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The Pink Snowman

December 26th, 2010 at 08:18 pm

I was digging thru a couple of largely ignored cupboards a few weeks ago, looking for some hunting thing that Hubby couldn't find. What a bunch of stuff! I was going to say junk, but it really wasn't. I have been avoiding some areas for the last couple of years, thinking that I was going to have a really kick-a** garage sale at some time....... in the future....... Yeah, it never happened. I'm not packing this stuff back in, so I started just giving it away. I don't really feel like all of the prep time, goofing around, etc. that goes into a garage sale anyway. And we are not talking big ticket items here, Example : a pkg of light bulbs with he tiny little bases. I probably grabbed the wrong thing off the store shelf, I don't think I ever owned anything that used that kind of bulb, and they were only $1.10 brand new. About a half dozen diapers, newborn size, left over from when my Granddaughter wore that size, last year! 3 or 4 goodie bags for kids from my daughters baby shower! We made them up with some little things to keep the kids occupied during the shower. I don't have time to mess with selling that stuff, so I started giving it away. A couple of the big things i freecycled, a new board game, some candles, most i took to work and left on the table in the break room with a note "take me home" My boss took the handful of homemade Barbie clothes for her granddaughter, goodie bags, crepe paper streamers, a sandwich baggie of leggos, half used colored pencils, kids size mittens, all disappeared in a gratifying hurry. All went to someone who wanted them, and I don't care if I ever have a garage sale! Oh, and the Christmas tree that I dragged up from the basement? My daughter is going to take it. I was commenting that I really would have liked a smaller tree, I was going to look for one on sale after Christmas this year, and she offered to trade me! She has a tabletop tree that was given to them last year, and were talking about looking for a big, full size tree on sale this year, after the holiday (clearance shopping? that's my girl!) Problem solved! I still have a few things, a half finished latch hook pillow top, a game board with no pieces, (but still good, its a card game so you could still use it with a deck of cards and a few pennies,) and a small photo album. Then I'm going to get brave and open another drawer! Why Not? Oh, and the pink snowman? Well, that was a pump top soap dispenser I bought for myself a few years ago, It was so cute, and I was going to use it my my kitchen sink. Well, when you filled the little guy up with orange, anti-bacterial dish soap, he turned a really bilious color, sort of like he had a really bad spray tan, if you know what I mean. So, its been hiding in a corner, until I got a bottle of pink hand lotion for Christmas! Now he's a beautiful blushing pink! Now that I can live with!

And Belly Dancing???

November 10th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Now stop me if you've heard this one.... I was just clicking thru some articles about earning extra money by taking a second (or third) job, and this title caught my eye "Mystery Shopping and Belly Dancing". Not simultaneously, I hope. But it reminded me of this..... True story: I had a neighbor 20+ years ago, who got a job evenings at a topless bar in the area. I do some sewing, so she came to me to make her a few costumes. (bottoms only obviously) Anyway, she came over one day complaining about how the dishwasher was acting up, and how hard it was to find a reliable repairman. And then as the conversation wound its way onward, we came to the part where she told me she was making around $250 a night in tips. I laughed! I told her S*****, if you're making $250 dollars every night it tips, go buy yourself a new dishwasher! She looked at me with the most amazed look on her face! You could see the little light bulb over her head glowing! "Oh Yeah" she says in this wondering tone of voice....... You can't make this stuff up.

The Yuck Factor

October 20th, 2010 at 07:18 pm

I was just reading a blog about Halloween candy, what kids like, what kids don't, that famous ???? item every once in a while. For us the yuck item was the Smarties candies. Those little pastel colored tabs in a long cellophane tube. None of my kids liked the mouthful of powder taste, they used to kick around in the cupboard until I got tired of moving them, and tossed them out. I always felt guilty for throwing them away, so I did eat a few first. Which got me thinking about certain items that I have eaten over the years, even tho I really didn't care for it, just so it wouldn't go to waste. Remember the cabbage soup diet? I knew a gentleman who did actually lose quite a bit of weight on this diet, you make up this huge kettle of soup and eat nothing else for like a week at a time. Easy idea, but the soup really sucked! Excuse my french. I made the soup, it was bitter and nasty, and I ate every bite. I didn't lose a pound unfortunately, because I did all kinds of stuff to it to get it down. Put it over noodles, rice, bread, lots of crackers, all helped, but negated the low cal factor. I pureed some and used it for a base for beef soup, marginally better. I poured it over a roast in the crock pot, that was probably the best idea. I still cant look a bowl of cabbage soup in the face, even the good stuff, every time I think of that soup. Yuck. I was quite proud of myself at the time, for figuring out a way not to waste all that stuff, but I was much younger then. I think if it was today I might just feed it to the compost pile. Compost is valuable too!

Even When You've Got A Plan........

October 5th, 2010 at 12:42 am

Also known as "Kids...You Can't Sell Them To The Gypsies Anymore" That was a big threat in my house when we were little, be good, or I might sell you to the Gypsies! What exactly the gypsies wanted with a bunch of really bad kids I could never figure out..oh well. A short true life tale of personal finance follows. I work with a very nice, 60 something lady, in the health care business. She is a lovely, caring person, never a bad word about anything, until it comes to money. She and her husband are both retired auto workers. Now here in Michigan, unless you are very newly retired, "retired auto worker" is synonymous with "set for life." Those workers have retirement benefits that make government retirees look like the hired help. Medical, dental, pensions, survivor benefits, you name it, the UAW has gotten it for them in spades. But this Lady is back to work. Why, you ask? Because they lent money to one of their children. They put a mortgage, and a bunch of credit card debt out, to help one of their children start a business. The business failed. I didn't ask what kind of business. Anyway the banks were heavily involved, and one or both of their pensions is garnished until I don't know when. So the Lady went back to work to pay some bills. The husband has a bad back, and simply can't work anymore. Their secure, comfortable retirement is gone. So the moral of the story is, love your kids, free babysitting is great, but tell them to borrow money from the Gypsies, after all, they have all that kid buying income coming in!

