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Menu Planning Week Six

February 6th, 2017 at 11:53 pm

So I bought some oranges and some cabbage as it is cheaper than lettuce and will last a lot longer and we will be having cole slaw instead of salads when I want those at dinner time. I did get the purple cabbage so it will be pretty as well as have more vitamin content. Everything else is food we have on hand and I am going to try to be keeping to that as closely as possible.

I made Wednesday an easy crockpot day. I will make the Kaiser rolls the day before. They are easy.

Monday:
Beef Stew--All home canned beef potatoes, carrots, and parsnips
Home canned green beans
Home canned pears

Tuesday:
Leftover Casserole--Frozen turkey and stuffing from Christmas, sour cream, cheese, poultry seasoning, cream of chicken soup, tater tots
Frozen Broccoli
Home canned nectarines

Wednesday:
Pulled Pork Sandwiches--Pork roast from our pig share with homemade Garam Masala (nightshade free)
Homemade Kaiser rolls
Canned Pineapple
Cole slaw

Thursday:
Homemade Pizza--frozen ham, frozen sausage, pepperoni, onions, home canned sauce, cheeses
Cole slaw
Oranges

Friday:
Mild Curried Rabbit with homemade curry powder (nightshade free)
Sweet Potatoes
Broccoli
Frozen Plums

Saturday:
Picnic Ham
Sweet Potatoes
Home canned green beans
Home canned pears

Sunday:
Belgian Waffles
Leftover Ham
Oranges
Frozen Broccoli

End of Week Catch-Up

January 23rd, 2017 at 02:42 am

I haven't posted in a couple of days as stuff has been somewhat busy here. I made a huge batch of Rabbit Stir-Fried Rice for the freezer. I usually make this once a week with whatever leftover meat I have. Right now I'm working with just an electric skillet and the microwave for the most part as I don't have access to the oven/stove top every day. So it's a stir-fry, but only sort of, since I'm not using a wok and I vary the temperature a lot.

I ended up with 5 bags for the freezer and a bowlful for my son. If we have rice as a side, quart baggy is good for the whole family. But generally my son eats the whole bag for lunch along with more eggs. It's cheap and it fills him up without him having to eat a bunch of bread, so I'm happy to do it. And it is way cheaper than buying the bags of chicken fried rice from Trader Joe's.

If any of you want to see how I make it, there's a vid on my youtube channel you are welcome to watch, but fair warning it is 22 minutes long. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObXQM1fufEk I also have one for making garlic powder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukXxytlFld8 and the one for making onion powder as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yyd_bLDBaaA&t=24s I know a couple of you had expressed some interest in those.

I'm dehyrdating lots of garlic and ginger, but these ones I'll keep in pieces and vacuum seal. Then later on when I run out of powder I can grind them then. It will make them taste much fresher than making it all into powder now.

I determined the sexes of Ella's kits, 3 girls and 3 boys. One of the girls that is a broken black looks very promising in both spots and coloration, so I may keep her and breed her back to Zander. We'll see. Persephone's litter is doing well. They are adorable.

I have been trying to figure out what I am going to plant in the garden this year. I listed it all out earlier in the month, but now I'm trying to get down to the knitty gritty and figure out how much room I have versus my desires and expectations. I always have to scale down as I just don't have the space to grow all of what I need. I have to inventory my current seeds as well.

I reorganized the canning shelves so now all of the fruit is together, all of the meats are together, and more of the vegetables are together. We still have a lot of home canned food, not near as many gaps as I was expecting considering how heavily we have drawn from them. I am down to two shelves plus two jars of green beans, though. So that's definitely going to have to be a big grow this year. I was planning on doing some, but I know now that I'll need to triple what I had planned on growing.

My kids have learned how to make rice balls and are big batching them for the freezer. They are learning to make their own "convenience" foods since we are buying less and less. I am trying to get down to not buying any convenience foods at all, but I've been taking it gradually. Next up is pizza snacks, which should be very easy. I might make a big batch of pizza calzones as well. My son especially likes it when we have those on hand. Making a double or triple batch is not really that much more work when the Kitchen-Aid does all the dough kneading.

We have continued to go through boxes and weed out a lot of stuff. In another month I may have a usable living area again. I am tired of the mess and having to work around everything all the time. With having to do so much from scratch I could really use the extra space for big batch assembly line stuff. That's our biggest area where we can save money, so it's important for me to be able to do it easily. If it's hard I won't want to and it'll be hard to get help as well.

There has been some more job interest poking up, but nothing concrete yet. Hopefully we'll hear more soon. Continued prayers would be appreciated.

Leftover Management and Homemade Take-Out

January 13th, 2017 at 07:24 am

One of the things I've been doing lately is taking any leftover meat and immediately chopping it up into a small dice. It's nice to think that it'll get eaten over the next couple of days, but too many times it doesn't. So I've taken to dicing and then freezing immediately. Or in the case of leftover hamburger patties or lamb patties, crumbling it up. We can't afford food waste and I'm opposed to it even in the best of times. Everything needs to get eaten.

I have had some good pizza toppings this way, with some lovely homemade sausage, picnic ham, taco meat, and lamb de provence. The ham and sausage is also great for putting in an egg scramble or omelette. We have had a few things that I don't really want to put on pizza, though.

The pork ribs with the apricot/honey/soy sauce glaze and the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers, to name two. Sometimes leftover rabbit or chicken as well, depending on the seasonings. That meat has been going into making stir-fried rice, which is also helping to use up the over abundance of eggs we've been getting now that the ducks are switching into high gear.

I used the leftover pork with the apricot/honey/soy glaze tonight and it was so good. It was better than Yangtze pork fried rice that you can get in just about any Chinese place out there. I did add some garlic and ginger to the meat as well as to the rice itself. I ended up with 5 quart baggies full for the freezer, enough sides for a family of four for five meals, and then 2 more cups that my son and husband were bargaining over for a late evening snack.

I am really happy with the amount of Chinese/Polynesian dishes I have learned to make. Besides the rice I can make chicken and broccoli, broccoli beef, black pepper chicken, subgum chicken chow mein, beef chow yuk, pineapple chicken, char sui pork, and then just a general stir-fry with whatever I have with Chinese flavors. I have mastered using oyster sauce, fish sauce, and hoison sauce without getting too much of any of them.

It is nice to be able to make our favorite Chinese dishes when we can't afford to get take out. I have learned a couple Korean dishes over the last couple years as well, mandu (pork and cabbage dumplings) and kimbap (rice, seaweed, vegetable, and shrimp roll up thingy cut into circles).

I have been running down recipes for Mexican foods that don't require tomato sauce or peppers. It's not quite authentic, but there are substitutes and I am going to try them so we can get it figured out. There are a few dishes that don't use those things anyway, like quesadillas, which are simple enough, but I want to make tacos, and chili, and enchiladas again.

With Sichuan peppercorns, long grain peppercorns, and grains of paradise and judicious use of some other herbs and spices that aren't nightshades, it is supposedly possible to do all three of those things. I'm just not terribly fond of the texture of the nomato sauce, though, which is the base for two of them. It tastes good enough, though. Maybe I need to puree it more or something.

