Thursday, November 20, 2014

Making A Plan

Hubby Tony and I are a long way from retirement, but some people we know have made the leap, and it's a popular discussion topic among our friends.

Right now we're both healthy, and expect to be around for a long time.  Based on a cool Life Expectancy Calculator Tony could easily live another 25 years, and I could have another 30.  That would give us a lot of years of freedom after we've stopped working.  I'm optimistic that we'll be able to tap into Social Security, but I've heard you should also have scarily large amounts of money put aside to supplement it.  We want to make sure we're covering all the bases, so today we had an exploratory appointment with a financial adviser to find out what advice her firm could offer us.

The adviser had given us a detailed questionnaire to fill out and bring with us.  Tony did most of the work, but he asked me for my opinion on some of the non-factual ones, like when I actually wanted to retire, and how much we wanted to budget for yearly travel.  Today the adviser went through the questionnaire with us and asked a lot of questions, filling up several sheets of a yellow legal pad with notes.  We also talked briefly about things like the pros and cons of long-term care insurance.

In a couple of weeks we'll get a written report from her and then figure out what direction to go in.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just A Little Is Enough

Am I the only one who didn't know about Starbuck's secret menu?

A while back a friend told me about all sorts of drinks you can order that aren't shown on the official coffee shop menu.  For the most part they're crazy combinations of flavored syrups and toppings that I'm not interested in.  What perked my ears up, though, was the secret "short" drink size.  On the posted menu coffee comes in 'Tall' (12 ounce), 'Grande' (16 ounce) and 'Venti' (24 ounce) sizes .  If you ask, though, you can get a 'Short' cup (which is only 8 ounces).

Yesterday I was out running errands when I decided I needed a pick-me-up.  It was relatively late in the day, though, so I didn't want to load my body up with caffeine.  I decided to see if I could put my new found knowledge to the test and went into a nearby Starbucks.  When I got up to the top of the line I asked for a Short coffee.  The barista didn't blink; he just asked if I'd like room for cream.

And my smaller cup was just enough.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm Afraid It's Going To Be A Long Winter

Snow on deck

Yesterday we got a couple of inches of fluffy snow, which is pretty unusual for November in this area. A "normal" high temperature here for this time of year is about 55°. Today if we're lucky it might hit the mid-20s, but a brisk breeze will make it feel colder. The record low is 14°. We might break that tonight.


Five years ago today: Speak!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


All of a sudden it feels like winter here.  The temperature is dropping, and we had our first snow today (fluffy flakes that stuck to the grass and trees but not the street).  Since the cold weather's hit I've been having a problem keeping my hands hydrated.  I've tried all of the hand lotions and creams I have in the house, but nothing's worked more than a couple of minutes. Yesterday when I was folding laundry, my fingers felt annoyingly rough against anything made out of polyester.  It was time to take action!

This afternoon I exfoliated the dry skin off my hands and moisturized them at the same time with a homemade almond hand scrub.  It was easy to make, and made my skin feel great. The steps:
  • Grind up a couple of almonds in a spice mill until they're the consistency of coarse meal.  
  • Pour in a drizzle of olive oil.  
  • Mix everything together. 
  •  Massage it into your hands and let it set for several minutes.  
  • Rinse it off with warm water.
  • Enjoy the softness
Since I've treated my hands I've washed them multiple times and they still feel soft.  The natural ingredients are working much better than anything else I've used. Thanks goodness for smooth hands!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Party Time!

Once a month an organization that Hubby Tony belongs to hosts a party for adults 18 and older with developmental disabilities.  Tony and I volunteer when we get a chance.  Tonight was one of them.

For a small admission charge party goers are treated to a DJ and snacks.  Sometimes there are attendance prizes or a special guest  (like Santa, who will make an appearance next month), but I think most of the attendees come just to hang out with their friends.  There are people there in their late teens, some in their late 50s, and many others in between.  Tonight it looked like there were between 180 and 200 people.

Tony and I worked at the soda table for the first shift. The 'bar' opened at 7:15. Fifteen minutes before that people started looking for drinks. By the time we set out the first cans there was a group milling around in front of the table.  During the shift we had to work hard to keep a good variety of soda out, but not so hard that I couldn't bop around to the music as I was working.

