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Payday Report for 3/16/18

March 20th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

I have been sick and not really staying on top of blogging, but I have been staying on top of bills. I got my Thrive Life commission check of $59.68 and DH's pay with overtime was $1685.22. I am still waiting on my Google/Youtube check to be deposited, but it should be in there soon. Usually it goes in on the 15th, but not always.

$1000.00 to Citi Visa
__174.52 tithe
__110.54 Medical
__452.88 Car Insurance (6 months)
$1737.94 Money Out

I had a little money left from before so that was really what was used for the medical bill. This leaves me with $68.52 in checking until Friday. No bills are due, so that is fine. I transferred my wages to savings. I am not really sure what will end up happening there. I am not really specifying savings until after DD's surgery. After that gets paid for, then I'll go back to specifying EF and sinking funds, but for now there is really no point. It is pretty much all medical until it isn't.

Frugal Breakfasts

March 20th, 2018 at 06:13 pm

Laura was asking about frugal meals. For breakfast we eat a lot of egg variations, because eggs are still the cheapest thing we can buy, really. Or get for free from our ducks.

Right now I'm on a baked omelet kick, where I just spray a mini-meatloaf tin and add two beaten eggs, 3 tbsp of vegetables, 1 to 3 tbsp of cheese and 2 tbsp of meat. I use up a lot of leftover veg this way. You can make them in large size muffin tins (not cupcake size) if you are making multiples.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes. It really depends on your oven for the time. In my Nuwave it takes 20 minutes and in my gas oven it takes 30 minutes. I imagine an electric oven is somewhere in between. Stick a toothpick in the center and check that it comes out clean and that is when it is done.

My favorite variations:

2 eggs, 3 tbsp pico de gallo, 2 tbsp sausage, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp chopped broccoli and cauliflower, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tbsp sharp cheddar, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 tbsp chopped tomato, 1 tbsp diced green bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced onion, 2 tbsp diced ham, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 1 diced green onion, 2 tbsp leftover or canned salmon or tuna, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper

2 eggs, 3 tbsp leftover taco meat, 2 tbsp Mexi-blend cheese

2 eggs, 2 tbsp ground beef seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, 1 tbsp diced Anaheim chili pepper, 1 tbsp diced red bell pepper, 1 tbsp diced red onion, salt and pepper

To make this easier on me, I will dice up a bunch of ham or cook a pound of sausage or ground beef and then flash freeze them flat on a cookie sheet for a couple of hours so they don't stick together, before bagging them up and leaving them in the freezer. That way I can easily measure out as much as I need the night before and it will be thawed by morning. I also have my containers of chopped veggies done up, so I can just mix and match in the morning. I am watching my carbs, so this is basically what I always eat, sometimes with additional veggies. For the rest of the family I have other options.

Another cheap breakfast we do is breakfast burritos. It is rather simple to do up a huge batch. It requires 24 eggs and 2 pounds of sausage. Brown the sausage, beat the eggs (I use my stand mixer because this is a lot of eggs), and pour the eggs over the sausage. Stir until done. If you don't have a large enough skillet for this, cut the recipe in half and do two batches.

Take a tortilla, spoon some filling in, add the cheese of your choice and roll once, fold one end up, finish the roll, and then wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze in gallon size ziplocs. This recipe will fill 4 bags. We keep one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. When we run out we take another bag out the night before. My husband likes to dip his in picante sauce or salsa. I did this one for my youtube channel so if you'd like to watch it done here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl9orZD6JR4

Scrambled egg sandwiches are another. You simply scramble your egg, butter a slice of bread, spoon the egg into it and fold the bread in half. It is simple, but amazingly good (even on cheap, ordinary bread).

Pancakes and waffles are something that can be made ahead and frozen individually so they don't stick together and then bagged up for the freezer. They can be warmed up from frozen or you can just take them out the night before and then warm them up. You can use mix, but they are simple and cheaper to make from scratch. Add some hard-boiled eggs and you have your protein as well. French toast also lends itself to make ahead and freeze and is very simple to large batch cook.

Breakfast is probably the easiest meal to save money on if you don't mind some repetition. I think lunches and dinners are more of a challenge, but I will go through my recipe binder and see what I come up with. Since we buy so much in bulk off of farms and raise some of our food ourselves, it is harder for me to figure what other people's costs are. But I do have some that I think will fit the bill.