All I can say is that I am glad I am a good cook to begin with, because it has been a challenge to replace half my spice palette with other things and half my recipes as well. But I am doing it and we are finding some new favorites in the process. I don't think I'll ever get over losing peppers, though. At least peppercorns are not the same botanical species. I'm not sure it would be possible for me to give up black pepper, too. It's underrated, but salt and pepper are the best seasonings there are, really. They enhance everything. It's just the amounts you have to watch.

I am trying to post more frequently than I have been. It's just hard sometimes to figure it out when there is no income coming in. There are no savings updates. There are no payday reports. We still have no debt. So pretty much it comes down to household management, stretching the food budget, and making sure nothing goes to waste. Well, enough rambling. It's getting late and I need to get some sleep.

Payday Report and Need to do Something about the Storage Units

April 9th, 2016 at 05:58 pm

I really need to start doing the payday reports again. It keeps me super focused and on top of my spending, which I really need to be. We have had a lot of medical expenses already this month. Some of it we will get reimbursed for when everything is straightened out with our insurance company, but that could still take a month or two to shake out.

$400.00 Utilities
$150.00 Emergency Fund
$_80.82 Internet
$_47.86 Life Insurance DH
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$150.00 Laptop
$227.00 Storage (went up again, ouch)
$250.00 Chiropractic Monthly Family Plan
$140.52 Sleep Doctor
$_86.01 ENT Doctor
$369.00 Dentist (getting a partial reimbursement)
$_50.00 Allowances
$100.00 Garden/Household
-------------------------
$2096.51 Total

I have $167 and some change left in the checking account. $90 of that is allocated to physical therapy, but she's cancelled on my 2 weeks running, so that money may get dumped into the EF if I don't hear from her by next Friday.

DH and I are going to start going through our big storage unit when he comes home next time and seeing what we can get rid of/sell/donate. We really need to get down to having just one storage unit. The second one is $120 and it doesn't have too much in it, but the first one is jam packed. If we can free up about 8 square feet we can get everything into one unit and clear up the additional expense.

I know some of it is just stuff we didn't want to deal with when we moved, like boxes of papers, bags of outgrown clothes, little kid toys, and multiple outdated electronics. I know there are at least 3 VCR's and while keeping one to play all the old VHS tapes is fine, we certainly don't need 3. We used to have one for our bedroom, one for the living room, and one for the kid's playroom.

We could probably even sell one bundled with a bunch of old Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Bear in the Big Blue House, and kiddie movie VHS tapes at a garage sale. I mean who really buys VHS tapes anymore, not many folks still have VCR's, but might with a big enough stash of tapes and a player with a working remote. Obviously not for a huge amount of money, but maybe $10 to $15.

And I know we have all the fairy Barbies and their forest, too. Which could go for another small lump sum. Complete Fisher Price Little people set-ups, both original and modern are kicking around. And a huge toddler train layout from Little Lionel, which would go for a bit more. Just a lot of stuff like that. Not that we'd make a fortune or anything at all, but we might be able to get a decent garage sale together for June.

I know that when the time comes to move, I don't want to be hauling a ton of useless stuff to our new home. And I certainly don't want to deal with boxes of old junk mail and statements then, either. Our car has an outlet in it, so we can even shred things right there, pack them into paper sacks, and take them to be recycled, without ever bringing them home.

It'll take a lot of work, but he is going to have 3 weeks off in a row and this is probably the best time to do it, before gardening season gets into full swing.

Life in Limbo

April 2nd, 2016 at 04:29 am

So we were supposed to know yesterday about whether or not DH's company got the contract. Well, we still don't know. Apparently they are taking 2 MORE weeks to decide. Something that should have been decided in January. I am not holding my breath about 2 weeks from now, either. Do they not understand that they are fooling around with people's lives here and their livelihoods?

I am just hoping that DH can get some overtime in. There appears to be the work for it. If he can get in enough OT to get the EF up to $20K, I might (probably not), just might relax a little bit.

I have decided to do an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of April. I want to cut our grocery spending all the way down to $400. If I can, it will go a long way towards easing the pain of the pay cut. I don't need to buy meat at all during this month. I don't need to buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pasta, tomato sauce, rice, or flour, or sugar.

I am allowing myself to buy fresh fruit, milk, and some greens and onions if I run out, but that is all. I will be baking all my bread, rolls, and buns. I've got plenty of food in the freezer and on the canning shelves. My Aerogarden is producing a couple of salads a week. I've got lettuce planted that will hopefully take off by the end of the month. This should be easy. It goes without saying that there will be no eating out.

If I can figure this out and stick to a much stricter grocery budget, and we can get used to not getting everything we want food-wise all the time, then if his pay does go back up, we can save the difference then, too. That would be nice. And if it doesn't, we'll know we can get by on much less.

Menu Planning for the Week

February 4th, 2016 at 08:10 pm

I meant to get this up yesterday, but didn't. Here is my menu planning for the next week, starting yesterday. I am mostly planning based off of what is in the freezer or on the canning shelves, or in the case of fruit what I already have in the fridge or freezer. This is keeping my grocery budget well under while we are trying to save extra money for the down payment and to pay our medical bills.

Wednesday:
Braided Chili Loaf
Cantaloupe
Coleslaw

Thursday:
Sloppy Hoppies on Leftover Kaiser Rolls
Cantaloupe
Leftover Coleslaw

Friday:
BBQ and Teriyaki Honey Rabbit Wings
Broccoli
Leftover Coleslaw
Fried potatoes

Saturday:
Bacon Wrapped Pekin Duck
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans
Apples

Sunday:
Short ribs
Fried potatoes
Leftover green beans
Oranges

Monday:
Garlic Herbed Shrimp over Chicken Fried Rice
Onions and Bell Peppers
Canned Nectarines

Tuesday:
Beef pot roast
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Berries

Our Last Debt and Contract

February 1st, 2016 at 09:13 pm

Our only debt right now is the 0% interest loan from my mother for all the medical expenses she helped us cover when I had six surgeries in five years. I call it our Medical Mortgage for those new to the game. It currently sits at $45,000. For the last 10 months we were paying it back at a reduced rate, her idea, not ours, of $500 a month. This allowed us to save $5000 towards our down payment, but of course increased our pay off date.

Well, now we are going back to paying off $1000 per month. Mom needs to put a new roof on the addition of her house this summer and she just had to pay $10,200 so that the heating guys can come and fix her ducts under the house and put down new Visqueen. There were mice nests in most of her registers. Aw, fun. I told her she needs to get a cat (or three). Old houses have mice and this house is old.

While it was nice to put that money in savings, I was never thrilled about it increasing the payoff date. Well, now we are back to a better payoff schedule. We have 45 payments to go. That is 3 years and 10 months of payments, which gives us a payoff date of November of 2019.

