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Choices for a New Phone--Help Me Decide

June 9th, 2017 at 11:20 am

I really need to get a new cell phone. My current phone is a Samsung Intensity from 2009 so it is 8 years old. I wish it could muddle along forever, but sadly it is giving up the ghost. I've gone through three batteries and am on my third charger, all off E-bay since Samsung hasn't carried the proper items to replace these in several years. And while I know I could buy one off e-bay for between $10 and $25, I think it is time to drag myself kicking and screaming towards a more current phone.

I don't need bells and whistles, I just want a pull out keyboard, but they don't seem to make those anymore. I hate touch screen technology for phones. While it might be nice to access the internet at a grocery store for coupons, I don't need to be on the internet on my phone. I need it for texting mostly and a little bit of making phone calls.

I've been putting off buying a new one for about a year. I am debating what I should buy. I may take a photo or two, but I doubt I will ever use it for videos as my camera is so much better than any phone for that. I don't need to store music on it as I have a perfectly good I-pod for that. So I don't need a ton of memory, either.

I am thinking about the Samsung J7 ($163), the Motorola Moto G4 ($199), the Samsung J3 Emerge ($149), or the Samsung J3 ($129). Has anyone used any of these phones? If so, what are your opinions on them?



Hello, Murphy, My Old Friend...

March 6th, 2017 at 08:28 pm

...you've come to walk with me again. Yes, totally singing it to the tune of The Sound of Silence (Disturbed's version, not the original Simon and Garfunkle).

The hot water tank exploded. Well, not literally, but the water coming out of it did. It made quite a mess and we have had no hot water in our part of the house for two days. There is still hot water in the main house, but it is on a different hot water heater.

The one that exploded feeds the laundry room, the outdoor hot water hose, and our bathroom and shower. It is freezing out, snowing for 3 or 4 days now, so when you come in from doing something outside and have to wash your hands in cold water it is very hard to warm up.

They came to look at the tank today and it is still under warranty, so the tank itself will be replaced for free. The labor, however, will cost $700. Ugh. And they will be starting work early in the morning. Double ugh.

We have washed all the towels used to soak up the water on cold and dried them, but that was just so they weren't sitting around mildewing for a couple days. They will have to be rewashed in hot water as soon as we have it again.

I am using paper plates, bowls, and plastic cups for the most part so we don't have to deal with dishes. Right now having hot water involves heating it up in the microwave and mixing it with some cold so it doesn't burn you.

It reminds me of one of the Little House books, where Pa would bring in buckets of cold water from the well and then Ma would heat water in the kettle on the wood stove to add to the bathwater to get it to the right temperature. Only no bath, just the sink.

Oh, well, I can shower tomorrow after the workers leave.

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

February 17th, 2017 at 01:17 am

Yeah, so I've been quiet, but I'm alive. I had a very bad virus, or possibly the flu, that put me down hard for about a week. I came down with it the night of the 2nd, but it didn't hit hard until the night of the 6th and then I was down for the count. Oh, it was a rough one. I slept for about 4 days straight at that point and then finally began to feel human again on my birthday, the 12th. Human enough to make a cake anyway. I'm 47 now.

On the 13th I felt up for going to Costco. We were out of a lot of staples like flour, sugar, salt, cheese, and were almost out of toilet paper. I also bought some chicken, fish, and frozen broccoli. I had planned to pick up my birthday present, too, a food processor, but they didn't have them anymore.

On the 14th I felt like I was relapsing so I went back to bed and took it easy. On the 15th I had physical therapy and went to Walmart and bought a food processor there. Now we can give MIL back her ancient one that travels all over when you use it and shakes so bad I was always afraid it was going to fall apart in front of me.

I also went to see if I could find some tennis shoes because all I have now are loafers and flip flops. I found some Dr. Scholl's that actually fit in width, so I could buy a size 9 instead of a size 11. They have great gel insoles, too. I bought two pairs of the same shoe and will put one up in the closet until the first pair wears out. It is so hard for me to find shoes that fit. And I picked up two new nightgowns as I had to toss one that got eaten by something and all torn up and the other is wearing so thin it is practically see-through and not at all appropriate to be wearing in front of my teenage son.

As much as I don't like spending right now, I don't feel bad about these purchases. The food processor helps so much in shredding cheese, cabbage, and onions alone. It saves me so much work and makes it so much easier on me to cook at home. It also saves money to do these things at home as cheese is cheaper in blocks, cabbage is cheaper not pre-shredded, and onions are cheaper not pre-chopped. And the shoes and nightgowns were needed. Well, maybe only one pair of shoes was needed, but as hard a time as I have finding them, I felt it prudent to get the second pair now.

DH got me a single red rose for Valentine's Day. We usually don't bother with the holiday at all, feeling it's a commercial made up holiday, but he bought me one and I do like having it as it slowly opens. I also got a Fragrant Jewels bath bomb for my birthday that had an amethyst and silver ring inside that I used on Valentine's Day. Very pretty piece of costume jewelry and a very nice soak in the tub full of purple water.

I'm still running low on my reserves from the virus, so I have to be careful not to push too hard. I am back to eating nutritionally (i.e. more than ice cream, soup, and tea). My son is over the virus, my husband is a few days behind me, and my daughter is still in the middle of it, but at least on the upswing.

I'm going to try to make the rest of the month be no spend except for medicine and milk.

Some Small Kitchen Purchases

February 2nd, 2017 at 04:40 pm

Today I made some kitchen purchases that I have been putting off for a while. I decided to go ahead and get what I needed today as in the long run it will lower my costs and/or be helpful to my cooking from scratch to keep food prices lower.

First I bought a new extra large pizza crisper pan. The old one had warped and taken on a really bad patina that seemed to causing the crusts on my pizzas to burn in that area. The pan was very old. It isn't the oven because the small pizza pan that is the same brand and type, but does not have the patina on it, did not burn.

Since we frequently make homemade pizza and calzones and pierogies, only having the smaller pan was meaning cooking in multiple batches, which means the over is on longer and nothing is done all at once.

