Saturday, March 28, 2015

My Saturday Shopping Spree

My first stop was the Dollar Tree because I needed chicken stock, which is about three bucks per box at the super market.  I always check for HBA stuff there and knew I needed concealer.  It would make sense for me to buy a stick of it and if I can remember the next time I am in a drug store, I will.  This tube will last me a couple of months.  The shampoo and conditioners were a decent find and for color treated hair, so I picked some up.  These bottles are a good size for a gym bag.  At home, I mix all different brands together.
A visit to Khol's didn't turn up everything I'd wanted.  Tights or pantyhose on clearance were my main goal but I wanted to check for marked down belts and scarves.  These two set me back five bucks.  If I'd had the misguided notion to pay full Kohl's retail, they'd have cost $48.  I don't think so!
The striped belt goes great with this ensemble that I found at Amvet's.  A silk jacket for four bucks is not such a bad deal. That is what I paid for the colorful Liz Claiborn skirt.
My other new-to-me ensemble is a JJill jacket and Loft skirt.  Both also four bucks.  The total bill was reduced by four bucks because I had a coupon -- which print on the back of the receipts at the Tops near us.

A couple of months back I picked up a black skirt with white embroidery around the hem.  It is a lot shorter than this and it isn't a floral design.  That skirt earns me a lot of compliments and I've been able to wear it with both black and ivory stockings.  It will be fine with hose in the summer as will my new skirt.  This set is also very lightweight so it will be perfect for the summer even it if isn't a pastel color scheme.

Yesterday I picked up a rice steamer to add to the necklace I am giving my sister for her birthday.  Tonight we are going out to dinner (I have a $25 coupon I bought at restaurant.com for four bucks).  We are both officially now 53 years old.  I really don't feel that old!  TBG gave me an outdoors area rug telling me it is the basis for outdoor furniture he wants me to pick out.  The weather will have to get a little nicer before that happens.  I am looking forward to the warm weather -- most especially because I'll be dressed well for it!

Friday, March 27, 2015

An Un-Sunny Spring Day

I am determined to push for spring.  But I do have some nerve showing the wisteria I had pulled out and hopefully eradicated from our back yard last year!

Yesterday I wore a yellow shirt with a violet blazer to work.  The day before it was that sweater with the green and white checked scarf.  Today I work a yellow silk shirt with a super blingy statement necklace and a light beige linen woven cropped jacket.  I loaded up on jade for my earrings, bracelet and rings.

Wouldn't it figured that we got snow?  I did wear my blush colored faux fur jacket so at least I wasn't in a dreary winter coat.  The other people who take the train to work must think I am a freak because I am the only female commuter who wears skirts and dresses.  Another freak thing I noticed is that I am the only red-head I see on the train or in my building.  I really haven't noticed anyone down town either.  It doesn't bother me to look different.  Another way I try to look different is to be sure to smile all of the time.  It's amazing when I look around, how I see such blank or dour expressions on people's faces -- or they are staring down at a device and noticing no one.

A great thing about today in particular was that it was a "double cake day."  There was birthday cake left over from my little celebration yesterday so I had a piece before meeting my pals for lunch.  Then later in the afternoon, there was cake for a gentleman who is retiring.  I only just met him but he is a nice guy and was at the bank for 30 years.  Even though I had just met him, I wasn't afraid to go to his gathering. I know more people in the building and it was on the same floor as a group whom I'm on a project with.  It was nice to walk into a conference room and have five or six people to just walk up to and be able to start chatting.  That is really one of the most daunting things when you've spent many years in a small company where there's just five or six people to interact with each day.

And it's amazing how many people like to talk about cake!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Two Home Runs!

I hit two home runs today -- and one was a grand slam!  Well over a month ago, I put a proposal together on my own.  The presentation was postponed three times.  In the interim, I created two more proposals based on it.  This morning I presented my first proposal and it was well received.  It tied into my second proposal, so I dove in and put that out.  It was even better received.  Then I hit them with the third.  All three are related and all three got great feedback.  In fact, I've been asked to  bring it up the next executive level and it's likely that if it's implemented it could mean a new position for me.  I don't waste time.  I've been at my job less than three months but I was in the contract position for a year.  I'm building on that experience and letting the cards fall where they may.  Regardless if my proposal is a go or not (and I believe it will be implemented in some form), the job I have now is wonderful -- so either way I win. 

