Saturday, April 30, 2011

Organizing Chaos

I have owned rubber stamps, funky scissors, ink pads and paper punches most of my adult life. That would be about 30+ years. In all that time, I've always wanted to get them organized but never quite made it.  This post just goes to show it's never too late to put an idea into action.

I set my alarm for 50 minutes this morning and just grabbed the first box closest to me as I walked into my ironing room and started to work weeding it out. I am going to sell the stamps I haven't used in a long time in my yard sale. If they don't sell, I'll donate them or find a friend who might like to have them.

I got through two boxes of stuff!  I can see it's going to take a lot longer to sort and organize than it did to move it out of the room.  However, I'm determined to get it done. I really wanted to do more than 50 minutes this morning but I restrained myself. 

Yeah, I'm not going to be able to live with this pile in my "ironing" room very long!

Well, it's 10:00 a.m. and the man is chomping at the bit to get on the motorcycles for a ride.

I'll tackle another box or two tomorrow.

love, susan

Friday, April 29, 2011

Clean Slate -- Part Deux

I did it!  I cleaned my slate (see my post yesterday "Clean Slate") this morning.  It took 50 minutes to pack it all up and move it to another room.

It was scary. What if there was a bill on my desk I haven't paid yet? What if I put the card reader in a box and couldn't find it? These are thoughts that were running through my mind the entire 50 minutes. I think these are self-imposed road blocks. The fact that I need to have these things is a good reason to clean out the junk so I have space for the stuff that's really important in my life.

I also observed that I when I got to the closet, my first thought was, "well, everything is up off the floor, I don't really need to clear the closet out."  I quickly realized this was part of my problem. Clean slate means clean slate.  Everything.  It all has to go somewhere else.  So, I brought boxes in and placed everything from the closet into boxes.

There were many things in my closet that need to be placed in the yard sale I'm planning to have. This is an excellent way to get them into the yard sale boxes. If I had left stuff on my closet shelves, it would defeat my purpose.

My next step will now be to spend 50 minutes every morning going through as many boxes as I can in that amount of time to separate what I want to keep, sell or throw away. It's doubtful there is much to throw away but I'm going to keep an open mind. It shouldn't take me very many mornings to get through them. I'll keep you posted!

Meanwhile, I've brought my iRoomba upstairs to let her do her work on my dusty floor. I swept it this morning but the Roomba picks up the grit that gets down into the cracks of the wood floor. Gene says he notices a difference when I don't run her often enough.

It feels really good to have wiped my slate clean with this room. I think it's going to be so much more pleasant for me to sit in here and use my light table for creating cards and such. I've found that I have gotten careless with my card making because everything was such a mess and I just felt cluttered and that doesn't help me feel creative.  I have several rooms that need to be clean slated but I'm going to just stay in today. One room at a time!

Thanks for reading! I feel like I've aired a little of my dirty laundry here but if it helps someone else create a clean slate, then it's worth it to me.

love, susan 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Clean Slate

I gotta get this mess cleaned up.  I was reading one of my favorite blogs the other day, Man vs. Debt, and he had an idea that has been rolling around in my head for a couple of days.  "Clean Slate".  

That's exactly what I need to do with my office/craft room.  I need to remove everything from it and only place what I really want and use back in it.  Sounds easy enough. Just haven't had time.

So, I've been collecting boxes from work and stashing them in my "ironing room". I've been putting unwanted items into the boxes and placing a lid on top when it's full. My plan is to have a yard sale sometime ... soon. Just haven't had time.   

I have done the clean slate thing before but obviously it's been a long time. I have been hanging on to things that I should let go of that might be useful to someone else. 

Adam Baker, in his clean slate post, says it should only take 20 - 90 minutes to accomplish this.  I'm going to give it a try this weekend. And you can bet your last paycheck I'll be putting it on my timer. I think that's the thing that scares me the most ... that I'll spend a half a day weeding through my junk.  Adam has it right when he says, "Clutter slowly sucks away more of our time, energy and money." Just looking at the piles makes me feel bad about myself.  So ... I'm setting aside 90 minutes this weekend and gonna git-r-done! 

