SAVE SAVE SAVE

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lately, I have…I have felt the overwhelming desire to save.  To run.  To get my money in a safe place (whatever that is)…so…I can pay my bills, and to continue life…as we (or I) know it.

I have not worked consistently since the Fall of 2017.  Considering this, I think for the most part I have done ok.  Mostly.

It is time.  While I am not young, I am also not old enough to give up and forget – to forget what it is like to work hard to get what you want, and more – or as important – what you need.

Recently, I have been working with an amazing couple – married over 50 years.  Totally in love and totally devoted to one another, I am lucky to be in their company three days a week.  They think the world of me, and in return – I think the world of them.  Truly, they are the best.  And more recently, I have been privileged to be working with an awesome 97-year old woman – who would give people half her age a run for their money!  As much as I know that I will not get rich caring for these people – it does not matter.  I want what I need to survive, and not much more.  I am happy, and more than that – they are happy too.  Who can complain?  Certainly not me.

I walk through the stores, whatever ones – checking out the styles, colors – whatever -for this upcoming season.  I am lucky to have SO many clothes (and accessories) that whatever the current trend is, I can accommodate it.  I always want to look neat, modern and clean.  I have no worries there – I have boxes of items new with tags, so whenever I want to go shopping – all I need to do is go up to my attic and look around.  Playoff hockey season is approaching (April 10th) and my wardrobe will be easy to plan – I wear only Tampa Bay Lightning clothing – all blue hues, in one way or another.

A good rule is to spend money on what you NEED, not just what you want.  You may want beer for an Easter gathering – but get the generally decent priced brew, rather than the more ultra-like kind.  When money gets better, easier – you can upgrade your choice.

For a nice dinner, if you are thinking of serving chicken – drumsticks are generally more reasonably priced.  You can bake an entire tray of plain drummers, and serve them with different kind of sauces on the side.  I did this this recently, and it was a great hit.  If your family and friends like pasta, serve that.  Maybe they like some kind of potatoes.  Or maybe rice.  Pick what you think all will like, and there you go – a holiday dinner.  Chicken and sides with stuffing and maybe even cranberry sauce – mmm, I’m hungry already.  Some will say vegetables need to be included, so choose what your guests will like most.

Nothing is more important than family and friends.  Nothing.  And when holidays and special days for them and all of us approach – of course we want to make sure our loved ones are happy.  Is the importance of a gift measured by the cost?  I do not think so.  That being said, I have spent a lot making sure my loved ones were happy.  And some of the gifts I got for these same loved ones were not costly at all.  Know your budget.  Know your recipients.  It all works out.  The key word is PLANNING.  All year long, you need to be aware of what’s out there that you can get for a decent price.  Be organized.  Be aware.  If you do this, I can almost guarantee you will always be high on the gift-giver list!

 

 

HELLO again…

Hi there!  So much has been happening with me, with my family.  Some good, some not so good.  But I try – I try to focus on the positive.  It isn’t always easy, but it’s what I need to do at times.

Money and finances – at this time, it’s been…a struggle.  But with the help of an amazing family – it has been ok.  Well, when you think of it – more than ok.  I do not want to complain, and I won’t – I will be…thankful.

I have the most AMAZING sons – my ex and I have raised our boys to be amazing men.  To say I am proud is an understatement.  My sons have picked the most perfect women to be by their sides for always, and I could not be more proud.

As everyone knows, our JB has cancer – nasal cancer.  Some days he does good, others not so much.  Being diagnosed back in January and it now being April – I am thankful he’s gotten the time he has so far.  I try to convince myself he will be ok, and I know – in one way or another, he will be.  However, I need to be realistic – and I am trying to be.  We have an angel waiting up in heaven for him – but in no way am I saying he can go or am feeling it is ok.  It is not, and because of this – my heart has a rip, a scar that will never, ever go away.  I am a better person for having this amazing animal in my life.  I love and he loves his siblings – Jeff and I are more than privileged to be their “parents.”

All this being said, I am about to begin my attendance at my 15th Wrestlemania!  Years ago, when I started watching and began this journey, I never EVER thought I would be where I am now.  I am so very thankful I have been able to attend all the trips I have been on.  I cannot begin to explain the joy, fun and memories.  I must admit I am one of the luckiest WWE fans alive.  My heart is smiling as I get ready to head towards NY and NJ for Wrestlemania 35…

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On the road again…

photography of bridge during nighttime
Photo by Michał Ludwiczak on Pexels.com

It all started in New York City.  March of 2004.  And it continued to Chicago.  And then Detroit.  After that, Orlando.  Then came Houston and Phoenix.  Atlanta and Miami followed.  New York/New Jersey, New Orleans and San Francisco.  Followed by Dallas, Orlando again and New Orleans again.  This year, we are back to New York/New Jersey.  I am talking about my amazing and incredible journey attending fifteen Wrestlemania’s.

