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Back to the Grind

August 28th, 2022 at 07:25 pm

It's back to the grind tomorrow. I took off all a last week and enjoyed spending time with my family. My sister stayed the night with me Thursday, then flew back home Friday morning. We enjoyed low-key family time, talking, having lunch, watching movies. It was so relaxing. 

I had a terrifying experience on the spillway Monday night coming home. There was a tanker trucker that came up behind me, no headlights, with hazard lights flashing. I didn't know why his hazard lights were on. Had he lost his brakes? He was so close that I got over as I was scared that he was going to run into me. Then he started coming into my lane & blaring his horn. It was terrifying. He had plenty of time to get over before he was on my tail, which was why I moved over. I really should have called the state troopers. He had no business driving so haphazardly without headlights at night on a dangerous over-water bridge. I was in tears by the time I got home, but so thankful that there was no accident. My heart felt like it was going to come out of my chest during the incident.

In better news, after 3 weeks of diet changes, exercising, and weekly Ozempic injections my blood sugar is running consistently within range. Three weeks ago no matter what I ate my glucose was high. I was worrying that I would never get it under controls. I get my labs again in 3 weeks so my doctor can make sure there are no advisers effects from the Ozempic.

Coolinary Restaurant Month

August 21st, 2022 at 01:10 pm

During the month of August they are having Coolinary in New Orleans, which is much like Restaurant Week where they have prixe fixe menus at restaurants throughout town. My sister and her friends were in town for a few days so I met them for dinner at Commander's Palace. I tried a couple of new things this time, but stuck with the bread pudding souffle for dessert. For appetizer I had the creole gumbo (wouldn't order this again) and for entree I had the boudin-stuffed quail which was very filling - almost too filling since I still had dessert so I got my entree to go. 

My friends & I never split a check, just pay our own meals, but the waitress asked if we wanted to split it so we did. I'm not complaining, but I see why people like myself who never order alcohol or extras, object to splitting bills equally. When we went to NYC last fall my friends always had a drink at dinner while I never did. Since our reservations were so late - after 8pm - dinner lasts a good 2 hours at this restaurant, I was plenty tired already for the quick drive home. I didn't think it would be a good idea to add alcohol on top of that. Especially since alcohol does nothing for me except make me sleepy. I'll occasionally have a drink at home late at night, but it's pretty rare.

I'm having a bit of a career dilema. I've been asked if I would be interest in taking on a supervisory position. Since it doesn't add anything to my salary it seems like a crazy idea to even contemplate. I'm already at the same grade as a supervisor based on the specialized work I do. I honestly don't relish becoming a supervisor again. I honestly don't want to get stuck with a bad employee again. It always seems that the good employees are free to move on as they have plenty of opportunities, while the bad employees stick around because they are in a job where they are protected. It's something to think about...I hope that I am at least in a position to be able to ask for an increase in steps. I always think it's a good idea to make yourself as valuable to your organization as possible so when you have an ask they have good reason to want to say yes. At least that's my theory.

Retention Incentive Update…or not

May 22nd, 2022 at 02:36 pm

I have mentioned that we signed a retention incentive agreement back in the beginning of March. It still has not been paid. This week we all got our personnel files updated with the retention incentive document & it looks like it will be paid retroactively. However, they forgot to put a percentage so now it's in question whether we will actually get it.

I can laugh about it, because I'm not struggling to pay my bills, but it's such a calamity of errors that occurs sometimes. For all the benefits of working for the federal government, the amount of bureaucracy is astounding. I understand we need to be accountable, but sometimes the costs seem to outweigh the good.

I've had two weekends of theatre going. Last weekend we saw two ballets: Swan Lake & Don Quixote. This weekend we saw the musical Mean Girls. The Covid-19 numbers are picking up, but I'm vaccinated and boosted and I'm trusting that if I catch it my body will be able to fight it. Of course, I'm also hoping that I don't have to find out how well my body can fight it. 

I bought an air fryer! I'm not a big cooker & it's been sitting in the box for a few weeks now as I contemplate whether to keep it. What do you make in your air fryer? 

Happy Thanksgiving! 🍁🦃🍽

November 28th, 2021 at 04:24 pm

I see the website has been upgraded in my absence. I like what I see so far!

