Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Just a post about the weather

The siding on our home is tin. This feature makes the sound of falling raindrops very pronounced. When we first moved in it drove me slightly crazy. Over the past 10 plus years it's grown to sound a little musical.

I've been listening to the music of raindrops on the siding for days. There have been a few bursts of sunshine but for the most part it's been raining and raining and raining for what seems like forever. The gloom has gotten to me for a few moments here and there. I wish little Abe and I could be spending more time outdoors (we'd play in the rain if it were warmer). But the heavenly green that results from the seemingly endless rain is just priceless. I don't envision heaven to be all white with big fluffy clouds as it's portrayed in many a movie. Rather I imagine it's home to the most gorgeous blues and the most vibrant greens that any soul could ever wish to see. We get a little peak of that when it rains.

It hasn't been a downpour so the plants are happy, healthy and thriving. The birds are active. The gloom is there in the sky but there is so much beauty and music in the rain. Maybe I should add "listen to raindrops" for the May to-do list. I could just mark that one off now (or days ago).

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Heavy Haul

One of the stores I work at, it's my Thursday morning store is actually in a pretty nice neighborhood BUT it's butted up to one of the worst cities in Michigan. The violent crime rate in this tiny city ranks just below Detroit. If you were to assume that the vast majority of people living there are living well below the poverty rate you'd be correct. If you were to assume that drug use and crime are exponential there you'd be right. It's a city that everyone around here knows to just steer clear of. However, this neighboring city causes my Thursday morning store (in a pretty nice neighborhood) to have very high theft, interesting clientele, and I've seen many the strange scenario play out there.

A large portion of the customers walk to the store or take the bus. (There aren't any large metropolitan areas close to where I live so most people in my part of the world own/ drive cars. The people taking the bus or walking to the store in this particular scenario, generally aren't very well off.) Last week while I was leaving my Thursday morning store there was a man stopped in the entryway with three dark scruffy backpacks. He had purchased several cartons of pop and was standing there filling (I mean FILLING) his bags to the brim with the cans. He was an older gentlemen. He looked worn, tired. His clothes were a bit ragged and dirty. I'm being purposefully very descriptive for pondering's sake; he looked like he had a hard life. Even if hard meant less money then most, or uncomfortable living arrangements, or having been laid off and without work for too long; who knows what the case may be. He looked worn.

I walked to my car thinking, "That man enjoys pop so much as so go to the trouble to walk all the way here, load up those three bags full of it, and walk all the way back home with that weight on his back? Really? Is it worth all that trouble?" Even if he were taking the bus it would still require a lot of walking and carrying of those bags. I thought about this for quite awhile.

Just recently a friend and I were discussing our values, or more specifically what we value. If you value a collection, your home may be filled with trinkets and chatchkes galore. If you value simplicity your home may be open and empty. If you value spending time with your dog you may allot hours a day to going for long walks, grooming, and caring for you furry family member. Other people might have zero interest in dogs but may spend hours a day playing video games or watching and playing some sort of sport. I could give a million examples; our lives very much reflect what we value, even though often times we may not ever think about it or realize it.

Clearly the man in the entryway at the grocery store with three incredibly heavy backpacks filled with soda, who was getting ready to haul his stash home values pop. I can't see any scenario in my lifetime that would put me in his shoes. I don't drink pop (except on rare occasions). Even if I had to walk to and from the grocery store I would never go to the trouble of loading up several bags filled with heavy pop. The sight was truly shocking to me. The money he spent on it, the time it took him to go to the store and back home, the weight and inconvenience of his haul. He really values pop!

But there are things like this in my life, certainly. Maybe? I think there are for all of us. I imagine those cans of soda must bring him great joy. Maybe he needs one as the perfect accompaniment to watch a sports game? Maybe the pizza he planned to eat at dinner just wouldn't be enjoyable without that perfect can of pop to go with? Maybe he spends hours a day sitting on his back porch watching the birds and drinking soda? "Ah, perfection!" For all the trouble he was going to pop must really bring him joy. This sounds pretty silly and maybe even a bit mocking on my part. I'm not mocking him in the least. If he gets such great joy from drinking all that pop that he's willing to go to the trouble I only glanced at for a portion of a minute then I would never dream of begrudging him that.

