Saturday, January 23, 2021

Travel on My Mind


     A link on The Most Perfect Road Trip came up in my news feed from some Kitchen page I follow. Oh my juices are flowing for planning a good road trip. I shared it on my Facebook  page mostly so I could find the article later. A couple of my sisters popped notes in the comments about doing a sisters trip. That would be eight of us because of course we would include my sister-in-law who I've never not known. Really there is no reason we couldn't do this-none of us have any kids at home, me being the last empty nester. 

     While making the full 360 degree trip in one go would be pretty impossible until a few of us retire, picking one path might be an option. Doable. I can't see though the oldest sister wanting to be in a car or van that long. She's sort of a homebody anyway, other than in her younger years she loved going to Vegas. We used to do a sister's weekend, but the last one where we rented a  cabin about two hours away was the weekend before my sister passed away. While some have vacationed together, and we still do a shopping day that starts with breakfast out, a mid afternoon happy hour, and ending with dinner and girls poker night, it hasn't been the same. Needless to say, we didn't even do that this year. C'est la vie de pandemic. 

     I'm drafting this blog post while watching Hannah Ricketts vlog on her lock down wanderings using her one hour of daily exercise to walk and take us along to lovely London neighborhoods. She clicked and showed several houses for sale on a certain street. They ranged between 1,600,000 to 1,800,000 pounds! I mentioned the other day Stanley Tucci's Italy, and Laurie was kind to put the start date, February 14th, in the comments. I think these tours from my television will be what I have for quite a while. I can still plan though. It's unreal to think my daughter was on route to New Zealand a year ago. Now, I'm leery crossing the bridge into Wisconsin! 

     I went along with Hannah to the London Zoo. I had to agree and share her disdain to see people coming off a ramp, not wearing masks (as is the requirement) and leaving paper cups just laying on a ledge, not being bothered to deposit their garbage. What makes people behave this way! I swallowed hard when she mentioned her discounted fee was 26 pounds for her visit!  Well, our local Minnesota Zoo is I think $19.95 so considering the location, I guess it's on par. The animals need to be taken care of pandemic or no pandemic. 

     I'm not keen on staying in a hotel at the time being, though even my son who is more careful about the virus than anyone I know, did for work. They had very strict bubbles, and still ended up barely getting the project done before they had more cases than they could sustain after isolating staff. I think I may plan some day trips, map them out for relatively nice days. Some would be pup friendly and others  would need to work for our daughter's schedule to come hang with him like she did when we visited our daughter four hours away. There's only a few things we can do in the Twin Cities, and because most things need to be reserved, it feels like  planning a trip. No impromptu outings. You need reservations for both zoo's and the museums are not open but may start with limited hours at the end of the month, with reservations, and limited capacity. I guess that will feel as safe as I do when grocery shopping. Our best bet continues to be different county or state parks, dressed warm, and bringing our own food and drink. Add zoo's and museums to the the list of 1,000 that I will never  under appreciate again. 

     I have no shortage of vacation time banked, and will replace in short order any I use. DH has 15 days to use in  2021, and he will use at least 6 planning to take three combination Friday Saturdays off this summer giving him three Thursday-Sunday weekends at the cabin. I think we might stay there Sunday-Thursday a few times as well, since he could just go to work from there, but still get a nightly swim and an outing with the boat. If things still don't feel safe to us for air or hotel staying, we'll likely take another fall week at the cabin.

     I'd like to reschedule our Las Vegas trip but that requires flying. I think a fall driving trip down the Mississippi roadways could be a really nice trip-Minnesota to New Orleans. Where will you plan to go once we are free to move about the cabin? Are you likely to stay closer to your home communities, or are you going to make up for lost time? Regardless of what country, if you have a road trip to recommend, please share. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Where in the World is ....Friday W's

       We had a fun little work Lunch buddies meet up yesterday where we all changed our backgrounds to either be from a memorable vacation spot, or where we might want to go. It was fun to see people in Lisbon, and  New Zealand, the North Shore, the  Colorado Mountains, and places farther or in-between. I was in London, ready to take a walk across the Tower Bridge. It was a nice diversion-both memories of good times we've had and promises to be travelling again. Tomorrow I have a travel on my mind post, but today, just another Friday W's. 

