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It's Been Nice Here on the Farm

May 23rd, 2017 at 02:28 am

The weather the last few days has been really nice, though my latest garden transplants were not too happy with it. A little extra water, though, and they perked right up. Everything else has grown tremendously during these nicer days. I need to start hardening off my basil plants that I cloned off basil I was growing in the Aerogarden.

I've spent a couple of hours a day in the garden for the last two days and it has really helped to improve my mood. I'm still down a bit, but not feeling so hopeless. I've got almost everything in now. I just need to plant 3 pepper plants, bell, jalapeno, and cayenne, and some sunflowers and I am good until I've harvested enough to succession plant.

We haven't had to buy lettuce for 4 weeks now and we haven't had to buy spinach for 2 weeks. Kale and chard we have had all winter and spring. I pulled my first carrots from the batch that overwintered.

I wish I had a garden twice the size of what I do have. I don't like having to pick and choose what I can plant. I want to plant everything that I want to grow. As it is, I think I have to give up winter squash other than acorn and green beans this year. I can get both of those things at the no spray garden, along with good potatoes for canning, and they are cheap, so it is better to do that than to try to grow what takes up so much space in a limited area.

I put in more broccoli, some cauliflower, more kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, red shiso, 60 garlic starts, acorn squash, gold rush zucchini, patty pan summer squash, regular zucchini, English cucumbers, and pickling cucumbers. I don't need to make pickles, I just like the way those cukes taste.

I also put in red and yellow snap dragons, orange pansies, allysum (white), and heliotrope (deep purple). Flowers attract pollinators, plus they are beautiful and provide bright spots in what is mostly a sea of green right now. Most of my other flowers are herbs for tea and medicinal purposes, but not every flower has to pull double duty, just most of them.

I don't think I mentioned that we have new rabbit babies on the farm. They were born on Mother's Day. Ella had nine, 2 broken blacks, 2 blacks, 2 broken reds, and the rest are either white or a very light fawn (blond). It is hard to tell yet, as colors tend to darken with age. Persephone had five, all white. We gave Persephone two of Ella's kits to raise (one of the broken blacks and one of the blacks so we can tell whose are whose), so each mother is raising seven. This gives the kits a better shot at being evenly fed and is easier on the mother's and milk production.

Ruby and Serena missed again. I think Serena is just too old now. Ruby is still young so I don't know what is going on with her. We'll try again next month.

I am hoping that one of Ella's broken reds is a buck. We got a broken red doe kit from Bonfire that is the sweetest thing ever. She's six weeks old. If we could actually grow up a breeding pair I would be thrilled. I am also looking for a good broken black female. Zander keeps throwing male broken blacks, so far only one female, and she was poorly patterned with lots of white hairs in the black fur. And of course all of the males are beautifully patterned because that is the way it goes when you are trying for something.

Gina's laying eggs. So far we've gotten 3 eggs in two weeks. I wasn't sure she would ever lay again after last year's injury. I hope she clicks into gear a little bit faster now. Her first year she laid 3 to 4 eggs a week. Last year she didn't lay at all because it took 8 months to grow new feathers after the owl attack and turkeys can't lay eggs and grow new feathers at the same time. They use all their protein for one or the other and you can't just increase it because it can do damage to change from the proper ratio.

The ducks are all doing very well, though we lost one of the shelter chickens. She managed to wedge herself between the garage and the chicken coop and couldn't get out and gave herself a heart attack trying, poor thing. If it had to be someone, I was glad it wasn't one of the nice ones. Only two of the shelter birds are nice, the others are all bullies. I wish Mom had never got them because they've been really bad for flock dynamics.

We need to order feed in the morning, so that will be another expense. I need to find a bigger box for Gina. She's broody and the little box she's sitting in doesn't really fit her comfortably. I can probably find something for around $20. It needs to be plastic so it is easy to clean. I may just get a duplicate of what I use for the ducks. It is big enough for her, since two ducks can fit in one, and she used to sit in one the first year when she was broody.

We also need to buy a new cooler to be used as a chill tank on butcher days and a canopy to put up as a sunshade in front of the rabbit shed windows. It helps to keep it cooler inside. We've been using a tarp the last couple years, but I'd like something a bit more sturdy and that is easy to take down in wind storms.

Unfortunately I haven't sold any rabbits in a while, so I'll have to take the money out of the budget. That's okay, though. We've done it before and we can do it again.

A Long but Good Day

May 21st, 2017 at 12:27 am

I got to see sister #2 today for the first time since last summer. Sister #1 was there as well, but I see her a couple times a week, usually. It was a graduation party for S2's youngest child and all four of her children were there including her eldest who lives in Arizona and his new wife. S1's daughter was hosting it.

S1 and I always tend to gravitate to each other at these things and of course, when S2 saw that, she had to come over and talk to us, too. She's always been that way, can't be left out of a conversation her sisters are having. It was good catching up. I think S2 has changed a lot in the last couple of years. It is good to see that she isn't as lost as she used to be.

S2 is finally on the internet and has an email address, so it'll be a lot easier for me to stay in touch with her now. I was able to get a picture of the 3 of us together and the 3 of us with Mom. We haven't had a picture of us girls together since I was 19. I am going to print a copy of the one of us with Mom for Mom to have.

After that we went to my great niece's first birthday party. We missed the first part of it, but made it for an hour of it. It was a pretty exhausting day for me, but worth it to spend so much time with family. It helped lift my spirits a bit.

I'm still depressed about my eye, but at least I didn't have to think about it for a while today. I didn't eat anything at either party, it was all cake and chips and soda. On the way home we picked up Taco Time, though and spent about $40. I had a taco salad with no dressing and added some berries on the side when I got home. Taco salads are my favorite thing from there other than tacos, but I'm trying to limit corn and wheat right now.

Tomorrow I will get back into the swing of cooking again. I need to make up a meal plan and probably buy some more veggies.

Surfacing, Drowning

May 19th, 2017 at 11:03 pm

It's been a week since the emergency laser eye surgery and while it didn't seem like a big deal, it seems to have really sapped my strength. I was exhausted the first few days afterwards. I am having a hard time adjusting to the impaired vision. The spots are always there. Even when I close my eyes, if there is a light on, I can still see the big one against my eyelid, which makes it hard to get a rest from it during the day unless I cover my eye.