Second, I bought a microwave popcorn popper. We eat a lot of popcorn and microwave popcorn is expensive, especially for the kind with no additives. Popcorn kernels are cheap. I can get a 1 pound bag of organic popcorn for $2 and a regular bag for $1 (at Dollartree). It was $15 means that I'd have to buy six boxes of organic microwave popcorn 3 packs to equal the cost. So that would be 18 bags worth. Halfway through the first bag of kernels I will break even. Since I already had 2 bags of popcorn kernels on hand, I didn't have to buy that.

I did make some popcorn when I got home. The instructions have it go too long, but I know what it needs to be now. The popcorn tasted so much better with fresh butter and a bit of salt and I only ate one salad bowl full and was satisfied. With microwave popcorn there is an urge to eat the whole bag. Even with the organic, there has to be something in the butter spray to encourage eating more. So that was an unexpected bonus.

Third, I bought a good bread knife. Now that I am baking our bread and rolls again, I needed a good serrated knife for that. It makes a big difference in cutting homemade bread evenly and to the correct size without tearing the loaves.

Fourth, I bought a metal mixing bowl for my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. It is light weight. The bowl that came with my mixer is made of glass and it is really heavy. With the ligament damage in my wrists it is really hard for me to deal with the heavy glass bowl. I also have a tendency to drop things sometimes. The damage seems to have cross-wired some nerves so sometimes my hands just lose their grip randomly.

It is hard for me to maneuver it in the sink to clean it, so I generally had to rely on someone else to clean it and it can sit a day or two until someone gets tired me asking and they get around to it. With this lighter weight bowl I can clean it easily myself and get it back into production without nagging. There have been times when I simply haven't made something I might have otherwise, because I couldn't clean the bowl. Now that issue will be gone. If the color stand mixer I had wanted hadn't only come with a glass bowl I would have got one that came with a metal bowl to begin with.

All in all, I feel good with my purchases. Even with keeping costs down as much as possible, I felt these were things that help and were worth the extra cost at this time. It is weird to have to weigh each purchase so closely. It has been a long time since I've had to do that.

Struggling with Spending

January 17th, 2017 at 06:40 pm

Yesterday we bought a new mattress. It was a hard decision to make to go ahead and buy it. I'd been wanting to wait until DH was employed again, because the less savings we use the less we'll have to make up for later. The pain in my back and hips was bad enough though, that I finally decided we had to do it. We were able to take it home last night and it has made a world of difference already.

I can't believe how expensive mattresses are now. We got a good deal for ours in the MLK day sale and they are getting rid of the 2016 model, so it was less because of that, too. For our King-size Beautyrest mattress, we paid $1032.60, including tax. For the same mattress for the 2017 model it would have cost $500 more. This isn't even with boxsprings.

Boxsprings would have increased the price another $500. I won't buy boxsprings anymore, though, because they are worthless. They are built with 1" x 1" or 2" x 2" wood and they fall apart within 6 months. We have a platform we built for the mattress several years ago and it is strong and sturdy and supportive.

Most of the mattresses in there were over $2000. I saw Tempurpedic mattresses that were $4500. But the price on iComforts and the Beautyrests tended to be $2000 to $2500. That is ridiculous to me, even for King-size ones. I am glad we found something in our price range was $1000 to $1500. And that it is comfortable.

In talking to the sales person, the mattress companies seem to have discontinued the flippable mattresses. He said most people were too lazy to flip and rotate properly so they did away with it. I think it has more to do with planned obsolesence though. The old-style mattresses could last for 15 to 20 years with proper care. These ones last 5 to 7 years, 10 if you are lucky.

We brought the new mattress home ourselves and we took our old one to the dump. They charge a mattress removal fee if you have them do it and it is higher than what the dump charges. It wasn't even good enough to be set at the end of the driveway with a free sign. That's what we usually do with old mattresses and they are gone the same day. But not this time. It wasn't until we had it up on its side and were taking it out that we realized how caved in it was. There was no support on either side. The only part still good was the middle section.

This one is really thick compared to our old one. We went back to coils. The iComfort we had did not have coils and I think that turned out to be a problem after a couple of years, but we had it much longer than that. This one is pretty firm and I may have to put a small mattress paid on top still, I haven't decided, but it is definitely working for my back.

I just wish I had been able to put it off longer, because I don't like making such a huge purchase out of savings. It was such an emotional struggle. Even for something that was clearly badly needed. It is just hard to keep seeing savings go down every month. I am trying to keep the faith that it will soon be over, though. I am just worried about what might happen to the oil industry this weekend if everything goes catawumpus and for some reason power is not relinquished properly to the other side. I want it all to be over-blown nonsense, but I'm at the point where its 50/50 in my head. Too darn much is going on.

Thinking about Phones--Need Help

July 4th, 2016 at 01:05 pm

I am in the preliminary stages of thinking about getting a new phone, contingent of course, on DH getting a new job. My phone is on its last legs and really old. As in, it was one of the first dumb phones to have a pull out keyboard old.

I've replaced the battery twice and the charger 3 times, but I can't do that anymore as they've stopped making them and the last time I simply just bought a copy of my phone off e-bay with a destroyed screen just for the working battery and charger. Even that doesn't seem to be an option now.

If I do get one, I'll be going through Ting and I am thinking about the phones around the 4 level or the cheaper end of the 5 level, as in Samsung Galaxy 4, LG G4, Apple iPhone 4 or possibly 5, or Nexus 5. But I don't know anything about these phones other than I've heard good things about the Samsung Galaxy 4 (but not 5).

I have never used a smart phone and I don't really use tablets either, which I understand are similar in some ways, so I'm going to need something user friendly and easy. I haven't used anything Apple based other than an ipod touch and that thing irritates me, because it is not as intuitive as it likes to pretend to be. I like devices that are simple and easy.

I'm at the collecting information stage, I guess. What can you all tell me about the phones I've listed above? Pros and cons and ease of use. Thanks.

