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Archive for April, 2018

Moved the Bee Balm

April 22nd, 2018 at 10:23 pm

It took some doing, but we got all ten feet of the bee balm (also known as monarda and bergamot) dug out of the raised bed and transplanted to the front yard flower bed. Even if only a little bit of it makes it, it will spread and fill in. And if all of it makes it, it will be one tremendous display on one side of the front deck. The other side is covered in yellow, bright pink, and faded pink/white roses. I can imagine it will be rather spectacular come June or July.

Now I can work on building that bed back up with some of the compost from the back yard. DS will have to do a lot for me this week, but we are doing something of a botany/agricultural unit for his home school. I am teaching him about plants, organic gardening using the French biointensive and lasagna styles, soil make up and the best soil combos for large raised beds, and composting. We are also identifying the worm types, the caterpillars, bugs, and snails, and will do the various butterflies and bees when they appear. I think knowing how to grow your own food is a good life skill.

I've only seen one bee type so far, a carpenter bee. They are usually the first to show, followed by bumble bees, mason bees, and on rare occasions, honeybees. Most of our pollinators tend to be butterflies, as I've made large swathes of the yard butterfly habitat. We've also got a lot of ladybugs every year and some dragonflies and hummingbirds. I wish someone nearby had a honeybee hive, but my garden does seem to thrive without them.

I did not get around to doing the budget. Nothing is due until the 1st, so I don't feel a huge rush to do it, so am kind of being lazy about it. Maybe tomorrow. Today was a no spend day. The first in a while. Tomorrow won't be, though. I am taking DS to a consult and x-ray about his wisdom teeth. I am sure they will need to come out as he is 18 now and is probably already a year overdue, but they aren't poking through, so who knows? His sister only had two, so maybe he will, also. That would cost less.

I Can Feel it in My Abs

April 20th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

Gardening is good exercise. I have been able to be out in the garden 3 days running. So far I have weeded 10 out of 11 beds in the last week or so. The tenth one was accomplished today. I pulled out 25 snails from one strawberry bed. I had some happy ducks. I am glad I found so many or I would not have much of a strawberry harvest. I got all the dead leaves off and snipped all the runner vines so that the daughter plants aren't sapping the energy from the mother plants. There are a ton of flower buds and even some blossoms already.

So far I have planted two types of lettuce, purple kohlrabi, dinosaur kale, bright lights chard, broccoli, and banner green bunching onions. I did buy a variety of peppers and tomatoes, but I won't plant them for another week to 10 days. Right now I am leaving them outside during the day but bringing them in at night. If the forecast looks good at night in about a week, I will try leaving them outside overnight.

I have gotten my steps in every day since getting the fitbit. My goal is still not that high, just 2000 steps a day, but I hit 3000, 3500, and 4000 during this week, but some days were just slightly over 2000. I had a couple of bad days because of my hip and knees being inflamed, probably because I am walking more than ever. I will likely bump my goal to 3000 on Monday. Slow and steady. I can't mess myself up by going too quickly with this. I am just happy to be doing as well as I am.

The diet has been a bit up and down. I do wish we could afford to get our gym membership back, but we just don't have the money for it right now. Swimming always helps with losing weight, plus it seemed easier to eat right when I swam consistently DH is not getting the amount of overtime he was, either. I don't think he got any last week and only a couple hours this week. And of course this coming week is his jury duty so he won't get a full week's pay, there, either, let alone any overtime. We can't even think about things like gym memberships.

I did want to mention that if anyone is interested in trying out Thrive Life, right now they are having their semi-annual sale. I believe it goes through the 23rd. This is the cheapest it ever is during the year, even better than their fall sale. The link to my website is in the side bar under sites I enjoy. I recommend starting with the chopped onions and see if that just doesn't change your cooking life. That and the yogurt bites.

Anyway, I haven't done the budget yet for this payday or last even though I have paid a couple bills. I will try to get that figured out and posted tomorrow. I don't think I posted a payday report last week at all, so I will probably do a double one in one post.

DH and I have been watching some movies on Netflix this week. No spoilers. We watched Odd Thomas, which was really good. It was delightful in places and scary in others and then it made me laugh and cry in others. Quite an emotional roller coaster. It was the best of the three movies we watched. I kind of wished they'd have made it into a TV series.

The Cloverfield Paradox was a great sci-fi thriller, though so distantly related to Cloverfield that it was almost ridiculous to have it in the name, similar to that other Cloverfield movie with John Goodman, no real relation, just capitalizing on the name in a blink and you miss it similarity. I really liked it, though. It was set on a space station where the crew was trying to find a stable form of power that would save the Earth from a major energy crisis and of course stuff goes wildly wrong.

