Thank you!

2021 brought me 154 more followers, 8700 views, and 1131 likes. Over the course of 13 years I’ve managed to create 950 posts of which 500 of them I’ve made public. Thank you, thank you to all my followers and also those that stop and read here whenever they get the chance or just see the title of my post on WordPress and press the like button. I so appreciate all of you. Have a happy Sunday and start to your new week!

Surviving a rough season

The past few months have been really rough for me. When I say rough, I mean kind of nightmarish.
I specifically say me, because I’m the worrier in this household. I’m also the troubleshooter aka fixer of all troubles. I’m not certain I was always this person, but many years of working in healthcare and working short-staffed certainly helped to make me that person. I am in a season, whether it’s my age, time of year, or plate full of issues where I can say, without a doubt, it’s rough and I’m just barely getting by.

It all started three months ago when we received some heartbreaking news that I can’t really speak about here–but hope to sometime in the next month or two. Then my husband received some news at work that his employer would be offering a small bonus to each employee who worked 13 weeks 4 am-5:30 pm no late punch-ins, early punch-outs, no misses, and 55 hours each week would have to be worked and ALL vacation time surrendered and to be paid out. For my husband this challenge was not a big deal as he works long hours every week, punches in early, leaves late, and often surrenders his vacation. He hasn’t, knock on wood, called in sick for 20 years. Yet, Murphy’s Law was right there following us around, because the day after this was announced my husband put his back out. I called around for days trying to get him in to his regular chiropractor, to no avail. Thanks to Covid, chiropractors in this area work 1-2 half days a week and are booked solid. So for almost three weeks we bought creams, braces, heating pads–you name it, and finally he got an appointment. It was a nerve-wracking painful three weeks for both of us as he laid in pain every day before and after work and I, stretched thin from working overtime, waited hand and foot on him.

It was a strain and I know everyone out there has been through this. I deal with my back going out all the time, but unfortunately my treatment begins and ends with creams and ibuprofen. I no longer benefit from chiropractor adjustments–haven’t gone to one in 20 years. All that awaits me is surgery some day… So, we all got through that event only to then discover our cat was having an issue. His doctor is an hour away and he is a very anxious cat. Usually it takes both of us to take him, but seeing as hubby couldn’t miss any work, I took him alone. It actually went fairly well. Turned out he had anal gland infection and oh boy this was fun. He did not like any part of it and honestly I didn’t blame him. He’s had issues like this before so we had them expressed, he received a shot of antibiotic and we were sent home. Easy peasy. No. The antibiotic didn’t work and his issue got worse. Five 2-hour commutes later we were on a new antibiotic and this one seemed to be working. Until, he started projectile vomiting all over the apartment. By this time I was worried sick and starting to think the worst and our poor cat was at his limit. Of course it was hard getting appointments for him and each time I agreed to an emergency check-up cost, we were given one. Last Friday was when the projectile vomiting had been going on for almost two days and my husband was done work at noon. So we hopped in the car and off we all went. Just short of the clinic our car had a power surge and stalled at a very busy and deadly intersection. Just out of the blue–had never happened before. I quickly pulled into the clinic parking lot and left hubby to deal with it and took our poor cat in. He was given an anti-nausea drug, a probiotic, and we were sent on our way. Our car got us home and since then has sat at a local dealership. We had just had it in for an inspection, oil change, and tire rotation. So, this was very distressing to us. On Monday the dealership called and told me they had no clue what had gone wrong–everything checked out.

This phone call brought to mind the movie Autumn in New York with Winona Ryder and Richard Gere were Richard is told there is nothing that can be done for Winona’s heart until she dies, basically, and then the surgeon can go in and possibly fix it. We were being told there is nothing that can be done to fix your car until it throws a code. Until then, it seems fine and nothing is wrong. Same with our cat–every other cat in the universe got better on the antibiotic except ours–now we just wait and see…

This season for me is especially busy with the way the world is right now. I am transitioning from corporate taxes to small business taxes because small business is a much better fit for me. Corporate taxes/accounting is a stress-filled, competitive job that was fine for me for awhile, but in the end I’d much rather work for someone who owns their own business. My employer has been quite saddened by the news, but already I’ve managed to bring in new clients, so–in the end it works for both of us. Balancing the worries of clients and the responsibilities I have in my home has been very difficult of late. A lot of it has to do with the last nineteen months and all it’s worries and stressors. From the beginning of our marriage it was decided that I would handle all the finances–investing, bill paying, credit, loans etc. My husband would bring his check home and I would spend 30 minutes a month writing checks and paying bills. Now, almost twenty-eight years later it takes me 2 hours twice a month to handle it all. I’m also in charge of our retirement–funds, care, living etc. and I deal with all the decisions, emergencies, and fixing of all troubles in our household. Partly because I always have and partly because my husband never has and now wants absolutely nothing to do with any of it. He just wants to bring the bacon home and let me do the rest. After all, that’s what I went to school for, right? So, yes, lots of responsibilities and I’d like to tell you that because of my professional life taking care of personal finances is so much easier. Again, in this day and age with shortages, inflation, and so much uncertainty. Life is hard for everyone. I put myself more into my work when stressed and my husband checks out. Each of us has different ways of dealing with life and yes–sometimes depending on the seasons those different ways are helpful and at other times they are a hindrance.

