Saturday, September 29, 2012

You CAN Teach an Old Dog

Today we spent the day at a SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) seminar on Business Start Up Basics.  Lots of valuable advice and handouts.  Probably the biggest leap for us today was to publicly admit that we were looking at starting our own business.  This was particularly risky since we were right in our own back yard for the seminar...and running the risk of seeing someone we knew since we haven't made this too public yet, but there wasn't anyone there who would've questioned our participation, so no worries.  There were a couple dozen folks like ourselves there looking to start (or grow) a variety of small businesses, including housekeeping services, aromatherapy business, a couple of engineer consultants, a family focused gym and a conceal-to-carry instructor.  No other pet sitters, though.  :)

So, we're on track to start our pet sitting business next year.  Earlier this month, we took the first real step and registered the business name with the state.  Sit. Stay. Fetch. LLC  How's that?  

Next we need to organize some banking and apply for a tax id.  And then join one of the two available pet sitting organizations - or maybe both - not sure on that one yet.  I've also dabbled in a design for our business card, which was a lot of fun one rainy Saturday.

I did buy Angela Duea's book, How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Pet Sitting Business, while we were on vacation this summer, and as I'm reading it, I am making notes about what we need to think about and/or do along the way.  It's pretty informative, and it also comes with a CD that's  preloaded with all sorts of business forms.

On another note, I tried a new recipe today - it's one that uses some of that abundant zucchini that you might have from your (or a friend's) garden to make hummus.  Here goes:


Start to finish: 20 minutes Makes about 2 cups 

1 large zucchini (about 1 pound) 
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter) 
3 to 4 cloves garlic 
juice of 1/2 lemon 
1 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

Heat a grill to high. Use an oil soaked paper towel held with tongs to lightly oil the grill grates. 

Trim the ends from the zucchini, then slice it in half lengthwise, not necessary to peel. 

If the seeds are large and watery, use a melon baller or small spoon to scrape out and discard most of the seeds from the center of each half. It’s not critical to get them all. If the inside of the zucchini appears firm and the seeds small, you don’t need to scrape them out.

Place the zucchini on the grill, cut side up, then reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned and starting to get tender. Set aside to cool. 

When the zucchini has cooled enough to handle, place it in a food processor. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, smoked paprika and salt. Process until very smooth. 

The hummus can be served immediately, or chilled. The hummus will thicken slightly as it chills.  I might add that it's pretty tasty.  It'll be my snack for the upcoming week.  

Nutrition information per 1/4 cup: 45 calories; 30 calories from fat (67 percent of total calories); 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 2 g protein; 110 mg sodium.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Great News!

Our annual report came today...looks like things are in place for our plan to retire at the end of this year!  It's worth celebrating, yet I'd be a fool to say that I'm not just a little scared.  Nostagefright. Nostagefright. Nostagefright.  If I say it enough, it should take hold, eh?   I think we will celebrate tonight with a little wine!

We're also putting our plan in place to start a pet sitting business once we leave our 'regular' jobs.  The thought is that we'll ease into it up here, and later, in a couple of years, when we relocate to a more urban area, we'll be ready to spread our wings in the new location.  I've researched the name we want to use, and also little things like which association to join and how much of a budget we'll need to get started.

I should be honest and say that I am counting down the days...almost giddily...

Friday, August 10, 2012

144 Days and Counting

The countdown timer app installed on my phone says 143 days until the New Year, which means 144 days until my last day of work - working one day into the new year lets me take my vacation days that I've earned.  

The days and weeks are just ticking by...summer is winding down, the days are getting shorter and pretty soon, it'll be time to put away the sandals and tank tops and pull out boots and sweaters.  And then 'that day' will be even closer.  

