Looking back at 2021

For us, 2021 was a really great year in spite of Covid. For lots of people, it was horrible but we managed to accomplish some very BIG Goals. # 1 was buying Rubi( the RV), which was exactly what we wanted), then Chevy, after realizing the Santa Fe was just not going to cut it with towing, and then going on camping trips especially the new addition of Refugio State Beach.

I started chemo in January, 3 weeks on 1 week off until June. My numbers went back into the normal range almost immediately after just the first treatment but you still need to do the full course of 6 rounds. I’ve had a great 6 months but my numbers are now slightly out of high normal so it’s a matter of how quickly they will increase. I’m waiting now for this week’s labs, so we’ll see. My guess is I’ll be back on Velcade in June. Amazingly, last time ( 2016) I had 4 1/2 years of remission. Not this time and it’s questionable how long Velcade will work before it’s on to the next treatment option. Well, that’s not today so…

I m swimming in March and I continue to love it. I wish I could get more than the 2-3 times a week in but it’s just too far and too much gas to do more than that. But it is incredible.

We did quite a few projects around the house and yard including the privacy fence along the driveway. We replaced the sunroom windows that were water damaged and will do the other 2 this summer. We redid the whole laundry room. It still needs some siding up around the window and I’ll bug my son to finish that when the weather is nicer. Let’s see, what else… I painted the bathroom, and ??? I’m sure there are more things…

Today is New Year’s Eve. We’re going to have the fondue we didn’t use for Christmas and I think to watch the new Witcher series. We had a lovely walk this morning and still no dog walker. That’s very odd, so we think either he got covid or moved?? We never knew his name so can’t check it out. But really it is wonderful to not have him stomping by or trying to run us off the path. Still, he is a dark walker( early morning) so there’s that connection. Not many people do that.

I plan to go to Target tomorrow as I need my calendars for 2022. I like their very simple inexpensive ones. Not sure they’ll have any left but I’ll try there first. I do plan a no-spend January but that’s just extra stuff that I don’t need( like candles). My January budget is set including the increase of our Part D Medicare plans.

I lost count of how many books I read , maybe 75? 100? I read a lot so I don’t think it really matters how many. Sometimes I read 3 books a week. It all depends on the type of book. Maybe I’ll keep count next year except I have tried that and then give up because it starts to be too many.

Frugal Friday

I made bagels yesterday and that was VERY frugal. When I go to Flour garden, it’s $22 dollars for a dozen organic bagels. We do like them a lot but that gets pretty expensive even if I do that twice a month. So I tried the King Arthur recipe and watched some Youtube channels. They came out pretty excellent but I didn’t get the rise I wanted. I think because 1. I didn’t use bread flour, just all-purpose, 2. I didn’t do a slow overnight rise. So tomorrow I’m going to try again and do both. it was fun making them. And probably the cost is maybe $2.00 for a dozen.

We’re not ordering pizza tonight. I’ll either do one of my frozen meals or I will make a breakfast casserole. We’re not getting lots of eggs ( which is great) but I have 3 dozen in the fridge. I think I even have a TJ’s frozen pizza if we want that and make a nice salad on the side. Ordering pizza out is nice once in a while but is WAY too expensive. $30 for a large pizza is crazy especially when it’s probably maybe $3.00 of ingredients. I’ve put the Ooni away for winter because by dinner time it’s too dark and cold outside to use it.

I have only done the Winco shop so far this month and that was on the 2nd so grocery wise things are in line with the budget. I plan on going to Costco Monday( it’s always the coffee) to get some things. I want to avoid Costco too close to Christmas as it is a madhouse. On my way to swim though, at 7am, I’ve gotten Costco gas which is a huge saving. I do not plan on a big stock up at Costco, just basics.

Today is a home day for me and there’s a few pottering things I want to do. I plan to iron a few linen napkins, mop the kitchen floor, wash a few windows and maybe a few other things.

I finished another PD James mystery. This one was an early one of hers called ‘Innocent Blood’. Very compelling story. Now I started another Dagliesh one. She is a superb writer.

Well, off to make a cup of tea.

Frugal Friday, I suppose.

We are back from our Rv adventures. Paso Robles turned out great. At first, I thought, well, it’s all big Rv’s and maybe we won’t stay the second day, but we really needed the day to just decompress. We had a great spot on the end with only an RV on our left. So that was a big factor. We really like space around us so that spot made a big difference. We will go back next year if everything works out. Refugio SB was only a 2-hour drive. So that was good. The only crazy thing was going into the grocery store( Albertson’s). It was a madhouse and really stressed us out. But we got what we needed. I especially wanted some local wine from Paso Robles and they did have a whole aisle of just Paso Robles wine so that was cool.

