Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017, the highlights...

My 2017 year in review!  

✫  RUDY:  Such a good boy!  Could not ask for better.  Still working on things like jumping on visitors and barking at squirrels and deer, but it will come.

✫  HOSTING:  My best friend since childhood came for a brief visit.  Oh!  I hope she had as much fun as I did!

✫  TRAVEL:  We logged 5000+ miles on our fall vacation.  It was lovely.

✫  COOKING:  Still doing a lot of cooking, and packaging individual servings to freeze for Carey to take to work.  I came across a new family favorite with Dublin Coddle, and I even tried my hand at Egg Rolls this year (not that I serve those two things together).

✫  WORK:  I worked 270 hours this year.  Doesn't sound like much, but works out to about a month and a half if I had worked them straight instead of a day here and a day there.  I'm required to work a minimum of 100 hours annually to keep my part-time status, so I did two-and-a-half+ times that.


My 2017 goal was to get ten projects completely finished this year.  I finished up four projects: a throw, a baby quilt, a twin quilt, and a table cover.  Several others are very close, but those will be held over for next year.  

✫  BLOGGING:  I posted 169 blog posts.

✫  READING:  I slightly more than doubled last years reading with 67 books this year, 52 of which were part of the Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge.  It was definitely challenging with categories that I would not have chosen on my own.  I did really enjoy the challenge, but I need a break, so I'm not committing to a reading challenge for 2018.
My favorite book read this year was...The Old Man by Thomas Perry.  I rated it 10/10.
Others that I rated 10/10:
     The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
     Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
     The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas (this was a re-read)

There were also quite a few that I rated 9/10.  And unlike 2016, there were very few clunkers this year.

And that's another year completed.  It was a pretty good one; glad I was here for it.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 52...

1.  I have tentatively accepted three weeks of work next April.  Though each year I swear that I will never work another April (the end of tax season), and even blocked out the middle of March through the middle of April 2018 as being 'unavailable to work' on my official schedule, when it came down to it, I couldn't say no when someone called and asked if I could fill in while she undergoes and recovers from surgery.  But, hey, three weeks will put me over my annual minimum requirement for hours as well as make a nice couple of paydays.

2.  Before clicking on the 'buy' button for a Kindle book that sounded interesting and was priced at just $1.99, I checked the library catalog on their website, and finding they had it available, I clicked their 'reserve' button instead.  Because $1.99 saved is $1.99 earned, right?  I'll pick it up while I am on my way to an appointment this afternoon, thereby not making a special trip.  And since I will be in the vicinity, I will also make a deposit at the bank right next door to the library, thereby not making yet another trip later.  

3.  Once the calm of Christmas evening settled in, I decided to go ahead and reconfigure my homemade calendar from this past year to make it work for 2018.  I was just going to do the formatting and wait to print and assemble it, but it went really quickly, so I got it printed, punched the holes, and I am thrilled that it is already hanging and has upcoming obligations properly notated.  It's not fancy, but it's perfect for my needs.  Cost:  pennies.

4.  We paid our property taxes before the end of the year, thereby avoiding any penalty or interest.

5.  No one felt deprived by our Chicken & Dumpling Christmas dinner rather than more expensive fare.  We are a tribe of simple tastes.  It made me happy to have that be their request, it made me happy to be able to prepare it for them all, and it made me very happy that we were all together to share it.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Chicken Fajita Pasta 
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Chicken & Dumplings Christmas dinner
Tuesday:  homemade hamburgers
Wednesday:  Tortilla Soup
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  ?

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Last week I started and finished The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd, and enjoyed it so much more than I expected to...I rate it 9 out of a possible 10 points.  See my Reading List for my rating and review of all the books I read.

Betrayal by Fern Michaels

This morning I finished Betrayal by Fern Michaels.  It's not my favorite kind of novel.  I don't really like the author's writing style.  Like most prolific authors, her work is too formulaic for my tastes.  I won't be investing any more of my time in reading more of her work.