Everything is going up in price. Two years ago an anal gland issue, shot of antibiotic, and office visit were under $125.00 These days each visit was over $250.00 and we had 6 visits all total with one of them costing $300.00. As far as hubby’s chiropractor costs–well his insurance used to pay for five visits. Unfortunately his chiropractor doesn’t accept insurance anymore. Our bill for 3 adjustments, 30 minutes total time seen over 2 weeks cost $325.00.

Our car has cost us a lot of money over the years. We so wish that when we paid it off years early, years ago, that we would have traded it in. We didn’t because we had so much invested in it and we didn’t want to deal with another car payment. Parts for car,especially ones no longer made, are non-existent or really expensive. That’s where we are right now–between a rock and a hard place. No matter the price we either fix it or start looking for a new car and making car payments again.

Often I am sad. Sad because so much is changing. Time is moving so fast and I am acutely aware that I now have more time behind me then in front of me. This past Sunday as I sat in my recliner in our living room, I thought I was having a heart attack. I half-laughed to myself because yes–ever the one to try and out do everyone, I’d have a heart attack. I figured, as I sat there, I’d finally reached the age where working hard, never relaxing, always trying to do “all the things” had finally done me in. I was sad that in my day to day of having to get everything just right at both home and work, I’d missed out on all the really important things. My arm hurt, my chest hurt, and I was really super exhausted. I sat there thinking the rest of the night and come morning I called to go in for tests. Turns out I’d pulled a muscle in my back that also affected my arm and chest. I was o.k. This and everything that’s happened in the last nineteen months really shook me. I wonder how I will ever get through old age when someday my limits will be reached. I wonder how life will be when all we can afford is treatments, medications, and co-payments with our “extra” cash. We may end up, despite our best efforts, like many millions of people and not be able to afford them at all. I realized that no matter how much I try to control every single thing in my life. I’m not in control. No matter how scrupulously I care for our cat, my husband, myself and our car, things still happen that cannot be prevented.

It’s been a revealing and rough season for most of us. I write this post to offer my story in hopes that as you read it you know that you are not alone. I pray for all of us time to catch our breath. Time to be thankful and time to be grateful. Time to catch up, settle down, and live again. Thrive not just survive.

Until next time, be safe and be well.

Rest

Rest–a very underrated activity.  When was the last time you took a nap?

Nap facts:

  • Naps 20-30 minutes in duration are the most beneficial
  • Napping can help lower your blood pressure
  • Napping can later help you to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Napping can help you be more alert and less stressed

Meditation helps with being more:

  • Mindful
  • Focused
  • Present
  • Aware

Looking Ahead:

I’m not sure Black Friday is even a thing anymore? There are several times a year that deals are available from all the big box retailers. Most of our shopping is done long before November, and this year and last we’ve purchased most gifts from local small businesses. I know not everyone can do this, but when you can it really is a special moment created for both you and for the small business owner.

Shopping days until Christmas- 71

None of us know what to expect in the coming months–what we do know is that the past nineteen months have been incredibly difficult on all of us. My husband and I are doing things different this year in that we are not necessarily shopping for gifts but rather creating gifts and considering doing things like buying a fall photography session next fall; we would like a professional photo taken, museum tickets or the opera next year (something we haven’t done in several years), and other “experience” type of gifts vs. material items that we can buy any time. The holidays for us this year are going to be very intentional, they will also include whatever we can do for our community at this time, and lots of time together at home creating lasting memories. Whatever it will be for us, I hope it will be safe, blessed, and full of love and comfort for you.

fall

Until next time, be well and be safe.

Understanding supply & demand and food shortages?

Are there food shortages & are we going to run out of food. Are food companies closing proof that food shortages are true? It’s complicated. The answer to any of the questions about food shortages, supply and demand, and prices cannot be answered by one person or one company. First and foremost the reason for shortages on store shelves is directly related to customers hoarding. Second, the companies that make the food items have been operating for years on a Just in Time inventory basis– meaning they create supply based on demand forecasting. Once the demand for products increased mid-2020 companies were faced with demands higher than they could supply. Every item we buy has a supply chain. Almost no item we buy is entirely made in one place. Each item has several components and requires several companies to fulfill their part in order for said item to be produced. On a mass scale this meant everything from small to massive companies here and worldwide plus shipping all had to change the way they had been doing business (most since the mid-90’s).