It does make me think about my own life though. I wouldn't want to go to all that trouble for pop. I wouldn't want a sugary beverage to be that important to me. I DO NOT look down upon him; I almost respect that he'd go to so much trouble for something so simple. But I wouldn't want to work so hard for something like that. But do I? Is there something, are there things in my life that I sacrifice time, energy, portions of my life for, things that when it comes down to it really aren't worth the heavy haul? Hmm...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Out of the Ordinary to-do list for May for a pop of color


  1. Make paella (per my husband's request; I've never even eaten paella)
  2. Root through wardrobe. pt.1 
  3. Get rid of a few things. pt.2
  4. Wear something I haven't worn in a long while. pt.3
  5. Go on a long walk.
  6. Enjoy a bonfire (somewhere... Starr?)
  7. Find my straggler gift cards and use them (I know I have two different ones).
  8. Re-purpose something in the house.
  9. Lay out and look at the stars with my buddy (if there's a warm enough evening).
  10. Make something to give to someone.
  11. Call my dad. (I think the last time I talked to him was at Christmas)
  12. Learn one phrase in Spanish each week (with little Abe).
  13. Bake some sort of new dessert with fruit.
  14. Go into a store that I've never been in. (this one already feels weird... can you tell I'm NOT a shopper)
  15. Draw something.
  16. Listen to music and dance.
  17. Try and be girly for one whole day. (this one already feels weird too)
  18. Gosh darn it, try and do something thoughtful for all the birthday peeps this month!
  19. Tell stories with little Abe (like on the fly, made up stories. He loved this last time I did it)
  20. Take a Thursday off work and go watch little Abe at swimming lessons.
  21. Day trip, visit a neighboring town with hubby and Abe.


The past two months have been full on robotic, get through the day, survival mode. I'm ready for wiggle room and new experiences. Hooray May! (I hope work has actually calmed down) Granted the budget is TIGHT (when is it not tight?) but I can wiggle without money. Wait, limited to no money makes people wiggle anyway though, right. Yeah, yeah, you get what I'm saying.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Buds

Little Abe and I have been watching the buds on the wild rose bush and documenting their growth this year. Nature is so incredible.

March 17

March 20
April 2
April 14
April 18
April 29



What would you spend $624 on; The spending game

I work in six different super centers as a vendor/ merchandiser (I don't actually "vend" anything). The stores I work in are all part of a local large chain. I personally find the dynamics of each individual store quite interesting. One of my stores is a little bit hillbilly. If you walk down the main aisle at that store there tends to be more hunting and fishing items on display. One of my stores is in an area with a high population of Hispanic residents and you will find a  much larger variety of ethnic foods related to Hispanic cuisine at that location compared to the others. One of the stores is near a very large university and it is VERY geared towards college kids. One of the most interesting differences that I've found is that one of the stores, near a high population of Dutch descendants has these awesome Dutch pig in the blankets in the frozen foods department that none of my other stores carry. It took my awhile to realize why I could only find them at one store (and to figure out which store I'd bought them at).

Most shoppers are very unaware of the differences between stores. Besides small layout differences the average customer has no idea that one store will offer a larger variety of a particular item than another based on clientele. Most shoppers are also unaware that prices are a few cents higher on most items in a store depending on whether or not there's a Walmart across the street and also depending on the overall economic situation of the area. Lower income areas tend to have lower priced items throughout the stores. (The chain I work in began in 1934 (28 years before Walmart) and is credited with pioneering the modern supercenter concept. The owners originally wanted to keep the stores local (unlike Walmart). It is rumored that Walmart tried to buy the company which refused to ever sell, after which Sam Walton vowed to build a Walmart directly across the street from every single location of this chain. Walmart has been pretty successful in this vendetta. However a few stores are still without the competitor directly across the street and the prices on items throughout are higher at those stores by a few cents.) At one store a yogurt cup will cost 59 cents and at another, only a few miles away the same yogurt cup will be 65 cents. Most customers don't realize this. These subtle differences fascinate me.