Another method of decluttering I've used in the past is from Fly Lady.  I used to follow her daily emails and I still do go and look at them once in awhile. She uses a timer for everything and I love that idea.  She has this little thing she calls the 27 Fling Boogie. You set your timer for 10 or 15 minutes and find 27 things to fling. I love that! I haven't done it in a while, obviously. It doesn't matter if it's a piece of paper or an old box of crap that just hasn't made it to the trash ~ it all counts. In the time I've been sitting here writing, I could have 27 less 'things' in my life. Gotta go now.
If you're reading this and you have a method for keeping your clutter under control, I'd love to hear about it!

love, susan

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Take a Note Please

Happy "Administrative Professionals" Day to all my favorite administrative peeps out there. This is the day secretaries live for. Free lunch!

We're going out to P.F. Chang's for lunch today with the bosses.  Next week is my last week at this firm ~ I wouldn't miss lunch for anything. It's my favorite hour of the work day, especially when I get to go out for lunch.  I worked with a woman a very long time ago who told me, "Susan, eating lunch out is the working woman's treat to herself". Listen! I don't remember many things but the important things I do ... her name was Barbara and she rocked! I worked with her at Alaska National Bank of the North in Fairbanks. That bank went under in the late '80's along with a lot of other banks. Sad times.

I've been a secretary since back when secretaries were actually called secretaries. I've never really gotten used to being called an assistant. I've worked in different fields but my main "thang" is pushing paper and typing. A lot

I had an awesome business teacher in high school, Mrs. Betty Pryse, and she taught me everything I needed to know to get my foot in the door of an office and I've been there ever since. I credit her with teaching me simple things like being polite, correcting my mistakes, and how to answer a phone. I came out of high school typing 75 wpm and I still do. I learned how to transcribe from dictation when I worked in the mental health field with my friend, Jane. I transcribed the psychiatrist's notes.  Talk about interesting work! I've worked in banking, typing up loan papers and doing collections. I worked for the county attorney's office for a long time and at hospice for the executive director. This sounds like a resume, doesn't it?

Over the years, I have had the most awesome mentors. I worked with a woman named Linda at the bank when I lived in Anchorage. She taught me to answer the phone by the 2nd ring. Funny how one remembers such "rules". Ever since then I can't stand to let a phone ring more than twice ... it's just not right. Linda set the standard for how I would become most interested in customer service. Back in the 80's, the banks taught their employees about cross-selling services. You knew your customers names and they were like family when they visited the branch.  Try to find that kind of service these days.  I seriously miss those times.  Oops ... getting off my soap box now. (But a great topic for another post)

Just so you know, I love being a secretary. A lot of things have changed since I started working as one 30 years ago. We used to type on typewriters. There was no voice mail ~ we actually talked to our customers and co-workers. People used to smoke inside of buildings. Some of the loan officers I worked for smoked in their offices. Can you imagine?

Even though a lot of things have changed, my love of assisting other people has not. If you're reading this and you qualify as an assistant, I hope someone takes you to lunch today. And, if you can't find anyone to take you to lunch, as my old friend Barbara would say, "take yourself to lunch ... your treat!"

love, susan  


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leche Helada Anyone?

Clearly, my head has not quite returned to the city from my one day out in the country. As I was sitting in my cubicle yesterday, all I could think about was dogs and cattle and dust.

Yesterday on my Facebook, there was a lively discussion about cowboy manners. It got me to thinking about groups of people and society as a whole. I love studying people. I consider myself a casual observer of mankind.

I have all kinds of friends who come from different places and circumstances. I believe having friends from all walks of life is like adding colorful spice to plain, old white rice. 

The thing is, I have learned some really profound things from people when I take the time to listen.  I've found a real kinship with folks who ride the public transit here in Tri-Cities. I was talking with some folks the other day who live in Benton City, which is 10 miles beyond where I live. They both own vehicles but like me, find it relaxing to ride the bus. One guy is a motorcycle rider and the woman I talked to had lived in Portland for a long time, where riding public transportation is chez chic. There is an unwritten rule that you don't ask too many questions of people while riding the bus. It's just not the place to do that sort of thing. You might be sharing a seat but there is a limit to the amount of information shared. 