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Ours was quiet as usual. We continued our new tradition from last year of Rock Cornish game hens instead of turkey, along with ham, cornbread dressing, carrot soufflé, and my homemade cranberry sauce. I usually do the fresh snap beans with potatoes & bacon, but my dad said to just cooked the stir-fry veggies we had in the freezer. Fine by me! Everything was delish & I'm eating my leftovers today. 🍗🍖🥕

My last two paychecks have had OT on them & that adds up quick. I'm always surprised by how much of an impact it has, but at a rate of 1.5 pay plus the shift differentials, it is significant. Much better than my pay when I had two PRN jobs. Work is about to get busier as my lab manager retires at the end of the year & I am the assistant lab manager. 

I traveled for the first time since 2019! My friends & I met up with my sister in New York. We had a great time. We saw 4 shows, ate great food, & did a ton of walking. 🍎🚖🗽

I have two more trips booked: Nashville in January & Maine next fall. 🎸🪕🦞⛵️ It is also my parents' 50th anniversary this summer so we may do a family trip.

I thought I might hit a million dollars by the end of the year in my TSP, but then the market pulled back due to Omicron. It still may hit those elusive 7 figures in 2021, we shall see. 

Yesterday I went to Hobby Lobby & Michael's looking for a Christmas tree. I had thrown my tree out last year as it had seen better days. I got a 7.5 ft pencil tree at Michael's and a tree skirt at Hobby Lobby. Michael's was much less crowded than Hobby Lobby. The pencil tree will take some getting used to, but it's decked out in rose gold, gold, & silver this year. It's a very pretty color combination, if I do say so myself. 🎄

My birthday is next week & I will probably have a quiet dinner with my parents. 🎂

 

March Review

April 1st, 2021 at 01:15 am

I reviewed my monthly budget spreadsheet for March and with a surplus of over $2,000 I decided to send $2,000 to my savings. This might be my strategy in future months as my checking account continues to grow. 

Tomorrow & Good Friday are pay days. April will be a flush month. I expect I'll be able to send more surplus to my savings.

I had a couple of conversations with my chief pathologist & co-worker that continue to make me optimistic about potential promotions. It means a lot that my superiors have confidence in me. 

I'm having some progress in physical therapy. Not as quickly as I'd like, but that's partly my fault because I should have seen the doctor sooner rather than later. I am hoping to avoid surgery. 

My mom & I discussed our Easter menu. It will be just the three of us as usual, but we still have a rather large menu planned. I'm hoping that it will be a beautiful spring weekend! 🐰🐣💐

Grandpa not doing well

January 26th, 2021 at 11:04 pm

My mom called me at work this morning to tell me that my grandfather wasn't doing well. I left work to take her to the hospital. Though we thought he could have more than one visitor a day since leaving ICU, it's still only one per day. They made an exception today and both my mom & my uncle were able to visit. I still haven't seen him. The would like to arrange a hospice nurse for him. It's so strange because although he is 90, until the last month or so he was so healthy. The last time I took him to a doctor the doctor mentioned to me that he was very thin, but he always been like that. He lost weight so quickly once he started to have issues, and again, he didn't have anything to lose. We just want him comfortable for as long as he has left with us. They took him in for another surgery Sunday, but we don't want them to keep performing surgeries.

In financial news, I have received all of my income documents for the year. Still need to upload a few other statements before my appt. My dad mentioned that I would be able to deduct my charitable contributions last year even if I didn't exceed my standard deduction. That's good. I continued to give to church & the local food bank. I still have a feeling that I will owe.

I think I mentioned that I bought a SodaStream during the Christmas sales. I finally just tried it today. I had bought a couple of zero calorie flavors through Kohl's. I can't wait to try it after it chills. I love my sparkling water & will enjoy being able to make my own. And yay for less waste! 

Net Worth: $1,168,011

 

Didn’t Win the Lottery

January 23rd, 2021 at 07:25 pm

Yesterday was my dad's birthday. My mom wanted to buy my dad some lottery tickets for his birthday so I went & purchased 10 MegaMillions tickets. Somebody in Michigan won the entire $1 billion jackpot! I didn't even know that the jackpot was so big. I asked the cashier for Powerball tickets & she asked me if I wanted Ppwerball or MegaMillions. The lady behind me told me that the MegaMillions jackpot was much bigger so that's what I bought.