After all this time, over twenty years of being a fan – I have given up trying to explain my interest, my desire, and some might say my obsession.  It is without a doubt the most steadfast and consistent “like” of anything that I have EVER enjoyed.  Way back when, on January 4, 1999 – when my oldest son Michael asked me to watch wrestling with him, because it was “so good” – to which I replied that it was “crap” and a “stage show” – I am forever thankful.  Because of this interest, I have enjoyed more good times and amazing memories than I ever thought possible.  I have made friends and traveled.   All over the country.  I have been both a blind and a realistic fan to all that goes on in this industry.  Always and forever, I will defend this company.  My interest.  I totally and completely understand what it is, what goes on – and I am fine with it.

My best friend Christine and I have been on this wild ride since 2004 – and I wouldn’t choose any other person to accompany me on this journey (whatever it is).  The memories we have are priceless, and the stories – they can always cheer us up whenever that is what we need.  We have met and become friends with many good, decent and fun people along the way.  We are very lucky.

My advice to those of you who have an interest that others do not or may not think is “normal” or “average” – just do it.  You have an obligation to make yourself happy.  As long as it is something that is not harmful or that causes distress to others – it is totally fine.  Enjoy it, embrace it – take pictures of yourself having fun with it.  And remember to always have a good time.  Because life is better when you’re laughing, and having fun!

Gimme a break…

This week has been a trying time for our family.  A few things have gone on that made me want to throw my hands up, running away while screaming “leave me alone, please.”  We will get through it all, in fact at this moment things are calming down.  Or at least are starting to.  But it got me to thinking, sometimes you just need a break.

I have never been one to be hard on myself.  In fact, the reason why I get behind on things, and am so unorganized (at times, with some things) is due to the fact that I do, in fact, give myself a break.  I have never, ever felt guilty for taking time to do things for me.

The first time I remember an instance of this was the first year I had worked (babysitting) and was buying Christmas presents.  Aside from a few very close friends for whom I would buy token gifts, the only three people I had to get presents for were my Mother, Father and sister.  I included myself in that group.  I think that just about every year since then I have gotten myself something I wanted.  It was never anything very expensive or elaborate.  Many times it was just a small item, but it was something just for me.  Something that to others may have seemed silly, but to me was relevant and important.

Hockey has always been important to me.  I have lived and died for teams over the years.  Everyone who knew or knows me is aware of this.  And for that reason, I have never felt guilty if I decided not to go out if asked on the afternoon or night of an important game.  Of course, if it was an important event – I would never not attend.  I am not that extreme.  But if asked to go out on the spur of the moment – say for pizza and drinks – and if there was a good game on, I would politely decline.  Usually I would suggest another time.  No one has ever gotten mad (that I know of) so I’m all good with my decisions.  No guilt.

Even with my children, I gave myself a break.  I let them watch many of the shows they enjoyed, and they had video tapes (VHS on a VCR, I am dating and aging myself here) that played all the time.  However, I had television shows I enjoyed as well.  And when it was time for those programs to begin, the tapes got removed and/or the channel got changed.  My choices and wants were important.  Of course, I was home raising them and they came first.  I never felt guilty about watching what I wanted.  They simply played while I watched.  I didn’t sit on the couch staring at the screen, not interacting with them.  I was usually on the floor with them near me, and we’d be playing with…whatever.  In fact, as my son Kevin was learning to talk he used to call two characters on the play phones that came with their play workbench and kitchen – he “spoke” to Palmer Cortlandt and Jackson Montgomery from All My Children every day!

Now as I am an about-to-be fifty-six year old woman, I still take care of myself.  I have been on and off “not well” since around Thanksgiving.  That combined with the reality of aging has to some extent altered how I do things.  If I have five errands to do and I am not sure I will get through them all, I’ll do the most important two or three first.  This way if I don’t feel like finishing the rest, they can wait for another day.  I might clear the table, and put the dishes in the sink.  But at this point, I may not feel like doing anything else.  I’ll rinse them somewhat and then come back to them later.  The same with laundry – I might bring it all down, sort it and get one load done.  I may not feel like folding it once dry, and if that’s how I feel – I don’t do it.  It can wait until later.  Or tomorrow.  The only exception is if what’s in there will wrinkle.  Doing that causes more work than it’s worth.  I may pick up and straighten some rooms, but if the desire to keep going with vacuuming has left me – you guess it, it can wait.  And it usually does.