Economy Recovering? Not Here!

September 24th, 2010 at 03:42 am

I have to say that I'm somewhere between skeptical and a snort of disbelief, when I read that the economy is recovering. Don't take that oxygen off just yet Doc! Case in point: I had some nice big man sized clothes that came to us when my FIL passed away over a year ago. We got them because my Hubby is the same size. Only problem, my FIL was 5'4" and Hubby is about 6'. So after shuffling them around in the closet for a year, I put them on the local freecycle website. I had 29 replies in the first 8 hours! Several people wrote me about how expensive bigger sizes are, and they can't find them at the local WallyWorld (yeah, you know), I ended up splitting them up into several bundles. Our local newspaper ran a front page story this week, on how to apply for free and reduced price school lunches. Who to call, where to get the paperwork, if you apply and are denied, you can re-apply any time your income changes. This is front page news?! We have a group at church that makes hats and scarves, and they go to the local mental health support group. 8 or so years ago, when we first started, we offered the school social worker, who is also a member of our church, first dibs on any she might want for the school. She said at that time, she really didn't need anything, she had other sources that more than covered the few requests she had. Now I hear that she has called US wanting to know if the offer is still open! Well of course it is! Would any of us want to see a child go without a hat in a Michigan winter? I am thinking that a bare-bones lifestyle may soon be considered the "normal" way to live. It doesn't hurt my feelings any, we have been doing it all along. But, I do fell a little badly for the thirty-somethings, that grew up hollering "let me eat cake!" (apologies to Marie-Antoinette) They expected that they could "eat cake" forever, and it doesn't look good at this point. They will have to first bake the cake, with a mix they got on sale, and use a coupon, to improve the bottom line. The new normal. Voila'.

Didn't Your Parents Have A Mortgage?

September 19th, 2010 at 12:09 am

I just skimmed thru a blog posting, written by a blogger making a living by giving out good financial advice, who was doing some self-rationalization on why he is (probably) going to buy a house with no down payment. He made the usual good points about prices going down, interest rates going down, wanting to build equity etc. etc. Followed by 60+ comments warning him of everything from appliance failures to sudden hurricanes, all of which HE, and not a landlord, would now be responsible! True, all true. But my question is this, didn't most of us grow up in a household where our parents were paying a mortgage? Did the fact that they were also responsible for all of the various and sundry, repairs/bills that go along with that escape some of us? I can't imagine how? Our dinner table conversation was liberally peppered with comments about the washer being on the fritz again, and how much did it cost to have it fixed the last time. Patching that bathroom roof one more time, until the money was there to re-roof the whole house. Yikes, the insurance went up again! Didn't we just tweak the policy to get a better price? Helping Uncle Ed fix a couple of windows, and then he was going to help Dad with the porch floor. How has (apparently) an entire generation missed all of this? Now admittedly, the economy is far different than it was 30 or even 20 years ago, but I can't believe that an entire generation has grown up in rental housing, chasing the landlord (or ducking, as the case may be) blithely ignorant of the realities of owning something! If you own a car, you are responsible for repairs, maintainence etc. Why would you not realize that a house is the same principle? I grew up in farming country, I remember the comments about people who moved on because they just "couldn't make it" on the farm. Families lost their homes then, just like now. Now, I will admit (loudly) that being able to find a job and regroup WAS a lot easier in past days, but no one, at any time is guaranteed a perfect life. Sorry, I digress. (often) I just can't imagine how they missed all that!

The New Math Haircut

September 16th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Just a quick cutie. I went to the beauty shop to have my hair trimmed last week. I told the girl to take off "oh about an inch". Nod, nod. We were chatting, the hair was falling, and when it was all over, WOW, that was a lot of hair on the floor. Looked to me like way more than an inch. So, I went home, and Hubby looks at me and says "I thought you were only going to get a trim?" I told him I had only requested an inch or so off all around, he looked at me for a minute and says "It must be the new math." OMG! He's not always the quickest on the uptake, but sometimes he really spouts a zinger! I tease him about his work because he's always complaining about pipes cut wrong, ordering the wrong parts etc. (he works factory maintainence) Anybody in the later 40's or so, might remember back in the late 60's early 70's, some learned educator came out with "the new math". It was supposed to be an easier way to teach kids the math basics, they even had classes for the parents, so they could learn how to help their kids with homework. Well, it didn't take very many years, and it fell by the wayside, pretty much, math is math. So anytime that a lack of math skills becomes obvious, we blame the new math! All I can say is it's a good thing that hair grows everyday!

Keep One Eye on the Big Picture

July 25th, 2010 at 01:45 am

I need to be one of those lizards with the two eyes which can go in different directions. Actually, sometimes in the AM, before I put my glasses on...... mmmm, not going there. I had a very enlightening morning. Its the weekend of my 30th class reunion. About 9 of us got together for breakfast this morning. These are all girls (?) that I hung around with in school, some stayed local, some are here from all over the country. This is the first time that I felt we are all living in the same universe, country, life etc. Its quite a diverse group, executive types, SAHM's and everything in between. I have seen most of these same girls every 5 years at the other reunions, and maybe its just the dinner/party atmosphere of the actual reunion, which is tonight, but this is probably the nicest conversation that I have ever had with some of them. At this moment in time, for better or worse, we are ALL on the same page. EVERYONE is hurting/nervous financially. Not one person was sure that their job will still be there in a year. We are all scrambling to decide how to fund a retirement when pension plans have taken a major hit, probably, (we decided), no social security to speak of, we're buying/selling/refinancing/losing our homes, and still raising families! If the pollsters want to know how Americans are doing compared to five years ago, I can tell them who to talk to! I always feel slightly silly/stupid/uninformed at these things, because it seems like everyone else is doing so great! And I'm still OK. Nothing wrong with OK, it's just...OK. Some of us thought we saw it coming, some were completely surprised, but we all agreed that we won't be looking at finances in the same way, maybe ever again. It's easy to get so lost in the day to day, work, home, kids, school cycle, that its hard to believe things can change so fast, and permanently! It may now be too late to correct some of those old financial gaffes. The girl that's losing her house may never be able to buy another. By the time the fallout disappears, financial, credit-wise etc. she may not be able to get the cash together to get financing again, and if she does, she will be hustling to get it paid off and be able to retire at any reasonable age. Another knows that she will probably never retire, she will have to work until she is physically not able to do so anymore. There is an unemployed teacher, and a nurse (a nurse!) Now to be fair, they could both certainly go elsewhere and find employment, but that would mean uprooting their families, and employed spouses, and there is no guarantee it would be any better! Will the spouse find a job? They will lose benefits/pensions at the job they have, will they find something comparable? We are all on the cusp of almost 50, statistics prove older workers have a harder time (than usual) of finding good paying jobs. Employers want young, cheap kids that they can train. I saw a mention on the national news this week about the unemployment benefits extension possibly being voted on,passed. The economist they had said that of every 5 people unemployed today, 4 of them will not be able to find a job. Mathematically speaking there simply are no jobs out there for the other 4 to find! Anyway, no matter how involved your financial life has become, how many coupons you clip, how many buckets of laundry soap you make, you can't afford to ignore the big picture. It catches up with us all in the end!