The Surest Path to Poverty

March 11th, 2018 at 02:58 pm

According to the Brookings Institute, the surest path to get out of poverty is to do 3 things. Finish high school, get a job, and get married before having babies. Well, yet another one of my nieces is setting herself on a course to never getting out of poverty. She is 18 and pregnant. I guess she had to do her sister, who was 19 when she got pregnant, one better. At least they finished high school. But being an unwed teenage mother means they are unlikely to ever dig themselves out of the hole they currently reside in. If one does it will be the younger, but considering how they were raised, I don't think so.

Niece 1 is now on her own, having recently left her boyfriend. Her only job is watching her older half-sister's kids. Niece 2 has a catering job that requires a lot of heavy lifting, so she likely won't be able to continue in that job after a few more months. They have decided to get an apartment together. Niece 2 may have to drop out of college.

These girls knew about and had access to birth control. Free birth control because of their income level. While accidents can happen, if you are using the condom with spermicide and the pill it is really, really unlikely unless you are extremely careless.

SIL's family is such a train wreck. These are the ones that got violent over the holidays and we refuse to do Christmas and Thanksgiving with now. I do not understand how DH and SIL could be raised by the same set of parents and one be stable and solid with good values and one be so far off the boards. I guess her daughters didn't really have a chance. Rotating men after she divorced their father and then when she finally did have a steady boyfriend he was a married man. And their father has kids all around the state with different women, none of which he married.

All I know is that when I watched my sister do something similarly stupid (get married at 19 and get pregnant immediately) I swore to myself I'd never let it happen to me. When she had to leave her abusive husband and come home with her first born child and dig herself out of poverty via welfare and Pell grants to the technical college, I swore I'd do everything in my power not to put myself in a situation like that where I would have to struggle financially for years. It was so hard for her, but she did do it. She had the support of the whole family, though, and these girls do not.

I cannot imagine being niece 2 and having watched her sister go through this, and being on her way through college, deciding that being careless about birth control could ever be a good idea. You learn through your sister's mistakes. You don't repeat them.

Maybe niece 2's boyfriend will stick around for a year or two. Maybe he'll even see it out. Or maybe he'll go the way of niece 1's boyfriend, with no job, refusing to grow up, playing video games all day, and smoking pot. My faith in this family's choices seems to indicate it will be the latter, although niece 2's boyfriend is quite a bit older so maybe he'll do right by the child.

It is one thing to be an older, established, single woman who decides to get pregnant. While I still think it is better to be married and raise a kid in a two parent household, if your finances are in order and your support system is in place, then that is a choice that is relatively valid to make, though I think it puts your kid at a disadvantage. When you do it as a teenager, it can take all of your future choices away from you and you may never get them back. And what kind of life will you be providing for your child?

I just get so frustrated. I've tried to help this family for years and I kept my judgments to myself to their faces. I'd rant on here from time to time, but I never let it show in real life. Now I've just given up on the whole lot of them. Not because of this, because of Thanksgiving. I just worry for the babies. They will have no stability in their lives. But what are you going to do? You can't live people's lives for them. You can't force them to make good choices. You can only watch or choose not to watch at all.

Payday Report + Haircut + Mom + Murphy + Food Waste

March 10th, 2018 at 05:13 pm

Well, I did it. I got my hair cut to my collarbone. It was a foot or so of hair taken off. I had it thinned and layered and the curls are just crazy bouncy now. I am very happy with it. I can't remember being this happy with a haircut in a couple of decades. It is easy to care for and simple to style, though it takes more time than just braiding it or putting it up in pony tail. It just looks so nice that I don't care if it takes me an extra 10 minutes to curl it around my face.

Mom is home from the hospital and doing very well. She is only taking Tylenol for the pain and hasn't needed anything else. She is getting around very well and able to do much for herself. I am so happy. This is way easier than the shoulder surgery or the knee surgery.

We had quite a lot of overtime on the paycheck yesterday. As quickly as it comes in it is gone.

$255.00 Tithe
_474.36 AMEX (in full)
__56.61 Garbage (2 months)
_876.93 BoA Visa (in full)
_124.75 BoA MC (in full)
1000.00 Citi Visa (not in full, but not due until 4/3)
$2782.65 Total Money Out

This is over the amount of the paycheck. Mom and MIL both reimbursed us for stuff we bought for them so we had an extra $310 in checking from that.

