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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!!!