My second home run came in the afternoon.  I created a presentation last month that worked wonderfully.  We had to move on to the next phase of the project so I created another presentation based on the first.  Once that was done, I realized we needed another one that went into more technical detail.  I'd already sent the two slide decks to the Project Manager above us (we are the business unit PMs but there are PMs at the corporate level who we work under).  He really liked what I did and said he was buying us lunch when the project was over.

Today I did a dry run with my VP who really liked it.  She talked about adjusting it so it could be used outside our department and that we could work it in with my proposal from the morning.  I'm showing it to a department head tomorrow, adjusting it based on feedback -- then she wants it before more executives. 

Now mind you, I am not a climber.  I just like to do work that I am good at and I'm not afraid to show what I can do so that I can be given work in the areas I have my highest competencies.  There is value in thinking of things no one has before you and not being afraid to present your ideas.  The important thing, is to make your stuff look good.  Also, listen to what the buzz around your workplace is, what the next big initiative or direction is going to be.  Then figure out how to correlate your idea to it.  That way, you could potentially be presenting a solution to a problem that no one has figured out how to solve.  You are striking at a time when others want to move and that momentum can drive your efforts forward.

You don't have to be a climber to advance and be recognized.  In fact, I have no desire to climb the corporate ladder.  But I do want to be given good work.  The best way to be given good work is to show you can do good work.  So if you want to do well, do good work! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Going Green

We had burritos for dinner with cream of avocado soup on the side.  The soup was admittedly OK, but not as good as it could have been.  There was only a small amount left over so that was whizzed up with asparagus ends and put in jars for the pup.  She enthusiastically liked our bowls clean -- the best pre-wash before you put the dishes in the dishwasher that you could ask for.

Having TBG at home meant I could call him in the afternoon and send him out for burritos, cilantro and stuff to feed the dog that we were low on (bananas, white fish and yams).  I will be making dog food tomorrow night.

TBG went to the gym last night and spent a little time on a Spinning bike.  He was sore but glad to have done it.  On Monday, he had shown a slight loss in his range of motion at physical therapy -- which is apparently to be expected since they started him on strength training.  He had a session tonight and his flexibility is improved -- better than it was last week too.  He does everything the therapist tells him to do and he achieves the results she wants plus more.  She was very happy he was on the Spinning bike and very impressed with his efforts and results.

I was able to swim for the first time in a month!  My arms are tired now and I've got a bit of conditioning to get back.  Best of all was the time spent in the sauna.  I just love the dry heat of a sauna and it's the best part of the workout.  I have wanted to walk the dog on alternate nights after work but the weather is not cooperating.  We are getting rain -- which is nice because that is melting the snow.  It's just not the most convenient thing when your dog's coat is full.  If she's going to get too muddy, I just don't take her out because I don't have time to give her a bath.

TBG is on the couch with ice on his knees.   He does this at least a half dozen times a day.  Icing and elevation is an important part of his rehab.  I don't have to make him breakfast in the morning but as soon as I am up, I get ice for him to start.  While I feel badly about waking him up with my pre-work routine, he manages to get a few more hours of sleep after I leave.  He also naps during the day when he feels tired.  But other than that, he is doing his exercises in small blocks, going for walks (today he took Teddy for a short one), running short errands and doing some light cleaning.  Not bad for a guy who had both of his legs cut open and his knees sawed out, then had metals parts and screws put in before being stitched back up.  We are returning the walkers to their owner on Friday and probably almost ready to take the grab bar out of the shower.

It's nice to be caring for a motivated patient!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Living on the Edge of Boring!

We have been too busy for much excitement in our life and I have not been getting a lot of creative stimulation on the home front.  The most exciting thing I've done is answered a self-presented challenge.  I've wanted to wear this sweater, the scarf and those earrings for such a long time.  Having so much to keep up with has meant I'm rotating in many repeat work outfits. I will admit I had a change of heart after snapping this and switched to black and gold belt since I'm going half boring with a black skirt.  But at least I'm bringing some spring into the ensemble with the green check and the jade earrings.
A girl like me can't be a fashion plate every day (OK, not most days either).  One sure fire way to put some polish on boring is to wear nice jewelry.  It doesn't have to be big noticeable stuff either if it's good quality.

My office is fairly dim, gray, subdued and professional.  Maybe my scarf will brighten things up a bit...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dinner on Deck

TBG is at physical therapy -- he drove there himself.  This afternoon he took Teddy out for rompies and fetch at the field adjacent to the local golf course -- all by himself!  I was able to get to the gym on my way home by going into work early so I could leave early.  Swimming was out of the question because of pool maintenance time (15 minutes on every odd hour) and because they are dumb enough to schedule a senior fitness class on Monday and Tuesday at 6PM -- prime swim time for us working folks.  I have nothing against aquatic seniors but think the class should be during the day.