At least it goes away in darkness. At least I don't see it in my dreams. My vision has been bad for several years, but my glasses were always enough to correct it. The idea that these spots may be permanent unless I get another surgery to remove the vitreous and replace it with a solution of saline is very disheartening. Especially since there is no guarantee that new floaters won't develop.

I've dealt with so many health issues my entire adult life, but I always had the ability to escape into a book or into my writing. Now even that is tarnished. I can't read for long periods, because the right eye has to work too hard. It is better with large print books and zooming on the computer screen, but my eyes get so tired so fast trying to work around the floaters despite it. It kind of takes some of the joy from my life and makes me feel defeated.

I think I always took my eyesight for granted, even if it wasn't that good, it was good enough. Now...I don't know. It's like having a little bug flying in front of me constantly and nothing can make it go away. I just can't imagine having this for the rest of my life.

Usually I can look on the bright side and be optimistic, but with this, the fight has gone right out of me. I've never felt so overwhelmed before. I just want it all to go away, but I am afraid it never, ever will. It's the first time in my life where I've ever felt like giving up and it is a horrible feeling. And I'm helpless to do anything about it. Just wait and see. Or not see.

ER Visit and Emergency Laser Eye Surgery

May 13th, 2017 at 04:48 pm

The title makes it sound kind of melodramatic, it actually unfolded in a rather chilled out manner, but it is how I spent my morning. I've been having floaters in my eye for about a week, but really wasn't paying much attention to it, as they were tiny specks and I thought it was just from being so tired, and was possibly a side effect of my new medication which could cause some vision issues as you got used to it. Not, as it turns out, this one, though.

Last night the speck was really bugging me and I looked it up and it said to rotate your eye and it could sometimes move the floater to a different position. So I did and immediately there was a huge floater about the size of a fully dilated pupil in the middle right of my right eye. It was like a ball of cobwebs. So I rotated it again and there was a white flash that I can only describe as lightning in one eye.

I thought maybe I was just overly tired so I went to bed. When I woke up I had a very fast series of white flashes and the blob was still there and it had brought some much smaller friends. So I looked up the flashes and they had a simulator as to what someone with a detached retina saw and it was pretty similar, so I had DH take me to the emergency room since it said to seek immediate medical attention if you had the two symptoms together.

So off we went to the ER, where I spent an hour while they did a bunch of tests and then they located an eye doctor who was in his office today. It is in the building right next to the hospital so it took us two minutes to get there and he took us right back. He did many of the same tests after dilating my eyes and putting numbing drops in them and then some new ones with the brightest lights I have ever seen at an eye exam.

He determined that I had a torn, not a detached, retina. It was just starting to tear and he said if we zapped it now it would prevent the tear from getting bigger and turning into a detached retina. He also said it was a very good thing I did not wait to get treatment because it would have been far worse in a day or two.

So then we went into the other room and he put some more numbing drops and some gel in my eye and I sat in front of a device that kind of looked like a big microscope and put my head in the forehead and chin rest thing that eye doctors have on all their machines. It was kind of hard to stay in that position because those rests are built for men, not women. To stay close enough to the forehead rest to be comfortable you can't really have a bust in the way. I find this to be true of all eye doctor devices like this. So my low back is kind of achy from having to hold that position so awkwardly.

Then he put this lens in my eye and shot the laser through it. It was this brilliant flash of bright green with an afterimage of red with veins shot through it. He did about 30 zaps and the whole thing was over in about 5 minutes. Some of them were painful, but it was very fleeting and stopped after each blast was done. Some of them didn't hurt at all. Others were just mildly uncomfortable.

The big floater seems to have broken up some and is more see-through, but it could take 3 to 6 months to go away completely. And it might not. It's frustrating because it interferes with reading. There is another surgery that can be done if it doesn't subside on its own.

I can use my eyes as usual, though. If it feels too tired I can put a patch on it. The side that was lasered is puffy and swollen, but I think that is more from the number of things that were done to my eye today. It feels very tired and kind of like there is an eyelash in it, or possibly a stick, but it is actually a big broken blood vessel.

We got home about 3 hours after we'd left and I went to bed and crashed for 3 hours. I am glad it was something that did not turn out to be major, but it was not how I was expecting to spend my day. I don't know if insurance will pay for the eye doctor or not. They don't cover vision, as in eye glasses or contacts or that kind of exam, but I think this has to fall under medical. If not, we'll pay it. It's not like I could just not fix it.

I would seriously like a break now from all these medical issues. It's starting to get ridiculous. On the plus side, I'm no longer swollen.

Payday Report #3

May 12th, 2017 at 10:53 pm

Finally, we get to today's paycheck, which is a full seven day paycheck at hazard rate. Master Card is rarely used, but we have one that my daughter is a user on to build a credit history for her. It is basically used just for her online orders and when I am too exhausted to go into the store so she can go in with a list and get what I need while I wait in the car. We will be putting DH's flights and travel food and hotel overnights on the BOA VISA after this month. The previous plane tickets went on Citi VISA. We do not carry balances on any of our credit cards, but pay them in full every month. I am restarting the Car Repair Fund and the College Fund.

$190.00 Lab for Bloodwork
$288.79 BoA Master Card
$141.00 Charitable Giving
2739.55 Citi VISA
$120.00 BoA VISA
$100.00 Car Repair Fund
$100.00 College Fund
$_80.00 Car Insurance Fund (Six months)

Payday Report #2

May 12th, 2017 at 10:44 pm

This is for the paycheck on 5/5/17. It is a full seven day paycheck at hazard pay rate, so will be typical for that. Atypical payments for the tabs and the Beef Fund came out of this paycheck. We are getting half a grass fed beef. It was slaughtered on the 6th and has to hang for a bit. We don't make the payment until they are ready to cut and wrap and we know the final hanging weight. They estimated we'd be getting 300 pounds hanging weight. It is $3 a pound plus cut and wrap.