She doesn't want it any faster as besides this money, social security is her only income (though she owns the house and cars in full and has no debt). She likes being guaranteed a certain amount each month. Though I may insist when we get closer to the end, just to be done with it.

Assuming all goes well with DH's contract at least, we'll be done with the payoff before 2020 which is good. He has guaranteed work through June. He was supposed to find out in the beginning of March whether or not his company got the new contract, but it has been extended a couple of weeks, so now we might not know until the end of March.

I passionately dislike living in limbo. In the past when his old company lost the contract he was able to slide into place with the new company and will likely be able to do that again. But we don't know. And not knowing drives me crazy.

On the bright side, we have almost $16K in the Emergency Fund and $38,500 in the down payment fund, so if it did take him a while to find a new job if things didn't go as planned, we will be fine. It will set our plans back a lot, but we will be fine.

I did a job loss budget and we could bring our living expenses down to $3000 a month if we had to for 18 months, cutting out physical therapy, cutting our grocery budget in half, cutting out all savings, cutting out the kids allowances, cutting out the chiropractor, but still paying back Mom. We would be going into garden season, so we might even be able to cut our grocery budget by more than half for a while.

I don't like the idea of it, but it is better for me to plan for contingencies so I don't have to panic later on.

Sticking to My Goal of Only Using Half the Grocery Budget

January 6th, 2016 at 07:01 pm

It was so nice to get back in the pool yesterday after about 8 weeks away due to the cold/sinus infection/general yuck thing I was dealing with last year. The prednisone seems to have seen it most of the way out the door and I have energy to do things again beyond the minimum. I'm off the prednisone now and hoping it doesn't come back, but so far seem to be doing okay.

Anyway, I did a water aerobics class yesterday. It was a full hour and boy do I feel it today, but it felt great, I am happy to be back. I will go again tomorrow.

I have lost 7 pounds so far since the start of the year. I am sure part of that is my commitment to cooking at home right now. About six days a week are from scratch and one day a week is maybe a convenience type thing. Last night was mini chicken tacos from Trader Joe's, so the ingredients at least, are not suspect. More sodium, of course, than I would use, but as long as we keep that kind of meal to a minimum, not so bad.

So far I have spent $35 of the $80.06 I have left of the original $400 I am trying to keep this month's grocery spending to. I need to make the rest of the $55 last until the 22nd and I will have made it through the month on half my grocery budget. Not an easy feat, but it seems to be working okay so far.

I am being diligent with sticking to the meal plan this week. My only alteration was making the mini-tacos instead of actual tacos last night. And sometimes I switch the fruit around as I may not be in the mood for the fruit I planned, but all of the planned fruit still gets eaten in a week.

I have stayed on top of leftover management quite well, too. I haven't had to throw out anything this week, but have made sure it gets eaten for lunches or breakfasts, or rolled into later meals in the week. This makes a huge difference, as well.

I think all of the savings will get eaten up by medical expenses, though. I had hoped to put it in the down payment fund, but at least I shouldn't have to take the money I normally put in the down payment fund each month and use it for the medical expenses, so that is something.

Cutting Grocery Expenses

January 3rd, 2016 at 07:13 am

I didn't have time to write about this when I started, but 12 days ago I did one big grocery shop with the intention of cutting my grocery spending for the month in half. I gave myself a budget of $400, and spent $319.94. That left me with $80.06 for things like milk, bread (if I don't bake it), lettuce, and fresh fruit.

Yesterday I spent $11.85 on 15 pounds of oranges, and $8.99 on a quart of fresh organic strawberries. So that is $20.84 and it leaves me with $59.22 to get through until the 22nd of January. $60 for 20 more days. I have 2 gallons of milk left so I am fine there, and I still have some greens growing under my little umbrella green houses, so I may not need to buy lettuce at all. I also have a loaf of bread left and plenty of ingredients to make more.

The $400 I am hoping to save (my usual budget is $800 a month) will go into the down payment fund. I have been successful in saving anywhere from around $200 to $250 for the past couple of months, but I really want to try to make this goal.

I do not have to buy any meat at all. The freezer is still packed with chicken, rabbit, beef, pork, and lamb. I have a ton of home canned food still on my canning shelves, and some frozen fruit and veg as well. So this is very doable as long as I don't get lazy. So far I have been sticking pretty well to the meal planning, though I've switched things up a couple times when I wasn't feeling as good. But it was all stuff we had available.

We also have not eaten out in that amount of time and I am hoping to make that go for the entire month long period as well. I am in full on savings mode. The faster I can save, the sooner we can move.

Meal Planning for the Week

December 30th, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Wednesday:
Pork chops
Fried potatoes
Green Beans
Apples/apple sauce

Thursday:
Baked chicken
Baked potatoes
Oranges
Salad

Friday:
Garlic Ginger Rabbit Stir-fry

Saturday:
Homemade pizza
Cole slaw

Sunday:
Crockpot roast beef with carrots, potatoes, and parsnips,
Cole slaw
Oranges

Monday:
Meatball subs
Cole slaw
Apples

Tuesday:
Tacos
Canned nectarines

Gas for $1.86 a Gallon and Rethinking Costco

October 22nd, 2015 at 10:45 pm

I just filled up my gas tank for $1.86 a gallon. I had 30 points on my Safeway card since I've spent $300 there this month. So that was 30 cents off per gallon, and then I used cash which made it an additional 10 cents off per gallon. So while Safeway's regular gas price won't beat Costco's regular gas price, with points and cash discount, it is 20 cents cheaper to get it at Safeway. Plus Safeway is only a mile from my house and not on the other side of town.

I am thinking hard about letting my Costco card go when it expires in March. I keep it mostly for buying organic olive oil, butter, toilet paper, organic brown rice, organic sugar, organic tomato sauce and paste, organic frozen broccoli, and organic chicken.

But...we have a freezer full of chicken we grew this year. I now have enough spaghetti sauce canned for a year from my garden. I could stock up on a year's supply of olive oil, butter, tomato paste, brown rice, sugar and frozen broccoli right before it expires. I don't have to renew it and I can revisit the idea in a year of using the membership. Or my FIL and MIL have a membership so we could have them pick up what we need when we need it.

I used to buy cheese there, but Safeway's sales and often their regular prices are better than Costco's regular price. I am finding a lot of things that is true on. I know if I watch sales I can probably find Charmin for cheaper and find coupons for it. And when we run out of chicken, Trader Joe's does have less expensive organic chicken nowadays.

Another reason I am thinking of dropping Costco is that they will no longer be partnering with AMEX, which means I'd have to get another credit card and I don't want to.

It's just that the many things that used to be selling points for a Costco membership are now being chipped away at and as prices rise it just no longer seems the bargain it once was. The parking is atrocious and it's just getting to the point where it is not really worth it anymore.

Well, At Least That Will Cut Expenses

October 3rd, 2015 at 01:32 am

I'm having to switch rabbit feed and I'm not happy about it. But I can't get it here without an exorbitant shipping cost. The only way for the shipping to even be reasonable would be to buy 29 fifty pound bags at once. I have the capacity to store 15 bags at the moment.

