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Monday, November 14, 2016

Once A Month Grocery Shopping - Mental Adjustment Required

Wow, not shopping is very weird! I used to go to the store several times per week, once for our main grocery shop for the week, and one or two quick trips to pick up a needed item and usually an impulse purchase or two would be included, and then maybe a few trips out for other things I wanted, a book, a pair of shoes, gifts, you get the drift. Suddenly I have a lot more time on my hands, and it is entirely due to NOT going shopping. It is unbelievable, I never realized how much time all those "quick" trips out were using, not to mention adding mileage to our vehicle and burning up gas. This is icing on the cake, the cake being the money we are now not spending and are truly saving.

So, the above all sounds good? What's not to like? Saving money like crazy, having lots of extra free time, both are nice perks of being frugal.

Now, the odd side, I won't say down side, because it is early days and I think I am in the process of a mental adjustment :). The odd side is the extreme withdrawal from going to the store, it has taken me by surprise, completely by surprise. It is shocking how many times a day I think about going to the store, and all day long items keep coming to mind; we need this, we need that, maybe just go and pick up two items that isn't really shopping, well you get the drift.  The thing is, these thoughts are beginning to drive me nutty, I never considered myself a shopper, a person whose hobby is literally shopping, after all my shopping was necessary, mainly groceries or things we "needed", oh, boy it is so easy to justify our behaviors.  I have to assume that shopping for me was way beyond the hobby stage, in hindsight it must have been my lifestyle, and that is a truly bizarre revelation to me. This seems the most rational explanation for my extreme withdrawal.

I am absolutely positive I will pass through the withdrawal stage just fine, a mantra I like is, "train to refrain...", I just add whatever negative thing is going on at that moment to the end.  For example when I run, for some reason, always around the beginning of mile four my body wants to stop, so in my head I start staying, "train to refrain from quitting", and I say it over and over and suddenly realize I am now into mile five and doing just fine.  Losing weight, it is difficult to stay in control, sometimes I am very tempted, but when I feel tempted I say, "train to refrain from over eating", and now I am saying, "train to refrain from shopping". Quitting the shopping habit is a lot like doing a long distance run, or losing a lot of weight and then maintaining the weight loss, you MUST stay focused on the end result.

It is November 14, I have made one shopping trip for groceries since October 21, and if I am careful with our supplies I will not need to grocery shop again until December arrives. I have gone into a store three times this month, once to pick up a birthday gift ordered online and if I did in-store pick up I did not have to pay shipping. Once to purchase another birthday gift, and once to grocery shop. The time between grocery shopping on October 21 and my next trip on November 10 is the longest  time I believe I have EVER gone in my adult life between food shop trips. And, I live to tell the tale, we did not starve and ate nutritious meals. I plan to go three weeks this time and hopefully at least that the following time. December will have some shopping as I have Christmas gifts to purchase for grand children and will have a few additional treats on the grocery list for Christmas day dinner. Our checking and saving accounts are much healthier after one month, and I am excited to see where we will be in three months, six months, the rewards have been so immediate it is highly motivating.

I am glad we decided to make this change, it is challenging in a good way. I think about what food supplies we have, what meals I can make, what will make good left overs, what is the most economical way to cook something to make it stretch yet still be nutritious and enjoyable. I way underestimated the number of eggs we use, but seem to have estimated everything else fairly well.  I find myself making lots of little decisions throughout the day about food preparation tempered with the reality that I am not going to grocery shop until December 1 at the earliest. I want to add that the idea with shopping once per month is to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on food, and staying out of the store eliminates temptation and impulse buying.  We used to spend about $110/week on food, add to that non-food items such as pet food, toilet paper, personal hygiene, dish detergent, and impulse purchase the $110 could quickly become $150 or more. So far this month I have spent $164.44, this includes all food for the rest of the month including some extras for Thanksgiving, like the turkey, and pet food. We are pretty well set on personal hygiene items and toilet paper. I spent $19 on the additional birthday gift. Right off the bat we will not have spent the usual $500 or so we usually spend on groceries/household, but instead about $165, that is an  additional $340 or so dollars staying in the bank, not to mention the elimination of other shopping trips that increase that $340 this month. Will each month be this good, I think they will get better, because along with the savings we have made, we have become more disciplined with regular savings this year, and we will pay off a medical bill this month, which will then allow us to focus on paying off the money we borrowed to do our roof this past spring. Because we have freed up money from shopping we have more to apply to payments and the roof will be paid in full in a few more months and then we will have no debt. An additional boost to money save, we decided to drop our DISH tv, saving $106/month, we have had cable for most of our married life, we will celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month. The decision was easy, we realized we never watched DISH, we watch one local channel some evenings, and otherwise watch Netflix or YouTube, we decided we were ready to cancel and so we did.