When The Range Thinks Its Smarter Than You Are.........

June 25th, 2010 at 02:04 am

Another major hit on the emergency fund. The electric range (hereafter referred to as the stove) decided last week that it knew better than me! Turned the oven on to bake a chicken, and the next thing I knew, it was HOT, it had turned to self clean, problem is, I don't have a self-cleaning oven! We unplugged it, and it seemed fine. Next day, it did the same thing, only the oven hadn't even been on that time! OK, OK I can take a hint. The stove had to go. We ended up at Sears, lucky us, stoves were on sale! But I wanted to wait and check at our hometown appliance store, I always buy local if I can. Turns out, we went back to Sears. We got the stove and a new range hood, for the same money just the stove would have been local. Hubby hasn't let me forget yet, it was HIS idea to stop at Sears. Okay, okay, you do have good ideas sometimes honey. But it was another heavy sigh moment. We have now replaced all but one of our major appliances in the last 6 months, and I'm not even going to name the last holdout, it's older than the others were, and I don't want to give it any ideas. I'm very glad that we had the money on hand, but poor Hubby has been working as much overtime as they will allow, and we aren't getting ahead any. Now we have a couple of estimates for some outside work that we wanted to have done, and I don't know whether to go ahead and get on the schedule, or wait until later? how much later? will it get too late to be done this Summer yet? And there is a possible expense concerning a family estate coming up. We probably have enough cash on hand if necessary, but I don't want to wipe out our whole reserve. Why are these things never easy??? I have a long list of yard projects that I want to finish this year, our DD#1 is getting married in our backyard next summer. But I'm hesitant to even spend $50 on mulch, because once I start, it has to be finished, or it will look worse than it does now! So, in conclusion, I am completely undecided about everything..............maybe I should have asked the stove before I unplugged it the last time!

Kicking The Habit

June 10th, 2010 at 08:57 am

I confess!!! I can't hide it anymore! I have become (sob) An Addict! I am addicted to (gulp) Yahoo Answers! It started out innocently enough, but don't they all! I needed some advice about an electrical problem. I've glanced at the Answers boards a few times, so I thought, what the heck, give it a try! Oh boy, that was the beginning of the end. Junkies LOVE company, and there they are, all those people just waiting for my opinion! THEY think I'm important! THEY pay attention to what I have to say! And it's so EASY to just click over to see whats going on! I neglected my reading, how are all those unlucky-in-love heroines going to get along with out me. I neglected my TV news time, Katie got a new hairdo? I neglected my dish washing time, well, not really or the kitchen would smell. And they LIKE me, they really LIKE me! I got a few best answers, and it was the beginning of the end. Of life as I knew it. When I got online to pay the auto insurance bill, and got involved in how to get lipstick out of the wedding dress, and FORGOT to pay the insurance bill!!! That was rock bottom for me. I have never just FORGOTTEN to pay a bill!! I knew I had to do something. Cold turkey is not for me, so I started using a timer when I logged on. Then I noticed how stupid some of the questions are, like someone is just making them up! You know, someone desperate for attention, wanting to be important to total strangers, you know, someone like........ME! It was the proverbial slap upside of the head. I should be out gardening. I should be putting away clean laundry. I should be...paying the bills for heavens sake!! I don't even want to think about how much time has been wasted in the last 2 or 3 weeks, but thank you Lord, I did wake up! And trite as it may be, time is money! So, farewell to the uneducated masses, I will be making supervised visits only now. And to all of the people who wrote in to ask questions about how to grow better pot (yup, you know, the m******** stuff) get a life!

Facing Mortality, Wow.....

May 10th, 2010 at 12:48 am

Somewhere along the line of your life, you get to the "tipping point." That point at which you realize, that some major purchase you are contemplating, may very well outlive you! Ours is the lawnmower. We bought a lawnmower this past week. A brand new riding lawnmower. The first new riding mower that we have ever owned! Our married life has consisted of a series of used (mostly VERY used) riding and push mowers, sometimes both, sometimes singly. All of them were given to us by various family members and friends, most were headed to the curb before we got them. Luckily I have a very handy Hubby and Father, who managed to keep them going with a variety of fixes and prayers. (does anybody even know what baling wire is anymore?) But we had hit the end. The riding mower we were using is almost... as old as I am (there is a FEW years difference)... and while the engine got rebuilt last Summer, the deck is trashed. Chunks are falling off as you cross the yard. They don't make replacement parts anymore (it's so old) etc. etc. We actually started out looking for a good used mower, but as we visited a few likely prospects, I began to imagine a world where you didn't have to know the secret formula to get the mower to run. One that doesn't use a quart of oil during each weeks mowing, one that you don't have to hook the battery charger to for an hour before you start, one that you don't have to hang on to the hydrostat lever because it will suddenly run away with you, you know, one that you don't have to dance under a full moon and chant to the lawn Gods... sorry, I got a little carried away there, but you get the idea. That thought was suddenly sounding pretty good to me, and as we talked about it, I realized, if a new mower lasts as long as the one we are using now, we will be too old to mow lawns anymore, and won't ever (hopefully) have to get another one! Being the main lawn mowing person in the family, this was something I could really get behind! So, after a little more shopping, and some dickering with the local dealer (those guys at Sears etc. can't dicker) we came home with a lovely new Cub Cadet mower! I love it already. (if self love is narcissism, I wonder what lawnmower love is?) If we take care of it, (we will), that will be the last mower we will ever have to buy.... now I feel old!!!

