For Thanksgiving DH's work gave us a $40 gift card and for Christmas they gave us another $40 gift card to Safeway. Safeway is quite a ways away from us and requires an hour round trip and 3 gallons of gas. Well, I pulled one out today and gave it a good look.
It's also good for Von's. We don't have one of those at all near us, but there is one near the condo in Anaheim. In fact that is the very store we planned on going grocery shopping at. So we for sure have $80 on gift cards we can use and possibly $9 left from one we didn't use up last year, assuming it didn't expire or something. Cutting our grocery expense by almost $100 for something that was going to be a hassle just to use is great.
We got an offer from Disney Visa today, too. If we open their credit card and spend $500 in the first 3 months we get a $200 Disney gift card to use. So I am thinking about doing that and using it to pay for our Parkhopper tickets, easily hitting the $500 three times over. And if we use it at the park a lot of stuff will be 10% off. Then we can just pay it off when the bill comes. Having an extra $200 to spend at Disneyland would be nice.
If they'd accept the gift card in the restaurants that would be great. We want to do Ariel's Grotto because you can reserve for the time they are doing the Colors show and it's supposed to be great seats. But Ariel's Grotto is like $45 per person, which multiplied by 7 people is going to be expensive. It could bring the price down from $315 to $115.
We have decided to skip Blue Bayou altogether this year. It is too pricey now and since we can get the Monte Cristo sandwich at Cafe Orleans for $7 less and no split plate fees (because half of one of those is enough for one person) we'll do it. You can see the restaurant from the Pirates ride anyway. The only way we might do Blue Bayou is if we just went for dessert, which is still $8 per item. But I think we can give SIL and her daughters the idea of it just from the ride and we'd rather spend for Ariel's Grotto, which will also have princesses roaming about, then just a nice riverside dinner.
Archive for December, 2012
For Thanksgiving DH's work gave us a $40 gift card and for Christmas they gave us another $40 gift card to Safeway. Safeway is quite a ways away from us and requires an hour round trip and 3 gallons of gas. Well, I pulled one out today and gave it a good look.
Well, it's nowhere near the $57,010.88 of principal debt we paid off in 2011, but that had extenuating circumstances. I still think we did a good job with paying off over $21K of principal in 2012.
$18,544.28 Mortgage Amount as of 12/31/11
-14,948.33 Mortgage Amount as of 12/31/12
$__3,595.95 Amount Paid Off in 2012
$20,228.79 Amount of Credit Card Debt as of 12/31/11
$12,514.07 Amount of Credit Card Debt as of 12/31/12
$-7,714.72 Amount Paid Off in 2012
$87,000 Amount Owed to Mom as of 12/31/11
-77,000 Amount Owed to Mom as of 12/31/12
$10,000 Amount Paid Off in 2012
So I paid off a total of $21,310.67 in principal this year. I have no idea what I paid in interest, but it was a lot. I have $104,462.40 left to go. All but $5200 of the credit card debt will be paid off by the end of January. That will leave me with a 0% loan from Mom, a 0% $5200 credit card debt (well, $5100 since I will pay off $100 of that in January), and the mortgage which is currently just under $15K.
As usual I am not including the car loan. I never have included car loans. Probably because if we had to sell it and not have one it wouldn't affect our bottom line. We barely drive as it is. We have 12,000 miles on our car and it is a 2010 and probably 4000 of that was on driving vacations, which again, could be easily cut without affecting our bottom line. I may put it up there after everything else is paid off, but I consider it more or less a fixed expense. It's at 1.9%.
Mom still wants the steady $1000 a month so she has a steady income stream to go with her social security check and can put a little in the bank for emergencies, so she doesn't want us paying it off early. So that is another 6 years and 4 months worth of payments to go. This will be the first year where we shouldn't have to take a month or two off from paying her back, due to high medical bills.
We also paid a little over $12,500 in medical expenses out of pocket, $6500 (the HSA amount) of which we will get back on our tax refund.
By the end of March or April (depending on whether or not taxes will be refunded promptly) I can pay off the last of the CC debt. And then just deal with the mortgage, the car loan, and Mom. So two secured debts and no unsecured debts. Well, I suppose technically the loan from Mom is unsecured, but she's my mother and there is no way on God's green earth that I will not pay her back. So that loan is very secure, so to speak.
So I will be focusing on the mortgage and the EF after CC's are gone. I'd like to get that finished off by the end of 2013 unless we manage to sell it. We should be able to do that with no credit card debt left. Also will be building the college fund.
On the hard ice cream maker front, the ice cream hardened right up after placing it in the freezer. 2 hours later it was as hard as hard ice cream from the grocery store. Nothing at all like the soft ice cream that your typical ice cream makers produce. I tried a taste of it today and it was delicious and the texture was perfect. And the ingredients cost less than Haagan Daas, so we now can have a nice, safe, all-natural organic ice cream that won't make those of us in this house with food allergies sick.
Here's the meal planning for the week:
Beef and vegetable stir-fry
Turkey and vegetable soup
Baked chicken legs
Stir-fried green beans
Baked potato soup (bacon is the protein)
Homemade pizza (homemade sausage, onion, and bell pepper)
Wild caught salmon
Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Drop biscuits with homemade jam
I finished knitting DS's scarf. Yellow is his favorite color and it is a hard one to find at a store. It was hard enough finding bright yellow yarn. This one is a single thickness.
This is one I made previously and I did fringe on that one. DS didn't want fringe on his as he thought it was too girly. It's a deep rust or copper color and a double thickness as well.
Now I'm working on one for DD, but the pattern on the yarn wrapper does not actually match the yarn, which is supposed to be purple for so many rows and then black for one row and then purple again. It says fourteen per row but it really needs twenty and it does make a difference so I am going to have to unravel it and start over. This annoys me, but oh, well. Life goes on.
On Christmas DH's FIL forgot to put the turkey neck into the roaster (or maybe didn't because it was still frozen). Last night I put it in the crockpot with some water and DS and I split it for lunch. I can't believe the amount of meat on a turkey neck, I always forget. And it is so tender and flavorful. Anyway, to the juices left in the crockpot I added all of the turkey carcass bones that I'd frozen along with all of the peels I've been saving for the last few months (onions, carrots, garlic) and some celery leaves, salt and pepper and filled it to the top with water, so it is cooking down for a total of 20 hours.
Tomorrow I will make soup with half the stock and freeze the rest. I wish I had some fresh parsley for it, but I'll add some parsley flakes to the finished stock. I am defiitely planting parsley next year. Right now I'm looking at potatoes, celery, carrots, and an onion for it. I don't think we'll be adding noodles this time, just lots of potatoes. I might even thicken it to make stew. This will be the last of the turkey, so we will have used every part. The chickens got the organs. I am very happy to have had a zero waste turkey this year, considering how much it cost.
We made a simple ice cream recipe in my new hard ice cream maker. It's definitely harder than soft serve, but still not as hard as hard ice cream from the store, but that might have been because we didn't do a custard base, we just did a simple one of 1 pint cream, 1 pint half and half, 1 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract. It will freeze all the way up overnight though and I'll see how the end result is. I haven't tasted it, but everyone else did and pronounced it good but light on the vanilla.
Their website has all kind of recipes for it, regular ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, and sauces. I'll experiment with recipes until I find ones that freeze harder. There was a note with the recipe for Champagne sorbet that said that the alcohol will make it thaw quicker, so I am wondering if maybe that was part of the issue, since pure vanilla extract is basically vodka and a vanilla bean.
I probably won't eat too much of it since I'm trying to stay away from sugar more and not become diabetec, but there was one sorbet that used strawberries and 2 tbsp honey that might not be too bad. I won't even have to wait until summer since I have strawberries from the last season in the freezer. (I usually won't buy fruit out of season because of the cost).
Got a bill from the podiatrist, $114, for DS's toenail thing. That's for two visits and he spent a half hour with us both times. Since my podiatrist is way out of network the insurance didn't cover it. Still, he's the best and my family has an established relationship with him. Plus $57 per visit? I mean, who still does that? No one. Most doctor's charge $90 or more around here. Anyway, I mailed that off.
DH took the kids to Kmart today. DS got two more pairs of sweatpants and one more pair of PJ's. DD got one more pair of PJ's. They should both be set now for the rest of the winter. Stuff was marked down even more than the other day. DH ended up spending $48.87. I forgot to give him the saving's card again. Oh, well. I need to start keeping it in the checkbook, I think.
DH also picked up a prescription for himself, $2.50 and toiletries and cleaning and laundry supplies for $61.34. The latter stuff is all unscented, coloring free, natural stuff because of DS's chemical sensitivites and allergies so a bit more expensive, but we shouldn't have to buy it again for quite some time.
DD has volunteered to cut DS's and DH's hair tomorrow. We have a clipper so it's not like you can go wrong much with that and she's getting to be as good at it as I am. I just don't want to do it right now with a swollen knee.
I still haven't watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. I guess I am not quite the fangirl I once was in the Eccleston and Tennant years. I still hope to watch it tomorrow, though. I haven't watched anything since before Christmas. Who has time for TV right now?
I received a $5 Amazon giftcard from Swagbucks and cashed out for another one yesterday. I think that about covers it.
We have actually managed pretty well with the portable heaters. I mean it wasn't comfortably warm or anything, but it wasn't freezing either. Just more sort of adequate. Fortunately the new control board for the furnace came in a lot earlier than they claimed it could get here and the guy came out and installed it around 2. It is nice to actually be warm again. I think that's something we can really take for granted sometimes until it's no longer there.
Some expenses that have gone out this week:
$50.47 for 3 prescriptions
$90.00 for physical therapy
Also $76.95 to AMEX which had a couple of autopays go through before I could cancel one and switch the other to the BoA card. The holidays made me absent-minded. Or maybe I'm just naturally absent-minded. It has a zero balance again and I don't plan to use it for gas until the BoA is paid off.
And $30 to DD for last week's and this week's allowance. Also 4 cents to DS who has finally paid off his advance and will resume getting his full allowance next week. As of next week the kids have to start banking half of their allowances for Disneyland.
Finally got through the preface of the book I got for Christmas. The review at Amazon said it was written from a Christian perspective, but I think it's coming off more like he's a religious whackadoodle. If it doesn't tone it down some I may not make it through the rest of the book. So far the writer does not come off as the sort of Christian that I strive to be, certainly. More the type that I tend to look at and think please get out of my religion, the type that makes that verse about not judging others very difficult to apply. At this point I am glad I did not purchase it myself. I hope it gets better. I hate to think it was a total waste of my SIL's money.
I do plan to get back to the food stamp challenge menus soon, but I totally torqued my knee on Christmas day and so it's making it hard for me to concentrate for the amount of time it takes to devote to one of those. It is getting better but is still swollen and sore. Hopefully it will continue to improve.
DH and I have been planning out more of our Disneyland trip. We have a hotel narrowed down for our overnight in Seattle. It has a hot breakfast included (not continental). That was the last thing that needed to be booked.
The chickens are doing really well. Finally put a light in a week or two ago. Today we got 10 eggs out of 12 chickens. Not bad. I miss Lady, though. She is doing well at the new farm, but I still miss her. She was my favorite duck and such a sweetheart.
Well, it's not really as bad as all that, I don't have to pay for it, but the furnace stopped working. It has to do with a control board, not the actual furnace itself, but it will be a week before they get the part. It is cold in the house. So DH and I broke our no shopping on Boxing Day rule and went to Lowe's (the parking lot was pretty empty) and bought two ceramic space heaters, spending $54.86. One is for the bathroom, which was registering at 40 degrees F and the other for the living room which has three huge windows and was about 45 degrees F. It is 34 degrees outside and raining ice.
There were already space heaters in two of our bedrooms and Mom had another one for the third bedroom. Fortunately for her there is a gas fireplace at her end of the house so she has it cranked and is doing just fine.
I certainly miss having a wood stove though. It's hard to keep our wing of the house warm, even with the heaters, sweaters and blankets. It'll be fine once we go to bed and can keep the doors shut. A wood stove would have had us toasty within 30 minutes. If our new house doesn't have one we are going to install one of the ones you can stick in a corner of a room and vent directly outside instead of up a chimney.
I've run the numbers to see exactly how I will pay off the BoA VISA in the month of January. I will be using the money in the freezer fund to help with this, so:
$2000 on January 4th--$1000, from the freezer fund and $1000 from the extra money set aside for January that I don't need now that the AMEX has been paid off.