The next day we hooked up and left for the drive home. We were concerned that it would be too long but we came under 5 hours. Without trailering it probably would have been just under 4. We stopped 3 times to stretch. I-5 is great for rest stops. All major interstates should have them. We had snacks and peanut butter sandwiches. Well, I sat on mine so I just nibbled at it.

Getting home was fine and we navigated past the tree that needs to be taken down for us to have easier access in and out. Going in is much easier than going out. Next year we’ll figure that out.

Budget-wise, traveling is expensive. Not the SB or even the RV resort, but GAS was pretty outrageous. We never eat out so that saves money. But for next year I will add to my extra savings for gas.

All I have left of with annual bills is our property tax and I’ll pay that next week. Then we get a good size break from annual bills till March/April.

Thanksgiving was low-key. I actually used the Diestal Turkey I bought last year on sale. My son brined it and cooked it. I did the sides.

No Black Friday sales for us. Tomorrow I plan on swimming and maybe putting up the small Ikea tree I bought. We’re not doing any ornaments, just some small lights. Hanukkah is Sunday evening so I plan to put out a few little decorations. One is a blue glass ornament my son actually did in, I think, 6th grade at a local glass blowers studio.

Friday things

It was a fairly frugal week with money things. I went to Safeway and spent @ $70 on groceries and at Trader Joe’s @ $40. That was just groceries. Wine purchased was $25 approx. I’m not sure what I’ll do next week. Costco is still out there as we need some things there like dishwasher pods, and some other non food things. But I’ll wait and see what’s on the menu, then decide. Actually I need to do an August menu.

I didn’t make the Ikea meatballs, shrimp/potstickers, or cobb salad. We had take out only once for Taco tree tacos. I like this planner I got off etsy. It has nice clean minimal look and could be used for Flylady too. when you look at my menu you can see the themes plainly. Pasta night, taco tuesdays, rice Sundays,pizza Fridays, soups, and BBQ’s. Actually with it being so hot his month I don’t think I fired up the Weber once.

I have most of August’s bills in except the UCD one which they send the notice in the mail around the 15th. Otherwise, everything else is in. Our PGE was a nice surprise at $239 and that’s with running window coolers all thru the month. I’m guess the BIG reason is we’ve been line drying laundry and not using the dryer which is 220 so that must the energy user. I may try to continue the line drying into the fall and maybe winter if I get a drying rack that’s big enough. The only problem is I dislike seeing laundry in the front room on clothes racks. I’ve done it before and it’s just messy looking. But normally our electric bill would be in high $300’s so it does make a difference.

Today, B is going to declutter the Karastan rug up to habitat for humanity. We’re not sure they will take something that old or big but it’s worth trying. If they don’t take it, I’ll try putting it on Craigs list for free.

I always find it fascinating that at one time ,even a few months ago, I would not have imagined getting rid of it but after unrolling it the other day it’s obvious it doesn’t fit in with any of our decor. Most of my front room is Heywood birch, greys and whites. So the karastan is tans, burgundies, navy blue and other colors.

This when we had it in the bedroom. You can see the color scheme. Anyway, I hope someone will love it as much as I did. 🙂

Then I’m going to home depot to pick up some high gloss black paint. I’m going to paint the claw foot tub this weekend. I also ordered the garden gate so B can work on that.

BTW, his MRI did show some nerve stuff going on @ L 3 or 4. He hasn’t talked to the PC yet but the results were in his portal. It isn’t clear as to what’s to be done.

My labs came back in the normal range but it was a 3 point increase from 12.3 to 15.5 . I certainly hope this won’t be the trend as that means there is no remission except this very short period. I’m not going to worry about right now as there’s not much I can do anyway.

Frugal Friday

I’ve come in almost at budget food wise. I think it’s right around at $600 give or take a few dollars. I’m using some cash envelopes again for some food, alcohol(wine mostly), and misc. But I’m using a virtual envelope for gas as we don’t do cash at gas stations. Also we plan on going to Costco in July so that will be on the Visa card.

I saw on Youtube a person making the cash envelopes with a laminator and it worked great. I like that they are clear and I can see the money. Overall, the budget looks good especially since there are no annual bills due right now. We only a few UCD payments left but since there’s no interest, I’m ok just leaving it like it is. Still, it’ll be nice to finish that up.