Last year while waiting to catch a bus to the fair, I was talking with a guy and his wife about traveling. They were both retired and were doing a lot of traveling. So, I asked the question that I always love to ask .... "where is your favorite country to travel"?  The guy told me someplace in Asia ... I don't remember the details. What I do remember is that his eyes lit up when he started talking about it and I got a moment of humanity sitting on the bus talking with a total stranger about something he loves. He went on to tell me that he travels with only a large carry-on. He said he takes an extra pair of khaki pants and shirt, underwear, etc. and washes his clothes in the sink wherever he stays. I totally understood the freedom in traveling lite and experiencing a trip like that. It becomes a game to see how little we can do without. 

So my next question of this traveling, retired guy and his wife was, "where is your favorite place to eat in the Tri-Cities?" In my heart, I knew they were one of my kind when they said in unison, "Fiesta Foods" in Pasco.  Gene and I have eaten there a couple of times when we've been over on that side of town. Fiesta Foods is a grocery store frequented mostly by Mexicans that also serves Mexican food in carton containers with little benches and tables to sit at.  Totally unpretentious but the most authentic Mexican food in the area. There is a Fiesta Foods store in Hermiston, Oregon and last fall we took a motorcycle ride out there and had  dinner. When we were finished eating, a lovely Mexican lady sitting next to us told us we must really try the ice cream.  The ice cream at Fiesta Foods is out of this world and the best kept secret. I don't know where their ice cream comes from but they have a variety of really different flavors and it is so creamy I can't even describe it. If you go, try the coffee flavored leche helada.

All this talk about food is making me hungry. I've already missed the bus this morning but have time for a little oatmeal.

I hope wherever you are that you find the most interesting people to talk to and more importantly ... to listen to.

love, susan


Monday, April 25, 2011


"A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself."        ~ Josh Billings

Anybody who knows me, knows I love dogs. This little pup was out at the ranch on Saturday and he never stopped running and playing the entire day. I've never seen a cattle dog colored quite like this. I'm not sure where the brindle coloring comes from  and I  could never figure out who belonged to this dog.  There were several dogs running around during the round-up and they seemed to be just fine that way. They moved when a horse came by and the puppies wisely stayed out of the corrals. I saw a couple of Jack Russell terriers who tried to immulate the border collies but they quickly high-tailed it out of the cow pen when they found themselves staring eye-to-eye with a calf and having no instinctual idea what the heck they were supposed to do.  Run.  That's what Jack Russells do best.  And they did. It made me laugh!

The other dogs were border collies. There were three of them, ranging in age from old to a puppy that I would guess to be about 9 months old. I never got a photo of the puppy as she was constantly moving. She'd run around for a while and then she'd saddle up next to me and let me love on her a while. I absolutely go head over heels over a dog that leans into me when it's parked at my side. If I could have found who she belonged to, I might have begged, borrowed and stolen to bring her home with me. I carry a canvas kennel in my car ~ it could have worked!

Gene fell in love with this old guy. I suspect this border collie was about 6 or 7 years old. He ran most of the day and his age was starting to show as the day worn on. He was limping a bit but his DNA wouldn't let him get far from the herd.  He knew where to get the love though and I watched as he'd work for a while and then he'd swagger over to Gene for a good session of head scratching and smooth talk. 

All these dogs had names but I don't recall any of them except I heard them call one of them "Perfect".  What a great name for a dog!

If I had to choose my favorite part of my experience on Saturday, it would be watching the dogs work and seeing the puppies roam freely, learning where to be and where not to be so as not to get trampled on. I imagine on the ranch, it's the survival of the fittest and a working dog had better figure it out fairly quickly or it won't survive.

Well, I suppose I'd better get my mind back on being a city girl once again. It was a lovely transport to another world this weekend. One I won't forget for a long time.

"People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around."  ~ Barbara Kingsolver, American Writer

love, susan


Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Lot of Bologna

Shot this photo early yesterday morning in the parking lot in Benton City while we waited for our horsey friend to show up so we could follow her out to the round-up. Gene told me later the guy who owns this dog says it's a  husky/wolf mix. He was super friendly and photogenic and huge. The dog, that is. Gene chatted with the owner quite a while so I imagine he was friendly too.

