Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thoughts on Aging

You Know You’re Getting Old When:

1. The bank tellers and other business people in your life look like high school students.

2. You think every lousy driver on the road is “some stupid kid”.

3. On New Years Eve you’d rather stay home, eat snacks, watch movies and be with your family instead of going to a party.

4. An hour of hard physical work makes you feel like you’ve been beat with a stick, and you used to spend the whole day working in the yard or cleaning the house or walking for 18 holes of golf with never a second thought. Now you hire the yard to be maintained and the house to be cleaned and you ride on a golf cart.

5. After you sit for too long in one spot, when you get up, you creak and kind of “crip” along for a while until everything “loosens up” again.

6. Your feet keep getting bigger, your neck more wrinkled and your boobs more saggy. Body parts that used to be “pert” are now droopy.

7. Your idea of a big night on the town is dinner and a movie. Remember when you used to dance the night away??

8. The reality of “going shopping”, once the most fun thing you could think of, is that it now resembles an endurance race. You send up several prayers of thanks daily for the invention of Internet Shopping.

9. You’d rather be shot than go shopping on Black Friday or the day after Christmas. There is no sale that good.

10. In shoes and clothing, Comfort and Looks becomes more important than Looks and Price.

11. You feel the freedom of your age…..no worries about how sexy you look or whether it’s okay to go to the store with no make-up. You just go and never give it a second thought. Clean and neat is much more important than cute and sexy.

12. You need glasses to watch TV, drive, read or do most anything of interest. You used to have 20-20 perfect vision and you will never forgive your eyes for failing you.

13. You can tell how cold it is, not by watching the local weatherman, but by the degree of stiffness or pain in your joints.

14. Your mind is frequently making these BIG plans that your body can’t possibly keep up with. Your mind is young, your body is getting old. It’s very difficult to keep them properly in sync.

15. The little old gray haired lady sitting across the room is not your mother. It’s The Spouse. And your ages are very much in the same era.

16. You don’t worry greatly about holding your stomach in anymore, no matter who is there. It is what it is.

17. Sex is no longer the first, last and major thing on your mind. It’s not dead, but it’s resting a lot.

18. You know all the words to the “Oldies But Goodies” on the radio.

19. The youth around you talk about “The Sixties” like it is “history” or something. You were there. Wasn’t that just a couple of years ago??

20. You realize that WW2 was over a half century ago. Surely that cannot be. Many of today’s youth have no idea what December 7 represents.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Memories....or not

Today I am packing. I’m heading East to visit with the family and particularly to spend time with my Mom. She’s getting up there in years and I try to go as often as I can to spend quality time with her. She’s a very important person in my life.

Because of the nature of The Spouse’s work, which I have discussed before, I often see how some mothers treat their children and it is truly unbelievable. Just yesterday, Christmas Day, The Spouse had to go to the local hospital to take possession of a newborn that was born drug exposed. In other words, his mother took drugs while pregnant. This is not the first of this woman’s children that this has happened to and this stupid woman keeps losing her kids to the foster system. When The Spouse asked her point blank why she continued taking drugs while pregnant, she responded, “you just don’t understand”. The Spouse agreed she did not and then she took possession of the baby. The mother informed The Spouse that this time she would “fight” for the baby. The Spouse told her good luck. Not gonna happen.

I guess these kinds of things are so far out of the realm of what I experienced as a child, and what I understand about being a mother, that it is like The Spouse is speaking a foreign language when she tells me about these events. I just don’t get it. My mother did so much for me when I was growing up, gave up so much, always put me and my welfare first and I feel very sure never took so much as an aspirin when she was pregnant with me. There are many things I know she did and I’m sure equally as many that I have no idea about. However, as I sit here, robust, healthy, intelligent, etc. etc, I know where a great deal of the credit goes.

She nursed me. I’m not sure young mothers today realize just how important this is. The strength it gave my immune system, the really good brain I function with, the strong bones…..many of those go back to those first few months of my life when Mom nursed me. I have read that testing has PROVEN that babies that are breast fed are more intelligent, healthier and have stronger immune systems. Their brains and bodies just develop better. They have a distinct advantage over the bottle fed. Thanks Mom.