I have dinner ready to go and will start actually cooking it in about a half an hour.  We will be having an odds and end soup.   There's spinach, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, left over salad, carrots, chicken stock and spices in the Vitamix which I'll whizz up into a smooth soup.  Pasta, potato, rice, etc. are great for thickening these kinds of soup and I try to use what I've got or something with a healthy fiber content.

We'll be having fish fajitas for dinner.  The tilapia is sitting in lime juice, seasoned with salt & pepper. I'll broil that and then saute the veggies with Ranchero sauce.  The tortillas are whole wheat and the sour cream is low fat.  The cheddar is whole milk because there is no good tasting low fat version of that!

TBG is doing well with his therapy, recovery and looking better every day.  Soon he may be able to make dinner for us.  He helps me clean up -- but that won't be expected tonight.  Once at home, we'll ice him right away and then he'll have dinner and we'll ice him some more.  PT evenings are tough so I plan to pamper him a bit.

His legs are looking so much thinner because they are straight and the two big blocks that used to be his knee caps are gone.  The weight he's taken off is a help and he looks taller because of that and the fact that he can stand up straight.  I just have to keep feeding him right and let him work on his recovery and by summer all should be normal again.  Wooo hooo!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Car Talk

This is the "Poppy-mobile," named in honor of TBG's father whom I called "Poppy."  I was never sure what to call him since the term "Dad" has never been one I have been comfortable with and I also didn't like to use his first name.  It felt awkward to refer to him as "Mr."  Thankfully grandchildren came along and he started being called "Poppy" and I followed suit.  When he passed away, we were given his 2003 Chevy Malibu.  It was five or six years old and had 23K miles on it.

This car (the picture is from nicer weather) was a big relief to us.  We had been driving an aged Chevy Blazer and knew its days were numbered.  Although we were getting money from the estate, we were still very tight on funds.  The car got us out of a pinch.  Here we are in 2015 and it has a little more than double the miles.  It isn't the car we take to camp and TBG works 2/3 of a mile from his job.  I take it to the subway station which is four miles away, a couple of times a week -- 8 miles round trip.  The miles are not piling up on it but the short trips aren't necessarily the best thing for it.  Still, we hope to get many more years out of it even though it is 12 years old.

It was over-due for an oil change -- not from a mileage perspective but from time.  Being the only driver in the house, it had to wait a little longer than I'd wanted since it would have to be dropped off since I didn't have time to take it in during the day and wait for it.  Luckily Mr. Tire could take us this morning.

What ended up being a routine oil change ended up being more since the transmission fluid wasn't looking good.  Since we hadn't flushed the transmission since we got the car three years ago and it's not a job we do ourselves, we just sucked it up.  Having a Mr. Tire credit card means we can pay it off interest free over six months.  Mind you, this is just a $300 job, but we paid a $1500 hospital bill this month and have a $500 co-pay due for TBG's surgery.  It makes more sense just to put that bill off until we clear the big stuff.  That's the only way we space out payments over time -- if there is no interest involved, it's a smart expenditure, and our cash flow is needed elsewhere.

As for bills, once again I am thankful for insurance.  The hospital stay was originally billed at 61K.  That was negotiated down to 34K.  We owed only co-pay because the hernia surgery ate the deductible.  The knee surgery was originally billed for 22K, negotiated down to 9K and we owed nothing on that.  Right now, all we are hitting are co-pays.  This is why we planned the surgery in the same insurance year as the hernia.

There are inherent financial risks in living.  That's just the way it is.  We balance the risk using insurance, credit cards, savings, salary and other benefits (disability right now, unemployment in the past) plus a mortgage.   I think it's impossible to live a cash-only debt free life.  There is no such thing as life without financial risk and obligation.  Trying to avoid it entirely can expose you to other risks.  Like putting off a regular maintenance like a transmission flush because you don't want to use a card, but then having an expensive transmission repair later because you didn't pay attention to the fluid.

Getting this car for free was a big help, but being able to take care of it and keep it running makes more sense than being cheap or trying to curb what we spend on it.

It's not worth it to keep yourself up at night trying to figure out ways to entirely avoid risk or devising all sorts of ways not to spend money.  IMO, it's better to set yourself up with options, insurance and contingencies to best handle the events when they come up.  We'll never live a completely debt-free life because debt is sometimes an essential way to cover emergencies.