December 30, 2012

Belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

First of all, I want to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  My youngest son asked me this afternoon if I had shut down my blog as I hadn’t posted anything since early December.  We had internet problems for a week and then after that problem was resolved, I decided to take a break from blogging over Christmas. 

I had the best Christmas I have had in three years.  What was the difference?  I scaled back on the decorating and the baking and the cooking.  The end result was less stress and more fun with family and time for reflection. 

The last two years I have faced depression that raised its ugly head in late November and came into full force in December.  In October of this year I resolved that I was going to do anything and everything to make sure it didn’t happen again this year. 

I do not suffer from chronic depression; but more of what you would refer to as Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder that leads to depression.  Knowing this, I decided to get out of the house and go for long walks in the fresh air with our labradoodle, Molly.  I walked anywhere from 2 to 3 miles in the morning which was a great way to start my day.  Then I made sure that I got to bed by 10:30 p.m. and I would sleep to 7:00 a.m.  In other words, I got exercise and sleep and I was taking better care of myself.  In the late afternoon when the darkness closed in, I worked more in my kitchen where I have lots of lighting.  There are lights over the sink, under the cabinets, over the stove and a big ceiling fan with lights in the middle of the room.   If I were to turn all of the lights on, it would be extremely bright and that is what I need some times. 

I am amazed that for me getting exercise in the great outdoors and getting enough sleep has worked wonders for me and my mood this winter.  I now realize that for the past few years I would just succumb to the expectation that during the winter this was going to happen and I just had to live with it.  Yes, a mild anti-depressant helped, but I didn’t like the side effects.  However, if I need an anti-depressant I would go back on one and live with the side effects and be happy rather than unmedicated and miserable.  Does this make sense?

I realize that not everyone can control depression with exercise and sleep but I have found that for me, this is working along with taking the time to read and do fun things that I enjoy.  I also think that having a plan beginning back in October has helped, recognizing the signs that I may be slipping into depression and knowing that if I need to I can call my doctor and get a prescription.

This week will test me.  We have scheduled an appointment on Wednesday January 2nd to have our black lab put down. She is 12 ½ years old and has cancer and other problems.  It is time to say good bye to her.   I met with the veterinarian last week and wanted her to examine Griffey so we could make a decision.  The veterinarian told me that we shouldn’t take her on walks anymore because of her declining health.  This left sleeping and eating as the only thing the dog could really do.  This veterinarian has cared for Griffey since she was a puppy and she knows our dog.  Finally the vet looked at me and told me that the time had come to make the decision.  So, I decided that it would be best to wait until after New Year’s Day. 

What do you do when you have one week’s notice that you will be putting your dog down?  Well, you make her last days great days.  I have given her little bits of chocolate knowing that it doesn’t matter.  We have taken her for a car ride – something she has always loved and we have also taken her on walks – very slow ones.  I am hoping that on New Year’s day we will be able to take her out on the recreation trail that skirts around our community and let her smell the good country air. 

We will be with her at the end.  I’m not sure how our 10 month old labradoodle “Molly” is going to react to this.  She has always lived in a household that has another dog but we have no plans to replace Griffey.  Molly will just need to adjust somehow. 

I will always have a dog.  It is sad when you have to say goodbye to a family pet, but I would never let that prevent me from opening my heart to another pet.  We have owned some great dogs over the years and we have lots of wonderful memories of each dog. 

I don’t want to end this post on a sad note after all I have talked about depression and the death of a pet. 

I have been pondering about what I want to do in the year 2013.  The year 2012 just flew by and I didn’t really accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.   I was way too busy most of the time with stuff that really didn’t matter and I regret that. 

So what am I going to be doing?  Well, concentrating on making my house more of a home.  Back in 2008 I subscribed to a mentoring website called the Homemaker’s Mentor.  Two times a month I would receive e-lessons on homemaking.  I was working 50 plus hours a week at the time, but my heart always wanted to be home.  I subscribed to these lessons and knew the day would come when I would actually work on them.  In 2009 when I lost my job and stayed home, I thought that I would begin the lessons then since I was home full time.  But that year went by and I accomplished little.  I was too busy adjusting to being home and living on less money and while I wanted to get to those lessons it never seemed like I had the time.  The accompanying years of 2010 and 2011 seemed to be spent enjoying the last few years my youngest son would be home and they were also spent learning to live on less and volunteering my time at our church. 

In 2012 we had the two college girls living with us and it seemed that the urgent and day to day household tasks seemed to keep edging out those homemaking lessons.  The girls have moved out and back into the dorms.  Last week as I was cleaning the upstairs of our home I came across those lessons gathering dust on my desk and I decided then and there I would make the changes in my schedule in order to do those lessons that I knew I would enjoy. 

So the year 2013 is going to be spent on my homemaking skills.  I’ve shared before that my mother never taught me to really “keep house” and I struggle with keeping a household schedule of cleaning, baking and cooking.  I have always looked at the past – 1920’s to the 1950’s as the “homemaking” era when more women took pride in keeping their homes clean and relatively neat.  Women cared about sewing and making things last.  Yes for a lot of women they didn’t have the choice except to be  homemakers.  The beauty of my life is that I have the choice in what I want to do and this is the choice that I have made – to be a homemaker. 

I want to learn to crochet, take the time to sew more and improve my sewing skills.  I have closets to go through and re-organize, pictures to put into albums and some to be scrapbooked.  There are rooms that need painted and wood work to be stained.  There is a yard that needs to be seriously re-landscaped (I know nothing about this).  Yes, it is ambitious but it is everything that I want to do.  And I need to get on track with cleaning and I need help to know how to clean some things and to establish a regular cleaning schedule and upkeep schedule for our home.  This is how I want to spend my time. 

When I tell people this they look at me as if I have frogs coming out of my ears as more women feel that they were freed from the “bondage” of homemaking in order to have great careers away from home.  That’s fine for them but for me I want my second career to be in homemaking.   I am going to truly embrace homemaking in 2013 and will report on what lessons I am working on and how I am doing.

I hope that I can encourage other women to improve their skills in homemaking or learn new ones.  Let’s get back to homemaking and really take the time to make homemaking a priority.  After all, we all end up coming home sometime – let’s make it a welcoming and loving place to live.  Are you with me?      

December 10, 2012

Technical Difficulties, Literally

Our internet service, actually our router, has died so I have been unable to post for awhile.  Hopefully it will be fixed by tomorrow.  I am busy making homemade Christmas ornaments for Christmas, deep cleaning my house and I have been reading a book that is helping me focus on planning my life so that I stay focused on doing the things I want to do.  I am also making a plan to make sure depression doesn't sideline me this winter season and lastly I am inventorying all our food so that we can go to a minimal grocery budget a.s.a.p.