I think I'll be squeezing in one more book before the year ends, and will probably start it tonight or tomorrow.
All the Little Children by Jo Furniss

In this one a mother takes her children camping.  While they are in the wilderness, they see signs of fires in the distance and they lose all communication.  Sure that something terrible is happening in the world, she decides to stay in the safety of the forest seclusion.

I've decided not to do another reading challenge next year.  This year's challenge was definitely a challenging challenge!  Next year I think I will cut back on my reading time some and try to get more tangible pursuits in...sewing, crafting, cleaning, to name a few things on my list.  My mother would be happy, as she always stressed having something to show for your time, and though she never dissuaded me from reading, she never really encouraged it either.  

But I am a reader.  I will definitely be reading, but not at the pace I did this year.  It has been a few years since I've read The One Year Bible, so it will be on my goals list again in 2018.  Each day it has an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a Psalm, and a Proverb.  It's a great way to read through the entire Bible in a year's time.  I've done this several times, and always enjoy it.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Now there's Dasher and Dancer and Prancer...

Rudy may get coal in his stocking for being such a camera hog, but maybe not since Carey didn't want to be in the picture anyway.  :)  But we ALL want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 51...

1.  I scheduled three days of work for January.

2.  After cable/phone/Internet bill rate jumped, I phoned the co-op to negotiate a better price.  It is still higher than it was, but not the full rate hike originally charged.

3.  I squeezed in an appointment with the ophthalmologist before the end of the year to take advantage of deductible already met for this year.

4.  Paid all bills.  All but two can be paid online, so no stamps required.  I drove by a post office near the ophthalmologist office, so dropped off the two that needed to be mailed.  No extra driving required. 

5.  Met with our financial adviser to make sure we are still on track.  Took along info for life and long term care insurance policies that I wanted to make sure the coverage and premiums were still appropriate for us.  Knowledge is power.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Italian Sausage Potato & **Spinach Soup
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *Chinese takeout
Tuesday:  *barbecue
Wednesday:  chili & tamales
Thursday:  Easy Enchiladas (to use up leftover chili) and salad
Friday:  *Tex-Mex

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
(**I substituted fresh kale that needed using instead)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel by Matthew Sullivan

I just finished this one about midnight.  I really liked it.  I liked its characters.  I liked the mystery.  I liked the cipher.  Not light reading.  A lot of quirky/downright troubled people, but it definitely kept me hooked.  

The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

I waited forever for this one to be available through the library as an ebook.  Not sure how I will get on with it, but I will give it a try.  Based on actual person and events in eighteenth century South Carolina.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Frugal Friday File 2017, week 50...

1.  I worked two days this week at my 'home' branch.  I recently received a bonus, and this week was notified that I would be receiving a cost of living and a merit increase in my pay.  Thank you!

2.  I was able to figure out how to uninstall just the part of the stupid Windows 10 update that made my email fail this week.  No expensive expert required.

3.  I remembered to take my finished library book to work with me, so I could return it at lunch break.  Library is near the branch I was in today, so I saved an extra trip.

4.  I used  the sleeves from a large sweatshirt purchased at Goodwill to make two sweatshirts for Rudy.  I used this tutorial which was most helpful.  I used a sweatshirt (rather than a sweater as the tutorial shows), because I wanted it to hold up to repeated laundering since he will be wearing it outside a lot.  I cut the sleeves off at the shoulders, curved the belly side to allow for potty access, and cut holes for his front legs.  The hardest part was measuring Rudy's length and shoulders to know where to put the holes...such a wiggle worm...and he wanted to play with the tape measure!  I cut the back just a tad long, so I would have room to turn the edges under, but it was pretty cool today and he had to be out all afternoon while I was at work, so I put it on him un-hemmed.  
Rudy in his sweatshirt.  He has his regular vest on over it since his tags are attached to it, and I didn't want him outside this afternoon without his tags on.