As for Murphy, DH got a flat tire. He got a piece of metal in the tire. He's down at the shop now seeing about the repair. I don't know how much it will cost or if it will cost anything. Tire shops are weird that way. Sometimes they fix flats for free, depending on how bad the damage is. I am hoping we won't have to get new tires. This is on his father's truck that we technically have inherited, but we haven't taken the title to it yet. MIL is going to pay off the loan on it when the life insurance money comes in, but it hasn't yet. After that, we will take ownership of it.

If we have to buy new tires we will buy them from Costco. Still the cheapest place for tires I've ever found and good quality ones, too. I have loved the ones they put on the van. They drive very well. But I sure hope that expense is not one we have to shell out for right now.

DD's bed broke. The box spring and the frame collapsed. It's an old bed, a hand me down from my mother. We can't afford a new bed now. MIL has a bed we can take, but it has to be excavated first. She has so much junk in that room. The bed is covered with it and the path to the bed is covered with it. FIL was a real pack rat and MIL still is.

So after the tire is repaired, DH and DS will take the truck out to MIL's and try to get the bed out.

DD's surgery is scheduled for the 9th of April. We have to have $300 paid before then. Her deductible is $500. She's met some of it, and will meet some more with the pre-op appointment so $300 is what they reckon will be left to meet. The doctor's portion of the surgery itself costs $5449, but we won't have to pay all of that. The surgery center is supposed to get me a quote on their portion. I don't know about the doctor who administers the anesthesia. I believe our out of pocket is capped at $3000 per person. It might be $5000, though.

We still haven't been able to get the HSA to issue a corrected form. I think at this point we are just going to put the proper amount on the taxes and keep our fingers crossed that no on notices that proper form isn't there. And if we ever have an HSA again, it won't be there because they really don't know how to pull their heads out and do their jobs.

Otherwise, still muddling along. Still thinking I need to make up a meal plan, but still not doing it. I ended up throwing out a lot of veg and leftovers this week and so I really need to get back on top of the food waste issue. I kind of really let things go for a couple of weeks. I need to not do that, because is just wastes so much money. Some went to the ducks, some to the compost, and few things had to be binned.

I have been watching a show this week called Eat Well for Less. It is British. I found a couple of episodes on youtube and a few others elsewhere. It's a really good show. It focuses on fixing a family's food budget. It deals with brand addiction, food waste, picky eating, shopping without checking the pantry and fridge first, everyone eating different meals instead of the same meal, all of that stuff.

I found it very informative. And it gave me the incentive I needed to try to get my act back together again. I've got all my veggies that were left after cleaning the fridge prepped and ready to go so that it can get used up this week and not wasted. I am going to plan my meals around that when I finally sit down and make my meal plan tonight.

I don't need to buy any meat this week. I may need to buy salad greens and bananas, but I may hold off on the bananas because we have plenty of oranges and apples. I'd like some blackberries, though. Oh, I've got some freeze-dried ones. Those will do nicely. We have freeze-dried bananas, too, if it comes to that.

You Can't Pick Your Family

March 6th, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Mom's surgery was today. She had to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. She had her hip replaced and while they were in there they repaired a torn tendon they hadn't known about, which means her recovery is going to be a lot slower than they thought. Which also means I am going to need you all to pray for strength for me, because yet again it is all going to fall on me.

My one sister hasn't even called to see how she is doing. The other one called, but only after my aunt called her to see how Mom was doing. She had forgotten today was Mom's surgery. She did say thank you for being on top of everything. I said somebody has to, and she said better you than me. I kind of wanted to reach through the phone and shake her.

Then I told her what room number Mom is in and she isn't even going to go up and visit her. She'll be in the hospital for two days, possibly three, but oh, well, she has a "weird life," and "stuff to do." My sisters are not helpful when it comes to Mom, but I've just come to expect it.

Anyway, she came out of recovery around 1:00 and while she looked really pale, she was talking, hungry and asking for food. Which they still hadn't brought when I left around 2:30. She had a couple of crackers and some juice at least, but they were supposed to bring her lunch.

When I got home I called my aunt and gave her an update and then posted on Facebook so my cousins would know she was doing okay. I don't know why my aunt didn't just call me as I gave her my phone number when Mom had the shoulder surgery several months back.