In order to store 29 I would have to purchase 5 more containers capable of storing 150 pounds in each. I can't leave them on a pallet in the garage because we'll get mice. They have to be in chew proof containers. And we don't have the space to store 5 more bins anyway. Even if I could, it would take too long to get through the feed. It would be very stale and have the possibility of going rancid by the time we went through so much feed.

With the buying club having gone under, I can't reasonably get the organic feed anymore. So we are switching back to the feed we were buying before, which is about 33% of the cost of the organic feed. I hate the idea of going back onto a feed that might have GMOs in it, but there is not much I can do at this point. I will investigate other options, but at least getting this type of feed will buy us time. They do, at least, attempt to get non-GMO ingredients for their feeds, they just can't guarantee it.

I do have to admit it will be nice to see the feed bill drop by so much.

Grocery Shopping and Food Preserving

August 10th, 2015 at 08:22 pm

Yesterday DH and I went grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. I am hoping not to have to shop again except for milk and bananas for about 3 weeks. It is pretty hard to do with the pain and fogginess from my broken nose and what actually probably is a mild concussion. Or else just a reaction to the pain medication. Hard to say, but I feel very out of it.

I spent $162.71. We got a few packaged meals and some other things that will make it easy to fill in around the produce coming in from the garden and the meat in the freezer.

We have canned a lot this week. My husband has done a lot of it under my supervision simply because I get dizzy a lot right now. But between the two of us we have canned:

7 quarts and 1 pint of beef
6 quarts and 1 pint of rabbit
6 quarts of zucchini and summer squash
3 pint and a half jars of green beans
13 pints of rabbit bone broth
6 pints of bread and butter pickles
6 quarts of garlic dill pickles

We also made a batch of rabbit jerky with the abdominal flaps that can be very chewy and basically are only good for being ground or making jerky. Some people make bacon with it, but I feel it is too chewy for bacon.

We plan to can hamburger and more beef chunks today and more rabbit tomorrow. I need to do another batch of garlic dill pickles as the cucumbers are getting ridiculous.

I have an order in with a local place for 20 pounds of no spray green beans. We are having issues with the pole bean crop so I wanted to make sure I had enough green beans canned for the year. I think between that and what we do get from our garden it will cover it. I will be buying some carrots soon, too. We are down to 4 quarts of canned carrots. The ones I am growing are more for fresh eating and a little dehydrating as they don't get very big.

We also have an order in for dill since the stores keep running out. They don't seem to be stocking very well for pickling season this year. They do have those super expensive little plastic packets, but one of those costs about as much as a huge bunch of fresh dill.

I bought a garlic braid since my garlic crop failed. It has about 40 heads of garlic on it, which will meet my needs for the year. I have 5 or 6 left on last year's braid so am going to slice up the cloves, dehydrate them, and grind into powder.

Fortunately a lot of this stuff I can do sitting down. I do have to be careful not to push too hard, but it is difficult when there is so much to do to get ready for winter.

I heard the other day that our beef share should be ready on August 28th or thereabouts. I am getting 1/4 of a grass fed, organic beef. It will work out to $4 per pound. We will can most of the roasts and some of the hamburger. I will also be getting 10 pounds of tallow to render for soap making and lotion making. Beef fat is very good for those things and very healthy for the body, as opposed to a lot of the chemically laden soaps and lotions.

Next month the meat chickens will be ready to butcher as well, so I'll be putting 30 chickens in the freezer. We'll also have 3 rabbits ready to butcher then, too. So lots of work coming up, but it will be so worth it to not buy much meat for a year at the store. And in the long run we save a lot of money buy buying in bulk and preserving or raising our own and preserving.

We will still have to buy sea food since DH's big fishing trip fell through. I was pretty disappointed as they were going to be fishing for King salmon and one of those would have been around 35 pounds, plenty for a year. But life happens and there is nothing we can do about it now.

Garden and Eat from the Pantry Challenge

June 9th, 2015 at 10:12 pm

I feel like I am starting to settle into a routine now between the garden and the farm chores and making all of my meals from what is available here and not by making a quick run to the store or getting take out. As the garden moves into heavier production more time needs to be spent there.

I have harvested a pound of snow peas from the garden this week, 2 bunches of kale, 1 head of lettuce, 2 bunches of green onions, and 3 kohlrabi. My broccoli is getting close to harvest size, which astounds me. It is all so early, but with this weather, I can't blame it.

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

I am enjoying the cooking this week more than I have in a long while. I don't know if it is just access to super fresh ingredients from the garden or knowing it is all food I grew and/or preserved myself, but it feels different. I haven't felt any resentment over cooking like I sometimes do. I mean I love cooking, but I am often irritated when it all falls on me. This last week I don't seem to care about that. It's like an attitude has shifted. Of course the children are helping far more than they ever have before so maybe that is why?

Some things were quite challenging since the hot water tank that feeds the main kitchen went out and had to be replaced. We couldn't use the dishwasher and every pot and pan that we cooked in had to be hauled down to the half-kitchen that had hot water. That went on for 5 days, but we got a new tank put in and had hot water again last night.

As promised here is the video of my meals for the first week of the challenge:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEWnzVbQ7UA

I am looking forward to the rest of this challenge. It is good to be feeling so positive about it.

June Will Be Tight

May 25th, 2015 at 08:15 pm

DH forgot to arrange time off with his alternate for DD's graduation. Normally they switch weeks or go to a temporary 3 and 3 week schedule, but with waiting to the last minute the best he could get was for his alternate to just work the 4 days for him. It would be less days if there was a plane to the slope every day, but there isn't. So we will lose 4 days of pay in June.

I am going to try my best to not have to use the Emergency Fund to cover these lost wages. I think we can manage it, at least if no more major medical bills come in. It won't be this next cycle, but the one after that that will be missing 4 days. So if I am very careful and we don't eat out at all in the next 6 weeks and I don't put anything in the down payment fund except the $500 I'm obligated to put in there, I think it will be manageable.

If not, I guess I could take from the January Money Fund or the College Fund. DD is taking a gap year anyway, to try to get her health in order. I am hoping they will just let her get a hysterectomy. It is what she wants at this point just to have all this over with. She's never wanted to give birth to kids because of the high risks that run in our family, so that isn't an issue, though the doctors may make it out to be one. They generally do when you are young. But she's always been quite firm on wanting to adopt little girls from China. She's talked about that since she was 10.

We will be eating from the pantry and the garden as much as possible during this time period. I will buy some fruit and vegetables and probably some chocolate, but I will buy no meat (other than pepperoni and deli meat for school lunches) since we have plenty in the freezer and in the canning jars and I will make all of our bread.

What I won't have to buy at all is lettuce, kale, or chard. The kohlrabi will start being ready in a week or so. So basically the only veggies I will be buying are cabbage, zucchini, and broccoli. I will be buying some strawberries and blueberries, at least until my own strawberries are ripe. I will also be buying 2 basil plants. I have canned nectarines, applesauce, and pineapple. And I'll need to buy milk and yogurt. We have plenty of butter and oil. But I do need to pick up tomato sauce to make spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce with my own canned tomatoes. I think I can limit it to that, though.