5.  The sweatshirt body I had left over actually looked good with the sleeves removed.  It has a half zipper from the neck to the middle front.  I asked Carey if he could use it at the hunting lease as a vest layer, and he agreed it would be perfect.  Since it is larger than he would normally wear, he can wear it over his other layers.  No waste, and both my 'boys' are dressed warmly.  :)

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Schlotzky sandwiches
Sunday:  Sunday family supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *pizza
Tuesday:  Dublin Coddle with Kale
Wednesday:  leftovers
Thursday:  Thai Red Curry and rice, naan
Friday:  omelette 

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

A Bridge Across the Ocean by Susan Meissner

I finished this one last night.  A ghost story...a medium...WWII...French Resistance...war brides?  It seemed a little jumbled, or maybe overambitious?  It started out with a lot of seemingly unrelated character stories.  They did get joined together, but it wasn't very satisfying.

Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

Next up is this one which I checked out as a library ebook.  I've read mixed reviews, so we'll see.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Windows 10...

Every time Windows 10 does an update, something bad happens to my computer.  It has made my Photoshop completely unusable.  I check it every time there is an update, and it will seem to work, and then the next day it is completely useless again.  It seems to be working right now, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

No, this time it ONLY took out my email.  Arrrrgh!!!  No sending or receiving.

So if you are trying to contact me, and I don't answer, I apologize.  When I have more patience, I will try to figure it out...or call my computer guy to do it.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Playing in the dirt...

Caitlyn was overjoyed that the two months of pumpkin desserts are over for this year, and had put in her request for 'Dirt Cups' many times over the past month or so...the kind made from chocolate pudding, whipped topping, and crushed Oreos, that is.

I didn't have any gummy worms to decorate them.  I did have popsicle sticks and time on my hands, so I made some garden stakes for them instead. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Gnome sweet gnome...

I really enjoyed the gourd painting class at the library yesterday.  As I was choosing an unpainted gourd from the boxful, this one kept telling me, 'I'm a gnome!  I'm a gnome!'  :)  I Googled 'gnome faces' on my phone, and chose one to use as a guide.  This is how it looked when I left the library.  I had already decided to add a mustache and change the mouth a bit, but I knew I had paint at home, so I decided to wait to make the changes.

Last night I fixed him up a bit.  Here he is with his mustache and new mouth.  I also altered his hairline a bit, and defined his beard a little.  Then I used a fine-tipped sharpie to outline some of his features.  I still need to spray it with sealer

He doesn't have a hole drilled in him to make him a birdhouse.  I guess I could add one if I wanted to, but I know I won't.  I think I will just add him to my Christmas decorations.

It was a fun project, and a fun group.  He's not masterpiece, but as my first (and probably only) painted gourd, I am happy enough with him.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 49...

1.  I'm attending a free hands-on class at the library this afternoon on making painted-gourd birdhouses...all materials supplied free too.  Love our library!

2.  I seem to have been doing a lot of shopping online.  Not great for the wallet, but I only have two more gifts and I'm done.  I guess I can say the frugal part of this is that I didn't use any gasoline, and they all had free shipping.

3.  We decided to have Chicken 'n Dumplings for Christmas Dinner for the ten of us.  I bought three whole chickens on Tuesday.  Rather than have to cook them and bone them all at once, I have cooked one every day, boned them, then packaged the meat and broth for the freezer.  I will just move them from the freezer to the fridge a couple of days before Christmas to thaw.  On Christmas I will just need to heat up the meat and broth and make the dumplings.  Simple.  

Chicken and dumplings is a favorite with my whole family, which is why we are having it, but it doesn't hurt that it is much more frugal than other traditional Christmas fare.  And doing the majority of the work well ahead of time makes for a relaxing family holiday.

4.  As usual we are making single-serving meals from each night's leftovers to store in the freezer for Carey to take to work.  Since we have started doing this, we have almost no food waste anymore.  And Carey rarely (as in I don't remember the last time) eats out while at work (not that that is much of an option where his job is located).  I try to keep the freezer full with a variety so that he doesn't have to eat the same thing more than once in a week.