I had to work last night so we are ordering dinner from a local restaurant today. I will pick up a cake at Fresh Market. I gave him a $100 gift card to a local Italian restaurant as a gift. I also gave him a variety of K-cups & more of the Jelly Belly recipe mixes that they got as a Christmas stocking stuffer.

My grandpa was moved from the Critical Care unit to a step-down unit yesterday. He can now have more than one visitor a day, though I'm sure that they will still have some additional Covid precautions. I am now 2 weeks past my second dose of vaccine, but still unsure if I should visit until he is stronger.

Today was a Wonderful Day

January 21st, 2021 at 04:08 am

Monday was the federal holiday to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I took off Tuesday & Wednesday as well. My friend was here each day doing work on my house. I had my kitchen cabinets & a few doors painted. Everything looks nice. Looking forward to getting more done in preparation for putting my home on the market. Still have more to do.

I was inspired by Monkey Mama's chicken fajita subs so I made a recipe I've tried before & really enjoyed: chicken fajitas made in the oven on a sheet pan. Turned out great once again & I ate them on whole wheat flour tortillas.

I was up early enough to watch the inauguration events starting with Trump's departure from the White House. I'm glad that everything went off without incident. All the ladies looked so lovely & everyone seemed to be on good spirits. I liked seeing the gifts presented to the President & Vice-President. I'm be never seen that before. It reminded me of the feeling in the city during Obama's inaugurations. I attended both.

But today was mainly a wonderful day because my grandpa is still with us. He was rushed to the hospital yesterday evening. The doctors had an idea what was wrong, but couldn't be sure without performing exploratory surgery. Problem was: he's 90, his heart briefly stopped during a procedure last week, and he's lost so much weight that he isn't even 100 pounds. So one doctor wanted to go ahead, while the other doctors weren't sure he would survive. I spoke to my aunt, who is making the decisions because my mom was too upset. We both agreed that among the choices not doing anything was not an option. We weren't going to let him suffer. So my aunt gave the okay. Miraculously, he survived the surgery & they were able to fix the issue which was as they thought. He has a road ahead of him, but we are happy that he is still with us. Today was a wonderful day!

Happy Veteran’s Day!

November 11th, 2020 at 04:38 pm

Happy Veteran's Day to all who have served! 🇺🇸 

I am taking my favorite veteran & military spouse out today. My parents, that is. Is there a word for the meal between lunch & dinner like brunch? That's when we're going out to avoid the crowds. 😁

It's also restaurant week here so there are good specials available. We are looking forward to heading to one of our favorite restaurants for restaurant week. They have a 3 course special that is really more than enough for 2 people.

Speaking of veterans, our VA was one of the sites designated to receive the Pfizer vaccine. When the news came out Monday we were very excited! 

I'm still paper trading my travel stocks & they shot up this week. They didn't sustain Monday's gains, but they are still up overall. I'm being patient & will continue to wait it out. I just feel that something will rattle the markets again & it will be a good time to buy in.

Net Worth $1,039,560

 

Kicking off the 4th Quarter

October 2nd, 2020 at 04:01 pm

This month is a 3 paycheck month, which happens twice a year. Nothing really changes for me as so many of my bills are paid biweekly: mortgage, car loan, credit cards. I alternate paying my two credit cards every other paycheck. My auto loan is still on track to be paid off the last paycheck of December, which is coincidentally, on Christmas. Merry Christmas to me!

My investments were up exactly $69,500 from the end of the second quarter. The power of time in investing really becomes apparent after a couple of decades. You're making much more than you're contributing.

It was my mom's 70th birthday Wednesday. I took the day off to spend with her & my dad. We had a nice day. I worked out in the morning. I took them out for lunch (her first time in a restaurant in over 6 months). She wanted a lemon cake so I ordered a lemon cream cheese cake from a local bakery. My older sister sent a meal delivery & my younger sister sent her a gift card to their favorite restaurant. I also picked up some flowers in her favorite color, yellow. My dad bought balloons. I gave her a few gifts of things I thought she would enjoy: pumpkin spice cappuccino k-cups, floral scented soaps, pumpkin spice almonds, a journal with colored pens, and few health items that I thought she'd like to try. The weather was absolutely perfect. The only thing I forgot was a glass of wine or champagne to toast her 7 decades.

Happy Labor Day

September 8th, 2020 at 01:50 am

I hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day. This Labor Day I’m especially grateful to all the essential workers.