I have been posting in Microsoft Word and will upload as soon as our internet is up and running.

Thanks to a wi-fi signal I was able to post this.

December 01, 2012

Christmas 2012 Ornament

I should have blogged earlier this week, but I got caught up in a craft project and I just couldn’t put it down.  I have been making Christmas ornaments out of grosgrain ribbon and beads.  The beads are in muted tones of pinks, creams, sage greens, bronze, and silver.  I have used brown, cream, pink, sage green and silver ribbons. 

Why are these ornaments on a cookie sheet?  I put them on these so that they will lay flat and I can easily put them up high enough so the dogs won't get to them.  Yes, I am constantly trying to keep things away from our puppy, Molly.  I should have straightened them out a little more for the picture, but I am not a photographer and didn't think about it.  

The cost of this project isn't too bad.  The beads cost $10 and the ribbon was around $1.50 a spool.  So I figure that when all is said and done I should be able to make around 30 to 40 ornaments for a total cost of $20.00. 

Of course these can be made out of Christmas plaid ribbon and children’s craft beads, but I wanted to go for something a little more elegant.  I found the picture of these on Pinterest.  I found the best directions on how to make these at  Sunshine Yellow Creative Stitching.

Now, if you decide to make this craft, don’t give up after one ornament.  I was on my third ornament before I really got the hang of it.  If you can sew a button, you can make this ornament.

November 25, 2012

Healthy Meals Recipe No. 1

I had a request to post some of the recipes for healthy meals in hurry that I received when I attended a seminar that our local extension office sponsored.  The idea behind this workshop was that we can put healthy meals on the table even when we have a lot to do in our schedule.  These meals can be prepared and cooked right away or frozen for later use.

Here is Recipe No. 1 and it is for Broccoli Chicken Rice Casserole.

3/4 cup instant brown rice
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon margarine
1/3 cup dry soup mix (see recipe that follows)
1 1/4 cups water
1 - 16 oz. pkg. frozen broccoli florets or chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cooked chicken *
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare the rice according to package directions.  In a Dutch oven or deep pan, cook onion in margarine over medium to low heat until golden.  Add dry cream soup mix to pan, stirring to mix well.  Stir in water.  Heat to boiling.  Cook and stir until thick.

Add frozen broccoli, cooked chicken and cooked rice.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is nearly heated through.  Add cheese and heat until melted.  Internal temperature should register 165 degrees.

* 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts makes about 2 2/3 cups chopped cooked chicken.

You can freeze this recipe after you assemble it.  To serve, thaw and reheat in the oven or on the stove.

This casserole was served to us for lunch and it was in a casserole dish and they had sprinkled the cheese on top and heated it in the oven (350 degrees preheated oven) until the center of the casserole reached the desired temperature.  This was served with canned apricots, tossed salad and brownies.  

To make the brownies they took a dark chocolate brownie mix and added 1 can of pumpkin to the dry mix and mixed well.  Then bake per the package directions.  Yes, just 2 ingredients.  When they were cool they sprinkled the top of the brownies with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar.  

I have to tell you that this casserole was delicious and filling.  I am sure that you could easily substitute leftover turkey for the chicken.  The brownies were very good and it was nice to have a chocolate fix.

Here is the recipe for the dry soup mix.  I have always wanted to try this recipe ever since I saw it in one of my Tightwad Gazette books, but I always worried that it wouldn't taste as good and would be a waste of money.  Well, I can attest that it was delicious in the casserole.  I plan to use it instead of the canned version as it is definitely healthier and I know what the ingredients are that go into the soup mix.  Nothing hard to pronounce in the ingredient list.

Dry Soup Mix

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sodium free dry chicken bouillon
2 tablespoon dried minced onion flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Place in a storage container and seal tightly.  Store in a cool dry place for up to six months.  Stir or shake well before each use.  To use as a substitute for 1 can of condensed soup, mix 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 1/4 cups of water.  Cook and stir on stove top until thickened.  This makes the soup in the condensed soup form as it would come out of the can.  

November 21, 2012

November is Stock Up Month

By this time most years I have stocked my pantry with enough baking supplies for an entire year.  This year has been pretty much the same except that I have had to be really savvy when it came to sales.  Over the past few years, beginning at the end of October and through the second week in December, we were flooded with all sorts of sales on chocolate chips and other types of baking chips.  This year there were two weeks of sales on these items and that was it.  I'm glad I went ahead and  bought plenty during that time frame.  

Not only have baking items been on sale but there have been the sales on canned and frozen vegetables, canned fruits, canned broths, soups and of course turkey.  I have also been fortunate to snag some good deals on beef roasts and hamburger.  My freezer is stocked, my pantry is stocked and I have plenty of paper products too.  I have enough laundry products to last a year.  I even have two hams in the freezer for Christmas.  

So what's the big deal?  In three weeks we will be "empty nesters."  In other words, it will be just me and my husband.  My goal is to buy very few groceries over the next 3 months.  The only groceries I will be purchasing will be perishables.  The rest I have on hand and will make meals from these ingredients.

I need to do a complete inventory of what is in my freezer and pantry and I will post that inventory.  Then I will post what we are eating and what groceries I purchase.  I'm excited about doing this because I have saved money on buying items on sale and stocking up, and I will be saving time by not having to buy a lot of groceries each week.  Planning and actually buying groceries can take up some time if you are using coupons, searching the ads and then planning a trip.  I'm also looking forward to the convenience of having the majority of what I need right here in my own home.

November 17, 2012

Where have I been ??

I have just completed two weeks of busyness that is finally over.  I had a women's group meeting that I planned and led.  We made Christmas tree ornaments and in order to save time I did all the prep work which took a few days.  I prepared a meal of homemade baked macaroni and cheese, salad and pumpkin streusel coffee cake to a group of around 25 people and then I took the remaining food to elderly members of our church.  There have been committee meetings at church to attend and plan.  I have filled in at the library when some employees had to be gone.  I'm trying to look back over the past two weeks and there were more activities that I took part in and it was two weeks of rushing and definitely over the top things to get done..

I attended a seminar at our local County Extension office on healthy meals in minutes and I am now attempting to cut the sodium in my diet and am going to make as many things as practical from scratch.  And then there was yesterday at noon when all my commitments ended and I got to go with my husband to Des Moines to Living History Farms for him to pick up his race packet for a cross country race that he is running right now.  A fun drive of 1 hour, just him and I, talking and enjoying each other's uninterrupted conversation and then a nice lunch in at the "Machine Shed" restaurant.  Then it was off to browse books at Barnes and Noble.  

