfare here as that is futile but if you have been working, you've paid into the system and time to let someone know that YOU need some help now.  Please be aware that many charities and churches will require you to show proof of your need, they will not just take your word for it and I can't blame them.  they have limited funds to help.  Some have income restrictions so you still may make too much money for them to be able to help.  Just be prepared.

Okay................so what other suggestions have I missed?  I know there are tons of them.
I did not mention groceries because I think that is a given and there are tons of blogs that speak of this subject in depth!!  Generic and couponing are jus 2 ways to save big at the store.  And hey!  we could try our new found skills at gardening.

So go at it!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do you have the ability to create a second income stream? What skill do you have?

Since Christmas I've been mulling over things.  Things like my SIL and BIL.  She stays at home still even though both kids have graduated college.  My BIL, along with his fulltime job, buys lawn mowers, fixes them and resells them.  He also helps another BIL with farming.  They told us they have pecan trees and considering selling the pecans.  They would need to buy some kind of contraption that shells the pecans.  This piece of equipment would cost around $3000.00.  They are still in the consideration stage but I told my dh that I thought it was pretty cool.  They are always doing something like this. 
So I told my dh that I think we need to have a second income stream, but what?  I don't know.  Neither one of us is crafty, or handy at repairs.  It will take a lot of thinking outside the box. 




Would you still work full time if you didn't have to?

We don't have children but I've never felt that "need or desire" to work fulltime until retirement.  I've always wanted to be a stay at home housewife.  I know there are some out there, probably not a lot but I know they exist somewhere. 
Our first mistake was buying a home that needed 2 salaries.  Big big mistake.  Second mistake has been horrible money management on MY part, not dh's.  Now here we are, I'm 52.  I still don't want to work fulltime until retirement.  The house will be paid for in 3 years.  I would pay more on the house but I need to build up our emergency fund.  I would that to be at a minimum 3 month.  Yep you got that right.  Due to MY mismanagement we don't have at least a 3 month EF.  Now I know that most Americans fall into this category but I don't want to be like most Americans.  The recession the past few years taught me a HUGE lesson.  So many people just like me, not exactly living the high life but no savings.  When they lost their job, they quickly ran through whatever savings they had.  Then they ran through their 401k's, they applied for food stamps, many lost their homes etc........We all know what happened.  I don't have any friends who fit this scenario but I'm sure some of you do.  This was a wake up call for me. 
I could work part time and survive, I think.  But health insurance is the question.  To add me to my dh's policy would be quite expensive.  I think his premium would go up at least $400.00.  I've spoken with him about working part time as there are times that I just hate where I am.  He tells me I can but his tone of voice doesn't exactly sound so positive.  I think he is telling me what I want to hear.  In all reality we could make it if I worked part time but that old health insurance thing is like a bad penny, it just keeps coming back.  I couldn't qualify for a private policy, at least I don't think so.  I had major foot surgery in 2009 and back surgery in 2013.  I don't want to sign up for any of the new "affordable" plans via Obamacare. 
So I'm plugging along, working full time.  I don't hate my job at all but I don't feel or think it's my calling. I don't look forward to going. I would love to feel appreciated. It does provide a good salary.  One in which I am finally on a savings drive to build that EF.  It does provide good benefits.  Health insurance, retirement accounts such 401k's or money market accounts.  They match a certain percentage of what we put in.  It is a good company to work for.  I can not complain about my employer at all.  I just want to be at home.  I know that sounds ridiculous but it's how I feel.
When I was out with my back surgery, someone commented on how good I looked.  I did look good.  You know why?  I wasn't stressed.  Sure my back hurt from the surgery and recovery but I wasn't stressed and that reflected in how I looked.  I mean people were surprised at how good I looked. 
Can anyone out there relate? 
 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What am I doing today? Saturday January 4, 2014

Why thank you for asking.  I am watching my dvd of Julie/Julia.  I love this movie.  Doing some laundry and guess what is in my laundry?
I love my scrubbies

That's right-scrubbies!!  I wash my scrubbies along with towels, sheets etc.  I do not dry them as they would melt in the dryer.  Why two you ask?  Well I have a skin condition that at this point is not curable.  It could get worse, oh how I hope that doesn't happen.  At its worst, I could have to undergo skin grafts but I digress.  Upon orders from the dermatologist office I use antibacterial body wash on the parts that are the worst and sometimes I use a "pretty and smelly" body wash on the rest of the old bod.


As well as laundry I have some chicken breasts in the crock pot
 
I will add some cream cheese, cream of chicken soup and mushroom pieces in a few minutes and cook for another hour or so.  Voila-creamy Italian chicken!!
 
So what are you guys up to today?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Salute to Sluggy

So after reading Sluggy's blog and her reasons for NOT having a no spend January.  I can see her point.  I think, at least in my case, a no spend was(note I said was) a tool to kind of jump start me on better spending habits.  I did not put Christmas on credit.  In fact my Visa has a balance right now of a bit under $55.00 and I'm expecting a credit of $20.83 to post soon, I hope!! 
I actually can see both sides of this conversation.  If you don't spend foolishly, you can spend at any time you want.
Like today for example.......................I have been looking for ways to not use bottle water as much as I do.  I don't use a bottle every day but I do drink it and mostly from an environmental  save rather than money saved.  I plan on buying a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottle.  I think that would send the folks in the No Spend January into a stroke!!  LOL.  I'm sure I'd receive some interesting responses if I said what I'm planning on doing.  So I will keep that bit of info to myself!!  Shh......don't tell anyone. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014