Friday, October 7, 2022

Friday Free for All- Where is Everyone?

      Blogland has been quiet lately. I think many of you are taking breaks. I think many others of you have to be bored with what I prattle on about, but it's so nice to chat with you via comments. I know Kim, Sluggy, and Anne are out having joys and making memories with Kim's Sissy. Enjoy ladies and please share your exploits. What's going on in my head since I and a few others are still here, typing away most every day?

 On Grandpup 

     Things went well for the most part this week.  He's very food motivated, and pup seems to just ignore him when he eats or gets treats. The opposite is not true, so I make sure my pup gets fed or treated in complete solitude. I'm also finding we need to take his tired cues. The crate is not a punishment, but provides a safe and cozy space when he's just so tired and over stimulated. By Wednesday, he was telling us when it was time for quiet. Never underestimate a good supply and variety of playthings. Mismatched colorful socks was better than an $10 toy from Chewy. He also settles in to cozy worn old tshirts. 

    You'd think we never had a dog before, or one from puppyhood, but I keep learning more and more things to help us out as we help our daughter balance her schedule. Did you know the slow meandering, sniffing walks are really very mentally and physically tiring for dogs? Here I always thought that it had to be a vigorous walk to do real good. Reasons Why You Should Let Your Dog Sniff On Walks.I'm incorporating both. Pup is a sniffer. When I walk both together, they both are. I give grandpup a faster paced, stretch his legs and get energy out kind of walk alone. The mix seems to be working to meet my and their needs. 

     I also have learned our situation is not that unique. Dogs come into people's lives at inopportune times a lot. Things change in life very quickly, some for good, some for sad, and sometimes a plan just might not have been fully baked. Sometimes a team approach to get through puppy stage (or kitty) and settled into adulthood is needed. There's so many pets in shelters that just need love and care. As a trio, daughter, DH, and I, we got this. 

Frustrations with HR 

     No offense to any of you in HR but I'm locked in a battle of wills. I lost a good team member last spring because she felt her position was under classified for the work. I agreed. My director agreed. Our executive sponsor agreed. Our HR consultant did not. We've since rewritten, revamped, found market comparisons, and she still low balled it to the same exact classification! I won't be able to attract the caliber of applicants the position needs. Myself and another have been doing the bare minimum to keep work afloat in that area, but the list of untouched work is growing. I'm in HR hell and do not understand why this consultant just does not understand the position needs. Picture me with smoke coming out my ear when the audit came back. And can I add, it's been 10 weeks since we requested to post the submitted position. To fight this might be another 10. What stage of your career were you in when you learned that Human Resources is not there to support the employees?

Fall Colors and Morning Sunrise 

     I don't have to repeat that colors are getting gorgeous out. We definitely need to get out of the house/ yard/ park this weekend and see different hues. My daughter drive fine with her dog. She has to work Saturday so I'll have him. DH does as well. As pup can't really take long walks, I might test out the young guy on the river walk, downtown, maybe  grab a seltzer and see if he is good hanging out at the brewery. If he is, he might come along for trivia. It should be gorgeous, even if chilly. I miss our beautiful red maple from the front yard. I did get to see the sun come up yesterday. I'll settle for that. 

    What's on your mind today? Are you feeling glad it's the weekend? 

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Thrifty Thursday- On Extra Funds


    I've been very lazy about both uploading Fetch receipts and playing MS Rewards quizzes. That's really dumb of me because both yield free to me extra funds that will come in handy. Focus, Sam. I've ordered a few more things from Amazon. Pups outdoor lead broke. He can't really be trusted to not wander and now with his poorer eyesight, just stepping off into the road a bit could be disaster. There's some non spending going on too. Like, watching grandpup here means no extra gas back and forth to my daughter's. Using any produce she brings has definitely improved my grocery budget.

      I want to get in the earning side again. I miss seeing the points add up. It's fun money for the holidays. Now that it's October, I should be thinking of them, but my mind is not there yet. So where is it for thinking thrift?