The DJ played a nice variety. There were new songs ("Best Day of My Life"), standards ("YMCA"), and slow songs (“Once In A Lifetime”). Half of the people danced, but the rest preferred to sit at a table with their friends, or grab a seat along the wall by the dance floor.  After I finished my shift I had to go to the bathroom, which was at the far end of the room.  I had to weave my way through the throngs of dancers.  They all looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Five years ago today: I'll Have Mine With Milk And Sugar

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Your Garage Could Look Like This

When's the last time you thought about your garage door?

Ours is metal, has raised panels, and is painted the same color as the house. It doesn't have windows or any type of decorative features. Serviceable, but boring.  What if this is what you saw when you pulled into your driveway?

No, it's not a fancy car that will make your neighbors wonder if you've won the lottery or you're going through a mid-life crisis.  It's a 3-D vinyl cover for your garage door from a German company called   They have dozens of styles or their website; you can choose from vehicles (including classic cars), aircraft, landscapes, animals, rooms, gates, and holiday versions. 

Realistically, I don't think I'll be getting one of these any time soon.  Unless they make one that shows a perfectly clean garage interior.  Then I could look at it when I rounded the corner instead of the cluttered mess that's really my garage.

Five years ago today: Hard Copy

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Errands And Evaluations

It's been almost a month since I stopped working for a paycheck. That doesn't mean I've been sitting around the house doing nothing, though.  Today was a good example.  I was scheduled to evaluate three places--two different branches of a women's clothes store, and then a quick-service restaurant franchise.  Shortly before 10:00 I left the house to drive east to the first stop, which was inside a mall.

When I got to the mall they had part of the parking lot blocked off because of a water main break, but I managed to find an alternate entrance and wind my way up to the second floor where the store was.  It took me 19 minutes and 32 seconds (it's very important to be detail oriented) to try on some clothes and see how well the salespeople measure up to the Corporate standards.  When I was done I wound my way back to the car and continued to the east.

The second store is outside in a plaza setting.  It doesn't have a parking lot, so I had to drive around the block once looking for a parking space.  Fortunately, right after I turned back onto the street there was a spot right in front of the store.  After feeding the meter I went inside and repeated the evaluation process.  I'm happy to report both stores did well.

Instead of going directly to the next stop I decided to make a slight detour, and went exactly one and one-half miles out of my way to shop at the Habitat for Humanity store.  I was looking for a nice piece of wood or decorative molding for an upcoming project. After digging through random pieces of millwork, I hit the jackpot!  I found a section of 4" wide base molding for only $2.  It would have cost ten times more than that at the hardware store.

After wedging the piece of wood into my car I retraced my steps, then kept going until I got to the restaurant.  It was located on the fringes of an urban area, and once again I had to pay to park.  At this stop I got to order lunch (for which I would be reimbursed) and check to make sure the staff jumped through all the hoops they were supposed to.  For the most part they did.

Belly full, I headed towards home, making stops at the bank, grocery, and drug store.  By time I got home today's To-Do list had been completed.  All I had to do is write a report on each store.  And start on tomorrow's To-Do list.

Five years ago today: You Never Know Where You're Going To Learn Something New

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Change In The Weather

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday it was warm and sunny.  Hubby Tony took a vacation day, and we took advantage of the nice weather to picnic and walk through the collection at Laumeier Sculpture Park. I started off wearing a jacket, but soon ditched that and was comfortable with just a lightweight long sleeved shirt.

Today is completely different.  Like much of the country we had a cold snap come through overnight. This afternoon when I left the house I was wearing my heavy winter coat and could have used a hat to protect my ears from the brisk wind.

Five years ago today: For Those Who Served

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Signs Of The Season

Butternut squash ready to cook and pomegranate seeds ready to eat.

A stack of flannel sheets to go on the beds.

Yellow leaves on the maple tree in the back yard.

Jackson the Cat curled up in one of this favorite places next to the front door (where he has a good view of everything going on and can enjoy the heat coming up from the vent right underneath the table)

Five years ago today: Disappearing Act