I Got What For Mothers Day???

May 2nd, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I just stumbled across a blog that commented on the strange thing this lady got once for Mothers Day. Actually, I thought it was great! Her family rented a roto-tiller and tilled her garden for her. I would have loved that! I have received some lovely things, flowers, dinners out, but I must confess that the more unusual items were probably my favorites. This year, for example, I got exactly what I asked for, a brand new shop vac! The old one has been spewing the dirt right back out the top for over a year, so you only dared use it outside. In fact, the old shop vac was my birthday present quite a few years ago. I even went to the store with dear Hubby, and picked out what I wanted. He does listen to me sometimes! Some other requests I have made over the years... a cordless drill! When I want to make holes, I don't want to drag extension cords around! Having the dogs nails clipped! We had a dog once, an extremely hairy dog, who hated to have her nails clipped, and of course, they grew very fast! After wrestling with her for longer than I want to remember, he took her in to the vet, THREE minutes and $10 later, it was one of those smack your forehead moments! Why had I been fussing with her for so long!?!? Then there were a couple of mmmhmmm kind of presents. I got a battery charger once, so I could charge the battery on the lawnmower, the lawnmower that I had been bugging him to buy a NEW battery for all Summer....I never could figure that one out, why not a new battery instead of charging the old worn out one??? I have no idea!!! How about the present that I almost got... we went to an auction one time, and there was a box of glassware that I wanted, and bid on, and won, so we are loading up afterwards, and I'm telling him about the cute green glass swan shaped dish, how cheap it was, what a great bargain, etc. etc. so we stopped at his parents house on the way home, and what does he take out of the box and give to his Mother?! The swan dish. (dumbfounded silence here) I said nothing, my MIL was the sweetest lady in the world, but duh???? And the only real eye roller I can think of.....A pellet gun.....yup.....I looked at it in the box, and I haven't seen it since. Haven't really missed it either. I think there was a profound lack of motivation that year. The KIDS even remind him of that one once in a while, I just smile and say...nothing...I'm not completely silly, a little guilt can be a valuable thing sometimes.

Another Resolution - Outta the Park!

April 20th, 2010 at 08:19 pm

Woweeee! Another resolution to cross off my list! I made the last payment on our only store credit card, and it finally cleared the bank! That makes it official. We are finally out of debt. Time to decide where to go from here. Actually, I'm sure that it won't be a tough decision, at least for a while. There are some maintainence issues on the house and barn, that had to wait until we got other things under control. I was so sure 4 years ago, when we were mortgage free, that money could go right into "fixing up" but, as you all know, life is what happens when you're making other plans. Actually, the home improvement issue was another thing on my New Years Resolution list, I'm killing two birds with one stone! I think? It sure feels nice to be making some positive progress! UhOh, now I'm a little torn. Posted on the wall right in front of me is a printout of Dave Ramseys "baby steps". I know we don't have nearly 3 to 6 months of expenses saved. Dang. But if I wait that long to start some of these fix-its, the season will have passed. You can't do some kinds of outdoor work in Winter in Michigan. How much more time will some of these things be able to wait? Oh man, now I'm not in such a good mood. I think too much. Groan.

Old Bank Statements

April 16th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

In this era of online banking, is there really any need to save those old bank statements? The rule used to be, save them for 7 years. If they agree with the website record, why would you need them? I can't imagine that any bank doesn't back-up their info, with the most expensive programs available, why would you presume that it would be compromised? I was packing away the statements from 2009, and tossing from 2001, when this occurred to me. Granted, the piles are getting slimmer, only a couple more years, and the ones that still included the cancelled checks will be gone. But, I could use that space for something else! Maybe my used tea bag collection.

Gimme Some Mediocrity!

April 14th, 2010 at 11:09 am

I just heard on the radio that astronaut Neil Armstrong has written to the President protesting the cuts in the space program budget. He says that it will put the US "in a long slide into mediocrity." Well, there are days when I would welcome a little mediocrity. My Random House dictionary says that mediocrity is "normal or ordinary", Oh heck yeah, sign me up for a double order! My weeks tend to look more like this. Monday, shivering uncertainty, the paychecks from Friday are gone already? Thats FIVE days away! Tuesday, gut churning panic, what money for what field trip is due when? Today! Wednesday, nail biting horror when I open the bank statement to discover a debit that no one recorded, and the account is now overdrawn. Thursday, glassy eyed then comatose, get home from working overtime, and discover that the ingredients for the quick supper I planned have been eaten by hungry kids after school, and I now have two cans of soup, some wilted celery, and a box of cracker jack to transform into a meal for four. Friday, giddy euphoria, PAYDAY! Then mental exhaustion trying to figure in my head the price of the cheap pizza parlor pizza, versus getting the ingredients for homemade, knowing that the meal will be late. Saturday, bill paying day (need I say more). Consider the euphoric properties of Valium, wonder if slugging a lot of cold medicine comes close? Sunday, weekly mega dose of guilt. Church or laundry, or clean bathrooms, or family outing, or yard work, or overtime...... you get the picture. It makes mediocrity look GOOD! Oh yeah!

I Did What With The Money???

