Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What happens when you are ignoring your blog

So there was more IRL activity - mostly good but some health challenges too.

At home short yoga program several times.

Women's Club book discussion group followed by lunch together.

A Pet Club planning meeting for the June "Pet Carnival".

A visit to new vet which went well. We could actually walk to this vet.

Lunch with a friend and a joint evening meeting of local AAUW group and Women's Club to hear about state legislation that focuses on women's issues and is in the pipeline.

I went to visit my son and his fiancee and took them out to lunch and had a great time chatting about lots of different things.

I bought a plane ticket to go see other son, DIL and the rapidly changing 20 month old granddaughter later in June!

Then everything went on hold. Hubby had the post inserted for a dental implant and developed a raging infection that required a trip to the ER and further dental surgery. After 5 days he is feeling well and finally pain free. We also learned that the closest ER is really good and are happy about that.

I started using a topical drug for a potential basal cell carcinoma or at least a pre-cancerous lesion in a place that was treated by surgery 20+ years ago. As is often the case for me just one dose triggered all sorts of not great side effects. Stopping the medication and hoping that I feel better in a few days and then we can see what the options are for treatment.

Back to time out from blog and a busier real life!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Taking an indefinite break

I've decided taking more time for other activities is what is needed in my life right now so headed away from the blog indefinitely.

Will still check on all the other lovely bloggers that I follow.

Have a great Spring!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Five for Friday - 5/18/18: Mother's Day, FIL hospitalized & dog scores 2nd breakfast

Got you interested with the dog's 2nd breakfast didn't I?

1. My FIL was hospitalized on this past Friday and went home on Tuesday doing much better. This is why we moved close to him as my Hubby was able to spend a lot of time with him in ER and then the hospital without having horrible commutes to do so.

2. We had a lovely Mother's Day weekend despite FIL being hospitalized on Friday. We spent the weekend with my older son and his fiancee and their dog staying over at our house on Saturday. A fun time playing ping-pong and bocce ball after walking the dogs and then a very enjoyable dinner out. Sunday everyone but me fixed brunch and while they were busy our dog cleaned out the other dog's breakfast bowl. She sauntered into the living room licking her chops with a very full belly and very happy! After breakfast we all went to visit FIL and then came back for more time together before they headed home to get ready for the work week. This kind of time together is what moving back to California was all about.

3. I'm doing two wardrobe challenges right now to find more ways to use what I have. The first is 100 outfits in 100 days - all unique - and I've made it to Day 13 so far. The second is a 10 items plus 5 accessories for a week. So far these are my favorite new combinations. I seem to be in a flower  period.

4. It seems to be pets have priority week. I am cat sitting for a neighbor and finally switched vets for our dog. I wasn't thrilled with the one we had lined up during our move and hear really good things about this one. Bonus is that the new vet office is within walking distance.

5. I finally have a wedding prep project that doesn't involve looking for clothes to wear! I am sewing pillow covers for large pillow that will be on quilts on the grass to add seating at the event. Easy peasy.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Worst retirement financial decisions you have made?

This is a hard one for me as I don't think we have made many yet. However the best decision we made from a family care taking perspective will probably be a poor financial decision.

The thing is we are going to end up moving twice while living independently. We moved to our current location because it is near my FIL's assisted living facility and today that is proving again that it is a good care taking decision ad Hubby was able to pop over to be with his Dad when he was taken to ER this morning. In fact he was just admitted with treatable problems.

However when he is no longer alive the plan is to move near our granddaughter (oh and her parents!). Our local son and DIL want to move there too so we will all live in the same area and be able to help each other and enjoy being on site grandparents, uncle and aunt.

That means we will be selling and buying a home again with all the associated costs as well as moving expenses. And in just the year we have been here, housing prices in the east bay area of California have skyrocketed.

So that is our biggie! How about you?

Five for Friday - 5/11/18: Pho and More

1. Indeed we did go to a restaurant called Pho N Mor over in Oxnard as part of our expanding our horizons effort. Turns out there is the same restaurant in Camarillo LOL. However we went to a "food court" that was lots of fun and in a converted warehouse so there were other restaurants too and the place was decorated with lots of interesting things to look at including the mural above.

We had Banh Mi sandwiches that were excellent!

2. The first Saturday of each month Studio Channel Islands has artist studio open house. We had a really good time talking to various artists, seeing their work and petting lots of dogs. I had been considering taking a glass art class and after talking to the artist I am going to do it!

3. I think the list of books for the next 6 months of the library book club turned out good. Have you read any of them?

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate 
Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra
Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann 
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See 
Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr 

4. Lots of cooking. I looked for recipes to use up the buttermilk and cream I bought for making the chocolate cake last week. I ended up making banana bread and spinach quiche (which also used up a frozen pie shell left from Thanksgiving pumpkin pie making). I also made homemade enchilada sauce (for black bean and avocado enchiladas) which surprised me by having cocoa in it. All were yummy!

5. I went to my second Women's Club lunch meeting and am really glad I joined. Such a nice group of friendly people!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Best retirement financial decisions you have made?

I have been taking stock of what we have done right and what I would have done differently during our first six months of both of us being retired. Let's talk about the financial front for now.

