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Friday, March 24, 2017


Not fun being a widow.
My dollars are flying out the window so much faster so far this year. So money seems to be on my mind all the time. Now would be a great time to have a husband who also gets a Social Security check every month.

So far I have spend a lot more on drugs (Rx, not street drugs!) than I did for all of last year, and basically have the same drugs. My medicare part D has a much higher deductible for the year, and not only that, but not all my meds count toward the deductible! The deductible is $400, up from $260. I have already paid close to $500 and still have about $260 left to pay on deductible. Several of my meds have been changed to a higher tier, which means my share is many times higher than what I paid before. And the list goes on and on.

I have the added expenses of moving, plus higher rent so I have watched the dollars disappear and my checking account reserves have all but been depleted so have no cushion to depend on. After paying some large bills in January, I went on a 'no buy' for 6 weeks, and did a pantry and freezer challenge. That all went well, and I had plenty of good food to eat. I used my bread machine at least twice a week for delicious bread. But then I ran out of essentials so that I couldn't even bake anything. Then it was time to restock. Well, that was expensive! I ended up spending over $300 just to get the essentials and a little restocking of canned foods, and yet there were still holes in things I needed.

Since I haven't lived here for a year, my electric bill is not on the budget plan yet. I have electric heat, with heat pump, at this house, and have nothing on gas, so had no idea what my heating would cost. It not is so high considering the bill includes water heater and all lights and everyday usage for appliances, etc. And I do have a dishwasher that I did not have before, and I use it at least twice a week. The highest bill in the coldest months ran around $115. But, the problem - I was used to paying $70 a month for gas/elec at the other house. So add the extra $ to the expensive med bills and higher rent, a small increase -twice- in my cable/internet/phone bill, I have nothing extra. There is one good thing and that is I do not have to pay for water, sewer and garbage here, and that had been $70 a month.

I don't mean to be a downer with this message, but it is a big concern for me at the moment. That is why it would be really nice to have a man to share the expenses. Is there anyone who has a  single
older gentleman relative out there who might be interested? I am serious - sort of. ;)

I must keep reminding myself that God has taken care of me for almost 75 years and I know He won't stop now. I need to keep the faith because God is faithful.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


The month of March is all a bit confusing here in northwest Iowa. Winter keeps dragging her feet because she doesn't want to leave. But Spring is stubborn and refuses to give up until Winter is finally gone for good, at least until its time comes again.

Today we can get a little of both as snow flakes are predicted for this morning, but by afternoon it will be warm enough for rain, which is also predicted. So far the snow has stayed just south of us so it is still dry. There are still a few spots of snow left from the last big storm we had, and they are what is left of the piles of removed snow from streets and driveways. I think those will be gone in a day or two and no one will be sad to see it go. I will be very happy to be able to turn the heat off and have windows open, and hope that it doesn't get too hot and humid for a long while so the AC can stay off too. But, we rarely get a summer without it.

Surprisingly, in an average March, we usually get the most snow of the winter, even though it is not the coldest month. And we often get some snow in April. My first baby was born during the early morning hours of April 12. It was raining when we went to the hospital at 11 pm, and by morning we had 7" of heavy, wet snow.

Around here, weather is always talked about, because our farmers depend on it for their crops. Spring has to be dry enough to get in the fields to prepare for planting, and then time to get it all planted before needed rains come to make it grow to maturity. Then, it needs to be dry enough to get in the fields to harvest it all. All too often spring is very wet, delaying planting. And sometimes in summer we get some heavy rain that will drown out the low spots in the fields. Or it is too dry, stunting the growth and cutting the yield way back. Some years the farmers are still picking corn when we get a lot of snow and they are unable to finish, and the corn stays in the field all winter. The deer population loves that!

Some of you might think the yield doesn't matter, but that is their livelihood. Selling that grain is what pays the bills for the year, and they at least need enough to buy new seed to plant the next season. Farming is the biggest gamble there is, but you can't keep a farmer from 'playing in the dirt' every year.

So Winter, get out of here and allow Spring to stay!

Friday, February 10, 2017


No, not me! That would set records for sure!