I will be going back up tomorrow morning for her physical therapy session. They will teach us how to do the exercises properly. Supposedly they will teach her how to go up stairs with a walker. That's the part I am worried about because there are five steps into the house. Once we get her in it should be okay, there are no more stairs she will need to use. My son will be with me when we actually bring her home, though. DH will be at work, but thankfully DS is strong at almost 18 (a week from it).

I just hope my diet survives the next few weeks. I've lost 19 pounds since the start of February and I really don't want to start stress eating or worse, binge eating, again. Mom makes me want to do both on a good day, but when she is recovering from surgery that increases ten fold.

I prepped a ton of veggies today so that at least when she comes home I will not have to worry about that part of meal prep and can just easily cook dinners. I did six bell peppers, 2 yellow onions, 4 red onions, 6 stalks of broccoli, and 1 head of cauliflower. Tomorrow I will do carrots, celery, radishes, cucumbers, and parsnips.

I really should make up a meal plan as well. I've been flying by the seat of my pants for the last two months, but planning will be necessary once Mom is home. I just wish I didn't have to make separate meals for her. But Mrs. Pickypants has never met an herb or spice she liked besides onion salt, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and Lawry's seasoned salt.

We eat a much larger variety of herbs and spices and nowhere near the amount of salts. Plus she doesn't like vegetables other than broccoli, caulifower, green beans, potatoes, and corn. And she won't want broccoli and cauliflower while she is unable to get to the bathroom quickly. So lots of bland meals, all meat and potatoes, really.

She wouldn't get TV dinners this time to help, either. For some reason she wants good healthy food cooked fresh now. She doesn't even do that for herself. She didn't want to do up any homemade freezer meals ahead of time, either. So basically it feels like she just wants to make as much work as possible for me. Well, it's not going to happen. I will cook enough food for 3 dinners in a row, 3 lunches in a row, and either my son or I will make breakfasts each day for her. And if she gets bored with it, well, what's she going to do, get up and cook herself?

I really, really hope when I am old and dependent on my children, that I will not be difficult about things. Of course, I would prepare and freeze most of my foods ahead of time if it was me and if medicare would pay for nursing home care for two weeks, I'd go, not put it all on my kids because I wanted to be at home instead.

I love my mother very much, but the whole situation just frustrates me to no end. My sisters, I am not happy with at all.


Payday Report

March 4th, 2018 at 07:32 pm

It was nice having a little extra money in the paycheck on Friday. I like it when DH has the opportunity to earn overtime, especially since such a large chunk of pretax money is used to pay for insurance. I haven't been very good about posting the payday reports this year, so I am going to try to get back to doing that every payday.

$1000.00 to Citi Visa
__176.65 Tithe
__500.00 March Utilities to Mom
___56.83 DH Life Insurance
___45.30 Me Life Insurance
$1778.78 Total Money Out

We spent slightly more than the paycheck, but there was $65 left in checking from the last paycheck.

I also got some reimbursement money from my mother for some stuff I picked up for her at Costco and then found a check in my purse from MIL from some stuff we picked up for her as well, so I got those in the bank of Friday. That was $310, but will go on the credit card, since we charge all expenses and then pay them off each month before interest hits.

I hope this coming Friday's pay will allow us to put a little into the emergency fund. It will have 26 hours of overtime on it.

Rambling Update

March 3rd, 2018 at 09:07 am

I know I am not posting a ton right now, but the push to get the last town storage unit cleared out had been ongoing. We had until February 28th to be out and it went down to the wire due to snow.

One of the only fun things about it has been finding all the loose coins. I've found another $3.24 in American money bringing that balance to $5.92 and another Canadian dollar, bringing that to $2.60 Canadian.

We will still have a lot to go through in our out of city units, but at least we will only be paying $225 going forward and not almost double that each month. With the amount of boxes in the out of city units to go through, I believe we will be able to eventually downsize to the one larger unit, which will be $125.

We will be able to wait for nice days now that the last city unit is done. Having to work in the snow or below freezing temps has not been fun. DH did finally find our wedding album and it is fine. I never meant for that album to end up in storage to begin with so it is nice to have it home again.

DH is getting overtime again. He got 10 hours for the week ending last Friday and he has worked both Saturday and Sunday as well, but those will be on the following paycheck. He may get 70 hours this week. All of the money will be helpful as the washing machine is not working right and we will have to get it repaired.

