Family Life

2020 Goals Update

I have really let things fall apart over here in the last 7 weeks.  I recently saw a meme that said something to the effect of “When this is over, will you be a hunk, a chunk or a drunk?”  I plead the fifth!  I need to hold myself somewhat accountable and revisit those goals and see how I have been doing, which I assume is not good.

  1. My number one goal is to get my pressure back to normal.  Several of my goals have been set to help bring it down with the help of medication.
    • I checked my bp last night and this morning.  I continue to be on the high end of normal.  This is an improvement over the high end of high, which I was.
  2. Lose 20 pounds.
    • I have maintained since March 16, my first day of shelter at home.  Since I know people who have gained, I am counting this as a win.
  3. Continue to get 10,000 steps a day in.
    • Nope!  But, I do walk most days.
  4. Go to the gym 3 days per week.
    • This one makes me sad.  I had joined a really nice gym on February 16.  I am not being charged right now.  But, I was going very regularly for a month.
  5.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  I eat a lot as it is, but it’s time to add more, especially potassium rich produce.
    • I am crushing this goal.  I make every meal at home right now so I am able to achieve this every day.
  6. Try to start trying to meditate at least 2 or 3 days per week.
    • I took a meditation CE class for work.  I realized in that class that a lot of the things I already do are considered meditation.  So, yes, I have been meditating.
  7. Get back into the yoga habit.
    • Nope
  8. Cut down on the alcohol.
    • Are you kidding me?  I am at home, every day, in Wisconsin.  I am not getting drunk, or even tipsy.  But, I am having some wine.   My husband and I have also enjoyed a couple of old fashioneds on our porch on some nice evenings.
  9.  Pay off the house.  We had every intention of paying it off December 31.  A couple of unexpected expenses put that on hold.
    • We are going to hold onto that cash for the time being.
  10. Read 110 books in 2020.
    • This one is easy for me.  I am currently at 44 books read for the year
  11. Read 3 classic books this year.
    • My number of classics stays at two.
  12. More dates with my husband.
    • We were doing this weekly starting in February.  It’s hard to have date night at home with two daughters at home moping that they can’t see their friends.
  13. We have a membership to the Milwaukee Art Museum that I plan on utilizing a lot more this year.
    • There’s always next year
  14. Spend more time outdoors.
    • This has been easy to do.
  15. Throw away 20 items per day.
    • Done
  16. More no spend days.
    • This is easy.  I have been trying to purchase from local businesses right now to help them out.
  17. Spend more time with my friends.
    • I have been doing Zoom chats on a regular basis.
  18. Finish a knitting project I started in November and start and finish another.
    • Done
  19. Learn how to can!
    • I am hoping to teach myself by making dandelion jelly
  20. Go on 2 weekend getaways with my husband.
    • Maybe we can do this in 2021

This is not as bad as I thought it would be.  How are your goals doing with our strange new normal?

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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I went back to work for a couple hours yesterday!  It was so nice to be able to interact with people, six feet apart and with masks on, for those precious hours.  The normalcy of it felt it great.  The library is offering curbside pickup now.  Of course with guidelines in place that limit how many people can gather and having an excellent director who cares about our health, only a few of us can be in the building at the same time.  Our hours together are limited.

I missed a couple Fridays, but that’s okay!  I didn’t have a lot to say and feared becoming redundant.  But, I have some frugal wins this week.

  1. Our living room is in desperate need of new furniture.  With a puppy in the house, that is not going to happen.  Instead, I bought some slip covers to put over the dated and truly ugly furniture.  I also bought a cute, but cheap rug.  Everything will arrive in a week.  I plan on spending next Friday redecorating the space with these inexpensive and let’s face it, temporary fixes.  In a couple years, when I have golden retrievers that are older I plan to make a permanent change.  Total cost for all, $110.
  2. I drove to work yesterday and noticed that my tank stubbornly sits at 3/4 full.  Last time I filled up was March 16th.  I am going to top the tank off this weekend because gas is still so low.
  3. My daughter’s college sent us a small, but unexpected refund check for a class she has.  Since she is online now, it was a fee for something that would have been used for an in person class.  It was a small, but nice surprise.
  4. Speaking of that daughter and college.  She was awarded a scholarship!  She is an education major and applied for it in December.  This was off my radar so I completely forgot about it until she told me last night that she won.  Scholarships exist for those already in college.
  5. Our utility bill saw a nice decrease this month.  With warmer days ahead, the heat will be able to be turned off and we will see even bigger savings.

