Saturday, September 22, 2012


Sorry I haven't been around for a while.  I had plenty of good intentions when I started this blog.  I was going to post every couple of days and work my way through the projects I have already completed, showing pictures of the completed items and detailed explanations.  Then I was going to post detailed "in process" instructions, pictures, etc. as I started new projects.   I guess I forgot that the whole reason I am now retired is because of my ongoing health issues.  No, I didn't forget...I just chose to ignore that little fact, lol.  But, as this blog is a way to chronicle the "ups" AND "downs" of my retirement I'll give you a little clue as to what has been keeping me away...

Hard to do much of anything when your body just won't cooperate!  Fortunately, at this stage in the game, the symptoms come and go on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis and I'm hoping this latest episode will slink away to some nasty dark hole and I'll be back soon to let you all peek into the life I REALLY want to be living!

Friday, September 14, 2012


When I dismantled my business in 2010 I emptied out the small bedroom that I had used as my "office".  I decided that the room would become my sewing room.   I had always been "crafty", as my mom put it, though I had not engaged in any significant hobbies in many years.  There just wasn't time!  The only sewing or crafting I had undertaken was the denim quilt I made for my son when he went away to college four years earlier.  And between my proofreading job and my own health issues, there really wasn't much time to devote to hobbies.  I had the "room", but didn't have the time or energy to put it to much use. 

Shortly after retiring in 2011 I realized that my brain needed stimulation!  I had worked long and hard for many years and I would go NUTS if I didn't find something to keep me occupied!!!  I just wasn't the TV and bon-bons type! So I decided to work on making my sewing room into a place where I could rest, relax and pursue hobbies as my physical limitations allowed.  However, now that I was no longer working...there wasn't much money to spend on creating my "Scrappy, Happy Place".   Soon, though, I discovered I could still have the warm, comforting sanctuary I wanted and needed...I just had to rely on creativity instead of money!

Join me for a tour of my sweet little haven as I share my creative, FRUGAL alternatives to high priced decorating!

Before I get into any pictures and explanations, I want to mention a word or two about Freecycle.  It may be one of the best websites ever developed for all of us Frugalistas!  Many of the items used in my "Scrappy, Happy Place", along with many of the supplies used for my crafting, have come from this wonderful FREE resource!  For those who are unfamiliar with the Freecycle network, is an online site where you can "Offer" items you no longer want or need to people in your general vicinity; or place a "Wanted" for items you do need.  There are Freecycle groups throughout the United States and other countries.  You simply sign up (free) for the group in your local area and then receive email notifications when people place items up for giveaway or ask for items they need.  If you wish to keep your email under control you can visit the Freecycle site for your locale and read the posts there.  I, personally, like to receive an email notification, as some things are taken quickly and I just hate to lose out on an item I really want or need...for FREE...simply because I didn't hear about it soon enough.   If you see an item you want, simply reply to the email.  The "Freecycler" will then choose who is going to receive the item and notify you by email of the address where you can pick up your freebie!  Most times I reply to posts that list "porch" or "curb" pickup, that way I never need to physically interact with the giver.  I always "Offer" items with "easy porch pickup" at my home.  If it is an item that is too large to move to the porch (furniture, etc.) I never schedule a pickup when I am home alone...only when I have my husband and/or son here with me.  As always....YOUR SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT!   Stop by to join and take a peek at the items listed.  It doesn't take long to feel comfortable with the process and begin to receive many of your own "wants" and "needs" at absolutely no cost. 

My "Whiteboard":
Despite being a family of only three adults, we live very hectic lives...where days can sometimes go by without seeing a family member face to face.  I needed a way to be kept up to date on my DH and DS's lives, along with being reminded of things that they needed me to handle.  A whiteboard on the outside of my SHP (Scrappy, Happy Place) door would be a perfect solution.  However, I refused to spend any money to acquire one!  So, with the hint from Karen at "Sew Many Ways" that unpainted aluminum works well as a whiteboard, I went searching my home for something of the required size to make my message center.   Inside my master bathroom vanity I found a pretty pink tin that once held a perfume and lotion set.  The lid was about the right size and I quickly discovered that the base would nicely hold my stash of business envelopes.  My new computer station had MUCH less storage capacity than my old office furniture and the pink tin was a cute way to corral these necessary stationery supplies on an open shelf.  Plus, the color was an exact match to a pink and green metal toy stroller (Or was it a ride on toy? Hmmm...will have to ask my mom!) I had as a very young child.  It is probably my earliest memory from childhood and those two colors evoke a "warm and fuzzy feeling" whenever I see them.  Not surprising that they are two of the three dominant colors in my home!