She and my Dad loved each other and stayed together for their entire adult lives. No marriage is perfect. Two people always have “issues” but I never knew what my parent’s issues were. We, their children, just figured they were perfectly matched. They were married for 62 years. A child that is raised in a home with both parents, where those parents love each other, and love and want that child, is so much more likely to become an emotionally healthy, well adjusted adult. Thanks Mom.

She made me take typing in high school. She said I would never go hungry if I knew how to type. She was so right. Thanks Mom.

She taught me to cook. I have no memory of this but then I have no memory in general so this is not unusual. However, today, I am an excellent cook and know many of the “little secrets” of being a good cook. Once when Mom and I were discussing cooking, she rightly pointed out, “just who do you think taught you how to use a measuring cup? Or a sifter? Or a rolling pin? Etc. etc. She’s so right. I have gone above and beyond that basic cooking knowledge, but I had to have that foundation. Thanks Mom.

My mother doesn’t particularly like cooking. She’s not “a cook” like I am. BUT, every night of her life, when she had small children at home, there was a hot cooked meal on the table ready and waiting for her family. She got up every morning and cooked breakfast in order to send us off to school with a full tummy. No matter how tight the budget, and there were times it was plenty tight, there was always food on the table and we always sat down together an ate dinner as a family. Thanks Mom.

When I was an infant, she and my Dad would take turns going to the movies while the other one stayed with me. They didn’t want to leave me with a stranger when I was so little. Thanks Mom.

She and my Dad had more children than just me. Not only because they wanted a bigger family but because they didn’t want me to be an only child. They worried that I would be lonely. Today, my siblings are an important and vital part of my life. I can’t imagine them not being there. Thanks Mom.

When my Dad was overseas (military man) and my Mom was “wrestling” with managing four children alone, she still let me (the oldest) have my teenage freedom. Even though she desperately needed my help with an adolescent, a toddler and a newborn, she still let me go and play ball. My team needed their pitcher as much as she needed her helper. She understood that. Thanks Mom.

I once came very close to being molested. I was just a child. My Mom had a mother's sixth sense, knew something was wrong, and came to my rescue. She got there just in time. Nothing happened. Somehow she knew. Thanks Mom.

When I was a teenager and I was obnoxious, rude, self-righteous, convinced I knew everything, lazy, self-centered and most of all just a huge pain in the ass, she still loved me. I have no idea why. Thanks Mom.

She never said “just wait till your father gets home”……she dealt with it. Thanks Mom.

I could go on and on as my Mom has been a “force” in my life for all of my 63 years. She continues to be to this day. Thanks for everything Mom, I love you.

Back to my packing………….

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Enjoy!!

Hang in there...it just keeps getting cuter.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Christmas Tree = The Story of My Life

Today, as I walked past the Christmas tree, rather than seeing it as part of the overall holiday schmaltz that is encompassing my home, I tuned in to the various individual ornaments. In a moment of lightning clarity, I realized that the ornaments on the tree really tell the story of our particular lives. I was not unaware of the symbolism as we decorated the tree, but somehow, today it really hit home. Not sure just why, but I thought I would share.

Some people do color schemes when they decorate their tree, others do themes. At my house, we do our life. Many of our ornaments were gifts received over the years, so I guess they are a reflection of how our friends see us. Some of them we purchased as a momento of some event. Others just “happened” to us and we liked them, so they stayed around. We have many more ornaments still packed away, that aren’t being used, as we have a small tree this year. I probably have enough ornaments for a couple of trees but each year we just use the ones that “strike us” as we are decorating. Here’s just a sampling of some of the ornaments on this years tree.

By looking at this ornament, I bet it is entirely unnecessary for me to tell you that we are golfers.

