Every time I use a punctuation mark like an apostrophe, or a comma, or quotation marks, it is surrounded with back slashes. It is not just me either. I've seen it on the blogs of everyone today too. Is this just a glitch in the system?
Archive for January, 2013
The new chicken fencing is up so the chickens have a whole new "pasture" to range in that is all grass and no mud. A good time was had by all. However, they are trying to get into the compost bins. My opinion is let them. They'll scratch it up and turn it over and then we can shovel it back into the bins and close them back up.
We got everything in under the wire for homeschooling this month. I was a little worried since both DS and I had the flu virus for a good ten days this month. But we did get caught up. Now I just need to worry about getting him through his regular lessons tomorrow and then the weekend is here and I am going to sleep.
I met with the new doctor today and I have to say I like him a good bit. He listens well. Didn't have the physical today as he wanted to talk about some of the other problems I've been having, the dizziness, the tremors, the tingling, the dizziness, the exhaustion, the insomnia, the dizziness...
And he wants me to go for a sleep study, because he is expecting that my chronic exhaustion/insomnia situation may actually be sleep apnea. Oh, joy. So I have to call them tommorrow and make an appointment.
I also was given a mammagram paper and I need to call and set that up. I've never had one. I should have had one at 35 since my mother is a breast cancer survivor, but I had so much else going on in my health the past seven to eight year it never happened.
I also have to go over to the lab who did the blood work for my last doctor and get a copy of it sent to my new doctor, since that lab is not part of their computerized sharing system.
He also wants me to order a device for taking blood pressure at home. Fun. It's going to be an expensive next couple of months, I can tell.
Anyway, so new doctor man wants to get to the root of most of these things before I come back in 2 weeks.
So in writing down my surgeries, it came out to 11, 7 of which have been in the last decade. Geesh. No wonder I can't get well. My body is determined to kill me.
Anyway, there was no money out today though my kids were despereate for me to get burgers, or Hawaiian Barbecue, or KFC and I totally would not. I came home and I made spaghetti and meatballs, which I think was technically tomorrow's meal, but close enough.
I still have $120 left in my checkbook and payday is tomorrow, albeit the two day paycheck.
I ran across two farms today in my search for something like that other farmhouse. Neither is ideal, but neither is in a flood plain, either. One is ten acres, but isn't flat land. The house is located on top of a hill. Actually there are two houses on this property and the second one currently rents for $1800 a month. So for 2 houses and 10 acres it is $350,000. Not too bad if you are taking in $1800 in rental income as well. It doesn't mention outbuilding though.
The other farm is 5 acres and $235,000. It has a good shop, garages, and a nice barn. The only problem is the house is a manufactured home. While I'm not anti-manufactured home per se, I do know that they take an awful lot of shortcuts, like walls that don't actually meet, but are then covered by molding so they appear so, or linoleum that is stapled down instead of adhered to the floor. Like interior walls being little more than cardboard covered with wall paper. Like an improperly pitched roof, or skylights that are not properly sealed. So that's not anywhere I would want to go. Otherwise it's a great property and has a great layout.
I guess I'll just have to keep looking. Good thing we aren't in any rush.
My physical therapist was sick today and cancelled our appointment. I have to say I am glad because I really didn't feel up to being tortured this week. Come to think of it, she was showing symptoms last week, so that's probably where this cold came from. Anyway, that's $90 I didn't need to spend this week. I'm glad of that, because I'm not sure about my doctor's appointment tomorrow whether or not physicals go towards the deductible or they are covered outright. I'm thinking outright, but I won't know for sure until I get there. I gave them insurance info over the phone. Plus throw in the new patient thing and who knows.
Today I am at least making what's on my meal plan for the week. But then roast chicken and baked potatoes are easy. 5 minutes of hands on time.
I need to start taking my vitamins again. I've been slacking off and only doing the vitamin D3, but I need to add back in C, fish oil, E, magnesium and potassium. I always feel better on that regimen, but when I need it the most, in winter, is when I tend to slack off on it.
I will be getting my rewards coupon from AMEX in February. The only thing I don't like about it is that since it's tied to my Costco card, I have to take the coupon in to Costco to get my cash. I'd prefer they just send me a check I can cash at the credit union or apply it directly to my account. I hate going to our Costco. The parking lot is a nightmare. It's one thing when I am actually buying groceries, but another thing when I am not.
We have one of the busiest Costco's in the state. I really do not understand why so many Canadians cross the border to shop here, but every other license plate is Canadian. There is a Costco on their side in Abbotsford two minutes from the border.
I can't see how waiting in a 40 minute (or longer) border crossing line, coming stateside to shop and get gas, and then spending another 40 minutes (or more) to cross the border again, could ever be worth it. I would think you'd be wasting as much gas in the lines as you would save from getting it stateside.
I wouldn't do it. Maybe back in the olden days when gas was 99 cents a gallon and dairy products were cheap, but now? Of course, they are probably the only thing keeping the retail economy of this county afloat. I doubt it would survive without the influx. But it does make it difficult to park, run in, and get back out quickly with all the non-local shoppers.
I've been thinking about just getting rid of this card and dropping Costco as well. Only thing is, this is the only card in just my name. All of our other cards are my husband's and I'm either a co-signer or an authorized user. I know they changed the law a while back so that it was no longer based on household income, so if you don't make an income of your own, you couldn't get a card of your own. I don't know if that change was ever rescinded or not. I know there was some hoo hah about it, but not how it turned out. So I'm not sure I'd be able to get another card in just my name if I did cancel it.
It probably doesn't matter too much as I don't intend to need a bunch of cards and my marriage is solid, so I'm not expecting to lose access to DH's, but it just seems smart to have at least one card in my own name.
Right now I'm breaking even on the Costco membership fee and that's about it. And there are less and less products we buy there as we've switched to getting our meat from the ranch and not from Costco. I may give it another year and track it and then figure out whether or not it is worth it to me. They've stopped carrying the brands of tomato sauce, peanut butter, and green beans that I liked so that's going on the con side. Mostly I am just buying the non-food products there. It's becoming less and less worth it.