We've chosen not to say anything (yet) to anyone at work.  There is some strange rash of retirements lately; there are at least three people at my work who have announced their pending retirements (coincidentally, the same time as mine).  Probably related more to the fact that there are a lot of baby boomers out there, I suppose.  But once they make the announcement, it seems they become regarded as 'short timers'.  Which, I suppose they are, but I don't want my associates thinking less of me or holding back projects that I am perfectly capable of finishing (or at least building groundwork for).  And then there's that other, less loving side of me that says I've seen coworkers be pushed to the curb with way less than the customary 2 weeks' notice that they would have been asked to give if leaving was their choice, and it makes me not want to be any kinder to my employer than I've seen them be to these friends and coworkers.

At any rate, the days passing by.  I am cautiously preparing my list of things that have been put on the back burner for too many years - lots of items that will go up on eBay or CraigsList; craft projects and scrap books that will be finished; collections to be cataloged; books to be read; gardens to be planned and on and on.  Hubby is putting a similar list together (and shall I say, I've also got a list for him!).  

We're starting to talk about what a 'typical' day will look like post-retirement - getting up without an alarm; a nice long workout inside or out, weather depending; maybe a trip to the local reservoir to fish - the list grows a little longer every time we have a chance to chat about it.

No sir-ee Bob, no stage fright here!

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's Time

While here on vacation, we got a call from hubby's out-of-state brother, informing us that a former co-worker had passed away in his sleep on Tuesday. This guy was Larry's age, a DINK and a little (probably a lot) overworked. Really puts things into perspective. It made us appreciate the rest of the week much more, and it also solidified our retirement decision more than ever.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fish On!

We woke at 2:30 am to prepare for our trek to Wanchese, where our whole-day deep sea fishing charter on the Doghouse awaited. Driving thru what we figured to be heat lightning, we arrived and set out on a  62 ft custom built Carolina with Capn. Britt and his first mate, Marc.

It wasn't long before we stopped and the Capn. scurried down the ladder from his post. We started pulling in amberjack...on average 20 lbs...until wet had hit our limit of 8. I should add here that one of the ones that got away was reeled in as half of a fish. The poor thing was eaten by a shark as it was being pulled in. Then we moved on to bigger fish...

Another short ride and we had ourselves a tuna. Yellowfin. Then another, bigger one...about 50 lbs. Finally the tuna run finished with a blackfin.

All the while, the skies were darkening and the wind was picking up. After 2 more fish (mahi mahi) were reeled in, we were told to head to the cabin..the weather was getting worse. We've fished on the ocean in some pretty bad stuff, but in the 20+ years I've been out, this was the worst. My mental rosary was clicking furiously as I tried not to panic. Everyone else in the cabin shared the same concerned look on their face, but no one dared to speak out. I kept telling myself that as long as Marc didn't donn a life vest, or didn't order us into ours, we were ok. Finally, after nearly 2 hours of being tossed about like a cork on what looked to be 10 ft waves and in between thunder claps and lightning on both sides of us, the storm moved on. There was even a rainbow to finalize the event.

We headed to shore, not sure we should laugh it off our or swear off the idea of deep sea fishing. I can say that we all were thankful to arrive back safely.

The day ended with us sharing a meal of tuna and avocado ceviche (click here for the yummy recipe!), followed by packing and freezing at least 100 lbs of fresh caught fish...over half of which was tuna. And then just decompressing and watching video of a couple of the tuna catches.

A good day.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vacation calls

Sitting on the deck, soundside, listening to the birds all around and to the family behind. We'll be headed off to church shortly.

The kids all decided they'd like to take a turn at dinners, so the crockpot is full of ribs that'll be bbqd later for us all, compliments of Kirstin and Chad.

We were on track yesterday to arrive at 4. Unfortunately the OBX traffic held us up for about 3 hours. :/  When we finally did arrive, Erin and Gary had picked up the key and got things under control enough that we just unloaded the van and headed to the grocery store.
Oh. Did I mention the rain? It was rain of biblical proportions that we spent the last 3 hours of our drive in. And it continued, along with an awesome lightning show well into the night.

After dining on supreme pizza and caesar salad and everyone's adult beverage of choice, the 8 of us settled around the table to play a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. Such fun!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Move-In Day

Moving day for daughter dear...