I could be wrong but I imagine most if not all chains operate with this same model. Lower prices where there's more competition and in lower income areas, higher prices where there's more wealth and less competition. There are three stores in particular not very close to my home (closer to a big city about 40 minutes away) where a few of my friends shop. The price differences at these stores is actually pretty drastic even though all three stores are quite close together. I've talked to my friends about the price differences between the lower income area store (with a Walmart across the street) and the the higher income area stores (both don't have a walmart directly across the street).

My friends were completely unaware of the price differences until I pointed them out. BUT they both said the same thing, they prefer the higher income area store and "the small price hike doesn't seem like such a big thing." In fact one of my friends drives farther to go to the higher priced store. Mind you, I used to work at this particular lower income store once a week, for several years (it's no longer one of my locations). It's not a bad store and if you go during the morning/ afternoon it doesn't seem "low income" or unsafe. It is a bit older, not quite as clean and fancy and it does get a little more interesting in the evenings but the friends I'm referring to do shop in the morning/ afternoon.

For example's sake, if you had a cart with 40 items in it and the average cost was 10 cents per item higher (that would obviously balance out to where some items would be 2 to 3 cents more and others would be say 40 to 60 cents more) that trip would cost you $4 more at the higher priced location. If you shopped a similar trip three times a week your groceries would cost $12 more a week and $624 more a year. Now, most people honestly don't notice the subtle price differences. Literally, every person I've ever pointed these price differences out to has been unaware of them. But even once I've pointed out price differences people have almost always said, "I like this store more."

The way we shop, where we shop, and paying attention to every penny goes a long way if you actually care about spending $624 to shop in a "nicer" store as opposed to spending $624 on an actual thing (or having that extra $624 to put towards debt or savings). When we throw quick stops at a "convenience" store into the picture price differences can actually be quite drastic. Instead of 2 cent or 10 cent differences there will be several dollars worth in price differences. You really do pay for convenience at a convenience store.

What would you do with $624 (or more)? Do you pay attention to price differences in shopping centers where you live? This is just one little aspect to the spending saving game but it's an aspect that's incredibly intriguing to me and something that I don't think a lot of people pay attention to.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stew

It's been pretty cold and gloomy around here lately.
But I'm feeling warm, contented, and happy.
Our little gardens are freshly tilled (waiting for warmth).
There are blooms now in our strawberry bins.
Hooray for backyard strawberries!
I have a large pot of homemade beef stew (my first ever (yes, I've made goose stew but I've never made beef stew)) bubbling away on the stove right now.
Tomorrow is Friday, which means the weekend is fast approaching.
No matter the rain and the cold and the gloom,
we've a lot to be happy about and much to look forward to.

Strawberries: April 28, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Ramblings


This year's tomato seeds are well on their way. I have these little guys set on the kitchen window sill behind the sink. Same as last year. It's official that one of my greatest joys during the spring season is watching the little sprouts on the kitchen window sill lean toward the sun and get bigger and bigger each day. I love seeing the start of new life, new fruit, new growth in it's very beginning stages just sitting there in the sunshine each time I need to use the sink for anything. For me this is pure joy.
(for the record, seeds grow really well in egg cartons and old strawberry containers. (I poke a hole in the bottom of each egg holder))



Speaking of little sprouts, I used some dollar store construction paper to cut out letters and rectangles. My little sprout glued each letter in place. He may have adhered a few hanging off edges and he might have glued down one of the 'P's backwards. It made the "Happy B-day Daddy" sign all the more personal. I wasn't expecting Abe to glue all the letters down. I thought he'd lose concentration after the first six or so. Nope, he did every single one all on his own. I'm not sure how much my husband loved it but we're quite proud of ourselves and our efforts and for that I'm giving us a pat on the back and two gold stars. It turned out really cool. (I love being frugal)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Chores


The big helper jar will now serve a new purpose. We will no longer be going to the dollar store for a reward after he's completed his chores. This little guy has graduated to bigger guy chores and just started receiving cash. We're just into week two of the new chores but he's excited to save and to spend his own money on the myriad of toys he's dreaming of. Literally dreaming of too. He has a habit of creating toys in his mind that he wants to buy at the store but that don't actually exist.