$500.00 Mom's Utilities
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$_52.34 Life Insurance DH
$_69.57 Internet
$_70.26 Garbage (2 months)
$177.31 Lab for Bloodwork
$125.75 License Plate tab renewal
$250.00 Chiropractor monthly family plan
1500.00 to Citi VISA
$_90.00 Physical Therapy
1000.00 Half a Beef Fund

Payday Report #1

May 12th, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Okay, so this is from the first paycheck from DH's new job and it's not typical because it was training for 2 days, which is not hazard pay, plus his per diem, and then 3 days actual slope rate. It wasn't a full week of work. I really want to get back into the habit of posting these with each paycheck.

$246.00 ENT doctor
$300.00 Cash for allowances and gas
$125.00 Sleep doctor
$252.00 Storage
$363.30 BOA VISA
1000.00 Mom Loan
$500.00 Emergency Fund
$_50.00 Eye doctor co-pay
$_30.00 Co-pay regular doctor
2459.21 AMEX

$1000.00 of the AMEX was paid from money previously taken from savings when we still weren't getting income. The AMEX card is what our monthly insurance premium of $1337 is charged to.

Doing Much Better and Errands

May 12th, 2017 at 10:15 pm

I am doing much better today than I was on the tenth. That night I was able to sleep and got 8 hours and then last night I got 10 hours. The water pills (diuretics) have been doing their job and while my legs, ankles, and feet are still swollen, it isn't nearly so bad. I'm able to wear my regular shoes again, my socks don't feel like tourniquets, and I was able to put my ring back on my finger since my hands are back to normal. It was pretty scary there for a while.

I lost 15 pounds in the last two days, but it is all water weight that I gained very quickly. I'm back to what my weight was before this happened. I must have been exposed to or eaten something that caused massive inflammation and water retention, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it was because I did nothing out of the ordinary.

After two nights of good sleep, the discoloration under my eyes is almost gone and the discoloration on my eyelids is gone. I looked like I had a couple two day old shiners there for a while when I wasn't sleeping. Lack of sleep like that is kind of crazy-making. I wonder if lack of sleep contributed to the water retention or had the increasing water retention contributed to the lack of sleep? That's probably a chicken and the egg scenario.

DH got home last night at midnight and it is good to have him back. I was capable of doing a Costco run today so we went and spent a little over $250. Half of that was on household supplies and the rest on food.

We also went and closed out our account at Credit Union #3. That will streamline our banking. This was originally DH's childhood account that had his allowance direct deposited out of his dad's paycheck each week when he was a kid. We've barely used it at all in the last few years and haven't used it at all in the past 15 months and got a note that said if it was inactive for 3 more months they'd close. It seemed silly to keep it open, especially because when a bank or CU closes your account they send the money to a government holding account and not to you and that is a major hassle I didn't want to go through. I've been wanting to close it for a while anyway.

Now we just have CU #1 where we do our primary banking with a checking account and savings account and CU #2 where I keep short-term funds that I don't need right away, since it is out of the way to go there and they only have one location. I have to actually deliberately plan to go there to easily use that money or transfer it electronically to my online bank account and then from there to CU #1. I set it up to be difficult for me to dip into that money without serious intention.

We also have the C1-360 online savings account for the Emergency Fund. Again, it is without super easy access, though in a true emergency it would not take too long to transfer money from it. And I keep a $1000 baby EF at CU #1 for an immediate emergency situation, like an unexpected car repair or a five day power failure where we have to eat out or something.

While I am pretty disciplined these days, when I set things up, I wasn't. I think I could probably have all the money in one place now, but I'd rather avoid temptation. Does anyone else do this sort of thing or am I just uniquely weird with my banking?

I Am Really Worn Out and Upcoming Dental Expenses

May 10th, 2017 at 09:48 pm

I don't know what is going on with my body, but I am so tired it is ridiculous. I'm having trouble sleeping even with sleeping pills and get about 4 hours a night. It is a little crazy making after a week. I'm also so swollen my feet don't fit into my tennis shoes or loafers. I am having to wear my flip flops. My calves AND my shins are bulging with retained water and I have no ankle bones sticking out of my ankles right now. My hands look really bad and I've gone up 3 rings sizes in 2 days. I had to take off my rings.

My blood pressure is normal, though. I have to take it daily to monitor myself as I am on medication for high blood pressure. I did pick up some OTC water pills, though, because clearly the one in my medication is not doing its job right now. My skin just feels so tight, like I'm going to burst out of it, like a sausage explodes out of its casing. I am making sure to drink lots of water, though, as the body doesn't release water unless you drink it. I am also being careful to avoid salt.

I still haven't heard from the rheumatologist yet. I hope they call soon. It took 2 weeks between when my daughter was referred and they called to schedule an appointment. And they are very don't call us, we'll call you for making the first appointment. It's not an insurance hold up, either, because the insurance does not require a referral. The rheumatologist does. I'd really like to get going on it, but as per usual, I wait.

I have two payday reports I need to do, but I haven't had the motivation to do it, and honestly, I am so out of the habit after 9 months with no income coming in. I have kept my spreadsheets updated pretty well, though. Even with my brain in fogland every morning.

DD is going to get her baby tooth pulled in two weeks, which is the soonest we could get her scheduled. It suddenly started to hurt a lot. We were trying to wait until we had dental insurance again, but that was only if she wasn't in pain. This is a molar that never developed an adult tooth underneath it to push it out.

The cost of the extraction is $265 so we decided to go ahead with it. Then in 3 months when we will have insurance, she can have an implant put in. It is $1065 and the insurance will probably cover it at 50%, so our portion will be $532.50. The dentist says if the implant does not go in immediately it has to wait 3 to 6 months to heal up first.

It is going to be a busy next couple of weeks and I am so glad that DH will be home soon. He comes in Thursday at midnight, which means he's taking a cab home. I won't drive that late at night in that area of town. Well, not the airport itself, but the area nearby is a little unsavory. I'd have to drive through the unsavory part to get to the airport and I'm not doing that. Either that or take the freeway and I don't drive on the freeway at night anymore as I don't have the best night vision to be going 60 miles per hour.

I wish I could post something that is not all full of complaining about my health, but I've got to vent somewhere and it does cause a lot of expenses. So be it, I guess.

Trying to Get What I Paid For

May 5th, 2017 at 12:11 am

Two of the three companies I emailed complaint letters to I've heard back from. Campbell's is sending me a two dollar coupon and gave me a list of products I can use it on. So clear they didn't read my letter at all. Although I now have a handy list of brands to avoid. Not that they were brands I use anyway, so no big hardship.

