Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Too Late to Say Goodbye by Ann Rule

It's been ages since I've read any true crime.  I'm counting this as 'a book by someone you admire' category of the 2017 reading challenge.  The topic of her writing may not be everyone's cup of tea, but there are several things I do admire about her.

Her work is always well researched, and she pulls dry facts (and sometimes salacious facts) together in a cohesive timeline and in a style of writing that makes them very readable.  I also admire that she turned varied life experiences into an amazingly successful career.

And I thought the following falls under what I'm reading as well.  

Back when the screen of my first Kindle broke, I set it aside and ordered a factory rebuild of the same model, but held onto the broken one to try my had at repairing.  When I broke the second one I was devastated, and ordered two new screens, so I could try to repair them both.  

That little chore has been on my to-do list for eons quite awhile.  Fear of screwing it up (pardon the pun) has kept me procrastinating.  I finally watched lots of Youtube videos (this very helpful one multiple times and while taking notes) and felt like I had a decent understanding of what needed to be done.
Here was a really scary part of the job...just getting the back off to expose the innards.

At this point I was pretty sure I had made a huge mistake in not just buying a newer model.  See the black specks in the middle upper half of the photo?

Here's a closeup.  I mean, look at the size (or lack thereof) of the screws!  If you are wondering why I attempted to tackle this instead of asking someone else in my household to give it a go...well, I'm used to working with small parts in my crafting, so I figured I would be the most dexterous.

I managed to get both of them replaced, and after charging the batteries I was happy to see that one of them is now working, so I promptly put it in a new more secure and protective case.  The other had more damaged than just the screen I guess, but I will save it to cannibalize the screen for next time I break one.

And I managed to corral all the screws and get them all back in place.  No loose ones.  Today.  :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A day with boys...

We stole Diego (right) away for the day for a little road trip.  We went to the coast to visit Bobby (left) who is loving college life.  He was done with classes by 2, so we picked him up and made a tour of some family spots in towns near where he is now in school.

We took them to visit my grandfather's grave.  Most of my family (parents, all other grandparents) are buried in Nebraska.  All passed away before the boys came along.  I hadn't visited my grandfather's grave in years, so I thought we should let them come along so they are aware of the location.  

Then we went to my and Carey's home town and to a favorite sandwich shop for a late  lunch.  In the past, we have occasionally bought sandwiches and packed them home to share with the family, but the boys had never been to the shop before.  

Then we drove the couple of blocks to show them the house I grew up in, and then across town to see the house Carey grew up in.

Then we drove Bobby back to his dorm.  His campus is on the coast, and this view of the bay is right across the street from the dorms. 

Probably not a massively fun day for them, but Bobby hasn't been home yet since school started, so they hadn't seen each other for a few weeks.  And it's always important to impart some family history, and hugely important to make sure they know we love to spend time with them.  And feed them.  :)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 37...

1.  Payday.  Nuff said.

2.  Carey got called back in on his days off to cover for a coworker who is out sick.

3.  No fabric purchases in over a month!

4.  I used up dribs and drabs in the fridge to avoid food waste...half & half purchased for a recipe and the remainder went unused till I used it in mashed potatoes...leftover corn and the end of two containers of sour cream in corn pudding...three boneless/skinless chicken thighs left in a bag and the end of a bag of broccoli for teriyaki chicken & broccoli.

5.  Shopped the Friends of the Library used book shelves and picked up three for Carey to take to work.  He doesn't like to take checked-out books to work in case they get lost.  

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Taco Salad
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  leftovers
Tuesday:  *taco salad
Wednesday:  Teriyaki Chicken & Broccoli
Thursday:  pork chops, mashed potatoes, corn pudding
Friday:  ???

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I finished this one last night.  I was on the reserve list for it at the library for awhile, and it became available last week.  I try to read the ones with reserve lists as quickly as I can so that I can return it back without making the next person wait too long.

The period is Victorian, and I thought the writing style was very representative of the period.  I enjoyed the story even though I didn't identify greatly with any of the characters.  I found myself thinking several times that it would make an amazing television period drama.

I'm counting this one as 'a book with an eccentric character' on the 2017 reading challenge.  While the characters don't seem exceptionally eccentric in light of modern society, in the Victorian era the main female characters, one a naturalist and one a political activist, would have been considered very eccentric.  The young son of the naturalist, would also have been seen as eccentric as he grew older, since he seemed to have a form of Asperger's syndrome.

