Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Bathroom Humor

Had a great conversation with my son over the weekend. I made him laugh.  A belly-busting, tear jerking laugh. The moment was totally unexpected and I'm still on a pink cloud thinking about it.

I was telling him about this new comforter I bought a couple weekends ago. I had put it on the bed and decided to lay down and take a Sunday afternoon nap with my dog. I reached down to pet her and found a wet spot in the middle of my brand-spanking new comforter that had less than 30 minutes use. Exploding anal glands was the source.  (this is where my son lost it!) OMG, it's the worst smell you can even imagine ... which made him laugh harder.
My son has my sense of humor. I don't presume to describe his but mine is perhaps best described as ironic with a hint of dark. Anyway, the conversation went from there to how their cat seems to always find the carpet instead of the linoleum as a catching place for his vomit. Why??????
Thanks for the laughs, son. It truly will keep me going this week.
love, mom (Susan)

Friday, November 9, 2018


Friday, finally. It has been harder than ever to stay motivated at work. I am so tired of working. If you follow my blog, you'll probably read that previous line more than once the next several months. Sorry in advance. In an effort to take my mind off of it, I've been listening to podcasts in the mornings before work while coloring in my adult coloring book. If I'm up early enough, I am able to color a whole page. Last year, it took me nearly the whole winter to finish one page. I'm not sure what the difference is. I can tell you that I am enjoying the  podcasts more than I think I should. I only wish I had more time to listen. I just added a new one to my Stitcher app called Waking Up by Sam Harris. This morning I listened to a talk he had with actor, Russell Brand. It was a nice debate about spirituality along with some world views. Russell Brand is very well read. Who knew? And, Sam Harris is a neuroscientist with some interesting philosophies about religion. He hates dogma. I can relate to that. The first part of the interview is hard to listen to because they keep talking over one another but the last hour of it is, to me, riveting. Yesterday, I listened to 2 episodes of a podcast called 10% Happier with Dan Harris. If you haven't read his book, I highly recommend it. Episode #102 is an interview with Anderson Cooper (CNN Anchor), and Episode #73 is an interview with David Leite, Food Writer, Memoirist ... which was outstanding. 52 minutes long and I wish it had been longer. That's how I discovered Sam Harris' podcast as it was mentioned. So many podcasts, so little time.

Other podcasts I enjoy are about financial independence, a daily 15 news update, and I even have Real Time with Bill Maher in my lineup.  I can only take him in small doses. I don't disagree with what he says, mostly, but sometimes his negativity (even when he's being funny) is not what I need in my head. He can also be super crude. Having said that, I like to mix it up and he gets to stay in my lineup.

How about you? Are you listening to any interesting podcasts that you want to share with me?

Until next time.

love, susan

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Currently: Goodbye October 2018

Weather this week is what I'd call perfect. The numbers are in the low 60's. I just looked and the forecast has changed a bit to include some spots of rain and breezes. Meh. It's fall!
My Favorite Moment(s) Last Week were far and few between. I did a photo shoot on Saturday for a friend who is in the family way. We went to the park behind my office building (pictured here) and got some great shots. She looks radiant and it was the bright spot of my week. She is naming her baby Nora. We also went to a dance Saturday night and that brought great joy to both my hubs and me. What's Right in the World is that tomorrow we'll have trick or treating at my office. My co-workers and other employees at the courthouse bring their kids in costume to see each of us for treats. It is the best day of the year at work, in my humble opinion. We deal with very heavy stuff there so this is definitely a day we all look forward to. What I'm Resisting is all the chocolate in my work place. I haven't resisted very well and it's a bummer. Today I plan to take some action towards resisting it all together. Wish me luck. What I'm Thinking is that my next challenge will start on Thursday for my dining out budget. I've spent the last two months in a grocery budget challenge and next up is dining. I've picked a number ($100) to stay within for dining out. Can I do it? We'll see. I love a good challenge! Want to join me? What My Future Holds Today I'm talking with one of my Alaska benefits people to talk about retirement. If This is My Last Day on Earth, Here is My Final Thought I'd be pissed if this was my last day and I spent it at work. I am so done with having my time belong to someone else. I'm actually a little angry every time I walk outside my door to go to work. The anger is gone by the time I get there. I am ready to spend some time doing what I want to do. I don't want to be one of those people who retire and die the same year, ya know?  love, susan