Barnes and Noble is one of those places that have happy memories for our family.  About twice a year we would take a Saturday and drive to Des Moines to Barnes and Noble.  That was back when I was working and with two incomes it was nothing for us to spend at least $200 for our fill of books.  When we walked into Barnes and Noble yesterday I instantly was taken aback by the sudden happiness I was feeling.  It was the music, the displays of books and the smell of coffee and treats.  There is just something about it.  I looked at several books, making a list of several, so I could check and see if our library (yes the one that I now work at on Saturday afternoons) carries any of the titles.  It was an enjoyable hour of nostalgia and then it was time to get on the road and get home to feed our dogs.  

But wait, there's more.  My youngest son and I decided at 8:00 p.m. last night to drive around our community stopping at every convenience and grocery store looking for Twinkies.  With the Hostess company going bankrupt and with the good possibility that Twinkies will no longer be made, we decided that we needed one last Twinkie.  We were able to find two packages at our last stop.  Now, I haven't had a Twinkie in years because they are junk food and high in calories, but I just had to have one last one as a remembrance of my childhood.  So, we each had a package and we went home to eat them.  I have to say that they must have tasted better when I was a kid because I could have easily stopped after one bite.  Then I remembered that when I was a kid my mom couldn't afford the real Twinkies and we bought a cheaper competitor's brand that is still now being produced, which tastes better.  Oh well, it was fun to drive around in my husband's truck with my 19 year old son on a quest for Twinkies.

Now, it's over.  

I have the next 5 days to get ready for Thanksgiving and I have 5 weeks to prepare for Christmas.  I have already purchased 2 turkeys for the holidays.  A few good deals were to be found this week adn I have purchased nearly everything I need for baking goodies.  I need a sale on M & M's and then I am set to bake.  

I don't know how I did it, but I effectively got my schedule cleared in order to have time to prepare and celebrate the upcoming holidays AND BLOG!!!!!

November 09, 2012

When you're out of laundry detergent . . . .

. . . and you don't have the money to buy any.

Here is a tip for if you are out of laundry detergent and you need to do laundry but you don’t have the money to buy laundry detergent.  Find whatever soap you have on hand.  This could be bath bar soap, soft hand soap, shampoo or dish soap.  Many times just water will get your clothes clean unless you have been rolling around in mud and grease.  For an example let’s say you have soft soap hand soap on hand.  Gather your clothes and look them over for any possible stains or dirt.  Take a little soap and rub it into any stain.  For any shirts, blouses or tops, dab a little soap on the underarms as this will aid in stain removal and under arm odor.  Again use just a dab on the stains or underarms as soft soap will have a lot of suds when the water starts to agitate. 

Take about 1/8 cup of the soft soap (around 2 tablespoons) and mix it with some warm water to dissolve and pour this into your washing machine.  Start the water on the machine and add the clothes.  Then set your cycle so that it is on a longer timed wash.  Let the clothes wash and agitate for as long as possible.  It is the water and the agitation that will help to get the clothes clean. 

This is something that will work in a pinch BUT the next time you buy laundry detergent on sale, you may consider buying an extra bottle and set it aside for a rainy day when money is extremely tight.

photo credit: jim212jim via photopin cc

Preparing for the "Immediate" Future

The presidential election is over.  Thank God.  No matter if your candidate won or lost, it is at least over.  Enough said. 

I feel as if the last two weeks I have been caught up in so much activity and I am tired of it.  I’m tired of being pulled every which way, but it is only for a season.  Next week is busy, but then the busyness will settle down just in time for the holidays.

So what have I been up to beyond the busyness?  Stocking up.  I have been clipping coupons and searching for coupon on line to match up with grocery deals.  Last week I was able to get some really good buys on granulated sugar, brown sugar and confectioner sugar.  Chocolate chips were on sale and I know that this has nothing to do with baking, but so was toilet paper.  I always stock up on baking supplies at this time of year and I try to buy 6 months to a 1 year supply.  This year I have noticed a significant price increase in those items.  Let’s take chocolate chips for example.  Last year at this time I was able to get Hershey’s baking chips of nearly every flavor for only 98 cents a bag.  This year’s sale price is $1.48 which is good by this year’s prices.  (BTW – I never use a full bag to make chocolate chips – 1 cup of chocolate chips is enough as far as I am concerned for a recipe of cookies.)

The trick to my stocking up this year is that come January 1st my husband and I will be empty nesters.  Our college boarders will be moving back into the dorm and our youngest son has moved into his own apartment.  There is no need to stock up to the level that I did when there were a total of 5 of us living in our home.  So I am finding my way because if I stocked up on anything and didn’t use it or if the food expired or spoiled, that would be a great waste of money.

I have posted many different posts about being prepared for the future.  Now I don’t want to get into a political dialog as I try very hard to keep my political views out of this blog.  However, our country is on the brink of a second financial crisis in 4 years – the Fiscal Cliff.  Let’s not go into the details of what this means as let’s face it, what can you and I do about it anyway?  It is up to Congress and the President to get this resolved before January 1st.  But let’s not bury our heads in the sand either.  While we may not be able to make hands on decisions that affect our country, we can make hands on decisions that affect ourselves and our families.

Four years ago there were people who wished they would have been prepared for what was coming as they weren’t prepared for the economic crisis.  Here is what I recommend to be prepared now.

If you don’t have money in savings and if you don’t have extra food on hand such as in a pantry or freezer, you need to start today.  I don’t care if it is only a few dollars a week, set it aside and don’t touch it for any frivolous purchase.  Make a list of what basic foods you use and what foods you can us to make a lot of meals and stock up on those items.  You can eat cheap, nutritious meals – just take some time to plan.   

Rice, cornmeal, oatmeal, flour, sugar, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, salt, dried beans, canned vegetables, soups, broths are good places to begin.  These are the basis to many meals.  As to meat, you will be able to find turkey on sale at this time of year and other types of poultry.  Look for other possible sales on meat to see what value you can get for the protein that you will need. 

Now, I’m not saying that you need to go out and purchase 40 lbs. of meat as many people don’t have that extra money around nor am I saying you need to go out and purchase 50 lbs. of flour right now.  I’m saying that when you go to buy that 5 lb. bag of flour that is on sale, you may consider buying 1 or 2 extra bags to set aside.  The same is true with canned vegetables and soup.  At this time of year you will find these items on sale at good prices.  If you normally would buy 4 cans, buy 8 and set 4 aside. 

Make it a goal to, at a minimum, keep 2 to 4 weeks supply of food on hand for a “rainy day.” 

Don’t forget your pets.  If there is a sale on the pet food that you normally buy, pick up an extra bag to set aside (take note of the expiration date). 