The main challenge is not getting bored, there are plenty of free things to do, but it can still feel limited at times. I have done a lot of things around the house, and outside, but sometimes feel restless. I get out and walk or run for an hour each day, I stay busy knitting or sewing, doing chores around the house, but sometimes I just want to go do something, anything. I can go run or walk at a park, go to the library, go for a drive, go to church. But it seems to me the primary entertainment available to us all and one that we all partake in is shopping and going out to eat. Although we rarely go out to eat, it is something to do, and it is enjoyable. So some of the challenge is finding other ways to occupy ourselves that do not involve spending money.

So in summary, although a significant mental adjustment is required to change shopping habits and careless spending, it is possible, and the benefits are very rewarding.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Being Frugal and a Few Other Things

Frugal Living

We were pretty frugal people, but since our babies flew the nest, and it is just Dave and I we became less disciplined about our spending. I stopped making laundry soap and started to buy laundry detergent and fabric softener every few weeks, I purchased a lot of convenience snacks for the grand children, I started buying bread, and just became lazy about the garden. Well after a while I got tired of spending money on laundry detergent, it is expensive even when buying the bargain brand, and it always seems that more needs to be purchased. So, I went back to making laundry soap, I spent $6 and have enough ingredients to make detergent for a year!  And, a batch of homemade laundry soap lasts almost a month for us, I can live with spending fifty cents a month for laundry soap and taking fifteen minutes once a month to make it.
I don't even know why we sort of stopped making bread, I guess convenience, and when I have seven grand children here for lunch we go through a lot of bread, and they love toast for a snack. But the cheap white bread from the store is pretty dreadful, nothing at all like homemade. So, I am back to baking all of our bread, ten loaves every two weeks doesn't take much time, and I can make it for so much less than a cheap loaf of store bought. And once a month I bake a large batch of cookies, bag them up and pop them into the freezer and dole them out to grandchildren as needed, much less expensive than buying a bunch of overpriced snacks and having tons of packaging to throw away.
Hanging laundry out to dry, why not, I just got lazy, and with only two of us we really don't do many loads a week so I got into the habit of using the dryer again.
Going to the store WAY too frequently, my goal now is to grocery shop twice a month, rather than average two trips per week to the store. The last time I purchased groceries was October 28, I will need to go this weekend as we are running quite low on supplies.
Gardening, last summer I did not have time, this summer I had more time but the garden was not a priority. Today I went out and gleaned the last of the produce, I have several nice green peppers, a few dozen beets, a few heads of broccoli, and the chickens have a lot of greens to enjoy.
Not quite Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, but the emptiest the pantry has been in years!
I am good at finding deals at the store, and I will only buy meat/poultry that is reduced for quick sale, BUT only if it is something we will actually eat.  On Monday I roasted a whole chicken, it was just shy of six pounds and I purchased it on mark down for $4.31. The roasted chicken, along with some mashed potato, stuffing, corn, and gravy, fed 7 children, and three adults on Monday evening, the left overs Dave ate for dinner on Tuesday. I boiled the chicken remains and made two quarts of broth. The broth will be lovely for making gravy for future meals, or a base for soup, etc. etc. The total cost of the meal prepared was around $8.50, which is a very good deal for all of the people it fed.

Latest Project

In my last post I mentioned deciding what to do for my next project. I have decided to knit up bunch of yarn that is taking up space in my sewing room. I am knitting blocks and will sew them together to make a cozy throw blanket.

Latest Read

I am reading a book by Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys, so far so good. Earlier this year I read another Neil Gaiman book for book club, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it was excellent, I highly recommend it. Neil Gaiman books are a bit other worldly, magical, yet set in a real enough world to make you believe, I like that it is so easy to disappear into the story, pure escapism.

Well I think that is all for now. We are still enjoying a most beautiful November. I put all of the garden furniture away today, and brought in my geraniums for the winter. Now downstairs for lunch, a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers, and a nice mug of tea and then out for brisk walk.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Beautiful Day

We live in northeast Indiana, it is November, and it is sixty outside, sun shining brightly, a light breeze, the drone of lawn mover, it is a spectacularly beautiful day. It does not feel at all like November. And, we have an extra hour today, due to the time change.