Sunday, October 28, 2018

October Grocery Budget Challenge Total: Over Budget $11.55

October Grocery Challenge has come to an end. Warning: long post!
Last week, I had $55.35 remaining in my $200 grocery budget. Today I overshot that by $11.55.  I made some observations I'll write about here. The upshot is that if I didn't have the money to spend on the extra groceries that put me over, I'd have to put some items back on the shelf. It would be so easy for me to do that today.  Here's what I would put back:
Flour 2.38
Sugar 2.38
Yeast 3.60
Buttermilk 1.67
Quinoa (bulk)  3.52
Total:  $13.55
I recognized a couple of things that I would have done differently today. First, I went out of the house without having coffee. I was in a fog. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was the impulse to make bread for the hubs this week. I could have put that off another week. No matter. I have the extra cash to cover my overage but what if I didn't? Did I need the quinoa? Nope. But now I have it and I'm going to use it.
This challenge, for me, has been to prove a couple of points.
  • It is totally possible to live within a budget. Most times, I don't really want to be on a budget but I also don't want to work the rest of my life to spend money needlessly. I am capable of stretching a dollar and I actually enjoy the challenge of it. I tend to think in terms of how much a bag of groceries cost ... on the average of $25.  If I'm living on a budget and we decide to eat out, we can easily spend up to a week's worth of grocery budget in one sitting.  We typically eat out at less expensive places like Thai or Mexican. My next challenge is going to be looking at just that, the dining out budget. I'll say one more thing about this. Eating is simply fueling up for us. We try to not make it a main event at our house.
  • It does not cost more to eat well. I'd love to dispel the idea that eating fresh costs more than prepared, packaged foods. It would be difficult for me to do this in real life because you won't find much packaged food in my shopping basket. I do buy hummus, guacamole, and salsa pre-packaged. People are going to believe what they believe but I'm here to tell you that .68 cents for a large granny smith apple is not too much to pay versus a $1 for a king sized candy bar. Say no to potato chips. Try some popcorn instead.
  • I don't have to drink fresh ground coffee to be happy. It's nice but not necessary. However, one of the ways I collect coffee cards is through my side hustle, photography. I ask people to pay me in coffee. Love that!
  • Budgeting can be fun. I've enjoyed getting creative with the food I already have in my pantry and fridge. My daughter-in-law has enjoyed this challenge and we've both learned things about each other the last two months. She and my son take glass containers to the store where they shop to buy items in bulk. I'm fascinated by that. I've enjoyed using up the canned goods I did have in my pantry, to free up room for dried goods like beans and rice.
  • Zero waste is not just a passing fad.  We have a large garbage can and we can go a whole month without putting it out to the curb for pick up. My husband has finally bought the idea that we should not put it out until it is full. It saves the sanitation people from having to stop to pick up a barely 1/4 full can. What if everyone did that?
On a side note, last year I bought a pile of cloth napkins (you can get them all day long at thrift stores) to use in place of paper towels. Nothing makes me think more of my mother than when I'm using too many paper towels wastefully. We didn't have much growing up (lived paycheck to paycheck) and paper towels were a luxury item. Some things never leave my mind and this is one of them. So the cloth napkins have been a great way to cut way down on paper towel purchases. I would have never thought of using cloth napkins had it not been for my d-I-l. I also have a friend who has a bachelor's degree in environmental science. She says that if we all just make one change, we can make a difference in our environment. I asked her one time what would be the easiest change I could do, and without a moment's thought, she said, "quit using paper towels". I have a good start on that but not quite all the way there yet.
Why all this talk about budgets?
I am on a fast track to retiring in 2019. I would be lying if I didn't tell you that it scares the crap out of me to think about how much is enough to retire. One of the biggest taboos in our culture is to discuss money. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and also just listening to people, in general, about money. I feel just slightly less anxious after doing this budget. I know I can feed us on a pretty low budget, that's for certain.
The last thing I want to do is leave you with a couple quotes a wise man once said to me that I have kept and tried to live by.
The best way to give yourself a raise is to spend less money.
It's not how much money you make, it's how much
money you keep of the money you make that matters.
Thanks for dropping in. love, susan

