Monday, December 31, 2018

Monday: The Upside for the First Week of 2019

New ideas are emerging as the sun stays up a minute or two longer every day now that solstice has passed. Monday: The Upside will be a collection of photos I take over the weekend along with some positive thoughts. Having something fun to look forward to, whether it is a date on my calendar, that first cup of coffee in the morning, lunch with a friend, a visit from loved ones, etc. is what I live for. In the spirit of upside, here is what I have on my plate this week.
  • Going dancing with the hubs tonight along with a couple hundred like-minded friends.
  • Tomorrow I shall enjoy a day off and think about the new year.
  • Finish up my application for retirement benefits from State of Alaska so I can send it in soon.
  • Tomorrow is Day 1 of The Minimalist Game.
  • Photo shoots on Saturday and Sunday, one with a very pregnant friend, and another with pitbull(s).
What are the Upsides in your upcoming week/year?
love, susan
The boathouses at Clover Island (Kennewick, WA)

The lighthouse at Clover Island (Kennewick, WA)

Sunrise on the Columbia River (Kennewick, WA)

Abbie and me. She always howls when I try to take her picture.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

New Products

I recently visited with a friend who happens to have one of those fancy-schmansy espresso machines. She uses a bean that is indescribably great. When she put a can of this stuff in front of me with a spoon, I asked her how she got it to fluff up so much. No, no, Susan ... I just took the lid off the can. She told me where she bought it and I made a special trip to stock up on this yumminess. (Note: I am still trying to get off the dairy products and have been less than successful. Maybe this product will be my answer.)
I love finding new-to-me products. Granted, I have used lots of coconut cream out of a can but this one is far superior to the those I have been buying. Coffee beans from her supplier are on the way, too. I hope it all tastes as good as it did at her house.

When I was working out at Hanford, I had lunch with a group of women who were always buying new products (mostly crackers) and bringing them to share at lunch. Man, I got a lot of good ideas from them.

Got a product you love that you'd like to share with us? Please leave a comment with something you've tried recently that you're crazy about.

love, susan

Friday, December 21, 2018

Taking My Lessons from Bears: Wrapping Up 2018

♥️Resist was my watch word for 2018. It served me well for the most part. It has been a different year. I started seriously thinking about taking my retirement from the State of Alaska last year. I have the paperwork in hand and getting ready to send it in soon for a retirement date of early June. I'm not sure I'm ready for full retirement but I know, for certain, I am ready to work a lot less. I am tired. I recently listened to a podcast of some young people who took a sabbatical which included going off social media and truly not working for a year. I have taken a summer off but never an entire year. I know I have enough to stay busy but, honestly, that isn't what nags me. I've always been a wage earner from about age 14. I was raised to pay my own way, and I thank my parents for that. It isn't that we don't have enough to live on that keeps me up at night, it is that deeply ingrained training that I am wage earner. It's a hard concept to overcome. If I'm not earning a wage, what is my worth? And, at age 60, will I ever be employable again if I decide I hate not working? If you are not in my age bracket, you will be some day. These are things you'll have to think about. So, for the remaining 10 days of this year, I shall try to resist future tripping. ♥️I have resisted drama. The specifics I'll leave to my personal journal but let me say here that it is a growth thing for me to put my virtual hand up and say, not my circus. This does not come easy to me and it has left me feeling a bit cold-hearted at times. I walk a fine line between being a very good listener, an emotional sponge, and someone who just has to walk away sometimes for my own mental health. If you are reading this and I have walked away from you, please know it was more about me than you. My dance card is full. ♥️I have resisted my ego. I was promoted early in 2018 to a job that I was less happy doing. I got honest and asked to go back to the job I had loved for many years. It was a good move for me (thank god for Unions!), a good move for my office. ♥️I have resisted  being a volcano. I have personal struggles that I wake up with every day. Some days are easier than others to maintain an even keel. Thankfully, I have closed mouth friends who allow me to vomit when I need to, which likely has saved my life from blowing up. Everyone should have friends like mine. They are pure gold. ♥️What I have not resisted well is sugar. I went off the tracks back in July on a vacation trip and I have struggled since then. I have gained back 15 lbs. of the 35 I lost and I am so uncomfortable in my skin right now.
My 2019 watch word came to me a couple of weeks ago while I was putting my pajamas on at about 5:30pm, right after I arrived home from work but before I cooked dinner. I couldn't wait to scarf whatever it was I cooked and trudge up the stairs to my pillow. I've been in this pattern every winter for the last 10 years. In the past, I have beat myself up endlessly for just wanting to pull the cover over my head and say wake me when it's spring. It occurred to me that I really should stop beating myself up for a disorder I have very little control over, and ♥️embrace♥️ it. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a fact of life for me. Bears don't beat themselves up for being bears and doing what bears do in the winter ... hibernate. Why should I? The moment I had this thought, I felt free.
I am also going to ♥️embrace♥️ insomnia, black coffee, my hubby, gray skies, slowing down, feeling like a ship with a loose sail, and the fact that two of my three dogs are in the end stage of their lives. I am going to try to embrace feeling uncomfortable for awhile and really listen to others' struggles and solutions for that. I am going to embrace what was, what is, and what will might be. I'll try to be graceful and thoughtful in my words and actions.
How about you? Did you have a watch word for 2018? Will you have one for 2019? Tell me about it!
♥️love, susan

