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Grocery Spending Tracking

August 27th, 2018 at 05:50 pm

I did my big shop on Friday and Saturday. Usually I do it all in one day, but my mother's car is in the shop and I had to ferry her around on Friday and I am not going to grocery shop at the same time as her because it drives me crazy. It is also a nice time for my son and I to have alone together. My mother has a way of aggravating my son (she baits him) and also of making every conversation about politics even though I have a no discussing politics rule. I'm just sick of it.

Plus she has to comment on everything I put in my cart. She eats a very bland diet so there is a lot of "I could never eat that," and "How can you eat that stuff?" Sorry, Mom, we can't all live on a diet of processed sweet carbs and cube steak. Some of us need fruits, veggies, and meat that requires actual chewing. So basically I drove her around and waited in the parking lot. Then I went back with my son on Friday and did two stores and on Saturday I did one store with my husband.

This is our second two week shop and it went well and I came away with $31 left in the grocery envelope, which is $14 from this time and $17 from last pay period.

Our first stop was at Safeway where I bought mostly loss leaders and pantry stock-up because there were some good condiment sales. Everything I bought was on sale. I spent $124.74 and I saved $88.23 off the total.

4 BBQ sauce
2 Miracle Whip
2 bags potato chips
4 jars picante sauce
6 bottles of ketchup
4 jars spaghetti sauce
2 loaves wheat bread
2 packages of 4 sirloin steaks
1 package with 2 London broil roasts
4 lbs of black forest ham (on sale for $5/lb)

Next I went to Trader Joe's and spent $130.54. I bought:

4 bags of chicken fried rice
4 bags of roasted potatoes with pepeprs
4 bags of fettucine alfredo
4 bags of chicken fettucine alfredo
2 bags of potstickers
2 bags of gold potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
2 Strawberry bars
2 mac and cheese
1 peanut butter granola bars
2 iceberg lettuces
1 box hashbrowns
4 packs of hot dogs
2 spray olive oil

Next was Costco where I spent $127.48.

2 bags of steamer broccoli
1 jumbo package of tortillas
1 bag beef mandu
4 boxes of Kerrygold butter
1 container cashews
1 container parmesan cheese
1 box fruit snacks

There was one more thing on there but it isn't listed in a way that identifies the item and I can't remember what it was.

Anyway, I think this two week shopping thing is going to go fairly well for me. I feel like we are getting everything we need and stocking up on staples without too much trouble at all. And I get to stay out of the stores because more trips always equals more money spent.

No Shopping

August 17th, 2018 at 01:09 pm

It was really nice not to have to plan a grocery trip for today. I wasn't sure I was going to like only shopping once every two weeks, but I definitely think I am. I did glance at the ads this week just in case there was something good, but it was all processed foods or real foods that were pretending they were on sale, but really weren't. You know, the buy one get one free where the one you buy has been jacked up to cover the cost of the "free" one sort of thing.

We still have plenty of milk and plenty of bread, so I don't even foresee a quick run at this point. I did such careful planning on last week's shop that we might not even need to go to the store right away a week from now. But we'll see.

My mother went to visit her sister and brought a ton of produce home from eastern Washington. So this week we are canning tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, applesauce, pears, and I am chopping and freezing candy sweet onions (they keep a long time and are better tasting than Walla Wallas, which rot fast) and bell peppers. The peaches and apples are hers and half the nectarines, but everything else is for me. I will pay her back for my portion out of the next grocery budget. It is less than $100.

I canned the first batch of tomatoes yesterday and got seven quarts. Today I am working on some of the bell peppers and onions. I am going to do some strips, some chunks, and some dices. I will be doing a lot of freezer bags that are half onion and half bell peppers, so they will be ready to grab and dump into the Instant Pot or crockpot when I want to make fajitas or sausage stew. I also need to work my way through more of my zucchini. I put nine bags of shredded in the freezer the other day, but I have just about that again I need to prepare, and there is more to be picked out in the garden.

It will be a very busy week for me, but it will be good to meet a lot of our winter food needs.

Grocery Spending Tracking

August 14th, 2018 at 02:19 pm

So I did my two week shop on Saturday and while I did forget a couple of items like string cheese and butter, I am going to try to make do. I do have cheddar stick cheese, which I don't like as much as mozzarella string cheese, but I still like it so I'll cope. We have 1.5 lbs of Kerrygold butter in the fridge for 10 days. I usually go through 1 lb of butter in a week, so it'll cut close, but I think I can make it. If worst comes to worst I can break out the unsalted butter for baking or open a jar of ghee.