$2000 out of the January 11th paycheck.
$2000 out of the January 18th paycheck.
$2000 out of the January 25th paycheck.
That will pay it off even with DH charging a new plane ticket, travel food, and motel cost for his overnight stay in Anchorage.
In February I will need to take $1252 along with the money I have saved in the vacation fund, $400, to buy 7 parkhopper tickets for Disneyland/California Adventure for our planned March trip. So while there will be some debt repayment to the last card, the Chase card, it will be closer to $500 for this month, I think.
When we get our taxes back, it should be close to what we got back last year, which was $8,425. Most of this was caused by deducting the entire HSA amount since we spent so much on medical. The same will be true this year. DH's income should be about the same, maybe off by a few hundred dollars.
About $3000 of that money will go towards Disneyland. The condo is free, the airfare was mostly free, and what wasn't was taken care of a few months ago. That probably seems like a lot of money, but I am overbudgeting to be on the safe side. We will be renting a limo to get us to and from the airport. It actually turns out to be cheaper to do that than to divide seven people and their luggage between two cars.
The only cheaper option is to take one of those buses that stops at every single hotel near Disneyland (and yours is always the last one), but those are always so full you never get to sit with your family and with four children, two of which have anxiety issues, that is not an option. The nine passenger van doesn't have enough room for us and our luggage.
Once we have settled into the condo DH and I will leave SIL with the kids and take a taxi to the nearby Von's to do some grocery shopping. We plan on eating breakfast at the condo and most of our dinners, then purchasing lunch in the park. It will cut food costs substantially.
DH and I have determined to buy everyone one sweatshirt, one t-shirt, a Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run beach towel and one set of mouse ears as souvenirs. Also autograph books and pens for the kids.
We will need to rent two motel rooms for the night in Seattle before we fly and we will also need to pay for airport parking of two cars when we get back. Also one meal at the airport at least.
Plans for what is left of our tax return after Disney money is taken out is to put $1500 in the Emergency Fund and $3500 towards Chase. I will have an additional $500 from March's pay cycle to pay off Chase completely.
And at that point we will start saving and building the EF and paying down the mortgage which will be under $14K at that point. Currently $1000 is going towards principal every 2 months, so I'd like to make that $1000 towards principal every month until it is either paid off or the house sells. I will also be trying to save $1000 each month for college and will ear mark the tax refund after this one to college savings as well.
3 months and the future begins, unfettered by the credit card debt of years. At least as long as Murphy keeps to himself and all goes well.
I wasn't sure quite how it was going to go when SIL and her daughters didn't show up until 3 hours late and then elder neice walked in with an attitude and an angry outburst with her mother. I talked to her the way that I always talk to my own chldren when they get upset, and managed to soothe her down into agreeableness for the rest of the night. I honestly don't think that most of the adults in her life actually talk to her, ask her about what's going on in her life and then listen. She has always seemed to appreciate the fact that I do take that time with her.
Younger niece is just as gorgeous as ever. I think she's 5'10 now and she's really got the looks for modeling. She wants to be an actress though. She's been in quite a few local productions and she hasn't even turned 14 yet. She's super smart though, taking a couple high school classes in the 8th grade. I'm sure she'll go to college. Not sure about her sister.
Everything went pretty well. We ended up using our bird after all as making it earlier didn't work out. This was the best turkey I have ever tasted. It's miles above even the organic ones from the supermarket. It was a heritage breed, sustainably raised on organic feed and allowed to free range and graze for bugs and worms and grass. We got it at the same farm we buy our beef, chicken, and pork from, Skagit River Ranch. We got a 14 pounder. Next year I think we will get two turkeys and aim for 17 pounders. We'll be saving up for it, that's for sure.
I can't wait to make stock with the bones tomorrow and then turkey noodle soup and turkey vegetable soup the next day. It is going to be so good. Stock made from their chickens is excellent and since the turkey had such good flavor I know it will be even better than that.
We sent quite a bit of food home with SIL. She says she ought to get a week's worth of meals out of it for herself. The girls don't eat turkey though they both tried this one and proclaimed it better than the other ones. And we left quite a bit with FIL and MIL, too. But there is still plenty for us to have a few more meals out of it. We shouldn't need to do any grocery shopping this week at all. In fact I'm hoping to extend that to the New Year.
I was happy with the gifts they gave me, 4 albums downloaded and an additional 5 songs to my ipod. This kitchen gadget that makes cake balls. It's sort of like a George Foreman grill. Kind of weird but it might be kind of fun to use. And the book Surviving Off--Off Grid Living: The Decolonizing of the Industrial Mind by Michael Bunker. I've been wanting it for a while and the library doesn't have it.
Everyone liked the gifts they were given as well and we had a really nice time. We even told the Christmas story which I don't think has ever happened at MIL's before. AND FIL said grace. Wonders never cease.
As is our custom, my immediate family (me, DH, DD, DS and my Mom) opened our Christmas presents today around noon. It was nice and laid back, everyone got what they wanted and there were no surprises. I had a nice roast in the crockpot going for dinner and accompanied it with French fries and tater tots for the kids and some green beans. Simple, easy, and a peaceful dinner was had by all. Tomorrow we will be going out to spend the day with MIL, FIL, SIL, and 2 nieces. It will probably not be as peaceful, but the food will be more traditional.
I've been thinking about the short-term future, about 3 months down the line. By then we should have our BoA card paid off which will just leave the Chase card. That is our 0% interest card for 18 months. We have been paying $100 a month on it while throwing everything else at AMEX and BoA. It will have $5000 left on it come March.
Our tax refund will be quite substantial again this year. Part of this is due to the fact that we will be able to claim the maxed out HSA for medical once more. The other reason why we tend to get back so much has to do with how DH works. Even though he only works 15 12 hour days straight out of every 28, each pay period is taxed as if he was getting that same paycheck every week. There is some payroll law responsible for this and there is nothing we can do about it. We've tried. It's been this way for the last sixteen years.
Anyway, so the tax refund is going to be more than enough to pay off the $5000 on the Chase card. I am just wondering if it would be wiser to do that or to dump the money into the Emergency Fund and then continue to pay off the Chase card at a rate of $1000 a month, which we will have available since the other cards will be zeroed out.
I don't really like the idea of keeping that debt until August, yet at the same time it's at 0% until 2014 and the savings account is at .75% interest. Running with a low Emergency Fund has always bothered me. DH is on contract for another 3 years in an industry that is, despite the economic depression, booming, so job security is high. I know we will be able to build the EF pretty quickly once all the debt is gone.
Still, debt is debt and I hate it. We've been under it so long. I guess I have a couple more months before I have to make a decision.
I have finished up my course of antibiotics for the UTI and it feels like it is gone. I have been back to eating protein and vegetables at each meal with the one fruit at one meal for 3 days and I started the high cholesterol drug today. I've lost 7 pounds. I am also pushing the water. I am generally feeling better than I have since my tooth forced me to stop eating right last August, though I am still tired. The newly crowned tooth is still sensitive to cold, but it doesn't hurt to chew at all now.
Tomorrow may be a draining day for me and difficult to handle regarding food, but I am planning no fruit tomorrow and instead 1/2 cup of potatoes and gravy and 1/2 cup of stuffing with my turkey and green beans. The potatoes will be real, the gravy will be homemade, and the stuffing will be made by me, so I know exactly what is in everything. I don't care for pie so that will not be a temptation.
If there are cookies or fudge I will just need to keep firmly in mind how close I am to having diabetes and that this is not an option for me right now. Fortunately I am not a big sweets eater anyway, starch has always been my downfall. Although I do like my ice cream, but that's going to have to be a once a week treat with a balanced meal from here on out.
Happy Christmas to everyone!
I received another $5 gift card to Amazon from Swagbucks today. I should be getting another one in a day or so. Right now my gift card balance is at $60 and I've earned $70 worth for the year. Not bad when I've only been doing this for a few months. I might get another one before the year is up if I really push the SBTV for the next couple days whenever I am online. Assuming it works properly.
I forgot that we would be getting reimbursed from MIL for the gifts we bought for her to give to our kids and us. She can't get out of the house like she used to and internet shopping isn't really her thing. Anyway, she gave us a check for $313. That was on top of the $100 she gave to DH, so hopefully the credit union will be open on Monday. I know that one of our CU's is open until noon on Monday, but it's not the one we do the major banking at, it's the one we do the easily accessible portion of our EF at (the Safety Net).
If our main CU is open then I will deposit that money and be sending another payment to the credit card. So far this month I have sent $2500 to the BoA Visa. We will send the $313 to the BoA Visa and if DH is ammenable the $100 as well. Then I think we will have enough at the end of the month to send an additional $1000. I'm still debating about using the $1000 in the freezer fund to send to it. I can replenish that $1000 when our income tax return comes.
It is hard for me to spend saved money, but we really don't need the new freezer yet. And we do need to get out of debt. I set aside $2500 for first of month bills, but with AMEX now paid off the monthly $500 for that can go to the credit card as well. Any of the money I set aside for early January that doesn't go to bills or groceries will go to that Visa as well. If I do all of that then we should be able to have that card paid off by the end of January. I want it gone.
I don't think I'll need to do much in the way of grocery shopping between now and our next paycheck on January 11, other than picking up some milk, fish, and a few vegetables. Although if I have the chance to pick up some canned pineapple, oranges, and toilet paper from Costco, I'd like to swing that. I wouldn't go there until the 27th or 28th. No way am I going out on Boxing Day. It's almost as bad as going out on Black Friday. Dangerous. We have plenty of meat in the freezer so I shouldn't need to buy any protein.
I am anxious to push through to the next month. I also want to see what the higher income tax is really going to do to us. I'm thinking we'll lose about $200 a month out of our net take home pay. It would be nice if they renewed that lower tax rate, but I'm certainly not holding my breath that the..."gentlemen" in DC are going to get anything done. Except allowing the Fed to print more money backed by nothing but air.
Honestly, all that stuff going on in DC is making it more important to us than ever to pay off our consumer debt. It'll make their fingers in our wallets a little easier to cope with. Plus I've had a weird sort of paranoia about having debt on credit cards for the last year. Like there was something about the middle of 2014 that was going to happen that would make it very bad for us to be holding a lot of credit card debt. It's just a feeling in my gut and I'm pretty sure it's an irrational one, but it's there and it's driving me to finish getting this gone.
Just letting you know I am pulling together week 3 of the Food Stamps Challenge. I may not get it posted before Christmas though. Those posts require quite a bit of planning. I have been working on it though and also have my selections ready for one that will be $40 for 10 days in a situation where you have limited storage and cooking options, like just a microwave and a burner. I'm also comtemplating what one would do during a holiday or a birthday or an unexpected guest, so those might follow along eventually.
DH and I finished off the Christmas shopping last night. The mall wasn't nearly as crowded as I thought it would be. We kind of stuck to the outside wings of the mall though without venturing too far into the heart of it. We picked up season one of Bones for elder niece and an imitation leather jacket for younger niece that was 35% off. The gift card for SIL was picked up this morning. So now all we have to do is wrap. DH said he'd go out to storage and get the paper, bows, and labels tonight after rush hour had cleared out. We still need to buy tape.
Last night I also took DH out to dinner with some of my saved allowance money. Left a big tip for the server as he was excellent and it is the holidays. It was lovely to be able to eat steak again. I love being able to chew again on both sides of my mouth. The crowned tooth has settled right down and there has been no pain since I woke up Friday. I still have a bit of sensitivity to hot and cold though, so I need to be a little careful of temperature.
DH's parents got some money from one of the investments originally held by MIL's parents and they passed along $100 each to DH and SIL. Not sure what we'll do with it. I'd like to put it towards the credit card, but DH might have other ideas.
Or in my case the chew chew train. I woke up today without my tooth hurting. I took 2 oxycodone yesterday and nothing today, so that should give you a hint at what a change this is. I still have a sensitivity to cold on the newly crowned tooth, but other than that my tooth feels pretty decent and that is expected to improve by the weekend. This is so nice.
Now I can eat protein again and less carbs, which means I can get back to healthier eating. I haven't been able to eat raw vegetables for a while, just cooked. Now I can shift my diet back to lean proteins and vegetables with one fruit a day. I'm glad of that because I managed to gain back most of the weight I had lost while unable to chew properly.