I am glad I copy my entries every time before trying to post them, because this week SA has been eating my posts alive, its favorite comment being the one that says "Our records show that you are already logged in as yourself." And I'm like, No Duh, every time it does that. So if I'm logged in as myself, than what is your problem, you goofy computer program? /vent
Some days I wonder why I even bother to make a meal plan, when I end up making pizza 3 times a week lately. I had planned to make Bolgogi (Korean stir-fry), which should be a relatively easy new recipe for me. But I didn't. Maybe my day was thrown off because my mother had a procedure done and had to be there at 6:30. And I had to take DD to school at 7 and then pick Mom up at 7:40 which turned more like 8:30 because she takes so long to come out of anesthetic. I was dragging by the time we got home and pretty much dragged all day, so when it came time to make dinner I had no interest in making a new recipe.
Instead I took the easy way and dumped dough ingredients into the bread machine. All told it takes about 4 minutes of hands-on time to make a pizza. I always have toppings in the fridge, either ham or pepperoni or sausage or ground beef. I always have cheese. I always have onions and bell pepper strips (frozen). I always have tomato sauce and basil and oregano. So when I am feeling particularly tired (or lazy) or don't want to think it seems to be my go to dinner.
At least it is good pizza. One of my tricks is to rub the dough (and my hands) with extra virgin olive oil before pushing it out on the pizza pan. I think it makes a big difference in not only the flavor of the dough, but in making a crisp crust. Also the crust never sticks to the pan when I do this.
I received a $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks today. That makes my total $85. I should get one more in by the end of the month.
I scheduled a doctor's appointment with a new doctor. I decided to try to find someone who wouldn't put me on a waiting list just to make an appointment. This doctor I will be able to see on Thursday and he's in my PPO.
It's not a female like I wanted, but I didn't find anything negative on him on the web and he's young enough that I shouldn't have to worry about finding a new doctor again in my lifetime if I like him.
I went ahead and scheduled a physical. It's been a few years. I need to make out a list of my medications and dosages and see if I can find my copy of my blood work results from December so he won't order extra.
I also need to sit down and list all my surgeries. I can't even remember how many I've had. 7 or 8 since 2003, at least five before that. The last one was in 2011. When I make out lists like that, I realize how lucky I am to be alive and doing relatively well now.
I think my insurance covers physicals without having met the deductible, so hopefully there will be no out of pocket expense for this visit.
I have physical therapy tomorrow so that is $90. I have thought about cancelling because I don't feel well, but that might just be the course of today and being so tired.
I almost lost a shoe today to the mud pit that is the chicken yard. It can stop raining any time now. I need to buy a pair of Wellies. Even the boards we've put down to walk through the mud are sinking in it. Rain is better than frozen because it's warmer, but frozen is better than rain if you are trying to walk across the ground. I'm ready for summer. Really, really ready. At least we will be in Cali for a week in March. That will help with my cold season blahs.
On the bright side of things, my knee hasn't hurt all week. And I am back to walking down stairs one foot per step instead of two footing it. Still a little slow and I still like to be within grabbing distance, but it feels almost normal at the moment.
I've been doing some thinking about the next couple of months. In February we will buy our Disneyland Parkhopper tickets, which will set us back $2030 for 7 tickets (unless they go on sale), but we should be able to buy them outright in February. I will charge them for the benefits of charging, but then I will pay it off as soon as it posts to the account.
We already have enough saved up to cover prepaying the limo rental both ways, so that will get taken care of in the next few days. We chose to do a limo because it was actually cheaper for 7 people and all their stuff than two taxis or vanpools.
And then in March I will take $2500 for the trip itself. I think that should easily cover groceries, a few meals out and souvenirs. It's probably more than we need, but I'd rather have too much than too little and come home with money. SIL is paying for her own food for her and the girls. We are picking up everything else, but flights and the condo are long since taken care of.
Also in March we should have our taxes back. The Chase card will be at $4900 by then and our taxes will more than pay for that. (We will get a lot back because we fully used the HSA again this year and will get all of that back). We will also be getting DD's MacBook. If there is any money left it will go to the EF. Last year (and circumstances haven't changed) we got around $8750 back. $6150 is from the HSA alone. That should put the EF around $4000 to $5000.
After that I need to decide what I'm going to do. Our only two debts will be the mortgage and the van payment. The mortgage has a higher percentage rate than the van, but the house will be up for sale by then. I'm not sure if there is any point in paying down the mortgage, yet if it doesn't sell right away then there is.
I figured that we could have the mortgage paid off by September/October if we start paying $2500 a month in April. I keep going back and forth on this. Part of me says forget prepaying it, put that money in the EF and college fund instead. Or put it toward the van. It's like being on a merry-go-round. I just keep going around in circles trying to figure out the smartest thing to do.
My mother keeps butting into the house stuff. She's trying to be the one who will set the price. She's acting like she's the one who gets to okay any offers and it is driving me right up the wall. I want her out of it, but she has a way of squirming into our business and getting people to talk to her who legally should not be talking to her about any of it.
I don't particularly want her knowing A. What the amount of the mortgage is left on the house, and B. What the price is that we actually get for it. It's none of her business. She does like sticking her nose in. She wants to set the price far higher than what I think anyone will pay for it. I've seen how long houses sit on the market in that area if they are over-priced.
I love my mother very much, she has a lot of great qualities and I never have doubted that she loves me, but she is a difficult personality. She is very pushy and stubborn and manipulative when she chooses to be. I just can't figure out what she thinks she'll get out of any of this.
I will be glad when we are not living under the same roof again, even though I know I will worry about her. I am ready to worry about her from a slightly more removed area. Even if I know she will likely end up moving in with us several years in the future, it will be different. It will be her living in our home and not vice versa.
Right now she is very weird about money. She's been like this the last year. We pay for the gas, the electric, the water/sewer, the internet, and the garbage for the entire household, yet she worries about how high the utilities are. She often eats with us and spends very little on groceries herself, but worries constantly about the cost of food. She barely ever drives anywhere, but worries constantly about the cost of gasoline.
