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Does The Countdown Begin?

July 27th, 2022 at 04:19 am

I guess  the countdown to my last day at the university should begin.  I think we're at 16 days.

I spent the day reviewing applications for one of our open positions.  Man alive, people need a class on employment communication.  One of our applicants had a picture of blue bird on top of her CV while another named the wrong university, not ours, as the one he was applying to.  But it does make them easier to sort through!

I also handed off a bunch of paperwork to my friend/colleague/ aka workhusband who is taking over my job.  That was very fun.  And I threw away (unbelievably) sets of overhead slides.  Have I been doing this too long?

In financial and decluttering news, I offered a bunch of my dissertation books to an online colleague for free and got them mailed.  He's sending me the postage.  And in a kind of strange ebay sale, I've been holding on to a pair of my mom's "fancy" eyeglasses from the late 1950s and early 1960s.  They were kind of funky cat's eyes shape, and I toyed with the idea of wearing them myself.  But my mom was a much smaller person than me, and well, they're not really my style.  However, the aluminum frames were popular on ebay, so I listed them and got an almost immediate offer. Does it seem creepy to you that I sold them?  She was a practical soul, so I don't think she'd object.  They're packed, mailed, and gone now.  Other than that postage, I spent nothing, bringing coffee to my university office.

Onward!

A Week Away

July 22nd, 2022 at 04:36 pm

I spent a lovely week away with friends in Northern Minnesota to celebrate my pending retirement as well as another friend's accomplished retirement.  We hiked a lot, had some lovely wine and cocktails and dinners, and best--spent some beautiful moments watching the moon rise over Lake Superior.  One of these women has been a friend since 2nd grade.  No friends like old friends.

I then headed toward home meeting some university friends in a town on the Mississippi where one of their kids is thinking about attending university.  I love them all, but man, traveling with others that get up at different hours, spend WAY more money on food and drinks, and don't like the outdoors is not my thing.  I did spend some happy hours at a minor league baseball game, in a bookstore where I resisted buying anything, and walking through the marsh and along the river.  I find it hard to imagine that someone's ideal weekend on a beautiful July day could be holed up in the hotel watching TV.  But anyway, each to their own.

It's been a hot one here, so I'm decluttering, selling books and rearranging crud.  Spending has been limited to groceries.  So many odds and ends to accomplish as again we count down to when DD returns to Scotland. Absentee ballots, doctors' appointments, money mgmt--I feel like we've done this all so many times before. 

Wishing you all cool and breezy weekends!

 

Take My Husband to the Grocery Store Day

June 26th, 2022 at 02:45 am

My DH and I had a load of errands to do today, and our local "fancy" grocer was on the way.  They had some great specials this week, so we stopped in.  A little history:  DH will eat anything pretty gratefully.  He does like an occasional Saturday night steak dinner, but he's not a fussy eater.  He rarely--and I mean every other month or so--goes to the grocery store.  He's busy, and I often stop on my way home from the university.

He's heard me rattle on about grocery prices, and listens to the news, but nothing like seeing it first hand.  So we bought a few things, mostly on special, pork tenderloins for the freezer, his steak for tonight, assorted other items.  This happens to also be the store where our DD has her part-time job and gets a 10% discount on everything not on sale.  I wasn't paying much attention to the totals, but knew with the meat purchases it would be pretty high.  So when we got to the register and the total came up as $82.XX, he blanched, and just looked at me.  We paid, and off we went.

When we got to the car, he said, "Was that right?" and examined the register receipt.  Nothing like a little first-hand experience. It was a revelation for him. 

That brings us to another stop for today--the local Menards to look at replacement shutters for our damaged exterior shutters.  I somehow thought they'd run us about $100-200 for a pair of wooden shutters.  Much to our surprise, they have be ordered, and would run about $1000.   Between that price and poor DH's sticker shock at the grocery store, we're going to try to repair them outselves next weekend with the help of a YouTube video or two!

But we were successful at taking two loads of old paint, paint thinners, and various other nasty chemicals to the Hazardous Waste drop-off site this morning.  Such an exciting Saturday...