This morning we had a bit of a sleep in, then went to Mass. When we returned home we had a quick tidy up, then Dave headed out to finish the mowing, and I went off for a walk. I am glad we both had an opportunity to get outside for a good while and enjoy the beautiful day.

Yesterday I finished a little blue cardigan for our soon to be born grandson. The knitting pattern was easy to follow and I am pleased with the finished product.

In my last post I mentioned reading some books by Martina Cole, I read a ways into the first book and then decided I didn't want to go further. The book is well written, but the storyline just isn't my cup of tea. I read to escape and stories with a lot of violence, mobster type activity, I can't get into. I would rate the author quite highly, because the writing is good, the plot and character development is good, I am just not into the genre.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am keeping busy with lots of little projects to keep myself sane! Right now I have finished a project, the little blue cardigan, and I need to figure out quickly what my next project should be.  I like my projects to have a purpose, such as making a baby quilt for a gift, knitting something for myself or a grandchild, sewing a shirt for my husband, I don't like to work on something just to work on something.
I have a couple of ideas, I want to make a quilted wall hanging, and in my mind I am picturing something kind of Dr. Who-ish, for sure a tardis, and possibly a darlek, and striped border reminiscent of the long scarf Tom Baker wore when he played the Dr. in the early 1970's. But, I am not sure I am ready to start this project, it is in the "swirling in my mind" phase, I sort of see what I want, but the idea is not yet clear enough.
Another project I have is one I started years ago, and then set it to one side and forgot about until I came across it when I was having a bit of a sort out.  The project is an English pieced quilt made by hand stitching together hexagons. This style of quilt is a good way to use up lots of left over bits of material, and it is a very portable project as it is entirely done by hand.
So, I need to decide if I am going to do one of  the above mentioned projects or come up with something entirely different. It is important to me to keep the cost of my projects as low as absolutely possible, I always try to work with what I already have, and I save all my scrap material for future projects, and at times I have been quite creative to avoid having to put more money into a project.

Well I am off now to enjoy the beautiful day.

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting for the Rain to Stop

I am ready to go out for a run, but it is raining, it is windy, and it is only in the mid forties outside, so I am waiting for the rain to stop before heading out.

I like rainy days, the house seems cozy and warm, I spent a good part of the morning reading Caravan by Dorothy Gilman, a book loaned to me by a fellow book club member. So far it is an enjoyable read.

Over the weekend I finished reading, Our Lady of the Lost and Found, a book by Diane Schoerperlen, I selected this book for our book club to read this month. I read Our Lady of the Lost and Found about ten years ago and recently had a hankering to read it again. I enjoyed the book the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time and I think it will provoke good discussion when our club meets again on November 4. The book is a mixture of fiction, a single middle aged woman author who has an unexpected house guest, Mary, arrive to stay for a week one April. But mainly the book is about Mary and the many times Our Lady has appeared to people throughout the ages. There are stories of saints, of miracles, and of sustaining faith. It is a thought provoking book, and interesting book, and well worth taking the time to read.

Last week I read a book by Fay Weldon, it was okay, a quick read, it really is a book done in the Downton Abbey style, meaning a soap opera set around 1900. It was really a quick read, none of the characters likable, and everyone of them simply used each other to their own advantage. The book is the first of three, I can't be bothered to read the next two, the first was more than enough.

I recently read about Martina Cole, a British crime/mystery writer, and how popular her books are, I borrowed a couple from the library, I read the introduction to one of the books and it caught my interest, so as soon as I have finished Caravan I will start Close.

I just recently read The Making of Henry by Howard Jacobsen, I enjoyed this book a lot, but it was a hard slog to read, parts of it were laugh out loud funny, other parts very sad, and some parts so inside the mind of Henry and his deepest thoughts that it was difficult to follow, yet the book was very satisfying, here is a link to a review of the book:

Here is a good quote, I just read it in Caravan earlier today, it is from Shakespeare:

"What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boosts not to resist both wind and tide"

Basically roll with the punches, don't fight what life brings you just go with the flow. I think that is sound advice :)

Well, it appears the rain has stopped, so I am going to pop out and get my run done for the day.

Peace be with you,


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Keeping busy

Lately I have used "keeping busy" to keep myself sane. I am struggling with my feelings, it is hard when an adult child walks out of your life, the loss never leaves. The best way to cope, for me, is to stay busy.

For the past three months I have read numerous books, I am glad that I am back into reading. I have made and completed three baby quilts, I made 10 shirts, one for each grandchild and one for my husband. I am knitting a cardigan for our newest grandchild who is due in a little over a month.