If I can cut our grocery budget in half for the next 6 weeks, we should get by just fine without having to dip into anything. Including the money for DS's new bike.

Going for a No Spend Week

December 31st, 2014 at 01:49 am

Aside from the auto deductions and the AMEX bill, which have money set aside for them, I am hoping for a no spend week starting tomorrow and going through next Tuesday. We have plenty of food, milk, and medication and toiletries in the house and no reason to spend any money on anything, so this week should be a breeze to get through. I won't have physical therapy again for 8 days, which I will have to pay, or I'd be trying to go no spend until January 9th, which is our next payday.

Today we spent $75 on rabbit feed and oats and I spent $90 on physical therapy.

The kids start back to school on Monday and normally I would buy lunch meat, but I am just going to make an extra pizza on Sunday and then they can take that for lunches. They both like cold pizza over sandwiches anyway and since I make it with lots of onions and peppers it is reasonably well balanced.

My husband taught my FIL and my mom how to butcher rabbits so they could help do it and DH could keep his injured finger out of them, so on Monday they butchered 10. These ones were a few weeks older than our norm, so it'll be close to 35 pounds of meat and about 2.5 pounds of livers. I will be working on cutting it all up tomorrow for grinding. We should get about 35 pounds of burger after the bones are taken out.

Then I will boil up the bones, pick off the remaining meat, and can the stock. I might even make up some ready made soups to can with the meat from the bones, although generally I save that for making enchiladas.

I am about ready to start cooking again, even though I'm not over this illness. My brain is starting to unfog, which is good. And since DH just left for Alaska and won't be able to help, I am glad I feel like I am capable to start at least making dinners again.

Garden Bounty Still--Hay Bale Garden

November 3rd, 2014 at 11:19 pm

Because we have not had a freeze yet, the garden has continued unabated. Yesterday I harvested 5 broccoli plants and 3 cauliflower plants. I had thought there were only 2 that were ready, but I found a 3rd that was so was very happy with that. The ducks, chickens, and turkeys were thrilled to get the spent plants. I've got 2 more broccoli and 2 more cauliflower that I am letting size up and then those will be done.

I will be drying parsley later in the week. There are no freezes predicted for the next 10 days, so I am just letting things continue to grow instead of pulling it all out.

I want the leeks to get a little more size before yanking them and using them to make rabbit and chicken stocks. They are useable now, but the bigger they get the more flavorful they will be.

The kale is still going strong. Sometimes kale makes it through the winter here, so I am going to let it try. I am leaving the sweet meat squash as long as I can, though the leaves are dying down so it is just what is left in the vines that is nourishing them. They are almost at 110 days now which is what they should be at for picking.

I haven't had much of a chance to do anything with the straw bale garden yet, except keep picking green beans. There are a couple of peppers that may be ripe and some kohlrabi. I think the zucchini is done. The tomatoes and cucumbers have been done for a while, though the plants are still alive. I will try to get out there and go through that garden in the next couple of days if there is a break in the weather.

Here's a vid of the hay bale garden, though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU2pXbr2QJU&feature=youtu.be

You can really see how it is falling apart and definitely will not hold up for a second season. But it definitely served its purpose. It cut our grocery expenses and helped us put jars of veggies on the shelves and bags of veggies in the freezer, while providing a couple of months of fresh eating.

Bits and Pieces

November 1st, 2014 at 06:37 am

I was able to transfer $1000 to my December Money Fund today. $400 of it was medical reimbursement and $500 was scrimped out of last month's budget. $100 I took off the top of today's paycheck.

This puts the fund total at $1947. I am hoping to be able to save $1500 out of the next 5 paychecks. It's not enough to cover 5 weeks with no pay, but it'll mean that much less out of the Emergency Fund. We can't rely on any kind of a company bonus this year to get through the shut down period.

Mom says we don't have to make a December payment on our loan to her, but I'd like to avoid skipping it. I absolutely hate owing her that money and any month we skip will be that much longer we have to be under that debt. We hit the halfway point today, $55,000 paid off, $55,000 to go. We have 4 years and 7 months left if we stay on track.

We have 2 years and 8 months left on the van loan at our current rate of payment. Maybe a little sooner since I pay a little extra each month, but it's hard to say how much sooner. Probably just a month, possibly two. It's not that much extra.

We will be butchering 2 of our turkeys on November 8th for the upcoming holidays and whichever rabbit kits have hit 5 pounds will be butchered the next day. That will cut the turkey feed bill in half. I'm not going to raise rabbit kits over the winter, so that will cut the rabbit feed bill way down, too, once all the current grow outs are butchered. The youngest kits will be 8 weeks old on Sunday.

The older kits will be 15 weeks old on Sunday. I think they will all be of butchering size by the time DH comes home. 4 out of 8 are now, and I think it is more likely that 6 out of 8 are, but I haven't weighed them in a couple of weeks. I hope they all will be because we need the cage space for the youngsters. I will weigh them tomorrow since we will be cleaning out cages.

I have about 50 pounds of rabbit meat in the freezer currently and after this next round we'll have an additional 20 pounds to either can or freeze since dress out weight is a little over 1/2 of live weight. And then the youngest coming up number 18, so that will be an additional 45 pounds if they all survive to butcher age. There will be plenty of meat without breeding again until late February.

I am also debating on sending the drakes to freezer camp. I don't need them for the ducks to lay eggs, and considering how little meat there is on a Welsh Harlequin, we won't be raising ducklings after all, so we don't need the males. Plus one of them is really beating up on one the girls when they mate. Her wing feathers are in pretty bad shape from it. If I do, that will cut that feed bill down, too, but not too much since they mostly eat what they forage and just fill in with feed when they are hungry.

I've been getting 5 duck eggs a day lately and 4 chicken eggs every 36 hours so the female birds are definitely paying for themselves. I need to make a bunch of meatloaf freezer meals so I can use up some of these eggs. I do sell a few dozen here and there and I give them away to family and friends, but even so, it is hard to keep up with what they produce.

I've still got to do up a payday report, but I haven't finished paying all the bills yet, so will likely do that tomorrow.

It's Been a Real Long Week

August 7th, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I will start with the good news. I have lost 9.4 pounds so far on my diet. It's been 17 days. Although I still have the urge to eat some junk food, it is going pretty well. My small amount of high carbs have been fruit, corn, and potatoes. It seems to keep the sugar cravings at bay pretty well. I can't remember the last time I had bread. I don't actually miss it at the moment.