Today I did a little laboring in the gym & kitchen. I’m working out 45 min 3x a week plus strength training. I also took advantage of a Labor Day special that the aerial fitness gym was offering: 8 classes for $50. I signed up for all of the level 1 Lyra classes which is 5 classes. All are being taught by my friend so that will be fun. I’ll keep an eye on the schedule for my remaining 3 classes.

Several years ago I thought I would try spaghetti squash as a healthier alternative to pasta. I took one look at the spaghetti squash after cooking it, decided I wouldn’t like it after all, and ended up tossing it. Today I decided to try it again. I roasted 2 small spaghetti squash with olive oil & salt. I had some excess sauce from the crockpot chicken creole I made a couple of weeks ago. The red pepper really gave it a nice kick. I browned some 93% lean ground turkey, and viola! It was absolutely delicious. I am now sold on spaghetti squash.🍝

Health update: 24 lbs down

All Is Well

August 28th, 2020 at 12:06 am

All is well on the home front. We had some wind & rain our way, but nothing terrible. I made it to work bright & early. Hurricane Laura is the strongest hurricane to make landfall in Louisiana in 164 years! It is a miracle that there isn’t more loss of life than is being reported.

I called my parents today as I do everyday. I asked what they were having for dinner. They said probably cold cuts sandwiches. I decided to surprise them with dinner from La Madeleine’s: chicken La Madeleine, quiche Lorraine, cranberry pecan salad, their freshly baked bread with butter & jam, and an assortment of dessert tarts. 🍗🥔🥦🥧🥗🍞🧈🍮 They were happily surprised & enjoyed everything. I figure making it through the storm unscathed was as good a reason to celebrate as any!

I’ve never been able to post pictures so I make do with emojis. 😁

In financial news, my biweekly mortgage payment posted yesterday & my balance is now under $56k. I bought my condo for $122k with 20% down. I’m always excited to see that balance go down slowly, but surely.

Net Worth $988,470

Costco Membership

August 17th, 2020 at 02:52 pm

I purchased a Costco membership through Groupon. The $60 membership includes a $40 gift card & $40 off online. I went to the store to take my picture for my card & ended up deciding to upgrade to the “black card”. I picked up 4 items: orange roughy fish, riced cauliflower, Laughing Cow cheese (really good deal at $4.99 for 4 wheels), and roasted peanuts. I would have bought more frozen veggies, but have no more space in my freezer. We used to eat orange roughy all the time when we lived in the upper Midwest, but here on the Gulf Coast you can pretty much only get catfish, tilapia, or salmon. On the rare occasion you may find trout or mahi mahi. 🐡🐠🐟

I also bought my parents & I thermometers. They had the forehead thermometers for $23. All of these things that were so hard to find or were so expensive are finally becoming reasonable again. 🤒

Home again today & I plan on doing some book keeping, laundry, & house cleaning, as well as hit the gym.

Net Worth: $967,382

Back to School

August 7th, 2020 at 01:56 pm

I can't believe it's back to school time again! Even though kids got out early this year, it seems like it was only yesterday. My friends have been posting their kids’ first day pictures on Facebook. I pray that everyone from the children to the school administrators stay safe & healthy this year.

Last week I spent a good bit of time reviewing my budget journal. I also bought new binders to replace my financial statements binder that is falling apart. I will have separate binders for my TSP, SS, Vanguard, etc. I suppose I could pull some things & file them away, but I like having all statements at hand for my open accounts. I usually only file away accounts that have been closed.

My credit cards are now down to $10k from a high of $22k. When they are paid off I know that I will need to dedicate some money to taking care of things around my home. Until then, every dollar goes to debt paydown.

I did a little too much shopping last month so I ended up returning several items. Other items were household items that I know I'll use, especially the cleaning supplies. I also bought a bunch of those $2 masks from Target, because if we're going to be wearing these masks for the foreseeable future it makes sense to have more than a few. Plus I like coordinating with my outfits/scrubs. Smile

I continue to work the 3 jobs & I'm glad that I didn't give any up since the work hasn't been consistent for the third job, even though it pays more. I'm back on the schedule at the hospital for August. Though I was supposed to be off all of July, I still got called in twice for coverage. I wasn't complaining. It gave me some hours when I wasn't getting much elsewhere.