I got my blood work results back. I'm not anemic. I do have high cholesterol for the first time and I have a feeling that has to do with all the soft carbs I've been eating. The doctor ordered me some meds and will retest me in 3 months. I was also close to diabetes, which I never have even come close to before, so I think getting back on my protein and veg style of eating will improve that as well.
My vitamin D was low so I'll be taking 6000 IU a day. They forgot to check my thyroid so the doctor is calling them to see if they still have the blood to run that. It was on the form so I don't know why they didn't run it. Hopefully I won't have to go back to the vampires for more blood to be drawn.
The doctor says that being close to the line for diabetes could explain my exhaustion and dizziness and always feeling thirsty. Since all of my symptoms starting coincide with when my tooth hurt so bad I started eating only soft foods, that sounds about right. Being close to having diabetes can also cause tremors.
As of today I am back to eating right and hoping that those other symptoms will go away as my diet straightens out and I lose the weight I gained back.
The doctor said the prescription for high cholesterol is expensive so he called me in a 90 day supply so I can get it now while our deductible is met. In two more weeks it goes up to full price until our new deductible is met. After that if it costs too much he will give me samples. Of course come March we'll have a lot more room in the budget for expensive pills.
December broccoli!!!!!! What is with this weather system? I am grateful for it as it means less money spent on produce, but it is downright weird. And the sprouting broccoli is still making new heads. We had a smattering of snow yesterday (didn't stick) and yet I am still harvesting broccoli.
I went to the dentist today and they had the permanent crown ready so he took off the old one, cleaned up the adhesive then put in the new one, took it off and adjusted the bite, repeated this for four times and then finally it was right. I did not choose to have novacaine. I probably should have because it didn't stop hurting for 4 hours. But I didn't want to spend my day with a frozen face. And it was uncomfortable and a bit painful, but not something I couldn't deal with.
After that he adjusted my night guard so that it wasn't resting weird against the new tooth. I ended up paying $200 at the dentist and will be making another payment in January and one in February. Then on February 7 I'll be having the cracked molar on the other side taken care of. That should give me about a month with the new crown before we go to Disneyland.
After the dentist I went to the vampires and had two tubes of blood drawn. I had a great phlebotomist. Found the vein first try and everything. Now that I'm showing no signs of the UTI infection I can have all those blood panels done and see if we can't get to the bottom of my exhaustion and tremors.
Lady the duck has gone to live at another farm today. The woman had lost one of her ducks, and she had a very lonely drake as well as another mated pair, so if all turns out well, Lady will adapt to the new place. If she does not we'll take her back. But she's got two different creeks to swim in and a bigger area to roam. I will miss her, but I think she will be happier there. Plus they have a dog trained to protect their ducks and 21 chickens from predators. It's a sad decision, but she really was missing her dead flock mates. As much as she got on with our flock of chickens it wasn't the same for her. I am sad and I will miss her, but it seems like the best thing for her.
As much as I wanted the BoA card to be gone, I just could not stomach draining all of my funds to do so. DH and I decided to go ahead and pay off the AMEX so I did that last night. I'm just waiting for it to show up on the accounts now. We feel pretty good about the decision and it's one less payment to make. Usually we use the AMEX as our gas card, but I think I'm going to keep it unused until the BoA is paid off and just pay cash for gas. It feels good to have one card gone.
I think I will still probably use the $1000 in the freezer fund on something else, though. I've been thinking about that for a while now. I have come to the conclusion that I really don't want to get the chest freezer while we are still living here. I want to get it after we've moved into our next home. It is so easy for a freezer to get banged around during a move or for something to go wrong with it. I'd rather only have it go from the store to it's final destination. Plus if we were to get it now, it would have to go into the unheated garage and that violates the warranty.
I don't want to touch the other funds though. I'm just paranoid something is going to happen and I'll need to drain my funds for something else. Like another unexpected medical or dental bill. The way my tooth is hurting even with the temporary crown, I think I'm defintely looking at a root canal. Ugh. So I want to have the money for that if I can't pull it out of the budget somehow.
I really wish the tooth would stop hurting. It was so bad last night I ended up breaking into my bottle of oxycodone that was left over from my surgery in the summer of 2011. First time I didn't feel any pain there in a very long time. I will mention how much it has been hurting when I go back to the dentist tomorrow and maybe he will prescribe something less potent but strong enough to stop the pain.
DH's bonus came in the mail today and it was definitely not 10% of income like the rumor going around said it would be. It wasn't even as much as last year's 5% of income, which was what I was really expecting. Apparently a lot of people didn't even get them at all. Still DH got a decent bonus of $3603.95. So now I have to decide what to do with it.
Originally I was figuring it would be enough to wipe out the BoA card. It's not. It is enough to wipe out the AMEX, though, which has $3615.14. I can easily cover that $12 bucks over.
My other option is to just put it on the BoA anyway, which will cut it down a fair bit. I was looking at all of my funds and if I emptied the freezer fund ($1000), the propane fund ($240.35), the vacation fund ($400), the property tax fund ($200), and the Mac Book fund ($400), took $523.80 from the EF (and dropped it back down to $1000), took $1000 from this coming Friday's payday and took $176.77 from what I still have in checking, I could wipe out the BoA. I'd be able to refund my funds by April.
Then I could pay off the AMEX next month with the extra paycheck from the extra week DH is working in January. Paying off the BoA VISA first would be a psychological victory, because I hate having debt with the evil empire, although I suppose all credit companies fall under the evil empire moniker, but I am wary of draining my different funds. Paying off the AMEX first without draining my funds seems like a better option. Both cards have the same interest rate. If I don't drain my funds, I should still have both cards paid off by the end of February regardless, or March at the latest.
My head is saying just pay off the AMEX then slam everything else to the BoA Visa for the next two months without draining the funds. My heart is saying it wants that BoA Visa to be gone. Gah. What a first world country problem to have.
Oh, screw it. I'm paying off the AMEX. Then it is done and can go back to being a gas card only.
Today I am starting to feel a bit better. I've been on antibiotics for 72 hours now and while I'm still draggy, I felt good enough to do a few chores. When Mama goes down not a lot gets done or only gets done minimally. The sink is empty, the table is cleared, the canned goods from the big grocery shop last weekend are put away and the multiple reusable grocery bags are on the back door handle, ready to go out to the car the next time someone goes out. There is laundry going for the first time in a week. And I hope to finish knitting DS's scarf tonight. Then I will start on DD's scarf and after that DH's protective Nook cover.
I feel like I just might be capable of making meals this week or at least directing DH and the kids through the process. So I'm going to be optimistic and do a meal plan. You will likely note a lot of softer foods this week. My temporary crown came off on Friday and while I got it back on and it seems secure, I'm not tempting fate because it still hurts.
Except for the canned pineapple everything is in my 100 mile foodshed. I am still harvesting broccoli from the garden. This has been an extremely bizarre fall.
Beef chuck pot roast (crockpotted for tenderness)
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Pears (found a can in the cupboard, last one)
Bacon cheeseburgers (well, no bacon on mine, too chewy) on homemade rolls
Homemade French fries
Pineapple (last can)
Homemade meatballs made from pork and lamb (last package)
Homemade spaghetti sauce (made with home canned tomatoes)
Homemade pizza (leftover spaghetti sauce, mozzarella, ham, bell peppers, onions)
Scrambled egg sandwiches
Drop biscuits with homemade apricot jam
Sunday--Early Christmas Dinner
Mashed potatoes and gravy
TJ's canned corn
Homemade sugar cookies (the kids will make the day before)
I am trying not to be too overly ambitious, but these are all things that can be easily handled by the others if I overdo it. Even the homemade rolls.
DH ordered his mother's gift today and got free shipping from B&N website. It came to $39.95. His father will be getting a $40 gift card to Lowe's. My FIL is notoriously hard to shop for. He should be easy. He collects nutcrackers, but every year he goes out and buys them for himself, so even if you've perused his collection and then go to look for something unique, he's already bought it and just not put it up. Extremely frustrating. So we're not even going to try this year. And FIL will definitely use the Lowe's card.
I also ordered my Christmas present, a hard ice cream machine. I'm down to one brand of ice cream that DS and I can eat due to recent ingredient changes, and Haagan Daas is expensive. It's got a built in refrigeration unit and makes 1.6 quarts at a time. It cost $250.93 and I got free shipping. This also counts as my birthday present in February. I just combined the two budgets together. There's just not that much that I want or have space for. And if there was I have $154 of my allowance saved.
We still need to buy Christmas presents for our 2 nieces on DH's side. He's getting an updated list from his sister today. We will be doing the same thing as we did last year for his sister, getting her a $200 Target gift card.
$200 seems like a lot for one person outside the immediate family (actually, it's a lot for a person inside the immediate family, too!), but SIL has struggled mightily since divorcing her cheating ex-husband and getting custody of both girls a few years back. She works a minimum wage job and is on food stamps.
The Target card allows her to get toiletries, socks, underwear, shoes, school supplies, or other needed items, but also groceries when the food stamps are not enough. This helps her to get by easier and last year she stretched it out for several months. We ususally fill her car with gas a couple times a year, too. You have to help your own when you can.
Hopefully tomorrow we can pick up the gift cards and the presents for the girls and something token for my mother (who does not want to exchange gifts but still manages to do something token every year) and be done with it. We'll need to get our wrapping paper and bows out of storage and buy some cellophane tape. We still need to set up and decorate our little 2 foot tall tree. We don't have room for a full-sized tree in our area, but we like to have a little something.
I also need to do a photo shoot with DS. Since he is being homeschooled this year, there were no school photos done of him. I can do as good a job with him as they do, I just need to get to it, so that I can print out photos of him to go with DD's for giving to relatives. We need to pick up ink and photo paper, though. I am hoping to make a trip to Costco tomorrow and can pick up the ink there. Photo paper is cheaper at the office store next door to Costco and also has much smaller quantities, so we'll get that there.
I have almost all the food for our own day at home. We have the turkey we didn't make at Thanksgiving due to illness in the freezer. I have plenty of potatoes from what we harvested this year. I have green beans and corn. I have butter and poultry seasoning. I just need to make the bread for the stuffing the day before our meal. We may need to buy milk as well.
We will probably make our meal on the 23rd. It will be the four of us and Mom, and I will probably invite the Ice Queen as well. I really should come up with an alternate name for eldest sister as since she's come back into the family fold she's thawed quite a bit.
The Social Butterfly stopped by yesterday. I haven't seen her in over a year. I've seen my nephews and my BIL, but not my sister. We visited for an hour and then they were off. They won't be coming down for Christmas at all this year and I probably won't see her again for a year. She doesn't really like family to come visit her, especially during the holidays. Oh, well, at least I got to see her.
I can't believe the year is almost over. 2012 has gone by so fast. I am looking forward to January and the feeling of having a fresh start that that always seems to bring.
Food Stamps Challenge on Paper—Week Two Menus
The first thing to do on your second week is to get up a little early and take one container of pulled pork out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge. Then take your beef chuck pot roast and put it into the crockpot. Season it with your seasoned salt and some pepper and add 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pot. Make sure some of the seasoning and salt is in the water to flavor it as well as on the roast. Cook on low all day for eight to 10 hours while you are at work. Then start breakfast which will be just a little more complicated today, but certainly doable even for the novice cook. Put 2 eggs on to hard boil.
One hard-boiled egg
Breakfast Apple Crumble
4 ounces of milk
To make the crumble you will need 1 apple peeled, cored and chopped, 1 biscuit, crumbled, 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of water, 1 ½ tbsp. of sugar.
Combine apples, 1 tbsp of sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile crumble your biscuit into very small pieces. Let apples sit for a couple of minutes and then remove plastic wrap very carefully to avoid steam burns. Melt your tbsp of butter. Stir the biscuit crumbs into the butter.
Pour out any liquid in the apples. Level the apples and then pour the biscuit crumbs on top in as even a layer as you can. Sprinkle the remaining ½ tbsp of sugar over the top.
Put the oven rack on its top rung and turn on the broiler. Be warned that in small homes the broiler can set off the smoke detector because of its intense heat. You probably won’t be using it long enough to set it off, but it could. Once the broiler is up to temp, bake the concoction for one minute. Turn the broiler off and allow to cool. Serves one.