I am so tired, but I have got a lot accomplished. We have had to hang out at home because of my daughter's condition so I've done a lot. This week I have canned 18.5 pints of corn, 20 pints and 2 1.5 pint jars of nectarines, and 11 quarts of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Tomorrow I will buy some more corn to can and some more potatoes. I'd like to get another 30 ears of corn for this batch, and 15 pounds of potatoes. That should give me equivalent to what I've already canned, doubling what I have of each vegetable. I have plenty of quart jars for the time being, but will need to buy some more pint jars for the corn. I also need to buy some half-pint jars for applesauce. Mom picked a bunch of apples today and they need to be processed tomorrow or the next day. I have plenty of sugar and cinnamon on hand. I also want to buy more peppers and onions for freezing while the peppers are super cheap.

I got the soaker hoses put onto the gardens last night. No more hand watering, except the gutter garden. That will save us a lot of work. I think I've got them arranged so they hit everything. It's a lot easier to place soaker hoses before you plant, but better late than never.

I harvested two more big zucchinis, a couple of tomatoes, one red bell pepper, another pint of yellow French beans, some sorrel, some cilantro,2 cucumbers, at least one bunch of kale, and 2 tomatoes. The grocery store equivalent for the same organic produce is $20.

$224.35 Previous Garden Tally
+_20.00 Harvest Amount this Week
--------------
$244.35 YTD Garden Tally

The green beans are coming along nicely. I think that if this continues, I will have plenty to can so I won't need to buy anymore. I am hoping that now that the tomatoes will have a more consistent source of water I will get enough from them to can as well.

Now that the soaker hoses are set up I might see about getting some more kohlrabi plugs to replace the ones that didn't survive the heat. I still need to get radishes and green onion seeds planted in the empty gutter garden. They take a month to grow and I'd like to have some more before the season ends. I might try to squeeze in a crop of peas, too, since they don't mind if it gets cold towards the end of their growing season.

I definitely know what I will do differently next year with the gardens and what I will do the same. I will do the bales again. I will do hay or straw, whatever is cheapest as I saw no real differences in the growing medium. I will have soaker hoses from the get-go and I will have a little bit of soil on top. I will have the bales set up earlier and I will condition them with organic fertilizer for a week longer than they say to. And I will fertilize monthly while growing.

Some vids I made earlier in the week of my garden progress:

Straw Bale 7

http://youtu.be/fRJ7l3HTDtQ

Hay Bale 7

[http://youtu.be/2vsHl5H3c98

Fruit Garden 7

http://youtu.be/3swwIzI-I2k

Freezer Inventory #1

June 7th, 2014 at 05:05 pm

When we moved our stuff out of Mom's freezer and into our own new huge chest freezer, I took an inventory of what was in there to help me with future meal planning. I still need to go through what we have in the small chest freezer and move a portion of it out, and what we have in the above fridge freezer in the laundry room and move all of it out, and the below fridge freezer in our kitchen, but I figured this was a good start and I could put it here and then compile my spreadsheet later.

I've broken it down into categories, and then individual types within each category.

Rabbit--
15 whole cut-up
2 quart bags of liver
1 gallon bag of bones for making stock
7 bags of belly flaps for making jerky
1 container of soup
2 gallon size baggies of homemade sausage patties
1/2 a cut up rabbit

Beef--
2 skirt steaks
3 quart bags of stir-fry meat
4 pounds of ground beef
7 rib-eye thin cut steaks
1 chuck roast
2 packages hot dogs

Turkey--
1 package of 3 extra large turkey legs
1 turkey kielbasa

Chicken--
7 quart size baggies of boneless skinless
3 family size baggies of chicken legs

Pork--
4 ground
3 packages of sausages
3 packages of bacon
4 chops

Lamb--
1 ground

Elk--
1 ground

Fish--
1 package of cod
2 pounds of shrimp

Rice--
1 baggy of chicken fried rice
3 baggies of brown rice

Vegetables--
1 bag of fire roasted onions and peppers

I'm going to try to inventory the 2 fridge freezers today. The small chest freezer will probably wait until tomorrow.

I want to get through some of this meat before we buy a side of beef and a side of pork later this year. We've got the chicken way down, but only because we are going to be butchering some in a couple weeks. We also need to get moving on the rabbit as we will be butchering again in about 3 weeks and then pretty often during the summer.[

A lot of the rabbit meat needs to be ground, mixed with a little tomato sauce and seasonings, and pressed into patties. I will also do up some meatballs and cook them and freeze them for future use. The meat is packaged well, but it is from February of last year so it'll get used up faster in a more usable form. Because of how we've packaged it there has been no freezer burn or drop off in quality, but I'd still like to get the older stuff gone.

With this inventory at my fingertips I can keep it handy and we can get eaten what needs to be used up and do far less grocery shopping for protein because I will know at a glance what I have and plan around it.

Yesterday was Not a No Spend Day

January 19th, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I ended up buying some things after all that I hadn't planned on. I decided that I needed to get 2 new pairs of jeans. I have been wearing my jeans to do farm chores and they are becoming too shabby to wear off the property.

Then DS informed me he had outgrown all of his underwear but two, and DD informed me that she had outgrown all of her socks. I got DS 3 4 pks of underwear because they were cheaper that way and DD 2 6 pks. DD needed a cheap bottle of conditioner and both kids wanted a new brush because they didn't like the one I bought to replace the broken one. I do like it though. It is way better at getting out tangles. So DD wanted a round styling brush and DS just wanted one like the broken one. I also bought a hair dryer because ours shot out sparks and ceased to work.

Fortunately it was all at one store and I had over $13 in credits on my store card. I also ended up getting $5 credit for my next purchase. I was able to ignore any further suggestions from the kids, one of whom wanted yet another pair of PJ bottoms and the other wanted a new sweatshirt and a shirt. None of those things are needs, though.

Oh, and I did buy a set of headphones, but DD is paying me back out of her allowance. Total spent was $130, with DD owing me $20 of that back.

DD gave DS a haircut last night. Someone called him a young lady when he was out with his grandmother so he decided it was time. It wasn't that long, maybe 3 inches, but it was long enough that it was curling so it did give a little bit of a feminine style, but he was wearing boy clothes so not sure how he got mistaken for a girl. DD has gotten quite good with the clippers. I only had to trim up a bit around his ears. So that saved us $15. It's not quite a buzz cut, but no one will be mistaking him for a girl with it, that's for sure.

Something New for Us

January 3rd, 2014 at 05:23 pm

Yesterday DH and I put 6.75 pounds of rabbit meat through our new electric meat grinder.



It worked great and the results were very nice. It looks sort of like ground pork, but not as fatty. DH cooked up some of it for cheeseburgers for dinner last night using his new 17 inch cast iron pan (which I can't even lift by myself). It was fantastic. I never dreamed rabbit burger would be so good. I guess I should have because it is great every other way we've tried it. So we now have a ground beef substitute. Although we will continue to use beef on occasion the organic, sustainably raised stuff has gotten to be $7 a pound.

We've got four more that need to be cut up. I am planning three of them for mostly grinding to burger and one to do up for stir-fry meat. We'll be boiling the bones for stock and canning up some soup with the meat that falls off the bones and the resulting broth.

We also have 8 more that have hit the 5 pound mark that need to be taken care of. We will probably do them this weekend, since it is supposed to be clear.