I purchased the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Junior kit (on sale for a little less than half price). It comes with this chore chart and three plastic zip up envelopes for cash. One envelope says SPEND, one says SAVE, and one says GIVE on it. At the end of the week when he gets his allowance (which right now comes to about $6) he puts one dollar in the give envelope, three in the save envelope and two into spend. The save envelope isn't for college or anything like that. It's savings for a bigger purchase like a $20 toy. The spend money he can spend right away if he chooses.

I'm honestly not sure how much he should earn for each chore. Right now I'm just winging it. Currently he has four chores but I've written in a bonus spot because he does usually help out with something each day like yard work or laundry or dishes. I'll add a few more after we're two or three weeks into this new routine. I picked just the four to get this new system started. I'm honestly excited to watch this little dude learn about saving and spending and to learn the value of a dollar; knowing that you don't just get what you want when you want, that you have to work for your money (and things), and that saving money is hard work but worth it. He seems excited too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quick update; Yay Spring!

I have not been blogging, clearly. I have not been reading other people's blogs, sorry. I truly miss all of you. What I have been doing is spending hours and hours outside each day for the past five days in a row. Spring has FINALLY sprung and Little Abe and I have been doing lots and lots of yard work, been having fun running around, he's been playing with friends, and we've been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and warmth. Ahh, I feel alive again!

Putting the Bidwell Casaba sprouts in bigger pots while they're waiting to go in the ground.

Killing grubs while mama weeds the front bed.

Yes he's wearing winter boots and a tank top : )

Playing with his favorite little friend.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Firsts

Yesterday we saw the epitome of lovely. I had to run out and get dog food for Bozzy (honestly right when I was supposed to be feeding him). It was gloomy, misty, COLD! And all of the sudden little Abe and I saw a full rainbow as clear as could be arching through the sky. It's the first rainbow he's ever seen. We got out of the car at the dog food store and walked across the empty parking lot together in the cold misty rain so that we could stand and gaze at the full arch. It doesn't get much more lovely then that, experiencing one of this world's most beautiful sights for the very first time with your child...

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April Fools?


Nope. Not a joke. It's really snowing and snowing and snowing today.
No big deal but it's funny.

AND a few hours later...


Friday, April 1, 2016

Lovelies

I'm still working my tail off and exhausted/ brain scrambled but I wanted to keep up with reporting lovely bits of each day.

Tuesday: I took the back road to work, the one that goes a long stretch through the country; I wrote about taking it home from work a few months back (before winter). Last time I wrote about driving home that route fall was only just beginning. The grass beside the road was long, vibrant green and wispy. There were unharvested fields filled with produce. Farm market stands were brimming with pumpkins. It was such a beautiful scene to drive through for 15 plus minutes.

This time, you could say that the scenery was ugly but I didn't see it as such. The fields were all brown with mud, vast open expanses of clumpy dirt. The grass lay flat beside the roadway, void of green, just yellow, brown, almost grey from still being dormant after the long winter. There were no stands of fruit, or barns wide open arrayed with produce for sale signs. Yet the acre, upon acre, upon acre of gloomy, muddy expanse was dotted all over with white seagulls and the entire vision couldn't help but evoke within me a joy, an expectation, a gleeful eagerness for the new season of life that is fast approaching. The stagnant looking, gloomy brown expanses didn't appear to my eyes as much like a void, instead I could see a brand new beginning, the very start of a wonderful overwhelmingly beautiful new season of life.