Confessions of a Surgeon: The Good, The Bad, and the Complicated...Life Behind the O.R. Doors
 by Paul A. Ruggieri, M.D.

I purchased this one a year or two ago and never got it read.  I can't remember why I felt drawn to read it at the time, but it seems like the kind of book I usually look for after hearing the author interviewed.  I came across it on the bookshelf recently, and since I still need a 'book with a subtitle' for the 2017 reading challenge, I put it on my nightstand to start next.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 36...

1.  Staying home to avoid the road hogs lines of cars wrapped around blocks waiting for their turns at the gas pumps.  Staying home also helps me not have to be IN those lines to buy gasoline.

2.  I think I have had my fill of met my quota of pasta-based meals this week.  Oh well, eating from things on hand in the pantry and leftovers in the fridge keeps me away from the grocery store and the drive-thru's.

3.  We had three leftover hot dogs languishing in the refrigerator.  I knew none of us would eat them.  I took them out and cut them in long quarters lengthwise, then sliced the quarters into very thin slices.  I spread them out on a foil-lined baking sheet and baked at about 175° F till they were mostly dehydrated.  Then I transferred them to paper towels and pressed so that the paper towels absorbed any extra fat.  I put them in small plastic containers and am storing in the fridge, and I'm using them for training treats for Rudy.  He's only getting the equivalent of about one 1/8 inch slice of hot dog per day.  I really don't even have to give him any to get his interest, just let him lick the flavor of it off of my hand.  :)

4.  I accepted a half day of work next week.  It's in a neighboring town, and I usually don't accept partial days if it involves a commute.  But this is the region leader's branch, and I like the people there, and I like that they trust me, and I want them to keep calling me.  I'll make a list of other errands that may need to be run while I'm there so it will be worth the drive.

5.  We went to see my mother-in-law this week.  I spent about a half hour massaging her feet, ankles, and lower legs.  It helps temporarily with the fluid retention in her feet and ankles.  I try to do this each time we go.  It's something I can gift her that is totally frugal, takes up no room in her small assisted-living apartment, and is something she thoroughly enjoys.

Will Be Trying:  I haven't actually done this yet, but I read it in a comment on The Non-Consumer Advocate.  I thought it was brilliant, and I look forward to giving it a try on our upcoming vacation.  Instead of buying full-price (and basically dust-catching) souvenirs at gift shops, browse the thrift stores at your vacation destination.  You will potentially find souvenir-worthy items that will actually fill a need when you get them home and remind you of your trip with each use.  I always think our local thrift stores have pretty spare pickings, so I think it might be fun to see what one might find in other parts of the country.

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *Tex-Mex
Sunday:  Sunday family supper with Kasey
Monday:  *out of town restaurant eats
Tuesday:  Tuna Casserole
Wednesday:  Baked Spaghetti
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Seven random thoughts on the 7th...

1.  Feeling SO very thankful.  There was a bit of a crisis this week.  Not my story to share, but there were tears and prayers and a safe and speedy (though it seemed like an eternity)  resolution thanks to a very smart woman with a lot of love, a strong will, a cool head, and technical skill.

2.  There are still long lines for gasoline.  And the inconsiderate drivers!  Idiots turning from straight-only lanes on red lights, people not pulling off of roadways to sit and wait in lines meaning that there is no possible way for through traffic to proceed.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

3.  I only have ten books left to complete the 2017 reading challenge.  It's feeling doable, though it is getting harder to find books that fit the categories that are left.

4.   It is time to change the mantel decorations, but I haven't done it yet.  The current mantel decor has been up so long I don't even see it anymore.  It hasn't started to cool off at all here yet, so it seems too early for pumpkins.  I'll have to give it some thought. 

5.  I haven't made a menu plan and shopping list yet either.  I've been able to come up with meals from the pantry, but a menu plan would decrease the last-minute stress.  Yesterday I found and made a new recipe for Baked Spaghetti, which got favorable reviews from the guys.  It feels like I've been relying a lot on pasta, though, and should be enjoying the fresh summer produce while we still have it.

6.  I have to get busy on my sewing machine!  I have blocks that are overdue, and quilting at the library day is only days away.  Also have quilt retreat coming up at the end of the month, and a week of 9 to 5 before that.  Aaagh!

7.  I think I need chocolate.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Before the 1980 Miracle on Ice, there were the boys in the boat at the 1936 Olympics.  This was a really wonderful book about the working-class college students who captured the hearts of millions during The Great Depression by excelling in an elite sport and claiming Olympic victory in front of Hitler's Germany.  