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday Mood

This morning, I got up and put a load laundry in the washer so I would have jeans to wear to work today. Jeans Day at work. You'd think I'd have enough pairs of jeans to not have to do laundry on a week day but you'd be wrong.  Not jeans I really want to wear, ya know what I mean? I have lots of jeans but I truly only love 2 or 3 pair of them. Why I keep the others around is a lifelong mystery. Anyway, not what this post is about. I've been getting up and plugging my earphones in every day, sitting in front of my light box listening to audible books and coloring. I bought this coloring book 2 years ago and have barely touched it until now. One page of flowers took me a whole winter to color. What I've noticed this week is that when I am listening to an audible book, I'm able to focus on the coloring and comprehend the book very well.  The reason this is interesting to me is that when I am reading, I cannot have any noise whatsoever in the room or I lose focus.  The light box is a life saver for me in the fall/winter. I've been creative over the years with finding things to do while I sit in front of it. I love to journal. I sometimes read. And, now I am coloring. What is frustrating is that I never have as much time as I would like to sit there. This morning, I found myself in the best mood I've been in all week. Weird. I think it is a combination of the light, coloring, great stories read to me by Tom Hanks, and Jeans Day Friday. I am so over this week.  A lot to do about nothing, I know. Hopefully, I look back on this entry and remember that these things I've done today helped boost my mood. If something is working for you, it's a good idea to keep doing it. I think I will. How's your mood this week?

love, susan

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Budget Story: Month Two

Hey All! Not sure how it is already the 23rd of October and I'm just now posting this but better late than never. My daughter-in-law and I are engaged in a budget challenge and this is month 2.  September, I went over my $200 budget by $55.35.
Here we are past the mid-marker of October and I have spent $144.11. I think I can stay at or under budget this month! If you are new to this blog post, I am feeding just my husband and me, and three dogs.

One item I haven't purchased in October is coffee.  The hubs has a couple of cans of coffee stashed in the pantry. In the interest of staying under budget, I am willing to drink off brand, canned coffee. I put creamer in it. It's hot. It's caffeine. The other thing that happened this month is that I was gone one weekend so I didn't get to the store. Amazing how we can survive a week without shopping. Oh, almost forgot ... some super nice people I take family photos for gave me a huge, whole, fileted salmon. I cooked it for dinner on Sunday and had leftovers for lunch yesterday, dinner for the hubs last night, and plenty enough for lunch again today. Love that!
I visited Costco last weekend. I hate going there but I wanted to buy a brand of black bean burgers I had tried at a friend's house. Since I was there, I picked up other items that will keep us to the end of the month. Hummus times two. The half & half will get me into November easily. I wish I didn't hate going to Costco so much. It's the crowds. Perhaps I'll learn to get over that. The one impulse purchase was the Sweet Hot Chili Sauce, didn't need it. On the upside, I have enough frozen cherries and blueberries to take me well into November. I bought a couple of large bags of mixed greens so we're into salad this week.
Last week I bought 5 bananas. Now, I'm not much of a banana eater but I love it in my oatmeal. I have discovered that I actually like it in my oatmeal better when the brown spots appear. No more waste. We ate them all. I also have been adding nut butter (protein) to our morning power bowls. I still have some black beans and brown rice in the freezer for that morning when I simply can't stand the thought of oatmeal one more day. Truly though, I rarely get tired of oatmeal. It's so good for you!