I then searched through the stash of free Home Decorator fabric I had received from a fellow Freecycler.  I wanted to make a "pouch" (almost like a fabric picture frame) that would hold my tin lid, along with a dry erase marker (freebie scored online) and a small scrap of batting (Freecycle score) to use as an eraser.  I made the pouch a loose fit for the lid, leaving room to tuck in the pen and eraser.

Using the remaining scraps of Home Decorator fabric I made a small stuffed heart to hang on the 3M hook already on the door.  For years the hook had held a small plaque that read, "Nothing is as overrated as natural childbirth and owning your own business!".  Oh How True!  But, as my business was now a memory, I wanted something that would express my feelings for my new SHP,... my haven,... my sanctuary...the place where I would spend most of my days.  A heart seemed just about right!

So, finally, WELCOME to my "Scrappy, Happy Place"...where my body can rest, my heart can soar and my mind can contemplate the ups and downs of daily life...with a creativity that has been dormant for way too long!

More of the tour to come!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Up until July 1, 2010 I ran my own medical transcription company.  I started the business in 1998 because our son's health issues required more flexibility than I could find working for someone else.  Oh, sure, at interview time former employers had professed an understanding of his health and a willingness to be as flexible as I long as the job was getting done.  And, the job ALWAYS got done (I tend to be perfectionistic and anal about my responsiblities), even if it meant being in the office at 5:00 AM to work my full 40 hours a week and stay on top of the work load.  However, my employer still found the frequency of my son's illnesses and need for rearranging my schedule problematic.  So much for understanding!  I have worked in the medical field since 1980 and can honestly say that the healthcare field has no more understanding and empathy with regard to illness than any other type of employer.  A business is still a business and their bottom line is still their bottom line.  The only solution I could see was to become the employer myself.  I knew I understood the needs of business and of my family and was absolutely certain I could find a way to give work the priority it deserved and my son the priority I had guaranteed him the day my husband and I decided to start a family.  My family was, is, and always will be the most important thing in the world to me.  And so...I took the leap from employee to employer. 

For the next 12+ years I worked hard, routinely working 8 to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week.  At one point I typed 8 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, for three months straight before I took even one day off.  The only "holiday" I took off without fail was Christmas Day.  My vacations were timed to those of my big clients and my cell phone rang even on the beach.  I was well known in the local medical community for quick turnaround, almost 100% accuracy, and a willingness to go the extra mile.  The business grew and I actually began turning down prospective customers as I held the balance between my personal needs and the level of performance I expected of myself and the people who did work for me.  Compromise on either front was unacceptable.   

Then in late 1999, early 2000, I began to have health issues of my own.  I threw that ball into the mix and began to juggle a little faster.  By the time 2004 rolled around my health was heading downward fast...and 2009 found me barely holding on.   I had a myriad of documented medical conditions/diagnoses, constant pain from Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and neurologic symptoms of an unknown cause...that were progressing.

In 2010 my largest and longest held client announced a business merger that would eliminate the need for my services.  It was the break I desperately needed.  I made the decision to close my business and accept what I thought would be an "easier" job, working for someone else...a 37.5 hour a week position simply proofreading the work of other transcriptionists.  Surely my body could handle that!  Right?  Wrong.  Unfortunately my health continued to decline and just 16 months after starting my new "easier" job it became apparent that I couldn't handle even a less physically challenging position.  My working days had come to an end. 

On October 21, 2011 I left my job and began my new life.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Okay, today is September 7th...which means I have less than four months to plan for, save for,  purchase, or make Christmas gifts this year!   Eeeeekkkk!!!!  WAY less time than I would like to have.  I am seriously unprepared for this holiday season.  But, as I am still learning to pace myself and my life, I guess I will have to "make do".  In fact, the "making" part of "make do" is what I hope to accomplish in the next 3+ months. 