I heard back from Bounce, but only an email to say we got your email and hopefully someone will be with you in 3 business days. I bought some of the unscented dryer sheets, but when I opened the box, they stank of perfume. So I think there was an error at the manufacturing level and they put the wrong sheets into the box. The store wouldn't take it back since I'd opened the box. Since this was the 240 count $10 box, that's not a hit I feel I should have to take. I've been using their unscented sheets for a long time. I'm hoping they will send me a replacement box.

I still haven't heard from Reynolds. I bought their oven bags for turkeys, but there were no ties in the box. The bags are useless if there is no way to close them. This is the third box in the last two years I have bought from them that did not have the ties in them. Usually they are tucked into the instruction paper when they are in the box. Fortunately they have a tip on their website of how to use a strip of twisted foil to close the bag. Although that says to me this might be an awfully common occurrence.

I seldom bother with stuff like this unless it was a fairly big dollar number shelled out on a product, but I had all three negative product incidents happen in the same week, so I was irritated enough to actually try do something about it. If nothing comes of it, at least I tried. If something does, I'll feel better about the brands and not feel ripped off. And seeing how easy it is to actually do it, I'll probably do it more often in the future if it happens again. We should get what we pay for, not something else.

Week 18 Meal Plan with No Grains

May 3rd, 2017 at 04:17 pm

It took me a little while to do my meal plan as I can't just fall back on my old ones completely if I am eliminating all grains. Usually meal planning takes me all of 5 minutes. This time it took closer to 15 minutes, but I think next week will be easier. I will be looking for some grain free recipes this week so that I can maybe shake things up a bit.

Wednesday:
Chicken stir-fry with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, snow peas, and water chestnuts
Canned pineapple

Thursday:
Leftover Turkey
Leftover Mashed Potatoes
Home Canned Pears
Salad

Friday:
Herb Roasted Rabbit
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans
Oranges

Saturday:
Honey Apricot Chicken
Mashed Celeraic
Broccoli
Canned Pineapple

Sunday:
Beef stir-fry with onions and bell peppers
Salad
Oranges

Monday:
Cod fish
Parsnip fries
Cole slaw
Home Canned Pears

Tuesday:
Filipino Chicken Adobo with Potatoes and Carrots
Broccoli
Oranges

If I see any berries or other fruit on sale I may get it to use instead of the canned fruit.

No Grain, No Pain

May 3rd, 2017 at 04:08 pm

So I am reading the book No Grain, No Pain by Dr. Peter Osborne. He says that grain causes inflammation in those with autoimmune diseases and that eliminating it from you diet can result in a massive decrease in the amount of pain people with autoimmune diseases have.

Well, we are giving it a try for a week and then hopefully for 30 days. It will be hard. Rice, corn, and bread are pretty woven in to my meal plans. It's not as hard for me as it will be for my daughter, since I only ate them at one meal a day anyway. I have plenty of base items that are gluten free anyway, like coconut aminos or fish sauce, so I can make my sauces for stir-fries without worrying. And we can eat riced cauliflower done up like stir-fried rice. I am still keeping pork and shellfish out of the diet as well, since those are not recommended for lupus.

There are a couple of vitamins I will have to get different brands of because they use corn oil. And while reading through the ingredients on all the bottles, I discovered polysorbate 80 in one of them, so I'll have to get a different brand of that as well. Hopefully I can find them without those ingredients. It's only 3 vitamins I need to replace. The other 6 have clean ingredients. So that won't get too expensive all at once. It is the gel capsules that are the problem.

Things Just Got Interesting

May 2nd, 2017 at 06:59 pm

DH interviewed for a different job this week with what I will call company C. It would be switching back to his old company where he worked for almost 15 years. It would also be switching parent companies to what I will call parent company B. It would be in maintaining existing infrastructure and not dependent on creating new infrastructure, so it would be remarkably more stable. And it would be a 5 plus 2 plus 2 contract which is basically a nine year contract for company C with parent company B.

The guy was very positive with him, telling him how highly recommended he was by a lot of people. They have to hold the interview process open for a couple weeks, so he won't know anything for a while yet. I would certainly feel more secure if he went to work for them. DH did not apply for this job. They called him out of the blue.

With things being less stable between company B and parent company A then DH was led to believe, I would feel a lot better if he got this other job, even if the current one likely has better benefits. I'll take job security over slightly better benefits any day. Plus, company B told him to go for it if offered, because they are not sure if they are going to get their problems straightened out enough for parent company A to give them the work they could have with the contract, but aren't getting because of the screw-ups.

So hopefully DH will get this other job. I'm going to be praying pretty hard about it.

C1-360 Interest to the Emergency Fund

May 1st, 2017 at 06:40 pm

$26,477.87 Beginning EF
+__,_17.47 Interest Added
--------------------
$26,495.34 New Balance

Campbell's Has Ruined My Favorite Soup and Lost Me as a Customer

May 1st, 2017 at 05:44 pm

I really don't like it when companies do stupid things, especially ones that normally have a good reputation of producing quality products. I don't like spending my money only to get a nasty surprise.

Campbell's has ruined its Chicken and Stars soup. Gone are the little pasta stars that go down without chewing, perfect for the sore throats it has soothed for generations. In their place are those loathsome large pastas like they have in their cartoon character soups. Like the Spaghettio pastas. The ones my kids wouldn't touch when they were little despite the fact they were shaped like Dora and I choked down so they wouldn't go to waste.

The are very chewy, don't go down easy with a sore throat at all, in fact they hurt, and they don't taste good. Not only do they not taste good, they have changed the broth, too. Instead of being golden, it is orange.

Now I understand that they took out a bunch of the chemicals they used to have in their soup to make it better for us, but the soup never had food coloring in it to make it yellow. So removing the nasties from it should not have turned chicken soup orange or even have changed the flavor as much as it has. There are also globs of a darker orange consistency on top, though they did stir in once cooked.

Now the reason they have given for the change of the pasta is that there were complaints of the stars clumping, a non-problem if I ever heard one. I have been eating this soup since I was two and preparing it myself since I was nine. In all of those years, not once was there an issue of the stars clumping. And you know what stops pasta from clumping? Stirring. It's not rocket science.

