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Another Day, Another Purge (and Venting)

January 21st, 2018 at 10:36 pm

I found 13 cents today, bringing my found money this year to $1.26 American and $1.60 Canadian. We spent 2 hours in storage today, which isn't much, but all four of us went out. DD was able to last long enough to get through 3 of her totes. Most of it was either thrown away or put in the donate boxes. That clears a lot of space. I made it through 3 boxes of mostly paper. I had to sort it between keep, shred, and recycle. There was very little keep. I did find some old poetry I'd written, so that will get put into the computer and then that can be recycled.

We had so many manuals from products we haven't had in years. I had 3 fridge manuals, 2 stove manuals, a manual for every electronic gadget I have ever owned, including ones we haven't had in years. I found 3 parts of the pasta maker. I am still missing the bowl part and the attachments, but I am sure they are in one of the kitchen boxes we haven't sorted through yet.

We came home early because it started to pour and the wind was whipping the rain into the unit. We brought home three boxes that I will sort through tomorrow. One is papers and I'm not sure what is in the second one. It might be kerosene lamps, in which case it just goes out to the garage in an easily accessible location for power failures. The paperwork will probably take me an two hours to sort and shred. I'll work on it while listening to Ben Shapiro's podcast tomorrow.

The other box I have already sorted. It was mostly shirts that my son could wear that used to belong to my husband back when he could fit into XL tops. 3 of them are lined flannel, which is perfect for winter farm chores. The box does have a few odds and ends in there, too, that I need to find homes for including my husband's professional baton from when he was a drum major. I told him he ought to put it in his golf bag so it is out of the way. There is also a marble chess set which will go with our games on the top of a book case.

My mother has been remodeling one of the rooms in her end of the house and when it is finished DS is going to move up into it. The room is 12' x 12' and will give him a lot more room than his current 8' x 12' room, which isn't even a bedroom, but a storage room. Once DS is out of there than DH will move a lot of his stuff out of the living room. We will also put one set of shelves in there for our long term food storage. He's going to build me a couple of shelving units as well for the living room, so that for once everything can actually be put away. I get so tired of living in 1000 square feet. Just having that extra 8' x 12' feet available to us with DS out of it will be amazing.

We found some laminated desk tops for free and he will use those for the shelves and attach them to 4" x 4"s to hold them together. The top of one will be at the right height for me to cook on. We will have space to put out our Nuwave oven, crockpot, electric skillet, air fryer, and rice cooker all in a row. That will make meal prep much easier. Cooking is difficult without a stove. We have enough appliances to do it, but not enough usable work space to have more than two out at once, which is limiting. Having even three out at once will change things dramatically. I will also have DH build a little section to store the lids while I am stirring things.

As cramped as things are, I have nowhere to set down lids while I stir and have to hold them and some of them are heavy. If I am having a day where I drop everything because of the RA, they end up on the floor. If I need to add anything in while stirring I have to call one of the kids to hold the lid while I do it or set it on the floor on a towel. It is really quite ridiculous. We don't even have room for a kitchen table, because the "almost" kitchen is so tiny.

The appliances go on the sewing table and a TV tray when I need to use them. The only counter space we have is taken up with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, the microwave, the toaster, the coffee maker, the knife block, and a dish drainer.

I hate living this way. I know it could be so much worse, but I am ready to leave and find our own space. We just can't afford it. Not with the drain my daughter's medical stuff has on our finances.

Oh, well. I can't change anything right now. I'm not sure if we ever will. I'm so discouraged right now. It's been one thing after another for the past two years. Obamacare has almost bankrupted us. We will never be the same.

Even More Purging and Medical Blathering

January 20th, 2018 at 11:01 pm

We went out to storage again today and spent 5 hours there. We packed a lunch this time and plenty to drink. It was nice to sit in the van with the heat on and get warmed up while we ate. The wind was blowing so hard today.

We got two more of the large black Hefty garbage bags full of trash and one of the large moving boxes as well, which is probably the equivalent of two more bags, ready to take to the dump. We sorted through over a dozen boxes and totes and reduced the contents significantly.

We have two medium size moving boxes and one paper bag full of paper to recycle. A lot of it was magazines. Of the 100 or so magazines we only kept 7. We also are tossing a bunch of old school papers, some from our college, some from the kids younger years. I found my old typing book, which was for an electric typewriter. Some of the keys are different from what a modern computer has now.

So far I have found $1.13 American in change and $1.60 Canadian in change. My son has found over $5 in change, but those were in his boxes, so that is his money.

We got the third bill from the hospital and this one is $6354. I've already gotten two others for $569 and $582, which is what I was expecting for the ultrasound and the doctor bill. I am going to call them on it, because I call BS. She had one urine test and they are charging $1312 for that. No blood draw. She got one bag of saline. And she had a CT scan (which runs anywhere from $1000 to $2000 outside of the hospital, depending on whether or not contrast is used).

She had almost the exact same stuff a year ago, and while we had insurance, I still have the bills that showed the total amount and it is almost triple that. The whole thing should be costing about $3000, since it was $2500 last time, allowing for inflation. At the very least I want to see if they have a discount for paying in cash. Most places do.

I will be so happy to have insurance again. We just have to get through 11 more days. I told my daughter she is just going to have to wrap herself in bubble wrap and not leave her room until February. And no one else is allowed to get hurt or so sick the have to go to the ER either.

Well, I better get to bed. We'll be spending another 5 or so hours at storage tomorrow.

More Purging

January 20th, 2018 at 12:57 am

We spent about 3 hours out at storage today. I went through 8 boxes of books and weeded out 4 boxes to donate. I used to think there was no such thing as having too many books, but dang, we have too many books. I purged mostly mystery novels and sci-fi/fantasy novels. Not the good sci-fi fantasy novels, just the mediocre ones.

I've only kept two mystery novels so far, Hacker and Murder on Peachtree Street. I didn't even keep the ones with the bishop and the Jewish guy who solved murder mysteries which I like, but my library has all of them if I want to read them again.

I weeded out about half of my teenage romance novels (you will pry the Sweet Valley High and First Love from Silhouette books out of my cold dead fingers), 90% of my teenage horror novels, all of my adult horror novels, and most of my adult romance novels. Well, I will reread the First Love books, but may not keep them all. I have a soft spot for teenage novels.

We went through 3 boxes of kitchen stuff and weeded out almost 2 full boxes. DH went through a couple of junk boxes and there is a lot to either be shredded or recycled.

My son went through about 6 boxes of toys, consolidating two into one, throwing out the contents of one (it turned out to have water damage from the other storage unit and the contents, which were baby toys, were molding), setting one aside for a better sort later, and then the other two were full of trains and stayed as is.

We pulled two bags of garbage, so we have four of the large black Hefty bags now ready to go to the dump. We will be going back out tomorrow to do some more work. I hope to get out there earlier in the day so we can stay longer. We didn't make it out until five as my mother needed some stuff done today. I'd like to spend at least a good 8 hours there tomorrow.

I am pretty sure now that by the time we are done we will be down to just one storage unit, a 10 x 18, which is good because that expense really needs to go down even further. It may take a few months to get there, since we can only work on it on weekends, but that is okay. It still is costing far less than it was before.

We are going to pick up some more Rubbermaid totes to replace some of the boxes that are not holding up to the weight of being stacked on. I prefer them anyway as they are waterproof. The ceiling looks good on this unit, but once burned, twice shy.

