Made With Love

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“Flawed, but made with love!” is my newest mantra. I’ve been eagerly crocheting, and although my finished products are far from perfect, I’m still choosing to give them to loved ones anyway.  So I started saying this phrase when I finish a gift, and Pat just laughs!

It’s so true, though.  I carefully pick the yarn for the specific person I’m crocheting for and think about them each stitch of the way.  The projects are so full of mistakes, but are fun and rewarding cuz they’re filled with love, too…. like this cozy afghan for our great-nephew, Eli!

It got me thinking about the transformation I’ve gone through these past months, years.  People who know me well know just how hard I can be on myself (I’m sure many of you can relate!).  But slowly over time, I’m shifting and am learning — have learned — to accept some things as ‘good enough.’  That the love and attention with which I create things is ‘more than enough.’

I’ve known this, of course, and practiced this in so many ways, but as a teacher, you live each day constantly realizing that your job is never done.  That what you are killing yourself doing, is never enough. It’s hard to let go of that perspective sometimes.

So I think over these first few months of retirement, and the past 5-8 years as well, this new relaxed acceptance, is sinking in.  This change can be attributed to many things:  changes in health, the mellowing that age brings, early retirement, etc.  But regardless of its roots, it’s very refreshing to have this laid back approach to things, because it is impacting my life in such a positive way.

It would be easy for me to say that I wish I had gained this easy-going perspective sooner in life (it would have saved me a lot of stress on the job!), but I know it has come at the perfect time for me to recognize it and fully enjoy it.  And I’m eager to see what direction this new attitude will take me in next.

Off to finish an afghan before we ‘fly south’ for the winter… but this one is for us…. flawed, and I love it!

Give Me Five

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What does $5 mean to you?  If I gave you a five-spot to spend today, what would you buy?  Would you hit Starbucks for your favorite afternoon pick-me-up or head to In and Out for a quick lunch?  I researched what five dollars can buy and found this list.  Number 8 is a must-have for all the cops in my family!

For the past few years, my mother and father-in-law have made a habit of saving all their five dollar bills.  Every five that passes through their hands, goes straight into a special hiding place.  As soon as they collect twenty, they hit a bank and trade them in for a c-note to keep them from spending any of it.  What an amazingly simple savings plan!!  This year alone, they’ve already socked away $1400!  They have earmarked this money each year for two specific purposes:  1.  Christmas gifts and 2.  Family dinner at Bj’s Pizza every November.  It’s such a special treat for them to be able to have their family together and pick up the tab!

I decided to start trying this method of savings this past weekend.  Pat had given me $200 in cash for a quick trip to Denver that I had to take, and I was purchasing a lot of little things like meals and snacks in airports.  When you can’t use the five you got from the previous purchase, you end up giving a ten or twenty and getting another five (or two!) back.  Within two days, I had $40 in fives stashed away.  I was amazed!

Now, in reality, I’m not in and out of stores or markets this often.  Which is a good thing, cuz stashing away 20% of my budget is not very feasible.  It got me thinking, though, that this plan could easily be adjusted to saving one dollar bills instead of fives.  What could that provide at the end of the year… less Christmas stress, a special gift for someone, a weekend getaway?

True confession:  I did break into my fives before the weekend was over!  But I am committed to trying this new savings plan because I have something special in mind for Pat for Christmas.  Wish me luck!

Happy Savings!

Sweet and Salty

Don’t we all love that perfect sweet and salty bite?  The marrying of the sweet and savory that makes your taste buds oh so happy.  What’s your favorite combination? Does the classic 70s appetizer of bacon-wrapped dates whet your appetite?  Or do you lean toward a the more current chocolate dipped Ruffles potato chip? That’s just an updated version of a salty french fry dipped in a creamy, chocolate shake, though, isn’t it?  YUM!  I recently tried a new recipe, Sweet and Salty Chicken Thighs, from 12Tomatoes. Quick, easy and delicious!  Check it out.

I’ve heard some of our new Idaho neighbors are also a fan of salty things.  So we’ve put some salt blocks out back to entice them closer to the house.  And what the heck… I topped them with a whole bunch of sticky molasses, hoping they love the sweet/salty thing as much as we do!!  And it worked like a charm!  I came home from my walk today to see some of these gorgeous creatures enjoying the treat.IMG_4417IMG_0298

Pat and I have talked about whether we will ever take seeing the deer cruise through our property for granted, and I emphatically say no!  Every sighting is a new experience and always makes me smile.