April 2nd, 2010 at 07:00 am

I just read a blog about someones confession of their biggest financial mistake, oh the memories. I am sure that Hubby and I made so many, I don't know where to choose from. But there are a couple that always come to mind. When we got married, we were broke. I mean BROKE. Hubby got laid off two weeks before the wedding, and i was a full time college student. This was the very early 80's, and there were no jobs anywhere. Pretty similar to now. He was doing odd jobs, and we made enough to keep the power on, but not enough for a phone, and we ate at his parents house most nights. Anyway, he had gone somewhere with a buddy, and it must have been Summer, the weather was nice. When I looked outside, they were throwing a football around. When the buddy left, he came in with the football, and I said something about buddy forgot his football? Ah, no Hubby says, I bought the football. HE SPENT OUR LAST $13 ON A FOOTBALL! (It still makes my blood boil to think about it) I was so mad, I could hardly speak! But wait, it gets better. The next day, we are still fighting (my voice did recover) so he jumps in the car and goes speeding off, and RUNS OVER THE FOOTBALL! Yeah, you read it right, ran over the football that he just couldn't live without, and spent our last $13 in the world on. I still can't comprehend the logic (there was none) of that whole thing. Now for my biggest gaffe. This one came to mind, but I'm sure there were many others. 20 years ago, I decided that I would like to have contact lenses. I had been wearing glasses since I was 12 or so, and there was an ad in the paper for $49 contact lenses. So, I get an appointment, have the eye exam, they try the lenses out, and I'm wearing them. Then I find out that there are a lot of OTHER fees that go along with the lenses! The exam fee, the contacts are $49 EACH, solutions, the little machine that cooks them, etc. etc. So, I meekly pay all of this extra money, it was over $250 altogether, and come slinking home to cry on Hubbys shoulder. He was much more gracious than I was probably. I should have told the eye Dr. to forget it, and exactly why, but I didn't. I was a much more timid person when I was younger, I just went along to avoid a fuss. Oh well, we were all young once, and we did get smarter about money, eventually. Sort of. I think. BTW - that was the only pair of contacts I ever owned, I never could find a solution that didn't make my eyes red, I looked like I was on a bender all of the time, with none of the fun!

The Charity "Pros"

March 30th, 2010 at 08:37 pm

Warning...A little more eye rolling ahead. There are several food givaways monthly in our area, at different locations. My BIL volunteers at three of them. One of the things that he has commented on the last couple of months, are the "professional" recipients. Meaning people that travel around the area, to hit every one, every time! Its like a job! I have no objection to giving help where help is needed, but???? There was a van at the pantry last week, that was so full of food, the man had to take some out and re-pack! to get the stuff from that day in! He couldn't even go home and unload before he hit the next pantry? There are people who get in line at 3 or 4AM, so they can get thru fast, and go to another pantry somewhere else. And then there are the outright cheaters. We have a neighbor lady, who lives alone, who lists her 2 grown children as part of her household, so she can get more stuff. Then the 2 sons also come separatly to get there own! There was a certain ethnic lady who came to collect for a family of 16, but wouldn't take just anything! She wants to bargain with you for just the stuff she wants, and makes nasty remarks in a foreign language that many of us understand, about the workers, when they don't let her change the rules! And, even the workers are not immune to lapses in good judgement. It's always difficult to get volunteers, so sometimes you end up with a few that are ???? The lady who helped packing boxes, and walked out the door with one for herself 11 times before she was told "that was enough"! The man who was sorting the bakery stuff, and taking the smashed, moldy etc. out to the dumpster, only he was stuffing most of it into his car! All absolutely true! No matter what nice thing you try to do, someone will think of a way to muck it up. The flip side tho, the three moms standing in the parking lot trading items back and forth, because this ones kids won't eat this anyway, someone should benefit from it! And, the guy who brought his guitar, and sat in the hallway and played for the enjoyment of everyone! Thats why we need to help!!!!!!

Beans & Rice, Ain't That Nice

March 23rd, 2010 at 01:37 am

I have seen several references lately to the $1 a day challenge, feed yourself, or each member of the family for only $1 each day. I think that we did this one time, inadvertently. Hubby used to switch back and forth between 2 part time jobs, one in Fall, one in Spring. The Spring time one was better paying, that is after you actually received a paycheck. The way the payroll was set up, you got paid on the 15th and 30th of each month, but you were always one period behind. So when he would start out, it was an entire month before he got a paycheck. FUN! I remember one year we ate beans and rice for pretty much the whole month. I thought we did pretty well in the creative department. We had Mexican style, stirred a package of taco seasoning in, and some stewed tomatoes. Carribean, green pepper and pineapple chunks (kids really liked that one). Italian, added a little canned spaghetti sauce and grated cheese. Western, chili powder, stewed tomatoes and canned corn. I did use a little meat, but I think that 8 hot dogs could last a week, if you slice them real thin. I don't know that I would want to do it again, but sometimes you don't know what you can do until you have to!

Corned Beef? Of Course!

March 17th, 2010 at 06:44 pm

I had forgotten to get a corned beef brisket on the weekend, so I ran to the store after work this morning. They were already marked down! Lucky me! It's simmering away as we speak. My MIL worked at a meat packing plant during WWII, and told me one time how they make corned beef, or how they did it then anyway. A long and drawn out process, as I remember. I wish it were available all of the time. We only see it here around St. Pattys Day, and occasionally during the rest of the year. So, in the words of The Irish Rovers, "You're Never Gonna See No Unicorns" but enjoy St. Patricks Day anyway!