She gets $1000 from us every month as we pay back our loan, and $757 from social security. Her house is paid for, her SUV and pickup are paid for. She pays for some chicken feed, satellite TV, $100 in groceries each month, car and house insurance, and property taxes ($2500 a year) and that's about it. Her income is more than enough to cover it. She's always been a champion budgeter. Even after we move out and she takes back over the utilities (they'll drop), she'll still have more than enough to meet her needs.
I don't know why she's being so weird about money. I've even told her we will take care of her after our loan to her is paid off. She will not be on the street, she will always have enough to eat. I do have to wonder if maybe I'm seeing the beginning stages of dementia or if the two mini-strokes did more damage to her brain than they thought. It's something I'll have to keep an eye on.
Well, that lovely farm with the lovely 1920's farmhouse is not to be. It is in the flood plain after all, and not just in it, but apparently the entire front yard is waterlogged at the rainiest parts of the year or whenever snow melts. I am a little disappointed, but I am sure there will be something else out there somewhere that will meet our needs and wants. Dealing with flooding is not something I want to do. I grew up dealing with a basement that constantly flooded. This house didn't have a basement, but with water that bad it would get in the barn and things would get wet.
So we'll keep looking and hopefully find something similar. It doesn't have to be 7 acres. 1 acre is enough to make me happy outside the city and .5 acre is enough to make me happy inside of it. I'm not in any rush. There's more debt to be paid and I can focus on that for now, while still keeping an eye out.
I did look up exactly when the 0% Chase card expires and it is in August, so we'll have that well paid off by the end of March, no worries. It is the focus of February and March payments and after that we'll work on the mortgage.
I am back to purchasing my produce now that the garden is finally dead as can be. I find myself really resenting the price of organic broccoli, but that just gives me the motivation to plant more next year and freeze it myself (as opposed to letting mother nature do it). I am using broccoli more as an ingredient than as a main dish. In other words it is part of a stir-fry with many other veggies, instead of just a helping of broccoli. It helps spread the cost of it and cauliflower out.
At least cabbage, even organic cabbage is still cheap. And I'm pretty easy about eating coleslaw. I could probably eat it every day, especially when organic lettuce is $2.49 a head. I am going to plant lettuce early this year. I'm going to chance it in pots mid-March and then just bring it in at night if it threatens to freeze.
I've been on an oranges kick lately, but they are in season so that's not bad. I did get a case of pineapple for some variety, though. I always freeze the pineapple juice that is leftover in one or two of my Popsicle molds. They are nice to have when sore throat weather hits. Or else I will use it in stir-fries instead of honey to sweeten the dish.
Well, anyway, here's the food plan for the week:
Ethiopian Sloppy Joes on whole wheat tortillas
Chicken enchiladas with homemade sauce
Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Beef chuck pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Breakfasts this week will be sausages and eggs or toast and eggs.
Lunches this week will be leftover lasagna and low carb meatloaf.
Most, but not all, of the debt repayment hit our credit report. We have a monitoring service through Experian due to theft years ago. I'm paranoid enough about it, to keep tabs on at least one of our reports. So it is lagging one month behind on the mortgage, but it was lagging 3 months behind as I think the credit union only reports it quarterly, and it is one payment behind on both the AMEX and the BoA, but it will catch up. Meanwhile our credit score went up to 790.
Now I'm all antsy for February 8th to get here and I can start paying the Chase card off. It's kind of contagious, that push to get further and further out of debt. Paying Chase off probably won't have much of an effect on our credit score. It's the car loan that is likely keeping it from going over 800. Still, we are positioning ourselves well to buy a new house.
We went down to the sustainable, free-ranging, organic (and grass fed in the case of the beef, no soy or GMO's in the case of the chickens) farm today and I spent $297.78 of my $300 monthly meat budget. We came back with 4 chuck roasts, 8 pork chops, 2 beef stir-fry, 2 bacon, 2 whole chickens, 10 ground beef, and 2 ground pork. We still have a couple of packs of bacon and some hamburger from our last trip, so this should meet our protein needs nicely for the month. And of course there are our free eggs from the backyard chickens.
I really hope to be able to order a half a steer this year. We will see how it goes. I also wouldn't mind a whole pig, but the ranch doesn't do that so we'd have to find another source. They do a $300 box of pork though. I'm not really sure if it's worth getting though, because we pretty much only eat bacon, ground pork, and pork chops when it comes to pork. Very occasionally I will make pulled pork for burritos from a roast, but not often.
On the way back from the farm there was a gas station that had gas for $3.17 a gallon if you had cash, so DH and I ransacked his wallet and my purse and scraped together $31 (including the last couple bucks of the meat budget money) for gas, since the absolute cheapest it is in our county is $3.25. So the tank sits at 3/4 full now. Well worth it since we were driving by it anyway.
We went to Costco after we got home and I used my rebate coupon. We stocked up on some toiletries, garbage bags, canned pineapple, butter, and oranges. Charmin had a $2 off coupon, so that was nice. We stopped at another store for Organic milk, green onions and bananas.
I feel like I put myself through the wringer today, though. On the bright side my knee isn't hurting. On the not so bright side everything else is. I'm sure it will be better in the morning, though. It usually is.
Aside from the most important thing of paying off the BoA card this morning, I finally had time to sit down and pay out the bills for this week. It's not a lot of stuff, since the majority of the money went to one place. Both BoA and AMEX will now be paid off each month with no balance carried forward. AMEX is for gas and miscellaneous purchases I want to track, like OTC cold meds or meals out. We're down to only spending $100 a month on meals out, which generally amounts to one nice restaurant and one fast food meal a month.
Anyway, here's what it looks like:
$2675.84 BoA VISA payoff
___15.00 Daughter's allowance (DS will be caught up with what he owes me on 2/1)
__100.00 DH's monthly allowance
__100.00 property tax (holding tank)
$3667.00 total money out
That leaves us $274.87 until Friday. I am actually going to try to only use $74.87 out of it. I got my Costco rebate check coupon thing so that should cover a case of toilet paper, butter, and a case of oranges and there is no other reason to spend money, except for milk, between now and the payday on 2/1.