This one reflects the Star Trek years. This is actually the U.S.S. Voyager, but let’s not nitpick.
This one was a gift almost 30 years ago and one that is still well loved. These metal ornaments start to show their age as the years go rolling past. Hence, the scratches. I think of them as the badges of Christmas past.
Need I say that we have a Chicago sports fan in our home?
Back to golf again. I have received golf themed ornaments as gifts quite often over the years.
This is one of our very sentimental decorations. It is homemade and it is actually more green than it looks. The flash “blued” it up considerably. Back in my other life, many, many moons ago, I had three children in my home, one of my own and two that belonged to my now deceased former mate. One Christmas, in a burst of old-fashioned “fun things to do”, we made Christmas ornaments. We found a recipe and mixed up some batter, rolled it out and, using cookie cutters, we cut it into suitable shapes. Then I baked them in the oven until they were rock hard and then we allowed them to cool. After baking, the kids painted the ornaments by hand. It was exceptionally messy and exceptionally fun. Now, here we are, more than 30 years later and this one ornament has survived the test of time. It always goes on the tree. Gina made it.If you have small children, I strongly recommend this as a Christmas activity with your child. Just think about 30 years from now when that little boy is a man with children of his own. That ornament will still be on your tree. Here’s a recipe for the salt dough that we made http://crafts.kaboose.com/saltdoughgifttoppers.html and here’s another: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Ornament-Dough/Detail.aspx They seem to be easy to find on the Web.

Here’s another of the aging, and much loved, brass ornaments.
I realize it’s hard to believe, but we actually have a Starbucks coffee cup on our tree. The Spouse loves Starbucks almost as much as she loves me.
And finally, a hand carved, wooden, ornament from Europe. Memories of another time and place.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Comparisons

I wouldn't want you to think I was exaggerating. Check out these pictures taken a few hours apart. Same spot in the back yard.


In other news, I was out running errands today and Californians are just not used to dealing with snow. Icy parking lots were being navigated with tennis shoes and a prayer; I had a mammogram today and the lady doing the check-ins was astounded that I actually showed up; as I drove down the main drag of our little town this morning, both sides of the street were lined up for miles with 18 wheelers. They had been "caught" when the freeway closed due to the snow and ice and so they spent the night in their truck cabs sitting on our main street. The freeway was closed for a full 24 hours and they had to bring in snow plows from some of the nearby mountain areas in order to get the roads cleaned up enough for safe travel.

When I returned from the grocery store, I had to "shovel" snow with a dust pan in order to make a path for us to walk the groceries into the house from the driveway. My regular shovel has a rounded end and was worthless for the scraping motion I needed to clear snow.

Last night in a desperate attempt to get a TV signal, the Spouse and I were outside in wild, blowing snow, climbing a ladder and using a broom to remove piled up snow from our Satellite Dish. For the record it didn't work. Apparently the snow was so heavy and the clouds so thick that the dish just couldn't pick up the satellite signal. As of this morning everything is back in working order. A little sunshine does wonders!

The Spouse went outside to clear windshields this morning as we both had to go out. She ended up on her butt twice in the driveway as it was so icy. I made her come in and we used the car heaters and windshield wipers to clear the windows. It took a while to melt, let me tell you. I considered pouring warm water on the windshields, but since I am an inexperienced snow novice, I was afraid the great contrast in temperatures might crack the windshield. What do I know about getting snow off a car? Not much obviously.

The dogs have decided they like the snow and they are constantly asking to go out and play. The cold weather apparently agrees with them. This must be why they don't mind swimming even when the pool is icy cold. Their breed is actually descended from dogs that used to jump into the icy North Pacific and help fisherman haul in their full nets. No wonder they don't mind the cold!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Update

More snow news....we have 8 1/2 inches on the ground and it continues to pour down in blizzard like conditions!! The TV healed itself and the news tells us we may get a foot or more!! Southern California is in no way prepared to deal with this volume of snow. Slowly but surely we are becoming "paralyzed". The freeways look like parking lots and the roads are slippery and icy. Businesses are closing early and kids are building snowmen and having snowball fights.