I've been learning to cook on cast iron. We pulled the 3 pans we were given as a wedding present out of storage and have seasoned them and started using them. We've had one pan too many flake their Teflon off. Even the nicer pans are looking worse for wear, except for the stainless steel ones. The cast iron is working great. It is truly non-stick. I love using it. I just wish it weren't so heavy. I need to eventually get a 12 inch skillet. I am already planning on getting the Dutch oven for my upcoming birthday in February. Maybe I'll get both.

I need to start posting my menu plans again. We have actually done very well. We've only gotten take out once as a family since DH came home on the 19th. DH and I did get Subway one day while we were picking up feed and didn't have the kids with us. Ouch. For the two of us it was just under $25. Although my sandwich gave me two meals, I did not realize they had gotten so pricey.

I can't eat the cheap stuff anymore though. The last time I had McD's I got sick. The last time I had Arby's (with a coupon) I got sick. I think it is because my diet is normally so free of high fructose corn syrup, which they both use in their buns, that I can't tolerate it anymore. In a way it's good I guess, because I'm not spending so much money on that kind of food and am more willing to cook at home. I have better uses for the money, too.

Random Thoughts on the House

December 16th, 2013 at 01:50 am

I keep thinking about paying off the mortgage. We are so close now at under $8K and I really think it would be a good thing to do, just to have it done with. It would mean one more thing to cross off our list. It would be one less payment we'd be making every month. It would mean between $400 and $1000 (which is where my payments generally are, depending on the month) that could go elsewhere.

I am also thinking about having the water turned off at the house. Because there is no need for it now that it is winter and nothing will need watering out there until summer. We have so many rains in the spring that it isn't necessary. It is $72 a month to keep the water turned on. While the workmen were there it was necessary, but now it isn't. Also, with the water turned off we won't risk the pipes freezing or anything like that.

Another thing I will have DH do the next time we go out there is to turn off the hot water heater. The electric isn't that high out there, but we could cut the bill from $30ish to $15ish by turning off the hot water heater. Between the two things that could give us $87 a month to throw into our down payment fund.

The house has been shown a half dozen times and while it has been in the running for at least two people, it has not been the house picked. I think it is probably priced too high, but I hate to lower the price before it has been on the market for 3 months. When I see houses reduce the price too quickly after coming on the market it always looks like desperation to me.

Our realtors are supposed to be finding out from the ones who showed it what the deal is. If the people looking are finding it too expensive or just don't like the area or don't like the school district. There is nothing we can do about the last two, but we can drop the price if that is the sticking point. I just don't want to have to drop it too much if that isn't even the issue. It could just be as simple as they found something they liked better or that had more land.

I just don't want to end up as one of those people who has the house sit on the market for years. But considering we bought it for $65,000, I don't want to see it drop anywhere close to that, either. We've done too many improvements to the lot and the house that to not get at least $100K for it would feel pretty lousy.

It's set at $129K for now, but I'm not sure that was ever a realistic number. I just thought people would haggle if they didn't like the number. I mean that is what we did when we bought it, we went back and forth several times until we settled on a number between what they wanted and our original offer. Sometimes I think people just don't want to be bothered with bargaining.

Processing Day

September 27th, 2013 at 08:05 am

We dispatched four of our meat rabbits today. From a live weight of 22 pounds, 11.7 ounces, we got 11 pounds, 6.3 ounces of rabbit meat and 12.3 ounces of livers, for a total of 12 pounds, 2.6 oz of food. They ate about $7 worth of feed, $1 worth of hay, and $4 worth of vegetables over their life, so it comes out to about $1 per pound. We could get a smidge more if we saved the hearts and kidneys, too, but we don't. They go to the wildlife center along with the heads and other offal.

I'd say the rabbits are paying for themselves and we are ending up with lots of good, low-fat, lean white meat in the freezer at a price that just can't be beat by anything but the cheapest chicken hindquarters and you can bet those chickens never saw daylight.

Phoebe gave birth this morning, another large litter with 8 healthy kits. We'll have a break from kindling for a while, as the next two rabbits to give birth are only one week pregnant, so have three weeks and four days to go. In another couple of months we should be able to have rabbit twice a week if we so desire.

I am going to can some rabbit meat this week and some rabbit broth for making soup later this winter, or possibly canning carrot, potato, celery, bits of meat, and onion right in the broth and can it as soup. I would also like to make up some rabbit nuggets for the freezer. And maybe some rabbit stir-fry kits, too.

That means I'll need to dig up some potatoes and get some organic carrots from the farmer's market or the no spray garden in town. I doubt anyone has grown celery here, it is kind of hit or miss in our zone, but I can get it from the store if needs must be. Organic though. It sucks up pesticides just like carrots.

It would be great to have enough soups done up to get through winter and spring, but that may not be possible yet.

-------

The repair around the skylights and the final application of stuff to make the floors look like shiny wood instead of dull wood, will get put on this weekend. We just need to find out how long it takes for the shiny stuff to dry. Then we'll go in with the realtor and see where things stand.

Odds and Ends

August 19th, 2013 at 05:37 am

My daughter, son, and I made Korean pork dumplings (Mandu) today for the first time. It took all three of us as it is time intensive but less so with all of us working, (one person to separate the wrappers, one person to put the scoop of filling on the wrapper, and one person to seal the dumplings shut with egg white), but they were fantastic and well worth it. And it's a nicely balanced little meal with pork, mirin, dark sesame oil, bean sprouts, scallions, ginger, garlic, egg, and cabbage in a goyza wrapper. Protein, veggies, and carb in one neat little package. It should have had tofu, too, but I didn't want to dry tofu, so I left it out. I should have taken pictures. Ah, well, next time I make them I will take photos and post the recipe.

I liked them even better than the ones from the Korean restaurant in our town or the Hawaiian Barbecue franchise. I can make 100 dumplings for $10 (less if I'd not used free range organic pork from the ranch). They sell for $6 for 10, so quite the cost savings there.

I received a check from the food co-op, dividends for the year of $7.43 (I think) so I will deposit that into the Emergency Fund along with all the ones I have saved tomorrow.

I am hoping I can recreate my budget spreadsheets. I don't have a current copy saved outside my other computer, but I do have my 2012 budget and should be able to extrapolate from there. I think I can figure out what money was in which category of the Holding Tank from previous blog posts, too. From now on I am seriously backing up my spreadsheets onto a flash drive every week. I feel stupid for not doing that.

I think I can get through until payday Friday with only spending $30 on food. That should leave me with a bit of money to shunt into the Emergency Fund.

I've been having troubles with Swagbucks surveys. I get all the way to the end, hit submit, and then it goes Oops, we had a problem and it's lost along with all my time and points. Very irritating. I did get Swagbucks to credit me the 150 points for the one, but they said they'd only do it the once and only because I'd spent so much time on it. The survey companies they do business with really need to get their acts together. Fortunately I was able to make the daily goal without any surveys today. I didn't need the frustration.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 29th, 2013 at 08:20 pm

I am trying to get my grocery budget back under control again. Menus are based on foods currently in the fridge or freezer. I'd prefer not to go to the store for the rest of the week, except for milk.

