Monday, October 20, 2014

Winning Small Battles

I think we are winning the battle of the hotspot this time around.  With the cone on and religious cleaning and powdering, the spot has shrunk.  Teddy is under-stimulated as there is no rigorous exercise to be had when you are a dog wearing "The Cone of Shame."  I am feeding her a novel fish-based diet which she is loving and the small flax/chia seed/coconut oil chews I made for her are a new favorite thing.  I hope the cone can come off tomorrow -- we'll wait until the evening to see how the spot goes over night.  If she scratches it again, the cone will go back on until the sore is more than completely  healed.  That might sound a bit cruel but if we treat it, it doesn't seem to bother her too much and we're almost through a sore without having used a course of antibiotics.

I'm on to another phase of finding a new job tomorrow.  I had a phone interviewed scheduled with the bank this morning but their recruiters are overwhelmed and it had to be rescheduled until tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I've already met with and interviewed with the actual department manager -- we did it that way for expediency.  While this is nothing I'm going to count on (so many other promising situations have fallen through), I think it's a sound prospect.  This would be a new and slightly different career path that I had not anticipated but that is OK. IMO, you will server yourself best if you are open to the opportunities that come our way and if you welcome the chances that you might not have originally envisioned for yourself.  I think that is the best way to grow professionally. I'm not one for having a grand plan/career path charted for the future.  I'm one for grabbing an opportunity and running with it.  That's a swell way to get ahead as far as I'm concerned.

I think I've given myself a small challenge to no longer feel I have to cook and clean and cram everything that needs to be done into my spare time. I got tons of stuff done on Sunday, but I was miserable and tired when I was done.  I didn't enjoy much of the day at all.  The cooking was swell to start, but it was too much work.  My goal, other than finding another gig, is to learn to relax more.

Well readers, do you think I can do it?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Work Day!

Today I set about to cook the two chickens I got on sale yesterday. I wasn't sure if it made sense to get these two smaller ones or a larger one but I knew I needed bones for broth.  Here they are, about 2/3 of the way done. I crammed their cavities with eggplant, added four potatoes and four carrots. I figured I'd cook them as long as the oven was on.  I pushed a lot of garlic under  the skin and also put it in the cavities.  At less than three bucks a piece, I thought these birds were a good buy.

At the point when I took this picture, I also pulled the veggies and potatoes out and set them aside to cool.  Two of the potatoes were set aside for lunch. I pulled two thighs off the birds and pulled the meat off the bones and then put a potato (cut in quarters) with the meat of one thigh into each container and TBG will have them for lunch.  I asked him to make himself a spinach salad for a side on those days.  He has at least one, if not two, days where he can't get home for lunch and I'd rather make something up for him than have him order a sub or spend money on lunch.  It's a money saving thing plus a home-prepared lunch is healthier.

I baked a pie too.  Another task I had to accomplish was making veggie slop for the dog and she got the cores and skin from the apples, along with ends from the big brussell sprout stalk that I cut up while the chicken was in the oven.  I also cut the stems from the broccoli to add to her slop.

We had quiche for dinner.  There were mushrooms to use up along with a third of a bag of baby spinach.  The fifty cent stalk of leek that I got was the reason I wanted to make a quiche. The green ends made it into the crock pot for stock.  It also made sense to make a quiche since I was already making dough for the pie.  My goal was to make dinner, get a few meal components ready for next week and also make slop for the dog.  It was a very busy afternoon!

I picked up these bento boxes for cheap on clearance at the super market. They were 75% off and since we like to bring lunch, I figured it was as good a way as any to package it up.  These were two bucks each and I got a set for me and a set for TBG as well as a third set to give to my sister for Christmas.  This week I'm having chicken salad wraps or sandwiches for lunch and we'll be making salads, bringing nuts, etc.  When you buy things on sale, you get gas points and based on the money I saved today, I can now get 20 cents off per gallon on my next tank.  What a deal!