I have 8 days left in October and $55.89 to spend. I still have to buy something for the office Halloween thing. Our office invites employees to bring their kids in to trick-or-treat and we get a nice turn out. I usually buy microwave popcorn instead of candy. The kids love it and it isn't any more expensive than candy. With what I have in the fridge right now, I don't think I'm going to need a trip to the store.

Feeling good about my budget this month.

Do you have a food budget? How are you doing?  Would love to hear your ideas and thoughts on budgeting. Leave me a comment!

love, susan

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Last night I tried something new. After hitting the art show featuring our good friend, Heidi Elkington, we walked over to the Emerald of Siam for dinner with T. It was a great surprise when we learned that there was a blue grass band playing. A fantastic blue grass band! We haven't heard blue grass since we moved here 10 years ago. One of the songs they played last night was U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. It was a beautiful rendition. When the waiter said they don't serve pho on really busy nights, he suggested this soup. It was a nice salty, slightly sour flavor with big chunks of fresh mushrooms and shrimp. I did not miss the noodles.
It felt good to be up past 7pm. I've been sleeping too much lately, seasonal affective disorder is in full bloom. If I have an event to attend or photos to shoot after work, I can stay upright but once I get home, I'm done and in bed. Then, I'm up at 3:30 or 4:00am.
The Dead Show was great. My friend got the entire gallery to showcase all her dead works. This one pictured here was my absolute favorite. It is on a very large canvas and somebody will be lucky to have it for $2,000.  What I see in this piece are parts of Heidi that only someone who knows her can identify. Her beautiful mom was at the show last night along with a dozen of our mutual friends and friends we just haven't met yet. The gallery is small and it got super hot with all the bodies inside so we didn't stay long.
At work, our human resources department has been placing painted rocks all over the courthouse property for the last two weeks. It has been delightful to find these hidden treasures. It has become almost an obsession with a few of my work friends. I love that it has given us something to talk about besides crime. And, it has gotten us to go outside on our breaks to walk. I think my Fitbit has hit 10,000 steps every day this week. There's that.
I have a super busy weekend lined up and for that I am happy. Today, I'm going out to the country mercantile pumpkin patch to take family photos for friends. Later, I am doing a shoot for a family who donated $ at a silent auction and won my services. Tomorrow, I'm going on a photo walk early in the day and then shooting Christmas card photos for my friends Doug & Rosemary at their horse farm. They have 4 mini horses now!
It feels to good to have some fun on my calendar. Hope you have a great weekend wherever you are. love, susan

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Right Now: A Life List

WEATHER This week is going to be fantastic! We've got numbers in the low 70's every day through Sunday.   PONDERING I traveled to Portland, Oregon by myself last weekend. I enjoyed the 200 miles each way, listening to whatever I wanted, letting thoughts flow through my brain like a ticker tape parade. Much needed "artist date" with myself. I stopped to snap photos along the way. (see below) I'm excited about the weekend coming. I'll be out photo walking with my friend and have two photo shoots set. Also, an artist friend has a showing on Friday night called The Dead Show ... can't wait! WATCHING I haven't had the tv on for probably a week. However, I am still watching episodes of Atypical on Netflix. It's really good! Went to see A Star is Born while I was in Portland over the weekend. Loved it. Lady Gaga is a great actor ... I'll bet we see more of her. READING I have not been reading lately since I've got audible. I've been doing a lot more journaling in my spare morning time. I just finished filling up the beautiful journal my step daughter gave me for Christmas last year. Ohhhhhh, the paper is heaven under my Precise V5 purple pen. It makes me want to keep writing and writing. A FINAL THOUGHT I recently had an epiphany. I have seasonal affective disorder and it hit earlier than usual this year. I have decided to embrace it rather than constantly fighting it. For me, this means acceptance. I know it will pass. I can slow down and just quit stressing about it. It's okay if I come home from work and put my pajamas on at 5:30pm. Gotta go for now. Hope you have a great week, wherever you are.  love, susan


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Currently: A Life List

PONDERING I am over the last two weeks of drama coming from Washington DC. It left me drained and feeling powerless. I am not powerless, though. I can vote. I can encourage others to get out and vote. I am, nonetheless, surprised by the end result of Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. Sure hope it works out.