Set aside a few dollars for gap food money.  Gap food money is money you have set aside to fill in the gaps for your emergency meals.  This money, for example, pays for the meat that you may need to make a meal out of what you have in your pantry.  

photo credit: la fattina via photopin cc

October 28, 2012

Variation on Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Last week I posted a recipe for Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake.  Yesterday I came up with a variation on this to make another coffee cake for church today.  To the yellow cake mix I added 1 cup of sour cream, 4 eggs and 3/4 cup vegetable oil.  I mixed it for around 3 minutes on medium speed in my mixer.  Then I "layered" it with the Streusel as I did in the Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake recipe.  Bake the same and then when it is cool drizzle with a little confectioner sugar glaze.  Just take some confectioners sugar, add a little vanilla and thin with some milk. 

This was very, very good.  Give it a try.  I wonder what other variations I can come up with.  I'm thinking that I may add a layer of apple butter with streusel on top the next time.

Oh and by the way, yes I am still on a diet but I am enjoying treats in moderation.  (Hi Debs.)

Hospice care for our Dog, Griffey

Our Labrador retriever, Griffey.
Our old dog, Griffey, has cancer and is dying. About 3 weeks ago I noticed that she hadn't been eating much and after a few days my husband took her to the Vet.  When the cancer diagnosis came, I wasn't surprised.  I could tell she hadn't been feeling well.  So now we are taking it a week at a time.  Griffey is taking some pain killers which helps her be "happier."  

We continue to take her on her morning and evening walk with our other dog, Molly.  We have been loving her a lot and until last week I even was able to take her on walks on the local rec trail through the woods.  I would love to take her more often but she has a lot of trouble getting in and out of our car.  

Walking the Rec trail, one last time.
Our goal is to make her final days great ones.  

After her walk tonight she stumbled and fell and had trouble getting up our back steps.  I am wondering if she will make it to Thanksgiving and I am also wondering if I will be able to be with her when she is put down.  I will find the courage to be with her as she deserves to die with her family loving her.

In the meantime she is on homemade dog food.  Here is the recipe the Vet gave me. 

3 cans green beans
3 cans yellow wax beans
3 cans stewed tomatoes
3 cans carrots
1 pound browned hamburger
1 pound cooked rice 
6 cooked potatoes, cubed

I keep "Griffey's stew" in the fridge and feed her around 2 to 3 cups in the morning and in the evening.  She devours this food.  The first week I gave it to her she gained 1 lb.  I looked at her tonight after helping her in the house and realized that she is looking boney and losing weight again.

So, until the time comes when we will have to put her down, Griffey will be getting her homemade stew, pain killers, play time, walk time and loving time.

Dogs do bring joy to our lives.  It is always sad when we have to say good bye to much loved pets, but I wouldn't trade the joy and memories that these pets bring us for anything. 

Update on Cleaning my Area Rug

Back in March I wrote about how I was trying to clean a large area rug that had been soiled by our dog.  You can view the post here.  We were able to get our dog on some medication (Estrogen) and within a few weeks she had been cured of her old age incontinent issues but I had been left with a less than fresh smelling area rug.  In the post you can read about what I had tried to do to clean the rug in a frugal way. 

Well, the rug dried out completely and then the very hot weather hit our area so we rolled up the rug and stored it in the basement for the summer.

Here is a picture of a portion of the rug.  The size is 10 x 8 feet and we have two of these rugs in our living room.

Well, when we brought the rug out of the basement at the end of September I could smell the dog urine immediately.  I had my husband and son take the rug outside and drape it over the railing on our deck until I tried to figure out what I could do.  

Now when the dog was wetting on the carpet my husband told me at the time that he would buy me a new rug as he wasn't ready to put the dog to sleep.  The problem is this rug was purchased 10 years ago and was expensive - $750.00.  I knew that it was out of the question to replace this rug and I also knew that I love my husband and I was willing to wait to see if the dog got better.

So now it was September and I had a smelly rug on my back deck and I knew it was ruined and no way could it be used in our home again, at least that is what I thought.  

Sometimes the best ideas come from pondering the problem over a period of time.  I started to think about all of the spot cleaners, rug cleaners and the detergents and vinegar that I had used over the years to spot clean the carpet.  Most of those products leave a residue and end up holding the stain or smell to the carpet.  It seemed to me that I needed to get some water on the rug and see if I could just douse it enough to rinse out all of the old cleaning products and see what happened.  

I rinsed the rug one half at a time.  I just draped 1 half of the rug over the railing and using the garden hose on the jet setting I power sprayed cold water at close range on that rug.  Suds streamed off of the rug.  I took my time and fortunately I picked a very warm day to do this as I was getting soaked.  Then I took the hose to the back of the rug and did the same thing, finishing with a final rinse on the right side of the rug.  

The rug sat in the sun for a day and while still damp I poured the following product all over the rug.

Simple Solution:  Urine Destroyer
I found this product at Wal-mart and it had been recommended by the Vet.  The cost was around $6.00 for a 32 oz. bottle.  Simple Solution worked better than I ever expected.  The urine smell is completely gone.  Now, it could be that the rinsing I gave that rug probably got rid of most of it, but Simple Solution took care of the smell.  

After I applied the Simple Solution to the rug ( I saturated the rug) I left the rug on the back deck for a week to let the sun do it's magic work too.  I knew that the fresh air and sunshine would help refresh the rug.  

All in all it took a little over two weeks to complete this process as I was working with a large area rug and I could only clean one half at a time.  When we brought the rug in the house the only smell was the light scent of the Simple Solution.  I did spray the rug once with Febreze after we had brought it back in the house.

It has been 3 weeks and the rug still smells great.  Even when I sit on the carpet I can't smell any urine at all.  It truly is a clean rug.

What was the cost of the cleaners?  It took 6 bottles of the Simple Solution for a cost of around $36 plus tax.  That is a lot cheaper than buying  a new area rug.  

October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe

I made this last Saturday and took it to church for our Sunday School class to enjoy. This was very, very good and very easy to make.

For the cake:

1 yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 (16 oz.) can solid packed pumpkin puree
1/4 cup butter, softened

For the Streusel:

1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup quick oats OR 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the streusel ingredients and set aside. Blend the cake mix, eggs, pumpkin puree and butter. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes. Pour half of the cake batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle with half of the streusel and spread the remaining batter over that. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the streusel. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

October 19, 2012

Losing Weight - Frugal Phone App

I have been trying to keep my weight down ever since I became a full time homemaker.  It was a struggle before when I was working full time but working outside of the home meant that I couldn’t snack.  I never had time to snack because I was very busy working.  Now that I am home I am surrounded by my kitchen most of the time.  Another factor is that I am 3 years older (53 years old) and I have reached the point in many a woman’s life when you know weight control is going to be an uphill battle. 

Let’s face the facts; it all comes down to calories in and calories out.  Also I can be too hard on myself many times and I need to relax.  My weight is 145 lbs. and I am 5’ 5”.  I weighed 125 lbs. when I got married some 32 years ago, but that is history and I’ll never see that again unless I starve myself and continue to starve myself to keep it off.  So it comes down to this – 145 lbs. isn’t so bad and I need to accept it. 