Campbell's claims this is the reason though. I think not. I am sure there are more complaints about the change, and will be even more as more people realize what happened the next time they get sick and reach for the old favorite and get something gross, than there ever were for clumping pasta.

I think Campbell's has pulled a New Coke and hopefully it will go the way of the New Coke debacle if enough consumers protest. Oh, and here's the kicker. The normal stars are still available in their soup on the go with no plans to change it. Gee, don't those stars clump, too?

Soup on the Go is $2.79 a container. Because it is not condensed it works out to half the amount you would have with a condensed soup. The condensed Chicken and Stars soup runs at $1.79 a can, which is outrageous enough for 10.5 ounces of soup (product shrinkage again, too), considering most of their other soups are $1.29 a can. I'm not going to pay a whole dollar more for half the amount of soup. Until they change back, they have lost me as a customer. If they don't change back, then I'm done. 43 years of being a loyal customer means nothing to them, so no more of my hard earned dollars are going their way.

Emergency Fund Update

April 28th, 2017 at 09:41 pm

You can't imagine how much it made me smile to write that title again. I made a monthly deposit of $500 as well as a deposit of $34.50 from ones and rolled coin out of the coin jar.

And I'll get to make another one in a couple of days when the interest hits. Big Grin

$25,943.37 Beginning Balance
+__,534.50 Deposit
-----------------
$26,477.87 New Balance

Emergency Fund--Where It's At and Where It's Going

April 28th, 2017 at 01:57 pm

Alright, so after all is said and sifted, I am left with a grand total of $25,943.37 in savings. I have made the decision for it all to be the Emergency Fund and to have an empty Down Payment Fund for now. DH being unemployed set us back about 3 years, I think. There is no way we can think about moving at the moment, so I'm taking that fund off the table until I get the EF where I want it to be.

So where do I want it to be? By the end of this year I want it to be at $30,000. I'm not stopping there, either. Based on our expenses while DH was unemployed, we needed $6000 a month to survive. $1337 of that was for our monthly medical insurance premium, and about $650 was for medical out of pocket a month. So $2000 for medical each month and $4000 to pay bills and live on.

So we never figured he'd be unemployed more than 6 months and that wiped out our $20,000 Emergency Fund in 4 months. It would have been gone faster if we hadn't had a month without insurance. So my ultimate goal will be to have $72,000 in the EF, a full year of expenses. I know that will take a while to get to, and that's okay.

My incremental goals will be:

$30,000
$36,000
$42,000
$48,000
$54,000
$60,000
$66,000
$72,000

I figured that way divides it up into living expenses for a month. To hit $30,000 by the end of 2017 I need to deposit $500 a month for 8 months. I can do that. I will probably scrape up more here and there as well. I'd like it to be $1000, but I need to start paying Mom back on the loan, something that will take 3 years to pay off if we can swing $1000 a month. I still want it gone more than anything else.

Of course I will also set mini-goals for the EF. Every $1000 is what I used to do, so probably what I will do again. It will feel good to start making progress again each month instead of hemmorhaging money for 3/4 of a year.

Meal Planning for the Week

April 26th, 2017 at 02:35 am

I have switched my meal planning from Monday through Sunday, to Wednesday through Tuesday. That's because the sale adds come out on Tuesday and go active on Wednesday, so if I'm going to buy anything I can then incorporate it into my meal planning right from the start.

I was lucky this week that I not only found a lamb roast heavily marked down, but a non-GMO, free range, antibiotic free, not injected with anything to enhance it turkey for $25. It is 13 pounds, so that was less than $2 a pound. Usually this type of turkey sells for around $68. That is a savings of 64% of the original price. Plus they had a really good sale on organic bell peppers.

So all of those things heavily influenced my meal plan and were incorporated into it. We'll be using the other flank steak we got on markdown a couple weeks ago this week as well with the bell peppers.

Wednesday:
Baked Salmon
Steamed broccoli
Baked Root Vegetables
Strawberries

Thursday:
Roast Lamb
Steamed broccoli leftovers
Baked Potatoes
Pears

Friday:
Beef Carnitas (onions, peppers, tortillas)
Salad
Oranges

Saturday:
Turkey
Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Sunday:
Turkey Enchiladas
Salad
Oranges

Monday:
Leftover Turkey Casserole
Leftover Green Beans
Canned Pineapple

Tuesday:
Turkey Noodle Soup
French Bread
Cole Slaw
Oranges

Blood Test Results

April 25th, 2017 at 11:44 pm

The doctor did call and tell me that my ESR and CRP tests were both positive for massive inflammation, with a high sedimentation rate in the ESR, which is indicative of an autoimmune disease. The rate should be between 0 and 20. Mine is 45. My ANA is negative, which means I don't have lupus, thank goodness. That's the one that was positive on my daughter. My CRP is 29.2. Normal range is 0 to 7.9. My CMPA is normal. My thyroid is normal (it always is).

She thinks it is most likely to be rheumatoid arthritis, which is different in many ways from regular old osteoarthritis. Based on my symptoms that is the direction I was most heavily leaning myself. It definitely explains why sometimes I'm fine and sometimes I'm not. So now I need to make an appointment with the rheumatologist for me.

If it is not one thing it's another. Hopefully they can do something there to at least improve my quality of life. I know there is no cure.

Oh, and I am most definitely not allergic to peppers or tomatoes. She tested for that, too. It is good to know without a doubt. I am still wearing gloves when I cut them up.

Spring Cleaning Bug

April 24th, 2017 at 11:55 pm

Yesterday I got hit by the spring cleaning bug. My son and I reorganized 4 out of 5 of our cupboards and it is so much better now. We took everything out and wiped down all the shelves and then moved some things around. It is much easier to get to all of the storage containers now, not to mention the cups. We have one more upper cupboard to organize and four lower ones. One of the bottom ones was reorganized about two months ago, so it was fine.

I also redid the washcloth drawer and cleaned out the junk drawer so it can hold hand towels now. We got the kitchen floor cleaned off. I had some boxes of things that needed to be dealt with that were at one end of the kitchen and so I dealt with them and then there were some empty boxes that needed to be broken down and taken outside and a couple bags of canned goods that had never been put away. That got taken care of, too. The floor get well swept, but it still needs to be mopped. Hopefully I will have enough energy for that in couple of days.