  • Repeat, using daughter's veggies. She made her first mortgage payment so we better consume the produce from her property. (359 left and counting)
  • Used coupons for filling the gas tank
  • I took full advantage of meals and snacks provided at the conference. This meant leftovers stretched farther for DH, and I stretched out groceries. 
  • Used frozen $2 a pound cheese curds for homemade Mac and cheese. DH was thrilled. That, or tomato soup and a grilled cheese is his comfort foods. The cheese curds plain are still tasty too. 
  •  Used free easy apps for donating to hurricane relief. 
  • This probably just encourages us to go out to eat more, but we bought a box of diner cards. Over 100 restaurants with buy one get one, or a certain Dollar amount off the check. This was a school choir program fundraiser so how could we not buy one. There's many pizza places included and using just those once each will pay for the cards. At least these are dining cards and not fast food coupons. There's several in my daughter's community and to places near the lake. We'll pass on cards that are in locations we'd hardly go to.
  • Card night at my sister's was thrifty, as we BYOB and share snacks.
  •  I bought a beer cheese dip from our local grocery deli for card night. I got to say, at $6.99 it was a good value. Six of us nibbled Friday, plus DH ate during football. I've been eating with crackers as part of lunch.Yes, it would have been cheaper to make, but sometimes time and energy need conserving. 
  • Temps are dropping starting today, but will go up a little by end of weekend. I'm making sure we have plenty of blankets accessible for sleeping and relaxing. I dug out my comfy slippers for the drafts under my desk. Basically, making sure we don't feel the need to start heating the house so early. Temps this morning are higher than they'll be later. 

    That's what passed for thrift in my house. Oh, I could add I've got a free personal trainer with grandpup. I'm keeping track of my increased exercise through walking, and decreased snacking because I'm watching less TV or streaming. Both bad habits to curb. I remember losing weight at the beginning of the pandemic. I was walking pup more out of boredom and being home more often. However, by fall, and the realization we weren't even close to seeing an end, too much bingeing, screen time and food, was bad for me, and I not only gained back the couple pounds I lost, but another 11 to boot. ( Or should I say to butt. ) This feels more positive as free weight loss support. Warning though, this is a 10-15 year exercise plan with no breaks.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

My Wednesday Pantry - The (not)Dollar Tree $5.00 Meal Challenge 2022

     Another year, another attempt at making a reasonably decent meal from items at the Dollar Tree. This is purely for amusement. It will illustrate though how food deserts can really be hard to create a healthy diet. If I, someone with few food limitations, access to refrigeration and cooking source, struggle, I can't imagine if this store or similar, was all I could access with limited transportation options. My Dollar Tree, while small, had a limited refrigerator and freezer section. That helped with some variety. There's no fresh produce and bread products are hit or miss. 

I tried to give myself rules that didn't make this an unchallenge. Using oodles of spices, oils, milk, butter, and other items that are pure ingredients are off limits. The only thing from my own supplies I'd allow is salt and pepper. It's true though, if starting with nothing, these may be nonexistent too. 

     So here's the thing though, I didn't actually do the challenge. I bought the ingredients as listed, and had ideas. In my head, I changed things up a  bit. I shopped an easier route and decided to do a two meal, $10 challenge. This meant I could split some items to both to add more flavor, but add more calories too. However, once I really thought things through, I think I could get three meals made. Here's my shop:

  • 6 medium eggs 
  • John Morrel Sausage
  • Pepper, onion blend 
  • Bisquick mix 
  • 2 pounds rice 
  • I pound pinto beans 
  • Beef broth
  • Hunts Pasta sauce, garlic

      This is how I might have gone about making them. With helping my daughter with grandpup, working longer logged in hours to ensure I could get my work done with potential extra drive time or dog walking time, I just didn't have the energy to actually produce. I'm using ingredients I bought in other meals. So here's my three ideas.

Meal one: Rice crust quiche, rustic beans, rice pilaf

 Mix 1 cup cooked rice with one egg, pat into pie plate, pre bake 10 minutes. Beat the other five eggs.  Sauteed 1/3 pepper blend, cool add to eggs and put in crust. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes until eggs are set.

Add 1/4 cup broth, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and  about  1 1/2 cup cooked beans. Simmer slow until sauce for beans thickens, taste for salt or pepper. Make rice pilaf by browning rice in a few TBLS of broth, add another 1/2 cup of broth, salt and pepper to taste, and 1& 1/2 cup water,  cook rice as normal.