I am busy with my grandchildren, with yard work, with house work, with running, with long walks, watching television, reading, but still my mind keeps going over and over the loss in our life, the loss or our daughter and grandson. The good in all of this, the house is super organized, projects are completed in record time, books are getting read at a fast pace. But inside I feel hollowed out, anxious, sad, and continually battling negative thoughts, it is hard. And, I have found, it is very challenging to stay busy all of the time, sometimes you just have to be and have to deal with your thoughts and feelings.

In some ways I just want to retreat from the world, not have to deal with anything, just simply be, but fortunately life has a way of happening to us and things need to be taken care of, dinner needs to be cooked, laundry needs be washed, bills need to be paid, grandchildren need to be hugged, and all of these things and many others keep me moving through my days.

Will this ever get easier, I have to hope so, for now I find comfort in these words by Rainer Maria Rilke,

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
When I feel very sad, I simply repeat to myself, "No feeling is final", and this is very true, I know my mood will lift, sometimes within a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, sometimes a few days, but it does lift and I feel able to cope with all that life throws at me.
I find it very important to get enough sleep, feeling tired only makes feelings more extreme, and this is not a good thing. I find it important, now more than ever, to get out and exercise. A brisk walk, or run does wonders to lift the mood and clear the head. Sometimes as I run down the road I imagine all of the negativity simply flowing out of the back of my head and unfurling like a scroll of player piano music, leaving me, it is a very freeing feeling.
So busy I will stay, although for the most part I feel that I am simply going through the motions, but that is okay because it is helping me to manage, and right now that is all I can do.
Peace to you,

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


11 weeks and 2 days ago our youngest daughter walked out of our life with her son, our grandson, and has chosen to have nothing to do with us since.

I cannot begin to tell you how devastating this has been, it weighs on me minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week in, week out, every Sunday I wake up and think, it has now been X number of weeks since Emily exiled us, the pain is unbearable.

The entire family is carrying this burden of pain, my eight year old grandson asked me the other day, "Grandma when will you watch Masen again?", I couldn't really answer the question as I simply do not know if we will ever see Masen and Emily again.

This is something a lot of families have to attempt to cope with, and that is all you can really do. For 11 weeks and 2 days I have endured each day, that is not to say I haven't laughed, or had fun, or enjoyed my family, it is just that everything, in every moment of each day is overshadowed by a profound sadness of loss, of questioning, of trying to make sense, of wanting to understand, of praying for healing, for reunion, for all to be made right again. 

Some days are harder than others, as in today, today I feel that I can barely carry this burden of sadness, it is weighing me down, sinking me into the earth, I feel buried in overwhelming despair, I miss my Emily, I miss my little Masen, and the thought of never seeing them again is agonizing.

I try to not think about the situation, but it is not really possible. I try not to follow trains of thought as my imaginings torment me and leave me feeling very stressed and anxious.  I don't know what to do, there is no remedy, I can't even see my daughter to talk about what happened, to figure out what we need to do to move forward. I am scared that if she walks back into our life, will she walk out again, but there I am ahead of myself, because she shows no sign of ever wanting to walk back into our life.

My husband suffers as much as I do, this is a heart breaking situation, we try to hold each other up, not a day goes by that we don't speak of Emily and Masen, and wonder what they are doing, are they safe, are they okay. And each day we try to understand, and all we understand each day is that this is an absolutely hellish situation and we have lost our youngest child and our grandson, and we don't know if we will ever see them again.

I am asking for your prayers.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Weight Loss - Before and After Pictures

The top picture, taken in August of 2014, is the picture that made me realize that I really, really, really had to do something about my weight, and it was shortly after it was taken that I started to get serious about taking care of my health. At my heaviest I weighed 240 pounds, and always felt that I only needed to lose twenty-five or so pounds to feel good. Well I lost twenty-five or so pounds and realized I still needed to lose to get to a healthy weight, then I was down fifty pounds and still was thirty pounds over the top ideal weight for my height. Then I lost seventy-five pounds, I was feeling much better, and had become very active, but still had weight to lose. By October of 2015, fourteen months after starting my journey to better health, I had lost 110 pounds, and have maintained that weight loss for the past five months. Maintenance is the longest part of the journey as it is a journey that has no end, it is a way of life! A good way of life, and one that keeps me disciplined in my eating and exercising habits.

There are no magic pills, secret tricks, special foods, fad diets, the way to lose weight is to not over eat, so track your calories every day, and add exercise to strengthen and tone your body. That is it, limit calories, add some exercise, and you will lose weight at a healthy pace, 1 - 2 lbs per week, and you will keep it off.  My Fitness Pal is a wonderful phone app to assist in tracking calories and exercise.

