Laundry Day

laundryMonday is laundry day. Every 2nd Monday, that is. ;)  I do between 2-4 loads. Bed linens, bath towels, kitchen towels, my casual clothes. I tend to wash my “nicer” things by hand. I don’t spend $10/year on dry cleaning.

Jay does his own laundry and has for years. He says I shrink his clothes and there is some truth to that. I do it to my t-shirts and polo shirts, and then I hate it when they’re too short! The trick is to remember to take them out after the wash and let them air dry.

I stopped doing the kids’ laundry when they were each in their early teens. I really hate doing laundry.


Sangria

sangriaWorking is proving to be exactly what I needed. It’s pretty fun and a LOT more challenging than I thought it would be (especially for the $$). I’m no longer twiddling my thumbs EVER. Amazing how 11-12 hours/week completely takes care of that.

Anyway, we’re going to our friends’ house for a get together on Saturday and I’m bringing my delicious Sangria. Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 cups rum
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup OJ
1 bottle red wine
1 each, orange, lemon and lime sliced

You’re supposed to mix the rum, sugar and fruit. Refrigerate everything. Then mix it all together. But you can just mix it all up and refrigerate. Making it a day ahead improves it all the more!

FAC Success

patio partyOur FAC from two weeks ago was a smashing success. :) Twelve of our friends and a couple of their young kids came. It poured like crazy, keeping the party inside for much of the time. But that didn’t seem to matter. I made Sangria – always a huge hit. And I made sure to remind everyone not to drink too much of it. It packs a punch that can really take you by surprise!

Everyone brought something. In addition, I seared some Ahi and served it with soy sauce and wasabi, cooked up some coconut shrimp from Costco, and made my killer ice cream dessert (chocolate cake on the bottom, coffee ice cream, fudge, crumbled Oreo cookies). There wasn’t a morsel left of any of it!

It was truly tons of fun. And good thing we had it at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend – before everyone was partied out, sick and tired of eating, drinking and visiting. Try to entertain during “dead” periods or at the very beginning of a busy social calendar season (ie. NOT New Year’s Eve).

Hotel Savings

le square phillipsWe’re going to visit my brother in Newfoundland and, on the way home, stop in Montréal! My brother has tons of points on Aeroplan (sort a Canadian version of United Miles) and has arranged for our flights AND our hotel in St. John’s.

Wow!

So, I’m busily trying to figure out things to do (I don’t want to leave him to have to make all the plans) and get the Montréal portion of our trip planned. I just booked a hotel yesterday. I had just received an email from Orbitz with a promo code to save 15%. That amounted to a $150 savings. I also remembered to access Orbitz via TOPCASHBACK, which should result in an additional 7.25% savings of around $70.

Works for me!

I made sure to book a reservation that can be cancelled, just in case I find something more appealing. I just picked up some travel guides from the library and may get some good insights from them. But, at least I know that we’ve got a hotel. Montréal is a popular tourist destination and I didn’t want to wait and find myself scrambling for a room.

Planning a trip is half the fun! And, we wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t for Robert’s generosity because going on a trip is expensive!!

Listen To That Little Voice – Updated

thoughtIt’s frustrating that I can’t recall many of the innumerable examples when I listened to that little voice in my head. It’s probably because I’ve gotten really good at heeding that little voice. (See below for updates.)

Chances are I’ll better remember the times when I didn’t heed it and then regretted it – because those are the times something got lost or broken. The times that I do heed it, the “event” is a non-event and there’s nothing to remember!

I recall the time I had a bunch of women over for a party and felt I should move someone’s glass of wine (white, thankfully) from where it sat. I resisted the urge and, of course, it later went crashing to the floor.

Or the time my attention drifted to the bike helmets in the garage and I wondered why, until the next day I backed over the one that had rolled out behind the wheel of my car.

Or the day I had the very distinct and strange feeling that I would lose my Blackberry and, indeed, left it at the PacSun store – the first and only time I ever left it anywhere. Luckily, I drove back and found it. ;)

That little voice talks to me all the time. It’s almost cosmic, as if inanimate obects are sending out vibes – “notice me”, “don’t forget me”, “you are going to lose me this afternoon”.