I took my dogs outside to play and once they got used to this "strange white stuff" they had a ball running, jumping and playing. The cold seemed to invigorate them and I had to stop their rough housing so close to the pool. With the icy deck I was afraid they would go sliding into the frigid water! Although, honestly, if they had, I'm sure they would have been just fine. Hunting Labs go plunging into icy streams and lakes all the time. It's just that my girls are spoiled California dogs and not used to the cold.

SNOW DOG!!!

I know you folks that live in snow country think that all this "hoorah" over a little snow is silly but this is SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!! It is seriously big news to us.

Jack Frost

Today we are having an “event” that only happens about every 10 years or so where I live. Therefore, when it occurs, we are enthralled and tend to run around and play like small children. I am talking about SNOW and all the fun things that go with it. Forget about icy roads, freezing hands and missed appointments. We are enjoying the beauty that is Mother Nature today and it is incredible!!

Most people who read this blog are aware that I live in the greater Los Angeles area so when I say this is rare, I do mean rare. Check out the pictures……




My dogs have never seen snow so when they went out this morning to do their business, they seemed fascinated, curious and a little nervous. “What is this white stuff Mom?” They rushed back inside with snowy backs and the young one was shivering. They are truly snow novices and cold weather wimps, as are we all in this part of the world.

People around here don’t know how to drive when it rains. For snow? They are hopeless. Hopefully, they will stay home today and not get out on those icy roads. I’ve already cancelled today’s appointments and will spend the day wrapping Christmas presents and doing some baking.

As I write, it is snowing VERY hard and the weatherman said we can expect 6-8 inches as our present from Alaska. That is the weatherman on last night’s news said to expect 6-8 inches. The news this morning? Not happening. The satellite dish is covered with snow and in shock apparently. We have no reception.

Well, that’s it for this time. I’m going outside to build a snowman!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Nesting

Some crazy gene that I am normally not even aware of apparently turns on and goes into overdrive when it gets cold. The nesting gene? Hell, I don’t know but as soon as the weather turns cold and ugly and wintry, I head for the kitchen. Since Alaska sent a storm down to us and we are experiencing rain, snow, sleet and freezing temperatures, I started cooking.

I wanted large quantities of warm, fragrant, fresh food and so I started rattling those pots and pans. Last night, IN ONE EVENING, I made a huge pot of delicious split pea soup. It was thick and tasty and all filled with ham and onions and shredded carrots. The family loved it. Then I made cornbread to go with it because who can have split pea soup without hot crusty cornbread? Then, of course, you have to have dessert and since I couldn’t decide what to make, I made a chocolate cake AND a batch of white, cranberry, nut candy.

Apparently, at this point, I still wasn’t well “nested” enough, so I made some orange-cranberry muffins which we enjoyed this morning. At that point my cooking ardor cooled and I sat down to enjoy the rest of the evening.

This is not the first time this has happened to me and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but I do find it to be an interesting phenomenon. Cold weather = cooking large quantities of hot nourishing food. Although, honestly, I’m not sure just how nourishing the sweets are, but they are certainly tasty.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d share the candy recipe with you since nothing could be easier and we think it is most delicious. Quantities are at your own discretion, since how much you use of each ingredient depends on how much you want to make. Therefore, I’ll just give you basic directions and you make however much you want. Get some white chocolate chips. Melt them in the microwave. Once you have liquid chocolate, add some dried cranberries. You will find them in the same area of the store where the raisins are. Then add pistachio nuts. Stir it all together. Then spread the candy mixture into the container of your choice and let it harden. Then cut candy, eat candy and enjoy. See? Extremely simple. The tartness of the cranberries, the saltiness of the pistachios and the extreme sweetness of the melted white chocolate all combine together to make some seriously tasty candy. Try it, you’ll like it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Old Fashioned Dessert

I had some VERY ripe bananas in the kitchen the other day and I decided, on the spur of the moment, to make some banana pudding. You know, the old fashioned kind with ‘nilla wafers and ‘nanners and puddin’. It turned out so well, and was so popular here at Lucy’s house, that I thought I’d share. Here’s what you need:

1 box “Nilla Wafers (is there any other kind but Nabisco?)
Several ripe bananas
1 large box sugar free, instant, vanilla pudding
1 large box sugar free, instant, banana cream pudding

This recipe made a large rectangular baking dish (9 x 13) full. You can make more or less by just adjusting the quantity of your three ingredients.