I remember in the Tightwad Gazette books that Amy Dacyczyn talked about losing weight and how she did it.  She counted calories.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that work the best.  My weight started to creep up on me a couple of weeks ago and I hit 148 lbs.  I knew it was a sign that I needed to be more careful about what I was putting in my mouth and just as important how I was burning those calories, namely exercising.

I was delighted to come across a great app for my phone – My Fitness Pal.  It is a free app.  This app helps me keep track of what I eat.  It has thousands upon thousands of foods and their calories, including restaurant foods.  So far there hasn’t been one thing that I eat that hasn’t been in their food calorie log.  Then there is the fitness app.  There is just about every work out plan possible in this app and you simply have to input how much time you spent in the exercise and the app determines how many calories were burned.  It has my Curves Circuit workout calculated which led me to realize that I needed to do something else so I am now walking a few miles a day.

This app is super simple.  I just had to input some basic information, along with my weight loss goal.  It calculated the amount of calories I was allowed per day.  Then when I exercised it added those exercise calories burned into my food calories.  The more I exercised the more calories I could take in, if I wanted to.  At the end of each day I simply log off the day and the app tells me that if I continue what I did that day what the results will be in 5 weeks.  Namely it has predicted that I will be down to 142 lbs. 

It is a fun app that keeps me accountable.  Also it is so easy to input the information no matter where I am at.  Best of all it is free.  I like free. 

October 16, 2012

I have been distracted . . .

I have spent the past week focused on getting our youngest son moved out of our house and into his apartment.  It was a sudden move decision as the right apartment at the right price became available so he snatched it right away.  The problem is that we weren’t quite ready for the move.  His plan was to move out in January.  

Being unprepared we had to come up with some furnishings, get the utilities hooked up, arrange to get things moved in, buy groceries, and so on.  Then, there is a disaster in his former bedroom.  He has left stuff behind that he doesn’t want – mostly papers and things from his closet, drawers and under the bed and well, if you have ever parented a boy, you know what I am talking about.  Then he was around 3 weeks behind in washing his clothes so while he was moving in to his new apartment, I was trying to get his laundry done.  It has been fun and I am playing catch up.

He is moved in now and is getting used to living on his own.  Tonight I fielded a few phone calls from him on how to cook his supper.  I had to take him one of my large skillets as the skillet he had wasn’t big enough for what he wanted to make.  I needed a new skillet anyway.
As we moved him in I marveled at the simple things that were making him happy.  He had his mattress and box springs from his old room.  We purchased a basic metal frame for him.  I refused to let him take the sleigh bed from his bedroom here at our house as that will now be a guest room.  So I paid $94.00 for a heavy duty bed frame for him.  Luckily that “$25.00 off a purchase of $49.99” or more coupon from a local furniture store came in handy.  I’m glad I hung onto it.  Now I will need to purchase a new mattress set for our “guest room.”  This can wait until January when mattresses are on sale at their lowest prices of the year. 

We gave him an old love seat, recliner, end table and desk that we had been saving for him.  He could use a table for his kitchen, but insists that he could get by with a card table.  I have a card table in our basement that I use to sort laundry on, but I could give it up for him to use. 

His grandparents gave him a set of Corelle dishes.  We purchased some other basic kitchen supplies along with a $20 set of 3 pots and 1 small skillet.  He has the basics.  

Again, I want to emphasize how happy he is to have a place of his own with the basics.  This has caused me to feel uncomfortable with the stuff in our house.  I need to donate more of the items we don’t need or use. 

The other thing I noticed was how conscious he is of money now.  His thermostat is set at the low range (he has electric heat).  He told me that he is taking shorter showers and get this, he yelled at me for keeping his freezer door open too long.  I was looking at the icemaker.   We don’t have an icemaker and it kind of intrigued me. 

It would seem that when you have to pay your own utilities you tend to become frugal.  What a great kid!  He has learned something from his mother. 

Now I can get back on track with my household chores, get that old room of his cleaned and made into a guest room and work on my new price book.  Except there is one more thing I am dealing with:   our old dog, Griffey, has cancer and is dying.  We found this out last week.  She has cancer, and is losing weight.  The vet prescribed a mild pain killer for her and it has made her disposition happier.  She is able to move and can be taken on walks, but the end result is that we will have to put her to sleep at some point.  This is sad but we have time to say our good byes to her.  I spend time petting her and stroking her and talking to her.  I am taking her on some short walks on the local recreation trail so that she can get out on the trails in the woods and enjoy all the smells that a dog enjoys.

I am making her homemade dog food per the vet’s advice.  Actually it looks pretty good.  The recipe calls for 1 can of green beans, 1 can of yellow wax beans, 1 can of stewed tomatoes, 1 can of carrots, cooked potatoes, some rice and some hamburger meat.  I have quadrupled this recipe and been freezing it in meal sized portions. 

I am going through a lot of changes in my life right now and it can be hard to see our youngest leave home, yet it is wonderful to see him thrive living on his own.  At the same time it is hard to say goodbye to our old beloved black lab and yet we have wonderful memories of her as a great family dog. 
Life can be happy and sad at the same time.  But I can honestly say at this moment, Life is good.

October 10, 2012

Exciting News to Share

Yes, yes, yes, you, my blog family, have been ignored.... but .... I have been busy with family,  

My oldest son and his wife have recently announced that they are expecting a baby in March.  This will be our first grand baby.  I can hardly believe that I am going to be a grandma, something I have been hoping for, for a long time.  Now my thoughts turn to things I can make for the baby and ways I can help my son and his wife throughout their pregnancy and after the baby is born.

My youngest son leased an apartment as of yesterday and will be moving in to his new place this weekend.  He is in college and wants to move out and live on his own.  So we spent today getting utilities set up and fine tuning his budget.  I was at Goodwill purchasing two lamps and a little plug in hamburger maker for him.  My thought was that it will be easy for him to buy a lb. of hamburger and take 1/3 of it and make a hamburger quickly in a hamburger maker vs. going to a fast food restaurant.  He will be on a tight budget but he is excited to be living on his own.  

I will be going back to Goodwill tomorrow to see if they have any dishes that would have come in on tonight's truck and other kitchen items.  Then it is off to Wal-mart to get a microwave and toaster and then to Dollar General for some cheap silverware, a shower curtain and shower curtain rod. 

He has already had a lady that is going to give him a table and chairs. We have a bed, living room chair, love seat, end table, floor lamp, desk and bookshelf he can have.   I have been hanging on to some of our old furniture for just this purpose.   We also have plenty of towels and sheets for him to take with him.  He can raid my pantry for food and cleaning supplies that he needs too.  I really hope he wants the cleaning supplies and he uses them.  My feeling is that when he has his own place, he will keep it picked up and clean, because it will be his place.  