But, that's not what this post is about. 

Bologna sandwiches.  That's what I'm talking about today.

The other morning I had a memory pop up about a weekend trip I took lots of years ago to Cordova, Alaska while I was living in Eagle River.  My very good friend, Ginny, had moved there to work and she invited me to come stay for the weekend. I was so thrilled for the invite because although I had been lots of places in Alaska, I had never been to Cordova and would  have never gone without a good reason. That was back in the day when I was married to someone who had not one ounce of wanderlust in his blood.

When I arrived,  I was starving (story of my life) and all she had was a package of bologna, some white Wonder bread, sliced cheese and a container of mustard. It was, by far, the best bologna sandwich I'd ever had. She kept apologizing because she hadn't been to the store yet. I kept trying to convince her that I was thrilled to have a bologna sandwich as it was something we never had much of and it was truly a fine offering for a starving woman.

We had a great time that weekend, just drinking coffee, catching up, walking around the town and just enjoying our great friendship. She is one of those kind of best friends that no matter how long you've been apart, you can pick up right where you left off. She had gone to Belize for nearly two years with the Peace Corps prior to moving to Cordova. I wrote her often when she was there and she returned the favor. I have since lost those letters too many moves ago that she wrote and I had collected and kept neatly in a basket.  One time, I mailed her $5 for her birthday and told her to go have a Margarita and she wrote back and told me she had done just that. 

When I got on the plane to leave Cordova that weekend, I cried a lot.  I'm not very good at saying good-bye and even though I knew I'd see her again, I wished that she lived closer. When we got close to Anchorage, there was a malfunction with the landing gear indicators and the pilot had no way of knowing whether or not the landing gear had locked into place. We circled the airport for close to an hour before they finally decided to take her in and land despite the lack of indicators. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting on that plane and had just had a wonderful, sunny weekend with my best friend, the sky was blue and I remember a surprising peacefulness that washed over me as I didn't know whether it would be my last day alive. If it had been my last day, I was as happy as I could be at that particular moment. 

I have chased that feeling ever since.  Sometimes I catch it and ride it for a while.  Other times it seems so elusive but having already felt it, I know that if I get up and try that perhaps this will be the day I get it.

Perhaps a bologna sandwich would do it.

love, susan 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Git Along Little Doggies

Doesn't he look like Sam Elliot?
I had the most awesome day and there is not enough space on this blog to write about everything I saw and experienced, nor to even show you some of my favorite photos of the 250 I shot today.  So, I'll try to keep it as short & succinct as I can.

We were invited to a round-up out in the country about 50 miles from here. We arrived early and watched the cowboys & cowgirls gather up to go over the hill to drive the cattle back to the corrals, where they separated the calves from their mamas for branding and castration. While the horses were out rounding up the little doggies, one of our friends who invited us along took us for a photo walk and the early morning crisp air turned into a wonderful, warm blue sky day. They brought the cows in and after the branding, we enjoyed a lunch of chili made over an open fire. We were there 6 hours and the time seemed to fly by. There are no better people on earth than country folks. Here are just a couple of things I observed today:

Country kids are different than city kids.  *** The kids went along on the trail ride and they all pitched in to help with the roping, branding and castrating of the calves. *** They had so much fun they didn't even know it was "work".  *** I never saw one iPod or cell phone. ***  Border collies are the most awesome  working dogs. *** Chili tastes way better when cooked in a dutch oven over an open fire. *** Girls can rope calves pretty dang good. *** 

Okay, now I'll try to pick a couple of my favorite photos from today to post here. It'll be hard to choose just a couple so I'll post an album over on Facebook if you're interested.  Wow, what a day!  love, susan

Here come just a few of the herd.

