Bonus Money

Today my bank account was bigger than it’s been in quite some time. All because I received my work bonus!

I was excited to see it until I looked at my paystub statement and realized that nearly HALF disappeared in taxes. Ouch. No wonder they call it Gross Income. It’s gross to see how much I should’ve had. But money is money and I knew exactly what to do with my bonus this year.

I paid some bills.

With a few clicks of the mouse button, all that “extra” cash was gone. In part I am relieved. The washing machine that I threw on my credit card is paid off. As well as our trip to Disneyland from last October. I also set aside money for our property taxes this year instead of cashing out my shares. This last one is a game changer for me. It means that my shares will remain untouched for longer.

Financial freedom is getting closer. Our mortgage renewal is due in the next few months. Only 20 years left until that’s done. And only a couple years left on my car payments as well.

As they say, “Everything’s coming up Milhouse!” Or they don’t say that. Whatever. Things are starting to look up. Bye bye money…

Why Didn’t I just Talk It Out?

I was being a big baby for a couple of days towards my wife. I was all bitter and angry towards her and it turns out it was mostly just in my head.

I should’ve just talked to her when I had the chance. Instead, I came home after work and kind of blew up at her. Once it was out, I realized I was being kinda dumb.

In hindsight, I should’ve just expressed myself when I was starting to be bothered. I’m lucky that my wife is understanding and we are a really good team. We almost always talk things out. This last time was my bad. I take full responsibility.

Things are back to normal and great again. Silly Josef…

Expanding My Tastes

I do enjoy going for beers at almost any Craft Brewery. I have written about these adventures on numerous occasions. But at home I rarely buy good beer. I go for the cheapest cans and don’t care about the quality.

I also enjoy having a drink or two of some flavored liquors. At Christmas, I love having my Booze Tree up. It warms my insides.

Last weekend I discovered my favorite booze at the local liquor store that just opened. I had first found this during our visit to Shelter Point Distillery back in August 2017. I loved “Barrel of Sunshine” so much, I bought home three bottles of it. Boy does it go down smooth, let me tell you. In fact, I actually get myself stumbling off of it. Anyone who has had some with me knows of this fact. I’m holding off on cracking this bottle until my birthday in a few weeks.

In the mean time, I have found a tasty way to make a White Russian. I got inspired while watching “Russian Doll” on Netflix. I figured it’d be a good drink to have while binging tv. We have had a bottle of Van Gogh Espresso Vodka in our freezer for a few years and rarely sipped on it. It was a lovely little kick added to the coffee flavor from the Kahlúa. Plus it meant I didn’t need ice because it was already chilled.

I’m on the lookout now for a drink called “After Shock”. It’s a cinnamon Liqueur, but at the bottom of the bottle is sugar crystals that absorb the alcohol and make for a sweet, boozy snack once the bottle is done. Mmmmm boozy sugar…

Any special drinks you enjoy? Or can you find After Shock for me?

Retro Gaming Feel

Over the weekend, I set up a little area near our front door in order to play video games.

Over Christmas we received the NES and the SNES Minis. We had an old 20″ RCA tv that we were using for a computer monitor. I decided to mount it on the wall and connect the game systems.

The tiny alcove reminds me of the look on a basement from the 1970’s/early 1980’s. The perfect little spot to enjoy some retro gaming. It may sound odd, but it works. It’s also a good little spot to hideout, but still be central in the home.

Now when one of our kids are ready to go out before anyone else, they can occupy their time playing a game. It’ll help keep them out of the way and out of trouble.

Hopefully.

Uma Is A Positive Role Model

Our daughter Darwin has found a new role model. So she wanted to be more like her. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s starting with a haircut. Specifically: The Bride’s from our recent viewing of Kill Bill.

Uma Thurman is probably one of my favorite female actors. In Kill Bill, she is an extremely self assured assassin.

Our daughter has always had long hair. She decided she wanted it much shorter-with bangs. She views Uma Thurman as a strong female role model. So naturally she wants to mimic the personality she sees.

Darwin sat in the hair salon chair. Inches of hair fell to the floor. A liberating feeling of weight being let go. Like a new start with a new hair cut.

The new look was commencing. The partial smile- or rather smirk of confidence began to show. As a teenager, Darwin needs to find herself. Will this new look create who she shall be for the next while?

Is she happy? For sure. Can she play the part of a strong female lead? I know she can. Will this new look be around for a while? I’m sure it will.

Darwin has the strength inside to be a courageous teenager taking on all obstacles. Feeling like a ninja assassin may help that much more. I only hope that other girls find strong role models to take on the world like ours did.

Streaming Music

I have finally come to the conclusion that I need to adapt and stream music. Or rather, pay for streaming music. Even though we have radio waves freely out there to use. Plus those radio stations have apps that are free to use. (CBC Music is a personal favorite). But which paid service do I want to try?

At home, I have used Kodi to play music throughout the house. This finds free streaming radio stations and has a ton of options. I have loved this so far. But I want some music on the go.