On Prime day, I saw that the bed frame I had in my cart was on sale. A very nice minimalist wood frame. It was 2/3 ‘s off which seemed like a great deal so I bought it and it is VERY nice. B said it was so well designed. The old wood frame we had we got from our neighbor about 24 years ago.!!! After seeing it taken apart I was kinda shocked we kept using it as it was pretty funky:( Well, I guess we do keep things till sort of the end of their usefulness.

Yesterday, I moved all the stuff off the restaurant stainless steel shelves and B moved in the Heywood cabinet. I’m reserving judgement as to whether I like it till the shelves are up. We haven’t gotten the bracketts yet and I still need to paint the shelves after they are cut. It will take 2 coats of paint. It’s funny because the stainless steel shelving looked great empty. I got to thinking that if it was used for dishes, pots, etc and not food it would be fine. But because I had lots of jars and assorted things on it just always looked messy. So we’ll see. I’m planning on streamlining the jars so they are all the same and then when they are on the shelves it will look more uniform. Plus some baking goods don’t need to be out but in a basket marked baking in the closet pantry.

I sold some of the waldorf toys but didn’t calculate the shipping right so I lost about $10. That’s ok, I guess.The stuff is gone and out of the house. Ebay charges so much now. I still have some more stuff to organize to sell(mostly Waldorf toys) but I’ll take a break and get back to it in a few weeks. Still, that’s a few dollars in our account that wasn’t there.

Today, I’m dropping off 5 bags of books to the pet bookstore and then going to Grocery Outlet for some bread and whatever else looks good.

I went to our local farm CSA, and picked up some nice veggies for the week. I spent $27.00. I got beets, chard,lettuce,radishes,zucchini, and some peaches. We are so lucky to have this farm in our town and I want to keep going. I might not need to go every week but at least every 2 weeks.

Frugal Friday

It’s almost the end of the month and I’ve come in on budget with groceries. $600. for the month , so I’m very happy with that.

Tomorrow is my daughters birthday, so that extra food stuff will come out of the sinking funds for birthdays. She wants a fruit tart for her birthday cake so that will be bought and then some sort of BBQ food. How the years go by. I’m grateful she lives with us as she does so much in the garden( well, all of it really), and is such a great person. Smart, funny, well educated( librarian), and is fun to be around. Happy Birthday, Sachi!!!

Gas prices are going up here in California so I filled up the Santa Fe and it was $50. Towing the Rv will certainly add to the gas bill but that’s what it takes. Next week we plan on going up to Donner Lake for the maiden voyage. Only 2 nights since I scheduled my Velcade shot for Friday. I could have bumped it out a week but didn’t really think that far ahead so it is what it is.

We’ve been putting things in the Rubicon and it is so great that there will be a place for everything. There was in tent trailer, but everything was in bins that needed to come out and often it got a little messy with bins on the bench. In the Rubicon, the bathroom stuff will be in the bathroom and kitchen stuff in the kitchen. So cool.

After my appt with Dr. Laptalo, that went fine BTW, we headed over to Ikea to get some things for the Trailer. We needed kitchen towels,Ikea’s .79 towels are the best) bath towels, a paring knife, and a comforter and pillows. In the tent trailer we just slept in our down bags, no sheets. So since this is an actual bed we needed a top blanket. I don’t keep extra sheets or blankets in the house just what I use on the bed. Same with towels. We have 4 towels in the bathroom. That’s it. Ikea was busy even at 10:30 in the morning. Crazy.

Today, I’m making an Ooni pizza for dinner. I’m also making a loaf of sourdough sandwich bread in the Zojirushi. I have a few house chores and then I plan on going to the pet bookstore to get some paperbacks for camping.

Flowers by the front door.

.I did the budget for June. We still have 4 more UCD payments from the copay big mistake of August 2019. But since there’s no interest on this , that’s ok. Plus, they did the UCD grant for quite a bit of that month. It was extraordinarily high because Barclay had an IGIV which is $41,000 ( yes, you read that right) each time. So I’m more than happy to pay this copay amount over time.

We have 2 annual bills in June as well. AAA roadside assistance and Costco membership. I put these on auto pay so they will go on our credit card, I hope. If not, it’s the checking acct. Can’t quite remember which I did.

I plan on keeping the food budget to $600 again. That might be a little low for 4 people but I’m still using freezer food and pantry so that should help.

Looking back at the year… and ahead!

The year that shall not be named, oh F#ck it, 2020, was certainly difficult.

All the Covid deaths, the necessary lockdowns, enormous food bills, canceling all our trips including Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc, and all the rest. Certainly, the election was totally anxiety-filled and still is until Biden is sworn in. The stuff trump is still pulling is appalling. ANd all the GOP spineless idiots. Some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths is truly mind-boggling. I read in the WP that the idiot( he’s a newly elected representative) that is possibly going to challenge the votes recently said,” he found out that there were three branches of government”. WTF? are you mentally challenged?