I deposited the dollars from my coin jar, a roll of pennies, and $20 I had left from last payday to my EF fund, total of $44.50. That means the new total in the Emergency Fund is now $1717.50. That also means I passed my January goal of getting the EF to $1700. My goal for February is to get it to $1900.
I think I will have enough points by tomorrow to cash out at Swagbucks for another Amazon $5 gift card.
The man fixing up our old house was able to work there again all day today. Maybe this thing will get done by March. Pray for rain! He can't do his normal job when it is raining outside. I almost feel like this is a sign pointing to things aligning for us to possibly get that farm house. I don't want to get my hopes up, but even my mother is on board with that house and that is saying something. She's notoriously pessimistic sometimes.
We are left now with our 0% Chase card with $5100 on it. It is the last of the credit card debt. And it will be gone by the end of March. We have put our debt to income ratio in an excellent place for buying a house. All of the pieces are falling into place. Hopefully they will continue to do so and we will keep our heads. It is very important not to go crazy now, but to continue to do things rationally and the right way.
After a final attempt to rally its forces with a tempting offer of not one, not two, but three balance transfer checks, the great ship Bank of America VISA Card was sunk with four short photon bursts. It's final resting place is deep in the heart of the $0 balance trench under Garbage Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. RIP, oh, mighty enemy. You have won many battles, but I, lonely soldier that I am, have won the war.
I've been looking around for college scholarships and whatnot and I ran across Americorps first, and then shifted over to the Peacecorps information. Volunteers with the peace corp make a 27 month commitment. 3 months of it are intensive training, including 4 to 5 hours a day in language classes. My daughter perked right up on hearing that. Then after you complete your two years of service, they release you with $7400, what they treat as a re-entry into the real world thing. But that $7400 would go for college in my daughter's case.
So the plan is looking like sending her to the community college for 2 years and then sending her to the Peacecorps. And then when she comes back she can have her records transferred to the local university. Or she could re-sign up.
During the Peacecorp time they pay a monthly stipend for housing and food and they pay for the cost to travel to and from what country you are assigned to. They also have full medical and dental.
The only requirement is that you are an American citizen and 18 years old.
So it looks like we will only need to come up with $15,000 for her two years at the community college and then we can save the rest of the rest of the money for her years at WWU.
Then we can repeat the whole thing with DS. Although he says he might like to go straight out of high school, giving us more time to save for his college.
The other ramification is that once they go there for two years, they will not be our dependents so that means the schools or organizations will not be allowed to use our income in considering grants and scholarships. And their minor income during those years will put them well below the threshhold for some of these grants.
They are excited about it now. Let's see how things are when the time comes.
Tomorrow is the big day. It's the day we get the Evil Empire of BoA off our backs forever. It's been such a long time coming. We'll be down to the one Chase VISA at 0% interest and if the gub'mint isn't slow on refunding our taxes, we wipe that slate clean in March. I am thrilled, as you can imagine. Tomorrow I'll probably be doing cartwheels. In my head, anyway.
It's been raining or fogging heavily this week so the person who is working on our house in his spare time was out there all day yesterday, since he couldn't work his day job (painting outdoors). The inside of the house is now completely primed and will hopefully be done being painted by the end of this weekend. The carpet has been pulled up and the pad.
Then we just do the doors and the new pad and carpet and that baby goes on the market. The doors are going to cost about $1000. The carpet probably close to $5000 since we can get the contractor's discount through our guy and it also needs a bit of linoleum. My mom is paying for it and we'll pay her back when it sells right off the top. She knows it may be a while and is okay with that. She just doesn't want us charging it.
I was worried how Mom was going to get through this week. The 22nd was the first anniversary of my dad's death, though his mind had been gone for a few years at that point. She did okay though. I think it helped to have us around.
DH is only home for a few days. He goes back to work on Monday. We'd like to try to get out to the farm house and view it, but I'm not sure if we will have the time. Possibly next month we will. The one thing I really want to find out about is how old the wiring in the house is. I imagine they brought it up to code at some point, but how far up is the question.
Even if it is up to code we would probably need an electrician to come and put in new outlets if that was never done. 1920's farm houses were not built with modern electrical usage in mind. Many rooms only had one outlet for plugging in two things. In this day and age there are usually four outlets per room for plugging in 8 devices. I just want to know what we'd be letting ourselves in for.
If the house is still on the market in May it'll have been on for a year. We may be able to make a low ball offer. Even though $265,000 is great for this particular property, if I could get it for $225,000 that would be even better, though it'll probably end up somewhere between the two. If, if, if everything else works out right. We'll see.
Today has just been one of those days where I have been thinking expensive thoughts. This morning as I took my daughter to school I thought about going over to McDonalds because they have the 2 egg Mcmuffin special right now. I am not sure why I thought this. I have not eaten food from McDonalds in almost a year. But it seemed enticing this morning and the egg Mcmuffin is one of the few breakfast items there made with actual eggs and not liquid egg product. I did not do it though.
Instead I came home and DS and I made sustainably grown bacon and scrambled eggs fresh from our own chickens and toast from homemade bread. And it was the best breakfast. In no way would that breakfast sandwich have compared to it.
At lunch time I again thought about going and grabbing some burgers. But we had leftover bacon from breakfast so instead I made some toasted cheese and bacon sandwiches and some fries. And again, it was simple, but so delicious.
Then after school as I was picking up my daughter I was very tempted to call for a pizza. But then I thought that it would be a simple enough thing to start dough for dinner in the bread machine when I got home and make pizza for dinner instead of my planned dinner of pancakes and eggs.
I do not usually have such persisting thoughts about eating out all day long. If I had spent the money at each meal, I would probably have spent around $60 today. And it would not have been worth it. Besides, if I had spent it today we would not have the eating out money for our planned lunch out on Saturday at an Italian place. And I have been promising DS we would go there while his father was home (he comes home tonight).