Focusing mostly on one team member, Joe Rantz, it was truly a come from behind story in every sense of the phrase.  Rantz suffered at the hands of an emotionally abusive step-mother and a father who, though he loved his children, didn't stand up to his wife.  Joe was abandoned at the age of 15, but had the spirit and strength of character to live on his own, foraging for food, staying in school, and working to be able to attend the University of Washington where the rowing team was a means of being able to complete his education.

I bought the 'young readers' adaptation which I had gifted to Diego and borrowed from him after he completed it.  It fulfills the 'book that has been on your to-be-read list for way too long.'  I finished it Sunday, and was thrilled to be able to return it to its owner after having kept it for an eon.

Now I'm on to...
The Search by Nora Roberts
A friend sent me this one after she visited in December.  The main character is a dog trainer, and I think after spending time with Rudy, said friend thought I could use training tips in any form I could get them.  Actually, it does give some good instruction.  :)  I'm about one third of the way into it.

This one will fulfill the 'book by an author who uses a pseudonym' category of the 2017 reading challenge.  Though this isn't one of her books written under her pseudonym (JD Robb), the challenge doesn't specify that the book had to be one written under a pseudonym, only by an author who used one.  And I've already read another book which was written under a pseudonym this year, but I ended up counting it under another category.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 35...

1.  Planning a road-trip vacation.  Carey insists on real maps.  I'm willing to humor him, because (a) it is easier, (b) it's within the realm of possibility that we could be in areas where our phones have no service, and (c) I feel sad that maps are becoming obsolete.  I started to go to amazon to order maps for each state that we will be visiting.  But it occurred to me that state tourist bureaus might make them available for free.  A quick internet search led me to where I found links for all the maps I needed on one page.  It was fast and simple to request each one.  They will be mailed to me free of charge and website indicated they will arrive in two to three weeks, though we already received one in today's mail!

2.  Making reservations for the vacation at state park cabins mostly.  Large savings over hotels, plus since we are going specifically to enjoy the change in seasons, it will be perfect to be as close to nature as possible.  Will also be taking my slow cooker and groceries, so after days of sightseeing, we can go back to the cabins for an easy and inexpensive meal.

3.  I had to go get some blood work done today, back to the same place I left my book for the weekend recently.  Would you believe I walked off and left my current book lying on the counter when I was checking in?  Thankfully it was a large hardcover, and so I realized pretty quickly that my purse was feeling too light and made my way back to retrieve it before I left the building.  No wasted gasoline this time.

4.  Speaking of gasoline...  I filled up the car before the 'big storm,' and have been mostly staying close to home since, so I still have plenty without worrying about running out.  There has been a bit of a run on gas stations around here (due to panic mostly), and the prices have jumped by more than 50¢ per gallon, so I've been happy to make my low-cost, pre-storm gasoline last and stay out of the craziness.

5.  Several stay-home, no-spending days this week. 

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  meatloaf, baked potatoes, corn
Sunday:  Sunday family supper at Kasey's
Monday:  *chicken and red beans & rice
Tuesday:  sandwich
Wednesday: chicken curry and rice
Thursday:   leftovers
Friday:  something from the freezer

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

I started this book last week, but barely got into it before laying it aside to read something else.  I'm back to it now, and making good progress.  I'm enjoying it.  It will fulfill the 'book that is a story within a story' category of the 2017 reading challenge.

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo
This is the one that I snuck in.  It's one of a mystery series that is set in an Ohio community with a large Amish population.  Since we will be going to Ohio soon, I was hoping to soak up a little preview of the area.  It was pretty good, but I wouldn't describe it as a favorite.  And it didn't fit any categories of the reading challenge.  :(

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday supper...

We were able to go to Kasey and Beau's for supper tonight.  I made Bananas Foster for this week's dessert.  Five minutes to prepare and got good reviews.  While I was there, the girls wanted me to trim their hair in preparation for school starting on Tuesday, so of course I did.

Then when I got home, these leaves were lying on the driveway.  (Not all together; I gathered them up for the photo.)  This is more fall color than I've ever seen in my yard; we have all oak trees that don't change color.  I can only assume that Harvey left these.  We definitely haven't had any cool nights to make any local trees change...unless they were just stressed by the storm.

But it is interesting, as we are in the planning and preparation stage for our vacation time specifically to enjoy some autumnal splendor this year.  Looking at these makes me very excited.

Stormy weather...