The third movie was The Call Up, which is about some people that get asked to play this reality video game and whoever wins get a $100,000 prize, but they can actually end up getting killed in the game, which they are unaware of, so making it to the end is quite a feat. I liked it, but it was a little predictable. Still the characters were great. I think the ending was supposed to come as a big shocker, but I figured it out. If I hadn't, I'd have probably put this one in second place. But all of the movies were really good and I'd recommend them if you like supernatural and sci-fi movies.

There is not much else going on around here, lately. I did some grocery shopping, but that's about it.

Income Tax Came and Loan Payment Made

April 16th, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Our income tax refund came so no more worries on that front. It actually came on the 11th, but since we didn't get the email or the text they were supposed to send to alert us, I only realized it today when checking the bank account and seeing the hefty balance. It only took 12 days from the day we filed online.

Most of the money will go into the Emergency Fund, but some will go to cover the lost income from jury duty DH has next week, at least if he actually gets called in.

I did make a $2000 loan payment to my mother.

$29,750.00 Starting Balance
-_2,000.00 Payment Made
--------------
$27,750.00 New Balance

It is so good to see those numbers go down.

Feeling a Lot Better

April 15th, 2018 at 10:24 pm

After I posted on the 12th, I managed to get out into the garden. I was just going to do a little bit and 3 hours later I had weeded 5 of the raised beds. I was super sore that night and the next two days, but today I felt less stiff and almost back to normal. It was clear again, even though the forecast said it was going to rain all day, so I got another 2.5 hours in on the garden. DS helped me today.

We only got 3 beds done, but one was a strawberry bed and I had a lot of fiddly work to do in it. I had to cut all the daughter plants from the mother plants so they didn't drain all the life from them and they could operate as self-sufficient plants. I also trimmed off all the dead leaves and any that were red with snow-burned edges. It is all nice and healthy green growth, plus flower buds starting already.

I have two more beds left to do, both strawberry beds, so more fiddly work. I am hoping that will take just one more session in the garden and then we can weed eat the areas around the beds and set up a watering system. I found one based on hydropinics that I would like to make. It'll beat using the big sprinkler that gets the house and the neighbor's driveway. With the sprinkler, we have to close the windows during the summer, so I'd much rather have an irrigation system and leave the windows open when it is hot.

Being outside and getting my hands in the dirt has helped my head tremendously. And the physical activity is good for it as well.

We got fitbits in the mail on the 13th, a gift from MIL, and though I have had some trouble with getting it to sync, it has still been pretty motivational. My first day I just set my goal as 1000 steps because I really have not been active in a long time. And it was kind of hard, but I got there. Yesterday I just wanted to beat that, but was really happy to get over 1500, and then today I got over 2000. Each day I just want to push myself a little more. Right now getting to 5000 steps seems daunting, let alone the 10,000 daily steps they recommend, but I will just keep trying to beat the previous day's steps until I get there.

I do like the food log and water log features as well, though, I do feel like I'm floating by the time I've gotten in all the water for the day. Still, it is helping, because I've lost 6 pounds in 3 days. My diet is firmly back on track. Now I just need to work on getting to sleep earlier.

Getting to sleep has been bad the last few nights, because DH and I totally got caught up in the new Lost in Space on Netflix. They did a fantastic job, but I tell you, those last four episodes were like a book that was too good to put down. Well, pretty much all of it was, but it was nearly impossible towards the end. I highly recommend it.

There was barely any swearing in it, which is virtually unheard of for a Netflix Original. I appreciated it. Although, I didn't appreciate it that when one of the two times they swore (I think that was all, and one was incomplete), one of them was from a child. Netflix likes to put swear words in the mouths of kids and I don't like it. I get that kids swear a lot today, but maybe they'd swear less if they didn't have kids doing it in the movies all the time.

I don't think there were any oh, my Gods, either. That is so overused today. It's like using like all the time or dude. It gets intrusive, so when it isn't there, it makes me happy. And there was no nudity, again, almost unheard of for a Netflix Original that isn't geared just to kids. Certainly not the orgy fest that was Sense8.

So anyway, all that to say Lost in Space was just some brilliant story-telling with a great cast and a nice way to waste ten hours or so of your time. And I loved the robot. The old series had good stories, but was very much a product of its time in the hokiest of ways, and just can't hold a candle to what this reboot has done. And I got a kick out of the old one. I liked it. But this was the best series I've seen in ages.

I Need to Shake it Off

April 12th, 2018 at 02:53 pm

I am trying to shake off this dragginess I have been feeling for the last month. It started with the stomach virus, then I had two days of feeling okay before the head cold hit, which devolved into a sinus infection. Now I'm in the dregs of that, but doing much better, and yet all I want to do is sleep. I force myself up in the morning to take care of the animals, and then it is right back to sleep for 4 to 5 hours.