 

Dejunking and Retirement Seminars

June 22nd, 2022 at 05:55 am

I spent two hours tonight at a zoomed state retirment seminar.  Ugh, I'm so zoomed out.  Zoom meetings, zoom with students, now zoom HR sessions.  I'm not sure I learned anything new but it was pretty well done.  I need to have another meeting with the benefits people at my university as they have other parts of the plan under their control.  I'm hoping for an in-person meeting there.

I walked my usual route before 7 this morning to avoid the heat as it hit 100 here today.  My class went pretty well, though the not-so-swell students are lagging while the good ones are almost done. In the afternoon I decided to take advantage of the cool basement and ready a box for the hazardous waste disposal scheduled for Saturday.  We have lots of old paint cans and dried up ends of solvents that I'd love to get out of the basement.  And during the boring bits of the zoom seminar, I sorted through files and tossed a lot of copies and excess junk.  Not exciting, but satisfying.

I've been reading the Slough House novels by the British writer, Mick Herron.  They're spy novels, which I sometimes like, but he's an excellent, very literary writer.  If you like that sort of thing, they're a good sumer read--and all from my frugal friend, the public library.

 

Going Retro

June 2nd, 2022 at 06:54 pm

My DH has to take something to share at his choir social tonight.  I almost bought something yesterday but decided to scour the cupboads.   We're going retro as I have a pineapple upside cake mix that , while still in date, needs to be used. I honestly don't remember buying it.  Wish me luck getting it out of the pan!

It's day three of my summer class, and so far, it's been quiet. Their first assignment is due tonight so tomorrow will be a grading and prep day.  Great zoom call today with US and UK friends about the queeen's jubilee. Our UK friends live in Windsor, so whiel it's crowded in town, they enjoyed the Red Arrow flyover today. 

No other real news--back to decluttering!

Running Around

August 6th, 2021 at 02:26 am

I feel like I made about 100 stops today--all errands.  I bought a new family room rug on FB.  I love it.  It's a year old, sells for $800 on Overstock and I paid $75.  We hauled it home, set it out in the sun to air it out, and brought it in.  Lots of fun!  DD and I went to pick up our CSA veggies, went for a pre-flight COVID test, dropped off veggies that won't keep or get eaten with a friend, returned library books, went to the bank, got coffees, then came home made lunch and hung laundry on the line.  After lunch we picked up prescriptions, bought a few things at the drugstore, replenished our mask supply and zipped up and weighed one of DD's bags.  Happily it both zipped and came in underweight.

We're awaiting the COVID test results and then will try to figure out how to upload them to the various flight portals.   Off to finish laundry and do some housekeeping!

 

March? Really?

March 1st, 2021 at 02:45 am

How on earth is it possible that it's March tomorrow?  It seems incredible.

My DH and I were taking a walk this afternoon and talking about how a year ago our daughter was prepping for her AP exams and trying to make college choices.  It seems like forever ago.

But we're all healthy and all employed and not spending much at all.  I've decided to use two days of my spring break to go over all our accounts and do some serious retirement plannng as well as ensure we have enough for DD's remaining years at university.  I'm confident we do, but would like to see the numbers.

March 1 is also a big day for educators (me) and grocery workers (DD) as eligible for the vaccine.  We've managed to secure appointments through a lot of screen refreshing, so we should (crossing our fingers) be vaccinated by the end of the week.  I'm pretty darn excited. 

We have a few things coming up including a food drive at church and muffin making for a local organization that packs meals for the homeless.  And that's it for Sunday night. 

 

No=Spend Stretch

January 7th, 2021 at 09:34 pm

Let's see--the last time I spent any money was ....Monday!  I stopped at Aldi to pick up a few things.  I'm not the world's biggest Aldi fan, but I can get in and out in a jiff and only needed basics.  And they certainly are cheaper on most basics.  Our standard grocers charge from $2-2.59 for a container of half and half.  Aldi is $1.59.  I haven't encountered a problem with their quality yet.