WATCHING I have been watching a series on Netflix called Atypical. It is really good and I am invested in seeing it through to the end. My step-daughter told me about it. I trust her judgment, we like the same types of series.

READING I am still reading Kitchen Confidential (only 38% done with it) by Anthony Bourdain. I started it sometime during the summer and then got sidetracked in early July when my daughter-in-law showed me how to put podcasts on my smart phone. Then my step-mom told me the virtues of Audible and I have been hooked on that ever since. I do enjoy reading very much. There seems to be always be too little time for all of it. Anyway, the weather is changing now so I'll spend more time in my easy chair, curled up in my jammies and a blanket and a dog on my lap.

CREATING I've been coloring in my adult coloring book while listening to podcasts and books on audible. There is something so relaxing about that.

LEARNING Oh. This last two weeks has taught me that it's still a man's world.

PLANNING I don't have much going on in the planning department. My son asked me when I'm going to go visit them in Colorado, so that now is on my radar for the summer. I'm really now in pre-retirement count down. I have less then 8 months to go.

LISTENING My favorite podcasts are The Daily and NPR's Up First. Both are short episodes during the work week that give me just the right amount of news. On Audible, I am listening to The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks, narrated by Tom Hanks. Last week, I listened to The Year of Less by Cait Flanders.

WHAT'S IN THE KITCHEN I've been not all that creative in the kitchen but that's about to change. I am going to order one of those air fryers. A friend has been posting food she prepares in it and it looks like my kind of good.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. - Albert Einstein

A FINAL THOUGHT I'm just trying to keep my head about water right now. Going into winter season is not my favorite time of year but there are good things about it. I love slowing down a bit. I love soup. I love all the upcoming days off for the holidays. Yeah. It's all good.

love, susan

Friday, October 5, 2018

Random Positivity

This is in the parking lot at work. Colors are changing.
Happy Friday. This has been the longest week I've had in awhile. While big things are happening in Washington D.C., I'm over here in Eastern Washington just trying to remain positive. You may not know this, but I have a photo album on my FB called Susan Goes Outdoors. I started it last fall and the premise is that it helps me get out of the office every work day to take a photo and post there. As I look back on the album, it is amazing. These photos are from random things in my life this week. I hope wherever you are that you'll take time to stop and see the beauty around you. Taking photos gives me a sixth sense. love, susan
My friend's dog, Tank.

This was taken back when we only had one dog (2010?) on a camping trip.

One of my lunches this week.

A Lamborghini I saw on my lunch hour yesterday.
I know the guy who owns this one. He has a collection
of expensive cars.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Currently: October Already?

We enjoyed laying around on Sunday funday. The hubs and I drove to The Dalles, Oregon to meet up with our daughter.  I went to the dog show early in the morning to take some photos and get out of the house for a minute. I went outdoors to see what's happening in my back yard and cut down a few things that need to be cleaned up. I've got some oven fried potatoes going in the oven and when they're done in a few minutes, I'll cook some eggs to go with them for an afternoon brunch.

I'm trying real hard to keep my chin up. Some people think we ought to just ignore the news and not talk about politics. Yeah, no. But, I will take a break from it. I can't unhear what has been said to date.
Today, I think I'll try to only watch the news when I get home from work. Maybe I'll start my day with something creative. I'll talk about the weather. Throw the ball to my dog. Make a good lunch. I'll try to have a normal life while one of the biggest decisions regarding our Supreme Court lingers. I have to get some normalcy in my life right now because the current events have unraveled my psyche. I cannot pretend it hasn't.
love, susan

Bathroom Humor

Had a great conversation with my son over the weekend. I made him laugh.  A belly-busting, tear jerking laugh. The moment was totally u...