I loved the working dogs ... they were awesome!
These are all Mexican horned cows. Very different breed.
My cowboy!
Supper is cooking!
This last picture kind of has it all.  The border collies kept the calves in check. The cowboy at the head of the calf keeps the head down while "brander" does her thing. The young girl with the purple bucket is the one who has to be there to make the bucket available  to catch the bull testicles.  Luckily, we didn't have to turn down "Rocky Mountain Oysters" for dinner. The horse on the right keeps the line taut so the calf stays in place for this whole process.  They branded 58 calves today.  What an experience!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let the Sunshine In

I found a new blog called "Oh, Write Me" a couple of weeks ago and discovered there are a host of people out there who still have a love of the hand-written letter.  I started following this blog and this week my new pen-pal sent me a hand-written letter along with this very pretty hand-made postcard.  So pretty ... I had to frame it!  I placed it in my bathroom near my side of the sink so I can be reminded to let the sun shine in ... even when it's raining.

Thank you, Bobbie, for such a thoughtful act of kindness.  I look forward to writing back and forth with you!

Happy Friday to everyone. What a week.  I'm so happy the sun is shining today.  I'm not sure I could take another gray day ....

love, Susan

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

The man who makes 
no mistakes 
does not usually 
make anything. 
    ~Edward Phelps


Busy week ... no time for writing.  Made a mistake this week that caused me some uncomfortableness.  I survived. What a difference a day makes. 

In the scheme of things, there are just not that many big deals. 

Hope you have a day full of sunshine, and if you have to have rain, I hope you get a rainbow!

love, susan

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ya Wanna?

A year ago this month, we took a trip to the beach at Seaside, Oregon. I remember that it was really cold over there but it was good to get to the beach and smell the ocean air.  

I wasn't writing this blog yet but if I had been, I would have said it was a wonderful trip and I'm so glad we got to go.

I sure wouldn't mind another trip to the ocean but I wouldn't stay in Seaside again. It's a nice little town but there are so many others to go visit ... why go to the same place twice?

Hey, Gene, if you're reading this, wanna go to the beach?
love, susan

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Already Gone

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key. 

~The Eagles, "Already Gone"

My last day in this cubicle is May 6, 2011.  I am already gone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a New Day

Red Velvet cupcake John made
Saturday night we were sitting at the dinner table and I heard a knock at the door. Our neighbors, who moved here from Georgia last year, were standing on our doorstep with a plate of four delicious cupcakes. Two of them were chocolate and two were red velvet. 

The husband (I think his name is John) said he had made for some event at work and he had to get the leftovers out of the house ~ said he couldn't eat another one. Lucky us. They were awesome.

Our neighbors are really nice people; a young couple with 3 dogs. She (I think her name is Sherry) works out at "the area" and although we've never asked her exactly what she does, we think she has a PhD. The company moved them here. We keep saying we're going to invite each other over for a bbq but we haven't yet.  They are vegetarians. I don't know what to bbq for vegetarians. I'm sure they are in the same quandry.  What do vegetarians feed meat eaters?  Well, I'd eat cupcakes for dinner!

Every day when Sherry gets home from work, about 20 minutes after arriving home, I see her pop out of her house with roller blades on. That's how she walks one of her dogs. She usually takes him on a really long run ... like 5 miles. He's a high energy K9 and she's got a lot of it, too. I'm intrigued by the roller blades.  I thought about getting some for myself ... for about a minute.  Then, I remembered that I am almost 52 and I have given up roller skating.

I went roller skating back in October with the grand kids when they were here. I fell on the very last song of the session and did some seemly permanent damage to my left wrist. It still aches when I carry files with that arm.  I can't even imagine what a day of motorcycling is going to feel like. Thank goodness it wasn't my right wrist, which twists the throttle.

Cool old building in Kahlotus
Last year at this time, we were on two wheels. It's still too cold right now for me. I was cold before I even set foot outside the door yesterday. One of our friends mentioned he's leaving for Arizona next week. I felt so jealous.  I just want to get warm.

It's 6:08 a.m. and the sun is up. Gotta get the sleepy heads up and moving so we can get out for a walk this morning. I'm in a better mood starting out today than I was yesterday.  Too bad I have to go to work.

Mr. Kitty

Happy Monday ....

love, susan

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cow Tattoos

We pulled into the parking lot at Palouse Falls this afternoon and Gene pointed out this old Packard. He doesn't know what year it is but it certainly is something you don't see everyday.  I'll bet it looks so cool driving down the country roads.