We need to find where we put them, but there are two more desktop computers we ran across that need to be recycled. I swear DH never threw out any computer between the 90's and now until we started purging storage. Well, I best get to bed. It is one a.m., though the time stamp on here is still several hours off and will not record the proper time.

Picking a Health Plan, Running the Numbers, and a Farm Update

January 18th, 2018 at 09:09 pm

Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.

The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.

The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.

It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.

The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.

Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.

DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.

They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.

So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.

We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.

I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.

I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.

Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.

I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.

At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.

This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.

We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.

Food Preservation and Preparation Plan for 2018

January 11th, 2018 at 12:15 am

I've been working on a comprehensive list of what I am going to grow, can, dehydrate, freeze, and purchase this year for food. The freeze-dried list is for long-term food storage as we are working on building a 1 year supply for four people. It might take us more than one year to build that supply, though. Some people might think that is nuts, but you know, we did not need to worry about food at all for the ten months DH was unemployed and I really liked that. Of course, if DH's job doesn't last past mid-March, then buying all of the freeze-dried food will be put on hold.

The other is food for the year and in the case of green beans, some extra. We had a bad bean year last year all over the county because of the weather being irregular and I didn't plant any last year, either. Fortunately, I had canned enough in 2015 and 2016 to have plenty for 2017, but we are running low and it is one of my go-to veggies, so I plan to do extra.

What I plan to can:

Green beans--156 quarts (half cut, half French-style)
Yukon gold potatoes--104 quarts
Diced Tomatoes--52 pints
Radishes--7 pints
Parsnips--28 pints
Carrots--52 pints
Celery--52 pints
Italian Plums--14 quarts (more if tree produces more)
Pears--102 quarts
Strawberry Jelly--24 pints
Bumbleberry Jelly--6 half-pints
Dandelion Jelly--6 pints
Apricots--24 pints
Blueberry Pie Filling--14 quarts
Apple Pie Filling--7 quarts
Peaches--28 quarts
Rabbit--52 quarts
Chicken--52 pints
Beef Chunks--52 quarts
Salmon--21 pints or 42 half-pints
Ham--14 half-pints
Ground Beef--30 pints
Lamb--7 quarts
Beef broth--21 quarts
Turkey/Chicken broth--52 quarts
Rabbit Broth--52 quarts
Onion Stock--21 quarts

What I plan to freeze:
Gold Rush Zucchini--40 packages
Onions--30 packages sliced
Bell Peppers--52 packages sliced
Poblanos--1 gallon, diced
Jalapenos--2 gallons, diced
Snow peas--25 packages
1/2 a beef
1 whole hog
1 whole lamb
30 whole chickens
2 whole turkeys
120 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
80 pounds ground turkey (1 lb packages)
200 pounds of rabbit meat

Dehydrating Plan:
1 quart sweet basil
1 pint Thai basil
1 pint sage
1 quart powdered oregano
4 quarts diced garlic (will make powder as needed from this)
4 quarts diced ginger (will make powder as needed from this)
1/2 pint of thyme
1 pint of marjoram
1 pint of rosemary
1 quart Italian parsley
1 quart curly parsley
1 pint cilantro
2 quarts bee balm petals
2 quarts bee balm leaves
2 quarts calendula petals
2 quarts whole calendula flowers
2 quarts Echinacea
2 quarts yarrow
2 quarts comfrey
1 pint celery powder
2 quarts celery leaves
2 quarts raspberry leaves

Freeze Dried Food Plan:

6 #10 cans of sausage crumbles
6 #10 cans of ground beef crumbles
12 #10 cans of small diced beef
6 #10 cans of chicken dices
24 #10 cans of onion dices
6 #10 cans of mixed bell peppers
6 #10 cans of white flour
6 #10 cans of whole wheat flour
6 #10 cans of celery
6 #10 cans of carrot dices
6 #10 cans of yogurt bites (pomegranate and black cherry)
6 #10 cans of instant white rice
6 #10 cans of instant brown rice
6 #10 cans of pure cane sugar
6 #10 cans of brown sugar
2 pantry cans of Instant dry yeast
6 #10 cans of potato dices

I am debating on whether or not I will grow squash or not, other than zucchini. It takes up a lot of space and is very cheap to buy, so probably not.

So Much Accomplished

January 6th, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Well, we got a ton accomplished today with the storage unit. We took five loads to the other storage place, but we also donated 15 more garbage bags of clothes. We have two bags of linens ready to be donated. There is enough for a dump load, which if the dump is open Sunday we will take out. There are also four desk top computers and 4 ancient laptops to be recycled. We have more laptops that need to be recycled, but two of them work and just need new cords so I want to make sure I get those pulled out. There are two more 13 inch TVs to be recycled and another computer monitor. Oh, we were such pack rats!

My ultimate goal is to reduce what we have in storage by 50%. There are boxes and boxes of toys and stuffed animals. And so many books. Now there are definitely some books I want to keep, but I think we can reduce what we have by 1/2, if not 2/3. I want to keep all the Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony, Little House books, Narnia, Sweet Valley High (over 100), Animorphs, and some of the best loved stand alone books, as well as the majority of the cookbooks, but there are a lot of books we just read and kept for no reason other than we'd bought it and we had trouble letting go of books.

We got rid of 2 sets of Encyclopedias that we owned before you could get them on CDs or as digital downloads. That was six boxes.

There is so much kitchen stuff. I think I used to buy every gadget there was. I've found 3 mandolin sets. So much plastic storage that isn't Tupperware. I want to keep the Tupperware, but get rid of the other plastic. I still haven't found the pasta maker, which is the one thing I want to find. Found the rotisserie, though. But I don't think we need it anymore since the Nuwave oven can do basically the same thing with less energy usage and is far easier to clean. So that can be donated.

I still haven't found our wedding album, but that actually could be in my closet. I still have two boxes in there I haven't gone through. I think I have found all the other photo albums, though. We also have a bunch of duplicate photos in two photo boxes. I got them because I was going to do scrapbooking, but then I had a second kid and lost all my free time so it got back burnered.

Ay, yi, yi, I was such a spendthrift at one time. You would never know it from the last several years, but before that, yeah. And I could kick myself because we don't need it and we have been paying to store it. We are very motivated now to get it gone, though, and stop paying so much to keep stuff we have no place for in our 1000 square feet of living space.

Stretching Food

January 6th, 2018 at 09:25 am

Alliecat's plan with the ham this week got me thinking on ways I stretch food as well. I do this a lot, it is pretty automatic these days. So I thought I'd list what we do to stretch meals.

Chicken:

I like to build dinners around a large, whole chicken, one that is five or six pounds. The first night I will roast the whole chicken and we eat the dark meat and wings for dinner with potatoes and green beans. The second night I will make enchiladas or quesadillas with some of the leftover white meat chicken and serve that with rice and salad. Then I will pick the bones clean and take a cup of diced chicken and make chicken-fried rice, and the fourth night I make broth with the bones all day, strain it, pick any remaining chicken off the bones, and then make chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings soup, adding in another cup of diced chicken that I'd saved from the carcass.

Beef:

Another good one is a large pot roast where you eat regular roast the first night (save your juice from cooking) with potatoes and carrots, French dip sandwiches the second night with the juice you saved for dipping mixed with a little bouillion), then shred up half the remainder and mix it with teriyaki sauce and honey and serve over rice and then dice the rest and make roast beef hash the fourth night. I generally make extra potatoes the first night to be used in hash, so I'm only cooking them once.