The Way Back Machine

March 15th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Remember the old cartoon that had Sherman (the boy) and The Professor (talking dog) and they traveled back thru time investigating all kinds of historical people and inventions in "the way back machine"? It used to be on ( I think) as part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Well, I had my own "way back machine" this past week. I have been making costumes for the school play here in our town for 8 or 9 years now. The teacher who has been the director of all of these great productions is retiring this year, and the school has indicated that they aren't interested in storing all of the costumes that we have accumulated over the years. So, we emptied every box and sorted thru them all, and we will be donating them to a similar place. It was so much fun! I had forgotten a lot of them, and there was a big pile! The first year, I came to "help" the lady who had done them the year before, we met once and she left for California! Talk about baptism by fire! When I looked back over the plays, I tend to remember the not so good stuff. The year half the cast had pink eye! - The Music Man. The year I had the stomach flu - Alice in Wonderland. The year one of the principles had her appendix out 2 nights before the performance, and the guy who stepped in was so hilarious, he brought down the house as one of the three little pigs - Fractured Fairy Tales. The year that almost killed me, 76 costumes for a huge cast - Once Upon A Mattress. But looking thru all of the costumes and that wasn't all of them by any means, for the last few productions the cast members could buy their costumes afterwards, Oh MY Gosh, what I remember most was all of the fun! Stuff that worked even when we weren't sure it would, we did The Wizard of Oz with a 60's theme, lots of psychedelic prints and tye dye. Those Good Grief eye rolling moments, we did Lil Abner with 4 of us designing the dogpatch outfits, and when four girls got on stage for a musical number, we realized they had almost identical costumes! (great minds think alike) Sometimes, I think we all need to be reminded of the good things. We remember the bad stuff, the hard stuff, uncomfortable moments, or I do anyway. I needed that last big mental hurrah to remind me why I did all of that work over the years. It reeally was a lot of fun, and the kids were wonderful! I want to remember all of the great times, the people who stepped in to help just when I was sure I would lose my mind, and smile and laugh about those "good old days"! Who wouldn't!

Wheres MY Allowance?

March 3rd, 2010 at 07:38 pm

I was just reading a blog about the pros and cons of giving your child an allowance, and this brought back memories. I remember a great debate when I was about grade school age between the kids on the school bus. Who got an allowance, who didn't, what chores you had to do, some kids got paid for good grades on their report card, etc. I did get an allowance, 5 cents a week, when I was in elementary school. Then I think it went to 25 cents in middle school, but by the time I was in high school, I was babysitting every weekend, and had more spending money than my Mother. I did give my kids an allowance. I knew they needed to learn how to manage money, and they couldn't do that if they never had any. It was not tied to chores, or good grades, or anything else. Oh yes, they all had chores to do, "we all work because we all live here together" was my motto. And I don't think that witholding the allowance because they didn't do their chores ever happened either, they ALWAYS did their chores. That sounds very whip and chair, but it wasn't really. With four kids, nobody wanted to get stuck with whatever the slacker didn't do, after a certain point, they kind of policed themselves. When they got to be 11-12 they did jobs around the neighborhood and got paid, so they made their own spending money. When they got into high school, and got a "real" job, the allowance stopped. I did tender a loan occasionally for a major expense, but they always paid me back. Although DD#2 is allergic to the word budget, and I sit down with her every few months to help her figure out why she's broke (again). Some people are just like that. Anyway, I was just thinking that my kids got about $10 a week by the time they were in high school, and I need an allowance like that! Fun money is one of the things that the experts tell you to build into your budget, so you don't get too bored, and sink the whole thing. However, they didn't tell me which bill to stop paying, so I could spend money on something fun! Maybe I need to re-read that section, I think something was lost in the translation. Wouldn't be the first time.

The "Luck" Factor

February 23rd, 2010 at 07:02 am

I have been mulling over this topic for a while, I just wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it. I think that we all know that debt and finances have a big impact on our families and family life. We all do as much as we can to help everyone, ourselves included, cope with the results. This is about my friend "Mary". Mary and her husband both come from solidly middle class backgrounds, both intelligent people, but things haven't gone so well for them. Mary and her family of 7 have moved 6 times in the last 15 years. That seems like a lot to me, but I have lived in the same house for most of my life. Mary's oldest child, Son#1 has not responded well to all of these moves. 5 different schools (same one twice) was just not something that he was prepared to deal with. He's very smart, kind of a nerdy kid, quiet, doesn't make friends easily, and he's just given up. He's tired of new schools, new teachers, trying to make friends, and as soon as he's finally comfortable, on they go. Mary feels terrible, this is all her fault! Why can't they have a normal life? Etc. etc. Mary and her husband have actually made some very good choices with their finances, but they bring new meaning to the old phrase about "if it weren't for bad luck, they'd have no luck at all". Bad Luck Murphy seems to have moved in with them. They lived in a home supplied by the farmer that Hubby worked for, until it burnt to the ground, luckily they were on vacation. They lived in a rental that nearly gassed them to death with carbon monoxide. They lived in a house owned by a relative, until the relative passed away and the house had to be sold. They lived in a rental on the edge of town, the city changed the zoning to commercial, and they couldn't renew the lease. They finally qualified for a low income home loan, and their lender went belly up in the big banking crisis, and they got foreclosed on! Now they are in a big, old home out in the boonies, she bought a used car to get to work, and her employer closed up shop. I think that you can be as financially savvy as Ben Bernanke, as frugal as Mary Hunt, and still get stomped on year after year. They are considering letting Son#1 go live with his Grandparents for the 2 years he has left in school, but Mary is very family oriented, and she's just heartbroken. It makes me think of disenfranchised kids trying to get out of the ghetto! It's so bad, you almost have to laugh, luckily they still laugh about it. What else can you do?

