Friday, September 27, 2019

My First Tip For Budgeting

Is it just me, or is it really annoying to go to a website or YouTube video about saving money and living frugally, and the person doing the video or writing the article are trying to get you to buy or subscribe to something they are selling? If it is a diet or health site they try to convince you that the only type of supplements that work are the expensive ones their company name is on. All others are useless and you have wasted your money! I admit, I have fallen for these marketing ploys many times over the years. Not anymore! The money saving ones or getting out of debt are the ones that really get to me. You are there due to having no money or being in debt and want information on how to get out. So what do they do? Give you some information to get you interested. Then hit you with the book or subscription or coaching service that will get rid of all your problems for life. But you have to pay for it.

Whatever happened to good old fashion helping others out? If I knew the answers to everything, I would help everyone. I like thinking when I write tips or ideas I have, that others find it valuable in some way. I can’t really say I am an expert in any one subject. I have always written about the way I do things. Take it or leave it. If you know a better way then do it your way. No sense arguing with anyone about how to do things. I also see no sense in charging people money for you to share your information. I used to put affiliate links on my blogs and never found it was worth it to annoy my readers. Those darn things kept getting in the way of what they were trying to read. Like trying to read a recipe on a blog and the photos are super big and as you scroll down, all types of ads are in between the pictures and the text. Very difficult to read. I leave those sites and skip the recipe.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize many people are now earning a living online by these informational sites. For me, a blog used to be about my own life and how I did things on my homestead. I had several and I listened to all the other bloggers, who said they were making a lot of money every month on their blogs. With affiliate links, subscriptions and selling their own products like eBooks and newsletters. Well, I was never quite comfortable pushing that stuff. I still have two eCookbooks for sale on Amazon in the Kindle shop. I never promote them. With all of that, I never made any real money. I never could have lived off what I made. I still put an affiliate link from Amazon on a blog post if it is about a product I have bought or used. A small link, not intrusive on the reader’s experience.

If you are living in extreme poverty and go to the library to access the internet, I do not expect you to be able to buy a $35.00 book to learn how to pay your debt off. When you have no money to work with, I would not want to see you add that book price to your current debt load. Nope. I would rather share my information of how I did it hoping it would give you an idea of how to pay off all those credit cards on a very low income……….yes, low income in my mind is not forty thousand dollars a year! It is more like $20,00-$12,000 or less. All the well known frugal money wizards have books or courses to push upon you when all you want to know is how to get started. Like I said, I am not an expert and especially on this subject. I have been working on it myself and I am willing to share my information and if it helps you, then good. If not, maybe you will find someone else who can help you more than I.

The very first thing all financial experts would tell you (and I know this as I worked in accounting offices and was married to an accountant) is to keep track of every single penny you spend for at least three months. Whatever you purchase, write it down. This gives you a clear picture of what you are spending your money on. Do not take out cash and spend it and just write cash down. Write down every cent spent and what it was spent on. After you have done that you need to study it and categorize every single purchase. Now make a list of the categories and you have the beginning of your budget. This is your blueprint that will divide your money up into your expenses for the month. If you don’t have a plan written down, you will not stick to it. Remember that!

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Regrets Can Be Overcome

No matter how you live or what you do, others will always judge you. Instead of living your whole life trying to conform to their rules for YOUR life, disregard every judging remark they make. Yes, sometimes you might be wrong in not listening to them. If so, you will learn on your own. That is what we all must do. How many times have you heard a parent, a grandparent or friend tell you that they are just trying to save you from regret or hurt? If you do it your way and find out that maybe it is the wrong thing to do. But it was your choice and now you know. Sometimes though, their thoughts about your life was not right for you. The reason is because we are all different. Nobody, not even our parents or siblings have our thoughts or feelings. We are interested in certain things and they are not. And we have no interest in what they think is important.

Maybe that is why our parents' dreams for us when we are growing up cause so much pain, arguments and separations. Your heart is set on a certain path and your parents want "what is best for you" and "an easier life" for your future. Can't blame them for that. When we are young it is hard to live the way they want us to. We want to be like our friends. Taking up bad habits to fit in. Measuring our popularity by how cool our friends think we are. Knowing our parents won't approve of certain friends or lifestyle. Moving away from our families so we can be free to be who we want to be.