Pork:

With a pork roast you can eat a third of it the first night and pull the rest of it with some barbecue sauce to make pulled pork sandwiches and then bbq pork pizza, and pulled pork with cheese in tortillas wrapped like a burrito. You can even add a can of beans and a 4 oz can of diced green chile pepeprs to the last one to extend it further and change the flavor up some more if you like those things.

Ham:

With ham, of course we eat off it one day, make warm ham sandwiches the next day, dice up the leftovers and use them in omelets, on pizzas, and in stir-fried rice. Anything we can't use in the first few days we freeze in dices. I've even made up TV dinners with ham, mashed potatoes and ham gravy, and green beans and frozen them for those nights when I don't feel like cooking.

What are ways you all stretch food to cut your grocery expenses?

Long Day Planned

January 6th, 2018 at 08:45 am

As soon as DH wakes up and we eat breakfast we will be heading out to the storage unit we are getting rid of. I think we will have it cleaned out by the end of this weekend, but if not we have until the end of the month. We are taking enough time to label each box with a number and then make a key in a notebook, so in the future if we are looking for the contents of a certain box, we just need to find that number.

It is also giving us a chance to look through each box and note what we need to do with it. If it is just continue to store or to go through and sort. We've already donated 10 full size garbage bags of clothes, mostly children's clothes, but some of it was stuff from high school and college. We have clothing donation boxes all over town so those are easy enough to get rid of.

So far I have one bag of linens to donate. That's more complicated because it will actually require dropping off at Goodwill in person, so we will wait until I have gone through all the boxes of linens. I know there are a few blankets that can go and there are some table cloths. All I want to keep on my table cloths are the sunflower one, the autumn one, and the Christmas plaid one. The others can go.

I have sorted through four big boxes of stuff so far that we brought home after last weekend. I got rid of two paper bags of old magazines I had stored with one recipe each. I tore out the recipes and put them in my recipe binder in page protectors and tossed the rest of mags to be recycled. I also put all of our photo albums and photo boxes on a book shelf here. That gave us three totes emptied to go back to storage and use to repack some of the damaged cardboard boxes with. The other box was a damaged cardboard box so it went to recycle.

Today I hope to get the furniture moved. There is not much in there, two large book cases, a couple cubicles, one of which will come home, an end table, two floor lamps, and a small TV stand. There might be a stand for holding DVDs as well.

There are 3 knickknack shelves that I want to bring home and put up. They would be perfect for holding my pint and quart size herbs and teas that I grew and dried this summer. They are all kind of spread out through the pantry and kitchen and it would be nice to have them all in one place.

Everything else is just boxes. I know some of it we will have to bring home to sort. We'll have to store them in the garage while we bring one in the house at a time. Mom will probably throw a huge hissy fit about that, she's prone to them these days, but they won't be there long. Just long enough to decide what stays and what gets tossed and what gets donated.

I am thinking about getting rid of our couch. It is a huge sectional and it takes up so much space. It rarely gets used. There are several recliner chairs that we could use instead and there would be a lot more space. I loved the couch at the time we bought it and it was perfect for our needs then, but most of us like to sit with our feet up now, so it doesn't make sense to keep the behemoth any longer. It is in really good shape except for one cushion cover with a broken zipper, but that can be pinned with safety pins to keep it closed. Plus, free is a price that most people will overlook flaws for.

The blisters have come off my garlic burns. I've got four fingers with peeling skin. On the bright side, it looks like I will have full finger prints on three of them and one with a scar running through it that won't be quite as large as I feared on the index finger. They are still sensitive in water, which makes scrubbing dishes hard. Wearing rubber gloves wears on them too much because they are fitted. I can type, though. Go figure.

All right, well, I think I hear DH stirring, so time to get the day moving.

Week 1 2018 Payday Report and Work Related Musings

January 5th, 2018 at 05:20 pm

The outgo was slightly higher than the intake this week, but I had money left from last week in anticipation of that. I also have some money left to pay the surgeon consult on Monday and get the cash discount.

DH didn't get any overtime last week because of the holiday. He at least got his 40 hours in, though, by working 4 ten hour days. That $300 of overtime pay sure makes a difference.

I am not sure if we will be able to put anything in the Emergency Fund this month. Or at least not the full $500 I budgeted. And nothing to the College Fund, either. Maybe not even a loan payment to Mom. I was not expecting an ER visit and surgeon consult. If I can manage to not take any money out of the EF, I'll be happy, but we'll have to wait and see. I am hoping the hospital does not bill us until the end of the month.

I am really dreading when they start taking medical out. We are going for the plan with the lowest deductible and most coverage due to the anticipated surgery after running the numbers, but that will mean a normal paycheck is a little over $1000 a week, and overtime might be $300. They may take out less in taxes, though with the tax cut, but I don't know when that goes into effect so I am not counting on it.

I really wish he had been hired on direct with the company and not through a recruiting service. They are talking about keeping him on after this job is up and I hope that pans out. The job he was hired for only goes mid-March. If he gets asked to stay, he will have to work through the recruiting service through May, though, unless they buy out the contract, which the recruiting company may go for after they see the medical bills we're going to generate. The actual company has much better benefits and medical shouldn't be anywhere near what it is through the recruiter company.

Here are the bills I paid today:

$275.00 Chiropractor
_500.00 To Mom for Utilities
_149.12 Tithe
_315.21 AMEX
_158.01 BoA MC
_108.30 Comcast
__42.96 Garbage
----------------
$1548.60 Total Money Out

Well, That Was Dumb

January 5th, 2018 at 04:10 pm

I just discovered I didn't actually make a payment on the 30th. I recorded it in my check register, but I must have gotten distracted before I actually went online and paid it. Fortunately I had made a payment the week before, so there was no late fee, but that does mean we got charged interest for the $1400 balance. Ugh. I hate when that happens. I hate giving a single cent to the Evil Empire.

Okay, we were a bit distracted having to deal with DD's gall bladder attack, but still. I am usually so on the ball with paying the bills. Lesson learned, though. Don't enter it into the register until I've actually made the payment. I wish I'd realized this two days ago.

I was wondering why the balance was so high on that account. I couldn't find the payment there, so I checked my checking account online and couldn't find the payment there, either. I can't believe I did that. I know I haven't been feeling good and have been kind of spacey all week, but still. This is the second time I have done that in 4 months. *sighs*

I did finally catch all my budgets up to date on the spreadsheets. I finished up September, October, November and December, including entering all the medical bills into each month. I haven't added up the numbers yet, but I know as of August we'd already spent over $20K on medical bills for 2017. I'd say it is going to be around $27K from a guesstimate.

Can I just say again, the Affordable Care Act was badly misnamed? Burdonsomely Unaffordable Care Act would be a much better title. Or Bankrupting the Middle Class Care Act. That would be an acceptable title as well. I know it has helped the people that get it for free, but it has hurt just as many people, if not more so by driving up the cost of everything insurance related, making it more expensive for employers to offer plans, and shifting the expense directly to those who don't get any subsidies. And I'm not sure it is going to get any better any time soon, either. They like to talk about health care, but they don't like to do much, no matter what side they are on.