I see too many people I know pushing themselves past whatever their limit is.  That is fine some of the time.  It really is.  I do believe, however that my mental, physical and spiritual well-being is just as important as “getting things done.”

Who agrees with me?

 

Entertaining on a Budget – Supplies

 

 

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IPhoto by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

You can’t have a fun and proper gathering without the right items.  With the proper planning, you can be assured you will always have the supplies to make your party or get together fun, and coordinated at the same time.

Always be on the lookout for reduced price paper goods.  When you are in a store that sells this kind of stuff, wander to the party aisle.  I scored an amazing deal on hard, corrugated paper plates, in an oval shape (so they were plenty big).  They were 50 cents for a package of 12, so I took one in every color they had.  My entertaining for the next few months will be easier (and less expensive) because of this find.

When you decide on a theme, or color for your “event” get a package of large napkins in said color, and alternate them in a pile or arrange them with some plain white ones.  You’ll get your burst of color, and the white (i.e. cheaper) napkins will fill in where you need them to.

A good choice  would be  clear plastic utensils that are sold.  But again, scour the aisles of stores that sell this stuff.   You’ll be surprised at how easily you can get packages of plastic utensils for cheap once the color of the season has passed.  I once got orange forks, spoons and knives for 24 cents a package, with 48 items in them. Halloween time.   Ok, orange might not be the most popular color for the future, but they were used for Thanksgiving time.  And when your son’s team (the Denver Broncos) make the playoffs, this is a good thing!  When all else fails, you can always get white for a reasonable choice if you can’t get clear or the color you’d like.

For serving bowls, strive to obtain a collection of white or clear ones.  I currently have several white Corelle bowls and clear Pyrex ones.  No matter what I put out, using these bowls – it all coordinates, and it all works.  For chips and things like that, you can get clear large plastic bowls at Dollar Tree.  Clear and white serving – you can’t go wrong.

I have found that if you want to make your gathering more or a party than a get together – blow up some balloons, attach them to some curling ribbon, and hang them around your place.  Balloons always make a party!

Lastly, all good gatherings should have pictures taken during the event.  With photos, you can document how much fun everyone was having.  You’ll have memories.  Isn’t that what it is all about?

Party on…

 

 

 

Entertaining on a Budget – Drinks

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A good party and/or a fun gathering needs some drinks.  Not necessarily alcoholic, yet you do need to keep your guests hydrated with all the good food you are serving.  What you are offering does not have to be fancy, expensive or anything like that.  Simple is always ok.

What I always have on hand to serve is soda, both diet and regular.  And the dark ones like Pepsi or Coke, and light like Sprite or 7-Up.  Of course, beer is a must for me.  I will usually have the kinds that are my favorites, plus other kinds that my guests might like.  Truthfully, at our “parties” people tend to bring what they like to drink, so the amount of drinks I need to provide is minimal.

For simplicity, you can serve water in pretty glass pitchers.  Float a few fruit slices around and you’ll have “fancy” water.  It is usually well received, and if people don’t finish it all, you can put it back in your fridge and have water with good additives for the next day or so.

Fresh-brewed iced tea is always a hit.  You can provide lemon juice and different kinds of sweeteners to perk it up for those who would want to drink it that way.

Keeping mixed drinks to a minimum.   If you want – have a bottle of rum or vodka, and provide mixers to go with them.  Orange and cranberry juice are good choices.  Actually, any kind of fruit juices can make a delicious drink, reminding us all of good vacations gone by.

Don’t forget – always have lots of ice on hand…

Entertaining on a Budget – Desserts

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Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Pexels.com

Any good party or get together needs to include sweets. Though my guests and I often eat too much food and are full afterwards, we always have desserts.  As much as we enjoy these things, usually what we have isn’t too elaborate, and doesn’t end up costing much either.

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(photo credit Walmart.com)
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This is a simple dessert that many times ends up being just enough. Just enough as it is light, sweet and doesn’t fill you up. You can serve the pudding in a large bowl, with smaller bowls on the side. Including different kinds of toppings makes the pudding extra special. We have used chocolate chips, sprinkles, crushed cookies, crushed candy canes, and mini marshmallows. If you want to get a little fancier, you can serve the pudding in small bowls, or to make a bigger impact, layer pudding, cream topping, repeating – like a parfait inside a champagne glass. Classy!

The same thing above can be done with jello. Again, serve in a large bowl. Or do the same parfaits – you can get very creative. I’ve done red and green layered with cream for Christmas, yellow and orange for Easter. You get the idea. There are a variety of gelatins – just check out all the color combinations you can make! I have done jello parfaits in team colors. And you will be surprised at how well jello will go over with your guests. It is a light and easy dessert – just something sweet to end your meal.