I was sitting in my usual chair one day and suddenly noticed some new leaves had popped out on one of the stems of my dragon tree. I was shocked. I didn't even know the plant was pregnant and here it had already given birth to a new baby.

 I wish I had been on the ball and got a picture of it right after it had started, but you know my procrastination. It is a little hard to tell in ths above picture, but the leaves in the middle of the picture is the baby.

 Another angle of the new baby.

This shows a little more of the whole plant with the baby on the left. It is about in the middle of one of the stems (stalks?) There are 4 stems but you can only see parts of two of the heads.

I received this plant at my husband's funeral 12 years ago and this is the first time a baby has arrived. I guess this dragon tree likes this house as much as I do!

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Here are some pictures for a glimpse of the results of a big snow storm we had earlier. We got somewhere between 8 to 10" of new snow. Don't pay attention to the dates on the pictures. Somehow that got screwed up and I didn't realize it until now. I can never remember dates and didn't write down the date of the storm, but was toward the end of January, 2017.

I tried to get different angles to show the depth of the piles of snow after the scooping was done. I am standing in the front doorway as I did not have shoes or coat on, and it was COLD out there.

 This one probably gives the best angle for the depth. Notice the white 'cap' on top of my old cream can that sits right next to the front door. The wall of the garage goes all along the right edge of the sidewalk. I think it 'helps' some deeper drifts to form right on the sidewalk when the wind is just right. I am so thankful I do not have to get out there and scoop it myself. One of the perks of living in a managed unit.

 Now this picture is actually taken from my front window. Notice the drift overhang that formed on roof edge. The roof extends out a few feet from the house which is nice, especially in the summer as it keeps the hot sun out of the windows in the afternoon.

 Another view of that roof drift. You can see the strips that make the windows look like smaller panes. I cannot remember what they are called right now. Brain fog again?

I did take one step outside the front door for this one for another angle. You also see the light fixture at the front door. There is a matching one at the front corner of the garage.

I took the pictures at the right time because it was not very long afterward that the whole thing dropped off the roof!

Just another normal winter in Iowa.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


UPDATE: I wrote this almost a month ago and thought I had posted it. Shows how much I check my own blog. I talk about brain fog in this post, and evidently I still have it. :(

Goodness! Here we are more than half way through the first month of the new year and I haven't blogged since August. Really? I guess that is what moving, surgery ten days later, and a second surgery 2 months after the first one does to a person. At least it did me. I was also kept very busy with doctor and clinic appointments during this time.

First, brain fog. I think I heard one time that surgery or the anesthetic can do that to you. So barely recovering from the first knee replacement surgery the end of July, and having the other knee done the end of September completely deleted any creative thoughts. I did not blog because it seemed I could not put two sentences together, and did not feel like sitting at the computer. I did not crochet or any other hand stitching either.

Second, my three kids took turns being here during and after the surgery for the first 3 weeks, and did the same after the second surgery, which kept them busy trying to work around their schedules. It was truly a blessing that they could be here to take care of me and pamper me with their cooking, cleaning and talking. I was so spoiled after everyone was gone that it was (and still is) very hard to get back into a routine to get cleaning and cooking done again. So during that time there was no blogging or crafting done, though I did get a lot of reading done on my Kindle. The kids also did some more unpacking and trying to organize things for me after the move. I am still working on that, but very close to being done.

Both new knees turned out very well. Surgery went better than I expected, as did the quick recovery afterward. Physical therapy also went very well and was pretty easy. The therapists told me that I started out in better shape than most knee replacement patients, so that was good to hear. So I guess I did something right along the way. I have also lost over 40 pounds since the end of May so am feeling much better. I still have a long way to go but have a good start and hope to keep going downward and not gain it all back. Not easy!

I am finally starting to feel more 'normal' again and ready to blog again. I have also been crocheting an afghan for the church auction. I had a few other things planned for the auction but am fast running out of time! The auction is in two weeks. Help!

Many of my friends and fellow bloggers are doing pantry challenges this month. I have been sort of forced into doing that because of extra expenses last month and this month. I have already spent $430 for prescription meds this month. One good thing is that I have enough for 3 months, but it is a huge chunk of money going out at once for someone on limited income. I am hoping I can make my glaucoma eye drops last the rest of the month, but that is questionable. And that is very expensive too. I think I have met my deductible for the year already.