At least we’ve been healthy so there’s that. Both of my kids have their jobs, so that’s excellent.

Climate change is worrying with California fires and really no rain. We’ve had a few days but nothing like normal.

Barb, over at “Living Richly in Retirement”, is a great blogger. She recently moved to Texas( very brave in my opinion) and was just writing about going over her budget categories for the new year.

So I got to thinking that I’d like to do that too. I’m going to look back at food( of course the pandemic meant Instacart a number of times), what I spent on Amazon stuff( scary amount), and Home Depot( home improvement). Then I can realistically set some numbers for 2021. Like do we want to set a certain limit? I’m not sure. Basically, I usually look at , Can we afford it? So set amounts might be a good new way forward.

Catagories could be:

home improvements/ this might be just stuff around the house or bigger like the window replacements/

outside/yard stuff( especially in spring and summer we do spend a lot on seeds, plants, dirt/soil.

dining/take out. This isn’t too hard. I usually give us $50. which is pizza night and a taco night.

travel/camping, In a normal year when we go camping, it is paid for in advance, and usually, I bring or give us @ $200 for food or fun. I’d have to add up a normal year but based on 2019 I’d say $1,000.

Annual bills are fixed amounts so I know those numbers.

I’ll keep thinking of other areas too. Clothing etc is generally not a category as we really only buy something if we need it. I need some new Birkies this year and a new pair of jeans. Birthdays, anniversary, we don’t do much but it might be good to designate something.

Medical/ we have Medicare and supplemental plans so those amounts are in the monthly budget. We did get a SURPRISE ( not good) letter from UCD med center saying we still owed $2500 from Barclays transplant. I freaked out. So we’re waiting till she sends what it is in a letter. But I will call and challenge whatever it is as we were told over and over after we reached the deductible it was 100% covered so I have no idea where they are coming up with this. When we did the GoFundMe, $6000 of the 10,000 we got went to that deductible. So???? I’m not as freaked now since it usually takes me a few days to calm down but still it will need to be dealt with and how much going back to that paper work am I going to have to do??? Not happy about this. Plus, WTF, it’s now 18 months later.

Well, I’ll start my list with those things and see what else should be added.

Budget Friday

I’m trying to come up with a good blog title for Fridays. I’m not sure Frugal Friday quite fits.

Overall, we are frugal because we have no income per se except SS. So maybe just Budget Friday would work. I’ll see. But budget-wise, all Octobers bills are in. We do have the 2 annual bills of house insurance and Allstate which is twice a year. With ALL the insurance companies getting out of insuring California property, for the most part, we are now having to do the California Fair Plan which is added to the AAA insurance. We went from our annual bill being slightly over $1,000 to now we are slightly over $2,000. Quite a jump.

Costco was just at $450, so that will go on October’s food budget. About $70 was wine and beer. I did buy a bottle of nice champagne for celebrating birthdays. Actually, it wasn’t expensive at $15.00. Plus there were a few prepper items and 2 bags of Starbucks coffee that was on sale. With all 4 of us drinking coffee we go thru quite a bit. But I don’t see us going back to Costco till the very end of October or even the first week of November which could then include any Christmas food or items. Prepper stuff included tuna, Cholula sauce, TP, another case of water, extra butter, and extra cheese. The only thing I didn’t get and I need is some tamari sauce. I’ll probably just go down here to the store and pay their price. The best place to get low sodium tamari is Trader Joe’s but I don’t think I’ll be getting there any time soon.

So far this morning I have made pizza dough, washed living room windows, cleaned the ceiling fan, and am just about ready to clean the rest of the sunroom.

Our lovely fall weather continues with absolutely beautiful days with temperatures in the mid to high 80’s. Next week does have a few 93degree days but this time of year that doesn’t seem so bad.

Budget-wise, I did my LLS for the UHC premium and my medicare which they cover for 2 months so that will be here in a week or so. I am very grateful to LLS for my grant (myeloma) as it does cover health insurance. If we had to pay OP for us both it’s almost $700 so I’m not sure how the budget would do. Probably we would be in the red. But there are gifts sometimes even with having cancer.

B did order the boards for the house ( 5 of them) so that was $120 about. But the siding needs to be fixed. Other stuff, even the fencing by the barn is optional and can be put off if we don’t have extra money.

If you’re looking for a new TV series, The Boys, is quite good. It’s super heroes that are darker more evil and is well done. We just started Season 2 on Netflix.