Cake mixes are frequently on sale.  You should always have a few on hand.  Combined with a canister of frosting, you can make a tray of cupcakes.  Or a sheet cake.  It’s not fancy, no.  If you want a desert that will feed a lot of people, this can be the one.  Always having different colored sprinkles will be able to jazz things up, in colors appropriate for your gathering, or whatever holiday you are celebrating.

The last standby is ice cream.  Unless your an ice cream addict and can’t resist it, buy a few half gallons when it is on sale.  You know, stock up.  Frequently here we can get them for $1.99 each.  Pick neutral flavors (or ones you know your guests really like), set out the whipped cream, sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips.  Have a box of ice cream cones available and a few small dessert bowls.  I have found that providing a “Make Yourself a Sundae” buffet is always successful.  Because everyone always has room for a few spoons of ice cream!

Entertaining on a Budget…Food

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

I enjoy entertaining. To me, nothing is better than sitting around with family and friends, enjoying each other and enjoying good food. Of course, me being me – I try to combine style and fun with low cost (yes, it is possible). Get together events do not have to cost a fortune.

When I talk about casual gatherings, what we usually have is a buffet style event. And most of the time, we have more than one variety of food. Always leftovers, which is a good thing! There are so many different kind of things you can serve that are both economical and delicious. As with most financial aspects of just about anything, the key is preparing in advance. Having a decently stocked freezer with some of these items purchased on sale will assure that you don’t go overboard financially. Even if you don’t have them on hand, the cost of these isn’t too bad.

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A large baking dish of chicken drumsticks usually goes over really well. You can make three or four smaller pans of different flavors, or if you want – just put a bunch in one pan, and choose a marinade to bake them in. It’s very easy to just pour barbeque sauce over the top, bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Served with a big bowl of rice, this has always been a big hit at parties here.

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(photo credit Instacart.com)
Early in your day, long before people are due to arrive, throw a bag or two of these meatballs into your crock pot. Set the crock on low with a jar or two (depending on the number of meatballs) of spaghetti sauce. When they are done, you can have a bowl of pasta on the side for these, or you can have rolls and shredded cheese and people can make meatball sandwiches.


(photo credit dollartree.com and walmart.com)
A very good and successful dish to serve is pasta with ground beef. It is very simple. Boil one box of pasta, and while that is cooking, brown one pound of ground beef (or ground…whatever you usually use). Drain the pasta, and then put it back into the pot it was cooked in. Add the browned ground meat, and pour in a jar of spaghetti sauce. Stir, and put in a serving bowl. Depending on the number of people you have coming, you can do two or more portions of this. Just follow this rule, one box of pasta (16 oz.), one pound of ground meat, and one jar of sauce. Simple.

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(photo credit Target.com)
When it comes to reasonably priced meals, you can’t really beat tacos. Depending on the number of people you are having, fry up your ground meat and add one package of taco seasoning. They taste great, it is easy to do and people usually eat them right up. Quickly. You can have a package of soft shells and a box of hard ones. Put these with the usual taco toppings – shredded lettuce, salsa, hot sauce, chopped onions and of course sour cream.

Eat, drink, have fun. Enjoy!

The challenges of being a Multi-Cat Mom…

I have been around cats for over fifty years. At the beginning, we had one cat. When Max died, we waited a year and then got Sam. As a newlywed, we got Harry, and she lived for nineteen years. There was a short period of time, about four years when we just had our Beagle, Fred. In December of 2007, we got Beavis. So while I have had cats for most of my life, we didn’t get a second one until early 2008.

My mother came to live with us then, and she had a big, fat white cat that for some reason my oldest son was very allergic to. We knew Kitty couldn’t live with us, and my sister had two in the townhouse she was renting at the time. After some discussion, it was decided that her kitten, Stanley, would come live with us. We would have the two little ones, and she would keep the two older ones. This was with the understanding that if and when one of the older ones would pass away, she would get Stanley back. Ha! Fat chance. My kids fell in love with him immediately, and he fell in love with me. I have no idea why. To this day, the boy remains totally devoted to me. Beavis and Stan lived together as brothers for years, until 2014. That was when the three of us moved in with my sister and her family. They had a tiny cat, Sammy, who tolerated the boys very well. We acquired George as a Father’s Day gift.