We got the bill from the plumber which was quite a bit less than we anticipated since my DH got impatient and removed the old toilet himself.  That saved us about $50-$75. 

My other freebie news for the week was my free evergreen garland.  We have a large brick planter box under our picture window and have strung Christmas lights there for years.  I've often thought about evergreen garland, but frankly am too cheap for it.  Here in snowy Cheeseland I have no compunction about leaving pine decor up until mid-February, and while DD and I were out for our daily walk, we spotted a very long garland dumped curbside with a Christmas tree at one of the fanicer houses on the lake.  Two minutes after our walk, we drove over, scooped it up, and it looks fabulous hanging on the planter.  I love a freebie.  It's good and calming to be personally non-eventful when so much is happening in the outside world. 

And we've reached a new milestone on my 100k goal.  We're 7 percent of the way there. 

I'm reading an interesting book called "The Last One Million" about Displaced Persons after WW2.  If that doesn't make you feel gratitude for your life now, nothing will. 

 

 

 

 

 

One More Set

December 21st, 2020 at 04:35 am

I've finished grading all the projects which seem to have been better than I expected.  There were some awful ones, but far more excellent ones than I usually see.  I don't know what that means, but I'm happy about it.

And speaking of good news--my DD got her French grades back from her first semester.  Very nice praise and a grade A n French.  She's so relieved.

I spent nothing today, leaving the house only to go for a midafternoon walk.  I finally got the pine boughs into the planters and tied up some found birch logs with a big red bow for a few more outdoor decorations.

It's going to be a busy week. Looking forward to finishing my grading tomorrow!

 

Still Grading

December 19th, 2020 at 06:47 am

Oh yes, I am still grading.  It's going faster today, but I had meetings with a couple of people who report to me--one of whom won a big grant.  That's really good news for him.  He's an innovative and caring instructor but with no real job security, so this will help with summer funding and some more stability for him.    His office is next to mine, and I used to see him a lot--and so it was extra fun to Zoom with him and meet his small daughter.  I miss my staff!

In the never ending attempts to clear things out of here, I sold an unused soup pot today.  It was a pretty pot, but I have two favorites already.  A hefty $5 goes into my fun fund when fun restarts.  I also cashed out $25 on Swagbucks which probably indicates I'm spending too much time on the computer.

My DD finished her first set of exams for University of Edinburgh today.  She feels good about them, but we're both pretty darn tired of online education.  All of that, a pot of minestrone and calzones for dinner just about rounds out the day.  Look for that same headline tomorrow.

 

 

Donations and Looking Forward

December 5th, 2020 at 03:39 pm

My DD and I had donated a chair and a painting yesterday, so some things out.  I've also bought a London puzzle on a FB group that will need to be picked up this morning.  I did another curbside grocery pick-up which should see us set for the week.

We have a lot of Christmas prep ahead; I guess I'm hoping getting a tree up will help us all feel the spirit a bit more.  I'm missing my Minnesota family and friends a lot, but trying to plan some lovely new things.  I've unearthed a fondue pot from the basement, and think we'll do a fondue night.  Some of DD's friends will be home from college soon, and I think they may enjoy a fondue evening too.   But for now, back to grading.

 

 

What is So Rare?

June 1st, 2020 at 05:16 pm

It is a day in June! Who knew we'd still be here in June?

Tackling that list is the focus of June here. Last night I listed and sold one of my DD's toy boxes. Are you saying, "Hey, isn't that kid graduating from high school?" Well, yes. But the $35 can go right into the college fund. I have another to list today, but it's a mere plastic bin, so I don't expect much for it.

My DH had an errand this morning at the university, so he's just packed up two boxes with old clothes and the contents of DD's toy boxes (with the exception of a teddy bear or two), and taken them to the contactless Goodwill drop off. Two boxes and a toy box gone is a triumph of bulky junk leaving.

When scouting around for paint in the basement, I found some old dried up cans of latex paint which apparently can go right in the garbage and recycling. I managed to pry the paint out of both and rinsed out a jar with more latex in it.