Add to that a ship getting stuck or not enough space at ports for ships to dock and unload and the supply of all the things we need gets backed up. It also goes without saying that there are several companies that have shut their doors due to the pandemic, costs, lack of customers, rules/regulations and shortages of workers.

Supply is what a company has on hand. Demand is the quantity of any one good customers are willing to purchase and at various prices. When supply is low prices go up–this is done in part to stop overwhelming demand. When supply is high prices may go down some to insure products are sold before expiry or to keep demand for it alive.

Many companies stood back and took a look at their product lines and decided to cut products that were less profitable for them. Companies began to prioritize the goods they had been producing–which is why you don’t see certain soda flavors, cookies, or pizza’s or cat food and many other things on shelves anymore.

It isn’t because we are running out of food. It’s profit margins. It’s shortage of workers. It’s less companies making the item. It’s components made in other countries that there is a shortage of–like microchips.

Are there going to be meat shortages. Maybe. It takes 18 months to 2 years to get a cow to market weight. So when there is a shortage of cows this is how long it will take for the shortage to end. Right now the biggest shortage we have and many continue to have are workers at meat plants. Truthfully, I don’t know the reason behind prices being so high for so long. In my part of the world prices have been out of this world high since June of 2020. I’m guessing it has to do with some of the inputs in meat such as higher wages and higher prices for grain. Also, droughts in 11 states in 2021. Which amounted to 36% of the U.S.being too dry and another 4% too wet.

I would confidently say that the major reason some long-term food companies (survival food companies) are going out of or pausing their business is because of the influx of new prepper’s and their demands. Common sense always dictated that if you could, you should always have 6 months-1 year of food on hand. Many thousands of prepper’s decided that they wanted to have several years worth of product on hand. Also, there been a huge increase in the number of people wanting to become homesteader’s. As each and every one of them started buying up “all the things”–supply issues became an issue. Suppliers of long-term food, kits, and equipment could not keep up. Also remember that many of these kinds of companies may supply products to the military and likely to other government organizations that supply areas that experience inclement weather/loss of power on a regular basis. I have seen via YT videos people ordering hundreds of #10 cans of food “just in case.”

One of the biggest reasons companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other grocer’s can’t keep up with demand is a shortage of workers and current workers quitting (overworked). Just today a company that I plan on ordering dairy and dry goods from has cancelled next week’s pickup until the week after due to overworked staff, truck drivers, and stress on suppliers. This country’s supply chain is broken and that is a fact–broken due to low inventories for years, broken due to a pandemic, broken due to climate change, natural disasters, overworked employee’s, not enough employee’s for the demanding work, fuel costs, outsourced components, and really a total lack of preparedness in the manufacturing/ retail industry.

Also, despite shortages, the waste of excess buying/hoarding. Here’s an interesting report on the rise of food waste. As if the problem wasn’t enormous before –well, it’s out of control now. Here’s another article about food waste in the U.S.

In summary, should we all be concerned with shortages? The answer is to a certain degree for some time we have and may still experience shortages. All of the reasons I’ve listed above and more are the reason items are higher priced or some shelves are bare. Still, the single biggest reason for shortages, especially food/toiletry products in store or online, is panic buying. Until panic buying settles down, until people on the internet stop feeding the frenzy, food, appliances, readiness/camping gear, and toiletry items are going to remain limited in some markets.

My experience over the course of the last eighteen months is that initially toilet paper, sanitizers, personal care products, and canned goods were the products that disappeared the fastest. Then, limits were placed upon these products and not too long after toilet paper and canned good reappeared. I never heard of or witnessed produce shortages, but there were cookies, chips, t.v. dinner, and soda shortages. Recently we’ve experienced not being able to source our cat’s food. This has been going on for several years and mainly due to two reasons: manufacturer replacing flavor/brand with new flavor or profitability. We noticed a shortage of the soda we drink–and we discovered that is because of the aluminum shortage in the U.S. What we’ve noticed in the past year, more than anything else, are increasing prices. Are prices increasing to curb demand? I’m not sure? I’m more apt to believe prices are going up due to all of the incentives being offered to workers due to the shortage of workers. When input costs are higher — the cost to produce a good is higher which then leads to higher prices. I think the worker shortage problem is going to take a while to get straightened out–I’m guessing close to another year. Add to everything I’ve said, climate change, and we all have plenty of things to be concerned about regarding our future and if and when any of us will experience food shortages. Climate change is the number one reason for world hunger–not worker shortages, not politics, not overcrowded ports, or people clearing the shelves off. .