So I guess I kept my head in the game, but my thoughts sure wanted me to go off track today.
This morning after breakfast DS and I went for a walk because we are trying to get into walking shape for Disneyland. It was really foggy and really cold out. I told him in the future we would have to wait until after lunch when maybe it wouldn't be so cold. Or else we would have to take turns on the treadmill. The highest it got up to was 35 degrees F and even with my parka, gloves, and scarf it was not comfortable. And I don't want to catch pneumonia just in time for Disneyland.
I received another $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks today. My balance at Amazon is now $80.
Not terribly much going on at the Robin's nest today. I didn't sleep last night so I didn't trust myself to drive. Instead I sent the kids on a walk (six blocks) down to the store and they picked up cheese and milk and tater tots (I know, I know!) Tater tots are the one potato product I have not figured out how to make from scratch and since the store carries one brand of potato products that is Feingold safe for my son's allergies, I do get them from time to time.
We put down some more hay for the chickens on the ground since it is so cold for them outside right now. They have been a little less than enthused about coming out of the coop in the morning and have headed in before dark for the last couple of weeks. They know where their heat lamp is. It got all the way up to 41 degrees F today. I keep waiting for it to snow because the pullets have never seen it before and there is nothing more hilarious than a chicken's first experience with snow.
If our new place ends up being large enough to keep chickens, I definitely want to locate the coop next to a spicket. Dealing with frozen water buckets and carrying water from any distance is a royal pain. Either near the coop or put in one of those miniature wells, the name of which escapes me, but they have kits for doing it yourself. The water table is pretty high at the farm we are looking at and for garden and livestock use, it wouldn't have to be driven too deep.
I keep trying not to get ahead of myself, but I do have to admit that that farm would be a fantastic place to live. DS asked if we did get a place like that if he could have a dog. My answer to that question has always been no. With our allergies, I don't want an animal in the house. But with almost seven acres...well, I told him I'd talk to his dad about it. Maybe a border collie. Something that would help guard chickens and rabbits from predators. And then there's always the much needed barn cats.
I've always been kind of anti-pet as an adult because I didn't want to be tied down, and I didn't want to ever have to kennel an animal for vacation and it was hard enough taking care of two small kids with my disability without adding pets into the mix. But my kids are older now and there are pet sitters/house sitters, and I bet I could find one willing to take care of a dog, a couple of cats, some bunnies and a few chickens when we want to go away. And if not, well FIL and MIL are just five minutes away.
Honestly, I need to stop dreaming ahead. Until our house sells there is no guarantee that any house available today will be available then and even if it is, it would have to pass an inspection. Especially since our house still needs the final coat of paint, the rugs replaced and the new doors installed before it can even be put on the market. It looks like things will be done by March, but I am not holding my breath. I've seen houses sit on the market for years out there.
I added $8.51 to the coin jar today. And that's all she wrote.
I've got a few things in my freezer I want to use up this week, a duck and some steaks. I also have quite a bit of cabbage so cole slaw or cooked shreds will be heavy in the menus this week. Also we have 8 dozen eggs in the fridge right now, so that will play into my menus as well. And the only fruit I have on hand is oranges and one can of pears, so not a lot of variety on that count.
Lightly fried cabbage and onion shreds
Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Beef and pork meatballs
Pizza with leftover spaghetti sauce, shredded leftover meatballs, pepperoni, onions, and (frozen) bell pepper strips
Lamb de provence patties
Baked potatoes and carrots
Breakfast this week will be omelets, sausage, bacon, pancakes. Lunches will be meatloaf, crockpotted turkey, turkey quesadillas, and shredded cabbage or salad.
We bought a rabbit at the food co-op the other day. They had some in the freezer, so I am going to fry that up on Wednesday when DH is home so we can all try it. I remember having it when I was eleven and liking it, but I haven't had it since and the kids never have. I don't know about DH. But anyway, if we are going to get into raising meat rabbits then we definitely want to know if we all like it.
I did some pricing as well, and it looks like meat rabbits are selling for $20, at least the breeds I am looking at, which are the Californian and the New Zealand. So start up livestock costs will be $80 for 1 buck and 3 does or $160 for 2 bucks and 6 does. We can make some fairly inexpensive rabbit tractors from PVC pipes, rabbit wire, and zip ties for daytime use, but at night I would want them in hutches. Also in winter and the heat of the summer they would need more shelter than tractors provide.
That's still a good way off, though. At least a year. I think I will add a budget category called rabbitry and start saving some money for it once the credit card debt is paid. Even if we don't do rabbits, we will do meat chickens and the money will be there for either.
I can't believe how close I am to finally paying off the BoA VISA card. At the beginning of January it felt like it was going to take so long just to get to this point, but now it's almost here. It feels so good to be almost out from under it.
DH bought a one way plane ticket $457.40 and one of our autopays went through $105 (for some reason I thought this one was $120, but I guess not). So total BoA balance is now at $2562.40. We will still be able to pay that off on Friday and then we are starting over with this card, using it only for DH's plane tickets, hotel overnight in Anchorage, and travel food. Oh, and anything DH might need from the commissary, like cold medicine or cough drops No more miscellaneous purchases.
After this month DH can go back to buying round trip tickets, instead of one way tickets. That'll make it more convenient for him.
I cashed out for another $5 gift card for Amazon from swagbucks. I think I'll be able to hit five of those this month. I have one that should hit my account in a day or two. I think I am going to save these gift cards for Christmas. My friend who was doing so bad didn't want me to use the Amazon cards for her, so I have a balance right now of $75 in my account.
If I can add $25 a month between now and Christmas I should have a total of $350 in gift cards. We spent about $600 on Christmas this year, so that covers over half of it. We ended up buying a lot of stuff on Amazon, too, so that will work out really well for us.
I didn't end up driving down to the farm yesterday. I've just been too exhausted lately and a drive like that with two bickering kids (they have been nuts this week) was more than I thought I could handle. The money is still set aside though. We will go next Saturday when DH is here to do the driving.