We have been jollying it along, using a hose to fill it, since it was agitating before the water would go in. Originally, it was only doing this at the start, but now it is doing it on the rinse cycle, which means stopping the machine and filling it again for the rinse cycle. Filling it once is bad enough, but having to fill it twice is beyond annoying and means you can't leave the house while using the machine and it wastes a lot of time in the day.

Hopefully there will be a little money left afterwards to go back into rebuilding the emergency fund. DH did get asked to do some safety training for unnamed oil company so he can be the project lead on a project for them. So that one starts after his current project ends and will mean an additional 2 months of work. Which should get him to the end of the six months contract through the job recruiter so that he can be hired on directly with this company or find another job without having to buy out the remainder of the contract.

I am glad he has more work coming, but living in a constant state of not knowing when he will have a secure job is taking its toll on my stress levels. Security has always been my number one issue in life and I really want it back. I don't want to have to worry from month to month if DH will still have a job. I know that a lot of people deal with this situation or worse because they have no emergency fund, but up until a couple of years ago we never had.

It has been tough to go from a life that was always secure to one that is not. It was awful to lose all of the money from our house down payment fund and most of our emergency fund and to be sitting here on the brink of not having an emergency fund at all. It has sucked to have medical emergency after medical emergency with limited or no insurance. I hate having to live like this. It screws with my head.

And just when it feels like we will have a little extra money again, the washing machine breaks and the sun roof on the mini-van starts leaking again. Once we get the money together, I am having the sun roof sealed, since they obviously can't fix it so it actually stays fixed. It will lower resale value, but by the time we sell this thing, it will be 20 years old, so I doubt it will have much resale value anyway. And the second sun roof will still work, anyway.

I won't buy a car with a sun roof again. We seldom used it when it worked because half the time the angle of the sun coming in would shine in the rear view mirror and blind the driver. And with working AC there was no real need for it. Even sitting in the car waiting for someone on a hot day, with the sun roof open, the sun just beat down on us. It just isn't worth it.

If it wasn't leaking into the seat belt holder it wouldn't be so bad, but every time I pull the seat belt out to use it when it has been raining it is soaked. It would have to be on the driver's side. Speaking of the seat belt holder, the other day when I took my seat belt off, it took my hair with it into the seat belt holder. Fortunately the kids were in the car and could pull it back out, because I couldn't move to do it.

So, it is time for a hair cut, I guess. Or I need to keep my hair in a braid when I'm driving. It's down to the bottom of my shoulder blades and it is starting to get caught under my arms when I put my arms down after having them raised. I am rolling over when I am sleeping to sometimes pull it as well if I don't sleep in a braid. I like having long hair, but geesh, it can be a pain sometimes.

I hate wearing a braid outside in the winter, though. It exposes my ears and the back of my neck and I chill so easily. It is long enough to donate if I decide to cut it to my shoulders, which will still keep my ears and the back of my neck warm, at least.

I have been considering getting it layered so it will work with my natural curl. It frizzes a lot when it is all one length and the weight pulls out a lot of the curl, but when it is layered it curls like crazy. It would also cut down on the heaviness since it is so thick. I probably should just bite the bullet and do it. I am getting too old for long hair, I think.

The last time my hair was this long I dithered for months and then got it cut so short I hated it. It wasn't an easy to care for cut, either, which is the main reason why I hated it. Plus it worked against my curls. I know if I layer it, I'd have to use product, which I don't care for much, but it would be nice to have a change. You can see why it takes me forever to decide, hmm? Seriously, does anyone else have this problem? I've been like this my whole life. Always wanting short hair when it was long and long hair when it was short.

Once I do get it cut, I'll make a decision on coloring then. I think most of what I will be left with will have heavy grey streaking. A lot of what is still auburn will be cut off, leaving mostly grey streaked auburn. They grey washes it out, though and makes it look duller. I am not one of those folks who can go blonde because it washes me out and the grey is doing the same. But I hate spending the time coloring my hair, even when it is my daughter applying it instead of me.

Well, enough time spent wasting my morning. I'm off to organize, toss, and donate. It will end some day.

Help on Taxes--HSA Related

February 16th, 2018 at 04:18 pm

We are having an issue with our taxes in regards to our HSA. We maxed it out in the first half of the year and spent it in the first half of the year on medical costs. But then DH got a job with medical insurance after that that did not have an HSA. So now they are saying that we can only claim part of that based on the months we had our own self-payed insurance, not the fact that we used it all during the time we had one.