How did you save some cash this week?

scenic view of the forest during sunrise
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Another week at home.  The days are really starting to get long.  There are times that I am not actually sure what day it is.  My husband and I both thought that yesterday was Wednesday.  Our governor ordered that our safer at home guidelines be extended through May.  It appears that maybe the state will begin the process of opening up in the summer.  The library will be able to offer curbside service in a couple weeks, that is a step in the right direction.  It will be nice to be able to work again, even if it is only limited hours.  School is cancelled though, which means my daughter’s high school graduation is also cancelled.  That one really hurts.

According to a website, my family is saving about $1,800 per month due to being quarantined.  I am not so sure that is correct.  The site took into account going to bars (which we never do) and eating out (which we rarely do).  But, my husband has a commute to work that is about 20 miles a day as does my daughter.  My commute is 4 miles a day, round trip.  I haven’t filled my tank since March 16th and it is still full.  Eric filled his last week and gas was $1.10/gallon.  As of yesterday, gas was .99/gallon.  The last time I saw .99/gallon I was 21 and searching for quarters under the seats to come up with $5.00 to fill my tank.  My how times have changed.

Here is our list of money saving activities for the week.  Honestly, it’s getting really hard to find savings.

  1. I had to take the dog to the vet for an ear infection (don’t worry, curbside vet care).  I had those nails trimmed while she was there and had enough credits for a free trim.  Savings was $25.
  2. We got our stimulus payment from the Orange Cheeto.  We used it to help a local business by buying a share in a CSA.  We decided to supplement our produce this year just in case the garden is not abundant.  I am also hearing that it is possible that the food supply will be impacted by the virus.  Because of this, we want to make sure we have enough.
  3. This one is actually a major heartbreaker.  After 2+ years of Maeghan working and having money taken out of her checking account for a trip to Europe this summer, it was cancelled.  She will be getting a very nice reimbursement into her checking account in a couple weeks.  Honestly, this just breaks my heart.   This trip has been on the horizon since she was a sophomore.  She paid for it with her own money and knew that with hard work, planning and saving, she could see the world.  I hope that some day, she can have another opportunity like this one.
  4. This is my birthday month.  The coupons and offers from merchants are starting to arrive.  My favorite one is always the $25 for Pottery Barn.  I always use it for a reed diffuser.  This year’s diffuser is lavender and was FREE!
  5. After 15 years of paying a violin teacher, monthly, for my daughters, this month was our final payment.  May 1 Maeghan will be done taking lessons.  This is bittersweet, but it’s time.

What did you do to save money while practicing social distancing?

brown violin
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I missed last week’s Frugal Friday because I was pretty hard pressed to come up with anything since I haven’t actually gone anywhere.  But this week, I had some wins.

  1. Our auto insurance company lowered our premium by 25% for April.  That is actually a really nice savings for us, given we have 4 people on our policy, one being a teenager.
  2. I taught myself how to make a sourdough starter.  I am going to make a loaf of bread today, wish me luck.
  3. I used the rinds and other bits to attempt to make pineapple vinegar.  I was bored and wanted to try something new.  I am actually not sure what I will do with the final product.
  4. I am almost out of actual books from the library, so I have decided to take advantage of the free trial for Kindle Unlimited.  The free trial is 30 days, I am hopeful I will only need it for that long.
  5. I have been using Zoom, a lot, to keep in contact with friends and family.  In fact last night was the first meeting of a virtual book club that I started in response to our state’s safer at home order.  It was two hours of laughter and wine drinking.  We meet again in three weeks.  I can’t wait.  Zoom is free to use.