Unexpected Purchase

June 27th, 2016 at 02:46 pm

We had an unexpected purchase today. We spent $99 plus tax of $8.61 on a new weed trimmer. The old one "let the smoke out" as my husband likes to say. Which means the engine burned up. I have been wanting the one with the rechargeable battery because dealing with the one with the extension cord is a pain in the butt and gas ones are too heavy for me to operate.

I took the money out of the reimbursement check FIL gave us this weekend. Since we had already paid off the credit card from when DH had used it to cover stuff for FIL in Seattle a couple of months ago when there was a screw up with his short-term disability checks, that money was not yet earmarked for anything.

I haven't funded the Appliance/Household Fund in a while. It is probably something that should be done again once we are sure of the job situation. Usually I have anywhere between $250 and $1000 in there depending on what I think we might be needing next (a microwave or blender versus a refrigerator, lawn mower, or couch).

It hasn't been a priority. But it should be on the agenda, since when we do move, we will likely need to buy a washer and dryer. Most houses don't come with them anymore, unless you are buying brand new houses with an appliance package.

Right now, as long as we continue to have an income, I really just want to focus on the down payment fund and the moving fund, though. I don't want to take away from those. But I might put a small amount in. Maybe a couple hundred, just so we don't get caught with our pants down.

Bought a Keurig 2.0

May 2nd, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I've never owned a coffee maker in my life. DH rarely drinks coffee, but the kids (19 and 16) do, and they were spending their money on Starbucks. I did not want to see that when they can make a decent coffee at home. Of course we got the refillable pods, not the individual little cups.

Since they would only make one cup of coffee in a given day it seemed like a good option, but it can also make a pot (if you buy their carafe), so if we have company once we move, we can make coffee. I might use it for making herbal tea infusions or hot chocolate.

I have to see the fact that we could get it in a color that matched my Kitchenaid and toaster was an added benefit. It was on sale for $119.99 so with tax it came to $130.43. I'd saved up and was waiting for a sale. We could have got a cheaper coffeemaker, yes, but weighing everything else, I think this one is best for our needs. Plus teal/turquoise. Sometimes pretty wins the day.

Bought a "New" Fridge

October 1st, 2015 at 02:54 pm

Our back up refrigerator went out earlier this week. Because we use it a lot during harvest time and butchering time, which is now, it is really bad not to have the extra fridge/freezer combo. Since it went out after we had butchered 28 chickens, but before we cut up and froze the meat, it was a somewhat urgent situation. Not totally urgent because the meat was in ice and water in coolers, but that is only good for so long.

We priced new low end fridges and the best price we could find on one of those was $479 plus $42.63 in sales tax. That was way more than we wanted to spend. We went to an estate clearance place because they had a fridge for $159, but it smelled like freezer burn, which in my mind makes me think it will cause serious freezer burn. Plus it was ancient. Not all was lost there, though, because I did find a double boiler for $16.95. I have been looking high and low for one for my salve making and haven't been able to find one and didn't want to buy the expensive ones on Amazon.

We also went to a place that refurbishes used fridges, but they do a ten day testing period and while they had a half dozen fridges, they were all 1 to 3 days into the testing period.

The place that clearances previous model years were all over $500. There were quite a few on Craigslist, some for $200, some for new prices even though they were used. Most of them did not have the right dimensions for the space, though.

Finally we went to the Habitat for Humanity resale store and they had several fridges in working condition. Only two met our dimensions and one of those the freezer part was way too small. So that narrowed it down to one off-white side by side that was perfect for our needs. Grand total spent: $75. Well under what we wanted to spend and helped to support a good charity.

It works great, too. It may not be pretty, but a back up fridge in the laundry room does not have to be. And it's not ugly. It's just not pretty. I am really happy we found it. I would really not have been happy to have to have bought 2 brand new refrigerators in the space of 12 months.

It also does have the hook ups to have filtered water in the door. Obviously we can't do that here, but we might be able to do that in the future after we move. It's an option, anyway. I am very happy with what we managed to find with a lot of legwork and some outside the box thinking.

Christmas Fund

September 24th, 2015 at 07:07 pm

$176.81 Starting Balance
+_10.00 Weekly Update
--------------------
$186.81 New Balance

$813.19 to go.

I haven't been posting much. I've been sick. I'm still sick. My biggest symptom is exhaustion. Low grade fever, mildly stuffy, a little bit of a scratchy throat. As colds go it isn't miserable, I just can't get to the point where I am not tired. The first few days I slept constantly. Now I just wish I could. Hopefully it will pass soon. It feels a lot like mono, but I had that as a kid and it is my understanding you cannot get it twice.

Finances are on autopilot. We do have to do some shopping, though. DH has lost about 50 pounds and his pants are falling down. He needs a new belt, some new jeans, and some undergarments. And DS needs the same as we never did get him any at back to school time and he's grown several inches since last year. We will try to keep the spending down, though.

I need to get some new long-sleeved shirts. My old ones are too big. I want turtlenecks to protect my throat. I will probably order them from a catalog though in a variety of colors. I hate shopping for clothes.

Sometime in the next month or so we need to get a new microwave. Ugh. I also hate shopping for appliances. Actually, I just hate shopping.

Finally Bought My Excalibur

July 7th, 2015 at 10:40 pm

I have been saving up my Swagbucks for a while and finally had enough Amazon gift cards to pay for about half of the deluxe model of Excalibur Dehydrator, the one with both temperature settings and a 26 hour timer with automatic shut off. I was trying to go for the whole thing to be free, but then my piece of junk dehydrator quit working. I am in the middle of herb drying season and while I can borrow my mother's cheap piece of junk dehydrator, and did, to keep limping along, it was the push I needed to just go ahead and make the purchase.

I had $121.75 in gift cards and it cost $225. I also had to purchase the fruit leather trays because they don't come with any model of the machine. Well, maybe the $500 professional one, but no. I ended up paying a total of $156.63. Part of that was tax of $20.76 and then the trays were $32.62 (for 9) and the rest was the part of the dehydrator not covered by the gift cards.

