Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best wishes in 2012!

From my home to yours


Cheers!





May 2012 hold all the best for you!


Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 recap

As I get ready to move forward into 2012, I did a quick scan of my 2011 posts to see what exactly I did this past year.  In general, I was busy with business.  I think my year was not as productive as I would have preferred, but there were many thinks that never get posted.

Here are a sampling of what I accomplished over the past 12 months:

Quilting -
Applique floral wreath quilt top (to be quilted soon!  I promise)
Kaleidoscope quilt top (ditto)
Lap quilt completed and brought to quilt shop/for sale

Friday Night Sew In -
Participated six times (goal for 2012 is every month)

Green and Health related changes -
Decreased coffee comsumption/switched to roasted barley
Added barley as a major player in diet
Ditto kale
Experimented/added more "from scratch" recipes
Biking started out great but health issues sidelined me (hope to have this resolved this summer)

Reading -
America's Women
Pioneer Woman, High Heels to Tractor Wheels
A Year by the Sea
...and a few others I can't remember!

Knitting -
Finished my vest in time for the cooler weather

Survived the Hot, Hazy, Humid summer of 2011!
Hurricane Irene
The infamous Halloween Snowstorm

Family health issues kept me busy, but seem to be mending


Not nearly as much progress as I'd like to see, but ENOUGH of the looking back.  It's time to plan for the future!  I'll share those plans on Sunday :)

Right now I'm taking out one of those quilt tops and want to finish it this coming month.

AND....if you hear of any good on-line challenges, please let me know.....  greenvtr[a]yahoo[dot]com

Best wishes for a wonderful New Year!


.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

America's Women, the book

Knowing that I have a thirst to learn about the accomplishments and real-life experiences of women throughout history, a co-worker loaned me her copy of America's Women and two other books when I was on medical leave in 2009.  I read through the two novels and was soon back at work, with this one book setting by my comfy loveseat....waiting.  I read in spurts and couldn't nudge myself past the first few pages for two more months.  However, when that thirst returned I was drawn right in to the fascinating history of our fore-mothers here in the United States (which is admittedly similar to the history of women worldwide.  The details may differ but the struggles are the same.)

Gail Collins (author) put an incredible amount of detail in her book beginning with Virginia Dare, the first known female in the US colonies, and ending with our struggle of equal recognition for equal endeavors.  I found myself reading about four pages at a sitting so that I could absorb the information!  The names, dates, and places were so exact....so complete.  It was like a full college course on the subject within the hardcovers.

It reviewed the Salem tragedies which I had studied before, but also went into new territory for me.  I devoured the chapter detailing how some women taught young freed (former) slave girls, bucking the system that demanded that they were not to be educated.  These brave women even had their schools and homes burned for their beliefs.  They and their students chose not to buckle to pressure.  Bravo!

I had previous read first hand accounts of women's experiences as nurses and enlisted personnel in WWII.  Here I learned about how the government only created the womens' corps as appeasement and used them (mostly) to fill in desk jobs or to test airplanes before sending the machines into battle.  (If the plane crashed, who was lost....?!)

I read throughout the summer and fall, sometimes sitting at the picnic table outside work at lunch while gleaning what I could from those passages and the mid-day sunshine.   I may look for a copy to add to my permanent bookshelf.  It's that good.  And I highly recommend this book if you have the time and the resolve to learn about America's gutsy women.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More end of year financial stuff

Several years ago I used to read financial/debt reduction/frugal living blogs.  One of them had a terrific excel budget spreadsheet, which I downloaded.  It wasn't anything fancy, just a basic worksheet where you would list your monthly income along with fixed and variable expenses.  It could be continuously updated and was a great way to plan for my year.  Finance for a Freelance Life offered it again for 2010 along with some other spreadsheets that look interesting.