The first radar image was just as Hurricane Harvey's eye hit land.  And just so you know, the blue dot just north of San Antonio in each image is my location.
image credit: KSAT12 weather app

image credit: KSAT12 weather app

image credit: KSAT12 weather app

image credit: KSAT12 weather app

We didn't see any violent weather here.  We had some rain and a little wind, but we just saw the edge of the storm.  The news from the coast where it went inland and Houston flooding look devastating.  Prayers for those who have rough days ahead of them dealing with the damage and loss.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 34...

Expensive week!  Rudy had a vet appointment for his immunizations now that he is an 'adult' dog.  I had a dentist appointment yesterday (after avoiding it for WAY too long), and another one today to begin some preventative care.  Fingers crossed, insurance should cover the majority.  

1.  No cavities.  Zero.  Zip.  Ever.  No, I take that back.  I did have one once, but it was in a back molar that I used to grind, and said grinding ended up breaking the tooth below the gum line.  It had to be pulled several years ago and replaced with an implant; so I'm back to saying I have no cavities.  :)  So at least I don't have any fillings to pay for now, and over my lifetime I have a very low average of dental costs per annum.

2.  I filled up with gasoline.  Fuel prices are projected to go up due to Hurricane Harvey shutting in the refineries.  

3.  I bathed Rudy and cleaned his ears.  Then, since he had his vet appointment scheduled, I let them trim his nails.  They always do it, if needed, as part of an office visit, so there was no additional cost for it.  You will note I can't bring myself to call it 'free'.

4.  I went to the store yesterday to pick up a few things in case we are stuck at home for a few days.  (Estimates are that we might see 20 inches of rain over the weekend, so flooding could be a problem.)  I managed to avoid most impulse purchases.

5.  I have an abundance of eggs in the fridge.  Some purchased, but some free from a friend with chickens.  I think I will hard boil the majority.  That way they will be edible to feed us if we lose power.  And if we don't lose power I will use them to make tuna salad, egg salad, potato salad, deviled eggs...

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  Dublin Coddle (no kale this time)
Sunday:  Sunday supper at Kasey's
Monday:  Swedish Meatballs with Noodles, green beans
Tuesday:  *pizza
Wednesday:  pork chops, sweet potato, broccoli
Thursday:  leftovers
Friday:  leftovers

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What I'm reading Wednesday...

Drum roll please..........I finished both of the previous books that have taken me forever!  Yea!  Woohoo!  Applause!

I finished Elizabeth the Queen in the wee hours of this morning, and even when I had reached the end...the very, very end...the end where it sent me back to an amazon information said I was only 71% complete.  So the ebook page counter was just way off, which is what I am going to blame for it being such a frustrating read; I continually felt like I was making no progress through it.

If you are ever interested in what I think of books I have completed, I keep a list of them along with a paragraph or so of my thoughts on each on my 'Reading List' page which is linked under the title banner at the top of the blog page.

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

Today I am starting The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley, and hoping that it is a lighter read than the others on my night table.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017...

This is just one of the reasons I love living around the corner from the kids.  We ran over right at the height of the eclipse to share it with them.

They had made viewers from cereal boxes.  We took over the sheets of paper with pin hole.

They had one pair of eclipse glasses that we all took turns looking through.

And I pointed out that the light filtering through the leaves show the crescent of the eclipsed sun.  

Being handy to drop by for ten minutes of life experience at a time makes me so happy.  :)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday family supper dessert...

Tonight's dessert is from Very Best Baking by Nestl√© ...Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie.   

It turned out fabulously yummy.  And the scoop of vanilla ice cream sends it over the top!

It was very popular with our troops.  The recipe is at the link up top as well as at What's Cookin' 4 Miles North of Nowhere.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Saturday snail mail...

The girls stayed over last night, and so I had them make and write cards for their great-grandmother this morning.

This one is Caitlyn's.  Just washi tape and a wooden 'love.'  And inside a sweet note.

Chloe's was super simple as well (they were hungry, so I thought fast was better than fancy).  They both are great letter writers.  I didn't find a misspelling or grammar error worthy of correcting (a few commas missing, but we let those slide today).  

Both of them are eager to start back to school.  Both will be in middle school this year.  Why do babies have to grow up so fast?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Frugal Friday File 2017, week 33...

1.  Payday!  Now I remember why I booked all these workdays.

2.  Pretty $3.24 for the spiral binding, it was pretty frugal...but for me it made the list because of how it helps me be frugal with my time and energy.