What's top of mind: You might think based on the week, the change of leadership is top of mine, but really, schools and kids are on my mind. We had more schools returning to in-person learning and more set to go back Monday, February 1, and February 8th. My daughter has been back on campus nearly two weeks, two weeks of classes done, and her college dash board only shows one Covid case at this time. Her test she was required to have five days after moving back was negative obviously, but it still was a relief. Thank you all teachers and educators, and child care professionals that are there for our children and students. While they are prioritized for vaccines in part, there are so few vaccine does that it is only rolling out in Minnesota as a pilot. 

Where I've been: Sunday was grocery shopping day and I combined that with a Target return, and a quick walk through the store, as well as a Amazon return at Kohls I did the same, a circle walk through the store, mostly in housewares, just a peek, and we left. Tuesday was an OK day at work, but our new staff could not come in as scheduled because of a positive test on last Saturday. I'm glad he feels well though. I had a bundled meet-up for a walk around a park  with a friend. Just a little change of pace was nice.

Where I'm going: My sister's birthday was on the 19th and I have her present to run out to her. She said they celebrated by splurging on the best pizza place in town. Other than running her gift our to her house and walking the dog, I don't have to go anywhere. I'm doing a meeting at my daughters on Monday though as I need to make sure WIFI is good and no dog barking in the back ground. She is working out of her house that day.

What I'm watching: I binged watched the last two seasons of Shetland on Britbox. I know, no judging! The Scottish Islands are so interesting to me. Question though for those that know this part of the world. Is there really a lot of drug trafficking and corruption on the islands as I have watched via this program? We kept HBO Max and I am interested in a few movies that will be premiering soon-next weekend I think. I was excited, then let down to see the French drama Spiral on Amazon Prime, but the last two seasons were not available without yet another subscription service. I didn't add any more. 

What I'm reading: I still need to either buy, check out or download We Were Liars for my book club. The meeting February 5th and I tend to read in one or two shots. 

What I'm listening to:  I have not had any streaming  radio this week at all. The most listening I've done is the car radio going to the store and work. 

What I'm eating: I tried a new to me recipe, Bean and Chees enchiladas. I've been eating the leftovers for lunches, and froze a portion for a future lunch. I made a yummy rice crust quiche with cheese and vegetables and potato rosti's. Last night was ranch chicken, using the leftovers for sandwiches and French fries on Saturday. I've done better sticking to a planned menu, but did not make chili. I will say, it was easier thinking about the never ending meal preparation having a plan in place.

Who I'm paying attention to: In general, I'm just happy to not pay attention to anyone in particular. I'll be keeping an eye on, maybe even watch the playoff games this weekend to determine who goes to the Super Bowl. I am a serious anti Green Bay Packer fan, so I will root for whoever they play, this time, the Tamp Bay Buccaneers. I have an affinity for Patrick Mahomes and so will root for the Kansas City Chiefs as his father, Pat Mahomes, pitched for the Minnesota twins a few decades ago. 

What I'm planning:  Tomorrow is dedicated to cleaning and figuring out which room will be painted next weekend. I'm tired of the staleness in every room of the house. Top contenders are our bedroom and the family room. I want to convince DH to bring in some color! I'm also thinking about ordering temporary tiles to do a back splash in the kitchen. I know-I've never shared pictures after our little refresh two years ago. 

     What a week, right? We had the inauguration and it went off seemingly without flaw. It felt calmer, but of course no one should get too complacent. If we are to have movement towards unity, there needs to be conversations, and discussion, but that does not mean capitulation towards accepting unilateral actions, beliefs, and ideas that others hold. It means accountability for decisions and actions as well. It's homemade pizza night and my daughter is going to join us. I am going to open the wine I got from my sister for my birthday, a lovely shiraz.

