Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dressing Ugly

I am astounded at the way people dress these days. It seems they go out of their way to be drab and ugly. I suppose the obesity epidemic has something to do with it. Maybe they are unaware of the way they look. Well, let me make it clear: knit is flattering if you are young and fit. If you are not, please understand that your flab is still there and is on full display in your knit stretch pants. And your sagging bosom needs some restraining; what in your youth was firm and attractive is now simply overflowing flab; please don't stetch a knit tank top to the breaking point and think it looks attractive.

It's not just the knits and flab that is so repulsive--it's the lack of style. Aren't there any designers out there with a sense of elegance and style? I wish I still had the old Vogue and Butterick patterns that I used to make my own clothes years ago. And color--what ever happened to color--even the blacks are washed out and faded; half the clothes I see are the color of something that has been chewed up and spit back out.

Doesn't anyone care about their appearance any more?

Friday, November 27, 2009

What Black Friday Means to Me

It means that I stay in the black in my own ledger by not buying anything.

It means that it is time to take the autumn decorations down and put up the Christmas decorations.

It means that it is time to address the few Christmas cards that I send out.

It means that we eat Thanksgiving leftovers and I don't cook.

It means that it is time to check on the New Year's Eve Neighborhood progressive dinner and see if they will be coming to my house or if I will be making my SIL's wonderful Seafood Gumbo.

Thought for the Day:
(I thought today's verse very appropriate for the beginning of the Christmas season.)

Proverbs 11:25
A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Well, it's been quite a year since last Thanksgiving but I'm still here plugging away and I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful that we are in good health, employed, and together. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I am free to choose how to live my life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Palin Free Zone

This blog has been and remains a PFZ.

Things I have far

I have my 62nd birthday coming up December 5 and I thought this would be a good time to think about the things I have learned so far:

1. It is frequently said that life is not fair but I think in a way it is fair--everyone has their trials, tribulations, worries, disappointments, and losses.

2. Everything is connected; there is a web of living and non-living and it is all intertwined.

3. The old virtues still stand--honesty, kindness, forgiveness, humility, patience.

4. Today is important; yesterday is gone and you may not get a tomorrow. Shed some light today.

5. People are about as happy as they decide to be.

6. Choose to surround yourself with beauty--music, nature, art.

7. We do have a purpose--it is to help.

8. What you send out generally comes back to you.

9. Be kind, gentle, and forgiving both to others and to yourself.

10. Don't just sit there--learn something! We aren't born knowing how to do a whole lot so the only way anyone gets good at anything is to start awful, make a ton of mistakes, and learn.

11. Be interested. Life is about as interesting as you are interested.

12. Laugh...often.

13. Share.

14. Get some rest, take a nap.

15. The borrower really is slave to the lender--get out of debt.

16. Things (and kids) always take longer and cost more than you ever thought possible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Own Middle Class Survival Strategies

Morrison at has a thoughtful post up about the increasing pressure on the American Middle Class and ways to maintain a middle class life. No longer can one just coast along and expect to maintain a middle class lifestyle. The pressures toward downward mobility are just too strong. Morrison's post got me to thinking What are my strategies for economic survival??

Here are my 7 strategies for middle class survival:

1. Don't retire. You may have to change to a less physically demanding type work or work fewer hours but do not cut off your source of income.

2. Get out of debt. I like Dave Ramsey's baby step approach but there are many other debt reduction plans. Stop borrowing/charging now. Embrace creative frugality.

3. Do everything you can possibly do to maintain your family's physical and mental health. Diet, exercise, and attitude.

4. Learn useful skills. No one is born knowing how to do these so get in there and learn:
How to cook
How to sew and mend

5. Combining households--Saves money and keeps away loneliness.

6. Develop community ties--church, gardening society, local businesses.

7. Be prepared to take care of yourself in an emergency or natural disaster. Food, water, medication, fuel.

If we do these things and the economy continues to worsen, we have a chance; if the economy improves, we've lost nothing and gained much.

Thought for the day:

Dig a well before you are thirsty. Chinese proverb

Monday, November 16, 2009

Unemployment Graphic

This is a real eye-popper:

The number of unemployed in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population is still growing; they will not be spending in the 70% of the U.S. economy that is Consumer Spending. With real estate still going down and the commercial real estate bubble still to burst, this Great Recession is far from over.

Goal 2009 Update #20

I've done a preliminary run through the finances for the December 1 house payment. It is looking pretty good-->We may be able to pay an extra $4000 on the principal. (It would have been $700 more but the #%&## septic system aerator went out and had to be replaced and No it could not be put off until after the house is paid off!!LOL) Anyway, that will get us down to $10,800. If there are no other disasters between now and December 31, I will take what I need from savings and put it with the January 1 house payment, post it for payment on Jan 1, 2010 and be done with it!! Keep your fingers crossed!!