Meal Two: Chili pizza

Use biscuit mix to make a pizza crust, reducing the water by 1/3. Spread out on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Take one - 1& 1/2 cup  cooked beans, mush them as fine as preferred, then cook adding beef broth to desired consistency, likely 3/4 cup. Spread on pizza crust. Then top with 1/2 the remaining pasta sauce.  Saute 1/3 of the pepper blend, with half the sausage sliced in discs, top the pasta sauce. Bake for another 15 minutes, until crust is fully done. 

Meal Three: Sausage & Bean soup 

Sauteed last of pepper blend with either discs or chunks of remaining sausage, in a soup type pot. Add the remaining broth, pasta sauce, and beans. Add one cup water, and more salt and pepper to taste. This should yield about four hearty cups of soup. Cook 1 cup of rice to two water, with salt to taste. Serve soup in bowls along side or over rice. 

     There might be many reasons food access is limited. I was going to do this as a challenge, but the challenge was doing the challenge! I'm not happy with calorie or sodium, but using the rice and beans would keep sodium down and bulk up. 

     I worked with someone who 30 years ago only had a service station credit card and no money until payday. She had to creatively take care of her and her daughters needs for three weeks until her first pay day, shopping at a gas station. She shared how much she hated bananas after that as it was the only fresh fruit or vegetable they carried. When she later bought a manufactured home, she was ecstatic to be able to put in a garden, never forgetting the limitations. 

     How would you rate my plan? If I got gumption again, should I move forward?  Feel free to be brutally honest.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Positively Tuesday- Exhausted But OK

      Taking care of a young dog is not the same as caring for a toddler, but it's exhausting none the less. As we help our daughter, I remind myself he's going to develop very fast, from puppy to companion. He's just still very much puppy. I will say, I am putting on more steps in a day than I probably have in three. When I fall asleep at night it's sound! I've only helped once so far with both dogs together, but I'm sure we were a sight when I walked them together. Weight wise they are the same or close, but pup is compact and strong, low to the ground and full of fluff. Grandpup is tall and lean. When he stretched out, he's like seeing a greyhound in full stride.  Joys and challenges of canines is not all I'm reflecting on. Here's my day to day lead up to Positively Tuesday. 

Tuesday: I had stayed at my daughter's. I walked to a nearby C store for coffee, hers to go, and mine for a leisurely hour before I started my work day.  I had a good and productive work morning and play with the grandpup before heading to an outdoor work event. It was a good day. 

Wednesday: Day one of a two day conference was filled with seeing in person for the first time in 30 months both local and national colleagues. We also were the work day equivalent of wined and dined. Food was delicious. It felt good to work hard and be treated well.

Thursday: I had a damper of a day with yet another round of audit materials requested. While I feel like I've been asked to give a kidney, I realized it can't go on forever. The second day of conference was our turn to present and it went very well. Our family member who is having a hard time, was able to get an appointment for today to get needed support managing their mental health. 

Friday: I worked a work day "light", covering multiple mail boxes. My daughter joined me for lunch, giving her pup needed quiet time. She took a needed nap as well. There's always room for my kids. That night, I had a girls card night at my sister's. I drove my sister who just last week had major surgery. She's doing so well. 

Saturday: DH took a rare Saturday off just because. We went to a nephew's football game, errands, and introduced the dogs. Let's just say they are not fast friends, but it'll get better.

Sunday: We kept grandpup overnight. Not perfect but manageable. We watched an exciting Vikings game and had loads of outdoor time. I'm pretty sure I lost another pound or two. If my darm knee didn't act up, I'd use grandpup as a running buddy. Walking will have to do. 

He's not a green eyed demon, but
man do we need to make sure
he has something to chew.

Monday: Book club was a good discussion of Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affairs of Styles. Like so many classic books, written in time periods well before my time, I sometimes struggle with the writing while very much enjoying the story. I'll definitely read more- there's no shortage of choices. 

     This week hopefully will be filled with more positives, despite the work related stress. I can't let that keep me or put me down. The days are getting really short now. While we have any sun in our days, I plan to take advantage. The sun isn't even up yet, but I'm enjoying morning quiet on the porch with coffee. I hope you have a Positively Tuesday kind of day.