So Far So Good on the Pantry Challenge

January 4th, 2018 at 08:40 pm

I am doing really well on the eat from the pantry challenge. So far we have not bought anything from the grocery store since I started the challenge. I really didn't feel like cooking tonight at all, so I pulled one of my pans of enchiladas and made it tonight instead of one of my planned meals. That's what they are in there for. I am down to 1 pan of enchiladas, 2 pans of chicken and broccoli bake, and 2 fajita kits. I try to keep them for the days when I feel like a house dropped on me.

I am in the middle of an RA flare. Part of it was because I ran out of medication and was off it for 3 doses. Part of it is because I've had to do all of my daughter's chores. Part of it is because I had to drive to Burlington and back. I don't do well with driving that long anymore and I've had to do it twice in two weeks. We had to go and pick up oats for our rabbits. I should not have had to go, but the order we got the two weeks before was contaminated. It had all kinds of other things in it besides oats, including lime dust, which can kill rabbits. They put lime dust in the goat feed, I guess. Anyway, we caught it before giving it to the rabbits.

Fortunately, that feed can also be fed to the ducks, so we are mixing it with corn and peas for them. We did not have to pay for the new round of 300 pounds of oats, either. We just had to send them photos of the contaminated feed. I guess if I look on the bright side of things, we got a bunch of free feed. But it wasn't much fun having to go to Winco to buy oats over the holidays because the mill was shut down. At least they have 25 pound bags of whole oats, though. I might have been able to get some at the farmer's co-op, but we've had trouble with contaminated oats there, too, with both brands they sell.

We've scheduled an appointment for DD with the surgeon for the 8th. She can't have surgery before February because we won't have insurance until then. The initial consult may cost $240. They gave a range, with $240 being the top of the range if we paid in cash. That is a 20% discount.

DD is doing okay with the low fat diet, though she had some major carb cravings yesterday and wanted bread really bad. She ended up having mashed potatoes with just salt and pepper on them to calm the craving down. It seemed to do the trick. We just have to think outside the box a little more now.

The Nuwave oven has been wonderful for cooking chicken and fish without fat for her. Well, other than the amount I spray on the rack to make it non-stick, but that is minimal. But I can steam vegetables in a foil packet as well with no oil at all, just a sprinkle of water and some herbs. I am getting the hang of this. Today I made boneless skinless chicken thighs in it. I just rubbed them with a combination of ground cloves, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, a little paprika, salt, and pepper. It was very mild and she loved the flavors.

So we are adapting. I think she is losing weight, too. I just hope her weight is not going to be a problem when it comes to surgery. We've run into that problem before. If it is, she will probably have to go to Seattle to see a surgeon and if she does, it means I will have to be the one to drive there since DH works a normal job now. Which will mean at least a week of recovery time for me each time. If not more.

Eat from the Pantry Challenge Week 1 Meal Plan

January 1st, 2018 at 12:29 pm

So after a lot of rethinking and replanning, I've got a new meal plan based on my daughter's dietary restrictions and what I have in the house and garage. I will meet this challenge, but it is really turning my skills on their head because I'll be poaching, steaming, roasting, and boiling, when my preferred method is frying or deep fat frying. Well, maybe I will finally lose weight by being forced to do this. I am just glad I have zucchini both in the freezer and freeze-dried.

Day One:
Spanish Paella-Style Shrimp and Rice (Has veggies in it)
Oranges

Day Two:
Chicken Fajitas (no tortillas for DD)
Canned Pears

Day Three:
Turkey Taco Salad (shells for those who can have them)
Bananas

Day Four:
Herb Roasted Rabbit
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Oranges

Day Five:
Codfish and Zucchini in foil packets
Baked Potatoes
Apples

Day Six:
Middle Eastern Roasted Whole Chicken
Potatoes with onions and bell peppers in foil packets

Day Seven:
Black Pepper Rabbit
Steamed Veggie Rice
Oranges

Oh, Thank Goodness it is 2018!

January 1st, 2018 at 01:21 am

I am so glad 2017 is over and 2018 is here. It can't possible be as big of a struggle as the last two years have been.

My daughter went to the emergency room Friday night at midnight in excruciating pain. They did an ultrasound and a CT scan and found out her gall bladder is full of stones. They did not need to do emergency surgery, but they think she needs to get it out soon. We don't have insurance until February.

So we will get her in to see a gastroenterologist ASAP and schedule the surgery for February. I can't even call until Tuesday and then I am sure it will be 2 to 3 weeks before we can even get in to see a specialist. I am glad that insurance still can't do squat about pre-existing conditions.

This visit is going to cost us roughly $2500, unless I miss my estimate of $1000 for the visit, $500 for the ultrasound, and $1000 for the CT, which is still less than paying COBRA. DH will have to work a lot of overtime to pay for that, but he is allowed 10 hours of OT a week without having to ask, and then if things get into a rush time, they will okay additional over that. Hopefully we can manage to get it paid without taking money out of the Emergency Fund, but we definitely won't be putting any money into the EF for a couple of months. *sighs*

I had to completely throw out my meal plan for the eat from the pantry challenge and start from scratch since DD can't have dairy, most fats, eggs, pork, only very lean beef, no refined white flour so no pasta (we don't have any whole wheat on hand) or bread or tortillas, no refined white sugar (she can have honey, molasses, and brown sugar), no fatty fish, and no brassicas. That means none of my go to vegetables of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, bok choy and the like.

So we will be eating more turkey, chicken, rabbit, white fish and shell fish. I do have that, but I don't know how long it will last. I will have to make some stuff for DH, because he can handle only so much poultry before he starts clucking about it and he is not the biggest fan of fish, though he does like white fish.

The hardest part for me is that I like to cook in butter and oil. I know it isn't terribly healthy, but it makes things taste good. I can use spray oil or lightly brush oil on things, but no frying. We have spray olive oil and we can brush on avocado oil. But I will be doing a lot of steaming in foil packets with lots of veggies and herbs and then putting fish on top so the veggie flavors rise up into the fish and the fish juices fall down to flavor the veggies.

DS and I have agreed to eat like this with DD as much as possible. The hardest part for me will be not eating pasta. I can take or leave bread, but I love spaghetti and Ziti and macaroni. I know DH won't eat like us, though he could stand to, but he will refrain from eating the junk she likes but can no longer have in front of her. He'll keep it at work or in the truck.

And speaking of the truck, DH has been using his dad's truck since before his dad died and DH will inherit it once the will is through whatever it has to go through. It doesn't actually have to go through probate here unless it is contested, but it does have to go through official filing and then I think there is a short waiting period. So we are basically a two car family now for the first time in five or six years. Which means our insurance will likely double. We did do our part of the filing, but we are waiting for the state to do its part.

There is a loan on the truck, but MIL will pay it off before we change ownership legally once the life insurance comes through. She has enough to pay off all debts, and because he was still actively employed when he died, though off on disability, she gets his full pension of $3000 a month and she gets social security based on his wages, so she will actually be sitting pretty. Not to mention there is some property in trust between her, her sister, and her brother, so we aren't going to have to worry about her after all.

I guess I will go back to worrying about us instead. *double sighs*

Eat From the Pantry Challenge

December 27th, 2017 at 06:54 pm

I am joining some other youtubers in an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of December. My goal is to not go into the grocery store for the month of January except to buy dairy, greens, and bread. I think it is something we can accomplish quite easily based on our pantry and freezer stock. But just because we can doesn't mean it is something I want to do sometimes. However, we need to be saving up money for daughter's sinus surgery and taking a huge chunk out of the grocery budget to deposit into saving for that would be very helpful right now.