There were lots of people out and about today and the parking lot was extra full. We talked to a guy who had a border collie with him. Nice fellow. We mostly talked about the dog.

We left Missy home today.  Sometimes I just don't want to take her with us because then I don't feel free to take the photos I want.  Today, I was selfishly glad she stayed home because I spotted this yellow belly marmot and there is no way it would have stuck around long enough for me to snap his pic if Missy had been with us.

I have not been in an especially great mood since I got up this morning.  I don't know why.  Sometimes getting in the car and driving helps.  I was still a little grumpy when we got to the falls but once I saw this little marmot, it really lightened my mood.  And then ....

I took this picture of Gene snacking on a cracker.  He's always in a good mood. When I saw his smiling face through the view finder, I couldn't help but smile!  

On the way home, we drove through the little, itty bitty, one-horse town of Kahlotus where Gene spotted this cool sign. I thought it was some kind of witchcraft signs or latin perhaps. (Hey, I grew up in Alaska!) He pointed out to me it is branding signs, most likely of local ranchers. I would have never guessed.  If I was a cow, I'd pick this one for a tattoo:

I love hearts.

Which one would you choose?

love, susan

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dude! What An Awesome Day!!

Gene went for  a m/c ride after I cut his hair!
I had the most awesome day. I had a list of stuff I wanted to get done. Realistically, I knew I couldn't get to everything but I did a good share of items on my to-do list and I even snapped a few photos along the way.
Gene got a hair cut!

I made it to the fun run/walks in Richland this morning. There were hundreds of people at the park today. It gave me goosebumps to see so many people turn out for such great causes. This is a great community we live in.

Even the dogs got to wear T-shirts.
Great day for walking!

This is an artist I captured sketching the river. 

I couldn't resist snapping a pic of this fellow.
Thought of my friend, Kathy, when I saw all these tulips.
Looking up at the sky through pink trees. How awesome is this?

Pink tree!

Friday, April 15, 2011

To Do List - revisted

12:40 a.m.  I'm up too late tonight. I fell asleep on the couch after dinner and my nap turned into 4 hours and now I can't sleep.

I should really make a to-do list for the weekend:
  • Cut Gene's hair
  • Trim Missy's nails
  • Poop patrol
  • Mow the lawn
  • Attend Autism Walk on Saturday morn with Steph
  • Check out the dog rescue adopt-a-thon at the park (Heather) didn't make it there
  • Make cookies to take to Denise's house on Saturday afternoon
  • Go for a motorcycle ride if the weather permits
  • Bank deposit
  • Have some fun
  • Wash sleeping bags will do another day
  • Pick up enlarged photos in Benton City (The Big Print Shop) they were closed
  • Pick up photos at WalGreens maybe tomorrow
  • Go for a walk
  • Make a Costco run
  • Call Bonnie
  • Make birthday cards for kids
  • Get taxes in the mail
  • Check the sprinkler system
  • Wash the car
There .... now maybe I can sleep ....

love, susan


Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Road Less Traveled

It's the middle of April and it's still so cold and windy I can hardly stand to be outside for very long to snap a photo. I was on my way to town last night for a committee meeting and decided to take the route along the Columbia River. It's hard to tell from this quick pic I snapped but the sun was peeking through the clouds behind me but as I looked towards the Blue Bridge and Cable Bridge, the wall of dark clouds was really beautiful. The sun really spotlighted the blue bridge but I was too far away with my little point & shoot to really capture what I was seeing with my eyes.  Summer is trying to get here but winter won't let go.  Columbia Park comes alive with people when the weather warms up. Last night I saw a team of bicyclists rolling down the bike trail. I spotted an older couple parked facing the river, eating their dinner in their car and just watching the river roll by.

It's only a couple of weeks now before we hit the road again for a trip to Flagstaff, Arizona. We haven't really talked about what route we'll take yet. My last day at work is May 6th so we can leave anytime after that date. We're not sure if we'll get to do any camping along the way, but we're taking our gear just in case. I'm hoping we travel through Utah. We haven't been there in a while and the last time I had a camera that was horribly slow in processing photos so I'm excited for the photo opportunities I know I'll have. Southern Utah is possibly one of my most favorite places we've visited so far.