We can't just put the money back because the government counts that as putting in additional money, not returning it to the fund. We don't have the money, regardless, because we spent it on medical bills. The people at the credit union where we have our HSA have no idea what to do to fix it. They assume there should be some paperwork, but they don't know what is is and have never had this issue come up before.

We really can't afford to go see a tax professional as we are barely keeping our heads above water right now due to medical costs, so I was hoping one of you here that is one could tell us what form we need to fix this and possibly where it is located? DH is looking for info on the IRS Website, but you all know that that is like looking for a needle in a haystack, assuming you even have the right haystack to begin with.

Long Weekend Plus Birthday Monday Update

February 13th, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Last week my husband worked 4 ten hour days so that he could have Friday off. We got a lot more done in storage, pulling out five large bags of trash and 2 bags full of recycled paper. We also pulled out another box of papers to shred. We donated another stack of books, probably only 15 this time, not a full box

We have reduced the amount in the larger unit so much that we should be able to get everything in there now. We have until the end of February to finish cleaning out the small 8 x 10 unit that is still here in town. Once that is in there we will just have the 10 x 18 and the 10 x 10 in the county. Then we will transfer what is in the county 10 x 10 into the county 10 x 18 as we go through it. Once we are done it will all fit in the 10 x 18 and our storage costs will be reduced significantly.

I found $0.79 this weekend bringing my found money this year to $3.47 American and $1.60 Canadian.

Monday morning I had to go and sit through a joint replacement class with my mother, as she is getting her hip replaced in March. It was 3 hours long and then of course my mother had to stay and talk for an additional 45 minutes, because she's never met a conversation she can leave. It was awful on my back and hips because their chairs were crap. Of course her care after the surgery will all fall on me again, because neither of my sisters will do anything.

I am very irritated with my mother because she refuses to go into a nursing home for the first week after she leaves the hospital. Medicare will cover it, but she refuses to go. She might be getting all her joints fixed, but mine are breaking down. She's just so selfish about it and I have to suck it up and do it. Last time I ended up on the verge of pneumonia and with so much pain in my joints I had to be on hydrocodone to function. If she would just go in for that first week when she needs round the clock care, I would be able to function so much better during the following five weeks when she will be able to sleep through the night and so will I.

Then in the afternoon I went to my rheumatologist for an appointment ($55 co-pay) and crossed off yet another drug I can't take. The sulfa affected my vision. Now she wants to do an MRI of my hands, but I can't afford it so that is on hold. She gave me some paperwork for an injectible drug, but one of the side effects is cancer, so no. I will just have to muddle along with the hydroxychloroquine.

So all in, yesterday was not one of my better birthdays, especially with the fact that I couldn't even have cake on this diet. But I have lost 13 pounds in two weeks, so it is kind of worth it. I miss sugar and flour though. A lot. I need to update the side bar to reflect my new age of 48.

We still haven't got taxes done, but we are working on it. It looks like we will be getting around $8000 back. I was hoping it was more, considering we spent around $30K in medical expenses last year. We'll need that money to pay for DD's surgery.

This and That

February 5th, 2018 at 10:16 pm

We spent the weekend working in storage again. I found 55 cents, bringing my total of found money this year to $2.68 American and $1.60 Canadian. We pulled out 5 big black garbage bags of stuff and filled an 18 gallon and a 25 gallon tote with paper to recycle. I also have another box we filled about 8 inches high with papers to be shredded. We donated two more boxes of books.

I paid off all of the medical bills from my daughter's ER visit. It was upwards of $8000. Our Emergency Fund is down to $5000 or so. I don't have the exact numbers. It is depressing and a little scary to have so little in savings, especially when we still don't know how long DH will actually have a job for.

We have no safety net now if he loses his job. DD still needs to have her sinus surgery, so we will use part of the tax refund for that. It really can't be put off any longer and who knows when we will have insurance again if DH gets laid off. The insurance is really good at least for however long we get to keep it, even if they are taking a boat load of money out of his paycheck for it.

It was nice to see the extra money in the paycheck this week from the tax cut. We'll only see it for this month, though, since in March it will go into the 401K. We really don't want to not put money in the 401K, so as soon as he qualifies it is going in even if it is only 2%.