I cleared a lot of stuff off of the long counter and put it away. Most of it does not need to be out all the time as it doesn't get used that often. So now all that is on that counter is the Kitchen-Aid, the crockpot, the Keurig, a box of storage lids and my rabbit medical kit. That last thing could find another home, but not until I get an additional bookcase in my room.

I did a lot of little things, like combining 3 partial bags of panko into one container, two partial bags of brown sugar into the canister, combining two containers of salt together, that sort of thing. I found the package of bucatini that went missing 3 months ago in a place I'm pretty sure my husband had to have put it, so now I can make pasta carbonara if the ducks ever start laying eggs again.

I reorganized the spices and the teas and the jams, the storage bags, crockpot bags, and oven bags, the freezer tins for cook ahead meals, and the numerous boxes of Clif bars, granola bars, fruit walked into a bar bars, etc., that everyone but me eats.

After I do the remaining cupboards, that just leaves me with about four boxes currently stored under the kitchen table to go through, my bedroom closet to finish, and the stack of boxes next to my armoire to go through. There is also a small section of the laundry room left, and a couple boxes in the hallway but once that is done, then the house should well and truly be tidy and organized. Except the kids' rooms which are slightly chaotic, but way better than they used to be.

I would like to get it all done before DH gets home, but that will depend on my energy levels. I got my test results back from the doctor and I definitely have something. But that is a post for tomorrow.

Shaking it Off

April 22nd, 2017 at 11:41 am

I think I might actually be starting on the upswing now with this head cold. I woke up feeling less tired than when I went to bed, it took less time to clear the gunk out of my nose and throat because there was less of it, and I had just enough energy to get a load of dishes and a load of laundry going. Of course, then I had to sit down because I am still a bit light-headed. I'll pace myself today, but if I can manage to get one more load of laundry and one more load of dishes done after this, I should be caught up. Unless I decide to change the sheets, but I may wait and do that tomorrow. Baby steps.

I watched the first season of Back in Time for Dinner. It was really interesting how food, its availability, its method of preservation and production and preparation all impacted family life and especially the lives of women.

I would have been quite frustrated during rationing and I know my family would have felt hungry with such small amounts of meat. We would have had to grow a lot of potatoes in our garden to make up for the lack. Potatoes will fill you when meat is scarce. The lack of fat would have been difficult, too. As farmers we would have been better off than most, but still...if we had to live under their exact conditions, than potatoes it would be.

I came away from the series with a greater appreciation of the abundance of fresh food we have today and the ease with which we can prepare it. It made me grateful I live now, with refrigeration and microwaves and freezers and dehydrators.

I see there are a couple more seasons available, so since I still have to rest a lot while I finish getting over this cold, I will probably tuck into those. I am getting a lot of granny squares crocheted for my bedspread so at least I don't feel completely unproductive.

I do have to go out and buy eggs at some point today. The birds are molting so I'm not getting any duck eggs at all. Or else they are hiding them again. I'm too sick to brave Costco on a Saturday. They have the cheapest organic eggs. I'm not even sure I want to brave Safeway on a Saturday, but I'll have to since Haggens is way too expensive for eggs. Plus I like the doughnuts at Haggens and they are hard for me to resist when I am sick and I am doing so well with the diet it is not worth putting them in my path. Maybe I can sit in the parking lot and just send my son in with a $20. That might be the easiest solution all around.

Managing

April 21st, 2017 at 09:48 pm

I was able to get myself down to the feed mill and back, but I can tell you that I was really glad that I wasn't doing it a couple days ago when this cold first hit. I had a bit more energy today, but still have had to take really long rest breaks.

I started making dinner at two. It was a stir-fry and I knew in order to get everything prepped I'd have to take it in stages with breaks in between. It wasn't too bad doing it like that and by the time 5:30 rolled around I had rested enough to do the actual cooking. It was good to have a whole meal that was healthy tonight instead of adding a salad to pizza or pasta.

DH figured out how to deposit his first paycheck over the internet. Since we don't have smartphones we've never been able to do the take a photo to deposit a check thing, but now our credit union has an app that allows a tablet to use it so he was able to deposit it that way. It won't show up until Tuesday, but that is better than waiting for it to show up in the mail.

His per diem will be on it as well as his training pay, but not his airfare reimbursement, so we will still have some money coming for that. It will be so nice not to have money being lost from savings anymore. These first couple months will still be tight because of medical, but once the new insurance kicks in July 1, I feel like we will be on the home stretch. I am not sure if we will be able to save any money until then, but at least we shouldn't have to take any more out.

DH seems to be enjoying his new job and liking the people he is working with, though there is a lot to straighten out to get things running smoothly. People seem to be real happy to have him there, which is always a good thing.

No Spend Day

April 19th, 2017 at 11:38 pm

Today was finally a no spend day, by dint of the fact that I didn't go anywhere or do anything. I spent the majority of the day resting. This head cold has really knocked me for a loop. I did manage to make lunch and dinner and do the evening rabbit check with my son. I also put one load of laundry that I washed last night into the dryer, where it remains. Considering how I am feeling, I call that a victory.

Tomorrow afternoon DD has a follow-up with the allergist, so that will be $50. And DH has to call in a feed order for turkey food for us to pick up on Friday, which will likely be around $100. Now that the mill has moved counties I have to buy in larger amounts so we are not making the trip all the time. It was a lot more convenient when it was just a couple miles from my house. I just hope I have the energy to drive down there Friday. I guess I'll have to. If I wait until Monday, the turkeys will be completely out of food.

I also have to pick up some black oil sunflower seeds for the rabbits as we are almost out. They get a tbsp of that each daily. It makes their coats glossy. It takes a long time to get through a bag, but we are almost there.

Speaking of the rabbits, the premature kit had his eyes open tonight, so now they all have their eyes open. He is also catching up in size to the smallest of the rest of the litter. They are moving into the too stinking cute stage now. Between two weeks and five weeks is when they are the most adorable.

The kids had to clean Gina's nose out tonight. I would have gone out if they had needed me, but fortunately they did not. Gina was so grateful. She'd managed to get mud lodged in her nostrils and was only breathing through her mouth. If you've never seen a turkey panting before, it is quite a sight. At first she was less than thrilled about being restrained, but once she realized what they were doing, she went completely limp and let them do it. She did her happy whistling trill afterwards.

