Sunday, April 17, 2016

More dining on a budget in retirement

As I have often said in the past, dining at home during retirement doesn't have to break the bank. Watch the sales and build the menus around these items. The little potatoes were not a dollar for enough for both my wife and me.

The small tomatoes were also on sale but I had to buy a big box of the things. I've been finding ways of including them in my dinners every night. I don't want to have to toss some because they were kept too long. Tonight I grilled all the vegetables after rolling the tomatoes and potatoes about in a little garlic flavoured olive oil.

The fish is sole purchased frozen at Costco packaged in a gigantic plastic bag of a size only Costco would carry. Each fillet is individually wrapped and none has any sign of frost-burn. We keep them frozen until needed and then let them thaw in a sink filled with cold water.

I put a layer of Sole fillets in a small baking dish, topped this with a tight row of asparagus and then finished off with another layer of Sole. I brushed all with olive oil combined with the zest from one lemon. I heated the oil mixture for a couple of minutes on the top of the stove before brushing on the sole and asparagus.

The romaine lettuce was, you guessed it, on sale. We bought a three pack and I cut one head in half tonight and grilled both halves after wiping each with a little oil and vinegar dressing. Before serving, I sprinkled grated Parmesan cheese on the fish and on the romaine plus I put a few chopped chives on the fish and added a squeeze of lemon juice. (My wife grows chives in her small garden. Chives grow like weeds. We will never run short when it comes to chives.)

And how did it taste? Good, very good. And like I said it didn't break the budge.

Thanks to the strong flavour of the Parmesan, the garlic and the asparagus, we decided our red house wine would go just fine. Recently, we got a few 4 litre boxes of Peller Estates French Cross blend on sale for $30.95. You may laugh but at that price we are only paying $5.80 for a 750ml of wine. That's the amount found in most bottles. Being old enough to recall the wines available in the '60s has its advantages. For us the wine quality bar is set awfully low.

That said, I do have a nice Chateauneuf Du Pape aging in the cellar. I'll crack it open when the time is right. And yes, I got it from the sale bin at the LCBO. It wasn't cheap but it wasn't all that expensive either. It had been knocked down in the double digits. It was the last bottle in the store and was being dumped to make room for more product. It will make a fine wine to serve guests.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stuff I found of interest today: April 12, 2012

First Link

The London Free Press has often run stories maligning the healthcare in Canada. According to the local paper, generally the Americans are much better off than those of us north of the border. I contacted the source of one of the Free Press stories, the Commonwealth Fund, and they said their findings had been given a right-wing spin by the London paper. For that reason and others, I am quite interested in healthcare stories. Which brings us to my first link:

A new study shows, that the average life expectancy of the lowest-income classes in America is now equal to that in Sudan or Pakistan. Yes, in the United States being poor is so hazardous to your health. I assume some of the same rich-live-longer findings would also hold in Canada but would the spread be as dramatic?

Second Link

When it comes to retirement stories, I have begun following Wade Pfau. This fellow is not just another opinionated blogger. Pfau has credentials. Today, I am posting links to two of his posts:

Retirement income planning has emerged as a distinct field in the financial services profession. But because it is still relatively new, the best approach for building a retirement income plan remains elusive. There are two fundamentally different philosophies for retirement income planning. Pfau says one approach is probability-based while the other puts safety first.The second Pfau post to which I am linking is:

Retirement plans can be built to manage varying risks by strategically combining the following retirement income tools in different ways. You should be familiar with all these tools for creating a successful approach to retirement.

Crayola inspires everyone interested in art.

Third Link

Do you have children? Yes? Check the Crayola Website. I've granddaughters and the Crayola post is chock full of good ideas. I went to art school and I still found the Crayola site informative.

Today I learned about Koru painting created by the Maori people of New Zealand. Koru symbolizes new birth and growth. The colourful painting on the left shows fern plants ready to unfurl.

In the coming days I will post more links to the Crayola Website.

Monday, April 4, 2016

More than a dozen fruits, vegetables and nuts daily but no meat

Pasta with pesto, green beans, potatoes, broccoli, walnuts, pine nuts and more. 

Today was a no meat day. My doctors at the stroke prevention clinic have advised me to go meatless every other day. When I do have meat, it usually fish or chicken. Red meat is a once a month treat. Eggs are simply out. I have ice cream with cake on my birthday. My cholesterol levels are down across the board with the bad cholesterol down dramatically. The diet seems to be working.

The right ventricle of my heart is enlarged and the tricuspid valve is leaking. This is all the result of a genetic disease called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC). It sounds bad but if one could choose which part of one's heart is going to fail, choosing the right ventricle is the right decision. The left side of my heart is in pretty good shape as I had the mitral valve repaired robotically some years ago.

The ARVC has disrupted the electrical system of my heart and left me requiring an ICD/pacemaker. An ICD is an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. If my heart should begin beating rapidly, it hit 300 bpm once, my ICD shocks the heart forcing it t return to its proper rhythm. I have only had about four shocks and they all were delivered a few hours apart. Such an event is called an ICD storm. My meds were increased and the problem has not returned.

My pacemaker is another matter. It runs almost 100 percent of the time. I have a complete heart block. I run on battery power. I'm a bit like a Tesla automobile. At some point the battery will need to be replaced. At that point, a new unit, complete with a new battery, is put into my chest.

With so much going wrong with my heart, I don't want to add traditional heart disease to the equation. I watch my fats, I eat lots of fresh fruit, lightly cooked vegetables plus a few nuts every day. My diet may be restricted but it doesn't feel that way. I actually eat a far more varied diet today than I did before my ARVC was discovered. I love food, I enjoy cooking and my diet makes me happy. 

Cooking new and imaginative creations is fun. The results, when they turn out, are a mixture of art and craft. When my wife and I sit down for dinner, the meals often look beautiful and taste wonderful. And our meals don't set us back a bundle either. We buy stuff in bulk when its on sale. We have a PC Points card and we try and buy the stuff with bonus points when those products are also on sale. We charge everything with a credit card that returns us one percent of the value of our food expenses. And we are not too proud to price match. 

We try to avail ourselves of every trick. It seems to work. My wife and I are both retired and yet our food expenses are not hard on our limited budget.