What you have been doing these past several weeks to save money, while being at home?

egg and ceramic rabbit
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Family Life, Frugal Living

Meal Plan March 29 – April 4

Well, here I am a couple days late again with my meal plan.  Unlike last week, my tardiness is due to me actually doing stuff around the house.  Notice, we are eating more meat than we normally do.  I have found that during these weeks, I have wanted to make more comfort foods.  So often, those meals include meat.  I am being gentle with myself these days as we get through this.

Sunday March 29 – pasta with sausage, salad and bread

Monday March 30 – grilled steak, asparagus, baked potato and salad

Tuesday March 31 – vegetable pot pie

Wednesday April 1 – vegetable fried rice

Thursday April 2 – minestrone soup and bread

Friday April 3 – fish, potatoes and salad

Saturday April 4 – chicken noodle soup

What is on your list for the week?

soup served on bowl
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

Below is the list of things we did this week to save money.

  1. I signed up for The Great Courses.  It’s an online library of classes that includes everything from history to professional development.  Cost for 30 days is $0.  If I chose to keep it after 30 days, it will be $10/quarter.
  2. I took advantage of one month free on audible to download a couple books that I can’t get on the library’s online option.
  3. I literally haven’t gone anywhere, so I spent $0 on gas.  I filled up my tank two weeks ago and it remains full.  I will need to drive it a little bit this weekend to keep my battery happy.
  4. I have used up food that I was holding onto in the pantry that I thought I would eventually throw away.  One thing about being in isolation, you learn to make do with what you have on hand.
  5. I started a batch of salad sprouts!  I used to do this more regularly.  I realized that I had a bag of seeds for sprouts and decided to give it another go.  They started slow, but started to take off.

What did you do to save money as the majority of the world is trapped at home?

money pink coins pig
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Family Life

Meal Plan March 22 – March 28

I did not get our meal plan out here on Sunday as planned because I was binge watching The Office instead.  It got my mind off of things which I think is more important.  I didn’t do it yesterday because I was trying to be productive around the house.  I made waffles for breakfast, tuna casserole for lunch, had dinner in the crockpot by 9:00 am and baked brownies.  I read for a couple hours, went on an hour long walk and tried to convince myself that my son continuing to go to work wasn’t going to make him gravely ill.  These are rough times we are living in.  And honestly, if that orange buffoon that we call president doesn’t learn to shut the F*** up, I am going to lose my mind.  Honestly, what the hell is wrong with him?  Anyway, on to my meal plan.

Sunday March 22 – pasta alfredo with broccoli and sun dried tomatoes

Monday March 23 – black bean soup, bread and salad

Tuesday March 24 – chili and salad

Wednesday March 25 – chicken au gratin, potatoes and salad

Thursday March 26 – vegetable pot pie and salad

Friday March 27 – Maybe takeout to support business. I have been really scared to do this, but I have a friend, who is a doctor.  She has assured me that it will be safe.  If not, I am breaking out the frozen chicken nuggets and fries.

Saturday March 28 – salmon, roasted potatoes and it will time to break out the frozen vegetables.

We are eating a lot of salad because I am trying to use up the last of our fresh lettuce before the expiration date.  At that point, we will pretty much be out of fresh vegetables and we are not going out.  I probably sound crazy because I won’t leave the house.   But, with the heart issue I have, which is very minor, it feels prudent to just not take any chances and stay home.  I am just a week away from the 14 day milestone that will signal that I am virus free.  I want to keep it that way.  Happy isolation everyone!

rocky shore with rocks on the shore during sunset
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Frugal Living

Frugal Friday

I know you are all shocked to read that this was an incredibly frugal week.  We barely spent any money.  Crazy how being trapped at home helps save money.