It's cool today so the focus will be upstairs. I'll have a couple hours of university work every day too. We don't expect an announcement on fall classes for another two weeks, but that will be a big job when it happens.

In further money news, I see my online savings interest rate has dropped again, now to 1.15%. I think staying steady and stable through all that's going on is the best we can do.

Folding, Grading, and Trying to Get Out of my Head

May 5th, 2020 at 04:55 pm

My wonderful daughter and I have started a big project. Our United Way is sponsoring a huge appeal for disposable masks. Yesterday we picked up the kit for 700 masks. It's four gigantic rolls of paper which you fold, hole punch, and attach rubber bands for behind the ears.
Because we're a bit slow on the uptake, we had to watch the video instruction about a dozen times, but then got into the swing of it. They're due back Friday so we'll have some busy evenings.

That was our only outing yesterday as we had the "pneumonia front" pass through on Sunday dropping our temps 20 degrees. Before that we had a great hike in a county park followed by Culver's drive-through custard.

This is the last week of "instruction," and I think we did as well as we could through all of this. I read a blog on a FB group of teachers titled :"Not Crushing It," which is kind of how I feel. We got through it. Of my 100 students, about six have disappeared from online access. The university is trying very hard to find them and get them back--and is being very generous with incompletes and a credit/no credit option. I'm probably the kindest grader I've ever been.
Then there's DD's college plans. Her Scottish university seems also in panic mode--encouraging her and other foreign students not to give up on them. But it all seems like a (bag) pipe dream at this point. She's confirmed at Wisconsin-Madison without turning down Minnesota or Edinburgh. And with the university system in such financial panic, we'll need a lot more funding from the state. And I worry about my pension plan and seemingly everything else at 3 am. I think this is the lowest I've been since this began; I hadn't realized how much I care about the institution I love/hate/love.

Sorry for the big whine. I need to re-set, keep folding masks, and live with the uncertainty that we've all had to live with. My husband loves this isolation; he's not nearly as social as me. I get a lot of energy from going out, seeing students/friends etc. So glad our daughter is home; she's the best company and one great mask folder.

Not much detailed financial news. My seeds are sprouting, we have a lot of food to use up including another magnificent pot of bean soup, and I've reverted to my bag lady behaviors of moving money around and running stupid Swagbucks while grading.

Wrong Walk

April 22nd, 2020 at 05:19 pm

After updating classes and grading papers, my DD and I decided to drop off some pansy bowls I'd planted with the remnants of the pansy flat I bought earlier.

Since of our pansy recipients was a co-worker who lives close to the university, we decide to walk around campus. It seemed like a good idea; I haven't been there in well over a month, the flowers on campus are usually cheery, and it offers a lot of things to see. But instead I came home almost in tears. It seems so sad to see campus completely empty. All of those buildings should be bustling with students, and friends, and colleagues. The coffee shop should be full, and the library should be open. Instead of a good idea, it seemed like a bad bad dream.

Then I came home and cooked a big dinner, but faced with yet another stack of dishes, I think I just spiraled down. One of my dear co-workers is ill, so I did some of his grading and stayed up too late.

I need to find something else to help raise the spirits. Maybe, like CB, I need to paint something. Or maybe just a book and a nap. Ugh.


A Fun but Cold Saturday

January 19th, 2020 at 10:23 pm

I got some course prep done Saturday morning, caught up with laundry, and thought about tackling "the drawer of death" as my husband calls it. It's where insurance papers go to die as well as articles I somehow think I need to save and coupons, school announcements, and various horrors.

That's been pushed off for during today's football game. I figure it will be a bad game for us here in Cheeseland so DH and I will work through the drawer to distract us. I'm hoping to get through it, file the flex spending, and put things in their proper files.

So what was fun about Saturday? We went to a great birthday party for a dear friend thrown by her 85-year-old dad. They're also Brits so lots of UK talk, really smart people with interesting jobs, opinions, and fun. Great food and a beautiful flat overlooking Lake Michigan too. Unfortunately on the way out, I took a tumble on the ice, smashing the cake I had in my hand, and sliding into the street. I struggled to get up and cursed the fact that DH and I took separate cars so I could pick up DD from work. I can feel the wrench to my back a bit, but it seems much better today. Then on the way into the car, I fell again. I love snow, but ice--ugh.