I've been doing a low carb diet for a week now and lost 10 pounds. I am keeping my total carbs to 60 grams a day, which is what the bariatric specialist recommended last time. This time I am doing it without a weekly cheat day. I am really pushing the water. I feel better already, which is nice because last week I had that nasty stomach virus that's been going around.

The only thing that is bad about this diet is that my acne is acting up. It is supposed to be because when you lose fat the toxins that were locked in those cells come out whatever way they can. In my case it is through cystic acne. It hurts and I hate it, but I'm not going to give up, because I have to get this weight off my body. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. It physically hurts too much.

There really hasn't been much going on. Well, other than we lost another rabbit and now I'm afraid there might be something going around the herd. We lost Bonfire, who was out of Firefly and Wildfire, who are both gone, too. But we have her daughter Sadie and we haven't yet sold or butchered her other three offspring so if we want to keep another one, we could.

Then again, I've been thinking of downsizing, so I don't know. But right now this puts us at only 3 breeding age does and I'd like 4. But I might like a doe out of Sadie and Vincent when I breed them, so I don't know. They might not even have a likely candidate in their first litter, either.

The garden is starting to put some volunteers up. There is spinach growing and sorrel. There are onions and garlic as well, that I did not plant in the fall, so maybe they seeded or maybe ones I planted early last spring that never came up, came up now. The kale overwintered and there are some beets, too. I am looking forward to spring and rebirth and growing things and green coming back to the trees and flowers. It always makes me feel better when the dreariness of winter lifts.

Errands and Whatnot

January 23rd, 2018 at 09:09 pm

Yesterday, I found 87 cents today, bringing my found money for the year to $2.13 American and $1.60 Canadian. People leave coins lying around in the strangest locations sometimes. This was on top of the toilet paper holder at Kmart. I washed it, though. Money is dirty enough as it is, but money found in a restroom could be even worse.

We bought curtain rods for my son's new room. We still have to purchase curtains. Kmart did not have a good selection of blackout curtains. We will try Fred Meyer and then Wal-Mart next. They always have a better selection there and tend to restock their shelves. I did pick up holders for the bathroom shower curtain. Several of the plastic ones we had had cracked or broken.

I didn't really like the ones we picked up, because they are metal and I wanted plastic, but Kmart was sold out of most of what it had. I mean, they are pretty, just not what I wanted. But since we likely won't make it to another store until Friday and the shower curtain is not really doing its job anymore, I went ahead and got them.

I did a brief stop at the library to pick up my holds. I got two cook books, one on Indian cooking for the crock pot and one was for instant pot cooking. I don't have an instant pot, I spent my Christmas money on an air fryer instead, but someone recommended to me that I read the available instant pot cook books before I do buy an instant pot. I am thinking of getting one for my birthday in February. Our library has about ten different instant pot cook books.

I was going to pick them up on Saturday, but that would have meant driving through the chaos and congestion that always seems to center around the library/courthouses when the protesters are out in force. Since we had both the women's march and the march for life this weekend, it wasn't going to happen. I was told it was worse than pride week with the amount of people in attendance, so it was a good call to wait until today. I never would have found parking on the weekend.

Hopefully, I will find a few good recipes in the Indian cook book. I am always looking to expand my ethnic recipe repertoire. I can make 8 Chinese food dishes, 3 Korean, 1 Vietnamese, 5 Mexican, 2 Indian, 1 Morrocan, 1 Jamaican, and 1 Japanese dish. Not to mention the numerous Italian ones. It is nice to have them to change up my extensive American dishes.

Not much happened today. I got caught up on dishes, did some laundry, and made a chicken and vegetable soup that was very good. There are several portions left, which makes my daughter happy since it is one she can eat, having no pasta in it. I really didn't feel like cooking at all today, but the eat from the pantry challenge is keeping me on the straight an narrow.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

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

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

Day Four:
Herb Roasted Rabbit
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans

Day Five:
Codfish and Zucchini in foil packets
Baked Potatoes

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

Day Seven:
Black Pepper Rabbit
Steamed Veggie Rice

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.


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
Strawberries (from out garden last year)
Zucchini Rounds (if I can find good zucchini)

Day Three--
Chicken Fajitas

Day Four--
Cabbage Rolls

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

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

Day Seven:
Pork Ribs
Baked Potatoes

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

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