Of course this does not include the lamb we are getting at the end of January and which is mostly paid for anyway with the deposit we already put down. But that is December spending, not January spending.

I'd like to stay out of the stores as much as possible, but I know I will have to purchase prescriptions. I'll try to do that through drive-thru only. Though I may have to order some vitamins online. Still, if I can keep it to that I will be very happy. We have plenty of toiletries so I think it will go quite well.

I'll be detailing the challenge here on the blog as well as doing at least a weekly video for it on my channel. If anyone wants to join in with me for the month or even for a week or two, you are more than welcome to do so.

A Nice Christmas

December 26th, 2017 at 10:25 am

We had a very pleasant Christmas this year. The reason being was that we did not spend any of it with SIL or her daughters. We hosted at our house and had my mother, mother-in-law, and my eldest sister over. For dinner I made one of our hams from the whole hog we had butchered a couple months ago. It was fantastic.

To go with it we had from scratch mashed potatoes, homemade ham gravy, homemade cloverleaf rolls, my home grown and canned green beans, some Thrive Life corn, and for the deserts we had sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, milk chocolate fudge, and my mother made an apple pie with the apple pie filling she canned this summer. If you have never made ham gravy before, you should. It is fantastic. Very savory. Well, that is if you have a picnic ham. NOT if you have a sweet glazed ham.

I received 2 cold frames for the garden and I am so excited about it. They look very well designed and it will be so nice to have a season extender device that I don't have to remove and replace plastic every time I want to get something out. This should allow me to grow lettuce year round or at least 10 months out of the year. With the two foot high raised beds, they don't freeze like they would being in the ground, but if it gets cold enough they will freeze eventually.

My MIL gave me a garlic chopper so I don't hurt my skin again the next time I make garlic powder from scratch. I like gadgets. She also gave me $100. She had meant to buy me an Instant Pot or an Air Fryer, but she ran out of time. Of course, now I have the money in hand, I kind of want to save it. I won't, because I really want an Instant Pot.

It didn't snow, for which I am grateful. I so dislike snow when we have to drive in it and DH had to fetch his mom and take her home so he was driving. I just don't like adding slipping on ice to the drunks that are usually driving home from Christmas activities. Not a good combination.

Friday and Saturday we spent working on clearing out our storage unit. We are about half done and it took several pick up loads to do it. We are going to rent a u-haul for Saturday and Sunday so we can be out by the end of the month. They are not making us give the required notice if we are out by then because of the leak in the roof. We moved as much as we did with DH's dad's pick-up, which will be our pick-up as soon as all the will stuff is finalized. It will be weird being a two car family again.

There are so many toys in there. I found a box of Barbies that will go to my great niece and there are several boxes of stuffed animals. We need to find a place to donate the majority of those, too. I don't know if Good Will will take stuffed animals. I am wondering if the domestic violence shelter or the Agape House will. Agape House is a women and children's homeless mission shelter. My mom says if nothing else to hang on to them until next Halloween and she will hand them out instead of candy! I like that idea, but not the idea of continuing to store them all so we'll see.

There are several boxes of linens as well from beds we don't have the size of anymore, queens and twins. I know Good Will will take those, but I think the animal shelter will, as well, although the latter might just be towels and blankets and not sheets. They use the towels in washing the animals and the blankets to give them a soft spot to lay on.

There are a few boxes of papers that need to be shredded and old magazines. I am thinking about taking my portable power station and my shredder to the unit and shredding the papers there as opposed to bringing them back home to do it. But it is so cold I'd also have to take the heater as well. So maybe not.

Either way, I need to get those taken care of while DH is at work today so we have more space to put things. These units are not as tall as the other one so we can't stack as high in them. They also have a sprinkler system and we can't stack against those either. It'll all fit once we winnow out the stuff that shouldn't be in there anymore.

I think we should be able to clear about 10 big Rubbermaid totes that way and then we can take some of the stuff that is in boxes and transfer them to the totes. I prefer the totes since they are waterproof and stand up better to stacking than cardboard.

Well, I best quit wasting time on the internet and get to work.

Payday Report and Bonus

December 22nd, 2017 at 08:45 pm

Today was payday and included in the envelope with the paycheck stub, which they mail out, was a $100 Master Card for Christmas. I wasn't expecting any such thing as DH has only been working there for 3 months. It was a pleasant surprise. We will be using it to pay for gas, since we are changing storage facilities and will be spending the next two days getting as much moved as possible. The storage unit is still leaking even after they supposedly fixed the roof.

We are getting an 18 x 10 and a 10 x 10 at the new facility. Total monthly cost will be $250 as opposed to the current cost which is $484, a savings of $234 a month. I wanted a 12 x 30, but they didn't have any available. I am going to see if they will let us skip the insurance. With the stuff with the current insurance, I am not sure we will ever see a payout and quite frankly it will probably be easier just to eat the loss, considering there is a $200 deductible and they are just difficult to deal with. Calculatedly so, I presume.

Anyway, the payday report is pretty small. I just paid 2 things.

$1400.00 to Citi Visa (paid in full each month)
+_549.19 Medical Bill
------------
$1949.19 Total out

Some of this was money I already had in the checking account. With overtime DH's check was $1739.90. I currently have $94.07 left in checking. Citi is higher because we put a large dental bill on it, so I will have to make a payment on it next week as well to get it paid in full before the 1/3/08 due date.

I realized that I wrote out the check to the chiropractor last week, but I forgot they were going on vacation and would not be back until the 8th, so our next month's family plan is not actually due until then. I will void that check and dump it back into the checking account. I will pay the tithe out of that and the rest can just sit there. I will pay that bill out of 1/5/18 paycheck. So that tithe will be $173.99.

Next week will be a large payment to Citi again, the life insurances, and tithe. I will need to scrape up some money for the oral surgeon in January so my daughter can get her implant. I don't know how much that will cost, but I imagine somewhere between $1000 and $2000. Hopefully closer to $1000. Even if we had insurance it wouldn't cover that. It may have to come right back out of the Emergency Fund.

I got my payment from youtube today, so that was nice. I'll dump it into savings with the rest of my earnings. They are earmarked to go into an IRA.

Burned

December 19th, 2017 at 01:53 am

Did you know that garlic can actually give you such severe burns that you can lose sensation in that part of the skin and that it can blister and leave you permanently scarred? I found that out today the hard way. I was chopping up garlic, one of those huge pre-peeled bags from Costco and I was about halfway through when my skin started to burn. I had about ten left to do on that batch so I powered through. What I should have done was get up immediately and wash my hands with dish soap (the grease cutting kind).

Anyway, I did that when I finished and then looked up ways to take away the garlic sting. I kept coming across ways to take away pepper sting, but this was different. By the time I found something, I had my hand wrapped in a cold wash cloth and sitting on an ice pack.

So from the home remedies, the first thing I chose was aloe, which helped some, but not enough. Then I used vitamin E oil, which also helped some, but not enough. So then I covered my fingers in honey and stuck them in a glove, and let the three things work their magic together. The honey soothed it the most.

Several hours later, they still hurt, they are red and I am missing part of my finger prints, have a scar on one finger and a possible bubble blister on another. I am typing one-handed in case you were wondering. I may have permanent damage. This is a form of chemical burn, the chemical being one in garlic. I never knew this could happen.