Wednesday: Also, while driving home from work, I spotted a chunky little brown figure scurrying through a blueberry field. Upon closer inspection I could see that it was a beaver. Beavers aren't the sort of animal that people in my part of the world see often. They certainly do live here but I can't remember having seen one in real life, in the wild but once before. The creature spotting was a very lovely moment in my day. I'm always thrilled to see a new or rare creature in the wild. It's just the sort of thing that helps make any day grander for me.

Thursday: I've begun to undertake the toilsome task of cutting our dog's hair again. I do it about twice a year. I started with our older guy, Bozzy. I don't remember if I ever even mentioned it here but he was diagnosed with diabetes the day before Christmas Eve. We've been giving him two shots of insulin a day since then and he's on a strict feeding regime. It was a relief to know that he wasn't enduring kidney failure (the very thing that took my beloved 13 year old cat Deedee in November) but it was a harsh reminder that he is getting rather old. I was probably glum about the diagnosis for two months, just feeling the dreaded grim reaper knocking at his door. The life span of a dog or cat is way too short. They're given so much of our hearts and then to have to say good-bye after a relatively short time, it's awful!

But he is doing really well, aside from the fact that the insulin will make him go blind. His eyes are starting to get foggy and that does break my heart a little. I do know that his time will be much shorter then I'd like. However for now I'm very happy that he's still with us and I'm not so mopey about the inevitable as I was in December/ January. Well, I started to cut his hair on Thursday. He enjoys (mostly) getting his hair cut. He likes the affection and the attention. He was standing there super well behaved, patient, and proper while I was trimming. The thought crossed my mind that "this could be the last time." But it wasn't a sad thought. This thought was lovely because I realized that I was getting to trim his hair one more time (possibly more). That if this was the last it was also in a way, one more because we could have lost him in December. A slightly dreaded task (it hurts my back quite a bit to trim the dog's hair) became special.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Today was absolutely a Monday

Today was one of those days that happen maybe twice a year. Work was so stressful and overwhelming that I was on the verge of tears all day. I only cried twice and I do not have PMS. I arrived home feeling like I couldn't do a darn thing more. The thought actually ran through my mind, "how am I going to let the dogs out and feed my kid? I'm not certain I can find the motivation to get off this chair now that I've sat down."

I did find the motivation to do both and I opened all the shades to let the another round of glorious warm sunshine pour in. I made myself a to-do list simply because not taking the garbage and recycle to the road, not doing a few loads of laundry, ect; really wasn't an option and none of these things would have gotten accomplished if I hadn't written them down on paper.

Today's lovely: as odd as it may sound, I've found joy and delight this evening in checking things off the to-do list at my own pace, in my own time. Work has been so go, go, go, push, push, push, that it feels really nice to just slowly and calmly cross off each task at home. Normally I push myself at home too. For some reason I generally feel rushed. I think it's my personality. Not tonight. I absolutely won't allow it. I truly thought I'd get nothing done this evening and instead I've managed to find joy in slow steady accomplishment.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Today's lovely: Warmth, beautiful spring weather, festivities, time with family and great food... Today was one of those rare days when everything was just perfect.

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sunshine

I've blogged less this year then I ever have within the past five years. I don't think there's any sort of a real hiatus on the horizon. I really truly need this outlet. But between winter blues, a killer sinus infection, way too much work for the past three weeks; the combination of all these colliding factors has caused my absence from the blogosphere. I've been surviving but something I've blogged about for years has been sadly missing; I have not been stopping regularly to notice the lovely bits of life.

Today the sun is beaming radiantly through our blinds. It's that gorgeous fancy sort of sun that doesn't appear everyday but when it does you notice it. It makes the house look warmer, friendlier; things that you don't normally even notice glow with beauty. The radiant beams are making me happy and it is lovely.

I'm going to encourage myself to post a bit of lovely each day to the blog, like I used to do very regularly. It'll be good for me and well frankly I think its just the sort of medicine I need in life right now (and always).