And if a thought crosses my mind, like “I wonder if Amy’s confused about when we’re meeting”, there’s a strong chance that, indeed, there’s been a miscommunication. I’m not fully aware of it, but my subconscious is suspicious.

Pay attention to it!!

On the flip side is my superstition that if I congratulate myself on something, say the fact that the big screen TV we bought from Costco 18 months ago hasn’t caused us any problems (something I was worried about), then there’s a 90% chance it will, indeed, stop working within the week. (You can probably guess that this is what I’m dealing with currently.)

Or if we mention how great it is that, finally, all our renters are reliable and stable, we’ll get a call, within 5-7 days, that Joe has been transferred to DC. (Dealt with this exact scenario two months ago.)

My husband and I are forever knocking on wood. Or telling each other “don’t say that!!”.

Crazy? Not in our house. That little voice is more reliable than the weather forecasts around here.

UPDATES

It’s hard to come up with five posts/week, especially now that I’ve been blogging for close to a year. So, I thought it would help (and be fun) if I made note of all the times I listened that little voice and it paid off. These may seem obvious, or trivial, but that’s the nature of how it works.

06/04/2013 – Unfortunately, this is an example of when I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head. One of our children was really struggling with a summer school class. It occurred to me that maybe he should withdraw from it. But I wanted to be optimistic, so I didn’t suggest it. The next day everything fell apart and he decided to withdraw. And the deadline had been the day before. Knowing the drop dates and withdraw dates for college classes probably deserves it’s own post. It can be a very expensive lesson.

05/20/2013 - Rachel’s graduation ceremony is on Wednesday. The girls wear white dresses under their gowns. Don’t ask me why. This is in addition to the prom dresses we all have to spring for. Luckily, Rachel borrowed hers this year. ;)

Anyway, I had picked out five white dresses at Macy’s a few weeks ago. She’s down to choosing between two. One of them is ever-so-slightly big, so I thought I’d check to see if they had a smaller size when I was there returning the others today. They were on sale, which is good! But, it also meant there was hardly any selection left. I scrounged through the discount rack and could only find a size 8, which didn’t surprise me. I knew it would be a long shot that they’d have the size I was looking for. I was about to leave when that little voice in my head said to ask the sales clerk to search their system for a size 2 for me. It said there was exactly one in all of Colorado, and it was right there in the store. She found it for me (embarrassingly, on the same rack I had already gone through). I was SO excited I forgot to see if I could use one of my coupons. Of course, I remembered as soon as she had finished ringing me up. She was very sweet and patient, returning and re-ringing the dress for me, and I saved an additional $12.

05/19/2013 – last month a school friend of Rachel’s stayed with us for 4-5 days when her parents went on vacation. Of course, I didn’t find out until the day beforehand. Note to parents – don’t rely on the kids. If you don’t talk to the other parents yourself, assume that a) they know nothing about the plans, or b) the plans the kids tell you are wrong. Anyway, I asked the mom, whom I’ve never met, for contact info and a medical consent letter (since their daughter is a minor). She left an envelope which I never opened since there was never a need to call. Yesterday I was cleaning my desk and tossed it in the trash. That little voice in my head said to get it out and open it up. Sure enough, there were two $20 bills inside for gas and food.

Hired!

new jobI posted recently that I interviewed for a part time position at the rec center I go to, and they called me on Friday to offer me a job! I’ll be working in the registration office. I go in today to fill out paperwork and start some training.

The pay is pretty horrible, but the job meets all my criteria:

- between 8 and 12 hours/week
- no weekends or evenings
- maximum 15 minute commute
- free parking
- casual dress code
- no manual labor

It’s VERY hard to find a job meeting this criteria!!

I’ll be working one full day and one half day each week. I should still be able to go to yoga twice/week and swim once a week, my weekly study group, and be available to go out with my friends most weeks, and have plenty of time for shopping/groceries/errands and generally keeping things running smoothly.

It sounds like they are flexible about vacations and there are enough employees to cover shifts when I’m gone. I expect I’ll have to cover other peoples’ shifts from time to time, especially if I expect the same in return.