I did spend more time unclogging the drain that I would have liked. I cooked so much and had so many things to put through the disposer, that I clogged it.  I had planned to make pizza dough  but that never happened.

TBG was at the Bills game and he had to spend too much time standing.  We both have sore feet from being on them all day.  At least we had quiche and wine for dinner and are about to enjoy some pie.  Who said Sunday was the day of rest???

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Savings

My day started at the farmer's market where I dropped about eleven bucks on veggies.  TBG loves brussell sprouts more than any other vegetable. I like to feed the stem to the dog, so  this $2.50 stalk was right in my wheel house!  The two bunches of broccoli were two bucks and those stems will go to the pup too.

Tomatoes and red peppers are at the end of their season so they aren't prime specimens, but I can't pass up another week to enjoy them locally grown.  The leek will be used both for quiche and for soup.

I stopped in the  Tops near the market and I think that when I shop the market on Saturday, that is the Tops I will go to. It's a lot less crowded than the one near the house and it's on the way home from the market anyway.

I picked up a few half off, end of season goodies.  The plastic ladles were thirty cents a piece and the thermal carrier was six bucks.  I also grabbed two "use today" chickens at sixty cents a pound.  It was a good food gathering morning!
I have needed more pumps to replace those that have lost their heel taps due to the parking lot at work.  The grey and black pair on the right will probably stay at my desk and I'll just wear flats in from the car.  The patten leather pair on the right were a real score.  These are Bruno Maglis that set me back all of four bucks.  They are  marked as a European size three and a half, which is why many women probably just passed them by.  I plan to take good care of these babies and am now doing the happy thrift store dance!

My next task is to cook up a batch of dog food.  Teddy's hotspot is healing well with the cone on.  She loves the little flax/chia treats I made.  I am feeding her white fish with white potatoes and yams plus a bit of carrot, celery etc.  It's my take on an elimination diet and she'll get it for close to six weeks.  Then I'll put her back on chicken and see if the skin issues come back.

I have also read that it is a record year for bacteria in Lake Erie and that is what feeds the river she swims in.  It could be the water that is at the root of the problem.  Once the weather cools down, the algae should die and that might help too.  But for now, she's in the cone of shame and staying dry.

I hope others had a money saving Saturday too. I really scored!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Working at Working!

I'm still plugging away at getting another job while I am in the bank.  The smiley face lollipop to the manager I am hoping I can do permanent work for was a good morning conversation opener and it may have helped lead to the interview we were able to set up in the afternoon.   The boss whose staff I am officially on liked her pop too and came to thank me.  The spare pop went to my across-the-aisle neighbor who was having a crappy day.

As for the interview... perhaps one of my flaws is that I am too honest because I was pretty up front about the skill sets I lack but was confident in saying I was certain I could pick those up with training.  I have continued to work on assignments for the team and am turning the tasks around quickly.  I am hoping that is getting me traction as I've liked the assignments I've had so far.

I really feel the hardware I need to come up to speed on will not be hard to master.  Hopefully my strong skills in other areas will complement the high level of technical abilities the existing staff have. 

My feeling at this point is one of optimism.  Of course, I'm not counting on anything because I've had too many false starts in the past year.  However, I was asked if I'd be willing to extend my contract if it took more time than the end of the month to make this move work.  Higher powers would have to OK that and the manager who is hiring has to determine that I am the one for the position.  I hate contracting but would accept an extension and stop looking for other work if this was considered a sure thing and we just had to wait for the paperwork to go through.

This has been a real roller coaster and I am hoping one of these days things will reach an even keel.  Until then, I'll just keep plugging away and doing my best.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Not a Hallmark Holiday

Tomorrow is National Boss day or some sort of made up Hallmark holiday designed to sell greeting cards.  I came up with a way to recognize the day without buying a card.  I did spend eight bucks but at least I am bucking a trend.

A colleague in the department that I am in that doesn't have funding for me wants to give the boss flowers and wine. I suggested a wine.  That is a little extreme but I'm not looking to rain on any parades and if it means people feel good, then that's fine by me.