First line the dish with vanilla wafers. Put some on the sides too. Then slice the bananas into bite-size pieces and make the next layer with banana slices. Then mix up the two puddings, together, and pour enough pudding into the pan to cover the wafers and banana slices. Then repeat, ending with a layer of pudding on top. Sprinkle some nutmeg on top of the final layer of pudding, cover the dessert, and refrigerate. It will stay fresh and tasty for several days in the refrigerator.

Make up the pudding at the last minute when you are ready to pour it into the dish. It firms up very quickly and if you make it too far in advance, you won’t be able to pour it.

I used one vanilla and one banana cream pudding as that’s what I happened to have on hand and it worked great. I’m sure you could also use two vanillas or two banana cream flavor puddings. With all vanilla it will taste less “banana-ish” and with two banana creams it will have a very strong banana flavor. The combination of the two seemed just right to my crew.

This recipe gets “bonus” points at my house because it’s exceptionally easy to make AND since each serving has only a few wafers, fresh bananas and sugar free pudding, it’s low in calories and/or points.

Enjoy!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Random Thoughts

I filled my gas tank, which was very empty, all the way to the tip top and it cost me $27.40. Note that I have a large van. I did a happy dance right there at the gas station.

So far no ill effects for Lucy from the lizard consumption. That girl has a stalwart constitution. We are calling her Lizard Breath as a new nickname.

We have decided to stop giving stinky dog so much fish oil. Maybe that is contributing to her problems? I’ll let you know if it helps.

The Spouse is smoking again. I begin to believe it is a losing battle for her. It’s just too hard.

One of my few splurges, in this time of belt tightening, is enjoying the services of a personal trainer. I simply won’t/don’t exercise without a very specific incentive. Having an appointment with someone and knowing that I must show up or leave her standing and waiting for me is what I need. I go, I exercise, I suffer. I have so many new terms in my vocabulary. Tricep dips, hammer curls, roll-ups…the fun never ceases. I’m not getting skinnier, but I’m definitely getting stronger and dramatically improving my sense of balance, which I didn’t know had gone to hell until I tried to use it. Very eye opening. Hopefully, if I ever stop eating cookies, candy, cake, pie, et al., I might actually see some weight loss as well.

In these times of troubled housing markets, we are considering upgrading to something bigger and better. Don’t know if we will, but we’re talking. A house that cost $½ mill a year ago can now be had for $200,000 give or take. That’s astounding. It’s definitely a buyer’s market. However, the thought of moving makes me sick to my stomach. I’ll have to seriously think about how badly I want more room and space.

We’re staying home more nowadays and, even though I dearly love television, a steady diet can wear a bit thin. We actually broke out some games the other night and played Gin Rummy and then Scrabble. I had forgotten how much fun those things can be. We must keep on doing this. We had to update our Scrabble game due to some missing parts and I discovered, while at Target, that apparently staying home and playing games is getting very big again. Target had, literally, hundreds of board games available to purchase. I was amazed at the volume and variety. Maybe we really are returning to simpler times.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eating our Greens to Stay Healthy

The Spouse took Lucy and Meg (our Chocolate Labs) out onto the patio for a few minutes of playtime in the brisk, cold, evening air. They do love to be outside even on a nippy winter night. It never slows them down.

As they hopped and played and chased their tennis balls and caught their rings, “something” caught Lucy’s eye and she wandered over to take a look. Suddenly, she was at full alert! Body rigid, back hairs standing up, tail frozen in place, (instead of wagging madly) and her eyes glued to the ground.

The Spouse walked over to see what she had found and discovered Lucy’s nose on the back of a lizard about 2 inches long. She was sniffing it vigorously and with great interest.