With the fruit leather trays I can dehydrate tomato puree, mashed squash, even chicken stock all to be ground to make powders. Dehydrated chicken stock put through a spice grinder makes boullion powder without any of those nasty chemicals from store bought versions. As well as very tiny herb leaves like thyme or flower petals like calendula without having to worry about them falling through trays.

Right now I have 5 trays of basil dehydrating which will be followed tomorrow by more calendula, lemon balm, and yarrow. I am hoping that I won't have to buy many herbs this year at all and I will be able to make salves and other herbal remedies. I'm already on my way with the calendula:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nf1XLNCzj0

I did dry all of my oregano in bundles up on the wall and not in the dehydrator. If you'd like to see how I process that I did a video of it, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4hUBym8C2c

Herbs are so expensive for such a tiny amount, especially if you want organic. I will really be saving a lot of money this year by growing so many myself.

I'm really getting into herbal healing, doing a lot of research and trying to figure out what works best for my needs. Heaven knows the store bought remedies are not working well for me. While I don't think herbs are going to be a miracle cure, so far from what I've done myself with essential oils, they do seem to work. I will approach it with healthy skepticism until I have first hand experience with all of it.

I went to Joe's Garden and bought some broccoli and cauliflower and green onion plugs and got those planted today to replace all the ones I've harvested. I also bought some more basil plants. I spent $25.38 there.

I haven't been updating much on the garden output as I've just been trying to keep up with it and getting it eaten and/or preserved. But I've been keeping a tally and so far I've harvested enough food to equal $602.50 if I bought the same thing in the organic section of the grocery store.

And the zucchini, summer squash, peppers, beans, corn and tomatoes are just starting to fruit and we still have potatoes and winter squash, cucumbers, watermelon, sunflower seeds, and cantaloupe to come. We have now paid back the amount we spent on building the raised beds and the money we spent on bringing in three cubic yards of good organic soil. I am beyond thrilled at this garden year.

We had two litters of rabbit kits born this weekend. There were five whites born on the 3rd and 7 reds born on the 4th. The red runt died, though. It had no sucking reflex and couldn't nurse. But we still have 11 healthy kits. One of the rabbits didn't deliver though. Sometimes when it is too hot the bucks will go temporarily sterile. This is the second time this has happened this year, though it was a different doe each time. I am glad I am breeding 3 pairs at a time.

I've got orders for fertile turkey eggs. The first one will be filled tomorrow. It's just two. Then I have an order for 12, then 2, then 12 again. It's only 50 cents an egg. I could charge more, these are heritage breed turkeys and rare, but I am in it more for breed preservation than for making money. It's nice having a waiting list. I just wish I had more than one female so I could fill orders faster, but we don't have the space for it so that will have to wait until we buy our farm and move.

EF Update and Bought a Camera

April 11th, 2015 at 01:17 pm

$14,479.37 Beginning EF Total
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
----------------------
$14,489.37 Ending EF Total

I have been super busy this week with the garden, but I hope to do a real update today or tomorrow. I bought my camera. I ended up going with a $150 Canon Power Shot. It is lightweight, small enough to fit in my pocket, the lens closes, and it is a gorgeous blue color. I am very happy with it so far for taking photos. I still have to do videos with it, though. That is also something I will do this weekend, as I want to record my garden progress for my farm blog. I'll likely post a link here, too, though.

I got a $5 check from Pinecone in the mail today, so that will get added in on Monday.

Camera Recs?

April 8th, 2015 at 01:19 pm

My digital camera broke and I am looking for a good, but inexpensive camera to replace it. What do you all recommend? I want it to be able to shoot video, too, and I'd really prefer the type that closes the lens over the type that has a lens cap and isn't too big and bulky. If it can slip in a pocket, all the better.

In Search of...

January 20th, 2015 at 12:54 am

I need a new blender. The motor on my blender burned up right when I was in the middle of making homemade mayo for the first time. So of course we couldn't get it to emulsify and ended up wasting a cup of oil and a duck egg. Or well, we would have, but I threw some honey into it and a little store bought mayo and am using it as the dressing on coleslaw. I will try again in the future, but obviously not until we get a new blender.

So, this is the second Oster I've had that has had the motor burn up after using it for less than a year. And this one was maybe used 20 times. That's all. So no more Oster for me. Can anyone recommend a good blender that lasts and doesn't try to catch the house on fire? I'm just looking for a place to start my research.

A Small Investment

December 28th, 2014 at 08:19 am

Recently DH and I made the decision to make a small investment in new dishes. We don't have a lot of plates and bowls anymore. The kids have broken a lot of our old set over the last few years and since it has been discontinued, it is almost impossible to find. In pricing new dishes of any quality (not china, but not melamine, either), I found them to be about $7 to $8 a plate.

So instead I went on ebay to look and see what they had in the way of old dishes in good condition and I found they had some that matched the stuff my grandmother had when I was a little kid. We were able to buy 13 plates, 10 of which were in mint condition for less than we would have paid for new, and they are all usable. The small chips in the 3 plates are fixable, though I would still like to get 2 more plates that are in mint condition.

Last night I found 12 matching bowls, so we will be getting those next. They have the same pattern on the outer rim, but the picture on the bottom of the bowl is different from the one on the bottom of the plate. They complement each other nicely.

They do have matching tumblers, but they are more expensive so I don't think we will be getting those now, but it is something to keep my eye on.

These dishes make me so happy and remind me of all the time I spent with my grandmother. And the whole family really likes them, too. The best part is they are dishwasher safe because of how they were glazed. The design won't wear off like with some of the older china.

Good Bread Machine?

November 4th, 2014 at 12:44 pm

I am thinking about buying a new bread machine and was wondering if any of you have experience with the recent models and could recommend one? I'd prefer one that makes a square or rectangular loaf, not a round one. It also needs to have a manual setting for making pizza dough or rolls.

