Friday, May 29, 2020

Too Much To Take in and Write About

     Thanks to a couple nasty trollers, or even if not trolls, some not so nice people, I'm adding a short post. Yes, I write my blog from Minnesota and I live in the general geographic area of Minneapolis and St Paul. Yes, I am fully aware of the murder by police of a man earlier in the week. Yes, I am aware of the protests, and the riots that escalated out of the original peaceful protests. No, I am not ashamed of myself for writing  "stupid boring  blathering about my baby steps in public". 

     What has happened, and is happening, is in communities, neighborhoods of my family, friends, and colleagues. I am devastated. I am grieving. I am processing, I am forming my response mentally and physically. No, you don't get to tell me how to do that, and if you try to, I can ignore you. I didn't even let your mean comment post. The wounds are now, open, exposed. Take your key board attacks elsewhere-I'm not going to listen. I need my mental energy for more important things. 

Venturing Out A Bit More

     We've reached Friday again. The week didn't feel much different than the last 10 but there  were bits of changes and ventures broader than our small circle. Starting with last weekend and interacting with my siblings twice. First was Friday out at my sisters, outside, and spaced. I met up with three sisters and my oldest brother at the grave site on Saturday, again all outdoors. However, we've had some inside interaction as well. The college kids roommate was here last weekend and ended up staying over. She had pretty much been isolated with herself and dad, so I felt there was minimum risk. My sister also came for lunch last week. My older daughter visited friends several hours away-much needed break form so much time away from her friends.

     This week's biggest change in our stay at home lifestyle occurred with  my youngest applying for, interviewing, and starting a job, within the same week. She Interviewed Monday, and had brief orientation on Wednesday, then yesterday and today she is being trained-likely tomorrow as well. She described their safety measures and they are very thorough. She also showered and washed her clothes once home, so following what DH has been doing. I'm cautious, but I'm not scared as long as the safety measures continue. She seems much happier and while early, seems to like the work.

     My older daughter and I are going to go to the cabin after my mid-day meeting. We'll pick up simple food and likely do no cooking. We'll also be sure that any items we need we are bringing from Minnesota as I'm still leery of public spaces across the river until I see the two week  number report after the crazy packed bars and restaurants two weeks ago. While my brother-in-law's family may be up, it doesn't sound like any others, so we should be able to keep spread out and outside as the weather is promising. We're only staying overnight and back in town mid-day. I'm hoping I can get decent WIFI and add some remote working to my weeks over the summer. 

     I know I'm being more cautious than many, while equally expanding my circle faster than others might feel comfortable. I've been involved in some working groups related to summer youth programming with people from the health sector. I'm aware of the need to be slow with turning the dial while demands grow for getting the businesses up and running. I'll keep doing my part with health and safety front of mind. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Thrifty Thursday-The UnThrift Version

     I'm deviating a bit from my Thrifty Thursday post where I try to capture the savings or good use of time, resources, and money. This week, I'm going to share all the ways I was unthrifty  while in lock down recently. I don't regret any of these purchases or expenses because they met a specific purpose or added to my or anothers mental health at the time. I'm still of mind to maximize my life through cautious spending, increasing sustainability, and making the most of my time. Except for the money part, I didn't harm my time or resources.