I think I may have mentioned this already, but my doctor retired after saying he wasn't going to and now I need to find a new one. The main doctors' collective in town put me on a waiting list because apparently they can only schedule through February and they are booked. I'm totally thinking they need to improve their software, or go back to an old-fashioned doctor's appointment book.
But I did find another organization in town that takes our insurance and DH gave me a list of the doctors there that are open for new patients, and ten of them are female, so I am going to spend a lot of time on the phone on Monday (or Tuesday if they are closed for the holiday) and see if I can't get an appointment in the next 30 days instead. I hope so, because my BP meds run out on March 1 and my new cholesterol medicine runs out on February 22, and I can't even get a hold of my old doctor to add refills until I can find a new one. I'm more concerned about the BP med than the other.
If I have to I will go to the walk in clinic, bring my prescription bottle, see a doctor and explain the situation and at least get enough BP meds to last through March.
I am trying not to get impatient waiting for Experian to update its stuff. It has about $16,000 worth of paid off stuff still listed. Usually it's updated mid-month, but for some reason they haven't updated it since December 7. We have a monitoring service because of theft years ago. I am just impatient. I want to see how all this payoff is going to affect our credit score. I hope they update it in February.
I have decided to stop wavering and go ahead with paying off the 0% Chase bill next instead of the mortgage. I have also decided to stop sending extra to the mortgage. The extra $193.16 I've been sending each month will replace some of the wiggle room that the higher social security taxes took away. That was a hard decision to make, but I am feeling pinched right now trying to meet all goals with that money missing from our income. And I don't like feeling pinched as it tends to make me resentful and want to go waste money on something. I may revisit that in a month or two, but for now I will just make the regular payment.
Do you think it would make more sense to me to try to pay off the mortgage quickly or to pay off the 0% interest credit card? The plan has been to pay off the card, but I ran the numbers and if I used the money I had planned to use for the Chase card and continued to pay minimum payments on it and instead threw that at the mortgage, I could have the mortgage paid off by the end of June.
The Chase card is at 0% through the end of 2013. Acutally I think it is until January 2014. And then with no mortgage to pay as well as all the extra money we were throwing at it, we will be able to have that credit card paid off by the end of the year, while it is still at 0%.
Part of my hesitation is psychological. For so long my goal has been to pay off the credit cards. It's been my number one priority. I am not naive enough to believe our house will sell quickly once it goes on the market in spring. So it seems like it would make things a lot easier if it is paid off when it sells, one less round of paperwork. Plus the mortgage is at 5.5%. So it seems silly to not take care of it first.
No matter which way I do it, they'll both be paid off by the end of the year. How do I get past these psychological barriers? Common sense me, people.
So today is payday and the first thing I did this morning was to pay $2609.14 to the Evil Empire. This brings the BoA VISA card down to $2000 even. All of the autopays for this month have gone through now except one that will be $120, so VISA amount payoff will actually be $2120. That brings total credit card debt down to $7100.
After my final payment of $2000 next week the BoA card will be paid off and will only be used for autopays and DH's plane tickets, hotels, and travel food.
Then the only card we will have left is the Chase VISA, with $5100 left on it and it has a 0% interest rate through the end of 2013.
Money Out this Payday:
$2609.14 BoA VISA payment
__125.00 Half year dues
___44.87 Old House phone for security system
___72.00 Water/Sewer (Old House) to the Holding Tank
__100.00 Emergency Fund
__135.00 Paying Back the Mac Book Fund
__300.00 Farm money for meats
__100.00 Miscellaneous (toiletries, OTC medicine)
The Emergency Fund now sits at $1670. I am $30 short of my January goal, but that should be no problem to meet.
Today's check was 3420.49. I already had money saved for the dues, the garbage, and the water/sewer. I also had some money left from last week.
After paying everything I will have $146.59. $90 of that will go to physical therapy on Friday, so really $56.59 until next payday.
The plan so far for next Friday is $2120 to the BoA to pay it off, $200 to the Vacation Fund, $100 to the property tax fund, $570 to the Mortgage, $100 to the propane fund and $200 to the Mac Book fund.
February 1st will be the start of the new Budget Template and I am setting up a spreadsheet for that to let me know where I'll go from there.
I found a beautiful house for sale today. It's a 1920's farmhouse and the wallpaper and such is very outdated, but it's got one of those gorgeous farmhouse kitchens with a walk in pantry. Very rustic. It's set on 6.7 acres of level land and is ten minutes on the freeway from the city I live in now. It's got a barn, a shed, and a large garage/shop.
It's got mature fruit trees and backs up to a spring fed lake. It's far enough from the river to not be in the flood plain, but not so far that you couldn't walk to it. It's got a wood stove and plenty of trees for fuel. The land has been in hay. It's less than a mile to two grocery stores, several restaurants and a bowling alley.
There's a cell tower on the property on an easement so no worries about cell reception. It's on the county bus line into the city and has a stop right near the community college. It's a two minute drive to a branch of our credit union. We'd be ten minutes from my mom's house, five minutes from my MIL and FIL's house, and ten minutes to my SIL's house.
It's got garden space, is wired for internet, is on city water and sewer. Taxes are $1820 a year. It is 1679 square feet with 4 bedrooms. The master bedroom is on the main floor and it has 2 bathrooms (not common for that time period). And the very best part is the price...$265,000. It's been listed for 240 days. I am thinking this is due to the old-fashionedness of the house and the fact that it has carpet instead of hardwood floors (though I wouldn't be surprised if there was hardwood under the carpet, given it's age).
I mean, it is 95% of what I want in a house and the land. I have liked other houses before, but I've not had one come so close to everything on my checklist before. Maybe 75%. We could have hens and rabbits and a rooster. Maybe even a barn cat. Can't have a house cat because of allergies, but a barn cat would be nice.
Now who knows if it will be available after our house sells, but it's amazing to realize places like this are actually out there. That maybe we won't have to settle after all.