I've been thinking about this for a while now. The bread machine I am currently using is my mothers and it doesn't have the ability to bake the bread because the heating element has never worked since she loaned it to me. I have always just mixed the dough in it and then transferred it to loaf pans for the second rise.

Now that it is cold the dough does not rise very quickly and can sometimes take all day. A fully functioning bread machine keeps a warm enough environment for the bread to rise like it should. Plus I would be able to just bake the loaf of bread in it.

One of the things about not having my own full kitchen is that when I want to use Mom's oven it can be quite an ordeal. She has a double oven, but you can't bake in the small top one or the bread will hit the ceiling and rolls will bake too fast. You also can't roast a whole chicken in the top oven. Stuff has to be pretty flat to cook in it. The large oven, however, is where she insists on storing all of her pots and pans. So then I have to take everything out of the oven and put it on the counters to use it.

We are talking about ten pieces of cookware and I can't stack them inside each other in case they scratch the coating, so they have to be spread out. And then she complains because the counters are covered with her pots and pans. She has plenty of low shelf space, but for some reason doesn't want to use them for pots and pans.

Quite frankly it is why I use the cooktop, crockpot, and microwave so much...because she moans about everything in the kitchen being out of place. Lately I can't even use the counters to put the pots and pans on, because her last 3 canner loads of beans are spread all over it. She won't put them away. We've offered to help, but she'll get to it when she gets to it. It's been 3 weeks.

So I've kind of given up making my own bread but I really want to get back to it. Bread machines don't cost that much and if I can make bread in my area I won't have to deal with the fuss she makes about using the main kitchen. And I can make it at any time of day I want. I'll be able to put the stuff in at night and program it to be ready in the morning.

I've been thinking about this for a long time now and I think I am ready to make the plunge.

Payday Report

May 25th, 2014 at 03:27 pm

I didn't do my payday report last week so this will just be a combined report for the two paydays.

$1500.00 BoA VISA
_1000.00 Loan to Mom
__400.00 Mom's Utilities
__200.00 Emergency Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
___60.91 Electric (Old House 2 months)
___48.60 Phone (Old House)
__160.80 Internet (2 months)
___68.56 Garbage
__757.82 Van Loan (plus extra to principal)
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__239.32 Propane
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Vacation Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
__100.00 Moving Fund
__100.00 Appliance Fund
__500.00 Building Supplies
___90.00 Allowances (2 weeks)
--------------
$5546.01

I did some bulk grocery shopping in the last two weeks, spenging $526.31. We've spent $100 on eating out or takeaway. I spent $204 on prescription medications and $45.21 on OTC allergy meds. I also paid a medical bill, a physical therapy session and dental bill for a total of $341.47. And that should get me up to date for the month.

Bought the New Freezer

May 25th, 2014 at 03:10 pm

We bought our chest freezer finally yesterday. It is a 24.6 cubic foot Frigidaire Gallery with lots of dividers and baskets which should make compartmentalizing foods very easy. It costs $82 a year to run and is Energy Star rated.

It is also made in America, which I will generally do if I can and it meets all my needs. With tax it came to $850.04. Free delivery and since we bought it on a sale weekend it was $100 off. It was also $200 less than the same freezer at another store. We bought from a local business, who happens to have their own outlet store as well of slightly older models.

It will be delivered tomorrow and then after 24 hours of being plugged in we can start moving our frozen foods out of my mother's freezers and our mini-chest freezer. I'll do an inventory based on what goes into each divider or bin, too. I used to have an inventory of what was in the freezers, but with this freezer going into the garage, I'll need to know for sure what is in there and where it is located before traipsing out to the garage or sending one of the kids out there to get something.

We will still use our mini-chest freezer inside the house, but it will be more as a receptacle of meal planning, bringing in the week's supply of meat or frozen vegetables from the big freezer sort of thing, plus our very few safe prepared foods like TJ's prepared meals or pizzas. And our own homemade TV dinners, premade homemade pizza crusts, bread dough, and such.

I am looking forward to purchasing a grass-raised beef, a half a pasture-raised hog, and numerous pasture-raised chickens, as well as having the space for the rabbits, ducks, and turkeys we are raising for the table. Meal planning will go so much easier and I will have plenty of good proteins ready and waiting for me. It'll be kind of nice to only have to buy seafood.

But those are long range plans. I have to save up for those meat purchases. It is expensive to buy a year's beef or a year's pork or a year's chicken all in one go. But so worthwhile.

Emergency Fund Update and Animal Update

May 22nd, 2014 at 10:37 am

$9044.68 Old EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Auto Deposit
------------
$9054.68 New Balance

Financially, things have been running very smoothly here. We will finally be buying our freezer this week. I will be glad to have it so we can clear all our stuff out of my mother's freezer. She needs to butcher her chickens this week and needs the space for them.

It has been a very busy week here on our little farmlet. I have spent $68.72 this week on 50 lb of crimped oats, 50 lb of flock raiser, a new glass water bottle, a new feeder, a new rabbit chew toy, and a mixing bucket for feed.

I have $24 worth of rewards at Pinecone. I am waiting until I get $30 before I have them send me a check. I'm getting 1 to 2 surveys a week so that should happen fairly soon.

I haven't really been doing Swagbucks lately. I haven't had much time and I had to take the search bars off my browsers as they were causing too many problems and allowing viruses onto the computer. It was very annoying.

I'm having issues with Netflix. I'm not sure why, but they aren't shipping DVDs right away. The last one I sent in arrived on the 14th and they still have not sent me a new one. On my plan they should have. I am starting to think about dropping their DVD plan altogether as this is the second time this has happened. Just stick with streaming as there is plenty to see this way. At least after I finish Rizzoli and Isles, which is not available on streaming.
We go and pick up our new little New Zealand Red doe today. She will cost $55 and is purebred pedigreed. That means when she grows up and I breed her with Wildfire, their kits can be sold for a higher price. There are not a lot of breeders who do NZ reds on this side of the state, so I am excited to be adding to my possible future income with this breeding doe.