Well, that’s a wrap for now.

Simple Sunday or back to my regular programming:)

Honestly, I am still on a rant about the SCOTUS shit. Mitch McConnell should go crawl in to a hole in hell and stay there.

Well, this was a pretty good week overall. The smoke is filtering back in but it’s not like it was so hopefully it’ll clear out soon.

Mornings have been cool walking but still nice. We still have the 2 others that are weird and annoying showing up right after us. I really wouldn’t mind if he wasn’t such a jerk. Doesn’t use a flashlight when it’s dark out, just barrells by without so much as a ” coming up on your left”and really sets the energy off in the park. The other lady is just plain weird and I can’t read her MO, which for me a counselor who made a living ‘reading’ other people, is unusual. I’m hoping she falls away with daylight savings in October but I’m pretty sure he will not especially since he does walk the dog or I should say drags his dog along.

Budget wise, September has been pretty good. I haven’t tallied up the food but I think it’s in the $600 range so that’s ok. I am planning Costco next week before the sales end. It’s been about every 4 weeks were going which is about on target. Prepper wise, I think we are set. When I get the upright freezer, then I can concentrate on filling that with stuff. It has been a trial and error with stocking up. All the non food stuff is great. Some prepper stuff I bought I’m not too sure how we will use it like the whole powdered milk. I suppose if you couldn’t get to the store at all powdered milk would work. It wasn’t expensive so I don’t mind if it ends up in the food bank stuff next year.

I did pay our Allstate bill ( every 6 months). My son needs to pay me his part but he can do that next month. Then our house insurance is coming due as well. Fall brings annual bills including property tax. Right now we can pay all that with our savings( EF is where I keep it) but who know 10 years from now. But that’s the future and I want to BE HERE NOW!! well, to a certain extent I do need to plan.

Here’s the floor finished. Even though it is beautiful light color now. Pine floors will darken with age.

Here’s our Philly cheesesteak sammies we had Friday night. The top one is just roasted peppers and cheese for the veg man.

This is the only picture I kept of my brother’s. He was quite talented. My sister has the really nice one that I wanted of a sailboat. I gave my younger brother 3 others(water colors) that I didn’t really want/or had a place for.

If you’re following, it’s the bedroom zone this week.

Also, B has a birthday this week. Another year around the sun!!

And “May you be inscribed in the book of Life for another year”

L’Shanah Tovah!!!

Catching up

 Monday morning….

We are still in the smokey haze although I thought it was a smidge better this morning then it seemed to seep in again.  Hopefully, there is  containment soon.

This morning I bagged up the 25 lbs of organic oats in the mylar bags and just need to put them in the buckets and take out to the prepper barn. Oh BTW, the swamp cooler is keeping the barn at 72 degrees or even cooler so we are good to go out there for the pantry being relatively cool.

I also started my menu plan for September. I try and do a whole month even though what’s there may not be on that day. It’s just a reference point.  I’ve switched up a few things like Taco Tuesday and that can be burritos or enchiladas or really anything Mexican. We love rice and beans so that’s easy to have ready. I always make more beans than needed and freeze the rest.

The chicken girls are now laying and so we’re getting lots of eggs but they are still small so you need to use double the amount. I’m guessing that as they mature the eggs will get to be normal size.  I read that you can freeze the eggs if you whip them up so I may do that down the road. I guess lots of pantry prepper people do that especially since right now chickens would be laying the most and in the winter will not.

Mondays we don’t walk so I stayed in bed till 5:30 am. It was ok but I think I prefer just getting up at 5am.

Wednesday morning…

Still somewhat smokey but better.

Today I head to Sacramento for my oncology appt. It looked Sacramento air was clear so that’s a good thing. I’m not expecting any big revelations from my doctor but I’d like his opinion on the now present monoclonal protein.

My new treadmill showed up and it is a small one. It has high ratings and seems to work fine. The only thing I don’t like is the latch to hold it up in the space saver position is a large bolt and is not that easy to get into position.  But the price was right( $300.). If I continue to be diligent and use it then I will consider a better model next year.  Used ones are impossible to find and I read it’s one thing you shouldn’t buy used. Nordic track has a mid priced model so I’d consider that but for now the small  one will have to do.

Facebook update: I’ve been off Facebook almost a month and it’s been fine. I have looked a couple of times as I wanted to see what a few people were commenting on. Overall, looking at it ,I felt it was  a waste of time and I’m glad to be off for now. That may change as the election gets closer.

I have my budget set for September and am planning another Costco trip next week ( or sooner if it works out). But that shop would go on Septembers’s food budget.