  1. On Saturday, when I was running last minute errands to prepare for life at home, I needed to pick up chicken food and wild bird food.  I had $20 in rewards at our local pet food store.  I paid $9 for $30 worth of food.
  2. I went through all of our monthly expenses and was able to shave off $369.  Most of these will be temporary, but will be helpful.  I am currently at home from work, paid.  But, things are forever fluid and I feel like it’s best to plan for the worst.
  3. Eric was able to get our garden started with lettuce, spinach and kale.  The chickens have also started to lay again.
  4. Have you seen those gas prices?  Both cars have been filled with gas.  I honestly don’t know when we will need to fill them again.
  5. We have at least 6-8 weeks worth of food.  When things in China got bad, my husband knew it would get here and we would be in lockdown.  Here we are and he prepared us.  So, if you are reading this Eric, I am sorry for all the times we laughed at you and told you were crazy.  Your thoughtful planning has proven to be a relief.  However, I am the one who made sure that we have enough toilet paper.

What did you do this week to save money.

white toilet paper
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Family Life

Isolation-Day 3

I have been determined not to talk about the gigantic elephant in the room, coronavirus.  Honestly, do any of us need to talk about it anymore?  The only reason I am bringing it up, is that today, I finally accepted this as my new normal and got my shit together (sorry to those who don’t like profanity).  Today is technically my third day in isolation.  I was home all day Sunday, but worked on Monday.  The library was hopping, as people knew we were going to be closing up for the foreseeable future.  I was able to load up on books and DVDs with a due date of May 1.  A due date that far into the future really put things into perspective.

Yesterday, my son was laid off from his job.  Two weeks ago, this kind of event seemed impossible.  He has a job on campus while going to school full time.  His school is now online, but his job seemed stable.  He is maintenance and works alone.  But, the university has it’s first positive case, so he was laid off.  Thankfully, something literally came up within a couple hours and he started today.  It’s sounds like a company that is taking necessary precautions.  He needs the work not only for the money, but also for the mental health.  He was feeling really down, like so many of us.  Going to work will be good for him during this time.  I will constantly worry about him being out and about, but he takes the precautions seriously.

Last night, I fell sound asleep at 10:00 and slept until 8:00.  Ten hours of sleep is pretty much unheard of for me, so it’s obvious that a little bit of depression is setting in.  That’s not a shock, I spent two days watching TV, scrolling Facebook and CNN and going back and forth between feelings of anger, fear and sadness. Since the entire planet is in this mess, I am guessing that I am not alone in those feelings.  But, I can’t go on like this.  Projections are that this could go on 18 months, I simply cannot allow myself to feel like this for 18 months.  So, I got up this morning and made a good breakfast.  I got in the car and drove myself to the local county park that has trails and took a 4 mile walk.  I spent that time listening to music (Journey) and thinking about all this.  I spent the last mile on the phone with my mom.  Neither of us cried, but I think we both realized that it could be a really long time before we see each other again.  That is a hard reality to face.

I have spent the afternoon making candles.  I also put some almonds in the crockpot with spices and siracha sauce.  I am not sure how those are going to turn out.  I will only post the recipe if they are edible.  They smell terrible, but I hate the smell of siracha so that could very easily be the problem.  The candles turned out well though and I have been meaning to make some for awhile.  I made lavender lemon for myself and a couple of citrus scented ones for my daughters.

Eric and I started watching Malcolm In The Middle again on Hulu.  Thank goodness that show exists.  We laughed very hard last night and expect that Malcolm will get us through this situation we are all in.  I have also started to watch anything by Judd Apatow.  The 40 Year Old Virgin on Monday night was just the medicine we needed.  I say that during this event, let’s not worry too much about whether or not something is offensive, if it makes you laugh, just watch it.

Let’s remember we are all in this together.  For everyone of us who stays home, that’s possibly 10 less people who get infected.  It’s going to be worth it the end of this journey, it’s just going to be really hard to get there.


The view on my walk.  It was cloudy, but it was outside.


Grapefruit candle



Oatmeal And Toffee Cookies

I baked cookies today!  I am not a great baker, so I tend to avoid it.  But, I seem to have a lot of extra time on my hands these days.  So, I decided to bake some cookies.  They actually turned out really good.

Oatmeal and Toffee Cookies

3/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1.5 cups quick oats

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 package heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Oil cookie sheet.

In bowl cream together the softened butter and brown sugar.  Once mixed, add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add flour, baking soda and salt, stir until mixed.  Add the oatmeal.  Add heath bar pieces.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet, flatten and bake 15 minutes.