Grandma Knew Best

February 14th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I was just clicking thru some blogs, and came across one referencing good advice from Grandpa, about life and love, etc. It made me think about my two Grandmas. They had both lived thru the depression, but from the way they talked, you might not have known it was the same one! Gramdma was an only child, her father worked for the railroad, a pretty nice job in the early part of the century. She married the boy next door who also worked for the railroad, and they lived a very comfortable life. The depression was a big slap in the face for them. Father and husband both lost their jobs, both families sold/lost their homes and they ended up moving onto a farm in the country, together. The togetherness wasn't a problem, but my Grandma had never been poor, always lived in a small city, and was used to a certain life style. Her memories were of everyone being very unhappy about the circumstances, although she did used to talk about the fun, home things that they did. She learned to can, and grow a garden, enjoying farm life very much, and they did get by. Grandpa worked again as soon as jobs became available, although he never went back to the railroad. They certainly lived a much simpler life after that, and stayed on the farm until they both passed away. My Grandpa was very bitter about the whole thing, he had a considerable amount of money in the stock market, and lost it all. He was very grouchy when my Mom was growing up, and didn't have much nice to say about anything, it was all "the governments fault" whatever it was. My other Granny was born in the US to immigrant parents, the oldest of 11 children. This country was so much better than what they had left, it was like a holiday! They lived in the South when she was growing up, and all of the kids worked out as soon as they could, and some of the jobs they had! Her Father worked in the coal mines, and they moved a lot, she eventually married an engineer for the mining company. They were still living in the coal camps when the depression hit, Grandpa had grown up on a farm, so they came "up north" and bought a farm. Granny really loved farm life. She always said that it didn't matter if you had a lot of money, the farm would give you everything you need. Food to eat, fuel for the stove, and the means to get whatever else you needed. Granny was the big type A in that relationship, Grandpa kind of floated quietly in the background, doing his thing, but I know that he really loved living on the farm too. Granny talked about work. Her pride and avocation was being a hard worker. She gardened and canned and worked out in the fields when necessary, and talked about how proud she was when she would wash the mens' white T-shirts and they would be out on the clothesline, all bright white and spotless, in a row. She mended things until there was more mend than garment. But they had fun too, taking the carload of kids to the lake on a Wednesday night, the beaches were all free then. So both my Grandmas came from very different places, and the advice they considered important to pass along? Well, surprisingly similar. Always expect to work hard. SAVE YOUR MONEY! Family is important, we all need each other. Don't expect to receive every time you give. Some things you do just because it's the right thing, and don't toot your own horn about it. (the last two are kind of the same) Good advice culled from 80+ years of living (each) who could ask for anything more!

Pondering a Pension

February 14th, 2010 at 07:13 am

Just a quickie. Hubby got a registered letter from his company today, telling him that he has now paid into the pension plan long enough for me to qualify for a surviving spouse benefit, and if we want it, to submit the paperwork. "So" he says to me, "do you think you want it?" "Oh yeah" says I, "wait until I tell the kids that I get to move in with one of them, because you wouldn't fill out some paperwork!" End of discussion. P.S. The completed paperwork went to work with him tonight to drop in the shift bosses' mailbox! HehHehHeh.

Tax Time Again

February 14th, 2010 at 07:05 am

I wrote the check this morning for our property taxes, and then dropped off the paperwork for our income taxes at the bookkeepers office. We live in a small town, all of the tax people are local, no H&R Block for 50 miles. I also had brunch in town with my three best girlfriends, and we talked taxes. Everyone hates them, (taxes), tries to figure out ways, legal and maybe not quite so legal, to avoid or reduce them, but nobody has a better idea! Everybody wants a great community and services, but couldn't they be a little less expensive? The largest portion of my property tax bill is the millage for the Intermediate School District. Thats the county tech center, and the county handicapper school. Both very necessary! Next came the actual county operating money, which the county board is always trying to stretch 7 ways to Sunday. It never goes far enough, especially in Michigan, where the governor is changing the budget every week with her socks! Then the local school district with operating millage, and a special millage for technology and building upgrades, I think we are in year three of five with that one. The township operational money next, although most of that goes to run the township cemetery, and volunteer fire dept. And close behind, the local library (4 townships support this one) and the County nursing home. Now we could all agree that we wouldn't want to cut any of those things, but you would just think that some think tank somewhere might be able to figure out a better way to do it? Somehow? Maybe? I would be willing to listen to some smart suggestions to solve any or all of the above. But the really smart people probably know better than to get involved, look what happens to them in Washington!

Interesting?!

February 2nd, 2010 at 12:22 am

A comment on another point of view. I go to church with a woman who works at a state run job search office here in Michigan. As most of you know, Michigans economy is seriously in the toilet, although when compared to California???? I don't feel so bad. Anyway, this agency is responsible for job search and retraining for every person collecting unemployment or social service assistance in Michigan. The only problem is, they're out of money. The state budget is so far in the red, they don't make enough red ink for it anymore. Anyway, this persons opinion was that welfare should be eliminated and then that money used to get everyone a job. Lovely. What job? There have been several versions of this before, a limit to how much time you could collect welfare benefits, and then the state would make you take a job, like it or not. I have to say that I agreed with this, to a certain extent. I know a couple of people who lived "on the dole" for their whole lives, because they were lazy and didn't want to work. So, this was the agency that helped you find the job, or paid for training so you could get a job. But they don't have any money. And where are they going to find jobs to compell these welfare or unemployment people to take? People who are actively looking for jobs can't find one. And what about the worker whose unemployment had run out, and then they end up on the welfare role? What else can they do? I just thought that her comments weren't very realistic. But... on the other side of that coin, I work in the healthcare field. One of the jobs that many of those recipients were trained for was Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA's) Now I read all of the time that health care jobs are the place to go, the population is aging, there are lots of openings etc. All true to some extent. My company has hired and fired at least a dozen people in the last year who were sent to CNA class by the state, and were terrible at the job. Some would tell you outright this was not what they wanted to do, but they had no choice, train or lose all of their benefits. Some might have thought they would like it, but just weren't suited after they got there. And then the usual workplace foolishness, coming in late, 47 "emergency" calls every shift, always complaining about the shift/work/boss/boyfriend/coworker, calling in too late to find a replacement, just not showing up. Those people really did not want that job, but they can't quit (lose benefits) they have to wait and get fired. What a mess! Do I have a better idea? No, not at the moment, but let me think about it! (just kidding)

Win A Few ??? Lose A Few (thats me)