So here are my before and after pictures:

Taken in August of 2014 - heaviest weight 240 lbs, sedentary lifestyle

Taken in March of 2016 - ending weight - 130 lbs, active lifestyle

A Super Busy Week

Yesterday I needed a nap! I had a very busy week. Last Tuesday I left work a little early and drove across town to meet my sister Marika at her house. Marika and I then hopped into her Mini and headed up to Chicago to meet my sister Michelle who was in the US on business. We arrived in Chicago around five-thirty in the evening, hung out for a bit and then headed to dinner at Ralph Laurens. We had a good dinner together and then headed back to the hotel to hang out and visit. After breakfast the next morning Marika and I headed back home. It was a wonderful visit, we hadn't seen Michelle in nearly sixteen months, it was good to catch up.
From left to right, me, Marika, Michelle

On Thursday it was my birthday, after a full day at work we met all the kids and grand kids for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Kaysans, it was wonderful to have everyone there, our family now numbers seventeen, it was quite a party.

Our wonderful family

On Friday and Saturday I spend my time cleaning, and I mean deep cleaning, my house, boy did it need done. I am now enjoying a clean, and tidy house, and it is very satisfying. I had to clean as I was hosting book club on Saturday evening and grandson George's baptism party on Sunday.

Book club was Saturday evening, I served chicken tortilla soup and salad for dinner followed by coffee and cookies for dessert. We read Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut, the book spurred good discussion, it was hated by one person, loved by two of us, liked by one, and deemed okay by another. Next time Cyndi will host, we are now going to read, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

On Sunday we headed off to Mass, then immediately afterward baby George was baptized along with another baby boy. We returned home for a little celebration party, we had lasagna, salad, garlic bread and cake for dessert. It was good to celebrate together. But I was feeling tired, it seemed that the entire week of celebrations, get togethers, travel etc. had caught up with me. After everyone left yesterday I took a two hour nap! I rarely need a nap.

Me with grandson George

So here we are Monday morning, I am getting ready to go out for a run, then will head to the YMCA for some weight lifting, then on to work. Later I will meet my Mom and sister Marika, as Mom is in town this week for a few days.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Post - Finally

I haven't posted since last July, how crazy is that? In December our eighth grand baby was born, little George arrived on December 18, he is the fifth child and fifth boy for my daughter Amber and son in law Brad. We now have six grandsons and two granddaughters. All these little ones are so special to us and we have them over all the time, it is noisy, chaotic, crazy, and an endless stream of snacks and drinks to provide and we love it!

I have continued on my weight loss journey and have maintained my weight for the past five months after losing 110 pounds. I started out at 240 pounds and now weigh 130. I am on the very low side of weight for my height, 5'10", but have lots of energy and am able to maintain. I had a body composition done at the YMCA and found out that my body fat percentage is 8.4%. I continue to exercise for an hour a day five to six times a week, usually running two days, walking two days, and doing the elliptical machine two days a week.  I joined the YMCA a while back, I have run and walked the indoor track a lot through the winter, and I use the elliptical machine and take advantage of the weight machines. I do yoga once or twice a week as the classes are fee as part of the YMCA membership. My diet remains healthy, and I continue to use My Fitness Pal app to track my food and exercise and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. To maintain weight loss you have to be in control, and have a plan and remain vigilant. The weight loss is the first part of the journey in a life style change, the maintenance is the second part of the journey and it needs to last to your final day on this wonderful earth.

Last fall my friend and I resurrected book club, this month I am hosting, I chose the book Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut. I enjoyed the book, K V has such a dead pan delivery, he strips the emotion from everything and the facts just lay bare and this points out the idiocy and futility of so much that has happened in the world to cause death, destruction and misery. But his books are not depressing reads, they are quirky, darkly humorous, thought provoking, entertaining, well written, and I am slowly collecting more and more of his books and enjoying them to no end. So far I have read, Slaughter House Five, Cats Cradle, Hocus Pocus, and am now REALLY enjoying Breakfast of Champions, up next is Deadeye Dick.

I was listening to A Good Read on BBC Radio 4 last week and they talked about a book from the 1950's called Mr. Pye by Mervyn Peake, the panel discussed the story and it really appealed to me so I went to Amazon and ordered a copy, it cost one cent, then $3.99 for shipping. Four dollars seems a small price to pay for good entertainment.

Today is a running day, so I am now going to head out for an hour and get those good endorphins pumping and then head off to Mass.

Have a good day,