Got home rattled but safe and sound. And at 1am, DH and I finished our 1000-piece jigsaw of the London skyline. We're such dorks that it was way more fun than it should have been.

So today is church, lots of cooking, more course prep, football and the drawer of death. Then here comes the semester.

Freezer Excavation and an Odd Thing

January 5th, 2020 at 05:52 am

One of my January--maybe into February--goals is to eat through the freezer. It's been too long since it's been really emptied. So to that end today I took out two more things to cook. So we had chicken thighs for dinner and I made two enormous pots of turkey broth from the bones of a turkey I'd roasted in November. There are enough thighs for another meal this week, and I'll make soup tomorrow and freeze the other half of the stock.

I'm trying to make it fun--a freezer scavenger hunt!

Now for the odd thing. I was cleaning out a summer purse (what? it's January?) and found what I thought was a circle clasp for a key ring. I remember picking it up sometime last summer, maybe in Madison or Chicago when we were out with our French student. I was about to throw it out when I looked a little closer, and I think it's a wedding band. But I have NO idea where I picked it up. My husband says he has a vague memory of it, but can't remember where we were. So what do I do with it? If it were in Milwaukee, I'd advertise in the free lost and found, but I don't think it was. It's got a few small stones and a jeweler's mark for gold inside. And it looks like it's been run over or been through the garbage disposal. Ideas?

Did I Say It Would Be a UFM?

July 25th, 2018 at 04:26 am

I am so wrong, says the woman who spent $800 on rugs today. And I had coffee drinks, bought a crate of peaches, and a bunch of craft supplies.

Truly I was planning on buying new rugs for the dining room and family room. Would you be shocked if I told you our dining room rug was bought in the 1980s? It's done its duty. And the family room rug is part of my vast redecoration scheme in there. More on that as it develops, but I did look at paint colors and get a bid on the painting. We'd attempt it ourselves but it's a vaulted ceiling and a huge room. You'll see it's on my 2018 goals.

The peaches have become a summer ritual for us, but this year half of them will go to my friend whose husband's kidney comes out tomorrow. If you're a praying sort, keep them in your prayers. please. And the craft supplies (slime--eww) were for her son who is making slime with friends tomorrow to keep him busy.
I'm really pleased with the rugs; they were part of the Bon-Ton going out of business sale and were supposedly 70% off. I think that's a dubious figure but I really like them. Much jazzier than my usual traditional taste.

I made a huge Greek salad for dinner to use some CSA veggies and will shortly head off to bed with my new library book.

World Cup Lunch

July 4th, 2018 at 05:14 am

We had a lunch out today--not ultra frugal, but I did have a coupon, and who can deny an England fan a chance to see his team finally break through the knock-out round. What a match!

I did sell two games on FB and made a swift $10. They're already gone; it's so satisfying to declutter and make some cash. And I got to the gym. An all-around good day.

Update on UFDay

July 3rd, 2018 at 02:30 am

The frugal feeling is in full flower. I've got rotisserie chicken bones in the crockpot with some veggie scraps to make a batch of broth. Dinner was all from the CSA box with the addition of the last of the rotisserie chicken--an excellent strawberry spinach salad. And the NS day got even better when I listed some basement clutter on FB and sold the first thing for $5. Another is being given away tomorrow.

Relaxing Week

June 22nd, 2018 at 04:48 am

Well, it has been relaxing--especially since my department's part of the grant fell through. I thought it might; we just weren't the best fit. I just wish they'd have figured that out before 10 hours worth of meetings. So DD and I have been hanging out, and I've really enjoyed it.