The thing is I am getting plenty of sleep, but I never wake up feeling rested. My head feels cloudy most of the time. I suppose some of it could be allergy season kicking in, but that seems unlikely to me. I have had some pain, but usually the Ibuprofen takes care of that enough to fall asleep.

I don't feel like it is depression. I mean things aren't hunky dory because of finances, and I've had to do a lot for my mother, and I'm frustrated about my daughter's surgery situation, but generally life is good. Certainly not anything I want to hide away in bed over.

The weather has been keeping me from being able to do anything outside, and that could be part of it. I don't get the sun like I need and while a happy light helps, it is no replacement for natural sunlight. I am just itching to get my hands in the dirt and start working in the garden, but right now it is a mud fest out there. It did stop raining, but the ground just squelches. I may go out anyway today because who knows when it will be dry again?

I just wish I could stop being so tired. I made it through day one again on my diet. Maybe cleaning up my food again will help with the energy levels. I hope so. From past experience I know weight loss helps with the energy levels, so hopefully that will kick in fast. I don't like sleepwalking through life.

Blogoversary

April 9th, 2018 at 07:56 pm

Well, it is that time of year again. Twelve years ago today I started this blog. In that time I paid off about $200,000 in debt, which included three cars (two used, one new) and one mortgage. I still have $29,750 to pay back to my mother, but I've been free of consumer debt for a couple of years now.

Most of the debt that wasn't cars or the mortgage was due to medical bills and having to pay for 6 surgeries in 5 years with cruddy medical insurance. I think it was 6. It blurs together. But it kept me alive, so what are you going to do? I was determined not to declare bankruptcy although we easily could have. But that would have felt like giving up and I never wanted to do that.

I hope to get moving on paying my Mom Loan off, but it has been rough going with 10 months of unemployment during the past year and a half. Right now we are breaking even. I am hoping to contribute $1000 of the tax return to paying on that loan. Maybe $2000. The rest will go into the Emergency Fund, at least until DD gets her surgery and we pay our portion.

It feels like there have been many ups and downs in the last twelve years. Two years ago we were in a much better place financially than now and it is taking a lot to recover from all we lost, both mentally and financially. I'm not sure how long it will take, but with a lower income it is slow going. And since we don't own the house anymore, our only assets are the van and the truck we are about to inherit.

I just keep hoping we will really get back on our feet soon and that DH will get a better paying job soon. We need it to get back to where we were and to ever have a chance of paying Mom off and saving for a down payment again for a home of our own. I feel like we are currently just treading water. But treading water is better than drowning. At least we all know how to swim.

Simple, Yet Delicious

April 6th, 2018 at 11:17 pm

I made another great meal tonight. My new focus on not eating out (i.e. hemorrhaging money through the drive thru window) is paying off, but I don't think it would be going so well without the electric pressure cooker. I did my potatoes in there, tonight. All I did was quarter some baby reds, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, put a cup of water in the pressure cooker, put in the steamer basket, and pressure cook them for 10 minutes. They were delicious and yet so easy and tasty. I've found out I can make mashed potatoes in there, too, which will be quite a boon.

Then I made up some Morrocan spice rub and rubbed down some chicken legs with it and cooked them in the Nuwave oven. Chicken legs only take 30 minutes in the Nuwave. The chicken was pretty good, but I think it needed salt in addition to the rub. Next time I will do that since I have quite a bit of the rub left. There was enough chicken left over that I can make some chicken soup tomorrow.

I did spend some money today as I was in need of ground cloves, coriander, and cinnamon. Cloves are expensive, but fortunately a little goes a long way so it lasts much longer than my other spices. So $35 on spices.

I'm going to have to spring for a package of goat butter pretty soon. That's $11 for 8 ounces, but it lasts me a long time. I don't use it too often, I just like it on the rare occasions I actually make toast, which is only once or twice a month, usually. I am the only one who eats it. Well, I will make sure I do a complete check through of the freezers first, just in case I have one squirreled away in there, but I'm pretty sure I don't. I usually only buy one at a time. It's not a stock up item.

DH built me some new pantry storage shelves, so I am in the process of filling them and rearranging some of my other food supplies. Right now I have long-term storage mixed in with the working pantry, which is a pain in the neck. This should get that straightened out.

I need to work on the garden this weekend as well. It is time to get lettuce, spinach, green onions, kale, chard, and radishes going. There is some volunteer spinach coming up, but I need to transplant it, because it is not where I want it. I hope it stops raining long enough for me to do that. It cleared up this afternoon so I am hoping the weather holds and I am feeling up to it.