2 slices leftover pizza
4 ounces beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
1 cup of coleslaw
Boil 6 potatoes. Divide beef pot roast into 8 servings in four containers. Freeze three. You will be eating one serving and refrigerating the other. When you drain the potatoes, save the potato water. Remove 4 potatoes worth of boiled potatoes from your pan and set aside. Mash the other two potatoes using 2 ounces of the potato water and 1 tbsp of butter. Take 2 tbsp of the beef drippings in the crockpot and 1 tbsp of flour. Stir together until there are no lumps and add two cups of potato water, whisking until well blended. Put in a frying pan and bring to a boil while stirring, then adjust heat to medium low. Add salt, pepper, or seasoned salt to taste to flavor the gravy further. Cook until gravy no longer tastes floury. You will eat half of your mashed potatoes and ½ cup of gravy on this night, leaving one serving of potatoes and 3 servings of gravy for later in the week. Refrigerate your 4 leftover boiled potatoes and your potato water. Refrigerate the beef juice from the crockpot for later use in the week.
Take one of your boiled potatoes and quickly grate it through a cheese grater and mix it with 2 tbsp of onion. Fry in a little oil on medium high for 3 minutes on one side and about 2 minutes on the other. Use some of your ketchup on top.
Beat one egg and mix with 2 ounces of pulled pork. Fry in a bit of oil until egg is cooked through. Scoop mixture onto a tortilla, lightly sprinkle with cheddar cheese, and roll up.
Chicken noodle soup
Save your orange peels
Hot open-faced roast beef sandwich
Leftover mashed potatoes with 1/2 cup leftover gravy
1 cup of coleslaw
Warm up mashed potatoes, gravy and 4 ounces of roast beef. Toast two slices of bread and spread with some of your garlic butter. Place roast beef on top of each slice, then mashed potatoes, then cover it with gravy.
Take out 1 container of chicken and one cup of chicken broth to thaw in the fridge and take out 2 pieces of bread to go stale overnight.
Simple French Toast-
2 slices of stale bread
2 ounces of milk
1 tsp of sugar
½ tsp orange zest
We will be using orange zest instead of cinnamon in this French toast recipe. Rub some of the orange peel you saved from the day before, orange part only, against your cheese grater until you have ½ tsp of orange zest. Discard remaining orange peel. Beat egg, sugar, and milk together then add orange zest and beat until blended. Put into a shallow bowl or a plate with rounded edges. Dip bread into bowl to soak up mixture. Melt 1 tbsp of butter on medium heat in your skillet. Place bread into skillet. Fry for about two minutes. When bottom is browned flip it over and cook on second side, about two minutes. Remove to a plate. If you have any mixture left, scramble it quickly in your pan. No need to throw it away. Add 4 tbsp of syrup.
Chicken noodle soup
2 slices of honey bread
Take 2 carrots and 2 stalks of celery. Clean and trim the celery, putting the trimmings into your freezer baggy. Peel and trim the carrots, putting the peels into the freezer baggy. Peel 2 cloves of garlic and put the skins in your freezer baggy. Smash and mince garlic. Cut carrots into quarter inch slices on the diagonal. Cut celery into quarter inch slices on the diagonal. Trim and peel onion. You know where the scraps go. Cut onion into strips and set aside half in a covered container and place in the fridge. Take1/4 cup of oil and mix it with half a cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsp of honey and ¼ tsp of your chili powder. Take out your container of chicken, remove half and return to fridge.
Heat a little bit of oil in your frying pan over high heat and sauté your carrots for 2 minutes. Add your onion and garlic and sauté for three minutes. Add your celery and sauté for 2 more minutes. Remove vegetables to plate and put in 8 ounces of chicken. Saute about one minute or until chicken is warmed through. Add your liquid ingredients and stir, then return vegetables to pan for 1 minute or until everything is hot. Half of this is your dinner and the other half is your lunch the next day.
Take out one slice of meatloaf to thaw in the fridge.
2 pancakes with powdered sugar
1 egg scrambled with 2 ounces of pulled pork, 1 tbsp of diced onions (cut a few from the strips in your fridge) and 1 tbsp of diced bell peppers
4 ounces of milk
Leftover chicken stir-fry
Chicken noodle soup
1 slice of meatloaf
1 cup of coleslaw
Take out 2 containers of roast beef to thaw in the fridge. Take out 1 whole chicken to thaw in the fridge.
2 scrambled eggs
2 Biscuits and gravy (use ¼ cup of your leftover beef gravy)
Pulled pork sandwich
1 cup of coleslaw
Sauté ½ of your remaining ½ of an onion and 2 ounces of bell pepper strips in a little oil. Warm up 4 ounces of chicken in the microwave. Place tortilla on a frying pan and lay out onion, bell pepper strips, and chicken on top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and top with another tortilla.
Make some more orange zest with your orange peel.
French toast with 4 tbsp of syrup
1 boiled egg
Roast beef hash
2 cups cooked roast beef, cut into half inch cubes
½ cup leftover beef juice
1 onion, medium diced
2 leftover boiled potatoes, peeled and cut into half inch cubes
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper
Melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté for four minutes or until onion is soft. Add cooked potatoes and brown. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Flip over potatoes and onions and brown. Remove to a plate. Turn meat up to medium high and melt 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil in the pan. When hot and melted add cubed roast beef to the pan. Brown on all sides and return onions and potatoes to the pan. Cook for two more minutes. Pour in ¼ of beef juice. Cook for one more minute. Taste. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Makes 8 servings. Divide into 4 containers containers. Freeze 3. Put 1 serving in the fridge and eat one for dinner. Freeze remaining beef juice.
2 egg omelet with 1 tbsp diced ham and 1 tbsp cheddar cheese
1 biscuit with cheese
Begin a batch of bread dough and leave to rise in a warm place following the instructions in the post here: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/12/06/youve-done-the-shopping-now-what_99377/ Remove your pizza dough from the freezer and put into the fridge. After bread dough has doubled in size, punch down and knead for five minutes. Divide in half and put into two lightly oiled bread pans. Let rise until poking over the edge of the pans and then bake. Start lunch. Remove bread when done, remove from pans and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
2 slices garlic toast (2 bread ends)
Prepare spaghetti sauce as you did in week one. Boil 8 ounces of spaghetti noodles and warm up 3 meatballs from the freezer. Serve yourself half of the spaghetti with 4 ounces of the sauce and refrigerate the rest, spaghetti and sauce in separate containers.
After lunch it is time to deal with some veg and fruit and the second chicken you bought on grocery day. Wash your hands. First cut the wrapped half of cabbage from your fridge (removing the wrap of course!) and cut it into slivers or shreds, cutting away any part of the core still left. Set this aside. Peel 2 apples and cut them into pieces to remove the cores. Thinly slice and set aside. Trim and peel an onion putting the skins and cut off parts into your veggie bag in the freezer. Cut the onion into slivers and set aside. Wash your cutting board in hot soapy water and dry. If you have a separate cutting board for meats and for veggies, get out your other board, otherwise use the one you just washed (always do meat after vegetables, never first).
Remove the wrap and check for a packet of giblets. If there is a neck, remove it from the package and then do whatever you normally do with the rest of the organs. Mine go to the neighbor cat. Rinse the chicken inside and out.
Next we are going to cut up the chicken. Although many people think this is a complicated business, it’s a lot simpler than you’ve been led to believe. The internet is a great resource for showing you how to do this. There are videos on youtube or written instructions on many websites. Make sure you have a sharp knife, preferably a butcher knife. Get out two bowls.
The way I do it is to put it breast side up (that’s the meatier side without the ridge for those of you who have never done this before) and first pull the leg and thigh away from the body. I cut through the skin so that I can see the meat and then cut through the joint where the thigh connects to the body. You can feel where this joint is with your fingers. Once you have cut the hindquarters off, feel for the joint between thigh and leg. You can break it and then cut through. Repeat on the other side. Then remove the wings in the same fashion by pulling them from the body, slitting the skin to see where it joins, find the joint with your hands and cut through it. Put all of these pieces of chicken into one bowl.
Now you are left with the body of the chicken. I like to use kitchen shears for this next part but it can be done with a good knife. Cut down each side, you can look in and see where the bones don’t quite meet up, separating the back from the breast. Take the back and turn it bony side up. You can see where the bigger part joins to the smaller part. Cut this in half at that spot and put in the bowl with the other pieces. Then take the breast and turn it meaty side up. Remove the skin (on the breast only) and set aside. Feel for the breast bone and if your knife is sharp enough, cut directly down this bone. If your knife isn’t quite sharp enough, cut to just one side of this bone. You want two roughly equal pieces.
At this point watch this video to show you how to take out the bone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7Ut68Z3FUU I find it much easier to have someone show you than I do to try to describe how to remove the bone. Save the bones and the skin in a baggy in the freezer.
Set aside the chicken breast in your second bowl and wash your cutting board in hot soapy water and then put it into the dishwasher to be washed again. Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an oven safe dish (I used my square glass brownie pan) layer 1/3 of the cabbage, ½ the onion, and ½ of the apples. Then layer 1/3 more of the cabbage, the other ½ of the onion, and the rest of the apples. Finish with the final 1/3 of the cabbage. Cover and leave on the counter.
Mix four ounces of apple juice with 1 tbsp Italian herbs, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Pour over the chicken and cover aluminum foil (you will be using the foil in cooking) and place into fridge.
Take your 2 legs, 2 back pieces, 1 neck if you have it, 2 wings, and 2 thighs and rub them on both sides with oil. Place them skin side down into a baking dish and sprinkle with your seasoned salt, salt and pepper. Put them in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Turn over and cook for 40 minutes.
Remove from oven. Take out the legs and thighs and put onto a plate. Mix 2 tbsp of honey with 4 tbsp of ketchup. Brush over wings, backs and neck. Put back into oven for 5 minutes and then remove. While wings, backs, and necks are cooking, take the meat off the two thighs, and the two legs. Save the bones in a baggy in the freezer.
Check on your bread dough.
Remove your chicken breasts from the fridge and put them on top of your cabbage mixture. Pour the apple juice from the bowl into the oven-safe dish. Cover with aluminum foil and put into the oven. Cook for one hour.
While chicken and cabbage is cooking divide the barbecued chicken into two portions. Each bowl should have one each of a back and wing and the container with the smaller back piece should have the neck. Freeze. Remove the meat from the thighs and legs. You can eat the skin or add it to the freezer bag. Put the bones from the thighs and legs in the freezer baggy. Divide into two containers and freeze.
Prepare 4 potatoes, 4 carrots, and one onion. Put the carrot and onion peels into the freezer baggy. Cut vegetables into one inch cubes. Put into an oven safe dish and add 1 cup of water. . Remove chicken and cabbage from oven. Put vegetables into the oven to roast for an hour and a half. Divide the cabbage, onion, and apples into four portions and then divide the chicken breasts among them.
Chicken noodle soup
Chicken and cabbage
Remove vegetables from the oven and divide into four portions. Refrigerate. Wash everything. Go collapse in a chair. Slice each loaf of bread into fourteen pieces. Wrap in aluminum foil. Freeze one and put the other in the fridge. Congratulations. You made it through week 2.
It is a weird feeling to have an empty bill box and to have paid all of the bills to the end of the year already. I know it's been like this for the last couple of months, but I'm still not used to it. I really like it though. Instead of being paycheck to paycheck we are half a month ahead and that is wonderful. I can't wait for that to be a month ahead. And then 2 months and then 3 months, etc., as we build the Emergency Fund back up.
So the last of the bills and some miscellaneous shopping were paid out of today's payday. The breakdown is as follows:
$90.00 Physical Therapy
$41.75 Various cold medicines to replenish stock
$44.87 Phone line Old House (for security system to work)
159.65 Propane bill Old House (was already in savings)
144.00 Water/sewer (was already in savings)
I put $2500 into short term savings. That will cover all bills between January 1 and January 11th.
I will have two more physical therapy appointments this year so I have that money set aside.
I took out $215 in cash, but $15 went to DD for her allowance. DS doesn't get an allowance again until January (he got an advance). So that $200 should last us until the end of the year for toiletries and meals out. I have $1300 left of this paycheck, but we still need to buy presents for a couple people. Whatever is left will be sent to the credit card.
Next week's paycheck will be the 2 day paycheck and that isn't earmarked for anything yet. I will need to pay the $505 for my crown whenever they send me the bill so I'll probably set that aside out of it.