So you go through the years rebelling against your parents' dreams for you. Now not everyone does that. Some people settle down and listen to their parents and follow a path that will make their life easier. Not saying all parents have the right plans for their children either. Years later though, you may look back with regret that you did not listen to your parents and follow their plan for your life. You will never know if it would have been better for you or not. If you are older now and look back with an open mind, you may think how tough your life turned out. Looking back pinpointing every single mistake you made. How sad that because of those decisions your life turned out hard and stressful. It happens!

Regrets. Regrets. Regrets. I know for myself, now at this age, 67, I see many of those regrets. And they usually involved men. How could I have thought my life was centered on men? I did though. At a crucial spot in my life of doing something that would improve my future (like starting college, a job, moving, etc.), a man would show up in my life and stop all that progress. They always set me back. I have been married three times and not once did I get to the end of a marriage with any happy thoughts. Just relief that it was over. I spent my time encouraging and building their self-confidence up and getting nothing back in return.

Oh sure, in my first marriage, I lived the good life with plenty of money, nice cars, home, vacations, clothes and jewelry. It was not enough. When you come right down to it, money and material possessions are not enough to buy your happiness or love. Even gold diggers get bored with that life after awhile. I think that may be why you see rich couples cheating on each other so much. Breaking up. One or both of them bored with the other. Being with someone who is only thinking of their self. Feeling neglected or jealous of the children that came along. That is no way to live!

I am no expert on marriage by any means. In fact, it is where I failed badly. My life has improved so much since I moved into my own place. I have friends now. I go places. Do things I hadn't ever done or at least hadn't done in years. So just because you had a rough life in the past, does not mean it will continue that way. All you have to do is put out some effort to make the changes you want. Life is not waiting around for you to live the way you want. You are responsible for that. If you go to sleep every night wishing you were somewhere else..........then in the morning make a list of what you need to do to make that change. 

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Appreciating My Luxurious Bathroom

A bathroom is important!

A bathroom is something most people take for granted now. Running water. Electricity. The pump to run the water to your kitchen and bathroom. The pipes to bring it to each room. A water heater to give you an option of a hot shower or hot dishwater. How nice! There are people around the world who live without that convenience. I am sure most of my readers knew that. Poorer countries might not have that in everyone's homes. In the United States though, there are a good amount of people living without those things. I used to be one of them. If I had not moved last year, I would still be living without it and other conveniences as well.

A shower is a luxury when you have lived without!

That first night in my apartment, when I took my first shower, I cried. Yes, I really did! It was such a luxury for me! To feel the hot water spray on me, made me feel so clean. I am thankful that I had this opportunity to move on and live a normal life after almost 20 years. I live in a studio or efficiency apartment now, which means it is one room living. Very small! Yet this bathroom is the biggest bathroom I have ever had. Even when I lived in a big house. It is set up for the disabled and believe me that has made my life so much easier. I can do so much more for myself now. I don't even feel disabled or crippled which is the way I thought of myself before.

Shower chair is a must have!

One of the first things I bought was a shower chair. I knew I was going to need it and I certainly did. I know I could not have stood for the whole shower. It makes it easier to wash and condition my hair. I can even take my time doing it because I am sitting down. I would recommend this to anyone with a big shower that has room for it. Even if you are not disabled, it is very handy and you can sit on it while you dry your feet, legs and arms. This chair was not very expensive. I purchased it on Amazon for about $69. or so. I can't remember exactly. But it is worth every cent!

Freestanding shelf holds a lot within easy reach!

My shower has plenty of room for my soap, shampoos, conditioners, facial cleanser and whatever else I want. I choose to use a freestanding shelf in the corner because it is easier for me to reach it when sitting in the chair. My shoulders give me a hard time when I have to reach up for anything. So it was better for me to have the shampoo and soap in the corner on the floor. I love it. If I can't reach something, I can always move the chair closer.

3 grab bars give you something to hold onto.

An apartment for the disabled is designed with fall prevention in mind. That is the most important thing and especially in the bathroom. I think more people fall in there than anywhere else. You can see in my photos that I have three very sturdy grab bars. They are solid. I can pull myself up on one if I need to. The only bad thing in the whole bathroom is the marble threshold from the shower to the room. If it is wet it will get very slippery. I have always been aware of it and never step on it. Nor do I ever take hold of the towel bar. That is not solid and I do not want to pull it out of the wall either.

Adding color to the bathroom is easy!