I have enough milk to get through the period. The sell by date was out 6 weeks, so I just went ahead and got what I thought I'd use instead of waiting a week to buy more. I also bought extra bread and put it in the fridge. If I don't have to go to the store at all until the next payday on the 24th, I will be quite pleased.

I use a calculator as I shop, so I know exactly how much I will be spending. When you are using cash envelopes and trying to stick to a budget you don't want to end up over your amount because you have no clue how much the stuff you are putting in your cart costs.

Here is what I got at Winco:

2 bags of crispy chicken strips
2 bags of French fries
1 large plain yogurt
1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packs of bacon
4 ears of corn
1 3 lb bag of yellow onions
4 nectarines
2 packs of granola bars
1 pack of hamburger buns
2 packs of hot dog buns
3 value packs of chicken thighs
3 value packs of chicken wings
Dill
4 bags of original goldfish crackers
Spinach
2 20 count bags of hamburger patties

I spent $189.74 there. Then we went to Trader Joe's and got:

Bell peppers
2 bags of roasted potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
1 iceberg lettuce
4 packages hot dogs
2 bags of pita bread
2 red onions
1 bag of shredded cabbage
2 mac and cheese frozen dinners
3 bags fettucine alfredo
3 bags chicken fettucine alfredo

I spent $89.08 there. Next was Safeway where I bought:

4 boxes of organic spaghetti
2 boxes of organic penne pasta
1 18 count of organic eggs
1 turkey chub
1 package of sirloin steaks
Cherries

I spent $40.01 there. The last stop was at Haggen who did not have any of the London Broil that was on special available. We picked up:

2.5 lbs of deluxe deli ham
2 large strawberry yogurts (Winco was out)
4 bags of ice
1 birthday cake
4 half gallons Milk

I can't find the receipt for that one, but I have $21.17 left out of the $400 budget for the 2 week shop. So if I really have to I can go buy butter, but I am going to try to wait it out. We may have to pick up Gatorade at some point, also.

I did do up a two week meal plan and we are sticking to it. I should probably post that separately.

Bad Ads and Shortages

August 8th, 2018 at 06:18 pm

The grocery ads came in the mail today and they were pretty bad again. Mostly processed foods. Though the one store has sirloin steaks for $4.99/lb and the other has London broil for $3.99/lb. I guess that means I will be buying the bulk of my groceries at Winco this Friday, but I will get some of the beef. I will shop at Winco first in case their regular prices on those two meats are better.

I think I am going to make a two week meal plan this week. Since I am getting out $400 for the next two weeks, I want to see if I can just do the shopping for two weeks, leaving a little for bread, milk, spinach, and lettuce for the second week. If it doesn't work out than the next payday I will get out $400, but set aside $200 for the second week. But I think I can do it if I plan carefully and maybe even have some money leftover. It would be great if I could get the budget down to $175 a week or $350 bi-weekly.

I am planning 3 pasta meals based off what I already have on hand, spaghetti, chicken alfredo, and gigli (cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge). We also do fried chicken twice, based on what I have on hand. And I am thinking of cutting up the roast I have and doing kabobs with it. There is also an eye of round in the freezer I could make into something. I'd like to make chicken shawarma at least once, if not twice, it is so easy in the Instant Pot. I also have a bag of frozen shrimp that I can get two meals out of, maybe shrimp scampi or shrimp kabobs. I might make zucchini lasagna as well, since I have a lot of zucchini from the garden right now. Maybe a chicken and green-bean stir-fry as well, since I also have green beans from the garden.

I have been buying staple buckets from Thrive Life each month. This month was a 5 gallon bucket of cane sugar. Last month was whole wheat flour, the month before white flour, and the month before oatmeal. Next month is rice. They come with gamma lids so seal well. I'd like to stock up on a couple more buckets of white flour and 1 more of sugar after that.

I don't know if anyone has been noticing here, but on other groups I am on, the supply of flour, sugar, and even rice in the grocery stores has been dropping drastically. I don't want to have to worry about running out. I've gone sometimes and the whole flour section (except the specialty flours) is wiped out or there is only one 10 pound bag of sugar and all the 5 pound bags are gone and there are only 1 pound bags of boxes. I don't like what that implies. It isn't just one store, either. And it is the big chains as well as the little guy. I've noticed it at Safeway, Haggen, Fred Meyer, Costco, and Wal-Mart. The only place that seems to have a more steady supply is Winco and even they don't have as much as it seems they should.