The next time I do garlic for dehydrating it is going in the food processor or I am wearing gloves. This was worse than the time I roasted hot peppers and then touched my eyes, twice, within an hour. Anyway, I thought I'd pass it along. If you are going to be cutting up garlic for a long period of time, protect your hands. It's very painful and hot, but with all the things I used today it is down to a dull throb now.

I just hope tomorrow I will be able to zip up my own coat again. Today it was too painful. Judging from how much it has healed since the treatment, I think I will do another one in the morning. Probably just the raw honey this time, though. I think that is what actually did the trick.

You know, I like making my own garlic powder a lot, because you can't beat it for flavor and freshness, but it's going to be a long time before I make another batch myself. I think in future I will just get the big jar from Costco.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 18th, 2017 at 12:52 am

I got the fajita kits assembled and each bag contains enough for a dinner for four, plus four lunches, so that if I make the fajitas early enough in the week, the leftovers can be used for 2 lunches for DH and 2 lunches for DS. So now the freezer is getting pretty full again. There are 5 bags of fajita mix and 7 frozen casseroles.

We also got the rabbit meat cut up today. All of it except the abdominal flaps were cut up for stir-fry, sectioned up, and frozen. The flaps will be ground when we do the next butcher. Flaps are only good for going into the grind for burger or for making jerky. They are too tough otherwise for enjoyable eating. But we do try to use as much of the animal we butcher as possible so as not to waste what they gave up their lives for so that we might eat, and we have enough jerky, so burger it will be.

Here is my meal plan for the week:

Day One--
Middle Eastern Spiced Rabbit Legs
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Canned Pears

Day Two--
Belgian Waffles
Ham
Strawberries (from out garden last year)
Zucchini Rounds (if I can find good zucchini)

Day Three--
Chicken Fajitas
Oranges

Day Four--
Cabbage Rolls
Oranges

Day Five--
Skilled Lasagna with Sausage (Homemade Hamburger Helper)
Salad
Canned Pineapple

Day Six:
Beef Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, and Parsnips
Salad
Green Beans

Day Seven:
Pork Ribs
Baked Potatoes
Broccoli
Oranges

Mom Loan Payback and College Fund Update

December 16th, 2017 at 03:08 pm

So we were finally able to make a loan payment to my mother. We have no consumer debt, but we still owe Mom some money. It is a no interest loan. I think we have only paid $1000 on it this year. But today I was able to make a payment of $250.

$35,000.00 Starting Balance
-__,250.00 Payment Made
-----------
$34,750.00 New Balance

I also restarted the College Fund with $100.00

$000.00 Starting Balance
+100.00 Deposit Added
-----------
$100.00 New Balance

Payday Report--First Paycheck from DH's New Job--Plus Thoughts

December 16th, 2017 at 03:04 pm

$1647.79 Paycheck Amount

Money Out:
+_164.78 Tithe
+__91.05 Internet
+_275.00 Chiropractor
+_100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
+_500.00 Emergency Fund
+_120.00 Car Insurance Fund
+_100.00 College Fund
-_250.00 Mom Loan Payback
--------------
$1600.83

Amount Leftover: $46.96

The extra money will simply carry over to next week. I don't have much left to pay this month, but the Citi card is due on the 3rd. We put all of our groceries, storage, and some of our medical on that. So the next two paychecks will be earmarked for Citi and the other first of the month expenses. It is a little weird getting used to budgeting on a weekly basis instead of a monthly one, but we'll stay out ahead of things and do just fine. The micro-manager in me will be very happy.

We purchased a new computer for my son on the 18th months same as cash no interest plan at Best Buy. He needed it for his homeschool, his old one is 8 years old and was so boggy it was nearly useless at this point, he wasn't able to do his math program on it or his French, because it kept crashing. He wanted a more expensive computer than our budget allowed, so we worked out a deal. $500 of it was our portion and how much we spent on my daughter's last computer, then additionally part of it is his Christmas present and part of it is his birthday (in March) present. Then he is paying me back $250 out of his allowance for the next 10 weeks. So I will be making payments of $100 a month until that is paid off, maybe more if I get impatient.

I made my first loan payment to my mother in a long time. It was only $250, but I feel so good about it. I also restarted the College Fund. Only $100, but that is something. It was nice to be able to tithe again. With no income coming in, there is no money for tithing. The Car Insurance Fund is for us to save up 6 months to make the payment in full, but I got started on it late, so instead of $80 a month for 6 months, it will be $120 a month for 4 months, since it is due in March.

I feel like I am on track and making progress again for the first time in forever.

Emergency Fund Update!

December 16th, 2017 at 02:37 pm

Yesterday was DH's first paycheck at the new job and I am a little excited to finally be able to add money back into the Emergency Fund. Watching it lose money as we had to live on it has been pretty devastating to me, considering how hard I worked to build it in the first place. But now, at least for a few months, we can add to it again.

$17,804.90 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit Added
--------------
$18,304.90 New Balance

$1695.10 to go to hit my milestone goal of $20,000 and $695.10 to go to hit my mini-goal of $19K. Monday I have to deposit my coin jar and a reimbursement check from Verizon so it'll go up a little. It is so nice to be on my way again. I feel energized.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 11th, 2017 at 12:49 am

We have been doing very well at keeping our food expenses down by sticking to the meal plan. I have been making some freezer meals, both ready made casseroles and uncooked crock pot meals that just need to be dumped into the crock pot. I need to make some more of the latter. I have the ingredients for 3 or 4 bags of fajitas, so I will make those tomorrow.

I used both a casserole and a crock pot bag this week when my sinus infection was at its worst. We did, however, get take out tonight for the first time in a while.

This afternoon I made up a huge batch of breakfast burritos. It took 24 eggs, 2 cups of cheese, 3 bags of tortillas and 2 pounds of sausage. It made 36 burritos. I individually wrapped them in foil and then put them in freezer bags, except one bag which went into the fridge. My husband and son eat these for breakfast almost daily. That should last them a fair while. DH dips his in picante sauce.

Here is this week's meal plan:

Day One:
Two Cheese Braciola
Broccoli
Baked Potatoes
Grapes

Day Two:
Pizza Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Salad
Oranges

Day Three:
Baked Potato Soup
Garlic Bread
Salad
Oranges

Day Four:
Spanish Rice with Sausage
Salad
Oranges

Day Five:
Roasted Middle Eastern Spiced Chicken
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Canned Pears

Day Six:
Brined Pork Chops
Fried Potatoes with Onions and Bell Peppers
Canned Pineapple
Green Beans

Day Seven:
Sesame Chicken
Fried Rice
Broccoli
Oranges

Did Some Looking

December 3rd, 2017 at 04:17 am

I did some looking and if we go with a facility that is about 15 minutes away, we can get a storage unit that is 12 x 30 for $200. At least if it is available. That means that we could drop to one unit. Right now we are paying $252 for the large unit that is 10 x 25 and $130 for the small unit which is 8 x 10, so a total of $382 a month. That would be a savings of $182 a month. Wow, I really wish I had got on the ball sooner.

Then we could work on winnowing down what we have and hopefully eventually get a 10 x 20 for $170 instead.

We might get a discount on the first month as well. I know that most storage units seem to have a move in special where you get one month free if you sign a six month lease. I still need to do a bit more looking, though. There might be something else that has better prices.

Our one year of special internet pricing expired. No more $71.82. They bumped it up to $120, but DH went in and talked to someone and got it down to $90. I am not pleased, but it is better than $120. I hate living in a town where there is only one company for fast internet. The others are slow and cause constant buffering.