I deposited my coin jar money to the Emergency Fund and have hit my goal of $1500 in there by the end of December.
1457.42 Beginning EF
+_66.38 Coin Jar Money deposited
1523.80 Ending EF
Christmas bonuses should be mailed out today and they usually get here pretty fast since there are so many flights a day between Anchorage and Seattle and then between Seattle and here. It might even be here as soon as tomorrow (last year it came the day after the Christmas party, which is today), but I'm figuring probably Monday or Tuesday.
I am trying not to be anxious about it. It's just that we are so close. Even if it is 5% of income like last year instead of the rumored 10% of income it will still wipe out the BoA card with a little leftover for the AMEX and then the AMEX will be wiped out by the extra paycheck in January. Our tax return would then wipe out the 0% Chase card with plenty leftover since we'll be getting quite a lot back due to maxing the HSA and spending it all this year on medical. And if it's the 10% then boy howdy it's all gone before the year is up.
I just want it done and gone. It's been so many years. I want that weight lifted off my shoulders forever.
DH heard from work this morning and he will be working a 3 and 1 shift when he goes back up, so that will be an extra week's income. 3 and 1's can be hard on the kids, but it sure is good for the finances. Depending on whether or not Congress and the president get their acts together and hammer something out, I'm not sure how much extra take home pay that will be. Somewhere between $3400 and $4000.
I calculated it out and if the tax cuts for the middle class don't get renewed we will be paying an additional $6000 or so a year in taxes or about $500 a month will be missing from our take home pay. That is an awfully big chunk and it will be noticed. Thank goodness we will not be having such large credit card payments to make next year. And thank goodness we actually only live on about 1/3 of DH's pay. We can adjust. I just don't want to have to.
I went to the doctor this morning. Turns out I have a low level UTI. Since the only ones I have ever had were raging and painful, I didn't expect it to be that, but the test strip turned all sorts of lovely colors. I haven't had a UTI since my surgery in the summer of 2011, so it was not even on my radar. He put me on Cipro and Pyridium (generics of). I haven't gone to get them yet so not sure how much they will cost but shouldn't be too much. Maybe around $10 or so.
He does want to run all the bloodwork after I'm over the infection, especially to test for anemia. Doing it now would skew the results. He does think it is possible since both Social Butterfly and the Ice Queen (my older sisters) are prone to anemia. The good news is my blood pressure is just fine at 117/68. They also both have thyroid issues so we will check that as well.
I also found out the doctor is not actually retiring at the end of the year. He's just going to work Tuesdays and Thursdays and he's bringing in a younger doctor to work M-W-F who will eventually take over the practice at the end of next year. My doc has a real high opinion of him, says he has great bedside manner. I'll have to meet him and judge for myself but at least that's a better place to start than cold-calling new doctors. I also met his new medical assistant. I know I still may likely need to find a new doctor, but it's nice not to have to do it yet.
Just call me Procrastination Girl. Unable to leap tall paperwork with a single bound. I guess insomnia is good for something. This is the first night I've had it since the new meds. Ugh. Anyway, bills paid out of last Friday's payday were:
$1500.00 to BoA Visa
$1000.00 to Mom
___90.00 Physical Therapy
___31.44 Prescriptions (mine)
__225.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
____6.09 Prescription (DH)
I also spent $196.43 on groceries. We aren't going down to the ranch this month because we were so sick the last month I was mostly making things like soup and spaghetti, all things that would go down as well as back up easily, so we didn't eat much of our meat from November. There is enough to get us through until January 14th so the $300 we usually spend on sustainable chicken, beef, and pork I am using to stock up on some staples. Flour, sugar, corn meal (organic, non-GMO) canned green beans, canned corn, wild caught canned tuna and salmon and a few jars of peanut butter. I also bought some pears since they were down to .79 a pound since this is their season and we are a big pear state (not like apples or berries, but still pretty high up there) and I am out of home grown ones.
DH wanted bananas (so not in the 100 mile foodshed), but they were cheap so I let him get some. I grabbed a couple of oranges, too, since I won't make it to Costco probably until this weekend and we were out. There is not much we need besides gas, but I will get a couple cases of oranges and a case of toilet paper while we are over that way. Oranges aren't one of the fruits I worry about getting organic. With their thick peel it is difficult for pests to get at them, hence low pesticide use. I wish I could grow my own citrus, but that is not likely in a maritime climate without a heated green house or sun porch.
I didn't buy any veg. We still have around 15 broccoli plants and 2 kohlrabi I haven't harvested yet. I love brassicas. They take the cold so well. I also still have a cabbage in the fridge and plenty of potatoes from those we harvested. The carrot supply was getting low but they didn't have any organic ones and I will not eat a non-organic carrot since carrots soak up anything that was used on that ground even if it was used decades before. In some places that were heavily damaged with pesticides they plant carrots on purpose to clean the soil. Takes a few years. Those ones do not go to market, but because of that habit of the carrot it's going to soak up any conventionally used "safe" herbicides and pesticides. So definitely a must be organic food for me.
When I was putting away food I noted that I need to revive the celery. Hopefully I'll remember to do that tomorrow.
Today I found what I thought was a shiny new quarter. Well, it is a twenty-five cent piece, but it's certainly not American. It's not even Canadian (which happens at least once a month, being in a border county). In fact I have a coin jar just for Canadian coins that I'll save until the next time we go to Victoria or Vancouver. It is from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and is a very pretty coin. It has a sailboat on one side and an emblem of some sort on the other.
As for the regular coin jar, I've added $10.59 to it this week so far. Mostly in ones. I probably have enough in there to make a deposit worthwhile.
I screwed up on my food diary thing for ACOP. I entered in the first three days just fine, but then we all got sick and I forgot to enter in the fourth and final day and by the time I remembered to do it, the thing was closed. There went $8. And it probably means I won't get a good survey or product study from them for a while. It's not like I blew it off, but oh, well. What can you do?
I did get enough Swagbucks to order another $5 gift card from Amazon. Mostly because I kept the SBTV going on the side of my screen while I caught up with a week's worth of blogs, both here and in a few other places.
DS was feeling well enough today to do some schooling. We got math, science, history and vocabulary done. He had a dentist appointment today, no cavities. He has the best teeth of all of us. We think he is a throwback because his teeth are perfectly straight and don't seem to ever stain at all. His teeth are unlike anyone else in the family as far back as I have been alive to see. Lucky kiddo. And it's nice not to be worrying about starting orthodontia on him.
DD is doing better today. She didn't go to school, but she thinks she can go tomorrow. I am giving her a note so that she can use the elevator. She's still dizzy and having some minor balance issues so I don't want her climbing the stairs to the third floor. Also, I told her to call if she needs to come home. Her concussion is very mild in comparison to the one DS had in June, (I think they're starting a club or something!) but still, a concussion is a concussion. No PE for the rest of the week either.
I still need to do a payday report post. I should probably do that before the new payday on Friday. I'm not sure if I'll find the time though. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and will try to do a full day of schooling and maybe, hopefully, make up some of the missed lessons. We're 2 behind on Math, 2 behind on science, 1 behind on art, 2 behind on language skills and 3 behind on literature. Maybe if we just add one missed class a day tomorrow and Friday we can get the rest caught up on Saturday.
I also need to finish putting together my blog post for week 2 of the on paper food stamps challenge. And I have some thoughts about how the NJ mayor did and my own thoughts regarding nutrition and caloric requirements while living on a food stamp grocery budget that I need to finish writing up as well. I'm already seeing a couple of things that I wish I'd chosen differently on, but will take that into account when I do the 10 day menu for $40.
I haven't worked on my novel all week. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do that this weekend.
I haven't been on in a couple of days. The pain from the cracked tooth has been pretty bad over the weekend, but I go to the dentist this morning to start getting it fixed. I'm not sure exactly what they are going to do. Probably a temporary crown while the final one is made.
I need to do a bills update from last Friday's payday. DS is sick so homeschooling is pretty minimal so far this week. We've worked on his persuasive essay, but that's it so far. Hopefully he will be a bit better today and we can get some more done. Although I'm not sure how I'm going to be after going to the dentist. DD is finally well. She went back to school on Friday, but it took her through the weekend to beat this thing.
DH comes home around midnight tonight and won't have to fly back to work until the 31st. We still don't know if he will be working an extra week in January or not. They are hiring for a Jan/Feb ramp up and he will likely need to train people. It's going to be a crazy busy time so hopefully he'll be able to squeeze some more income out of it. It would be nice to have a little extra in the bank.
With whatever the tax situation is going to be for 2013 still up in the air that would go part of the way towards covering any loss due to higher taxes. Although without the credit card payments we will soon no longer need to make, it won't hit us as hard as it would have if that tax thing isn't renewed. And also we could put some money in the HSA as the $2500 deductible starts over again in January.
Since we will be fully deducting the HSA this year and we did last year, I really want to start building it up again. I don't forsee any huge medical things next year, but I didn't this year either. If DH gets an extra week's pay, I can at the very least put the money for the deductible in the HSA and the rest into the emergency fund.
I'm still working on the second week of menues on my food stamp challenge and also a $40 menu that will provide 10 days worth of meals. I tried to make a $33 menu for just one week, and while I could do it, the variety just wasn't quite enough to make me happy. That extra seven dollars really opens things up, while still keeping to the idea of $4 a day average. It will also be food that you can make in a microwave and with an electric burner, in keeping with the idea that not everyone has a regular stove to work with.
I have some thoughts I'm trying to pull together on the foods stamps challenge. I also never posted my actual menues for this week, but so far it's sort of been chicken noodle soup and spaghetti.
I go to the doctor on Thursday. I want to get some bloodwork done, have my iron levels checked, have my thyroid checked, and my vitamin D levels and see if maybe I need to be put on a different high blood pressure medicine. Also I want to see whether or not I have diabetes. The onset in my extended family has been around age 45 on average. I've still got a few years to go, but I am exhuasted all the time lately and pretty much have been since August. I'm dizzy a lot. And I'm ridiculously thirsty. I want to see if there is an underlying cause, or if it is just a case of catching everything under the sun.
Some major prep is out of the way. Does that mean no cooking at all this week? Well, no, not completely, but your cooking time has been cut way down because you’ve done so much work on your day off. So what is going to happen during your first week? A bit of cooking, a bit of reheating, and a lot of variety and flavor in your meals. Obviously some things will be used quite a bit, like eggs, but I’ve tried to vary how they will taste based on ingredients.
4 ounces of apple juice
2 Biscuits warmed up in microwave and spread with a little honey
2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp of your diced deli ham, salt and pepper
Put out a plate. Scramble 2 eggs in a bowl with a couple shakes of salt and a couple shakes of pepper. Put a little oil in a small frying pan, being sure to lightly coat the bottom. You want to be able to tell the pan is coated, but not have your eggs swimming in it. Heat the pan to medium and drop in your frozen tbsp of deli ham. Using a coated spoon break apart the ham as it cooks and once the ham is warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes, pour your eggs on top and lightly scramble until done. The eggs will no longer look wet or shiny. Dump onto plate. (I often use the cheat method and cook stuff on high stirring rapidly until done, which is faster, but for the beginner cook could lead to burning due to lack of constant attention and on this budget, you can’t afford to burn your food).
Water in a reusable water bottle
Take 4 ounces (or half) of the one cup of chicken you set aside the night before. Spread two slices of bread with mayo or with the sweeter salad dressing you made the night before, place chicken on one piece of bread, sprinkle with a tbsp of cheddar cheese, and add one leaf of lettuce. Place other slice on top.
Open-faced Meatball Sandwiches
2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables warmed up in the microwave
Take 3 meatballs out of the freezer and cook in the microwave. Depending on your microwave this could take 1 to 2 minutes. Take ¼ cup of tomato sauce from the open can in the fridge and pour into a bowl. Add a few shakes of Italian seasoning and warm briefly in the microwave until sauce is no longer cold. Turn your frying pan on to medium and take the two end pieces of your first loaf of bread and put them in the pan crust side down. It should be lightly warmed after about 30 seconds. Turn it over so the cut side is down and toast for about a minute. Put onto your plate and spread with the tomato sauce. You will probably not use the whole amount of sauce, so if you do not, cover what is left in the bowl and return to fridge. Cut hot meatballs in half and put three halves on each slice of bread.
Before you go to bed take one slice of meatloaf out of the freezer to thaw for the next day. Take out one of your four containers of pulled pork as well.