  • Bought my son a very early birthday gift of an Instant Pot. While I haven't mastered mine, he enjoys cooking, and is trying to maximize every penny he has while not working. He reported he used it immediately upon arrival. It wasn't that he couldn't cook without it. It was the fact that one, he could buy cheaper versions of meats and other proteins and cook them faster, and two, it will become a bit of entertainment as he reads recipes or watches YouTube videos on how people are using the Instant Pot. Remember, this is a healthy, active, outgoing 31 year old that has not been able to work in his field since the very beginning of March. I was happy to gift him something that would be constructive and practical entertainment. 
  • Take Out from a pricier restaurant near us. We actually still had nearly $65 on a gift card for this restaurant and was going to use it, but then DH learned he was able to get a little  perk money through the corporate rewards. We decided right now the restaurant could use our business in new money. We ordered and they had car side pick-up, and we actually ate in the dining room, just the two of us. The college kid was out and about showing her college roommate, who was bored so drove to our town, the outdoor "highlights" of our community. We ordered for them to have when they got back as well. It felt good starting the long weekend with a bit of a night out. I was happy my daughter and friend got to spend time together. It just felt a bit normal and I liked it.
  • I spent $48, including a 20% tip, on  four Crowlers, basically a can  that holds 32 ounces, of the delicious hard seltzer our local brewery added this past winter to their offerings. I like beer, but so far most brewery beers are too dark and bitter for me, and I've stuck to just one, and then a seasonal version. This seltzer is so delicious and a nice refreshing change. I normally don't spend $48 on what might be the equivalent of a 12 pack of beer, but this local business provided me an empty nest life line last spring and helped me reconnect with old friends, through our weekly trivia games. It's been a fun gathering place to meet out of town friends, and we have an affinity for the owners as they grew up with my older two, and one was my youngests assistant show choir director. I think until they are open and back to hosting, this will be at least a monthly splurge while we can afford it. I may have to rethink this if DH's sales drop lower and if I have a reduction of hours and pay, but for now, it's worth it to me. 
  • I purchased extra phone chargers. With moving around the house working in different places depending on the light, how my back feels, and often forgetting to plug in my phones, I wanted to have a couple charging station areas. I didn't need a couple more chargers, but the convenience has made working from home a fraction easier. 
  • My daughter has had a few more shoots, some of which have been in the general area of a Trader Joe's. She is so good about texting me if there is anything I want there, knowing I like some of the specialties they have. I'm feeling no guilt having her pick up Palak Paneer, Bruschetta topping, their granola, spinach and artichoke dip, or a jar of olives I don't see in my local store. Just like the Crowlers, these little treats help make staying in a bit nicer.  If she is willing to stop, I certainly will accept her offer. 
  •  I have a few offers of fire wood and at some point I'll lug some home but in a pinch last weekend, I bought a bundle at the gas station. While we had some already, with the rain it was pretty damp. It was a wet weekend, but we had a few dry hours. Building and sitting by a fire is such a simple and relaxing way to spend an evening, lockdown or no lock down. (We were never in a true lockdown)
     We don't know how long life will be on this unsure path. And while short term goals might have to be altered, our medium to long term remain in tact. We still have a goal of both of us being fully retired within eight years. We are still hopeful our daughter will get to study abroad. While we might wait, I still want my patio redone, and eventually both bathrooms made over. We want to travel once it is safe to do so. I'll mostly continue to be thrifty but also be honest that that is not always the case and like my blown budget H&G spending, not always possible. I spurge and splurge often as the list above is a good example. I'm trying to keep a healthy relationship with money, still not wasting it, but not squeezing so tight that my hands hurt either. Where are you still splurging, if only occasionally?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mugs and What Goes in Them

     I don't have a vast mug collection, but rather an assortment of mismatched items bought by myself or someone else travelling. I have a few given as gifts, tucked in with a pound of coffee or holding a gift card. During the enhanced telework period, my team has been sharing our  Mug of the Day, just a little prompt to start our mornings. I started the ritual accidentally by having a different mug over three meetings in a short period, noticed by one of my team. It just became a meeting ice breaker that builds a little work life connection that is not intrusive. So many of mine are Christmas mugs, but are also of the right size to be able to fill and drink through a full hour meeting. 

     If I had more storage, I think I'd like to expand my mug collection so I have more variety to fit my mood and my beverage of choice. For my first coffee of the day, I like a nice wide and deep mug, enough to get a robust and strong coffee, but plenty of room for  cream, or at least milk as I tend to have at home. It needs to be big because I carry it to a comfy spot and am apt to slosh. Not great for carpet or comfy furniture. My Dollar Tree big white mug is preferred, but the Canada mug the girls brought me last summer, or a red mug from my  nephew are next options.

     When I take an honest to goodness tea break, either late morning or mid afternoon, I like to use a mug from somewhere I have or would like to travel. I often use a Chicago or Puerto Rico mug, gifted to me by coworkers, their places of home. I've been to Chicago airports more times than I can count, had a two day meeting outside of Chicago, drove through Chicago on a college visit road tour, and even did a fly in and out same day, but with less than an hour to wonder in the theatre district near the hotel. Why we have not gone to Chicago for plain travel, I don't really know. I suspect we will be road tripping more the next few years, so maybe in our plans. 

     I've had several friendly colleagues over the years who hail from Puerto Rico, and if they are examples of the hospitality shown, I'd love to visit myself. Here's some of the tea we've been enjoying. The box from Fortnum and Mason is long gone but I keep the box and put plain black tea in it. I know, odd, but it reminds me of London.

     My niece had my name for Christmas and this gem came holding some coffee sachets. It's not so obvious Christmas that I'll use ear round. It's another of those nice deep and wide ones. I like the idea of it for a hot cocktail. I'm not a cider drinker, but have decided mulled wine, or even the  fast track version of just warmed wine that has become more available the past few years. Of course the mug is way to big to fill, but cozy for the hand. I wouldn't judge anyone if they did fill it with mulled wine though. 

     My older daughter has been buying me coffee for a while as gift. She knows her mama! In college it was little portions of flavored coffees bought either in Milwaukee or on route home. Here last few international trips she has brought me coffee from Iceland and New Zealand. I guess it has become our thing and I like it. I have an idea for a crafty project with the bags, which is why I still have the Iceland one, long since drank. As you start your day, what do yo gravitate towards? Do you gift mugs and beverages? Are mugs one of your travel memory take homes or simply more clutter?