Our college girls will be moving out at the end of December and in January we will be "Empty Nesters."  So, life is changing in our family and it is very exciting.  

But don't worry, I will be back to blogging regularly from now on.  In fact I have already written a couple of posts but wanted to post my news first.  Next up . . . creating that price book we talked about last week.

October 02, 2012

Time to get back to the basics - Price Book

I just got done looking at the grocery ads for this week and I only circled one thing that appeared to be a good deal - Bartlett pears on sale for 88 cents a lb.  Maybe there are more deals but with prices having risen so quickly I am struggling to figure out what is a good price anymore.  

I haven't had to keep a price book for quite some time because I knew the prices of everything I purchased.  Now that prices have dramatically changed, I am making up a new price book.  This is so frustrating.  

The past month or so I have been kind of going on a whim and a prayer when it came to buying some of our groceries.  There were the obvious deals such as 4 boxes of Cheerios for $5.00; but there were the other items that I wasn't so sure about. 

So now I'm getting back to the basics and keeping a price book.  I need the information in order to make wise purchase choices but I also know that it will be kind of sad.  Why?  Comparing today's prices to the prices in my old price book is sad.   Actually it's even worse if I go back to the very first price book I ever kept from 18 years ago.  I came across it recently and under beef I had chuck roast listed as $1.49 a lb.  Now that's really sad.

In Search of Contentment - Final Post

4. Quit tying contentment to stuff.

Having more stuff does not bring contentment. This is something that a lot of people need to learn. Many people seem to think that once they have a certain something that they will then suddenly be content. They constantly chase after the one thing that they can buy that will bring them happiness. Perhaps it is the new I-phone that just went on the market or it could be as simple as having the latest movie on dvd. These bring temporary contentment and then you are out to find the next thing that will make you happy.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not against having things. I am just saying that we make too many emotion tied purchases. The phrase “You can’t buy happiness” is very true.

Right now having more stuff would mean that I would have to work full time. I don’t want to do that at all as I like the freedom that I have by being home and being my own boss. It took me awhile but I now embrace the belief that contentment does come from within yourself.

5. Quit looking at what others have or own. They may not own it after all.

Yes, you may feel a little envious when you see a new car that a friend has just purchased and you would love to have the same car, but is the car payment worth it? Do you really think that when you drive a new car down the street that everyone walking down the street stops to say “what a cool car, that lady sure is successful and smart and pretty and makes wise choices and makes a lot of money and so on.” I pass many new cars every day and I never think these things. Usually I am thinking “please pull over and let me get by.” I am an impatient driver.

Think about this the next time you want what someone else has. What difference would it make in my life to go out and purchase what that person has? Would it suddenly bring me happiness and contentment or would it make me miserable because of what it cost me? Do I really need it? Would I be happier with more money in the bank and not having the stress of another debt payment?

Back when I worked at the law firm, we handled a lot of different cases. It was the divorce cases that were interesting because each party had to file a Financial Affidavit listing all of their assets and liabilities. It was very eye opening to see the debt listed. It was not unusual to see multiple credit cards maxed out in the thousands of dollars. Next up was the mortgage and the car payments. I often wondered if the thousands of dollars of items that were purchased on credit was a great trade off to the marriage. Does anyone ever say “I am so happy that we have all of this credit card debt and I am happy because of it?” I don’t think so.

Finally, to wrap all of this up, the bottom line is this: Contentment comes from relationships. It is the people in our lives that bring contentment, would that we cherished them as much as we should.

Sit down now and make a choice to invest in relationships. I firmly believe that if you are happy with your relationships – spouse, children, other family, and friends that you will be happier and more content beyond anything money can buy.

September 26, 2012

In Search of Contentment - Part 3

3.  Quit tying contentment to what people think of you. 

"If I am popular, I will be happy and content."

"If people like me and I have a lot of friends, then I will be happy and content." 

"If people want what I have, then I will be happy and content."
In this series, I have listed and will list several beliefs that I have observed on searching for contentment.  Some are more on a smaller scale than others.   Today I am focusing on quit tying contentment to what people think of you.  I believe that this is one of the biggest struggles that people can face.  We want to be revered, looked up to, and perceived as successful.  However, being driven by what people think of you can be detrimental to your life and your finances.  If you put your faith in what people think of you, you may never be happy doing what you are now doing.  You will not be content.  

Think about it.  Does what people think of you hold you back or push you forward?  I know that this is a problem that a lot of people have, as there are a lot of designer clothes, new cars and brand new homes being sold even in this economy.  Statements are being made.  Perception is valued above reality.  If I am perceived as being successful, then this will be my new reality.  I will be successful and happy.

The problem with this way of thinking is that if you are going the way of what others think, then you will end up making bad decisions.  It does make you feel as if you have a higher value than others, but it is false and doesn’t last.

Since this blog is about living a frugal life, here is an example of how that kind of thinking can be detrimental.  If I buy this great new expensive car, that I can’t “afford” unless I extend the loan to 72 months, then people will think I am successful.  The same goes with if I build a beautiful large new house, one that I can’t afford, then people will think that I am successful and happy.

Having a nice vehicle or new home is not a bad thing, but if you can’t afford it and if you are only doing it because you want to give a certain impression to people, then it won’t be long before the thrill wears off – especially if you are extended financially and really can’t afford it.  You will not be content in the end.   In fact you will be miserable as there will always be something else you will want in order to give the correct appearance. 

I’ve often wondered how many people are afraid to move forward with their lives because they worry what people will think.  Would more people be able to retire early or more comfortably if they weren’t worried what other people thought?   In other words if you drove an old car and lived in a small two bedroom house, even though you could afford a “McMansion,” would you be able to meet your dream of retiring early or living on one income?  Better yet, would you finally be able to work part time and spend more time with your family?   Contentment can only come when you are doing what truly makes you happy and it does not come from what other people think of you. 

Live your life without worrying about what others think.  It is hard to do at times, but the older I get I realize that doing what you want to do, going your own way does bring true contentment and happiness. 

People thought I was crazy to stay home full time after a successful career as a legal assistant.  I had offers from two attorneys from two nearby cities when we closed the law practice and I know that I would have made a nice sum of money but it just wasn’t what I wanted to do.  This was totally against what people thought I should do.  Some people could not believe that I would “waste my talents” by staying home full time.

I’m not perfect and I still struggle sometimes with the “what will people think” equation, but I am happy.  Here I am 3 years after losing my job working Saturday afternoons at the Public Library and watching an 8 year old neighbor boy after school 4 afternoons a week.  I am doing what I want to do and not because I have to.  I am for the most part, content. 