George wasn't happy, but they'd had the foresight to lock him in the pen before they went after Gina. The last thing anyone needed was a protective tom going nuts on them. He's usually a mild-mannered fellow, but not if he perceives there is a threat to his mate.

I am well ahead of target for reading 50 books for the year. I am currently reading the latest Icicle Falls novel. My hold finally came in at the library. Of course once you go pick up one, that same night you get a notification that there are 4 more waiting for you that were not ready when you were actually there. Oh, well, free books are worth the trip and it is not that far.

Tax Question

April 19th, 2017 at 11:04 am

I am probably going to earn around $500 to $600 this year through youtube and adsense which is considered self-employment. If I put all of that money into an IRA will I still have to pay any taxes? I am still trying to figure out how the whole self-employment thing works.

Not Much to Report

April 18th, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Today I managed to drive DD to the doctor for the follow up on her eyes. That was a $50 co-pay. Then we went to the pharmacy to get the prescriptions I was too wiped out to pick up yesterday, and also got some psuedophedrine and a nasal rinse kit, so spent $31.91 there.

Then we stopped by the store and DD ran in and got some Breathe Easy and some Throat Coat tea from Traditional Medicinals, so that was $14.97.

I went to bed after we got back home, then got up briefly to tell DS where to dump the soil in the garden and then back to bed for a couple more hours, got up, cut up the rabbits we butchered last week and got them in the freezer, went back to bed again until night time, then went out with DS to take care of the rabbits, though I wasn't much more use than to do a belly check on the kits to make sure they were being fed (they were). And now I can't sleep. It's not like I slept during the day, either, just rested.

Dinner was TV dinners. I haven't done that in a very long time. Oh, well, a Fit Kitchen is still better than fast food or pizza delivery.

Spring Cold

April 17th, 2017 at 10:04 pm



Last night I started getting a scratchy throat and this morning I woke up with a full-fledged cold. Sometimes I think spring and summer colds are worse than winter ones, because in the winter all you want to do is hole up and rest and in the spring and summer you want to be out there doing things.

I went to the doctor this morning, so $30 co-pay. I really liked the new doctor. I was her first patient on her first day. She really listened to me. She decided to order blood work and they'll be testing for rheumatoid arthritis, nightshade allergies, thyroid, and a regular blood workup that checks cholesterol and all that. Maybe some other stuff. They drew five vials. I have a follow up with my own doctor on the 4th.

I was a little light-headed afterwards, but I don't know if that is from the head cold or the blood draw. I ate and laid down for 3 hours. I'm not sure if napped or not. If I did it was a surface sleep. I hope I sleep better tonight because I still feel exhausted.

Bonfire's litter is doing really well. Her four bio-kits all have their eyes open, and her foster kit is catching up in size, but may not open its eyes for another week, if I adjust its age for being premature. It could be 4 day to 7 days from now due to that. It's a lovely litter and the broken red is just gorgeous.

We need to replace 12 cages. That will be quite an expense, but I've put it off long enough and it needs to be done. I will probably replace 3 at a time, just so I don't have the cartons taking up a bunch of room while we build them out. It'll go slower with just me and DS putting them together, but I don't want to wait until DH gets back to get started. Hopefully, by the time the cages arrive I will be over my cold and able to put them together.

Tomorrow is a doctor's appointment for my daughter and I will have to pick up some prescriptions that I was too tired to pick up tonight. So more medical expenses. Yippee.

Good health and wellness forever eludes us. It's not so much to ask for is it? I'm tired of being tired and I'm sick of being sick. I am blessed in many aspects of my life. I sure wish this was one of them.

Somewhat Productive Day

April 16th, 2017 at 06:38 pm

I spent about 2 hours in the garden today and I will probably be paying for it for the next two days. I got all the strawberry plants that I had dug up and separated while DH was still home transplanted back into the garden. What had been in one 8 x 2 foot bed is now in three 8 x 2 foot beds and I have two 18 count flats worth of strawberry crowns still in 4 inch pots. I will probably sell them. The stores sell them for $1.50 a pot now so I can probably easily get 50 cents a plant.

After that I got about half of my copra keeping onions in. I need my son to add a bag of soil to the one end of the garden bed because it is much lower than the other before I plant the rest. I planted some blue lobelia, a blue harmony anemone, a purple and white cinnararia, and a blue and white cinnararia. I pulled some weeds, though there weren't very many in the raised beds, just a few.

I have some celery, curly-leafed parsley, and flat leafed parsley that I need to plant still, but I ran out of steam. I am really glad that dinner is in the crockpot. I made rack of lamb. All I did was cover it heavily with herbs de provence. I've made it several times before and it is always so falling off the bone tender and wonderful. I don't usually splurge for lamb, especially rack of lamb, but it was worth it for today. Sides are strawberries, broccoli, and baked sweet potatoes.

I am thinking of going...well, not exactly kosher, but eliminating all of the meats that were considered unclean in Leviticus. Which means bottom feeder fish, shellfish, and pork will be eliminated from my diet. Not sure about rabbit. Hare is excluded, but rabbit is a different species and not specifically mentioned. I think it probably is, though. We've been selling most of our rabbit anyway.

To be honest, sometimes having the rabbits really gets to me, like when we lose litters. Or during butchering time. Sometimes I think it would be nice to narrow down the numbers, keep a few for pets, a few for sales, and not have so much. But they pay for themselves and the family really enjoys the meat. So do I, but I do want to try this kinda kosher thing and see if it makes any difference to my health. I'd still make it for the others.

I can get on very well with the right kind of fish, chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, duck, goose, quail, etc. I eat mostly chicken and turkey anyway. I'd miss lobster, crab, and shrimp, but I don't eat much of that anyway because of the expense.

I see the doctor tomorrow morning. She's new in the practice. I am hoping she is not a ditz like one of the other female doctors and one of the other male doctors. I wanted to see my own doctor, but the receptionist thought I should get in for pain meds on Monday and we could figure out everything else from there. My doctor didn't have an opening this week, as usual. Who knows? If I like this woman, I may switch to her. I have no attachment to my own doctor. I'm lucky if I see him once a year and have no loyalty to him at all, though I like him.