2 pancakes warmed in the microwave and scraped with a little butter and sprinkled with powdered sugar
2 eggs scrambled with 1 tbsp of finely diced onion (from the fridge) and 1 tbsp of diced bell peppers
4 ounces of milk
I personally prefer my meatloaf sandwich without any sauce, I feel it is flavorful enough, but you could put a bit of ketchup on or some mayo. If you can warm the sandwich up at work, I think that makes the sandwich better.
2 pulled pork burritos
2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables
Small salad made with 2 lettuce leaves, your homemade salad dressing, and a bit of mozzarella cheese.
Take 4 ounces (or half) of the pulled pork and place it on 2 tortillas. Add 1 tbsp of cheddar cheese to each. Roll them into burritos and place seam side down on a plate. Microwave until pork is hot and cheese has melted.
Before going to bed hard-boil 4 eggs. (Place in a pot with enough cold water to cover, heat on high, bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes. Cool eggs in cold water for 5 minutes and then peel. Put in covered container in the fridge. It is important to start your eggs in cold water. Cold eggs put into hot water are more likely to crack and spew egg white into the pan. Also take a small handful of pepperoni out of the freezer to thaw for the next day.
2 Biscuits and sausage gravy
1 hard-boiled egg
Warm up your biscuits in the microwave. Take 1 tbsp of sausage fat from your container in the fridge and put into frying pan. Melt the fat on medium high. Take 1 tbsp of flour and mix it into 4 ounces of milk. Stir until blended and then pour into hot fat. Stir and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil and then bring heat down to medium. Cook for about ten minutes or until gravy no longer tastes floury. You may need to add a bit of cold water if gravy is too thick.
Spread honey on two slices of bread and put together to prevent honey from sticking to the wrapping. For your chicken salad you will take the remaining half cup from your container of shredded chicken and put it over 2 shredded lettuce leaves. Cut up 1 hardboiled egg and put it on top. Sprinkle on a bit of salt and a very tiny amount of pepper. Add 1 tbsp of shredded parmesan cheese. There is enough flavor in this to not really need a dressing, but you can add it if you like.
Put your oven rack on the middle spot. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Take your pizza dough out. Lightly oil the dough and your hands to prevent sticking. Place dough on your pizza pan or your cookie sheet. Press the dough out until it is approximately 12 inches in diameter. Take your open can of tomato sauce from the fridge and spread ¼ cup on the pizza dough. If you have any sauce left from meatball sandwich night add it to the dough. Sprinkle the sauce with Italian herbs. Spread one cup of mozzarella cheese over the pizza. Cover with pepperoni. Add ¼ cup of diced onion and 1/3 of your bell pepper strips. When the oven is hot turn it down to 425 and place pizza inside.
A 12 inch pizza will need to be baked for about 20 minutes, but it all depends on your oven. The best way to check if the crust is done is to lift it with a flipper and thunk it in the center with a spoon. If it doesn’t thunk it is still too doughy and needs to be cooked for longer. Trust your nose. If it starts to smell like it is done before the 20 minutes, check it. Whatever you do, you can’t let it burn because it is going to provide four meals for you.
When pizza is done cut it up into 8 slices. 2 of these are for dinner. Once cooled freeze four slices for next week. Put other 2 slices in the fridge.
Sausage and onion omelet
2 pancakes warmed in the microwave and scraped with butter and powdered sugar
I can see the panic already. She wants me to make an omelet? But—but—but… It’s really not as hard as they make it out to be on television. The most important step is to have all of your ingredients ready. You need one tbsp. of sausage from the freezer, 1 tbsp of finely diced onion from the fridge, Italian herbs, butter and 1 tbsp cheddar cheese. Whisk 2 eggs with salt and pepper and sprinkle in some Italian herbs. Melt a bit of butter into the pan on medium high then turn it down to medium. Throw in the sausage and onion. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Remove sausage and onion to a plate. You may need to add a bit more butter to the pan. You don’t want your omelet sticking or it will end up more like scrambled eggs again. Once the butter is melted pour your eggs in. Then watch it. It will take a few minutes to cook, about 3 or 4. Again it depends on your range.
Do not be tempted to turn up the heat, though you may place a lid on for the last 30 seconds or so. The goal is for the omelet not to look wet or shiny. When it gets to that point, dump your sausage, onion, and cheese onto one half of the omelet. Put your turner on the edge of the circle and fold it in half. Slide the omelet out of the pan and onto your plate. Even if it is slightly browned because you left it a little too long, it is still good eating. Yellow with a few brown spots is good. Totally brown, not so much. Now wasn’t that easy?
2 pulled pork burritos
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Just a very simple salad tonight. 2 leaves torn up, sprinkle with a little mozzarella cheese, oil and salt. Do this at the start of dinner prep and keep in the fridge.
I did not specify in my shopping list what type of spaghetti I bought. It comes down to personal preference. I find that regular old spaghetti is much hardier a noddle than angel hair. I find it more filling. But angel hair has the benefit of being very quick to cook. I don’t like my pasta al dente, I like it limp but not mushy. So for me, angel hair takes 10 minutes to cook after the water comes to a boil and spaghetti takes about 25. Cook times for al dente pasta are shorter and should be listed on the package directions. So if time is one of your problems, then angel hair is the way to go. Either way, make sure you use plenty of water to boil it in. For this challenge I am going to assume we are using angel hair.
You are going to make 8 ounces of pasta or half of a one pound package. This should provide 2 meals for you. To begin, smash (Press down hard with the side of your knife. This helps the illness fighting stuff in garlic to do its job.) 4 cloves of garlic and mince it finely. Make sure you put your garlic skins in the bag in the freezer. Put your water on to boil using the directions on your package. Salt the water (1 tsp) and put in a dab of oil to help prevent sticking. Open a can of tomato sauce. Put some oil in your skillet and sauté your garlic on medium heat for a minute. Remove 2 cloves worth of garlic and pour the rest of your finely diced onions from the fridge in with the garlic remaining in your pan. Sauté onion for five minutes. Pour in tomato sauce and stir. Add several shakes of Italian herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Put the garlic you took out into a microwave safe bowl (preferably one with a lid). Add half a stick of butter and partially melt in microwave. You want it to be soft, but not liquid. Maybe 15 to 30 seconds. Just check it and you should be able to push through it. Remove from microwave. Stir the spaghetti sauce. Stir garlic into softened butter. Stir tomato sauce again. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, or herbs to taste. Spaghetti should be done about now, so drain it when the timer goes off. Put two pieces of bread into toaster. Warm up three meatballs from the freezer in the microwave. Spread toasted bread with garlic butter. Cover garlic butter, preferably with a lid so it doesn’t permeate the fridge, and put it in the fridge.
You will only be eating one piece of bread with your spaghetti and meatballs. Leave the other one to cool on the counter until after dinner. Divide the noodles in half and place into bowls, one to eat from and one to cool. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce onto your spaghetti. Eat.
After dinner, cut your second piece of garlic bread into cubes. Put your sauce and your spaghetti into the fridge (separately, they warm up better when the pasta hasn’t been soaked in sauce). Place in a baggy and put in the fridge. Remove one container of chicken, 1 tbsp of diced ham, and one slice of meatloaf from the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw.
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 biscuits sprinkled with Italian herbs and with cheddar cheese melted on top
4 oz of apple juice
2 slices of leftover pizza
Last 2 cups of roasted potatoes, onions, and carrots
4 ounces of chicken mixed with half or your remaining spaghetti sauce and warmed in the microwave
Small salad consisting of two lettuce leaves, a bit of oil, and the cubed garlic bread from the night before.
Take beef pot roast out of the freezer and put into the fridge to thaw. This will be put in the crockpot on Day 8
Day 6 (I am assuming this is a day off. If it is not, make the lunchtime quesadilla before going to work. It only takes a few minutes.
Easy fried eggs and toast
4 oz of apple juice
Take two slices of bread and cut out a round circle in each one. You can use a tuna can or a biscuit cutter or even a glass to do this. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat and put your bread on it, including the two cut out pieces. Carefully crack an egg into each hole in the bread. Salt and pepper the egg. Cook for two minutes, or until the egg white has turned white, and then carefully flip over eggs and bread as well as the two cut out circles of bread. Cook for another minute. Remove to a plate. Break yolk of each egg and dip circles into yolk. This is a great method for cooking fried eggs for the first time. It makes it almost impossible to crack the yolk when flipping. If you have a wider flipper, I’d use that over a narrow one. Oh, and if you don’t like runny egg yolk, you can always break the yolk on purpose right after you crack it into the bread hole. Cooking time remains the same.
For the quesadilla, there is the easy way, and the slightly harder way. Put down one tortilla on a plate and take the remaining 4 ounces of chicken from the fridge. Spread it over the tortilla evenly and then do the same with a little cheddar cheese and a little mozzarella cheese. Put second tortilla on top and cook in the microwave for one minute. Cut into triangles. This tastes good cold, but even better warm. The slightly harder way, heat a large frying pan on medium high heat and put in one tortilla. Spread the chicken and cheese on top and put on the other tortilla. Cook for two minutes. Turn it over and cook for one more minute. Remove from pan and cut into triangles.
For the salad tear up two lettuce leaves and sprinkle 1 tbsp of deli ham and 1 tbsp of cheddar cheese on top. Add a little mayo and some pepper.
Leftover spaghetti with sauce
One slice of meatloaf with ketchup
Remove baggy of chicken bones and baggy of vegetable peels and celery leaves from the freezer and dump into the crockpot. Return these bags to the freezer as you will be filling them again. Clean and roughly chop 2 carrots. Take an onion, wash it, and cut off the ends. Throw them in the pot. Roughly chop the onion into eight pieces. Add them to the pot. Smash four cloves of garlic and add them to the pot. Add 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Fill the crockpot to the top with water. Turn it on to low and allow it to cook all night long. You will deal with it tomorrow after breakfast. Remove a container of chicken from the freezer.
Since this is a day off (hopefully) we are going to make something very simple. Syrup. The ingredients? One cup of regular white sugar and one cup of water. Combine them in a sauce pan. If you happen to have maple flavoring or extract, or vanilla flavoring or extract on hand, add 1 tsp. The sugar alone is sweet enough, but the other will make it taste slightly more like pancake syrup, but since that was not something bought on my grocery list for the food stamp challenge it is not a needed ingredient. Heat on high, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Bring it to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat and allow it to cool. Pour it into a jar and refrigerate. It makes 1 ½ cups of syrup and will keep for a month. Remove frozen loaf of bread from freezer and place in fridge to thaw.
Day 7 (Assuming this is a day off as well, for making the soup it needs to be on a day off, so adjust accordingly)
2 pancakes warmed up in the microwave with 4 tbsp of syrup
2 plain scrambled eggs
4 oz of milk
After breakfast get out two carrots, two stalks of celery, and your large diced onion from earlier in the week. Peel and trim and put those into the freezer baggy. Cut the carrot into ¼ inch rounds and cut the larger end rounds in half. Slice the celery in half longwise, and then cut those two pieces in ¼ inch pieces. Place a colander into a large cooking pot and drain the crockpot contents into it. Once all the broth is in your big pot set it aside. Clean out your crockpot. Put half of your broth back into the crockpot. Put a lid on the other pot of broth and set it aside to cool for an hour. Put celery, onion, and carrots into the crockpot, set it on low and cook for 4 hours or until vegetables are soft. Break four ounces of spaghetti into thirds. Add to the crockpot. Also add 4 ounces of chicken from your container. Cook for another half an hour. You may have to add more salt and pepper to adjust for your tastes. I usually use garlic powder as well, but again, it wasn’t on the challenge shopping list. If you happen to have it, I’d add 1 tbsp. But you can definitely get a good flavor out of it by adjusting the pepper.
Once broth has cooled for an hour, pour into one cup containers and freeze. You can ladle off the fat before doing this if you choose. You will have 4 servings of chicken noodle soup. One is for lunch, the rest for the fridge.
Chicken noodle soup
Homemade garlic bread
Baked potato with cheese
Chicken sandwich made with remaining 4 ounces of chicken, 1 leaf of lettuce and garlic butter
By now you are likely out of salad dressing. We will need to make a larger batch this time. ½ cup of mayo, ½ cup of oil, and 2 tbsp of honey. Stir until mixed. Cut your first purple cabbage in half. Wrap one half tightly and put back in the fridge. Shred the other half. Clean and peel two carrots, putting the peels into your freezer baggy. Shred the carrots and mix with the cabbage. Set aside enough of your dressing for sandwiches for the week and mix the rest into your coleslaw. Refrigerate. Take out 2 slices of pizza to thaw for lunch on Day 8. Week one is over. Pat yourself on the back. You made it through.