      That's what  I'm experiencing and thinking about this Friday. What's the W's of your life this week? 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Thrifty Thursday and a New National Direction

      So far so good after the change of national leadership. I might even say that Trump's parting speech prior to boarding Air Force One for the last time, was almost calming. Sure, a little bravado, and would not mention Biden by name, but he used words of promise and hopefulness towards the new administration. The President, Joe Biden the President, gave a moving speech complete with reflection or prayer as individuals felt warranted,  for those lost to Covid.Now of course I saw several postings of a cut and paste listing of all the "status' of 1/20/2020, supposedly not for political discourse, but to see how wonderful things really were when in four years times, people look back. The problem is, the post alone is filled with  inaccurate biases, partial and complete untruths, and has nothing to do with  social justice, poverty and disparities, health care, or the environmental. I try not to look at my life in terms of just financial and would hope in the supposedly richest country in the world, we can look broader than  $$'s on a page. That's why when I track my frugalness, my thrifty Thursdays, I try and recap how I best used time, resources, and money.


  • I used my Monday to get caught up on a few work things-uninterrupted, plus some interruptions with urgent response needs, but also made sure to watch and reflect on programs for Martin Luther King Day. I was not bothered by doing work, as much of the work I was doing aligned creating a more just, fair, and  equitable society. 
  • I had the board meeting for  my daughter and nieces new organization. They are super organized and efficient. I'm looking at a few grant leads on their behalf to see if they are a good fit. 
  • I met my friend N for a walk on Tuesday after being in the office. It was down right cold, but in spite of that, and the slippery spots, we walked a goo 50 minutes, and chatted another 10 before doing a gloved, fist pump goodbye. I was feeling whiny after things didn't go completely as planned in th eoffice,and was hoping a small bit tat she would need to cancel so I could go home and crash. This was far better and so needed. Lesson to all-do not cancel plans with friends as no doubt the reason I feel like cancelling, is the exact reason I need to see them. 
  • I took the time to watch the actual swearing in part of the inauguration, though was working while the television was on. I also paused to listen to the phenomenal Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. 


  • I did a one time catch-up wsh load with delicate clothing items and hung them all up to dry. I often do really small loads because I want to have something clean, but those small loads waste resources. I added 1/4 cup baking soda to soften the water and used a bit less laundry soap, which I prefer on more delicate clothing items.
  • I made three small loaves of banana bread using flax seed eggs, and bananas my daughter had given me from her freezer. I'm not sure what I did differently other than a bit more vanilla and a tsp plus of cinnamon, but it was some of the best banana bread I've made recently.  
  • Both dinner on Monday and Wednesday yielded lunch leftovers. I was going to freeze half the enchiladas, but since DH was luke warm on them, I'll freeze a portion for myself, myself for future, and I ate them yesterday and will tomorrow. Today we'll eat the leftover rice quiche, sausage balls, and rostis. I had planned on chili on Tuesday, but didn't get things put in the crock pot, so we had leftover hotdish form Saturday with the hotdogs. No waste so far this week and I've tried to make a few different things meals as I have been in a rut. 