I'm still trying out new lean & green recipes every week. I invested in a Dash mini waffle maker & a Dash mini griddle. They were on sale for $12 at Belk & I got an additional 10% off for picking up my order. The first time I attempted to pick up my order I didn't realize that the stores were closing so early & I just missed the closing time.

I'm now down 15.5 pounds in 5 weeks. I hope to be close to goal by Christmas. I originally set a goal of losing 40 pounds, but I'm starting to believe I can get back down to where I got to when I did Weight Watchers. Not by Christmas necessarily, but sometime in spring. I also have my 25th high school reunion in the spring so that's a great motivator.

Net Worth $955,181

August Already

August 2nd, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Time flies when you’re having fun. July was a good month for me. Although I didn’t get as many hours as I did in June, I still consistently paid down debt. I’ll be getting more hours this month. I also did a bit too much spending on July so I’m taking/sending some things back.

My debt continues to go down & my investments continue to grow. Next year when all my debts are paid off & I get another raise maybe I can start looking at doing stock trades. I have a couple of friends as well as my mom that seem to really enjoy it. I won’t start with much at first.

I got my hair done for the first time since everything got shut down. It was $90 including tip. She had to trim a good bit. I’ll have to be more consistent about going now. Hopefully we don’t get shut down all over again.

A couple of things that I won’t be sending back is my new Dash minis: griddle & waffle maker. I got such a great deal at Belk’s thanks to a tip. $12 on sale and another 10% off with pick-up. I already made roasted garlic mashed potato waffles & they were so good.🥔🧄🧇

My friend invited me to an online Croatian cooking class at the end of the month. The theme is Jewish foods & I think it will be fun. I can’t eat the food on my current plan, but I can bring it to my parents. I will have a little to taste test if I decide to participate.

Net Worth & New Recipe

July 29th, 2020 at 07:36 pm

I was just thinking that I have a net worth category that I never update. Mint tracks this for me so it’s pretty easy to keep an eye on. Today my net worth is $930,056.

I tried another new lean & green recipe: Cheesy Chicken Zucchini casserole. I made a few little adjustments, like using more chicken & zucchini, adding ricotta because I only had 6 oz Greek yogurt instead of 8 oz. I salted the zucchini as the recipe instructions indicated, but it still made a good bit of water. The taste was still good, but I’ll have to work on getting out more liquid the next time I make this recipe. That’s the only problem with cooking zucchini, all the water it makes as it cooks.

I’ve taken off a few days again. Had a few appointments, did some cooking & laundry, worked out.

NSV & Delicious New Recipe

July 26th, 2020 at 01:44 am

NSV: co-worker notes that I didn’t seem to be having the quarantine weight that everyone else seems to have gained, then asked me if I’ve been hitting the gym. I told him that I just went back this week & have only been walking (not running yet), but I’ve been watching my diet.

Tonight I made a new lean & green recipe: Salmon Florentine. It was delicious & even looked like a chef made it. Picture perfect! It made 4 servings so enough leftovers for the next 3 days & I still have half of the salmon filet in my freezer. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

I put myself back on next month’s schedule at my second job. I was supposed to take July off, but I got called in twice. I’m not getting as many hours at the third job since they’re having problems getting reagent, I’m glad that I just took a break & didn’t quit my second job. I want to keep making headway on getting my debt down & increasing my credit score.

Taco Salad

July 14th, 2020 at 03:33 pm

I made my own taco seasoning for the first time & I’m not sure why I never thought to do it before now. Thank you, Pinterest. Last night I had taco salad minus chips for my lean & green. I made enough for the week. I bought the fat free ranch for dressing, but then remembered that usually reduced fat products are better than fat free as they replace the fat with sugars. I’ll do better next time. 🥗🌮

What’s Cooking?

July 12th, 2020 at 09:51 pm

I’ve been doing some cooking since I’ve started working with a health coach. The goal of my meals are to keep them lean & green. I’ve made sheet pan chicken fajitas, garlic burgers with lemon butter zucchini noodles, shrimp with mashed and riced cauliflower, and roasted broccoli. I keep finding shrimp on sale which is good because I love it & you can eat a lot of it for your lean protein. I’ve bought so many variations of mashed & riced cauliflower. The two that I have tried so far are the Green Giants cheddar & bacon mashed cauli and the white cheddar riced cauli by Alexia. Both were good, but especially the mashed cauli.🧀🥓 Not sure what’s next on the menu, but I am looking forward to trying something else new!