I have tweaked this spreadsheet several times over the years, adding a breakdown of each catagory and linking cells to auto-fill.  At the beginning of the year I can plug in my anticipated monthly income and known expenses, and guesstimate how much I need to set aside monthly for things like car repairs.  I can plug in how much I'll put into savings (lol.)  And on payday each month (yes, I get paid once each month!  It's actually pretty easy to adapt to that), I check to see if I'm on track.

This year depleted the nice little savings account I had been building.  A few thousand in brakes, rotor grinding, new tires, 60K mile service, and some other unexpected bills took the egg out of my nest.  But the good news is that I had carefully built that nest and can start over again.  I already have.

It's a little more work than just setting cash aside in envelopes, which I have done in my more distant past.  But it is entirely worth it just to see your money grow as you become more disciplined in your spending/saving.  It's comforting to know that the cash for property taxes will be sitting in an account because you've budgeted for it for all these months.

I travelled the internet looking through finance blogs and came up with some interesting sites offering spreadsheets.  If you are interested, you may want to check this one....it's like working with the envelope system.  Or this one from Microsoft.  Or perhaps you already have a terrific system and can offer advice?

It's a good time to start planning for next year....let's make it a great one!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yearly gift

A few years ago I realized that my children would be "in the dark" as to my finances/taxes/insurance/etc should anything happen to me.  And of course, if they have to step in to clean out my home and close my accounts, I want to make it as easy for them as possible.  So one month while I was filing my bill statements, I decided to make a list for them.

I wrote down the contacts for my employer, insurances, and retirement so they could access anything that was due to me (them), and then listed any possible accounts that they would have to clean up and close. I typed up a form on the computer, leaving extra lines just in case.  There are workbooks in stores and online for this, but my accounts wouldn't fill a book....I'm keeping it simple ;)






For a few years I was quite content that I had done a good thing.  Until one day I realized that this information changes....!  Each new job changes the contact information for 401Ks and possible employer-held life insurance.  A move can be a change in homeowner's insurance policies or mortgages.  I discovered that this list is not static.  Even though it may stay the same for years, one year can bring big changes.

So now I try to revisit my list as the old year closes to update any changes that may have taken place.  I can go confidently into the new year knowing that I've made an unpleasant job a little easier for my boys.  And it's an easy way to review my own situation, to see what I need to improve.  I've got peace of mind.  And they've got a gift they don't need yet :)

This year I've put another "list" with it. I've put photos in one of those dollar-style "Mom's brag books" and written down the "history" of family-related objects so they'll know what has been in the family and any possible story relating to it. Because there will be no chance to ask questions later! In an ideal situation, when I'm rocking away in my ol' rocking chair surrounded by loved ones, I'll be giving away my treasures and describing how they came to end up in my possession. But for now I'll gamble on the cautious side and make sure everything's covered..... ;)



P.S. For those who have another adult who shares your finances, this should be much easier.  If you are in an independent status right now, it might be something to explore as a way to review your financial situation.  Another form of preparedness, if you will.

P.P.S.  My sons have all been told that this list exists, and it's whereabouts.  Since that's not high on their priorities right now, I have occassionally reminded them.  I'm sure 1:3 should be good odds at remembering  ;)


Wishing you peace and prosperity in the New Year!


.

Friday, December 23, 2011

~ Season's Greetings ~



May you enjoy a very Merry Christmas!

Peace on Earth

And goodwill towards all men.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some interesting tidbits for holiday thoughts....

I can't resist a weird headline.

I haven't had much time to scan the news on the internet lately but this wicked bad headcold has me wrapped in a lapquilt and jammies, catching up on the world.  I was tickled to find the two following articles.  You just can't make this stuff up!

They've found that your wonderful live Christmas tree may make you sick, or at least give you allergic reactions.  The mold spores will release in the warmth of your home and bother anyone suseptible.  I'm sure you can guess what the recommended solution would be....artificial.  And if you don't want to go that route you can "wash" your live tree before bringing it inside and remove it as soon as possible once the holiday has passed.  I just can't picture the Walton family washing their lovely real tree.....and I certainly hope you don't have this problem.  And if you do, please know that you are not alone in that.