Monday:
Teriyaki Pulled Pork in the crockpot
Homemade buns
Cherries
Cole slaw

Tuesday:
Fried chicken
Fried potatoes
Broccoli/cauliflower
Blueberries

Wednesday:
Waffles
Strawberries with whipping cream
Ham

Thursday:
Slow cooked rabbit in the crockpot with potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery
Cherries
Cole slaw

Friday:
Bacon cheeseburgers
Homemade French Fries
Leftover broccoli/cauliflower
Blueberries

Saturday:
Homemade pizza with pepperoni, ham, yellow onion and bell pepper strips
Cole slaw

Sunday:
Slow cooked beef chuck roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Green beans
Blueberry cornbread muffins


That Works Out Well

June 4th, 2013 at 03:34 pm

Yesterday when I went to the chiropractor who was finally back from his long vacation, I looked at my card and I don't have to pay the next month of the chirocare family plan until June 28th. He added 13 days to my card to replace the 13 days he was gone. Normally it's due around the fifteenth. Which means I don't have to pay it out of this month's cycle at all. It can wait until the next cycle starts up. And because the 28th is a Friday and they are closed on Friday's we won't have to start the next plan until July 1st. It will still come out of the 28th's paycheck, though.

Meanwhile, that gives me $225 to work with that I wouldn't have had this month. It'll go into the Wisconsin Fund. It comes out of the 6/14 paycheck.

I think I forgot to say what my last coin jar update was. It was $5.65. The way I organize my coin jar is that all loose coins go in the jar, but all bills go into an envelope that I keep in the dresser drawer beneath the coin jar. On occasion I'll get 50 cent piece or a dollar coin and they'll go into the envelope, too. Right now there is a 50 cent piece in with my ones. Anytime I get enough change together to roll coins, then the rolled coin roll goes into the envelope, too. Whenever the amount in the envelope hits $30 or more I make a deposit.

I hit my daily goal yesterday on Swagbucks. I am not sure how since it was 100. I guess I was on the computer a lot yesterday so had the SBTV running in the background. I didn't search much, but I did get the first LA collectors bill. I also cashed in for a $5 gift card from Amazon. I don't know if I'll hit my goal today or not. It's 80, but I don't know if I'll have as much time to spend on the computer today.

I have five things coming out of Friday's paycheck, $1000 to Mom, the car payment, the electric bill for the old house, the phone for the old house, and $1000 to the BoA VISA. Then for 6/14 paycheck I have $2000 to BoA VISA and vacation will be paid off, the internet bill, and $1000 to the EF. There might be a few middling expenses charged to the Visa as DH will be coming home right before I pay that, but there is plenty there to pay it in full. It'll be nice to get back to doing that each month again. I think we only had it paid off for 2 months before going on vacation. It might have only been for one.

The 6/21 paycheck will be the small one with just two day's wages on it. That will be split between groceries, miscellaneous, the sleep doctor, and a good portion of it to the Wisconsin Fund. It looks like FIL and MIL will be staying at their condo from their travel club when they go, so DH might be able to crash there with them. If he didn't have to pay for a hotel that would make things a lot easier.

I had thought it was in Milwaukee, but it sounds like the hospital FIL will be going to is in Madison. I'm not sure if they've got a date yet, but the further out in summer or fall they get it, the easier it will be on our financials to find the money for this. I know you have to schedule quite a ways in advance for these things.

I think June is just going to be a very smoothly functioning money month, so long as I don't throw caution to the wind and decide to eat out a bunch. It is not on the agenda for this week, that is for sure. I have too much lovely food to cook that I am looking forward to making this week. And since I finally got a full night's sleep last night, I'm not going to be too tired to cook it.

OT

April 6th, 2013 at 08:33 am

Just got off the phone with DH. They couldn't find a bed for him to stay up there an extra two weeks, but they okayed him bringing the work home so he will be putting in 8 hours a day at $25 a day less than if he were putting in his full hours on the slope. Not bad, though. We'll net a little over $6000 for it. Considering how much we overspent on vacation that will be a very good thing.

Five Days and Counting

January 21st, 2013 at 01:37 am

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.

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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.

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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.

Odds and Ends

December 23rd, 2012 at 03:20 pm

I received another $5 gift card to Amazon from Swagbucks today. I should be getting another one in a day or so. Right now my gift card balance is at $60 and I've earned $70 worth for the year. Not bad when I've only been doing this for a few months. I might get another one before the year is up if I really push the SBTV for the next couple days whenever I am online. Assuming it works properly.

I forgot that we would be getting reimbursed from MIL for the gifts we bought for her to give to our kids and us. She can't get out of the house like she used to and internet shopping isn't really her thing. Anyway, she gave us a check for $313. That was on top of the $100 she gave to DH, so hopefully the credit union will be open on Monday. I know that one of our CU's is open until noon on Monday, but it's not the one we do the major banking at, it's the one we do the easily accessible portion of our EF at (the Safety Net).

If our main CU is open then I will deposit that money and be sending another payment to the credit card. So far this month I have sent $2500 to the BoA Visa. We will send the $313 to the BoA Visa and if DH is ammenable the $100 as well. Then I think we will have enough at the end of the month to send an additional $1000. I'm still debating about using the $1000 in the freezer fund to send to it. I can replenish that $1000 when our income tax return comes.

It is hard for me to spend saved money, but we really don't need the new freezer yet. And we do need to get out of debt. I set aside $2500 for first of month bills, but with AMEX now paid off the monthly $500 for that can go to the credit card as well. Any of the money I set aside for early January that doesn't go to bills or groceries will go to that Visa as well. If I do all of that then we should be able to have that card paid off by the end of January. I want it gone.

I don't think I'll need to do much in the way of grocery shopping between now and our next paycheck on January 11, other than picking up some milk, fish, and a few vegetables. Although if I have the chance to pick up some canned pineapple, oranges, and toilet paper from Costco, I'd like to swing that. I wouldn't go there until the 27th or 28th. No way am I going out on Boxing Day. It's almost as bad as going out on Black Friday. Dangerous. We have plenty of meat in the freezer so I shouldn't need to buy any protein.

I am anxious to push through to the next month. I also want to see what the higher income tax is really going to do to us. I'm thinking we'll lose about $200 a month out of our net take home pay. It would be nice if they renewed that lower tax rate, but I'm certainly not holding my breath that the..."gentlemen" in DC are going to get anything done. Except allowing the Fed to print more money backed by nothing but air.

Honestly, all that stuff going on in DC is making it more important to us than ever to pay off our consumer debt. It'll make their fingers in our wallets a little easier to cope with. Plus I've had a weird sort of paranoia about having debt on credit cards for the last year. Like there was something about the middle of 2014 that was going to happen that would make it very bad for us to be holding a lot of credit card debt. It's just a feeling in my gut and I'm pretty sure it's an irrational one, but it's there and it's driving me to finish getting this gone.


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