September 24, 2012

A Tale of Leftovers - Sloppy Joes

I recently made a rather large batch of Sloppy Joes for a group for lunch.  I knew I would have "planned: leftovers.  I have come to think of Sloppy Joe mixture as one of those versatile meals.  Here is my recipe for Sloppy Joes that I posted a while back.  This recipe makes a nice batch of Sloppy Joes that end up thickening as they simmer and are seasoned nicely.  When I make these, someone usually asks for the recipe.

After I have served these on the traditional buns, I freeze the leftovers for later use.  When I make homemade pizza, I dollop leftover Sloppy Joe mixture on top of the pizza sauce and then I top with colby jack cheese or a combination of mozzarella and cheddar.  For something a little more gourmet I add some diced onion on top and when the pizza comes out of the oven, top it with some sweet pickle slices.

Another leftover idea is to spread the meat mixture in a small pan and top with biscuit dough or another one of my favorites is to make meat tarts.  When I bake a pie crust I take the leftover crust dough and put it in a ziploc bag in the freezer.  I take some of the leftover pie crust and roll it out into small circles, put some of the Sloppy Joe mixture on one side of the pie crust circle and flip over the other half of the crust.  Brush a little water around the edges of the crust and seal with a fork.  Prick the top with a fork and then bake until the crust is brown and the meat mixture bubbles through the top.

You can sprinkle some cheese on the Sloppy Joe mixture before you encase it in the crust or sprinkle a little bit of cheddar cheese on the top crust before you put it in the oven.

Think of leftovers as an opportunity to be creative.

September 23, 2012

In Search of Contentment - Part 2

2.  Quit tying contentment to money.

This post is the hardest regarding contentment as let’s put this up front right away, money can make our lives easier and thus we are more content.  For some people they are living in poverty through no fault of their own.  It’s one thing to want more money because your basic needs aren’t being met.  But, it seems to me that most of us are constantly chasing after money for the wrong reasons.  We are setting aside contentment for the day we earn “x” amount of dollars as income for our families or we are waiting to be happy until we are debt free.

It’s not about earning more money, it’s about the money you have and what you do with it.  Perhaps it’s not your income, it’s your debt.  Perhaps it’s not your income but your unrealistic expectations of what you believe you need to have in order to be happy and content.

I speak from experience here.  Years and years ago money was so tight that we could hardly pay our bills.  It was worse than paycheck to paycheck.  The bills weren’t just for utilities and food, the bills were also credit card payments of stuff that we really didn’t need or poor planning on our part for not setting aside money for car repairs and such.  We were young and stupid. 

I would have given anything not to have those debt payments each month as the money spent on credit card payments would have given us plenty of extra money in our budget.  So, in that essence if we wouldn’t have made those poor decisions and been content with what we had as income, we wouldn’t have gone out and bought stuff on credit.  However, I want to go one step further and say that I was miserable because of our debt and I remained miserable.  Yes, we were in debt, but if I only would have stepped back from the situation, recognized what we had done, sat down and made a debt reduction plan, I would have felt better about the situation.  Even in the middle of more expenses than income, I could have found contentment from the peace of mind of having a debt reduction plan and working the plan. 

For many people getting out of debt can take years.  If you wait until everything is paid off and perfect you will have wasted several years of your life being stuck in the mindset of being discontent.   Draw strength from your debt reduction plan and be content in the knowledge that you are taking action.

I know people that seem to be holding their breath until they make a certain amount of income.  They are unhappy until they make “x” amount of money and then they will allow themselves to be content.

Don’t fall into this mindset.  I know we have come through some really hard times over the past few years and many of my followers have experienced unemployment.  But never fall into the mindset that you will only be happy when you earn a set amount of money.  Learn to live on the income you earn now and make changes so you can continue to live on what you earn.   

In 2007 I started to wear down from working the long hours that I had been working.  We had a lot of debt coming from paying college tuition for our oldest son and from his wedding in the summer of 2007.  We buckled down to get the debt paid off.  I applied myself to my job and did the very best that I could and we concentrated on paying off our debt.  In the fall of 2008, actually 4 years ago right now, I started to totally burn out and I began thinking about quitting my job and staying home full time.  My happiness was not tied to earning more money, but gaining more time and peace in my life. 

Some of the happiest and contented people I know are those who are living within their incomes.  They are thankful for what they have and do not think that the way they are living is beneath their means or undignified. 

I am still learning this concept of not tying money to contentedness.  Old habits, or should I say thoughts, are hard to shake.  However as time passes, I find that I find contentment and money not as closely related as I used to.  

Next Post:  3.  Quit tying contentment to what people think of you.


It has been one of those months, busy and packed with activities.  However it is winding down and I am excited as I face this week with a calendar that isn't overbooked at all.  I may actually be able to spend more time at home than I have in the past few weeks.

I've missed not having time to sit down and write a post.  This week I'm back at a normal schedule and let's hope it stays that way.

September 16, 2012

In Search of Contentment - Part 1

In this series, I am reflecting on the subject of finding contentment.  What does contentment do with “The Path to Frugality?”  Plenty.  One example is that if you aren’t content, you are more apt to spend money in order to bring yourself a feeling of contentment or happiness. 

I struggle with being content and I know that if I could just feel contentment with my life, I would be at peace with many things in my life and be happier.   It is interesting that the majority of people are not content and struggle or search for contentment.  Why is this?  Is it because we are constantly shown in the media that we need to have “this or that” to be happy?

Over the next several days I want to focus on contentment.  I am working my way through a period in my life when I realize my life would be happier and easier if I would learn to be content.  Yes I believe that contentment is learned and in order to feel contentment we need to make a conscious effort to change our thoughts and quit sabotaging how we feel about ourselves and our lives. 

So, tonight I want to bring up the number 1 obstacle I have with finding contentment.

1.  Quit tying contentment to future events.

I will be content when the kids go to elementary school, when the kids graduate from school, when we make more money, when we have a newer house, when Christmas is over, when we are debt free, when we get a new car, when we pay the car off, when we remodel the kitchen, when I lose 10 lbs., when, when, when. . .  The list can go on and on until you are in your retirement years and look back and see a lot of years of waiting for time to pass.  Ugh.

Why do I do this?  Why do I always have a carrot of “mirages of contentment” dangling in front of me all the time?  I have always had “goals” of things that I want to accomplish but I have grown accustomed to delaying happiness or contentment until that goal is met or an event happens.  I know that I am not alone in this. 

I remember specifically when we purchased the home that we are living in now and how I could hardly wait for May 27, 1997 when we would close on the house and we would be homeowners.  I would finally have my house and no one could dictate to me whether I have a dog or cat, or what color I could paint the walls or anything else that a landlord might dictate.  I felt content for awhile but then the reality of owning an old house sets in along with the expenses and the expectations for remodeling an old house.  