I'm looking forward to seeing my dad and Nancy, and the kids. Our friends Mike & Linda,  who live in Casa Grande, will be in Flagstaff celebrating their son's graduation as well so it's going to be a couple of great days of family & friends. After graduation, Justin booked us a  one night's stay at a beautiful, old grand hotel, La Posada in Winslow, Arizona. I imagine it will be peaceful and just so nice to get his and Amanda's undivided attention and a chance for us to garner some of their excitement as they head off to start their adventures in Michigan. **sniff sniff**.

As for me, I'm glad I took the road less traveled last night on my way to town. The speed limit is 30 mph as you drive through the park. I've been so busy lately that I welcomed the physical 'slow-down', even if it was only for a few minutes. 

love, susan



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Search of Kimberly

This Fire King mug is called "Kimberly"
Are these the ugliest coffee cups you've ever seen? We collect these.

In my post about bargain shopping yesterday, I received a couple of great comments and I even had a neighbor-friend email me to get together over the weekend because she wants to show me about her couponing method. I use coupons occasionally but I don't have much patience for cutting them out and carrying them around. I'm excited to see what she does. 

Today, I want to talk about what we look for when we're out at yard sales and thrift shops. The treasures Gene and I both agree are the most fun to look for are Fire King and Anchor Hocking glassware.  I photographed these mugs because I love their color and uniqueness. The first time I found one was while I was working for Hospice of Yuma. They have a thrift store right next to their office and I spent most of my lunch hours scouring the store looking for treasures. When I saw the first ugly mug, which was named "Kimberly" by the folks at Fire King, I had to buy it for 50 cents. When I did a little research on it, I was hooked. These are not easy to find but they're out there. They're not worth much but they do make a conversation piece. We had another one but while it was being used, it got dropped and broke. There is a great web-site dedicated to Fire King mugs if this is something that interests you. We don't collect these because we think they're going to be worth any amount of money. We actually use everything we collect.

I love that we can still find items that were made in America. I also collect Glasbake and Fire King soup bowls. We use these bowls almost every day. 

One of the best things about living in Tri-Cities is that there are tons of antiques to be found here.  Once in awhile, we will walk through antique stores and have a lot of fun looking. Antiques can be found in thrift stores and yard sales, which make them even sweeter finds. 

Gotta love stuff made in the USA!
Do you collect anything?  Do tell!

love, susan 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Middle Name is Frugal

The last time we were at Grocery Outlet, I spotted this cloth grocery bag I just had to have. I keep cloth bags in my car trunk and wherever I go, whether it's grocery shopping or a Saturday morning yard sale spree, I have them.

This bag says it all for me.

"Call me frugal, canny, careful, conserving, discreet, metilulous, economically sound, penny-wise, preserving, provident, prudent, smart, super shopper, saver, skimper, sparing, thrifty, not wasteful, abstinent, ascetic, austere, content, moderate, restrained, the master of the deal, temperate, sustaining or bargain minded.  But don't call me cheap."

I was talking with a friend on the phone last night about budgeting and living a different life-style when it comes to money. It was an awesome conversation and I got to share with her my own thought processes on the topic along with an example of it from over the weekend.

Gene and I did a little yard sale-ing on Saturday. When we can't think of anything else to do while the weather is iffy, we end up wandering around our neighborhoods looking for treasures. I found a really pretty wind chime for $1. I've been dying to have a wind chime but I do exhibit restraint when it comes to buying some things brand new. I knew eventually one would appear and this one makes beautiful sounds. The fact that I held out and didn't buy a new one makes it even more beautiful to me.  Any spend-thrift reading this will not understand what I mean.  I also picked up a set of queen sized sheets at the same sale. They were neatly bundled with care and tied with a pretty yellow ribbon with a note on the tag that said "good condition". I normally don't buy such things at yard sales but a quick judgment call told me this was a nice lady and it wouldn't be money wasted.  I brought them home and washed them and have slept better than ever on those $2 sheets. Have you priced sheets lately?