I have still been quite happy with Ting. We have had a very reasonable bill each month since switching. I am so glad we took the plunge.

I earned a $53 commission for November from Thrive Life. That is quite a step up from the $13 commission from October. I am not sure when that will be deposited in my account, though. I didn't realize until last week that they did not have my direct deposit information. So hopefully that will show up soon. It will go into savings with the rest of my earnings for this year. I want to open an IRA with what I earned this year and put in every cent. It is not much, but I think I will end up with around $500 between them and my youtube channel.

I am really so glad that I got involved with Thrive Life. It has made my life so much easier to not have to peel and chop things every day for dinner. I know freeze dried foods are not for everyone, but I have been so pleased with the quality of the products. And if I only ever could buy one thing from them and nothing else, it would be the diced onions. No more crying when I cut onions, no more dealing with onions that go bad or sprout before I can use them, no more pain in my hands all night after cutting up several cups worth of onions. So worth it.

When it Rains, It Leaks

December 2nd, 2017 at 03:36 am

We have a leak in our storage unit roof. It ruined my husband's table saw and his small ratchet set. They are full of rust. It ruined one book, 2 pop up tents (the play kind), some old school report cards, a box of papers that just needed to be shredded, a video cassette cabinet (empty), an end table's feet so basically the whole thing, and possibly an original Jabba the Hutt action figure's outfit, but we are not sure on that one. It didn't look moldy, but it was soaked so we will have to dry it out and see. The rest of the action figures were just plastic, no clothes, but the whole case was full of water.

We videoed everything. There were several boxes that had mold on them, but no water damage and no damage to the books inside. We threw out some stuff while we were going through the boxes, too. Just some stuff that never should have been packed and put in there in the first place as we did the final clean out of the house. We took one pickup load of stuff to the dump and recycled an old computer monitor that was from 1994. It was an IBM brand monitor from a 286 (I think that was what it was called) computer from the early 90's. I know it ran windows 3.1. I don't think IBM has made hardware in two decades.

All in all there wasn't too much damage and our $2000 of insurance (no deductible) on the unit will cover the costs. I told DH I want to look for a new storage facility further from town, since they are cheaper. They have been raising the rates on this unit consistently every six months for the past few years and now the roof leaks and they don't know when it will be fixed. We have a 20 gallon tote under the leak at the moment.

When we do move to a new storage facility we will be going through every box and throwing out what needs to be tossed and donating what we thinkg is good enough to donate and hopefully we can get everything in one unit instead of the two we currently have. There is some furniture in there we will never use again and I don't know why we didn't get rid of it before.

Well, yes, I do, we were too attached to our things. And then inertia set in. I know there are a lot of toys that the kids didn't want us to get rid of at the time we moved, but now at 21 and 17, they could care less about so those can be donated, or ebayed depending. There are some boxes of clothes that no one will ever wear again, but of course we always thought we would, but we will never weigh what it would take to get into those clothes again and then some of them are children's clothes, too.

We have gotten by without any of the stuff in there and while I care about the photo albums and the books, there is so much that just doesn't matter to me anymore. When you live in 1000 square feet of space for almost 8 years you eventually become less attached to clutter and excess. I just wish we'd done this years ago.

Meal Planning for the Week

November 27th, 2017 at 12:52 am

We've done a pretty good job of dealing with our Thanksgiving leftovers. Dinner Friday was simply a repeat of the day before. I made up 12 TV dinners for the freezer. I made a big batch of turkey noodle soup. Word of warning, if you use purple carrots in your soup, your soup will be purple. Tasted great, though. Then I diced up the remainder of the meat, which was about 2 cups worth, and froze it and will make stir-fried rice with it in a day or two.

I still have to deal with the bones. I froze them, but I plan to make turkey broth with them this week and then can it. Any remaining meat on the bones will fall off and then I can pick it out and freeze it, either for a casserole or more stir-fried rice. In the past I have made enchiladas with leftover turkey, too, but we had so much stuffing and so many potatoes that I thought it was wiser just to make up the TV dinners, since we are trying to get away from buying store bought emergency TV dinners completely. There was absolutely no wasted food from our Thanksgiving this year. I feel great about that.

Day One:
Slow Cooker BBQ Meatloaf
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans
Canned Pears

Day Two:
Chili Beef Noodle Skillet
Broccoli
Apples

Day Three:
Hearty Beef Casserole
Clementine Oranges

Day Four:
Sesame Chicken
Broccoli/Cauliflower
Turkey Fried Rice
Canned Pineapple

Day Five:
Brined Pork Chops
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans
Apples

Day Six:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Broccoli/Cauliflower
Grapes

Day Seven:
Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry
Turkey Fried Rice
Canned Pineapple

Can Someone Fix the Blogs' Time and Date Please?

November 23rd, 2017 at 07:46 pm

The dates and times have been off on the blogs for several weeks now. Right now I will post this on November 23 and it will say it is November 24th. The time used to be concurrent with whatever time zone you were in as well, but it now is half a day or so off. I think the code is broken somewhere.

Goodish News and Thanksgiving Plans

November 21st, 2017 at 11:10 pm

DH got the job he interviewed for. It is only a three month job, though, hence the goodish but not full-on good part. He will start in two weeks. I figure if it gets us through February, then we'll have our tax return to live on for a while. There is a possibility they would keep him on for other jobs after that. Someone had told him before he left the slope that there would probably be a job for him in April. Probably and possibly are not something I hang my hat on, though.

He will make enough for us to do pretty well for 3 months, and I will bank as much as I can. We'll still be living with austerity measures, though I will start paying the kids an allowance again once we get a paycheck and we will have a small Christmas after all. He hasn't run the numbers yet, he's waiting on one piece of info about medical deductions so he can give me pretty precise data. Then I can make up a preliminary budget and know more firmly where we stand.

We should get his first unemployment check tomorrow and there will be at least one more. We are putting that money in the bank. If we have to, we will use it for COBRA. If not, we will use it for living expenses.

I still don't feel very secure about the future, but at least I have something of a plan for the next several months. Prayers for something longer term and more secure would still be appreciated, though. I am so glad we don't owe anything to any creditors. I can't even imagine the state I would be in if we did. Well, absolute panic, probably.

I got my first commission check from Thrive Life. Well, I haven't actually gotten it yet, but it is there once I send for it. It's $13. Not much yet. I make about 2.5 times that with youtube each month. But I won't turn it away. Right now they are having their Black Friday sale through the 27th, so a lot of stuff is marked down. I wasn't going to order much, but now that there is an income that will be coming in, I will make one big order and then drop down to $50 a month minimum for consultants, which we easily use. I just want to take advantage of their sale prices for meat now.

I have some interest from some cousins and other family members, so we'll see if that amounts to anything. We are going out to my MIL's house tomorrow for a Thanksgiving meal that I won't be cooking. My niece, who works for a catering company and is going to school to become a home economics teacher, will be making everything but the turkey. MIL knows how to do a turkey, but DH is going out to help her around noon to get it in since she can't lift it and then coming back home.

We will all go out after we put the ducks away for the night, which is at sundown. It works out nicely because SIL (I don't know if her boyfriend is coming or not) and other niece's fiance don't get off work until 5:00 and sundown is 4:30, so the kids will have a chance to get washed up and changed and we will probably still get there before anyone else besides niece and MIL. Assuming I feel good enough. I am on the upswing, but I am still weak and exhausted.