It never used to be this way.  I can vividly remember 26 years ago when our oldest son was 1 and I was able to quit my job and be home with him.  In order to do this I babysat 1 other child for money for our food budget.  I remember how simple our lives were back then and how happy I was.  We faced many financial challenges during those years, but I never lost sight of one thing and that I was living my dream of being a stay at home mom, at least for a few years.  

Three years ago I again achieved a dream of being a stay at home wife.  It was and continues to be fulfilling but along the way I have lost much of the contentment I felt that first morning I woke up to my new stay at home life.  What has happened?  How did my thinking change about contentment?   

There is not one “aha” moment that I can trace back to, but somewhere I made an unconscious decision that in order to be content, my life needed to be perfect.  Everyone has their own idea of what perfectionism means to them.  My idea of perfection is different from everyone else’s but somewhere in the past 15 years I have become a believer in I can only be happy and content when “______” (fill in the blank).

It was this summer that I realized that I was very unhappy with myself and my life.  I couldn’t immediately come up with a reason for feeling unhappy.  I spent a couple of days spending some time relaxing and taking a break from my normal responsibilities to reflect.  While I was sitting on my back porch I was reviewing my calendar and penciled off some dates of activities and family events.   And then it happened.  I started thinking “I will be so happy when March comes.”  We have a special event to plan and I am looking forward to it.  Then I looked to October and saw that I had an activity at church to plan and although I liked the activity, I hated the planning part.  Boy I will be glad when that is over.  But I went one step further.  If I can just get through to the end of October, I will be so much happier. 

This is what I said to myself and it was that statement that made me realize that I had a problem:  wrong thinking.  I had been living my life not enjoying every day of it, but putting my enjoyment or contentment on hold until something specific happened in the future.  I was plodding along looking forward to an event that would be fun or looking forward to something being over.  

I made a vow at that point that I had to change the way I thought about my life.  I had to stop what I was thinking and make changes so I could enjoy every day of my life. Change does not come easy for me and I knew this was going to be hard.  Like a bad habit, wrong thinking that has gone on for years will take time to change.   Changing perspective and modifying the way I think would be the only way that I could start (yes, it is a beginning) to bring contentment into my life.  It takes 21 days to change a bad habit.  I figured that I am a slow learner so it would take at least 30 days for me, but if it brought happiness, peace and contentment I was more than willing to put in the effort.

Every time I start to think “I’ll be content when”, I say to myself – “that is a lie.  You can be content now.  It is your choice.”  I know it sounds silly, almost like something from the old Oprah Shows, but if I am alone I actually say this out loud.  I say it a couple of times if I need to. 

It is taking more than 30 days but it is working.  Every time I say that phrase, I am acknowledging that contentment is available to me now if I want it and I don’t have to wait.  I can be content with my life if I really want to be contented.  The choice is mine.

If you struggle with this, you have to make a conscious choice to change the way you think.  Delaying contentment or putting it off until something happens means that it will never happen.  You will never, never be satisfied with your life and it will only make you sad and disappointed.  It is no way to live your life. 

Repeat after me “I can be content now.  It is my choice.”  Repeat.  “I can be content now.  It is my choice.” 

If I can take steps to change, you can take steps to change. 

Next post:  2.  Quit tying contentment to money.

September 11, 2012

Upcoming Series - In Search of Contentment


The above picture of our puppy Molly, taken when she was just a few weeks old, symbolizes contentment to me. She is sleeping after having a nice meal and having been played with. Now she has settled on our back porch for a nap and she looks very contented and happy. 

What makes you happy? Are you constantly riding the highs of happiness to be brought down by disappointment? How does happiness affect your finances? 

I am working on a series of posts in which I will share with you my struggle to find contentment. Yes, I struggle with this but I am sure I am not alone. You know, the" if only I could have this in my life" or "if only this would happen and I would be content" type of attitude.

I am one of those type of people who struggle with not being able to live in the moment, but to hold off living or being truly happy until certain good things happen. 

It is my goal that you will be able to learn from my experience and how I am turning myself around to a different way of thinking about being content with life. I hope you will enjoy the upcoming posts and I look forward to your comments.

September 10, 2012

Overspending on Food

It's time to up the budget.

Over the summer my husband and I made a decision that we needed to eat more whole foods or healthier foods.  What does this mean?  More fresh fruits and vegetables at a time when the prices are going sky high. 

I just got home from the grocery store on my every other day trip.  Now keep in mind that we have 5 people that I am feeding at this time.   Here is what I purchased:

1 gallon of 1% milk @ $3.09
Watermelon @ .69 a lb. - total $5.20
1 Whole Fresh Pineapple - $2.99
Bartlett Pears @ .98 a lb. – total $4.47
Kiwi Fruit – 5 for $2.00
Plums @ $1.79 lb. – total $3.10
1 Mango - .67
Gala Apples @ $1.29 lb. - $6.04
Bananas @.59 - $1.70

Last year per my records I spent the following on the same items, except the mango which is something new that we are now buying.

1 gallon of 1% milk @ $2.69
Watermelon @ .33 lb.
Fresh Pineapple - $1.99
Bartlett Pears @ .49 lb.
Kiwi Fruit - .33 each
Plums @ .99 lb.
Gala Apples - .69 lb.
Bananas - .33 lb.

The apples and pears were a good deal so I purchased several pounds.  On Saturday I purchased a lot of vegetables such as leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, fresh mushrooms, red and green peppers and carrots.

My husband and I along with the two college girls that live with us are eating more and more fresh fruits and vegetables.  A lot of this is due to the fact that my husband is an athlete, the girls are college athletes and I am doing my best to make a lifestyle change and increase my physical activity.  Yesterday I biked a total of 11 miles on our local bike trail.  As a side note, there is not a bike seat out there that is very comfortable for a long ride.

As to our son, well he isn’t much of a healthy eater and since he is 19 years old, I don’t push him.  It has to be his choice and I can’t make him eat fresh fruits or vegetables. 

So how are we fitting this into our budget?  I don’t like to overspend.  Back in June I made a conscientious decision to increase our income.  It was then that I took a job at the public library working Saturday afternoons. It is only 5 hours a week right now and that is fine as it doesn’t interfere with what I want to do at home.  Also last month I had a neighbor approach me about watching her son 4 days after school.  He is a delightful boy and so I said yes.  It is the income from the library and daycare that I am using to offset the rise in grocery prices.  Originally this extra income was going to go towards home improvement projects but now it is going towards "body improvement."

Sometimes you just have to be creative and bite the bullet and go out and find a way to earn some extra income.  I have been fortunate in that working Saturday afternoons and watching a 7 year old little boy after school 4 days a week doesn’t change my lifestyle much.  In fact I think both of these “jobs” enhance my life.  I am meeting new people through the library and the little boy is my “grandma in training” job for that someday when I will be a grandma.