  • I got DD2's clothing returned to Target. Unfortunately because I didn't have her  debit card they had to put on a Target gift card, but she can use that for future spending. 
  • I did a little  gift shopping for people for the coming year, pairing clearance and 30% off at Kohls. I am done with my sister-in-laws fall birthdays ($2.5 under my target budget for each and I'm very happy with the quality), got a couple Christmas gifts for my girls, DS, and DH. The Christmas gifts will be tucked away but I'll start tracking the spending now.
  • I earned $20 in Kohls cash that may be applied towards a couple more new towels for us.
  • We paid daughters tuition and other expenses on-line with no added fees.
  • Exciting for her, she ended up getting the position at the library. She originally heard that it was filled, but there were other shifts for a different role, but all conflicted with her class schedule. Then she got a message over the weekend that  the first job was open again and it was hers! She also is interviewing on Monday for a small 2-4 hour a week research job in the Spanish department. Should she get that, between the two, she'll average about 10 hours per week, which will cover any spending, plus allow her to tuck another sizeable amout away towards Study Away. For the library job, shell be able to do homework while checking things out for students and faculty. 
  • My final medical reimbursement check arrived and will be tucked in the bank as the bill was paid in a previous month. .
  • I spent $20 over my grocery target, but that was due to excellent prices on meat items.I am pretty confident  I'll hit my mini challenge  to stay under $500 for household, groceries and Take Out.  For those just reading, the $500 included an pricey Take Out and cake for my daughters birthday, plus, I stocked her up on Trader Joe "essentials" before she went back to school. 

It was a fairly decent week, all things considered. I got out of the house safely and kept others safe keeping my distance and masking up. Despite the vaccine roll out being chaotic, I am hopeful the direction will be clearer going forward. How have you been using your time, resources and money? Who's started their Christmas shopping for next year and will throughout the year? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My Wednesday Pantry-New To Me Recipe


     I've been wanting to make enchiladas for a long time-not sure why I've never made them before as they would have been an economical dish when I had a houseful of kids. I used. I used both these recipes form for the Enchilada Sauce and the Bean and Cheese Enchiladas .The verdict-lukewarm-OK. For what they were, they had a really good taste, but were very beany-maybe next time I'll decrease the bean ratio by 1/3, add a full onion (I used the other half from my tuna salad). I might also mix only half (1/4 of the recipe) the cheese in with the beans. and layer the other 1/4 cheese on top of the beans to have more definition. I really liked the enchilada sauce and and using a $ .29 cent can of Aldi tomato sauce for the base, and chili powder, pepper, and cummin I had in my pantry, so cheap. The corn tortillas were 30 for I think $1.39 an dI only used 12. I'll admit, I just used a packet of taco  seasoning in he bean and cheese mix, which tasted good. As I said, the main complaint is the  amount of beans to cheese and tortilla ratio. Cost?

  • 12 Corn Tortillas  $.58
  • 2 Can beans $1.38
  • 2 cups cheese $1.65
  • Taco seasoning $.39
  • Tomato sauce  $ .29
  • 1/2 an onion $ .14
  • chili powder, cumin, flour, pepper-negligible, but let's say cumulative $ .50
     Total $4.83. I made the remains of a bag of rice with 1/3 stick of margarine, so another $ .40 for rice, with leftovers for the rice crust quiche I'm making tonight. $5.33 for two people, with enough leftovers for a second meal, so $2.67. I ate two and DH had four, but I think he had very little rice. I'll eat the leftovers for lunch today=Friday, along with the rice I don't need for the quiche crust. Now that I've made them, I can see it would be easy to mix up any filings inside-ground beef and bean, chicken and cheese etc. or add other vegetables.

     My daughter did her shopping while I did mine-keeping the high recommendation of one cart/one person in stores though we saved gas and had time together by going together. New readers may not know my daughter eats vegan, no animal products at all, and mostly does whole food cooking with little use of pre-made vegan products. She found a great deal on veggie meat patties, and ground mock beef, $2 off per package so she will have a bit less labor the next few weeks. Hummus was $2 a tub and hard to make for that price. This was a large haul for her, spending $55. She overall averages $30 per week for her H&G with occasional restocks that might  increase her yearly spending overall, but even then she is very efficient. I asked her to take a picture of her haul when she unpacked. She was planning on doing a meal prep day Sunday after I dropped her off. If she had any new recipes, I'll ask her to share them with pictures. I'll keep looking for new things to try this winter as I have been in a rut. I've got a spare 18 corn tortillas in my freezer so if you have ideas or recipes to use them up, please share. Edit: I've corrected both my daughters shop and average spending. Dang, that girl is  even thriftier than I first typed and healthy!

My daughter's Aldi haul.