Fast forward to Florida, when we moved there. My cousin had four, so we were a household of six cats. Christmas of 2017, a cat showed up and adopted us. Lester made the number of cats in the house a seven. When we decided to leave Florida to move back home to Pennsylvania – there was an outside cat that again, adopted us. We didn’t take him into the house, he lived outside and his name was JB. I knew I couldn’t drive away with the moving truck leaving him behind. So, JB was ours and we lived as a three cat and two person family until the holidays. That was when I stopped into a local shelter rescue to drop off some food that my boys didn’t like. Before I knew it, I was agreeing to take two kittens home – not permanently, supposedly. Nevertheless, they have stayed and that brings our total (our final total) to five. Four boys and one girl. Nikita and Alexi make us laugh every day, though their older brothers are not always amused by them.

JB was diagnosed with supposed nasal cancer back in January. I say supposed because no actual tests were done. To get a definitive diagnosis, the testing costs would be astronomical. And I mean that. It would have been between three and four THOUSAND dollars, just for diagnostics. The vet recommended we treat him as if we knew he had this affliction. He gets a pill every day. Yes, a pill. Given to a cat. This is not easy, to say the least. Some days, he is good. Others, not so much. Even on the days we think he is good, he just might not be. Cleaning up litter two days ago, I saw the pill we thought he swallowed behind and to the side of one of the litter boxes. He is a rascal, without a doubt. Overall though, he has been a very good boy. Though it is a bit hard to try to overpower a cat who clearly does not want to take a pill. Medicating him is much easier than we thought it would be, however. It is a bit daunting to try to give him his pill with his two baby siblings staring and watching and being nosy…ugh! Once he clearly and absolutely swallows his pill, he gets a few treats…JB first, because…he deserves it. Then the rest get treats too, not because they deserve them, just…because.

And then there is Nik…our Nikita Adam, the character in this household. The one who never, ever fails to make us laugh. How to say it? Oh, I don’t know. This boy, he has…loose bowels. Diarrhea extraordinaire. It is coming to the time that we may need to get him treated by a vet, but until that time – we are trying to take care of him on our own. The BRAT diet? Eh, for a cat – this is what we’ve done. I boiled a chicken breast the other day, and shredded it in the small food chopper. Rice is good, and I put that in the chopper too. So, before everyone else gets fed, Nik (and Lexi, because they are joined at the hip) gets his bland meal. So far, so good. We think. It will be a few days before we decide if a vet for the boy is warranted.
Three of them had goopy eyes. Almost pink eye like. So, because I am always on the lookout for reasonable alternatives – they are getting lysine in their food. I could not find a pill crusher locally, and could not wait until one was shipped. I put the lysine pills in a dish, and crushed them – pushing them down with a measuring cup, making them into a powder almost. It has been over a week that I have been doing this, mixing the lysine with both their morning and evening meal. I am happy to report that our three afflicted boys are doing just fine. And I am very happy, and proud that I was able to find a reasonable alternative, money wise, that was able to take care of my cats in a good and effective way.

If things were different, if money was plentiful – maybe I would find it easier to run to the Vet. But, when you have five cats – that is a lot. And it is more simple to treat them at home, if you can. I would do anything I could to take care of our five. They are our babies. I just want them happy and healthy. If you interviewed them and asked, I am sure they would say they are well taken care of and well loved. That is all we can ask for…

Laundry Tips…

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Besides the five furries, our household consists of Jeff and I. Here are my tips for keeping laundry costs to a minimum…or at least as low as they can be.
1. One towel per week, for one person. If you hang them up decently after use, and they dry good – there is no reason why you need more than one in a seven day period.
2. If your clothes seem clean, hang them up – and spray softly with a light perfume.
3. This is pre-emptive, but…don’t buy clothes that need dry cleaning. And if you do buy these (at a thrift store of course), try the gentle setting on your washing machine. It can work wonders.
4. Hang your clothes to dry properly – put them in the dryer for a short while, say for 20 minutes – and then onto a hanger. It reduces the time you use your dryer, and will reduce wear and tear on the items.
5. Wash all of your “important” t-shirts inside out – for me, these would be my WWE and Lightning shirts – and dry on hangers. Trust me, I have shirts from 2001 that still look brand new.
6. For your important interests, consider doing clothes in relevant colors. Last spring, I wore only blue with everything I owned while the Bolts were in the playoffs.
7. If you have outside cats, or animals – as we do – use hot water and one squirt of dish washing detergent on the blankets, towels or whatever their bedding is. Trust me, this is just fine.
8. When you have a container of detergent that is almost empty, run a bit of water in the bottom of it – and you will have enough for a small or light load.
9. Truthfully, if you wear your socks for only a short while – wear them again. Give them a blast of perfume for good measure.
10. Never, ever leave a load in the dryer too long. If you do, you might have to repeat the load, getting it wet and drying it once more. You don’t want to do this.