I ordered my shower curtain from eBay when I was certain in my mind that I would be moving to this apartment. I kept it in the box it came in and dreamt about how it was going to look. It was not that much money so I didn't expect it to be exceptional, just functional. Well, this shower curtain made my day when I put it up! I loved it then and I still love it now. Sometimes I think I should order a second one in case anything happens to this one. I love colorful rooms and this makes my bathroom special. I love going in to take a shower or get ready to go out in front of my mirror. Living with color makes me happy! And living with running water and a luxurious shower makes me even happier! My bathroom may not look luxurious to you, but to me, it definitely is!

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, September 09, 2019

25th Annual Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival

Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival in Norwich, NY

The city of Norwich, NY, where I moved to in May of 2018, is not a big city by any means. It has a population of 6,644 people according to the 2019 estimated United States Decennial census. That makes it the 133rd largest city in the state of New York. That is IF those statistics are correct on this day. Whatever it is, Norwich (NY) is not a big city, but large enough for me. I would not want to live in a city any bigger than this. It was a big change for me, moving from the country to the city life. Now I have lived in much larger cities and in fact, lived in St. Petersburg, FL, which was a beautiful city. For me it was too big. Being beautiful and being safe were two different things. Regardless, this is where I live now.

East Main & Broad Street Intersection

This week-end the 25th Annual Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival took place. I don't really know that much about it and the history of it. It was a fun week-end for me. Artists came from all over and I believe they were judged for their various art pieces and projects. It was very impressive! The streets were closed at the main intersection of Norwich (NY). East Park and West Park are two parks facing each other with the main street, Broad St. (Route 12) dividing them. Both parks were full of tents that were actually booths for the artists so they could sell their items. Such beautiful things for sale! Best thing is that people were buying! It looked to me like it was a good turnout. Cars were parked everywhere! Very crowded.

The Food Booths

The corner of my street was set up with all the food trucks. All kinds of foods were for sale. It smelled good. There was a lot of foods I had never seen sold at these type of things. I guess it is what I would call "fair foods" but I was able to hold off on buying any and waited till I got home to eat. Not real easy to eat a dish of something sitting on Jazzy. The tent with tables for eating were on the grass and hard for me to get to. There were all kinds of barbecue foods, such as pulled pork and chicken, tacos, macaroni and cheese.........yes, macaroni and cheese! I was surprised to see that being sold at a couple different food vendors.

Nate Gross & The Americana Strings

They had two stages set up with music playing most of the day. On Saturday, I hurried to get to East Park to see Nate Gross & The Americana Strings, our local talent from Oxford, NY. He was playing at 10:00 in the morning. I am so glad I got there in time to see him. He was really good! I stayed to listen to him till he was done. I met him some years back when he had a school in Oxford teaching kids to play the guitar. He bought some guitar strings from me back then. That was when I used to sell strings online. He now has a drum school in the other part of my building. It is fun watching him progress in his career and getting the recognition he deserves. If you ever get the chance to hear him play somewhere, go!

Sonny truckin' up the street on his Spitfire scooter!

Saturday I went to Colorscape by myself using Jazzy, my mobility chair. I felt free and independent. Instead of not seeing the whole thing, I was able to go to everything. Without Jazzy, I might have made it across the street with my walker but not for long or very far. Sunday, Sonny, my BF came over and he used his scooter, Spitfire, to go with me to Colorscape. It was a lot more fun with him! We felt like a couple of teenagers out and about. Days like that are good memories. Then we went to the grocery store and came home to fix supper. Had such a great day!

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Spaghetti Squash Cooked in the Instant Pot

Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

I use spaghetti squash in place of pasta now. It contains 10 grams of carbohydrates per cup. I have always liked it so this transition was no big deal for me. It is a versatile vegetable and can used for a side dish as well as the main course. I serve it a couple different ways, with a tomato sauce, a meat sauce, with butter and garlic or with a cheese sauce. It is a good replacement for noodles and tastes better than noodles anyway.


It cooks in 7 minutes under high pressure compared to a whole hour in the oven. I cut it so I would have the longest strands possible. The strands will be  more like thin noodles. You cannot fool others into thinking it is noodles, but I think most people like it depending on how you serve it. Be sure get one that is about 2 lbs. so it will fit in your Instant Pot. Then using a paring knife cut cross wise, not length wise and cut across the whole squash. I then scoop everything out in the center with a grapefruit spoon. Put the steamer rack that came with your Instant Pot in the bottom of the inner pot.