We’ll see how it goes. It’s been almost exactly 12 years since I quit my last real job – where, BTW, I was making more than 4x the hourly amount (12 years ago!) than I’ll be making on this job. :o

There will be a learning curve but, basically, the job is well within (if not well below) my capabilities. My biggest worries are a) will it mess with my current 100% flexibility, and b) will I like the job? I’m REALLY not good at doing things I don’t like. My hope is that I’m busy and the hours fly by. And, when I’m not busy, I hope it’s OK to read a book. I don’t read enough!

I would like to enjoy this enough that I’m still there in 5+ years.

We’re Having an FAC

patio partyWe’ve fallen behind in our entertaining this year. So far we’ve had my brother-in-law and his daughter for dinner; the same brother-in-law, his wife, and their daughter for dinner; and a big Mother’s Day dinner (there were 19 of us – including my brother-in-law, his wife, and daughter). By the way, I only have one brother-in-law. ;)

By this time last year I was hosting our 7th get together!

Anyway, we’re having a FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) tonight. It’ll be casual – drinks and appetizers on our patio. And I’m not sure if two or ten will show up. I’m making a batch of Sangria as it’s nice to have a signature drink. And I made a killer ice cream dessert yesterday. It makes a huge amount, so I divided it into two pans – one for tonight and one for the Memorial Day party we’re going to.

It should be fun. People are always happy to be invited over.

We’re going to be sick of eating and drinking by the end of the long weekend. We have two graduation parties to go to on Saturday, a BBQ on Sunday, and the Memorial Day party on Monday. It’s going to be “party” weekend!

Time For a Part Time Job?

new jobHere are my criteria:

- between 8 and 12 hours/week
- no weekends or evenings
- maximum 15 minute commute
- free parking
- casual dress code
- no manual labor

As you can imagine, this cuts the job pool down substantially. ;)

And I’ll be lucky to get $10/hr.

Here are the reasons I’m contemplating a job:

- I have free time on my hands
- it will make me a more interesting, well-rounded person
- even if I only earn $400-$500/month, it will come in handy
- it will increase my social security benefits
- in the event I want to/have to work in 5-10 years, it will be a LOT easier if I start now. Getting hired at 54 will be a LOT easier than at 60 or 64.

Anyway, I interviewed for a position that, miraculously, meets my criteria. I hope they hire me, though I’m not counting on it. It’s in the registration department of the parks and recreations center I use. It would mean free use of the amenities – a perk, although my current expenses are pretty minimal. My biggest concern is how it will affect my ability to take vacations. ;)

And I’m sure that’ll be one of their biggest concerns. I’m already planning on a short trip to Calgary in June, 10 days in the Maritimes in July, and a week in Windermere in August.

Develop Your Own Currency

mcmanisIt helps to assign a tangible value to money. I’ve done this in the past by developing my own “currency”. For years my big treat to myself was a Baskin Robbins Mocha Cappucino Blast, which cost around $5. By thinking of money in terms of my precious drinks, I assigned very tangible value to it. Making a decision that would save me $10 meant more when I thought of that $10 in terms of two Baskin Robbins shakes! Money alone has no intrinsic value.

I was finally able to kick my habit about a couple of years ago. So, my currency had to change and I switched it to a bottle of wine, which costs me between $7 and $8. Seems my most effective currencies all have to do with vices!*

My husband, who rarely if ever spends money, is usually faced with bigger dollar value decisions. Does he hire someone to powerwash and paint the deck or does he do it himself and save $500 – $1,000? Jay’s “vice” is an annual fishing trip, and the reward for doing something himself is that he knows he’s making it possible for him to go to Cabo.

What’s your currency?

*update: I’ve added a new currency – yoga classes. I love this because a) they are healthy and my currency is no longer limited to vices; and b) at under $3, they give meaningful value to even smaller savings.

Free Movie

regal crown clubJay and I went to a movie on the weekend, something we haven’t done in ages. I used coupons from my Entertainment book, which saved us $4. And I paid with a discount gift card I got for 19% off. Effectively, the total came to $13.77 – not bad for a first run Friday night movie.

AND, with the purchase, I got enough points so that they gave me a coupon for a free movie – which is worth between $6-$9!!