3.  Shopped gasoline prices near where I was working this week.  Often they are lower there, but not this time.  Saved 15¢ per gallon by waiting till I got back home to fill up (which was a little nerve wracking, as I was pretty low).

4.  Decided not to rush back to get my hair cut again.  The style, while not my favorite, is tidy and extremely easy to take care of.  I think it will look fine while growing out as well, and I'd kind of like to start the clock on how long I can go till the next cut.  :)

5.  The girls are spending the night tonight.  I will take them out to our favorite little neighborhood Tex-Mex place, so not too frugal there (but really pretty reasonable).  But living right around the corner is definitely frugal for us ('cause we like to see them often) and for them ('cause we are handy for the occasional night out or business trip).  

Frugal From the Kitchen This Week:
Saturday:  *pizza
Sunday:  Sunday family dinner at Kasey's
Monday:  goulash
Tuesday:  leftovers
Wednesday:  C: leftovers, me:*dinner out with a friend
Thursday:  *hamburgers
Friday:  *Tex-Mex

(*not-frugal takeout or dinner out)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What am I not reading Wednesday...

photo credit:

A book being read gathers no moss, but the books around here are getting decidedly mossy.  I haven't finished either of the books I have been reading.

I am commuting this week, so not too many waking hours at home...and those are reserved for dishes and laundry.

I have spent most of my workdays doing required annual training.  It's been quiet at this branch, so I was able to plug away at them.  Today I finished the last of them...HALLELUJAH!  The 'boss' told me to bring a book tomorrow, as he will be out most of the day, and it should be really quiet again.  

Why, I don't mind if I do!  :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Making it Monday...

I feel like I've gone on ad nauseam, (and here ) about my need for a to-do list, my need for simplicity, and yet still yearning for pretty.  All the pretty ones I look at had too much stuff that I wouldn't use and would only clutter up my brain.

I like a spiral to keep a pen or pencil tucked in the spiral.  My original true love is a steno pad, but the part I don't like is rewriting the staples of my week over again on every page. 

I was inspired by this weekly layout by Kate Louise.  Hmmm, I wonder if 'Kate' is short for Kathleen, because Louise is my middle name too.  :)  

 So I started playing around with my publisher program.  I didn't arrange mine by days of the week, as I tend to prioritize things on the fly, and I don't like assigning things to specific days.  I kept a place for my monthly goal and my 3 major weekly goals for the things that I have to remind myself to keep working on or toward.  I arranged the constant repeats in a way that made sense to me...daily tracking my swiffering (my only real New Year's resolution this year), loading and unloading the dishwasher, decluttering with 27 Fling Boogies (√° la Flylady), keeping up with laundry loads, and even my 52 Letters in 52 Weeks.  Oh, and the colorful banners really satisfy the pretty factor for me.

I was able to fit all of this on a 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" space, which means I could fit two per sheet of printer paper.  I printed them out, and cut them apart.  Then I stacked them up and I rummaged through my craft room and found some chip board that came as part of shipments of something or other.  I cut two pieces of chipboard (a handy bit of recycling, this) the same size as my list sheets, and I took them to Office Max to have them spiral bound.

 The chipboard gives it a nice firm writing base.

And now I have the best of both world and the world of pretty planners.  :)  I've already started this week's list.  It is exactly what I need, because it was made just for me, and it has all the recurring chores preprinted.  It has enough pages to last over a year.  And it's pretty!

And other than my printer ink and printer paper which I had on hand, it cost exactly $3.24 for Office Max to add the spiral binding.

I can live with that.  :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Saturday snail mail...

Caroline, look away!  I know you have not opened yours yet.  :)

Simple cards.  Just paper and the one little 'hello' stamp.

Kept the same colors, but changed up the prints a little.  Measuring was not my forte the day these were made.  :)

Cloudy day when I took this photo, so the colors aren't very true.  The inspiration I found online used a book page for the background.  I wanted a specific 'summer vacation' theme, so I typed out several lines of words on that theme, then copied and pasted them over and over again.  Printed it out and cut to size.  The pearls were originally white ones that I colored with a sharpie to match the orange layering paper.

Just paper and washi tape and the same 'hello' stamp.  Oh, and a few little enamel dots.  I wrote a letter on letterhead-sized paper, so made the long card to enclose it in, and both went into a business-sized envelope (but a hot pink one).

Again just paper and washi tape, with the addition of a wooden laser-cut word which I 'painted' black with a Sharpie marker.

Also got four other ones in the mail this week that I didn't get photos of.  I'm back on track to get 52 letters mailed out in 52 weeks!
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