My fridge is suffering the most right now. I have about 3 apples, 4 Cuties oranges, almost a dozen eggs, 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, 1/2 carton of vanilla yogurt, and less that one stick of margarine in the fridge along with many condiments and salad dressings. I do have dry milk on hand so have been making up 1/2 gallon of that at a time or making one cup at a time when needed. But the dry milk is getting pretty low and might get one more gallon out of what is left.

I have plenty of meat in the freezer but running a little low on frozen vegetables and I rarely buy or use canned veggies except green beans. I think I have two cans of green beans. I am down to one package of browned hamburger in freezer, plus about 6 hamburger patties. I have a whole chicken cooking in the crockpot right now so will have some cooked chicken to put in freezer soon.

Last week I cooked up a package of pinto beans and a package of great northern beans, both in the crockpot with chicken broth. I froze the beans in quart bags and use the liquid for soup base, which is also frozen.

As far as true pantry items, my pantry is small so I don't have a big stockpile to use up, but I still have plenty of pasta and jello. That doesn't make for a very good combination!

I ran out of bread some time ago and have made 3 loaves of bread in the machine in the last couple of weeks. It is too good! I eat too much of it, but often that is all I have for a meal, mostly because I am too lazy to cook, or just not that hungry. In the process I used up the last of my whole wheat flour and rye flour, and not sure I have enough white bread flour for another loaf, though I can use regular flour and add wheat gluten, too.

I am afraid my grocery cart will be piled high when I finally go to the store. I have not bought a single grocery item since December 12!

I am totally out of peanut butter, regular butter, sliced and block cheeses, jam, instant oatmeal and every other cereal, fresh veggies, and any other fruit that the few apples and oranges left. So I can't have a peanut butter sandwich or toast, nor a toasted cheese sandwich. I think I have one small can of tuna yet so can make tuna salad for a couple of sandwiches. So I am out of quick meal and snack items. I am also out of my favorite instant coffee mix and down to drinking only tea. Since I am out of the instant oatmeal packets I have been microwaving regular quick oatmeal with milk and adding my own things like brown sugar and walnuts. I usually add dried fruit but am out of that also. I find that using the regular oatmeal nukes as fast as the packets and much cheaper. I think it even tastes better.

So my favorite 'go-to' foods are gone and that means I actually have to cook!

Along with the pantry challenge this month, I am also going through old statements and other papers and shredding or filing, so am decluttering again. It has been a slow process since I have so many things I need to be working on at the same time. I have a long list of things I NEED to do and a long list of projects I WANT to do as well. I would like to get back to working on genalogy but that will have to wait awhile.

With that, this has gotten much too long and I really NEED to get back to work on other things for the day. I do hope to get back here more often. I don't think it will be daily yet, but am hoping that will come soon as well.

Monday, August 22, 2016


 This is the back entry/laundry/closet/pantry room at the former house on moving day. It is jam packed with full boxes and this isn't quite all of them but couldn't get any more in here!
 Here the men who moved me are trying to put up the drapes from the former house. These drapes have quite a history with this being the 3rd house they have decorated. They were custom made for my husband's house after we were married. When I moved 10 years ago, the lady who made them was able to make them over to fit the windows in the living room there. And praise the Lord, they fit the windows here in the new house! It was quite comical watching 4 guys trying to figure out how to put up the rods. They took them down at the other house, so you would think they knew how to put them back up, right?
This is a view of the dining area taken from the kitchen.
 What a disaster! This is the kitchen right after unloading the trailers.

 Here is the living room taken from the dining area and looking toward the front door. The furniture did not stay arranged like this for a couple of reasons but it does look quite nice this way.

 A small glimpse of the bedroom ready for the first night sleeping there. I do want new bedding but will have to make do with the old for the time being.

 It is hard to see how big this bathroom is in this picture. Things look a little different now as I had management install grab bars on both sides of the shower. My daughter has also installed bars on each side of the toilet to make it easier getting up and down after my surgery. They have been a life saver, even though this is a higher than normal toilet.