“Leave it alone Lucy”, commanded The Spouse. Lucy lifted her head and, instead of her nose, placed a large paw on the lizard. “No, Lucy, leave it be, here, catch your tennis ball.”

Lucy wanted the tennis ball and she wanted the lizard. She solved the problem neatly. Bending down, with a large pink tongue, she scooped up the lizard and put it into her mouth. Its tail was sticking out between her lips and thrashing around madly.

The horrified Spouse yelled, “No, Lucy, No, drop it.” Lucy didn’t want to drop it. It was her “treasure”. Instead she swallowed.

Fresh greens anyone?

Yuk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where's The Ban?


My dog smells bad. Bless her little stinky heart. She can’t help it. But it is a first for us even with all our years of animal parenting, and we are suffering. Our dogs are swimmers who love the water and even in the cold of winter they rarely hesitate to take a dip in an icy pool. In the summer they live in the pool. Consequently, our dogs smell sweet and fresh and clean with maybe a hint of Chlorine.

However, we now have a pup that is a stink pot. She didn’t always stink but apparently, she went through puberty, her glands woke up and now she smells. She apparently has over active oil glands in her skin and, unless she is bathed at least every other day or so, she starts to get a ripe, stinky, dog smell. The chlorine doesn’t do the trick. She needs soap and water. The wetness from the pool just exacerbates her smell.

Since these girls are house dogs, bed dogs, lap dogs and well loved and well hugged, this is a troublesome problem. Who wants to hug a stinky dog? However, she is so sweet and so loving and so oblivious to her problem. She can’t help it. She doesn’t know she stinks.

The vet had us buy Selsun Blue to shampoo her with. Apparently the Selenium in that particular shampoo dries up the skin and helps with this type of problem. Who knew? I must admit, she smells very good when she is fresh out of the shower.

In the summer, we just use the hose and lather her up in the back yard, but in the winter, she joins one of us in the shower. Fortunately, she loves the warm spray and having her body all lathered up and then rinsed off. Unfortunately, it is backbreaking to bend over and clean her up.

This is true love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Notes From the Dark Side

The Spouse is trying to quit smoking. To say I am thrilled is a minor understatement, however, I’m playing it very low key as she definitely does not want to talk about it. We had a little cancer “scare” here just recently and, although it now appears that things are going to be okay, I think getting scared of the idea of cancer was just what she needed to push her to stop the cigarettes.

The problem, of course, is that she’s mean as a snake. She’s been smoking for more than 40 years and that equals a serious addiction and a very unpleasant withdrawal. You’ve heard of that lion with a thorn in its paw? Well, she’s limping around and that thorn (also known as nicotine addiction) is really digging in. It is not pleasant for either of us.

However, I have great empathy. I remember the hell I went through when I quit, oh so many years ago. They didn’t have patches and gum and all that stuff back then and I just went cold turkey. For some inexplicable reason, she has chosen to do the same. No patches, no gum, no pills, no cigarettes. Gotta admire her gumption even while I suffer through her being so very unpleasant. Nobody around here is very happy at the moment.

In other news, it’s Finals week at school and I’m busily creating final exams for my classes. That too is a challenging task: to make a question hard enough to be “worthy” for a final, but not so hard, they all miss it. I do want them to make a good showing for it reflects well on my teaching. I have new textbooks this semester, hence I have to create all new tests. Not fun.

And finally, our weather is insane. First it’s warm and sunny and you can wear shorts. Today, it’s freezing cold with wildly blowing winds and gray skies. The weatherman truly cannot make up his mind.

Christmas is coming way too fast. I’m not doing much this year, but the little I’m doing isn’t done. Time needs to slow down……..

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm B-A-A-A-A-A-C-K.......

I’ve been missing in action for awhile but felt like writing, so here I am. My thoughts today revolve around the economy and how we’re dealing with it. I’ve been very lucky for the last few years and haven’t had to “count pennies”, however, now we are being much more careful with our money. We really splurged on our recent wedding which left some of our “buffer” accounts close to empty and credit cards with high balances, so it was definitely time to cut back, pare down and remember how to be thrifty.