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Dog Diaries

We're all up in here waiting for winter solstice. Missy Moo went to the vet this week for a teeth cleaning. We thought she might have to have some teeth extracted but apparently they are all in good shape. She is in the early stage of kidney failure though. She sleeps a lot these days and drinks a ton of water. We love this old girl. Her eyes show her weariness and I know I'll have to make some decisions in the following months. Until then, we're going to spend extra time loving on her and the other two home wreckers. ***sigh***
Christmas love to you, susan

Monday, December 10, 2018



Cold Weather. Getting out in the cold this weekend kicked my tail. I had 3 photo shoots for family photos. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it very much but man, oh man, I got chilled to the bone and couldn't get warm. I wore my silky long johns yesterday. My Alaska friends will laugh at me because it is 32 degree here.   Bartering. The first family I did photos for on Saturday asked me how much I charge for coming out in the cold. I usually just tell people that if they insist, I love coffee. But this guy comes from a long line of fishermen, so I told him I would love a piece of fish. He brought me a frozen salmon filet and a big, steaming hot latte. OMG .. loved that. We are having the fish for dinner tonight. My friend T says she loves bartering. I didn't know people still used that term and it really got me to thinking about it. I'd like to see bartering make a comeback! Photo Bartering. I will take photos for anyone who asks. Many of the folks who have given me the title of family photographer are young people who struggle to make ends meet. I always tell them to pay it forward. I hope they do. Do you ever barter with friends?  love, susan

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November 2018 Dining Out Budget Results Revealed

Drum roll please. Dude, we stayed under $100 for the month of November's dining out budget. Stick with me while I tell you how I spent it.  Just Joel's: We stopped for breakfast on a Sunday morning because I have been dying to eat at this new local establishment my friend raves about. Breakfast out is my favorite meal. The hubs and I split a veggie omelette and skipped coffee since it was later in the morning. With a tip, it was $15.45.  Bangkok Thai: I snagged a buffet lunch there twice this month. It is my weakness. Total $27.46. Yummie Pho: Lunch for one with a tip: $11.76. The price of pho has gone up. Note to self ... this is not a good deal for soup. Greek Island: Met a former work friend for lunch. $12.32  Bacon & Eggs: On a Sunday drive to Walla Walla, we split an omelette and had 2 coffees at this great local spot on main street. $17.61. DINING OUT TIP: If you are like me and love the experience of eating out but you hate busting your budget, try splitting a meal with your loved one. Another item that will kill your budget is drinks. Who couldn't use more ice water in their diet? 
DINING OUT:  $84.60

My monthly budget is $100 and I'm feeling good about it. However, I am going to have to be careful in December because I spent $82 last night for a pizza party to celebrate the hubby's birthday with friends. This leaves me $18 for the rest of the month. I feel fairly confident I can do this. I have a Friend Day on my calendar this Sunday. A bunch of us get together for lunch and shopping at a different mall every year. We're meeting up at a local crepe place. My diet doesn't allow for flour & sugar and I really blew it last night on pizza so I may just be having some of their fantastic coffee. That'll help keep me under budget. The rest of the month, I am done eating out. Can I do it?  What I learned in November: I eat lunch out too much. I think I'll try to pick one day that I want to go out for lunch with work friends and try to stick to that. The way my budget looks right now, I won't go out to lunch until January. But, that gives me something to look forward to. Guess I'd better go now and make my lunch for today. That's my favorite excuse for eating out ... oh, I didn't have time to make a lunch.
In other budgeting news, in November I paid my home and auto insurance for the year. It was $2,011 ($168 a month). I have budgeted $250/month in this category so I have some wiggle room where I can take some money out of that line item and move it somewhere else, if needed. I like to pay my insurance in one lump sum because I don't want to have to think about paying it every month. It also saves a monthly service fee that I can always use somewhere else.
One last thing I want to tell you is that I am loving the budget feature on my credit card account. If I use my card for all my purchases, it is easy for me to see where my dollars fall in my budget. Love that. My local grocery store only takes dedit cards so I have to keep a good eye on that by hanging on to my receipts. I only go the store on Sundays so that's easy for me.
If you've read this far, I thank you for dropping in. Hope you found something here that might be helpful to you. If you have any tips for me, please share them in the comments. I love hearing from you!
love, susan

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...