 Here I am, totally worn out, in the 2nd bedroom/spare room, sitting in front of the computer desk and trying to get everything hooked up again. There are actually more unpacked boxes in this room right now because we moved some from other rooms that didn't need to be unpacked right away.

Another view of the dining area and kitchen taken from the living room.
I have since gotten the boxes of books unpacked and put on the book shelves and there are no more full boxes in there. I am anxious to get everything organized so I can take pictures again.

All these pictures were taken by my daughter on moving day.

I had told you before the move that I didn't know what was going to happen to the red swing on the front porch. It turns out my son has a spot for it on his front porch so he took it back to Virginia when he went home after helping me after my surgery. I am happy it is staying with family for now.

'Til next time. . . . . .

Sunday, August 21, 2016


The whirlwind move is over. I am so thankful for all the help from several men and women from the church. A couple of friends came and helped pack the day before moving, along with my daughter and her 11 year old twins. Even though I had already packed a lot of boxes, there was still a lot left, especially the last minute stuff in the kitchen and pantry, plus the garage.

I was able to declutter a lot in the garage since I don't need any garden tools at my new home. And there were a lot of things out there that I had not used in many years so out they went.

Thank goodness moving day was not too hot or humid like it was 10 years ago when I moved into the old place. The guys who moved things were very thankful as well!

I am loving my new home. Everything is new - all appliances included. I even have a dish washer now! I had one many, many years ago and like it but it got old and worn out and my ex didn't seem to want to have it fixed or buy a new one so I did without. When I married my second husband he was my dishwasher as he didn't mind doing them. And there was absolutely no room in his kitchen for a dishwasher anyway. It has been over 30 years since I had a dishwasher that worked. The one here is nice and quiet compared to the older ones too.

And the new washer and dryer is a matched set of new front loading machines. They work really well so far.

After the first night of sleeping in the new house I woke up and thought I was in a hotel room because it all looked so nice. The bedroom is not large and only has room for the queen size bed, long dresser with hutch/mirror top, and chest of drawers. No room for the computer desk like before, but that is a good thing. The computer and sewing desk are in the second bedroom along with several unpacked boxes and a few other odd pieces of furniture that used to be in the living room.

The bathroom is at least 3 times bigger than the old one. Previously I had to walk in and back out because it was so small. I could go on and on. I do have a few pictures of moving day but once I get everything in place I will take pictures again and share with you.

As for the knee surgery, that went very well. People, if you ever need joint replacement surgery, do the spinal if the doctors approve as it is so much easier than general anesthesia. You wake up feeling good, and have an appetite again as soon as they allow you a regular diet.

I had the surgery on a Tuesday afternoon and came home Thursday. I am so thankful that all three of my kids were able to each take a week to help me at home. They also did more unpacking for me, especially getting the kitchen done so that I didn't have to be concerned about boxes sitting around while using the walker.

Once home, that meant going to physical therapy here in town 3 times a week at first, then only twice a week for a couple of weeks. The therapists have been very pleased with my progress and further ahead than most knee replacement patients that they have worked with. So I only have two more session left and should be finished with that. Now I am ready for the second knee replacement, but that won't be for another 5 weeks.

I tried driving this afternoon for the first time and it went well, so I feel confident enough to drive myself to therapy and getting groceries when needed, even though it was my right knee that had the surgery. I was also able to walk to the mail box and back, with the walker, to get my own mail, which I have not been able to do for years. This mailbox is slightly closer than the previous house but I do have to go down a slight incline at the bottom of the driveway and was a bit leary about that, but it went okay, so I think I might be able to take my own garbage cans to the curb and back very soon. However, they are large and bit hard to maneuver while using a walker, so will see if it will work this week. If not, my friend will continue to stop by and do it for me for a while longer.

Besides not sleeping well at night, so take naps during the day and being just plain tired from the moving, unpacking and surgery all so close together, I have been watching most of the Olympics so I have not spent much time on the computer. As much as I enjoy the Olympics, I am happy that they will be over tomorrow so things can get back to regular schedule again.

This brings you up to date on everything happening here. I hope to get pictures taken soon and share them with you.

'Til next time. . . .