Then we will be making our own Thanksgiving dinner my way on Thursday with an organic free range turkey, organic mashed potatoes and gravy, and my homemade stuffing, plus my home canned green beans and corn. I think I will skip the pumpkin cheesecake this year and do a chocolate cream pie the easy way, graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream, but only if I feel ambitious. Which I don't, at the moment, so maybe no desert at all. We'll see.

Draining Week

November 18th, 2017 at 11:43 pm

The funeral on Wednesday was beautiful. I was able to speak, which was a good thing, because neither DH nor SIL could manage, though MIL did. I got a lot of compliments on what I said, which was nice, because I did not go in with a prepared speech. I don't like speaking in public, but I didn't feel it could go by without one of us saying something.

My favorite of DH's cousins did not attend. Her grandson, who is only 5, has a brain tumor. They biopsied on Tuesday and found out it is a very aggressive cancer and the tumor was the size of a tennis ball. Wednesday he had the surgery to remove it and they were able to get it all, but they still had to see if it had spread to the bloodstream. I am at such a loss. I am so tired of cancer hitting my family. This year has been a horror.

I am still pretty sick, but Thursday was my worst day. I think I have turned the corner with this cold, but I've been wrong before and gone on a second downswing. Hopefully not this time, though. Unfortunately, both kids are down with it, and DH started sneezing like crazy today. He's dosing on vitamin C. I hope he can keep going, because I am not at the stage where I can do any of the household or farm chores. Well, I did manage to fold one load of towels and one of clothes and then had to rest before I could put them away.

DH's interview was on Friday. He was supposed to be interviewed by two people, but the second one had a death in the family and couldn't be there. So the first guy said he needed to talk to the second guy when he gets back and see if he felt he needed to interview DH, too, or just go based on the first guy's opinion. He wanted to know if DH could start immediately, so I guess that is promising, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.

DH and I went down to pick up our turkey today. We asked for one in the 13 to 16 pound range when we ordered a few months ago, and it is 15.07 pounds. I also picked up some sausage since we didn't get any with our pork. They had chorizo, which I was excited about, because I've never been able to find a chorizo without some bad additives in it. So one day next week I will make chorizo con huevoes with rice for dinner. Or possibly for breakfast with cauliflower rice.

I also picked up some roasts for canning. The roasts from our beef all have bones in them and I like them for pot roast dinners, anyway. But I want to can some meat for stews and chuck roasts available at the farm have no bones so are easier to cut up. In the winter I like to have stew once a week and we've been out of canned beef for a couple of months now.

We're also going to juice up a bunch of the apples we got when we went to the orchard a while back. I clearly got too many. If I juice it, I can can it and it will be shelf stable. That is a relatively easy task, but it will still have to wait until I feel decent enough to do it.

I was really hoping to do a better job at blogging with daily blogs this month, but I just haven't had the energy, so catch up posts a couple times a week are just going to have to do it for now.







Bits and Pieces

November 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

DH has a job interview Friday morning. It is for a local company, as in our city, so the commute would be short. He'd even be able to take the bus if he wanted to as it is on the bus route. Another company an hour away has expressed some interest as well, but aren't interviewing for another couple weeks. That company tends to be slow to move. Anyway, prayers that the interview goes well and DH is offered the job would be appreciated. I just hope it isn't one of those things where they have to interview so many people, but they have planned to hire in-house from the start. Those are so frustrating.

I am sick. First I had a horrible stomach bug that lasted about 10 days and now I have a sore throat, am completely stuffed up, and am running a fever. The lethargy is pretty bad. I can't seem to sleep well, so it is taking forever to get better. It may be a sinus infection. I hate to go to the doctor right now, though. The COBRA paperwork finally arrived, but who knows how long it will take for them to actually process it. So currently we have to pay out of pocket. COBRA is retroactive, so we'll be able to submit anything paid out of pocket eventually.

If DH is hired and the insurance starts after one month we may not do COBRA at all. We have 60 days to start it and we can do it on day 60, so even if something major happens along the way they will have to pay it. COBRA will be $1500 or thereabouts a month and that is with dropping vision and dental.

I really hope he is hired. Our remaining savings will not last long and we are still recovering from the last bout of unemployment and paying for our medical insurance for 9 months.

The funeral is on Wednesday. There will be a viewing followed by a short graveside service. I am afraid I am going to get even sicker standing outside in the cold, wind, and rain. After the graveside service, there will be an indoor memorial. Then after that a catered family get together. DH and I are taking separate vehicles. That way DD and I can come home when we need to since we are both so sick and DH can be there for MIL longer with DS, unless DS wants to come home, too. He is starting to get the cold.

I would love to visit with the extended family, but I am afraid I would get everyone really sick. As it is, I will barely be functional enough to attend the funeral. My head is so full of snot and it is hard to focus.

Earlier in the week when I was feeling somewhat better, I made some freezer meals. Instead of making one casserole for dinner, I made a triple batch and froze the extra two. So I now have two pans of enchiladas, two pans of baked ziti, and two pans of chicken and broccoli/cauliflower casserole in the freezer. I don't have the stamina or energy to do full on once a month freezer cooking, but it is close to the same amount of work to do 3 at a time than it is to do one.

I'm going to do some taco rice bakes, some lasagnas, some hamburger casseroles, some carnitas, and some pork fried rice when I feel a little better. Ideally, I'd like to have 15 days of frozen casseroles ready to go. I'll do some individual turkey dinners as well after Thanksgiving, but those never last long.

I have some days where cooking is just not an option, either due to rheumatoid arthritis or just being sick or just being exhausted, so being able to go to the freezer and pop something in the oven is wonderful. I get the aluminum pans at The Dollar Tree unless they go on sale elsewhere. I don't have enough casserole dishes to tie them up in the freezer for long amounts of time. It is an expense, but it beats the expense of take out easily.

If anyone has some casserole recipes that don't contain mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup and freeze well, I'd love for you to pass them on to me.

Meal Planning for the Week

November 6th, 2017 at 08:02 pm

I'll be making two new recipes this week for our dinners. The First is Curried Chicken Chowder. I have the leftovers of a whole roasted chicken I made the other night so that will be going into it. It doesn't use much in the way of curry ingredients, so it is going to be pretty mild.

The second new recipe is Greek Baked Ziti, which is honestly not all that different from my penne pasta with sausage recipe, except some of the herbs, but enough to change it up. I will do a triple batch of this and put one in the freezer for us and a couple small ones for my MIL.

Both recipes come from the Southern Living Special Collector's Edition Make-Ahead Meals magazine.

I will also do a double batch of enchiladas so we can put an extra one in the freezer. I want to start building a stock of freezer meals for those days when I am just too exhausted to put anything together.

Day One:
Pork Spare Ribs
Baked Potatoes
Broccoli
Home canned pears

Day Two:
Curried Chicken Chowder
Corn Bread
Apples

Day Three:
Greek Baked Ziti
Cole Slaw
Fruit Salad

Day Four:
Mild Beef Chili (no beans)
Corn Bread

Day Five:
Rabbit Enchiladas
Cauliflower Rice
Home canned pears

Day Six:
BBQ Pork Chops
Fried Potatoes with Onions and Bell Peppers
Cole Slaw

Day Seven:
Southern Fried Rabbit
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Green Beans
Canned Pineapple


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