So, on Sunday, while we were doing the taxes, I was thinking maybe I'd like to go to the movies afterwards. If I go to a movie theater twice a year, that's a lot. I usually go on my birthday. It's a real treat but there has be to something showing that I really must see on the big screen. I was thinking that it would just be a nice reward for having spent a good part of the day doing something I don't like doing. By the time we got done doing taxes, I had changed my mind about going to the movies. First, there's nothing playing that's worth the outlay of cash, and secondly, when I can run down to Redbox and rent a film for $1, it's hard for me to justify spending at the very, very least $15 getting in the doors of the theater. On the other hand, we ended up in the car with Missy, taking a road trip out to Prosser, which cost us about $10 in gas. In retrospect,  if given a choice, I'll always choose a road trip over just about anything else. When we combine a road trip with yard sale-ing, i.e. travel to another town 20 or 30 miles away, that's like a cherry on top of it all.

I have a lot of thoughts on living a frugal life-style. I haven't always been this way but I don't mind saying that it has been a lot easier living through this recession, having already tightened our belts a long time ago. Having the conversation with my friend last night just reminded me that there are still ways I could tighten my belt up more. I love the challenge of finding good deals and ways of making my dollars stretch. 

love, susan 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Feline and K9 Friendly

In a perfect world, every business would have an office cat or an office dog.  When we were in Prosser yesterday, we spotted this kitty pacing back and forth in the store front where he lives. What a great window he has to see out of as the townspeople walk by and say hello to him.  Prosser seems to be a very conservative little town because everything is shut down on Sundays. I'm sure this kitty was glad to have even a dog walk by.

When I first started working at the law firm where I currently spend the better part of my week days, the "big guy" would bring his dog in once in a while to say hello to everyone. He had Portuguese water dogs, which are the cutest things on 4 legs. The big guy always use to go by my boss' office and say "hey, mad dog!".  Legend has it that the big guy's dog did her business in my boss' office one Saturday when she was hanging out with the big guy. My boss came in on Monday morning to find the gift she left and hence he was mad at the dog.  Mad dog. Makes sense to me.

The new old big guy in our office, the attorney who is most senior now, just acquired two 9-week old bulldogs. His daughter dropped by the office on Friday after she picked the sister puppy dogs up and all the secretaries were compelled to leave our cubicles to say hello to the new babies. I don't believe I've ever seen a bulldog puppy but I have to tell you they are pretty cute. Two bulldogs together are even cuter. I did not have my camera with me that day.   :-( 

When I lived in Yuma, there was an attorney whose office was just down the street from the courthouse. John Minore had two old Labradors that were his office dogs. He kept treats up on the receptionist's desk for visitors to feed his dogs. Just down the street from John's office was a pottery store where a woman potter threw clay in front of a big window that faced the street. She had an old lab who sat at her feet.

I love animal friendly places. If you ever go to Seaside, Oregon, you will find signs like this. 

Since we've lived in the Tri-Cities, I've become accustomed to seeing animals in many places of business.  When I had Missy in classes last year, our trainer told us that Ranch & Home allows you to take your dog in the store on a leash. I've been there a few times but never with Missy. I would just feel too weird taking my dog in a store.  I have never seen any dogs inside, but if you sit outside in the parking lot, you'll get to see the most beautiful cattle dogs ever. The ranchers drive in with their best friends in their truck beds.  I love this dog and cat friendly town.

It's Monday and I am trudging this morning. It was a really awesome weekend if for no other reason than the little road trip to Prosser. 
I hope wherever you are that you'll have a great day.

love, susan

Sunday, April 10, 2011

This Was a Good Day!

.41 cents interest earned?
Well, we survived getting the taxes done today and there was enough time leftover to take a Sunday drive out through Benton City and Prosser. The rivers have been way up and you can see in the photo  below that some trees got washed away but then stuck as they went over the break.

We parked in downtown Prosser and got out to stretch our legs and let Missy smell all the tree trunks, etc.

In Prosser, Washington

On the courthouse steps in Prosser

Nice disclaimer in (parenthesis)

Cat living in store front interests "Missy"
This was a good day.

love, susan


Catching Up: A July Life List

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