A little lovely list to get me started:
  1. The Bidwell Casaba melon sprouts, currently basking in today's radiant, fancy sun beams.
  2. My sons fuzzy hair right now. He's growing out a buzz cut and I can't get enough of looking at his fuzzy brown noggin, despite his horrendous mood swings as of late.
  3. Spring.
  4. The way little Abe frantically dashes to put his shoes on lately every time I take the dogs out back so that he can chase around his best buddy Bozz.
  5. The chili cooking away on the stove top right now. Ahh, the smell of chili!
  6. The velvety perfection of fresh lemon custard (or lemon curd; I'm too novice to know the difference but custard sounds better). I used the last two of those gorgeous California lemons to make it yesterday and it's a lovely yellow smile in a jar.
  7. Friendship; even when separated by an ocean, a friendship that space and time can't touch, a friendship that adds tremendous joy to life and encourages me to be a better person... that's about as lovely as it gets.

lemon custard pinwheels

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Orange Sherbet Melon

I did get the Bidwell Casaba melon seeds that I blogged about earlier (of course). My little helper planted three of them for me last week Monday, March 14th. I've been keeping them in a juice container on the window sill that's too high for him to see into so he's been asking me everyday for a week if his seeds grew yet.



Today, one week and one day later we have two little green sprouts. Last year when the tomato seeds first sprouted I was so excited. Seeing that little green pop from the soil as the first tucked under leaf was trying to tip it's head towards the sun was extremely exhilarating for me. I was none the less excited today when I noticed the first sprout in the melon pot. Hooray for life! Hooray for spring! And Hooray for home grown food. This is so exciting!


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day


I quickly grabbed a few things on the way out of work so that we could have a green dinner. It was simple but still a fun way for us to be semi-festive. Little Abe was thoroughly impressed. He thought it was so fun that our dinner had a theme. He is obsessed with Star Wars right now so I grabbed the green water bottle with Yoda on it while I was getting the pickles, kiwi, and turkey dogs. The bottle was on clearance for $3. I figured he'd love to have green water with his green dinner.

Our green dessert was about as simple as it gets and yet we both thoroughly enjoyed it. He kept saying throughout dinner, "I didn't know it was St. Pack-kricks day."


After dinner we headed to the great green outdoors so that he could try out one of his birthday presents for the first time. He had lots of fun and I could (can) hardly believe how big my baby boy is. We took a scooter break to search all over the yard see if we could find buds on all the different bushes and trees. He learned a bit about nature, spring, and "baby leaves," and I enjoyed seeing all the different colors and sizes of buds on the bushes and trees throughout our yard.


Despite the fact that I've been rather overworked these past two weeks (including today) we really enjoyed this 2016 St. Patrick's day.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Ah, the little things


Today I did yard work in a t-shirt!!!
I am king of the world!
Oh, and I had a really awesome little helper.
(he was showing me how he killed a grub in this photo)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Let the Gardening Begin!

This may be the point in time when I should change my blog title to: The Chronicles of my Yard (I'm not going to though).

It seems, being the incredibly novice gardener that I am, I underestimated those sunflower sprouts that I spotted through the snow in January. I'm 98% sure that they are sunflower sprouts coming up from seeds that fell from the giant sunflower I had growing last summer. And I hadn't realized they could winter over and withstand such cold.



I'm going to be watching these little buggers really closely, thinning them out, and hopefully they will result in one (or two or three) fabulous, wintered over, self planted giant red sunflower(s). If these are just a strange weed that completely mocks a sunflower sprout I am going to be rather crushed. Only time will tell.

: )

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.71

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It's that time again


I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I can't get enough of Irish history. Ireland and Guatemala are tied for my favorite places on earth. I love the story of St. Patrick so much.

Every year for at least five years I've read St. Patrick of Ireland by Philip Freeman. It's a quick read and so far it hasn't gotten old. Reading this book every March brings me such joy. It's a really fun tradition I have. I spend the entire time imagining my ancestors living on the Island at that very time. I wonder where they were, what they looked like, what were there stories? 

I admire Patrick for continually following what he knew to be a call from the Lord. And what sacrifices he made for the call. We're one week out from St. Patrick's day thus it's time for me to pull the book off the shelf and start again! This is my life.

Average daily spending for 2016: $18.81