It is a really good thing that DH was not trying to get home this week and that he is working an extra week as they have been in whiteout conditions for the last few days and no planes would be able to take off and land. What is a whiteout? It's when blizzard conditions reach stage 3 and no one is allowed to go outside. Visibility is gone, all you see is white, whirling, blinding snow. Stage 2 they are allowed to go outside but they must travel in caravans of 4 or 5 trucks. Stage 1 is when you must travel with 2 trucks together.
DH sent me some pictures after he was allowed to go outside again. It is still snowing, but no longer blizzard conditions.
Even when they are in whiteout conditions and can't fully do their jobs, they still get paid. It's one of the hazards of working in the arctic.
It's been cold here, too, but nowhere on that scale. The last few days have hovered around 28 degrees F. It has been taking 20 to 25 minutes to defrost the van every morning, even with deicer, because the inside of the window is just so cold it takes forever to unfog enough to drive. I am going to have to buy some more deicer soon.
I read somewhere that wiping the inside windshield with isopropyl alcohol can prevent that fogging over, but I've never tried it before. I think I will do that, though. Or at least look for some type of antifogger.
The days have been very sunny this week, but that's deceptive. It's just very icy. I keep waiting for it to snow here, not that I want it to, but it only brushes the tops of the foothills. Today the chickens were doing the one foot stand, like a flamingo. They keep one foot up against their fluffy warm bodies and then switch off. We put some hay down for them as that helps insulate them from the frozen ground.
My son is still running a fever today, but he looks a little better than yesterday. DD had early release today and came home and crashed for 3 hours. I hate the flu. It is just so enervating. At least I still can function.
I don't think I realized how many times a day I check in here before I suddenly couldn't. Five minutes here, five minutes there, a good hour in the afternoon or evening. So happy the site is up and running again.
I have made good use of my time researching meat rabbits and meat chickens, pens, hutches, and tractors (not the diesel kind, the movable pens with built in coops) and getting an idea of what the expense will be and the minimum size property we'll want to purchase when we are ready to move. I know we are probably two years out from raising either right now, but the more I know, the more feasible it'll be to actually do it.
There has been nothing financial to worry about this week. I'm just waiting for Friday to make another payment to BoA and another payment to the dentist for my crown.
Homeschooling is going well this week despite DS being sick with the flu. He's been hovering around 100 degrees with his fever and generally miserable. I am understanding the math faster than he is, which never happens. We're doing a reduced schedule for him at the moment, as he isn't up for a full class load, but he wants to not fall behind on the harder things to catch up on, namely math and science. We are a couple weeks ahead on history and a few days ahead on literature so as long as we get chair time in by the end of the month we're fine.
Queen got a bath today. She's been hanging low to the ground when she walks and that's usually a sign of a partly blocked vent (and it was) which can lead to getting egg bound which can lead to death. Always so much fun to break it up, but she perked up after she was dry again.
The two leghorns went over the fence to the nice neighbor lady's house, who sometimes invites them over when she's working in her garden, but she was away all day today and so her dogs were in the fenced back yard instead of the house. Oh, my gosh, I have never seen the leghorns fly before, but Ecru got going so fast she was over the neighbor's fence and across the yard and over the fence into the chicken pen in one go like a little white bullet. That's about 40 feet.
Everything I've read says they can't fly more than 15 feet, but that girl zipped like a bat out of hades, so I guess they can if their lives are in danger. I have never seen a chicken with her wings pumping so fast before, not even the time Curious got her tail feathers clipped by the same dog. Ecru was hilarious, but only because she didn't get hurt. A chicken with a dog bite is no laughing matter.
Eggshell only made it over the neighbor's fence and into our yard in one go, but she was right off the ground again and airborn a few seconds later. They do learn eventually to check for dogs first. It just takes some of them longer than the others. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere for people getting into and out of debt, but I'm too tired to figure it out.
I did get a $5 gift card from Swagbucks for Amazon yesterday, and I got another survey from ACOP, so that'll be $3 eventually.
I cleaned out my purse tonight and added 85 cents to the coin jar. I have $12 in my allowance envelope from December. I thought it was $6 or $7, but I had miscounted a five as a one.
I also added $10 to the EF, so the new EF amount is $1560.00.
As often happens on Sundays, I am mending. One of our king size sheets got a hole in it. We only have two, so I have been using this sheet while DH is in Alaska, putting the holey side on his side of the bed. Gradually the hole has gotten bigger and bigger, so today I decided to mend it. I used a back stitch as I want it to be strong and hold up, but I don't care about it being pretty. I will still only use that sheet when DH is away, because I don't think it will hold up too long to his tossing and turning.
I know that I could just go out and buy a new bottom sheet, but sheets have gotten ridiculously expensive over the last several years. I have a hard time paying $40 for a good sheet or $100 for a set. I suppose when this one wears out I will do that, but for now this will do. Once it wears out I will make it into linen napkins as it is a very pretty turquoise color and does not show four years of washing. I will also save the elastic for some future project.
I also sewed a couple of buttons back on to a couple of shirts and rethreaded the ties through a pair of DS's sweatpants that had come out. That's an easy fix. Just take a large safety pin and pin it on one end of the tie. Then push it through the hole and work it all the way around the sweats until you can push it out the other hole. Easy peasy.
So 3 items of clothing and 1 sheet have been returned to usability with less than a half hour's effort on my part. Not bad.
Using up freezer supplies this week.
Roasting 2 chickens (packaging the meat on one for the freezer)
Baked potatoes (making extra baked potatoes)
Calzones (chicken, homemade spaghetti sauce, pepperoni, onions, bell pepper strips, cheese)
Chicken enchiladas (homemade sauce)
Baked potato soup (using extra made on Monday and bacon is the protein in the soup)
Bacon cheeseburgers with homemade buns
Homemade French fries
Pizza (tomato sauce, homemade sausage, onions, bell pepper strips)
Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Drop bisucits with choice of homemade jams
Lunches this week will be low carb meatloaf, chicken quesadillas, salads or cole slaw and any of the leftover stir-fry I made last night.