I stopped by the grocery store with DS today because soup was 10/$10 on a one day sale. It's been running $1.79 a can lately, and with DD being so sick, she needed something that would go down easy without killing her throat every time she swallows. We were also out of crackers. So I sent DS down the cracker aisle, which is next to the soup aisle.
He comes back a minute later with the big box we normally get that has eight sleeves of crackers and he goes, "Um, Mum (he's been speaking in a British accent lately), how many sleeves of crackers are in the big box?"
"And how many are in the small boxes?"
"Well, the little boxes are on 2/$5 and the big box is $5.69. We should get the little boxes."
I was so proud. When I sent him back to get the small boxes, I was beaming. I compare prices all the time in front of the kids. You hope this stuff rubs off, but you never entirely know until moments like this happen.
I was reconciling my savings accounts spreadsheet with the bank statements I received in the mail today and I realized that there was $252.01 that was not allocated to any category at ING. Not sure what I did there. I might have paid something out of the holding tank without actually taking it out and just using checking, but I took it off the spreadsheet. That's happened a couple of times. Regardless, I added it to the emergency fund category, so the EF now sits at $1457.42. Almost to the $1500 mark. I think I can get it there by the end of the year.
I received the propane bill for the old house today. The thermostat is set on 60 so that the pipes do not freeze. It is $159.65. That is quite a lot less than I was anticipating. I have $400 allocated for propane in the holding tank right now. So I will pay that and then leave the rest of the money ($240.35) in there and just not transfer any more money to the holding tank for propane until after the next quarterly bill comes. I can use that $100 a month elsewhere during that time.
Tomorrow is payday. I still have $297.82 in checking and $25 in cash. I added $6.48 to the coin jar. I really like this new habit of getting to the next payday with more than $5 left.
I've been saving my allowance since I started drawing one again. I have $154. I haven't decided what to do with it. Maybe I'll save it for Disneyland. I like to buy a sweatshirt or light jacket, a couple of t-shirts, and one of the Splash Mountain towels when I go and they are a bit expensive, so having the extra saved for that would be a good idea. They are so well made that they last for years. In fact I can still wear the Disneyland sweatshirt I bought in 1995 on my honeymoon and it looks great. None of the stitching has come out or anything. So I feel like they are a good investment.
DS's Christmas presents arrived today so he is all taken care of. I need to get on the ball and order DD's presents now that I have her list. I procrastinated last year and a couple of her presents didn't show up until a week after Christmas. 5 more days until DH comes home. It's been a long hitch and I will be glad to have him home.
Planning on Paper Only for the Food Stamp Challenge. Can one person make and eat a decent variety of fresh, nutritious food on the $133.26 monthly food stamp allotment?
I’m going to make a couple of assumptions here. I am going to assume that people have a microwave, a stove top/oven, a crock pot, and a fridge with a freezer. I am also going to assume you have a couple of frying pans and a big pot for boiling water and at least one cookie sheet. I am also assuming that people have baggies or containers. Mark every bag with its contents. Once stuff is frozen it can look remarkably similar. Oh, and wear your shoes, with a flat sole, while cooking and prepping. It will save your back.
I do have many methods for using alternative cooking sources, but that will most definitely be in another post, because it requires a completely different plan, but it can be done. I remember doing it when DH and I were a lot younger and poorer, and our stove went out and it was a few months before we could afford a new one.
Remember to wash your hands with soap before starting to cook. Wash your hands any time you are going from raw meat or eggs to something else. Wash them between dealing with different types of meat. Do not use the same spoons for raw meat or eggs as for cooked. You do not want to cross contaminate anything.
So, we are starting with the groceries listed in this post: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/12/04/about-the-food...
The first thing I would do would be to put away all of the food in the fridge, freezer, or my canisters. If I were a single person, and part of the working poor, I’d have done my shopping on a day off, in the morning, so that this day off would also be the day I did a lot of my meal prep on. Otherwise shop at night on the day before your day off so you’ll have plenty of time for prep the next day. So first things first, I had to calculate my ingredients to know what I could make from it, because when you don’t have extra on hand, you must be exacting in your recipes.
20 cups 10 pound bag of flour
8 cups 1/2 gallon of milk
8 cups 1/2 gallon of milk
8 cups 1/2 gallon of apple juice
8 cups 1/2 gallon of apple juice
60 tsp 10 oz can of baking powder
32 oz 2 pounds of spaghetti
8 cups 4 cans of tomato sauce
48 eggs 4 dozen eggs
32 TBSP 1 pound butter
I seperated the two half gallons of milk and the two half gallons of apple juice since they are in separate containers. That is why each item is listed twice. I figured out that from my 20 cups of flour I could make one batch of pizza dough (two medium pizzas with 8 slices per pizza), 4 loaves of bread, 24 biscuits, and 24 pancakes. That takes 19 ½ cups of flour and leaves me with 1/2 cup, which is 8 TBSP of flour left. You will be using these TBSP for gravy later on.
Okay, so with those figures clearly in mind I would start my bread dough, because it takes the most time. Normally I use my bread machine to mix the dough and let it do its first rise and second knead in there. I have seen bread machines at Goodwill for $5. If you do not have a bread machine, you can use a food processor or a stand mixer. If you have neither of those, then you have the old-fashioned method of mixing it together with your hands.
You will be making two loaves of bread and freezing one. You will use the second bread recipe in this post: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2012/08/13/bread-recipes_... If doing it by hand, mix ingredients together to form a dough and knead for five minutes. Place towel over your bowl and put it in a warm place and let it rise. If your home is cold you can boil some water in the microwave and then take it out and put the dough in there to rise or you can put your oven on its lowest setting and let the bread rise in there. You will check on it in an hour and a half
Preheat your oven to 450 and get out a new bowl for making biscuits. Use this recipe http://breadbaking.about.com/od/biscuits/r/easydropbisc.htm except you will be using butter instead of shortening and adding an egg per batch. Double the recipe. Drop 12 spoonfuls of biscuit onto a cookie sheet. When oven is hot, put them in. If you have a second cookie sheet put the remaining 12 biscuits on it and start mixing your pancake batter. You will be doing a triple batch of pancake batter using this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-old-fashioned-pancakes/
Now I happen to have an electric griddle that makes pancake making a lot easier. I can do six 1/4 cup pancakes at a time on it. But even if you only have a griddle pan or a large skillet, you should be able to do 3 pancakes at a time. On the griddle I’d cook it at 325. On the stove I’d do it on medium (recipe says medium high, but I have a gas stove and I’d be taking no chances with only limited ingredients). Pancakes should cook for about 2 minutes on the first side. There will be lots of bubbles on the surface and the edges will start looking solid and shiny. Flip them over and cook for one to two minutes. Place on cooling rack. Get second batch of pancakes going. Biscuits should be done about now. If you have a second cookie sheet, put them in. If you did not, allow biscuits to cool for a couple of minutes before removing them to a plate. Scrape any residue off the cookie sheet with your turner. Check your pancakes and flip if ready. Drop next 12 biscuits onto cookie sheet and put into oven. Finish off your batches of pancakes, removing and cooling biscuits when ready. Turn off the oven.
If you do not have a cooling rack you can place your pancakes on wax paper to cool. Or plates in a pinch. You are going to be freezing these, so you don’t want them to get sweaty like they would if you stacked them hot. After a half an hour they will be cool enough to stack and put in a baggy in the freezer. You will now have used 5 ¾ cups of milk and 5 eggs. When you measure your milk to start with, take one cup out of one half gallon and then close up the container and put it in the freezer, in the back where you cannot knock it over. Then take the remaining amount of needed milk for the recipes from the other container.
Clean out your mixing bowls. It should about be time to check on your bread dough. If dough has about doubled inside it is time to punch it down and then knead it for five minutes. I knead the bread right there in the bowl. If dough is sticky I would very lightly use a bit of cooking oil on my hands (there is no extra flour to waste). Lightly oil the bread pans (you can use a bit of butter if you want, I normally do, but with butter limited and oil more available I’d use the oil). Divide the dough in half and form into loaves. Place in your bread pans and cover with a towel. Place next to stove or on top of the stove to get the residual heat to help with the second rise.
Mix your pizza dough using this recipe: http://luckyrobin.savingadvice.com/2011/03/14/pizza-dough-re... Warm up the microwave again by boiling hot water and then slip the dough inside with a towel over it. This dough only needs one rise. It should more or less be done about the time the bread dough has risen just above the top in its pans.
Get out your crockpot and put in your 2 pound pork butt roast. Combine your can of tomatoes and green chiles with 1 TBSP of chili powder. If you have a blender, give them a whirl, otherwise just stir. Pour over pork. Cook on low for 8 hours. Go and take a break until your bread dough is done rising. Check on your bread after it has risen for an hour. Preheat your oven to 375 and follow the instructions in the recipe for baking the bread.
Be careful not to bump the pans hard or slam the oven door as this can make your bread fall. Also do not walk too heavily or jump up and down in the kitchen. While fallen loaves cook up just fine, they will be smaller in volume. Because there is no extra flour, you want the volume to be as large as possible.
Once the bread is in the oven it is time prep some carrots and potatoes. Wash, peel and/or trim 4 carrots, 2 onions, 1 stalk of celery, and 3 potatoes. Save the peels from the carrots and onions, any parts you cut off the celery, and the top and bottom of the onions, and put them in a ziptop baggy and freeze. Shred one carrot into a bowl. Finely dice the celery and add it to bowl of carrot shreds. Set aside in the fridge. Cut one onion into bite-sized chunks and set aside, covered, in the fridge. Do not leave off the cover unless you want your whole fridge to smell like onions.
Cut remaining carrots, onion, and potatoes into one inch chunks and put into the bottom of your roasting pan. If you do not have a roasting pan you can use a cake pan (you will just set the chicken directly on top of the veggies). Place the carrots and potatoes into the pan and pour on two cups of water. Lightly salt. Take out one of your chickens. Freeze the other. Take out the packet of organ meats with the neck, if there is one. I don’t eat organ meats, but I know some people do, so if you do, do whatever you do with them. I feed them to the neighbor cat. I take out the neck, wash it, and place it in the water with the vegetables. Then I put the roasting rack over it. I then wash the chicken inside and with warm water, and reach inside to make sure there are no organs that have been missed, like the kidneys. I lightly rub about 1 tbsp of cooking oil all over the chicken and then sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs.
The bread should be done about now, so when the timer goes off, remove it from the oven and take it out of the loaf pans and set on a cooling rack. Slip the chicken into the oven, turning the heat down to 350 and setting it for 2 hours. Your pizza dough should have risen, so lightly coat your hands with cooking oil, punch down and divide it in half. Freeze half and put the other half into the fridge for use later in the week in a tightly covered bowl or a ziptop baggy. Crumble and fry your sausage. Using a slotted spoon, spoon sausage into a bowl and then carefully pour the sausage fat into a jar. Cool the fat. Cover and refrigerate. Cool the sausage until cold. Your biscuits should be cold now so put them into two gallon size freezer bags and freeze.
While the sausage is cooling, get out one pound of hamburger. Smash 4 cloves of garlic. Mince. Put the garlic skins or any bits you cut off, like the stem end, into the baggy in the freezer with the onion and carrot peels. In a large bowl, mix half of your diced onion and your garlic together. Shred one ounce of parmesan and a quarter cup of cheddar into your bowl. (You will be shredding your cheese as you need it, because it is less likely to mold in block form then in shreds). Add 2 eggs and stir well. Add the hamburger and mix with your hands. Form into 15 meatballs. I normally nuke these in the microwave for 5 minutes in my Tupperware stack cooker, but they can also be cooked in a skillet over medium heat until done. Remove to a plate and cool. Your egg count is now at 7 used.
Now is the time to put your cooled sausage into a baggy and throw it in the freezer. Take your ¼ pound of deli ham and dice it. Take an ice cube tray and divide your ham into each section and freeze it. My ice cube tray makes 14 cubes. In about 2 hours you can take it out of the ice cube tray and put it in a baggy. Put with the sausage. Add the bag of pepperoni to sausage and ham.