In my family we have all reached an age and wisdom where we really have everything we need or can justify wanting.  When something breaks or wears out throughout the year we find a way to fill that need at the time, because it is, well, a need...and we can't wait until a future holiday to receive it as a gift.  Now that we are in our twenties, fifties, seventies and eighties...short of the extravagant "dream" purchases that we still talk about at every multimillion lottery drawing, there is very little within a reasonable budget that we want.

So, I have begun to think about gifts I can make for my loved ones that will show a level of thought and caring that comes close to matching the love and gratitude I feel for the most important people in my world.

This summer my dear aunt mentioned in passing that the small cosmetic pouch I had previously made for her wasn't big enough to take on vacation with her.    I am hoping this tapestry toiletry bag and matching zippered pouch will hold all of her beauty supplies.  It was my first attempt at sewing a boxy type bag and I am happy with the results!

My dear mom has been complaining about how quickly the washcloths she uses to wash her face are wearing out.  I have taught myself to knit and have completed 2 washcloths so far.  I want to do one more for my mom, a stripe of the white and beige colors.  If she likes them I will make more for her as I can throughout the year.  I am still deciding if I want to knit up a few to give to my aunt also.  I guess it all depends on how much knitting my body will allow me to complete between now and December 25th, lol.

My mom likes to drink iced tea with her meals as opposed to tons of diet soda.  She likes her iced tea (and hot tea, too, come to think of it)...sweet, SWEET, SWEET.  Ick!  Through trial and error she has found a combination of Sweet'N Low and Equal that satisfies her sweet teeth (yes, TEETH - too much for one tooth!).  Unfortunately a lot of restaurants carry only one type of sweetener.  Soooo....I made my mom a sweetener wallet to carry in her purse so she always has her drinks just the way she likes them. 

My daddy dear has had some health issues recently and "the man who is never cold" now finds himself chilly when sitting still watching TV.   I have just started working on a masculine looking quilt in Wool & Needle Flannels by Primitive Gatherings for Moda and a poly faux suede to match his recliner.  This is going to be the biggest challenge for Christmas this year!  Quilts take a LONG TIME to complete and given my limited endurance for doing any one thing for more than a few minutes, I really worry I won't be able to get it finished in time.  If not, I guess I will be wrapping up the pieces along with an IOU for delivery some time in 2013!  I am using 5" charms to make half square triangles.  Today I managed to sew 8 half square triangles using (4) 5"charms and (4) 5" pieces of faux suede.  Eight machine sewn seams...40" total in one whole day.  Gosh, I'm SLOW!

Here is the list as it stands today (and I have been working on this for MONTHS!):
  • Toiletry bag and zippered pouch for Aunt
  • Sweetener Wallet for Mom
  • 3 Washcloths for Mom (2 done)
  • 3 Washcloths for Aunt 
  • Quilt for Dad (1/10000th done, lol)
  • Embroidered scarf for Mom 
  • Knitted scarf for Aunt
  • Dear Hubby...He will be easy this year as he wants his car detailed, but I am thinking of also  embroidering something patriotic onto one of his golf shirts.  He is a PROUD American!
  • Dear Son...NO CLUE!
  • Dear Son's Girlfriend...NO CLUE!
  • Best Friend...NO CLUE!
  • Best Friend Birthday (right near Christmas)...NO CLUE!
So...Where do you stand on your Holiday Happenings???


Welcome to UggaBear Cottage!  As you can see in my "About Me" section, I am an early retiree, forced to stop working due to multiple health issues and slowly learning to fill my days with the important things in life, including my family, home, friends, and hobbies...all within the restrictions placed on me by my body and my much lighter pocketbook!  Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination!  However, over the past 10 months I have discovered that life is only as good as you choose to make it.  I may not be able to control my physical issues, but I can certainly choose my reaction to them.  I may not have the income I once did, but I can find thrifty and creative solutions to meet our wants and needs.  I may not have the ability to do all of the things I want on a daily basis, but the really important things seem to work themselves out in the end...and taking time to smell the roses is a pleasure too many of us have long since abandoned.  

So, feel free to hop on board as I chronicle my days...the ups, the downs and the sometimes hellacious curves in this fabulous journey called life!