Here are some of the things we’re doing:

1. Planning menus, making a grocery list, pulling coupons and THEN going shopping. That has not been the methodology for the last few years. Mostly I just bought whatever I felt like buying and never gave it a second thought. Now I’m giving it second and third thoughts.

2. We like matinee movies anyway, so now we are just making a point to go before 6 PM. It’s a lot cheaper. And, I confess, I have an ice cold bottle of Diet Coke in the bottom of my purse as well as something sweet. We do buy the hot fresh popcorn at the refreshment stand, but the rest of our goodies, we bring from home.

3. I’m so thrilled about the price of gas, words can hardly express it. I live in the state with the most expensive gas in the nation, so they tell us, and just a month or two ago it cost me $84 to fill my gas tank. Yesterday I filled up for $32.00. I am a very happy girl! However, when it cost a fortune to fill my tank I got in the habit of not driving so much, doing all my errands on one trip and making a concerted effort to drive the speed limit in order to conserve gas. I am continuing these habits even with my $32 tank of gas.

4. We’ve started buying and using a number of different store brands and, surprisingly, some of them are very good. Example? Albertson’s store brand OJ is half the price of Minute Maid, and the other name brands, and it’s just as good. The Costco store brand of laundry detergent was reputed to be as good as the name brands, so I have read. We decided to give it a try. It works great and costs 1/3 of what the name brand does and I am VERY picky about my laundry.

5. I’m a golfer and this is not a cheap hobby. Fortunately, I have all the equipment I will ever need in this lifetime, or the next, but green fees can be steep at some courses. We are making a point to play at city or county courses where the cost is half or less than private courses. These public courses do not have country club smooth greens and perfectly tailored fairways, however, they are in good condition and perfectly acceptable for casual play.

6. We have programmed the thermostat on the heater so that the house is cold at night (we prefer cold air and warm covers for sleeping) and just comfortable in the daytime. Keeping the temperature consistent, as opposed to frequently running it up and down, is much more cost effective. I definitely see a difference in the gas bill.

7. We joined a program, offered through the electric company, that allowed them to put a “meter” on our AC unit and in the summertime, if electricity is running short, we, along with thousands of other people, have agreed to let them cycle our AC off and on, remotely, in order to manage the electrical needs of a city as large as Los Angeles. The max they might black out our AC, in any one event, would be for 2 hours and in return we are saving a fortune on our electric bill. I just got the current bill and it is down over $100 from previous bills from the same time period. For us this is a no-brainer since we use a swamp cooler in the summer and never turn on the AC anyway. We told them this and they said they didn’t care, we should sign up anyway. So we did. Good move.

8. I like to travel home frequently to see my Mom, who is definitely not getting any younger. This involves plane travel as she is on the other side of the country. I’m due for a trip home and I was concerned about airplane ticket costs and spending money and the overall money that is involved with travel. I solved it by obtaining my ticket through using my frequent flyer miles. I only had to pay $10 in taxes. Then I submitted the latest claim to our healthcare flexible spending account and The Spouse said I can have the check when it comes to use as spending money. So I’m going on a trip, planning lots of fun and visiting and spending nothing out of the budget.

9. I cook for my dogs and have for quite a long time. I would like to tell you this is very cost effective, but in reality, by the time I break down the cost of all ingredients, it is either the same or more than what I would spend by buying high quality dog food. The big difference is that I know they are eating healthy, high quality, people grade food. The financial payoff? Healthy, happy dogs with no vet visits except for routine care. Since a trip to the vet can be just as expensive as one of my trips to an M.D., not going to see the doggy doctor is very cost effective.

10. One of the biggest cost savers for us has been to stop eating fast food and get back to cooking. We ate way, way too much fast food for convenience sake and that stuff is not only bad for you, but it is ridiculously expensive for what you get. I’m remembering how to cook and bake and find that I’m really enjoying it. Plus, it’s a great way to save money! I have been reminded that nothing tastes as good as homemade………

I’ll try to write more. I really do enjoy it.