When your meatballs are cooled through, place them on a plate and put in your freezer. Once they are frozen solid, put into a baggy and put in the freezer. 15 meatballs gives you 5 servings of 3 meatballs each.
When the chicken and vegetables are done take it out of the oven and cover for a half an hour to help the chicken maintain its juices. Tear up a couple of leaves of lettuce to make a small salad. Top with a tbsp. of cheddar cheese. Mix together ¼ cup of mayo, ¼ cup of cooking oil, and 1 tbsp of honey for a dressing. Use 2 tbsp of dressing and tightly cover what is left in your fridge. It will keep about 5 days. Serve yourself 2 cups of the vegetables for dinner along with a chicken thigh and leg. Pull the meat off the bones and start a baggy of chicken bones for the freezer.
Before taking care of the remaining chicken, wrap one loaf of bread in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freeze. Slice the second loaf of your bread into 14 slices, making the two end pieces slightly larger (You will be using the ends in a specific recipe later in the week). Since the bread is now cool you should be able to easily get that amount. (You won’t if you try to slice it hot.) Wrap bread or put into reusable bread bag or bread box. You will have bread crumbs after slicing the bread. Wipe them or dump them into a large mixing bowl. Get out another pound of hamburger. Take your shredded carrot, finely diced celery, and the other half of your diced onion and put them in a bowl. Crack and whisk 5 eggs. Add ¼ cup of cheddar, ¼ cup of mozzarella, and 1 ounce of grated parmesan to the vegetables. Add ¼ cup of tomato sauce. Pour eggs over top and mix in. Add your hamburger and mix together. Take one of your bread pans, lightly oil it, and pour the meatloaf mixture into it. Bake at 375 for one hour.
While the meatloaf is cooking strip the remainder of your chicken off the bones. You can eat the skin if you want. Put the bones in the freezer baggy for bones. Shred the chicken up into bite sized pieces. You should have about 4 cups of chicken. Put one cup of the chicken in the fridge and freeze the remaining 3 cups. Put the leftover vegetables into the fridge. Wash everything.
Wash, peel, and cut up two more onions, one into a large dice and one into a small dice. Do the same for two carrots. Put your peels and ends into the freezer baggy for veggie peels. Cut up two pieces of celery into a large dice. Put the parts you cut off into the bag. Take the center stalks and leaves from the celery and rough cut them. Add the rough cut leaves and stalks to the freezer baggy. Return the remaining stalks to the fridge. Smash 4 cloves of garlic. Put all of these veggies into one container. Take your frozen bell pepper strips out of the freezer. Take ¼ of your strips and dice them fine. Put them into a baggy by the sausage, diced deli ham, and pepperoni. Put the remaining strips in their bag next to these.
Go and sit down until the meatloaf is done. When it is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for about half an hour. Once cooled, cut your meatloaf into five portions. Freeze on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to a baggy and keep in the freezer. Go and find something else to do or relax until the pork roast is done. Once it is done, take two forks and shred it, mixing it well with the tomatoes and juices. Divide the pulled pork into 4 equal amounts and put into containers.
If you have any raw meat still in the fridge, put it into the freezer. Clean the meatloaf pan and the crockpot and go to bed. Or whatever. You are done for the day. I will tell you what you are going to do with everything in another post.
Well, this project of mine is taking up quite a bit of time, I sacrificed my novel writing hour to it, but it sure is a fun and interesting challenge. But now back to my real world for a change.
I have three dentist appointments scheduled for next week. DD is on Monday, I am on Tuesday, and DS is on Wednesday, but thankfully DH will be back around 12:30 a.m. on next Wednesday morning. I am finally getting my teeth fixed. Or one of them. Yesterday was just a cleaning.
But yeah, it's finally my turn for something. I was going to have it done this summer, but then DS was assaulted and given that major concussion and neck issues. The bill on that ended up being $3000 out of pocket. We may or may not see some of it come back but I doubt it. Thankfully we had the HSA and we'll be deducting the full amount there again this year.
Then I was about to get it done and DH broke a crown and cracked another one, so then he pushed in front of me, because you cannot walk around with a broken molar if you can at all afford to fix it. Well, now all those things are paid for so it's my turn. I told everyone else that they are not to injure themselves at all until after my teeth are done. Because I am seriously tired of soft foods. So far our portion is looking like $505.
Remember when I said there would be $521 left for me to do something with this month, but I wasn't sure what? I am pretty sure God was laughing at my plans. But hey, at least we have the money to pay for it and that is the important thing.
I've been picking up a large amount of blog traffic from somewhere during the past couple of months. I'm getting over 3000 hits a day most days. Whereas I hit the 1,000,000 mark on April 19th, and that took me six years of blogging (well, five if you count the year I took off), I'm now close to hitting the 1.5 million mark and at the rate it's been building I may just do that before the end of the year. I sure wish I knew where it was all coming from, but I'm happy to have the readership. My traffic for last month was 111,670, but it had a weird spike in the middle with 30,000 some hits on one day that was just ridiculous, but even taking that away it was 80K. The month before was 52,895 and in July it was 34,577. I think before October my highest was around 38,000 and more were closer to the 30,000 mark.
I don't often think what I have to say is all that interesting or appealing to many people besides myself, unless I'm posting to a theme. Normally I just post for daily accountability, though I strive not to be boring. I mean the coin jar updates are just plain old tedious. I wander off topic quite a bit. I occasionally rant about things like cable television. I get silly and want to spend far too much money on things like Doctor Who action figures or memorabilia because I am that type of fangirl. Most of my posts don't have pictures to grab the eye.
But I am digging my way out of a hole built years ago, not giving up, taking it step by stubborn step. I am proving that it can be done even if it takes years and years. And maybe that's what people come around for. To see someone else who is working hard to get the debt put behind them. I am glad that there is some appeal to someone though. It's always nice to know it's not disappearing into the ether. That people are actually reading what I write. So thank you to all of you who have been bump, bump, bumping my stats along. I'm grateful to every reader I have.
How often do you hear this refrain in your day to day life? How many times are you guilty of using it? More often than not when I tell people that I make almost everything from scratch, I get one of two responses. The first one is, “I’d love to do that, but I don’t have time,” or simply, “I can’t do that because I don’t have the time.” The second one is, “Well, you’re a stay at home mother, of course you have the time to do it, but I have to work a job.”
For the myth that someone would love to do it, but they don’t have time, 9 times out of 10 what they are really saying is it isn’t a priority. Or they’re too tired to do it. Or it’s easier to pop a TV dinner into the microwave, which let’s face it, it is. Or they’d rather watch 3 hours of television or dink around on the internet after their 8 hour work day and 2 hour commute. It’s not that they don’t have the time. It’s that they choose not to use the time they have to make food from scratch. Which is fine. If I were stuck in traffic two hours a day, I’d probably not want to do it either. I’d want to veg out, and I’m not talking chopping broccoli. But that would be making a choice to do other things with your time, not that you truly don’t have it. If you don’t want to make it a priority, at least own it. Don’t say it’s because the time doesn’t exist.
1 time out of 10, there really are people who just cannot squeeze one more thing into a working day, who are lucky if the even remember to eat lunch or only eat it at their desk, who collapse into bed twenty minutes after making it home from work with a half-eaten drive-thru cheeseburger in one hand. Some people work massive overtime, or are salaried and work massive unpaid time. Even if this is you, there are still ways to do it. It just takes more planning.
For the myth that my life is somehow easier or full of extra time just because I do not work outside the home, I am going to give an example of my schedule on a typical day in fall/winter (spring would include gardening, summer would include gardening and canning but no school), I’ll show you what I did Tuesday. If you honestly still think that I didn’t “work” that day and that I had plenty of time to cook meals from scratch, then I challenge you to live my life for a day and then say that.
7:00 a.m. Wake up and get dressed. Look out the window and see if the car has frost on it. No frost this morning so throw last night’s load of clothes into the dryer, make sure DD actually has her lunch and drive her to school. (If frost, there would have been no laundry until 8:50 due to scraping and heating the car).
7:25 a.m. Return home. Let chickens and duck out of the coop. Fill the feeders, put out oyster shell and grit trays, check water. If water is frozen, put out fresh water. If water is not frozen, fill up waterer. Check pond. If pond is frozen, break the ice. Muck out the chicken coop and dump in the compost bin. Check for eggs.
8:00 a.m. If DS is still asleep, take a shower. If DS is awake make breakfast. Pancakes and eggs (10 minutes). Eat breakfast with DS. If DS is not awake, take a shower. DS was awake this morning. Check on Mom and make sure she’s alive and has her meds.
8:30 a.m. Send DS to get dressed and make his bed. Make my bed. Go on computer and check emails from DS’s virtual school. Check email from DH regarding daily, weekly, and monthly progress on virtual school. Check regular emails. Look at my blog and see if there were any comments.
8:50 a.m. Put laundry in the dryer and start new load. Check to see if DS is dressed and has made his bed. If not, tell him again. Look over today’s lesson plans.
9:05 a.m.: Start dough going in the bread machine.
9:07 a.m.: Start homeschooling--Math.
10:00 a.m. Put clothes in dryer. Start a load of towels.
10:10 a.m. Vocabulary
10:35 a.m. Take dough out of bread machine and place into a lightly buttered bread pan. Cover and place in warm spot to rise.
10:45 a.m. Science
11:45 a.m. Preheat oven for bread and make lunch.
11:55 a.m. Put bread into oven to bake. Eat lunch.
12:30 p.m. Pull bread out of oven and place on cooling rack.
12:40 p.m. Go for twenty minute walk with DS to get in daily exercise.
1:05 p.m. Composition
2:05 p.m. Leave to pick up DD from high school.
2:30 p.m. DS’s appointment for forward head posture correction treatment.
3:00 p.m. Put last load of laundry into the dryer. Hang up and fold with the help of the kids. Sneak some internet time.
3:45 p.m. Go to dentist for cleaning.
5:06 p.m. Check to see if all of the birds are in the chicken coop. Check to make sure water is not frozen. Check for eggs. Lock up the coop.
5:15 Make dinner (pot pies assembled and cooked last night and reheated for today). Eat dinner. Do dishes. Slice and put away the bread.
6:00 p.m. Grab DS and do History.
6:30 p.m. Make sure DD has folded the last load of laundry and put it away. Make sure DD is in the shower. Finish history.
7:00 p.m. Make sure DD is out of the shower, has made her lunch for school tomorrow, has put away the dishes and is on her way to bed. Send DS to the shower. Dream of actually maybe getting a shower of my very own. Read the blogs while the Swagbucks TV thing is running in the background. Read non-SA blogs, but get there by entering each one into the Swagbucks Search bar to collect points.
7:30 p.m. Make sure DS is out of the shower. Let him watch one half hour program on Netflix and dink around on the internet.
8:00 p.m. DS goes to bed.
8:05 p.m. Shower! And wash my hair.
8:20 p.m. Look at virtual school and see if there is any advanced prep for the next day. Check over the next day’s math lesson and make sure it’s not going to kill me. If not then go to my LJ and read my F-List.
9:00 p.m. Write for one hour on my novel.
10:00 p.m. Work on blog post for the next day. Start figuring out menu plans for the on paper only food stamp challenge.
10:50 p.m. Check my emails.
11:00 p.m. Go to sleep.
There would have been an extra hour for food prep if I hadn’t had to go to the dentist today. That’s why I did it last night.
Now I can sneak a little bit of internet time here and there sometimes while DS is reading to himself throughout the day, but it’s a pretty hands-on curriculum as far as DS is concerned. Because he is a kinesthetic and auditory learner he needs more help than if he were just a visual learner. Some days we get through things a lot faster. Some days we don’t. Today was a longer day.
So my day is just as busy as anyone else’s day, pretty equivalent to a working parent’s day since I am teaching as well as parenting and running the household, yet I still find the time to make my meals from scratch, to bake my own bread, to get in a smidge of exercise. What you won’t see on my schedule is TV watching. I do watch a few shows on the internet, but mostly not during the week (except Big Bang Theory), because if there really is one thing I don’t have time for, it’s the brain suck that is TV. If I do watch during the week I am working on my knitting at the same time.
I will cover ways in which to make cooking from scratch fit into life a bit more easily through multi-tasking and advanced prep in another post. I think this one is long enough.
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