We started the ducks free ranging yesterday as they are now bigger than the chickens and no longer afraid of them. This should cut down on feed costs as they are tremendous foragers, eating grass, weeds, slugs, bugs, and grubs.

http://youtu.be/pHvVS_3d4rs

The rabbits also started going out in the tractors this week.

http://youtu.be/4BGVgVL8lAc

And an update on all the young kit litters.

http://youtu.be/1LiWIpOPoUo

Unfortunately the first kit in the vid did not make it. Well, maybe it was fortunately. It was just not doing that well and I think it was in pain from overexposure when it was born. We tried to keep it comfortable. It was a taxing week.

The turkeys and chicks are doing really well. They've all learned how to fly up to the top perch. In a couple of days we will have their enclosure built and then we can let them outside. We can't let the turkeys free range as they will fly up into trees and try to roost overnight in them. I do not think the neighbors would be happy about that.

EF Update and Animal Update

May 15th, 2014 at 02:08 pm

Today is the auto deposit of $10 to savings. I added it to the Emergency Fund.

$9034.68 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Amount Added
---------
$9044.68 New EF Balance

Tomorrow is payday. It is the first payday cycle where we don't have to plan for a mortgage payment. That is such a great feeling.

Next week we will finally be purchasing our freezer. I am really looking forward to having that. Especially as the weather gets hotter and I need to store frozen water bottles to put in rabbit cages for the hot weather. They lay against them and it helps them to keep cool. Rabbits cannot handle weather over 80 very well and they only lose heat through their ears, so having ice water to lay on helps them cool their bodies. It is hard to have space for it, though with such small freezer space. We are buying the largest chest freezer on the market that isn't for industrial use. Then I can use the little chest freezer for the water bottles and other rabbit related stuff.

The rabbit who had the surprise litter has been named Fiona (partly for the F sound of her mother's name Phoebe and partly after the character from Burn Notice). Her surviving kit is alive and well and she is taking care of it. It already has fur coming in and seems to be doing just fine on its own. Probably because the weather is so warm. If I can get it to 2 weeks old it will be out of the woods.

Lola's remaining 4 orphans are doing well. The one I am feeding with a dropper hit 1 pound 2 days ago, so I have dropped it down to 2 feedings a day from 3 and will probably drop that down to 1 in a couple more days.

The birds are doing great. The turkeys are getting big, the ducks are getting huge, and the chicks are small in comparison, but the right size for their ages. They are fun to watch.

I did a small video on the birds. The link is below as I know some of you like to see these, but don't follow the farm blog.

http://youtu.be/UVqTz9ehqjM

This and That

April 9th, 2014 at 11:51 am

I added $9.68 to the coin jar. DH cleaned out his wallet last night before heading back to Alaska and that was all the ones and change that he had, plus 3 quarters from my purse that were knocking around.

After all the building we have done so far this spring, we have decided to put the green house on hold. With the duck house yet to be built and a turkey house next on the agenda, then fixing all the rabbit tractors with new roofs and building a large outdoor hutch with two big grow out cages for the rabbits that we can put in deep shade during the heart of the summer's heat, I just can't see it getting done.

That is okay though. We are planning on a straw bale garden, so it will be an easy set-up. We can put low tunnels over them to keep the birds out of the ones they would love to eat.

There have still been no serious buyers on the house. There are people that want it but don't have any money ready to buy it. I am hoping that now that it is spring and we are heading into summer that there will be someone who actually has money who wants it. It is such a nice house. If it weren't for the location I'm sure it would be long sold.

If it doesn't sell by summer, I think we are going to try to rent it. I know of one person who has said they would rent it for $1000 a month and pay all the utilities. That was the guy who painted the house in exchange for our old car. That way I could at least start paying the handyman back. He did the work based on being paid when it sold and being allowed to use it for his portfolio book, though all materials were paid for at the time. We just owe him on the labor.

If the house ever sells, we are planning on paying off the van with part of the proceeds. That will give us a smaller down payment, but it will free up a lot of money each month.

The mortgage hit and the remaining balance is 5362.82, so after May's payment it will be under $5K. I am so tempted to just pay it off using half the Emergency Fund. I could then use the money I've been putting on the mortgage to get the Emergency Fund back up to $10K. It would be a risk. Everything is these days, but to own the house free and clear means that at least in an Emergency situation no one could take that away from us, evening if it means moving back to the boonies.

I have been thinking about getting a used fridge and washing machine to put in the house, too. I am wondering if that might not be a small issue with some of the people looking to buy. They might want to have it ready to just walk in and live, not have to buy a few big appliances themselves. If they are only looking at the listing and seeing it doesn't have that, it might be enough to keep them from coming out and falling in love with the house. At the very least I think it needs a fridge. I see fridges on Craigslist for $100 quite often and washers from $50 to $150. It would be a small investment to possibly make a big difference.

Tax Refund Came--What We are Doing With It

March 19th, 2014 at 02:07 pm

I was actually surprised at how quickly the tax refund came. We were way behind on getting it sent off this year, but it came 8 days after we sent it in. Total this year was $6236.41. It would have been $60 higher if we hadn't done it online. But it cost $30 to do it online and we chose to pay for it from our bank account instead of with a credit card, not realizing until it was too late that it cost an additional $30 to do that, which is a major rip off in my opinion, but DH didn't read the fine print until too late. Oh, well, what is done is done.

I sent $1236.41 to the Emergency Fund.

$8531.50 Beginning EF Balance
+1236.41 Amount Added
-----------
$9767.91 New EF Balance

I also sent $1000 to the January Money Fund.

$1000.00 Amount Added
+_167.00 Beginning JM Fund Balance
------------
$1167.00 New JM Fund Balance

I added $1000 to the Appliance Fund.

$1000.00 Amount Added
+_200.00 Beginning Appliance Fund Balance
-----------
$1200.00 New Appliance Fund Balance

I set aside $1500 to pay for DH's sleep study and the remaining $1500 will go to pay for materials to build our green house and duck house.