In our cars, we have used SiriusXM. Mostly for the free trial or the cheap 6 month package. But I have found the songs seem to be repetitive over an 11 hour loop. So this service is no longer a choice that I wish to spend money on.

Our oldest daughter uses the “Free” version of Spotify. Which is okay. But it has limitations and advertisements. I’m not sure if I want to pay for this service even though it is one of the largest out there.

Having been an avid iPhone user, there is always Apple Music. I *had* our music library on iTunes and shared it on our devices. Our hard drive bit the dust and whatever songs I have on my iPhone is about it. Plus the occasional album or song my kids have wanted. I’m sad that our 500 cds that I painstakingly transferred to digital are gone.

Since we succumbed to Amazon Prime just before Christmas, this seems the most likely choice at the moment to use. We are enjoying the Prime Video streaming that is included with subscription, so that’s been worth it alone. My wife also received a Kindle for Christmas and is looking forward to reading books that are also included in the Prime membership. Why not just give in and try their streaming music option? So today, I downloaded the app for our iPhones and will be spending some time browsing it.

What service do you use? Are you happy with it? Should we just stick to fm radio and old cds? Maybe we should keep the record player warmed up… I know our fourteen year old is loving that option at the moment.

Fun Romancing

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Some people expressed their love for one another on social media. Others shared bitterness and sarcasm. Many people shared pictures of lovely dinners and flowers. Whatever your day was like, I hope it was great. Mine was super romantic.

First my wife and I dropped the kids off at school. Then we went for breakfast at a random bistro that we had never been to before. One of the best breakfasts I have ever had. Also the most expensive breakfast I have ever had. This was our romantic meal of the day.

Then my wife and I went home to play some video games in bed. Followed by a mid morning nap. Which led to me sleeping until 4pm because I worked the night shift the day prior. I woke up because I had missed four phone calls from my wife. She left the same message each time in her silliest voice possible. “Call me. Call me. Why won’t you call me? Caaaaaaaaallllllll me.”

When she came home, we played some Smash Bros and Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. My wife is really good at gaming and beat me repeatedly at these games. After a couple of hours of video games, I made dinner for the family.

After dinner we watched one of my wife’s favorite films- “Stardust“. It’s also one of my favorites. A fairytale involving love. Something about Neil Gaiman’s works translate from novel to film beautifully.

Yesterday was a day pretty much designed to make my wife happy. From a lovely breakfast date to lots of video games to enjoying a romantic film. I think we should do more days like this.

Mr. Noodles

Having three teenagers requiring food kind of hits the pocketbook hard. Buying in bulk at Costco or during a Case Lot Sale at the grocery store seems like a good way to save money. But in reality, my kids see it as “more food to be eaten” before the next shopping trip.

Any parent of a teenager or college kid knows that Mr. Noodles is an inexpensive way to eat. I’ve lived off them for a daily meal filler when I lived on my own in my younger days. Over the past couple years, they have been making their way into my home again. And my kids are devouring them almost as quickly as I buy them.

When I do get to eat some, I like to drain out the water, then add the contents of the flavor packet to the noodles only. This is how I’ve always had them. My wife on the other hand prefers to eat them as an actual soup. Recently I’ve decided to change it up a bit.

Since Mr. Noodles is technically Ramen, that’s what I’ve been trying to make. Albeit on a budget, but a bowl of Ramen nonetheless. My first attempt I felt pretty good about and it tasted not too shabby. I fried a bit of pork, soft boiled and egg which was then soaked in soy sauce. We buy packets of seaweed for snacks, so it was a great garnish on the side with some green onion chopped on top. It looked like I could’ve passed it off as the real deal.

The other day, we had some leftover Chinese takeout. I was hoping to enjoy some fried rice and sweet and sour pork, but as I mentioned- I have three teens in our home that are eating everything in sight. Except the vegetables. So I mixed those leftovers with some Mr. Noodles. Again, my wife enjoyed it as a soup, and I ate them as beef noodles. Super tasty.

Stretching a meal budget can be tough. Making cheap foods taste better is a talent I have. Now to figure out how to make Pizza Pops better.

Mighty Neighborly

Yesterday we received a good dumping of snow that School was cancelled. Our side street is always neglected by the snow plows which sucks. Driving in or out of our home is tough. But our neighbor across the street is always Determined to plow the snow every year in order to get out of his driveway for breakfast. He saw my kids shoveling our driveway and decided to come over and use his tractor to clean up our driveway a bit faster. This made my kids happy.

Later in the day, our daughter took it upon herself to make him a thank you card. She also included a couple of packets of hot chocolate for him. She wasn’t asked to do this. Which means that my wife and I have instilled a great set of values on our children.

Kindness and compassion are paramount when it comes to being a good person. Doing it without cause or applause is a much greater feeling as well. (Chances are my kids won’t read today’s blog). I think we’ve done a pretty bang up job as parents that’s for sure. I’m also really happy that our neighbors are such kind people as well.

I love my community.