I think I'll go to bed early tonight. I wish this exhaustion would stop. Two hours of fairly slow, but steady working, should not wipe me out this way.

I Don't Get It

April 15th, 2017 at 10:16 pm

I have never understood why it is that when you sign up with direct deposit with a new job, the first paycheck doesn't get direct deposited. In this day and age especially of quick electronic transactions, it doesn't make sense to me. Back in the day when this sort of thing was new instead of commonplace and they were still working kinks out it was a bit more understandable, but it should not be an issue anymore.

So while DH will get his first paycheck next week, it will be a paper check he will have to mail home. I was expecting that, though, and did not have any plans budget wise until the following week when he will get the second paycheck direct deposited.

It's going to be very weird going back to an income based budget. It has been 9 months living off of savings, the Christmas bonus, and the income tax return. I'm sure I will get back into the groove and be used to it again in no time, but it'll take some adjusting.

Except for automatic payments from the bank account I have been running everything through the credit card and then taking a chunk out of savings at the start of each month and paying it off. Watching the balance on the card made me more careful while savings was dwindling. I hope I maintain some of that carefulness as we go back to the previous method of doing things.

I have a feeling I'm going to want to spend freely when income starts rolling in again, and that is not something I want to have happen. We can't afford to do that if we want to get our goals accomplished, especially a 12 month Emergency Fund.

I'm not sure how fast that will happen, but it was certainly proven to us that $20,000 is not enough for a family of four when there is a prolonged job loss and you have to pay for your own insurance. My ultimate goal there is $72,000. That would give us $6000 per month to live on and pay for insurance. It took 10 years to get it to $20K the first time. I need it to get there sooner than that. It is just going to be hard figuring out how.

In other news, I missed my blogoversary. It was April 9th, 11 years and over 77.6 million hits ago that I started this blog. Seems like forever and just yesterday all at the same time.

Yesterday was Spendy

April 14th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

So my foot is doing a lot better after the needle incident. Boy howdy was it difficult to walk the first 24 hours. I felt it quite a bit yesterday, but today when I stood up I didn't feel it when I walked. I can still feel it if I press on it with my finger, but I don't need to do that. It looks good. We couldn't really flush the wound, but we did smear antibiotic ointment on either end and I see no signs of infection.

Yesterday was a long day for me. I had to go to Walgreens and pick up a prescription for my daughter, $5. Fortunately they have a drive-thru so I didn't have to get out of the car for that. Then we went to Lowe's which is right next door and picked up some bags of garden soil, 2 major power strips with surge protectors and large separations between some of the plug-ins so when you have the giant plugs that will normally cover two plug-ins or the weirdly shaped ones that go sideways like a phone charger cord that will do the same thing, that is not something that will be an issue unless you have more than 3 of those. It also has usb ports in them. I spent $110.66 there. The two power strips were $52 of that amount.

After that I went to Rite-Aid to buy a padded envelope and then to the UPS store to mail DH his computer cord that he left at home. That cost $77 to do 2-day air to Alaska. He needs his computer usable ASAP though, so not much choice there. I'm going to be double checking his stuff next time. I don't want to pay that again.

Then we went to Trader Joe's and spent $82.28 on groceries. After that I picked up my daughter (my son ran all the errands with me to make sure I didn't fall down) and took her to the lab for another blood draw while my son walked home from the lab because he wanted to go for a walk. It took us 40 minutes at the lab. This time it was 6 vials of blood for 29 tests, as opposed to the 8 vials of blood last time.

By the end of all that I was wiped out. All of my joints were aching,my leg muscles were very tight, and I felt like I'd been put through the wringer. I think I've got something auto-immune. Either rheumatoid arthritis or MS like Dad had. But we are too busy getting my daughter diagnosed to deal with my stuff right now. After she is sorted I'll deal with me.

I was too tired to cook dinner so we grabbed fast food which was another $30.47. I felt bad about it, but I woke up with so much brain fog I did not think ahead and make it a crock pot day. I had no resistance by then.

Today will be better. I've got the fixings for loaded baked potato soup and the potatoes are already chopped up, so aside from cooking the bacon and assembling the soup, there is not that much to do.

We do have one errand to run today, but it is somewhere that has ride on carts so that should make it easier on me. I've also got my ankle braces and knee brace on this time. That should help, too.

The 401K is Excellent

April 13th, 2017 at 06:15 pm

I think I mentioned in a previous entry that the 401K with this new job is amazing compared to what DH had previously, which was no matching at the last company and 50% up to 2% at the one before that. Company B provides 100% matching of the first 3% and 50% matching of the second 3%. So if we can contribute 6% we can get all of the matching they do. If we can contribute 7% it will substantially lower our taxes.

Unfortunately if we want to rebuild our Emergency Fund, pay back Mom, and save for the farm down payment, we cannot contribute that much money. We can swing 3%, though, and if DH gets raises in the future our goal will be to get that to 7% as soon as we can, even if we have to do it 1% at a time.

I had thought it had said that it would be 6 months before employer matching would start, but I reread it all today when I was actually more than half awake and I can't find that anywhere.

It's run through Fidelity. While I have heard the name before, I have no clue if they are a decent financial company or not. I'd prefer Vanguard, which we've had in the past, and has always struck me as the best. Charles Schwab was okay and who we had with Company A, but I still wasn't as happy with them as Vanguard. It's not like we get a choice in the matter, though. Does anyone know about Fidelity?

Meanwhile I am working on making up the new budget. DH ran all the numbers for me so we know what we will be getting as take home pay both before and after they start taking out medical and with 3% coming out for the 401K. Actually he ran them so I knew what it would be at 1% through 10%.

After the Emergency Fund is restored than maybe we can up the 401K as well. We are so far behind with retirement savings. Plus in the next 2 years I have to save some more in the College Fund for DS to go to the technical college for the 2 year welding program. He will be working to save for it as well soon enough.

And DH wants to start on his BS. He'll only be able to do one class at a time so we can cash flow it, but that is okay. Each class is accelerated and takes 7 weeks if I remember correctly. It may take a while, but we have a little over 4 years before Company B's contract is up with parent company. Hopefully he can get it done in that amount of time.


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