Yesterday was move-in day for our youngest daughter and her new husband.  They moved into their new/80 yr. old home.  Another 2 1/2 hour trip to southern OH and we installed another ceiling fan/light fixture.  I must add that during the past week, we did much research on the old style 'knob & tube' type of wiring before committing to this install, but we're confident in the results. They have one bedroom left to go, but they're going to wait and see if they still need a fan after the AC gets installed this week.  

Less than half a year to go til our 'd-day' and it's looking better all the time!  We've tentatively decided that we want to start a pet sitting service and I've begun to do some research about that whole idea.  We've had two different services that we've used here and both are willing to chat with us about the business.  It seems like a good fit for the two of us - particularly if we can partner with another business or two to cover for each other when one is not available.  

Enchilada Casserole for dinner tonight:

1 lb ground beef
small onion, diced
clove garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 T vinegar
1 t salt
1 can black or pinto beans, undrained
10 oz can enchilada sauce
8 small (6") flour or corn tortillas
1 can rotelle tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Brown ground beef and drain.  Add onion, garlic, chili powder, vinegar and salt and cook until onion is translucent.

Grease 3 qt oval casserole dish.  Pour 1/4 c of enchilada sauce in bottom and spread  around.  Layer 2 tortillas, 1/3 of meat mixture, 1/3 can of tomatoes, 1/3 tsp of cumin and 1/2 c cheese.  Repeat 2 more times.  Top with last 2 tortillas, remaining enchilada sauce and 1/2 c cheese.  

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.  

Serves 6...thinking the kiddos may stop by on their way back to northern OH...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Weekends were made for Michelob?

No relaxing this weekend - really.  We were up at the crack of dawn Saturday for a 2 1/2 hour drive to southern OH to help our darling daughter and her new husband paint rooms in their newly purchased 80 year old house in preparation for their move there next weekend.  

Also on the worklist, installation of ceiling fans in each of the 3 bedrooms  Needless to say, this 3 story octogenarian is without central air.  In the record-breaking OH heat.  :)   When we wrapped up at around 6:30 p.m. and dragged our sweat-soaked bodies back into the car, the car's thermometer read a freaking 108°!!!  After dinner at daughter's new in-laws, we headed back - and arrived home precisely at midnight.  

Because we only got to install one of the three fans yesterday, we headed back down there today after Mass to finish the job we had committed to.  We found a full house of volunteers ready to jump in and we began our electrical project for the day, only to discover that said 80-year house has 80 year old, cotton-wrapped electrical wiring.  And no junction boxes.  And no ground wires in many places. The fan that went up so easily yesterday did so because that particular bedroom had its light fixture changed out more recently, and had the requisite ground, etc. in place already.  

So we put the installation of the other two bedroom fans on hold in deference to a 'real' electrician, and headed to the first floor study to change out the ceiling fixture in there - a fan/light combo which had, somewhere along the way, lost its fan blades.  We put one of the new leftover fans up in that room and left for the day, a cool breeze blowing through the house.  

We're finally home - a full 5 hours of driving each of the two weekend days.  And now we begin to prepare for the work week ahead.  

Retirement can't come soon enough...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Forced Vacation, Day 2

So, in my mind, a 'floating holiday' is one that is used at the discretion of the employee, not mandated by management.  However, apparently that definition is not shared by all.  So, in their infinite wisdom, our management decided that since the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday this year, our two 'floating holidays' would be the next two days - Thursday and Friday.  So, I am  being paid to stay home these two days.  I'm not complaining, only that it feels like wasted time to me since it's not in combination with any vacation or trip or anything.  

But, I am getting lots of things done in these two days.  And, it is making me REALLY long for retirement, when every day will be a 'floating holiday'!  Or more accurately, as one friend who is retired told us, 'every day is Saturday'! 