We did not qualify for the child tax credits this year, DH worked too much overtime and it bumped us up, and our daughter is 17 this year anyway, but we were able to deduct the full amount for our HSA since we maxed it again this year. Without that our refund would have been much lower.

I think I am going to try to get the Emergency Fund to $10,000 by the end of the month. I think I can do it. I got our safe driver's refund check to cash, our AMEX check to cash, a $16 check for rabbitry sales to cash, $100 to come out of this coming week's paycheck and two more $10 auto deposits. I basically need to come up with about $30 to hit it and there are already 7 ones in the coin jar. I can do that.

Once the EF is at $10,000, then I am going to change my focus a bit. I will still deposit $100 a month to the EF, but the $10 weekly deposits, the refunds that come in, the rabbitry money, and the coin jar money are going to be used to build up the moving fund account. Right now there is only $600 in that account and $300 of that is going to have to go to the HoA for their extremely ridiculous new rule of paying the HoA $300 to transfer ownership of a property in the development to a new owner.

Even though we plan on renting a U-Haul to move, I know we'll need it out for a week so we don't have to rush things. I also need to pay for a piano mover to move the piano. And I'm pretty sure we'll need to pay for a few meals out while the kitchen is in transition. So I'd like to get that fund up quite a bit higher than it is. Maybe $1500 or so.

As soon as DH gets home we are buying our chest freezer with the Appliance Fund Money. I am going to get the biggest one they have at 24.6 cubic feet. That way we will have plenty of space for rabbit meat, a steer, half a hog, and a couple of lambs. Then the small chest freezer we currently have will be for chicken, turkey, and duck meat and the freezer under the fridge can go strictly for frozen fruits and whatever vegetables are not canned.

Funds Update

March 11th, 2014 at 04:02 pm

$1030.00 College Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
__300.00 Propane Fund
__200.00 Vacation Fund
__200.00 Appliance Fund
__167.00 January 2015 Money Fund
__600.00 Moving Fund
__200.00 Aquaponics Fund
+_200.00 Christmas Fund
-----------
$3316.00 Total Funds Money

Emergency Fund Update and Funds Update

February 21st, 2014 at 12:43 pm

$8235.09 Beginning EF Balance
+_100.00 Amount Added
----------
$8335.09 Ending EF Balance

Funds Update

$400.00 Property Tax Fund
__19.00 Dues Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$100.00 Vacation Fund
$100.00 Appliance Fund
$167.00 January Money Fund 2015
$500.00 Moving Fund
$930.00 College Fund
$100.00 Aquaponics Fund
$100.00 Christmas Fund
-------------
2616.00 Total Money in Funds (Excluding EF)

Funds Update

February 1st, 2014 at 04:18 pm

$300.00 Property Tax Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$100.00 Vacation Fund
$100.00 Appliance Fund
__95.00 January 2015 Money Fund
$500.00 Moving Fund
2100.00 College Fund
$100.00 Aquaponics Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Fund
1000.00 Laptop Fund
$100.00 Christmas Fund
----------------
$4667.00 Total Funds Money

Payday Report

February 1st, 2014 at 04:12 pm

AMEX was higher than usual because of buying the food saver on that card. The MC DH accidentally charged on because he forgot the right card at home. I've restarted my Appliance Fund and my Vacation Fund after wiping them out to buy the new refrigerator. Everything else is business as usual.

I closed out the January budget and started the February one, though very little was marked off the February one, most was finishing up January's short term savings funds. But dollar wise most of it was for February.

$1500.00 to BoA VISA (DH's travel expenses)
__540.00 Mortgage (Old House)
__400.00 to Mom for her Utilities
__350.09 AMEX (in full)
___67.53 BoA MC (in full)
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Vacation Fund
__100.00 Moving Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
__100.00 Appliance Fund
__225.00 Monthly Chiropractic Plan
__100.00 Cash for Week
___40.00 Allowances
+__90.00 Physical Therapy
------------
$3812.62 Total Money Out

Haven't Been Around Much--Bought a New Fridge

December 22nd, 2013 at 06:46 pm

I really haven't been around much on the blogs this week. It's been a little crazy around here. We bought our new fridge and it is wonderful. I had to get a different type than we had before. While they still make the ones with the regular fridge on top and the freezer on bottom, they no longer make them as wide or as tall or as deep. So I couldn't just get an almost identical replacement, which was what I wanted.

We ended up getting one with a freezer on the bottom and a fridge with French doors on top.



The freezer is really nice. When you pull open the door the bottom bin comes out and the top bin stays in the freezer. If you want the top bin then you pull it out over the bottom bin. I will keep things like ice cream in the top bin so that if I am looking around in the bottom bin for a bit, everything in the top bin will stay cold. I have the top bin pulled out partially for the photo.



The top has three individually temperature controlled drawers. The bottom one stretches the whole width of the fridge and is shallow and it is for things like deli meat and cheeses. And then the other two drawers are for fruits and veggies. I love that I can set the veggie drawer to a higher humidity than the fruit drawer. It also has a shelf that lifts and stacks on itself so you can put a taller item in (the blue pitcher in this case) without having to move or take out a shelf to accommodate it.



It is a deeper fridge than the one we had before. It has 26 cubic feet of space. It uses LED lighting and when you open the French doors (or at least when I do) I feel like the angels are singing Hallelujah! It does light up like the heavenly host, LOL.

It has an ice maker and an interior place for filtered water. None of that is hooked up. We won't hook it up while we are living here, but will when we move to our farm. I really, really love this fridge.

It was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but the low end models just were not big enough. We need something that can hold a lot of produce when we are processing during the garden months and during canning season.

It has a digital read out of the temps in both the fridge and freezer so I don't have to guess or try to find a thermometer to put in there if I suspect something is going wrong like we did with the last fridge. That is a very nice feature to have.