Along with being able to rent a designer fashion or purse through the internet, someone finally figured out that parents will jump at the chance to rent toys for their children (kinda like Netflix.)  For a nominal monthly fee, you can browse through a selection of toys suitable for your child's age and development.  And the provider states that the returned toys are thoroughly cleaned before you receive them so you won't be skeeved when the package arrives.  Why couldn't I have dreamed up this one???

I hope you're enjoying wonderful time-honored traditions this holiday season!

Pssst....let's remember the reason for the season   ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coffee.......less

It’s true.  My total coffee intake for the past 9 days has been one cup.  This came about in an odd way.  You see, the day before Thanksgiving I went to a Nutritionist.  But let me back up a bit…..

My family is prone to problems with both cholesterol and Type II diabetes and I’ve been somewhat laxidasical (sp?) about keeping my cholesterol numbers where they should be, but not so high as to warrant an alert from my doctor.  (* Note: my “good” cholesterol number is extremely good and my triglycerides are great.  It’s the Total and the “bad” that need fixing.)  So I asked for a reference to a Nutritionist.

We had an excellent conversation and she answered as many of my questions as time allowed, never dismissing my queries.  I asked about all the healthy “hints” we find on the internet.  She was knowledgeable about them and explained why I should or should not believe each one.  But the reason I immediately put my trust in her came about when I asked her to explain how these problems start in the human body, what is actually going on in there, and she did so in full.  I am one of those people who need to understand the situation.  Just telling me to put my foot on the clutch then move the shifter doesn’t work.  I want to know what the clutch does.  Once I know that, it all makes sense.
Anyway, she’s a believer that folks should follow a more vegetarian diet by eating more grains, legumes, and deeply colored veggies.  I’ve already been eating quinoa and I love my morning oatmeal, but she explained the benefits of barley.  Barley has a unique quality (from beta-glucan) of pulling some of the cholesterol from your digestive system with it as it passes through.  There are several sites about this on the internet.

In my entire adult life I’ve eaten barley perhaps ten times, always in a soup.  I didn’t know how it could be prepared.  But I left that meeting, bought some dehulled barley (her preferred option because the hull optimizes the benefits), and found some recipes online.  The first one I tried – Carrot Barley Stew – was a winner.  I’ve made it twice and love the flavors.  And it’s very satisfying.  Next I’m even going to try using the grain as porridge.
But, stumbling around the ‘net I found that roasted barley has been used around the world to make a hot beverage similar to coffee.  Postum (from roasted grains) was popular in the US and just stopped production a few years ago.  I actually remember seeing the jar in the coffee aisle of the grocery stores.  Those of you who have known me for a while know that I stopped brewing coffee last winter in my efforts to cut back on electrical usage.  (There’s a post on that back here.)  So my one or two cups of cold-brew and occasional cup from the quick stop were no big deal, but I was fascinated about this new revelation.  Then I found this.  I ordered some from online and I’ve been enjoying my cup of Kaffree Roma every morning.  I even keep a small container in my desk at work.  But wait….there’s more!

I’ve found instructions for roasting barley to grind for use in an automatic coffeemaker!  And if that isn’t enough……there’s RoBarr, the creation of a very smart woman.  Imagine!  I can stop drinking coffee, a drink that is imported and has all those bad connotations, and switch to something from right here in the US.  (Picture me doing a Happy Dance:)



So….I’ve switched out a lot of my diet with foods that are very nourishing and satisfying.  I’ve learned a lot.  And I’ve made another Small Change by reducing my consumption of coffee!
I’ll do the study and let you know in a few months what the effect is on my lab blood work.


* * Please talk to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet. * *


On another note....we may see some snow mixed in with this rain by tomorrow morning……

Have a terrific Thursday!