January 25th, 2010 at 02:52 am

I was just reminded of this by looking in my kitchen cupboard. The item that caught my eye - a 10# bag of rice. Remember last year, when there was going to be a shortge of rice in the world, and stores would only sell each customer so much?? Well my SIL went out and bought everyone a 10# bag of rice, to put away for those "lean times". She meant very well, I know, but that's enough rice for us for maybe a decade? We don't eat that much rice anymore. So, that belongs in the lose a few side. I thought about just donating it, but darn it, its nice to look at it in the cupboard, and know that we COULD eat for quite a while if we had to. On the win a few side, I didn't do any shopping last week, well with one exception, I needed TP. There are many things that I can substitute for or do with out, but that is Not one of them. I think that this will be a no shop week again. It will give me a chance to be a little creative with the menu for a change. It seems like I always end up cooking the same couple of dozen meals over and over! And I collect cookbooks! Its just easier to make the tried and true, I know exactly what I need, how much time it will take, that everyone likes it. I know, just lazy, I need to be more adventureous. Lastly, one that could go either way, win or lose. I am sitting here looking at a neatly boxed up punch bowl and cups, sitting in the corner of the room. I have wanted a punch bowl off and on for years, but never would have spent the money to buy one, and one day DD#2 came home with a freebie from some friends garage sale. I loved it, we used it once, and it has been sitting in the corner ever since, now I remember why I never bought one. Well, at least it didn't cost me anythting, and I could lend it out if someone asked me. Maybe we will need it for that upcoming wedding! There, now I feel better. TTFN

What A Week

January 18th, 2010 at 02:48 pm

The last seven days have been wild/busy. But not in a bad way. I got several mending jobs in and out, work has been crazy, several new residents at the assisted living, that need a lot of assisting, and talk, talk, talk about wedding plans. They have almost 18 months until the big event, I think that they need to nail down the basics, and relax (and save some money) for a while. This is a no grocery week. There is so much stuff in the chest freezer that I can hardly close it. So, I didn't even open the sale ads this weekend, I don't care how great the price is, we need to empty out the pantry a little. That's a very nice feeling, knowing that I don't have to shop, and we'll have plenty to eat. I do have to refill a couple of prescriptions tho, it's not all good news. The electric bill was about $50 higher this past time. I'm sure its from the cold weather, the furnace ran a lot, and I have a couple of heat lamp bulbs going in the barn to keep the water from freezing. Not much you can do about that. The water heater bill was down though. Our residential electric and water heater are metered separately, and thats handy sometimes. There used to be a radio controlled box on the water heater, so the utility company could shut it down in peak usage times, I'm not sure if they have taken it off, but I haven't seen a shutdown in over ten years, maybe they just don't do that anymore. And, I think that you used to to a cheaper rate too. But the separate meter has come in handy a couple of times, when something was wrong with the water heater, and the first thing that we noticed was the bill being way up or down. I have been doing well paying off the Dr. bill, the check every week is whittling it down, now I just have to get some stamps, so I can mail them. (that WOULD help) I finally have all the furniture put back from the Christmas re-arangement. I really need a new slipcover for the sofa. Everytime I mumble this to myself in front of Hubby, he starts in on how we REALLY need a new sofa, not the slipcover! (rolling my eyes) That would sure be nice, but we can't afford a sofa right now, and he never sits on it anyway, he has his recliner chair, thats the only place he EVER sits in the living room. I made the cover for the sofa anyway, from a couple of twin size bedspreads, so I don't know what difference it makes to him. Actually, I could probably put a different cover on the sofa, and unless it was PINK, he would'nt notice for a month! (ok, enough ranting) Well, it's a dark foggy morning here, I think I'm going to take a nap, I do work tonight. TTFN

Finally, History That Matters

January 11th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

This will be a little financial if you read between the lines. My DD#3 came home the other day, and told me that she signed up for a NEW history class next term. It's the history of the 1900's, focusing mostly on events after WWII. About time! I love my American History maybe more than the next guy, but memorizing the dates and generals of the Revolutionary War, while important, isn't very relevant to todays ecomnomic problems. My kids have looked at me like an alien for years, when I would mention the energy crisis in the early 70's. And the terrible economy in the early 80's. It's like anything that happened after WWII doesn't exist! The big events of the last century have had a direct impact on where we are right now, politically, economically etc. I'm waiting to see what kind of topics are going to come into the class, I usually end up helping to study for tests. OBTW, cute study story. DD#3 had a test in Social Studies a few weeks ago (they don't call it that anymore, but when I had it, it was social studies) anyway, she had facts on flash cards to memeorize, and I kept trying to give her little clues to help her. Well one of the cards was "what was the major contribution of the Tang dynasty?" The answer was gunpowder, so I told her to think Tang - bang (you know, shooting a gun) She hates it when I do that, she says it's confusing. But later on, she told me that when she saw that question, she knew right away Tang - bang! Then she had to tell the teacher about that afterwards, that she hates it when I study with her, I always add too much information. She said the teacher just laughed at her. Hah! Anyway, I'm looking forward to her learning more about what directly led us (America) to the pickle that we are in right now. Maybe I won't be an alien anymore.

New Calendar

January 7th, 2010 at 04:05 pm

I got a new pocket calendar today, so the first thing I do is go thru and put little $ on all the paydays. I don't know why, I just like looking at them. Then I mark birthdays, anniversarys, most holidays are already on there, family reunion weekend, graduation, until I could'nt think of any others. Its so nice looking at the fresh, new pages, a whole year full of possibilities. I have a meeting at work this afternoon, I hate it when they cut into my sleep time, then theres no way to make it up. I'll make my Dr. bill and workwear payment while I'm on the computer. Still waiting on the car, no major damage, (thank you Lord)water pump needs replacing, and they found several other little "while you're at it" things to do. So I am driving the extra, extra truck, whose box is full of garbage bags from when DS cleaned his basement a couple of weeks ago. He left the bags in there overnight, and they FROZE DOWN. So, I went thru the bank drive thru this AM with 6 bags of trash in the back. At least they weren't busted open (heavy sigh) just when I think things can't get any lower......


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