We even enjoyed cleaning the closets today. She found an old state quarters map, and was thrilled to pop out the quarters and add them to her cash stash. No luck on jobs yet. Having a summer birthday sort of hampers that. We've spent some money on summer fun. We joined the local gym and have been every other day. We took a free water zumba class which was pretty funny. A bunch of older ladies, me, and mu daughter in the pool dancing to "You can Leave Your Hat On" had me laughing all day. And DD is also taking an advanced French conversation class to keep her French up over the summer. She loves French, and may very well do some sort of international something. I think it's in the genes.
We sold some clothes from the closet purge this afternoon too and took the rest to the charity shop. All in all, a very satisfying rainy solstice. We've also been making great use of the library; she has a stack of books, and so do I. Tonight we watched the last Star Wars; last night it was My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I think we're doing a darn good job of balancing lazy and productive. I am planning an ultra-frugal July, but we have so much stuff in the freezer, it shouldn't be too hard. And the CSA starts next week too. My new class starts in 2 1/2 weeks, so I've been writing the syllabus. More to do, but only tackling one job at a time. The weekend looks like it will have lots of World Cup, a Scandi midsommer celebrations, and probably the art museum with friends tomorrow. Not sure I could tackle this much leisure all the time, but it's nice to have a few weeks of it!

Happy Days

January 17th, 2018 at 11:21 pm

I've had a couple of lovely days. Yesterday a tedious meeting turned into a happy occasion as two of the top three places in our writing competition were taken by MY students from last term. I couldn't be happier if I won myself. The prizes are small-ish with the top student earning $150, but it's so fun for them and great for their resumes. I've also made progress on readying my classes for the upcoming term.

We got lots of decluttering done, and today I made $15 on a selling some of that stuff. And I had lunch with a colleague--one of those lovely long lunches because it's so fun to talk with them. I cashed $50 out of Swagbucks which is going to my big goal. I'll credit my totals when it hits the bank.

And I made the most delicious mac and cheese yesterday from a recipe on a can of evaporated milk. Fattening and decadent, but used up lots of pantry stuff and delicious.

Quiet and Snowy

January 15th, 2018 at 07:46 pm

We're all home today for MLK day which has turned into a nice snowy organizing day around here. We continue Uber-frugal helped by the overflowing pantry and freezer. I've just started bean soup for my DH's lunches this week. I had beans in the pantry and a ham bone in the freezer. I also extracted a bag of CSA carrots from the freezer which I'll put in the soup and try roasting some with dinner. I'm not sure about roasting veggies which have been frozen, but we'll give it a try. yesterday's spending was a canister of oatmeal and the church offering. We're also going to sit down today and try to fund DH's grad school tuition more mindfully. His classes handily total (ugh) $5200/year, and I think he finds that figure staggering as do I. But if he wants to continue, some cuts will have to be made elsewhere. We'll see what happens. For now, the decluttering and the freezer contents reduction have been very satisfying. Ideally I'd like the chest freezer empty by spring break.

Amazing

December 4th, 2017 at 06:18 pm

Yesterday DD and I were right next to a local Target store. I had a return, but we also walked through the entire store without spending anything. I didn't buy the gift card deal either. Now granted I was in a Target the day before, but this may have been one of the few times in my life I went through a Target without a purchase.

We did spend a bit at the grocery store, but they were having a reopening sale and I got peanut butter, and a case of bottled water for 99 cents. We normally don't drink bottled water, but I always think it's good to have some around in case of emergencies. Bread was 49 cents--not a favorite brand but good enough for sandwiches and chicken breast for $1.49. We made chicken Parmesan last night ( or chicky chicky parm parm if you're a Parks and Rec fan)

It's been a splendid day as my classes are just working on final projects and I'm there to offer advice and feedback. It's nice not to have to "perform" some days.

I'm on a mini-declutter roll. I took a bag of stuff to Goodwill this morning, and as I put the rest of the Christmas things out, I'm sure they can be sorted and culled. Friends gave me a lovely Molton Brown gift set for my birthday--it's my favorite English bath brand. The gift set included trial size shampoo, but I'm a shampoo monogamist, and I thought, heck, try to sell it. It sold for $3 on the local FB list which I'll add to my totals. I'm feeling frugal--time to make some soup!