This is something that I used to do for my mother when she was alive as well.  She hated cooking for one.  She would lament that, "You can't make gravy from one pork chop."  If she cooked larger amounts, she would end up eating the same thing over and over.  We lived three hours away.  After wishing I could cook for her more often, I decided I could.  She had been buying lots of frozen meals from the grocery store, and washed and stored all the containers they came in.  On one visit, I absconded with a huge stack of the plates/covers that were sitting on her pantry shelves.  Then at home after supper each night, I would make a plate (or two or three) for her and put them in the freezer labeled.  Then the next time I went to visit, usually once a month or so, I would pack a big cooler with all the frozen meals and deliver them to her freezer...and take more empty containers home with me for next time.  It was perhaps the most appreciated gift I ever gave her.  Most nights we would speak on the phone, and she would always tell me what she had for supper that I had cooked.  :)  And I felt better knowing that she was getting lots of variety in her diet.

But I digress...

5.  I have really pared back on my hobby purchases.  I think my craft room has achieved critical mess.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  friend treated me to a late lunch, skipped supper
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Vegetable Quiche with Bacon
Tuesday:  Old Fashioned Goulash
Wednesday:  No Peek Chicken, green beans
Thursday:  Meatloaf, Hot Potato Salad, corn
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Texas snow storm...

Well, this is unusual, especially for early December.  It started snowing about dusk, and it is actually sticking.  
Here's the back yard.  Carey let Rudy out, and said that Rudy licked the snow all along his path.  He loves to eat ice and begs for it whenever I open the freezer, so he probably thought it rained down treats.  :)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

This one is based on the 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden.  I've read several books on the topic, all of which stuck to the facts of the case.  This one is an imagining of what ifs, and it is written in a somewhat Gothic style.  

Today was a rainy day, and perfect for staying in and reading this one.

Unrelated, but with a somewhat similar feel was a miniseries I binge watched on Netflix Monday night: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood.  Based on the life of Grace Marks who was a young Irish-immigrant maid living and working in Canada.  In 1843 she was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper.  I thought it was very well done.  I hadn't heard of the story before, but a friend at quilting group recommended it, and once I started watching it, I couldn't stop.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 48...

1.  I picked up a day of work this week unexpectedly.

2.  I cashed in credit card reward points for two $50 gift cards.  Our credit card doubled the reward points it gives on purchases sometime this year, so that was helpful.  Unfortunately I think that was after I charged (and immediately paid off) the car's down payment.  I also periodically check to see which businesses are currently multiplying reward points at their stores...I don't shop at most of them, but I noticed today that Michael's is offering 10 reward points on each $1 spent, and so is Starbuck's.  I have a trip planned to Michael's this afternoon, and I will be buying some Starbuck's gift cards for Christmas, so those will add a few points to the tally.

3.  On the way to Michael's I will stop at the bank to make a deposit.  The library is nextdoor to the bank, and they are having a half-off sale of the books in their used/donated book nook.  So I will also run in there and see if I can pick up some new-to-him books for Carey, and maybe the kids, for part of their Christmas presents.  Ten-cent books as gifts.  Sure!

4.  I went to the dentist yesterday, and was thrilled that it was almost entirely paid for by insurance.  Our insurance is changing at the first of the year, so my fingers are crossed that all of my current doctors will be on the new plan.  I SO appreciate having insurance coverage, but I really hate figuring out the ins and outs of it, and I really, really hate having to leave a trusted doctor if they aren't on my 'plan' and have to search out a new one who is.  I also have an appointment to see the ophthalmologist and get new glasses this month.  Trying to squeeze everything possible in before the switch.

5.  Groomed Rudy at home myself: bathed, cleaned ears, and trimmed nails.  Washed his bedding, and changed the air filter near his kennel while I was at it.  

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Sausage, 4 Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash
Tuesday:  Frito Pie
Wednesday:  leftovers
Thursday:  *late lunch out, skipped dinner
Friday:  ???

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)
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