Mary Beth Writes

Mindful? Thinking about what we do around here to be responsible to the world and to ourselves.

Chicken? Cheep, Cheep, Cheap!

 You may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot going on – including this pleasure.  Len and I went to Chicago for several days to care for our granddaughter while our daughter and son-in-law went out of town.

They live in a condo which is a 3rd floor walk-up. Grandpa Len carried our grand-toddler up and down those 50 steps; Grandma Me hauled the stroller and backpack.  Boy, three flights is a lot of flights! I did not lose any weight, but my too-tight jeans that I accidentally put on this morning fit.  I guess that means one could possibly become smaller, not by cutting delicious food, but by adding on a 3rd floor walk-up.

So here are my frugality-values take-away from four days and three nights in Chicago. We did not completely spend money like drunken 18th century pirates on leave in a rum port – even though city life often feels like that.

Now that its Cubs season (Cubs field is 8 blocks north) Hotel Versey is no longer $60/night. But it was still less than those beige person-garages along the interstate. If you like city adventures, this is a good place.  When you walk out of the place you are at Clark and Diversy – which if you ask me is one of the coolest corners on earth. For instance; SO MANY types of food are within walking distance. Including Chicago hot dogs, pizza so good you will weep just to sniff it as you amble past, and Kurdish dining at Gundi’s just up Clark. FYI: Gundi’s is expensive. Just order a main dish and make sure it is lamb, chicken, or duck.  Savor with your eyes closed and then, a month later, find a similar recipe online and try to recreate it.  We did. Totally worth an investment in You Only Live Once.  (We ate at Gundi’s on a previous visit to Chicago, not this last time when we were on 24/7 baby guard duty.)

Also Lake Michigan is 4 blocks to the east, Lincoln Park (hikes, paths, museums, the zoo) is close, and people watching is World Class.

By staying only one night in a hotel (in order to start grand-parenting at 8AM) and buying groceries to eat in one night, ordering a pizza the next, and a few fast lunches heavy on French fries for our munchkin – we managed to “only” spend about $200 altogether for 4 days in the city.

This was partially achieved because our younger daughter bought tacos for us when we first arrived in the city on Wednesday. Man, you know your kids are adults when the “baby” pops for your lunch.  

In case you are ever looking for the kind of local Chicago taco place where women probation officers hang out at lunch - https://www.elmetrocantina.com/elmetrohome   I ordered a “Coffee-chata” which might change the trajectory of my life for the better. Wow that was good! When I figure out how to make it, I will let you know.

Then Wednesday evening friends treated us to Thai take-out in their (3rd floor walk-up, of course) beautiful apartment. That was a reunion I will never forget; I hadn’t spent time with them since 1977. There was some catching up to do. 

So I guess the take-away on visiting a major city not too expensively is: get other people to treat you to meals, take care of a baby in her own house, drink very little alcohol (because you are watching the baby or you are sleeping to get enough strength to watch the baby next time she wakes up.)

We took her to the Lincoln Park Zoo twice: it’s free although parking is $20-35 per day. We took the bus which was free (for us) because our daughter let us use her bus pass. She ends up paying, but she seemed pretty happy to do that in exchange for a few days away from her beloved little one. (My daughter texted the second day away that she was a little bored. I don’t think she’s been bored in ten years; that was probably an adventure for her.)

We also walked to three playgrounds, bought small bunny shaped crackers at a Target, and read so many small books I can’t even … 

Here are some ways OTHER people have saved money lately, all of which I read at other frugal websites and all of which charmed me.

  • Instead of boarding their cat, when they needed the cat out of the house for a bit– a middle-aged couple took the cat to stay with their college kids in those kids’ apartments. The cat apparently had a good time hanging out a few weeks with its kids. 
  • Feeding one’s kids until they get big enough to be helpful. This makes me laugh.  As if bearing and raising children is a frugal way to get the piano moved from one side of the living room to the other.
  • This seems quite helpful:  “Gave dog Benadryl and washed her foot with baking soda paste after she was stung by a bee rather than going to emergency vet. Stayed home to watch her carefully just in case she needed a vet.”
  • Someone wanted new slipcovers for patio furniture. No-Sew DIY Slipcover Cushion Tutorial on YouTube. Canvas drop cloth. A pack of iron-on tape. Several hours of work. Finish this off with weatherproofing spray.  
  • How to deal with backyard animals that eat the garden vegetables. "Well, the animal needs to live, too, and she can’t go to a store to buy carrots like I can. So I decided she wasn’t a pest, but free entertainment for me and my grandkids."

 

 Have a good evening.

I miss my granddaughter. 

(I have a new phone and a new computer and tonight I couldn't get my Chicago photos to move from there to there to here. Will figure this out soon.)

Comments

I’ve already told you - ur time away from home sounds lovely. Spending time with grown up children and ur grand baby is some of the best ! The to tight jeans fitting was a bonus.

Glad you got to spend lots of time with your granddaughter and didn't spend an arm and leg to do it.

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Looking for Sincere and Heartfelt Tales

A while back I posted an article about my friend Franc; I talked about how he has created a good life for himself even though he has rarely earned more than $15,000 in a year. (Right here)

This article was satisfying to write. I enjoyed spending time with Franc and asking nosy questions. Yes, it’s a challenge to interview folks and then write about their lives, but I did this often in my 12 years as a newspaper columnist and I like the adventure of it.

Mindful Chickens on an Icy Night

My church has been working for months to organize their fund-raising auction that was supposed to be TONIGHT. But instead we are in the middle of the massive spring storm that is scrubbing the nation from Oklahoma to I don’t know where next. The wind is howling; rain is sleeting into snow over a glaze of ice.

So the auction is postponed until next Saturday evening. I have put in so many hours (as have many other) working towards this event in the past weeks - that being quietly at home not working on it makes me feel as if I won a lottery. 

Two Chickens and a 3-Legged Lamb

Mindful Chickens? We are frugal so that our retirement savings will last as long as we do. At the same time we try to consume responsibly so that our choices have the least negative impact on our fellow humans and on our earth and its creatures.  Cheep, Cheap!

Did you have a nice weekend? Did you get to share a meal or a chocolate egg or a PEEP with a friend or a child or a childish friend?

Other Peoples' Mindful Chickens

I regularly read blogs about being frugal.  I like them because they are about people taking as much control of the quality of their life as they can within the many different circumstances in which people live.  I especially love the letters people write listing what they did in the past few days to be careful and thoughtful about what they spend and how they save.

Retired Chicken Observations 3/22-2018

Two things I have been thinking about lately. Both are related to retirement income and retirement adventure.

1. Last week Len and I went to our Social Security office to sign me up for Spousal Benefits.  It took me several run-throughs to understand what “spousal benefits” are. Since then I have talked to several other people who were also unclear on the concept.

My confusion was this. I was already getting Social Security based on my earnings when I worked (as opposed to what I did when I stayed home and raised kids. But let’s not go there now. Grrrr.)

Franc’s Wildly Successful Life

This is a long piece of writing and I am proud of it. If you don’t want to read it all – here are my take-way points about how my friend Franc lives well on a surprisingly small income:

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