Thought for the Day:
Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stress reducers--noise

The first in my stress reducer series was getting control of your finances. The next is noise which is a huge stress inducer. Our ears and nervous system were not designed/evolved to deal with the constant bombardment of noise that can be part of life today. Turn off the blasted television, radio, and i-Pod. Have periods of silence; you may need to start with small periods of silence. Listen for the sounds of birds, the sound of rain or the breeze moving leaves. Be still and listen. Get comfortable thinking your own peaceful thoughts. Here are some links for further reading on the importance of quiet in our lives:

The Treasure of Quiet Moments Article by by Alice FedorenkoBased on the book, Pause: Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Life, by Katherine Gibson (2006).
Noise by Bart Kosko (2006)
One Square Inch of Silenceby Gordon Hempton and John Grossman
Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude by Richard Mahler
Unclutter Your Life: Transforming Your Physical, Mental and Emotional Spaceby Katherine Gibson
Quiet Mind: One-Minute Retreats from a Busy Worldby David Kundtz (2000).

Thought for the day:
In quiet places, reason abounds. Adlai Stevenson

Friday, November 13, 2009

Praying for our leaders

I Timothy 1:1-2
I urge you then first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Today's verse from I Timothy really resonated with me. We are told to pray for those in authority. Not if you feel like it or it would be nice for us to pray for those in authority but we are told to do it. Why? So that we may live peaceful and quiet lives. Is our national, local, and personal life in constant turmoil and war for the reason that we are not praying for our leaders?? Perhaps God has something to say to us while we are praying about our leaders??

Lowering stress levels

Wouldn't it be nice if you got a paycheck and then got to decide how to spend it instead of hoping that it would stretch far enough to cover all the bills for the stuff you already bought, bills you've already run up, payments you've already signed up for? Wouldn't that lower one's stress level? Imagine for a minute that you just got a paycheck and you don't have a single credit card, car payment, student loan, or house payment--the money is all yours and you get to spend it or save it or share it however you wish. Well, it doesn't have to be imaginary and it doesn't have to be at some far off date in the next decade. The first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging; no more debt period, ever. And don't annoy me by telling me that in today's world it can't be done; it can and people do, every day. The next step is called a plan, a budget and it starts with how much money you have coming in on your next paycheck. Write this amount down and spend those dollars on paper--have a purpose for every dollar, make it work for you--what is the best use for each dollar. Concentrate on one debt at a time, I think paying off the smallest debt first gives you a boost but others pay off higher interest debts first--it doesn't matter as long as you've permanently stopped digging the hole. The third step is what makes it all work--you stick with the written plan for the next two weeks. If it wasn't on the plan, you can't have it--no whining, crying, or feeling sorry for yourself. OK, you can whine, cry, feel sorry for yourself if you want but you stay with the written plan anyway. But what about emergencies?? Well, that's why you have an emergency fund--I like $1000 but $500 will get you started; it's enough to cover most car repairs, fillings coming out of teeth, or leaking hot water heaters. Christmas is not an emergency--most banks or credit unions have a Christmas Club plan where you can have $10-15 taken out of each paycheck and ouila at the end of the year you have about $300 to spend on Christmas presents; otherwise, you bake cookies or make aprons for gifts. Lastly, you repeat the process before the next paycheck. You are in controll and you determine how the money is spent. It's a great stress reliever.

My next stress reducer will be on noise but that is yet to be written.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Going ahead

We have been totally focused on getting the house paid off for the past several years. During that time I simply put off purchases and repairs as much as possible. I kept a list of things that would be purchased or repaired as soon as the house was paid off. We are down to $16,600 left on the house and aim to have it finished by April 1. The fact though is that I have reached the end of my patience and have started down the list. This month I had the dishwasher replaced; next month, I will have the broken window replaced and the carpets cleaned. In January I will resume my 15% 403b contributions with I had lowered to 3% for this year. I have rearranged the budget so that I will have the cash for each item before the purchase. I think I will be more content if I go ahead with these needed items and stretch out the house for a couple of months longer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


In 1968 I received as wedding gifts two cookbooks--The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and the McCalls Cookbook. The pages of these books are stained and yellowed but they are still my favorite cookbooks. I learned how to cook with these books. I have quite a few other cookbooks acquired over the years and most have one or two recipes that have become part of my repertoire standard meals. Mother's in the Kitchen from the La Leche League has the best Banana Nut Bread recipe. I have Laurel's Kitchen and while I love the philosophy expressed, there isn't anything in it that my family would actually eat. Then there is Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease Cook Book which after reading, I decided that I would just as soon die young. Several years ago I went through my cookbooks and made a computer file of the recipes that I use most often; I printed some of them and put them in plastic sheet protectors for quick use. I have some new cookbooks and like to try something new occassionally. For example, I was going to make one of the cupcake recipes in Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess but found that I really liked the recipe for cupcakes in my tried and true McCalls better. (I am, however, using Nigella's cream cheese and powdered sugar icing.) I have had Mastering the Art of French Cooking now for several years but have yet to work up the nerve to try anything from it. I am not, as Julia would have me, fearless in the kitchen. I must say though that I am looking forward to getting Pioneer Woman Cooks; her recipes tend to have ingredients that are in my grocery store and produce food that my family will eat.
So for dinner tonight we are having cutlets and gravy, salad, mashed potatoes, and corn. None of which needs a recipe from a cookbook.