Finally, before you empty your bank accounts to stock your pantry for the next 10 years–double check your news sources. For this blog post alone, I found one discrepancy after another discrepancy. Most alarming I found articles where people were stating that already we had bread lines similar to those in Russia at one time –due to food shortages. No where in this country since the pandemic began have we had bread lines. For years and years we have had hungry people in this country due to poverty. The long lines shown on television in 2020 in Texas were due to unemployed people (most due to Covid) needing food.

If you can afford to buy extra’s of what your family eats and needs–you should. If you do I wouldn’t tell anyone about what you are doing. This I say just out of pure common sense and caution. I’ve watched a lot of YT videos of prepper’s showing their stockpiles etc. and I find that extremely careless on their part. Even if they are fortified with guns and ammo–nothing will stop a hungry crowd, if things ever come to that, from trying to take what you’ve stockpiled. Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Buy items from several different entities.

Of course, everything that I’ve written in this blog post is just my opinion. That said I am quite familiar with the subject matter…By day I work as a corporate tax accountant and also commodity forecasts/analysis.

Until next time–be safe and be well!

Fall is in the house

I decorate for every season, holiday, Hallmark card event lol. Halloween is my second favorite thing to decorate for and this year I feel I did especially well. What do you think? All that’s left is to get the candy together and wait for the trick or treaters. It’s something we look forward to all year long.

Happy Fall! 🍂

Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

By Joseph Brackett 1792
Shaker Dancing Song

My Fall Bucket List

Things I can do now before the falls colors/activities start:

  • find some great apple cider recipes
  • stock up on marshmallows for cocoa
  • buy fall/ winter cozy reads–also there are some cozy mysteries  on the Hallmark channel that I should watch!
  • watch the sunset
  • join a book club

Things to do when the leaves start changing:

  • visit a farm
  • visit an apple orchard
  • go on a hayride
  • go on a horseback ride
  • pick out a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch
  • go hiking
  • bake pumpkin bread
  • watch a fall movie
  • visit a corn maze
  • catch a college football game–bring thermoses of hot cocoa and apple cider
  • make chili
  • window shop
  • go antiquing

Pantry Prep and Simple Living Guide

Click the link below and once payment is made I’ll send you your guide -$5.00

Because this is a Google Doc PDF–your guide can be sent to you in your preferred language.

Pantry Prep and Simple Living Guide

Simple gentle decluttering tips + pantry prep list w/details

$5.00

Once I’ve received your payment and email address, I will email you the link for the pdf copy of my new guide –Basic Pantry Prep and Simple Living Guide. I am hoping in the near future to figure out how to automatically accept payment and the download is immediately available. I’m still working out all the details on how to do this correctly. For now I will send the Google Doc PDF link to your email upon payment and say–Enjoy!

Details about the guide:

  • It’s 22 pages
  • It’s current and up to date.
  • The pantry prep is typically for two people but works for bigger families too.
  • The font is 14 Garamond and easy to read.
  • There are 12 months of gentle simple living and decluttering tips.
  • In the pantry prep I include details about size, brand, oz. etc. so that you can be fairly confident your pantry is well stocked without waste.
  • There are a lot of tips throughout the guide that will save you money all year long.

Example of monthly decluttering tips:

September

September is the month that I start preparing for the holidays. I know, I know–summer is just turning into fall and all that pumpkin spice! This is the time to start thinking about holiday prep, holiday baking, holiday stock-up, and if you exchange gifts or? Then how that is going to work this year–lists, amounts per family member, teacher’s gift etc.

Sales for so many things happen throughout the year and I pick things up for gifts right after the holidays. If you are into Bath and Body Works, they have two big sales a year (Feb/July). If you are planning on having anything custom made, now is the time. Also, due to shortages, delays, back orders galore–order now if you can. I just now received a shipping confirmation from something ordinary, not terribly special or rare, that I ordered from Anthropologie in March.  Special things you might want to purchase from Etsy are things you may want to consider buying very soon. I hear there is going to be a toy shortage this year. Start consulting family members about what your grand kids, nieces, nephews, friend’s kids and so on want. When you have a list and the money necessary–start ordering. Expect delays.

Example of Pantry prep:

White Sugar- if it is baking season (winter) or hummingbird feeder season (may-sept) I have on hand 15# pounds of sugar. Otherwise 10# is sufficient for 3 months (lasts more than this in our house).

Brown Sugar (2) 2# bags. We have a 2# of light and a 2# of dark on hand throughout the year for baking. 1- 2# bag is sufficient to get you through 3 months if you like to bake, eat oatmeal, and make your own bbq sauce.

Yeast- unless I have a specific use for yeast I don’t buy the packets, but will buy the jar and refrigerate it. Check out Fleischmann’s active dry.

Click the link above and get your copy today!