Yesterday, I tried a recipe for plain bagels that I got in an free Kindle book.  The site for free books is Pixel of Ink, and they release free downloads about three times a day.  Some aren't all that great, but others are.  I've found that if I check the reviews before I hit the 'buy this' button, I can weed out those that are poorly written or those full of grammatical errors.  Which brings me to a pet peeve of mine - how can people get these books published when they are chocked full of spelling and grammatical errors??? Does no one proof read anymore?  

Anyway, here's the recipe, compliments of J Tozer and her ebook, Bake the Best Bagels.  I've condensed the directions a bit, but not at the expense of a good bagel.

Plain Bagels
4 cups flour (all purpose or a combination of all purpose and whole wheat)
1-2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 c warm water
1 T sugar
1 T oil
2 tsp. yeast

Mix flour and salt together in mixing bowl.  In another container, mix water, sugar, oil and yeast together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.  Pour liquid mixture into flour and salt and knead for 5-10 minutes.  I used my dough hook, but you can obviously knead it by hand.  Form into 8 or 9 balls and poke a hole into each, shaping into a bagel.  Place bagels onto lightly floured board and cover.  Let raise for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, place a large pot with 3" of water in it on to boil, preheat oven to 425° and grease a baking sheet.  

When the 30 minutes is up and water is boiling, place 3-4 bagels into boiling water.  Cook on one side for one minute and then turn and cook on the other side for another minute.  Remove with slotted spoon and place on greased sheet.  Repeat until all bagels have been boiled.  At this point, if you want to sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, or onion, sea salt or pepper, go ahead. Place sheet into oven and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Turn bagels over and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Bagels should be lightly golden brown.

Cool on rack.  Eat warm or freeze for later toasting.

Optional dough add ins:  Add up to 1/4 cup of toasted sesame seeds, or poppy seeds, chopped chilies, chopped fruit, sauteed onion,garlic, cinnamon, raisins, pesto, etc. to the dough after it is well mixed.  

These didn't take long to make and they were delicious!  And much more economical than trudging off to the local bread restaurant to buy a bunch!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Our Journey: In the beginning...

We had the foresight a number of years ago - about 25 actually - to make an appointment with a certified financial planner and begin to arrange our finances.  We were married only a few years, with two children at the time.  Our first priority was to put enough money aside to pay for our children's college.  I have since discovered that this may not have been the best use of our available investment dollars - only because a lot of authorities now say that it might be a better idea to let your children take out loans to finance their college rather than putting potential retirement dollars into their college funds.  Meh.

I can't say we'd have done it differently, only want to mention this and acknowledge that there are at least two schools of thought when it comes to prioritizing your goals. 

Our second goal was to have enough set aside to be able to retire in about 20 years.  I would like to add that the financial collapse that occurred within the last couple of years pushed that date back, but only by maybe two years because of the conservative and diverse investment options in our portfolio.

A little bit about Karl, our planner.  Our relationship with Karl has been built on a foundation of trust with a healthy dose of guilt.  :)  Before any large expenditure, we joke with each other and ask "WWKS"..."what would Karl say..."  During our yearly reviews, our situation is assessed and a report is created that shows what has happened over the last year with our investments.  Recommendations are made and questions are asked and answered.  We've moved three times since starting our journey with Karl, sometimes out of state, and sometimes hundreds of miles away.  Never have we considered changing planners - our faith and trust in the process and in Karl have kept us loyal.  Some years our annual meeting has been via internet and/or phone, but we always feel that he is accessible no matter where we are living at the time.  


Hello and welcome to my blog.  I'm new at this, but I promise if you are willing to work with me, I am willing to learn the ins and outs of blogging.

I am starting this journey called retirement and want to share what I discover along the way.  The name of my blog, 'No Stage Fright For Me' comes from a sermon that was given about a year ago by one of our priests at Mass.  He was talking about how people are afraid to move forward into the next 'stage' of their lives and affectionately referred to this reluctance as 'Stage Fright'.  The sermon stuck with me as we toyed with setting a retirement date.

I hope to be able to journal about our process, our progress and some tips and tricks we find along the way.