For myself, I wanted a unique way to celebrate three bosses.  I sort of have a past-present-future thing going on.  The "boss" who hired me has been very supportive in my last days contracting and has been pulling to get me hired. She's had no success but she really has tried and promoted me.  My current boss has been lenient about having a body on her team that gets no actual work to do.  Rather than just ending my contract, she got it extended to almost the full year and has been loaning me out wherever possible to let people know I can do good work.  I am also working now for someone who could be my future boss if only the process would move along and get my application and the requisition and HR all in line before the end of the month. I don't see that as a sure thing because I've had so many of those not materialize.  But it's nice to have someone trying hard for me.

I have a reputation for always being in a good mood and finding an optimistic side for everything.  So rather than buying a card to express a card company's sentiment, I'm putting out a message of my own.  These just happened to be at the check out at Tops where I was able to make the perfect impulse buy.

I don't know if anyone else plans to commemorate a boss, I might as well do it as long as I have a job to do it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where I Indulge

It is no secret that I have a weakness for jewelry.  One rationalization I use is that it won't take up a lot of room in our small house.  I wear jewelry every day too.

Food is an indulgence too so in order to be responsible, I shop and cook frugally, always trying to get the most bang out of our grocery buck.

My rate of purchasing for bling is reliably at least one piece per month.  I will go over that if I find a nice vintage piece -- you don't have stock to go back to the next month and I only generally spend left-over cash in my wallet on it.  This pair of lapis earrings set me back 13 bucks including tax and shipping.  They were on a deep clearance and I have wanted lapis earrings for a while to go with a lapis necklace I've had for a few years.  The amount I spend on Bling is comparable to what TBG spends downloading a book a month on his Nook.  He knows he should figure out how to use the library for that but at this point, I don't have time to set it up for him.

Besides, until I have no job (if that happens), I don't want to live as if we have no money.  That might seem irresponsible but I don't think life should be about deprivation -- especially not if means giving up ornamental stuff that fits on your fingers, wrists, toes, or around your neck or in your ears!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Going Homemade on my Day Off

Today is a bank holiday -- Columbus Day -- and I am using it to do things that I did when I wasn't working.  These are things I miss doing and consumables we really miss not having on hand because I don't have the time to make them.  Our lifestyle is not as healthy when we both work full time and a lot of that has to do with my inability to get back to making healthy things from scratch.

Today I made a big batch of granola.  I used to do this once (sometimes twice) a week when I was out of work.  It is baked on parchment to keep it from sticking.  Trying to remember what goes in it when I think back isn't always easy because it's full of good stuff.
This bag of "gourmet" granola sells for six bucks.  It has fewer ingredients than mine and my batch which was at least double this was less to make.  I believe my batch has oats, raisins, craisins, prunes, currants, sunflower-chia-pumpkin-sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans, dark chocolate covered hazelnuts,  cocoa powder, peanuts, brown sugar, molasses, dark maple syrup, light maple syrup, raw honey, syrup, cinnamon, salt and a few other ingredients I've forgotten about.  There's not a huge amount of any of the extras but there is at least two cups of oats.  Because I only use small quantities of the "extras," it isn't as expensive to make as it might seem.  The other bonus is that it's super fresh.  TBG really misses my granola and I was happy to have a day to make it.
We don't often have a chance to drink fresh iced tea.  This is mixed with a little bit of ginger.  I use four green and one black tea bag per pitcher.  There's two tablespoons of sugar and nine drops of stevia in each plus a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon.  While my version isn't "diet," I'd consider it "light" when you compare how much sugar is in a store-bought sweetened glass.  Each pitcher only costs about twenty cents to make -- most of that expense is the lemon!
Here's the ingredient list for a super-market brand. The sweetened version is on the left.  It's no surprise the version made at home is healthier.

Now, for the rest of my day off, I am doing a load of work clothes, going for a swim and making some sort of curried chicken and rice soup for dinner.  I could get used to this and maybe I'll have to next month!