Breakfast this week will be pancakes and eggs for DS, sausage and cabbage or cucumbers for Me and DD
The broccoli finally kicked it in the 27 degree F freeze we had Friday night. The kohlrabi survived and I picked it.
We got 10 eggs today. Go, chickens.
I forgot about making buns for the cheeseburgers today, so I ended up throwing together a quick stir-fry. I cut up 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs that I ransacked the chest freezer for and put them in a marinade of 1 cup low sodium gluten free soy sauce, 2 T of honey, 1/2 T of ginger, and a 1/2 T of garlic powder. While that was soaking DD and I cut up 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 1 cauliflower, green beans, and 1/2 a yellow onion. I did more of a combination of stir-fry and steam-fry as I don't like to stir constantly. It made enough for us to have it for dinner, for lunch tomorrow, and maybe still have some leftover. Doesn't it look yummy?
I also made a batch of cinnamon ice cream tonight and I have some French bread going in the bread machine.
I went to the store today and I ended up spending $127.53. I just didn't have the energy to go to Kmart and the grocery store so I bought the toiletries at the grocery store. I got a couple of things not on my list and forgot the peanut butter which we are totally out of.
I meant to spend about $100, but I went through the bakery. *sighs* I should know better, but I swear the box of cinnamon rolls just jumped into my cart when I wasn't looking. I also bought two boxes of psuedophedrine from the pharmacy and 1 box of Dayquil because my supply was woefully low and I feel a sinusy thing coming on. And then I remembered I needed batteries. But I won't need to buy anything else before payday on Friday and I have $70 left.
They were having a good sale on whole fish, but the fish counter reeked. I could smell it from 10 feet away. I have noticed that a lot at the small Haggen since the remodel. I know that they've instituted some cost saving measures to pay for the totally unnecessary remodel, like not restocking the salad bar or letting the hot food in the deli run out when it runs out, carrying less selection in some areas and way too much in others, raising prices, and pushing their own store brand far more than they ever used to, but the fish counter should not smell like that. I draw a line there. Clearly they are holding on to fish that previously would have been out the door before it stank. So no more buying fish or seafood from there. That makes 2 grocery stores I will not buy fish from.
Haggen has always been my favorite grocery store, but I will either have to go to the big one 5 miles out of my way or just stick to Trader Joe's and the Food Co-op (which carries fresh fish) from now on. It's a shame, too. I've been shopping at that store since I was 4 years old and they were just that store, not a small chain of stores. That's almost 39 years now. I have never been disappointed in them until the last year, but now I am.
I had planned to go today, but I decided to take another look through my freezers first. I am glad I did. I had thought I was out of hamburger, but I found six packages of it on the wrong shelf behind some frozen veggies.
I had thought I needed chicken, but I found 2 whole chickens. Unfortunately the chickens are frozen together so thawing in the micro is not really an option. The package is too big. I'll have to thaw it in the fridge roast it, and then divide it into portions for the freezer. I also found 2 pork chops, 1 pound of ground pork, 1 pound of ground lamb, 6 steaks and five packs of bacon.
After that I cleaned out the fridge and found a head of purple cabbage and kohlrabi in the back. These are both good keepers and were perfectly good. I have a cucumber that I will need to eat tomorrow. If I put it off much longer it'll be chicken feed, not people food. And of course I have broccoli. I am halfway through my lettuce, celery, and carrots, and I have plenty of potatoes and onions, so really, there's nothing I need to buy except dairy and fruit.
So how do I make use of that great coupon of $10 off a $50 purchase good through Monday? Well, $22 of it will be milk. And I will buy some flour and some tuna and some oranges. That should put me to the $50 point and then I won't need to set foot in the grocery store for another week, although I still need to go to Kmart for the toiletries.
I am going to make homemade sausage with the ground pork and ground lamb for breakfasts next week and make a couple of meatloaves for lunches. And the steaks will definitely make it into a couple of dinners.
I sent $100 (my January allowance) to my friend who is in desperate need right now. That'll leave me with about $100 for the week in checking after I do the shopping. I should be just fine with that. No more bills are due before next payday.
I sent for another $5 gift card from Swagbucks for Amazon. The last one hasn't come yet, should show up this weekend.
I added $5.64 to the coin jar.
Today is payday, finally, the first one of the new year, and the damage is $123 and some change more in taxes out of this first check. Next week will be a bit higher as it is a seven day paycheck and not just a five day one.
I started my morning by taking a shot at the Evil Empire and paid off another $2000. DH bought his one way plane ticket on Wednesday which had brought the balance on the BoA VISA to $5,983.64. So the new balance on the VISA is $3983.64. I will have 3 autopays coming out before the end of the month, so that will go up a bit, but I am still on track for paying the card off by month's end. Total credit card debt currently sits at $9083.64. This is the first time in a very long time I have been under $10K. Go me.
Then I made the car loan payment. I also paid another medical bill to the podiatrist and made a payment on my crown to the dentist.
$2000.00 to BoA VISA
757.82 Van payment (plus extra to principal)
50.00 Two weeks of allowance for the kids
I still owe $350 to the dentist for my crown and should have that paid off by the end of the month. I am thinking of rescheduling my 2nd crown until after vacation in March. The tooth has not been hurting since getting the other crown put in. I don't think I'm hitting it anymore when I grind my teeth at night. The last one ended up costing $200 more than the estimate because of how much novacaine they had to give me.
I have just under $300 for the next week. I need to buy toilet paper and tissues. Normally I go to Costco for that, but I am just not up for a warehouse store, so I'm heading to Kmart. I've been out of tissues for a week, not great when everyone is sick. Even if Charmin is nice to blow your nose on, tissues are better.
I need to do a grocery shop, too. I have a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase. This is one of the rare times I will use coupons, since most are for processed junky foods and are useless to me. They are also having a sale on Organic Valley products so I will get milk, heavy cream and half and half (the last 2 for making ice cream) if the sell by dates are decent.
|<< Newer Entries||Older Entries >>|