Fits good at 2 lbs.!

Now pour in  ½ to 1 cup of water, or whatever the manufacturer of your Instant Pot recommended. Put the squash in now. Two pounds fits almost perfectly in the 6 quart Instant Pot. This why you don't want to have one any bigger than that. Make sure the gasket is on the lid tight and secure.Then put the cover on and turn it to sealing. Set it to cook for 7 minutes on either pressure cook or manual. Now you can go fix the rest of your dinner because you do not have to stand by watching it.

All cooked with butter melting on it.

When time is up and it is finished cooking do a quick release. Be very careful when opening the lid as the steam can burn you! Take both pieces out and using a large fork start pulling the strands out. They should come out as long threads and can be used in any dish that you use noodles in. 

Crispy Chicken Thighs and Spaghetti Squash with Butter

That is really all there is to it. You only have to wash the inner pot. So much easier than baking in an oven and it will not heat up your kitchen. Cooking for one is so much quicker this way. I always have at least another meal for the next day or so. Or you can freeze part of it for a future meal. Another great meal in my Instant Pot!

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Cologuard Home Colon Cancer Screening

Cologuard Instructions

This year my physician discussed colon cancer screening with me. She ordered the Cologuard Collection Kit for a home colon test instead of ordering the invasive colonoscopy. This test is manufactured by Exact Sciences in Madison, WI and comes in the mail to your home. My doctor said it is for patients over 50 years of age who have an average risk for colon cancer. If your test comes back positive then your physician will order a colonoscopy for further testing. This kit must be prescribed by your physician to receive it.

Inside the box

When I opened the box I didn't know what to expect. Every component of the kit was enclosed in a sterile bag together. It is important, though I didn't know it at the time, to keep the box in the same condition as it was when you opened it. That way it is easier to ship back to Exact Sciences. When you pack it for the return shipping, everything except the bracket goes back into the blue bag. The bracket you do not have to return. Important to leave the bag attached to the inside of the shipping box!

The Cologuard Collection Kit

The kit consists of four pieces, as shown in the photo above. Do not do the test when you are ill or having a bout of diarrhea or an active bleeding hemorrhoid. The test is not really messy or gross to do. It takes just a few minutes of your time. I scheduled my UPS pick up for the next day, so in the morning I did my test. I did the test and shipped it quickly. My doctor was impressed that I did it as soon as I received it. A week later I received a letter from Exact Sciences to remind me to do it, but it had already been done and shipped out. Must be a computer generated letter, since most people let it sit there not really wanting to do it.

What's Inside

The Cologuard Collection Kit consists of instructions, bracket, container, tube and the preservative. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The most important thing is to do your test when you know it can be picked up by UPS that day or the next day. The shipping quickly thing is very important! The 2 day shipping cost is included with the prescription. My insurance paid for it so I am not aware of the cost. I checked on their website and didn't see the price anywhere.

The Bracket in Place.

The bracket fits inside your toilet to hold the container. Remove the lid and put the container into the bracket near the back. No handling of anything but the container at this point. Be careful not to get any urine in the container.

The container with top on.

This photo is the container with the top on. As you can see it will fit into the bracket with the top off. Once you are finished, make sure you lock the top in place. are NOT finished yet! There is a couple more things you have to do. So do not put the top back on yet.

Tube with Probe inside

You were probably wondering what this tube was for. Well, I know I said you didn't have to touch anything, but.......... open the tube and using the probe smear a bit of the stool on it, then put the probe back in the tube and close.


Back to the stool in the larger container. Pour the preservative into the container covering the stool completely. Put the top back on making sure it is locked and secure.  Finally it is ready to go! Pack it back into the bag that is attached to the inside of the box and seal. Be sure to follow all the directions that came with your kit. They include very detailed instructions on how to fill out the shipping label as well. If you follow those, you will have not have to do this again. I figure if you mess up your kit in any way or it gets lost in shipping they will send you another one.

Ready to Ship Back!
Cologuard did not pay me or contact me to write this post. I just find it interesting that so many people automatically get the invasive colonoscopy recommended by most doctors. I didn't even know this test existed. So I felt like letting others know that there are other types of testing and this is also approved by the great FDA if that is a concern of yours.

Copyright © 2019 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2019  Kathleen G. Lupole