As you know we sold and bought houses as part of moving across the country to be near family. We rather reluctantly decided to live where we are currently because it is near my FIL's assisted living facility. That has turned out to be a good decision not only because being near him is a good thing but also for the financial impact. For one thing, it has certainly reduced our travel costs as most of our travel in the past was to visit family. Unfortunately it has also made us less likely to do other travel as we have yet to find a way to leave our special needs dog while doing so.

The main thing about moving in financial terms though was that we were able to buy a property that suits us at this stage for a little less than we received from selling our Atlanta house. Our monthly home related bills are lower too even with the HOA fee. As a bonus, after living here a year we do like it and are quite comfortable.

Secondly we decided to try to live with one car instead of two. That decisions was prompted by the need to only drive two vehicles across the country - the rental U-Haul and one car. So we sold the oldest, highest mileage car and kept the newer, albeit smaller one. We figured we could always buy a new one if we truly needed it and thought we would probably get a hybrid do to the increased driving that we would be doing as we travel longer distances to spend time with family.

The good news is we haven't yet needed that second car. So our gasoline bill has gone up as we drive more overall, but our car insurance, licensing and maintenance costs are lower. So far we haven't even used Lyft or Uber although those are options. We have each used the free to us city operated shuttle bus, taken the metro to the airport, or accepted rides from new friends (especially when DH is going to play pickle ball with those friends). So far so good on this front.

We both went on Medicare after the move and had to decide what to use as supplemental medical insurance. So far we have managed to keep our insurance costs about the same (which was a priority) while improving our coverage in the sense that our co-pays are almost non-existent except for prescriptions and dental. I do know that this outcome is at the whim of the market, but so far so good.

The biggest decision we have had to make so far has to do with when to take Social Security or to start withdrawals from retirement funds vs living on DH's pension and our cash savings. This is a work in progress. We decided to take DH's federal pension with survivor benefits which did lower the monthly amount but gave me peace of mind for my future financial security. Since I am older and have a slightly lower SS payment I started collecting at the same time I started paying for Medicare. Right now the plan is to hold off on DH collecting SS until he is 70 - again to maximize my future financial security (as well as his if he lives longer). We are hoping to wait until mandatory withdrawal age on our other retirement accounts but will start withdrawing sooner if we need to.

So how do I know all of this is working out?

The best decision of all is that I have tracked our income and expenses for years so I know exactly what we need to have to spend and what our cash flow will be. We continue to practice being frugal where we don't care how much we spend so we can spend on what we really want to and care about. Also we revisit our decisions about every 6 months to make sure we are on track .

How about you? What have been your best retirement financial decisions so far? We'll talk about the worst ones later LOL.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Five for Friday: 5/4/18 - Cake!

So you know how you should read the recipe all the way through before you start but don't and end up running to Target first thing in the morning to buy an electric hand mixer that ends up not being the best ever?

It started out being that kind of week but I plowed forward with this as my motto.

1. The mixer was purchased because after Hubby said we would bring a small chocolate cake to his aunt's house Sunday evening as our contribution for dinner I mentioned that we hadn't yet found a decent bakery in town. I decided to make one using a recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook, bought the ingredients and a square plate to put it on and only then read the instructions. Both the cake and frosting called for a mixer if possible (although of course cakes were made for centuries without electric appliances LOL) so I decided to replace the one that died right before our move. It worked but not loving the beaters for this purpose so need to see if there are others that can be purchased.

In the process of making the cake I learned
- that Trader Joe's carries small cartons of shelf stable cream,
- you can freeze leftover whole cream (I had to acquire an ice cube tray first - did that on Monday thanks to CVS),
- you can use a vegetable peeler to shave semisweet chocolate to put on top to make it fancy, and
- I need to buy a metal square cake pan if I am going to continue to do this as it took too long to bake in my glass one!

But here it is in all it's chocolate, butter and cream glory.

In the end only 3 small pieces were eaten, half the remainder was left with aunt and uncle and we brought the rest home! Should of just bought 4 cupcakes somewhere LOL.

We all had a lovely and loving time though which is what matters.

2. Saturday I went to yoga despite having been up in the middle of the night for 2 hours with problems sleeping. I did meet a woman there who lives in my community and is one of the people who can certify you to use the gym and encouraged me to call her to do so! BTW, yoga did help but the afternoon nap on the couch helped more.

3. I went to the dermatologist because of one concern and it was also way past time for a full skin check. Turns out she agreed with my concern and we are starting with freezing the spot on the side of my nose and will see if it heals back to normal skin. If not, then it is biopsy time. The challenge is that I had a growth that was growing into my nose removed surgically about 25 or 30 years ago. The main thing I remember is that it was precancerous and I had black stitches on my nose for a couple of weeks. This dr. says it was probably a basal cell growth. No other areas of concern although she did measure some moles for the record. Over the years I've had lots of things sliced, cut or frozen off my skin probably thanks to early life sunbathing with sun tan lotion and fair skin.

4. I found a dime in a parking lot and yes I did pick it up.

5. In my never ending quest for finding new favorite places to eat and go nearby, I learned that there is a trendy food court and craft venue in a refurbished warehouse not too far away. Field trip!