We ended up getting one that cost $1595. I had been aiming for $1200. We got the $149 five year service agreement. That covers as many calls as we might need and if we never use it will be credited back to us for a future purchase at that store if we spend over $799. Since we have bought things over that price range 3 times now from this store in the last 15 years, I figure it will be used one way or the other. We also paid for delivery and to have the old fridge hauled away and recycled.

With tax it all came to close to $2000. I used $700 from the Appliance Fund, $400 from the Vacation Fund, and the rest came from the Christmas Bonus. It was nice to be able to pay for it with cash (which did get us a small discount).

And we bought from a local business instead of a box store, so I feel good about that. We bought it Friday and they delivered it on Saturday. Excellent customer service. One of the guys who delivered it was one of the guys who delivered our bed a couple years ago. I love small businesses with low turnover.

After using this fridge for a day, I love it just as much as I thought I would. It was a good purchase that I don't feel bad about at all. I would have felt bad settling for a fridge that had less than what I wanted. I also would have felt bad if we'd gone for one of the $2500 or $3000 fridges. But this one was just right.

The Fridge is Dead

December 20th, 2013 at 02:18 am

The fridge is now registering at 60 degrees F. This is so frustrating. I just did not want to spend my Appliance Fund money for a fridge. I wanted to use it to buy a chest freezer. Now it looks like we have no choice. I just wish we hadn't spent the money on new gaskets now.

We saw a fridge that I liked and was more or less in our price range at Best Buy. But we are going to look at a locally owned appliance store, too, because I prefer to frequent local over box store when we can and if price is not too prohibitive.

I probably lost about $120 worth of food. We kept any condiment that had vinegar in it, like ketchup, pickles, steak sauce and mustard, and threw out salad dressings, mayonnaise, and picante sauce. We threw out all our pizza topping meats (prosciutto, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami) which I had just stocked up on. I had to throw out a pound of organic sausage and a package of bacon from the ranch. I also had an $20 ham that was going to be going into the crockpot, some leftover turkey necks from a big batch I did earlier in the week. We had to throw out a quart of goat milk, a bottle of lactaid milk, and a 1/2 gallon of milk from the local dairy that bottles in actual bottles.

Plus there was two cups of beef left of my home canned beef, 2 cups of leftover spaghetti, leftover meatballs, a package of uncured all natural beef hotdogs, a package of organic gelatin cups, 2 cups of natural peanut butter, my yeast, a bunch of green onions, 3 partially used 1/2 pints of applesauce, a bunch of kale, and a head of cauliflower.

What I was able to save were 2 leeks, a bag of carrots, 3 heads of broccoli, a purple cabbage, a jalapeno, a bunch of cilantro, a lime, a dozen oranges, and 2 apples. Also 2 bags of mozzarella cheese, 1 bag of cheddar cheese, 1 2 pound block of cheddar cheese, 1 8 oz block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, string cheese, gouda, parmesan and romano. I was also able to save all of my jams and jellies, but two that had been opened.

So everything we had left is crowded in the spare fridge that my mom and I both use. I am just really grateful the freezer is still working and that I have so much canned meat. Who knows when I'll get my freezer now. Maybe when we get our tax refund I can take some of that money and do it.

I'll have to find freezer space for what is in the fridge freezer at the worst possible time as we have to slaughter 13 rabbits in the next week and I hadn't been planning on canning it all. In fact I'd wanted to freeze at least half and then grind another quarter of the meat up for burger. Maybe if I pull out all the roasts and can them...I guess we'll see. But with 62 rabbits now in residence the one thing I can't do is put off slaughtering any longer.

It Has Been a Week

December 19th, 2013 at 08:12 am

Some good, some bad, some just surviving. We had two does kindle over the weekend. Phoebe had 9 kits and Andromeda had 4. We decided to foster 2 of Phoebe's kits to Andromeda, the two smallest ones, so that it would be easier on Phoebe. A rabbit can only feed 8 kits at a time so often one can easily miss out on a meal. I was really unsure about whether the runt would survive and it did not, sadly. But the other kit we fostered is now as fat and sassy as Andromeda's biological kits and I don't think she ever noticed there were more kits than she had.

I'll have to make some decisions about Starbuck come spring. I'm not breeding again until late February when the whether warms up. So far he has fathered 3 litters. The first one was a set of seven where one died and one was very undersized and we had to force nurse it for 10 days to get it to the age where it was old enough to eat pellets and thrive on its own. Then this last litter. The second litter he fathered was one of 9 kits, but 2 died. And this last litter he fathered only produced four. So his results are inconsistent and there might be something genetic going on.

But Andromeda was a first time mother and she wasn't exactly receptive during the first half of breeding so the litter size may be related to that as well. We will be keeping one of his bucks, because he is a friendly and amazing buck with really great fur and body type. Those traits I'd like to keep from him.

I think the fridge is dying. We replaced the freezer gasket and it improved for a while, and we will replace the fridge gasket as soon as DH gets home, but I think something might be wrong with the fridge fan, too. We were hoping to avoid a service call, but now we may not. I've had what feels like food poisoning and my suspicions lay on the fridge not keeping things cold enough. We may have to buy a new fridge. I have $700 in the Appliance Fund and I can wipe out the Vacation Fund to make up the rest if I need to. I am just hoping it is fixable.

Payday Report

December 16th, 2013 at 03:06 am

$1400.00 BoA VISA
__100.00 Emergency Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
___72.56 Internet
___72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Tank
__757.82 Van Loan (plus extra to principal)
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Holding Tank
___40.00 Allowances
__200.00 Laptop Fund
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Vacation Fund
__109.00 January Money Fund
__100.00 Moving Fund
__100.00 Appliance Fund
--------------
$3370.38

$700 of the payment to BoA VISA was the $700 I had set aside for Christmas presents. Since they were bought with the VISA I used that money to make the payment. I will make another payment next week to cover the other half of the travel expenses for DH.

Also had 3 Medical Bills:

$90.00 Physical Therapy
$10.62 Doctor
$13.70 Sleep Doctor
----------
$114.32



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