Urgh

April 5th, 2018 at 09:49 pm

So yesterday after I posted we got a call to say that my daughter's surgery had been cancelled. Even though this has been on the books for 2 months, it was only yesterday that the anesthesiologist practice bothered to look at her chart. And they cancelled it based on her weight. They want her to lose 20 pounds. She's already lost 40 and we were told that was enough.

They claim they are worried about her airway during the surgery. I'm worried about her ability to breathe day to day, because with the one side crushed in like it is and the other side not super great either, she has about 40% of the air flow she would have if it was fixed. Her quality of life is nil. Of course these same anesthesiologists will do a gall bladder surgery, so I don't get it.

Anyway, so I started the refund process with both of the people I paid yesterday. They say it should take 2 weeks, which is fine since the credit card isn't due until the 3rd of May. I won't have to transfer any money to take care of it so I won't get charged interest, it'll be off with time to spare. I wish the anesthesia people had been on the ball, so I wouldn't have had to go through that rigmarole.

So whenever she loses the weight, I am going to ride the doctor's office about riding the anesthesia people to make sure she's lost adequate weight so I don't have to play these reindeer games a second time.

Meanwhile, DD and I are going to buckle down again on the weight loss and exercise regime. If I had known they were going to pull this crap, I would never have gone for the more expensive insurance program. Now we might not even be on it when she is able to have the surgery and we'll have wasted all this money for nothing.

On the bright side, it does give DD the kick in the pants she needed to get her diet going again.

Yesterday was Spendy on the Medical Front

April 4th, 2018 at 04:14 pm

So yesterday I took my son to the dentist to get impressions for a mouth guard. He's been grinding his teeth badly and it is causing damage, but also pain. So that cost $517. The good news is that also pays for the next visit where they fit the mouth guard after it arrives from being made.

After that DD had her pre-op appointment and we had to pay a down payment on the surgery of $300. Then we went over to the surgery center and paid a down payment of $1202. So a total of $2019 went out for medical. Ouch.

We can absorb the $517 since DH has been getting overtime, but the rest has to come out of savings. It is a lot when we only have $4500 left in savings. Well, $3000 now. I am rounding. I can't remember the exact numbers off the top of my head, but thereabouts. The income tax refund should be here by the time all the final bills come after insurance so we can pay the rest of it without touching anymore of savings.

DH found out some stuff about the medical plan if he gets hired on directly at his work. It is $250 a month for medical, $140 (I think) for dental, and $170 for vision. Compared to the $1500 that is coming out for just medical now is great. I so hope he gets hired on directly when his contract is up June 6th. Of course, I don't know what kind of plan that is, it could be a high deductible plan, though he's been told their benefits are very good. I hope they are, because we could really use a medical break for a while.

Big Grocery Stock Up

April 2nd, 2018 at 08:53 pm

Today I finally made it to Costco. I've been sick for about 3 weeks, so this was the first day I really felt capable of doing a shopping trip. I ended up spending $325, but bought toilet paper, batteries, and vitamins, which always drives up the cost of a Costco trip. I did get quite a few staples, though. I had to buy some diced tomatoes for the first time in two years. I hope this is a good tomato year in the garden, because I need to can like crazy.

After that I went to the dollar tree and bought a case of soup, a case of mini-ravioli, and a couple boxes of sandwich bags. I spent $26 there.

Then we went to the regular grocery store to pick up bread, hot dogs, and milk. I don't like Costco bread choices or their milk. But they had a ton of turkey on sale. They usually do after any big holiday. This was legs and wings, so I bought all they had. They did have white meat, too, but we don't care for that. I spent $120 there.

I made up some of the turkey tonight in the pressure cooker and froze the rest. I seasoned it with garlic salt, granulated onion, and pepper. It was fantastic and just falling off the bone tender. I only put 2 cups of water in with it, but it made a bunch of broth. I ended up with 1 quart of broth. I saved it and will use it to make rice tomorrow. I'm going to do an arroz con pollo dish, but with turkey instead of chicken for dinner tomorrow.

I saved the bones and will make bone broth with them tomorrow or the next day. I threw them in the freezer, just in case life doesn't go to plan, so that they won't get lost in the fridge for a week and be unusable. I hope to get five or six quarts out of it to can. I am low on broth again, since I've been using a lot of it the last three weeks. It is so much easier to make in the pressure cooker than in the crock pot or on the stove.

I hope I continue to feel better. I got so behind on everything when I could barely get out of bed. Yesterday was the first day I showered in 6 days I was so bad. Thank heavens for baby wipes.