I guess if you don't cook a lot from scratch you don't notice these things. But as I tend to bake a lot it is really obvious to me when the staples are so low. Having some back up buckets on hand makes me feel more secure in my food storage and pantry. I may worry about it more than in the past because of that 10 month block of unemployment. Our pantry and food storage got us through that time period very well. I think I will always be worried now if our supplies run low, so I'm trying to not let that happen.

Grocery Ad Lull, Endocrinologist, and Wal*Mart Trip

July 24th, 2018 at 06:40 pm

Well, this is the second week in a row where I have gone through the grocery ads in preparation for my Friday shopping and only found one thing that was worth buying. Last week was a milk sale and this week is a beef roast sale. Since I am not sure when we will get down to the farm to buy more beef, I will probably stop into Safeway for the meat deal and for the organic milk, lettuce (mine has bolted), and radishes, but the rest of my shopping will be at Winco. The other stores are just so high priced when there is not a good sale going on.

Things went well at the endocrine doctor. He has ordered more specific blood tests, checking individual hormone levels. The took 5 of the large vials of blood. DD was a little woozy afterwards, as she hadn't eaten in case they needed fasting bloodwork, so I got her some onion rings from the last of my blow money. I get more on Friday, though, so that is okay.

We stopped at Wal*Mart as well and I got two packages of white wash cloths. They had product shrinkage though. Used to be those were 12 packs. Now they are 9 packs. It has gotten so hot here that we all need to wipe down during the day at least twice. It's too expensive to keep hopping in the shower every couple of hours! So having a big stack of wash cloths will be very helpful for quick, icy cold sweat relief. I had 12 white ones that were just for me, but I use those on my face morning and evening and the others kept stealing them even though they have their own color codes ones. Now maybe I can keep up.

I also bought a couple of cheap notebooks for budgeting and meal planning since the back to school sales have started. I'll probably get a few more in the coming weeks, but two was sufficient for now. It took me forever to find college ruled, but I did. I also got an accordian file for my daughter to keep her medical records in and a dry eraser for the white board. I also got DD some gum. I spent $20.83 out of the household envelope.

I really should have picked up tissues while we were there, but I totally forgot we needed them by the time we got there. So they will be on Friday's shopping list. I'll probably just stop into Kmart, though, because it is closer. Wal*Mart is a ways out, but it is near the endocrine doctor. I don't like making special trips just to go there.

I don't want to make dinner. It is so hot. But I really don't want sandwiches two nights in a row, either. Maybe I will make fajitas in the Instant Pot. Then at least I won't be heating up the house further. Man, I wish we had A/C.

I had to go change the ducks' water around four today as it had gotten so hot they couldn't drink it. I moved it further into the shade and they were so happy to get cold water. They all splashed around in it and then I filled them again and they drank it. Then they all waddled off in their little line to hide out under the raspberries where it is cooler.

I feel bad for the rabbits with their fur coats, but they all have an individual fan attached to the front of their cages and they are hanging out directly in front of them and seem to be doing fine. I'll have to watch them closely if we crack the next temperature decade. Or whatever you call groupings of ten when it is temperature.

Stuff and Other Stuff

July 23rd, 2018 at 09:02 pm

I managed to pick green beans on Saturday night and then took a hot bath and then iced my back after that and used some Valerian root as a muscle relaxant. That really helped. I had to pick them again today and will again in a couple more days. The combo of a hot soak followed by ice seems to be keeping things at bay. I got a belt that I can wrap around my body that holds two ice packs so I can get them in the correct place and not just have to lay on them so that is very helpful. I've also gotten decent sleep the last couple of days so I am feeling more positive.

Tomorrow is DD's appointment with the endocrinologist. I am really hoping we come out of this with some proper treatment so she can get her life back. I tend to be quite hesitant with trusting doctors because so many of them have been so lackadaisical about trying to get a proper diagnosis. Not just for her, but I've gone through it for decades myself, first with the endometriosis, then with the tumors, then with the gall bladder dying, then with the RA. It has been very frustrating to watch my daughter go through many of the same issues.

I will try not to bring an attitude of skepticism or despair in with me, because based on what little interaction we've had, this doctor appears to think there is something wrong and based on her test results we know that there is. Still, it is hard to be hopeful when meeting any new doctor and it is hard to take at face value that they actually want to help when we've both been jerked around for so many years.

Once things get settled (if they do), I want to have my own cortisol levels tested. I have some of the same symptoms as my daughter, though not to the degree. Enough, though, that I want mine checked.

I finally made it to the grocery store today, but I am too tired to do a grocery tracking post. I went to Trader Joe's and I did buy some convenience items because I am just too strung out. I think I may have a sinus infection and it is draining me, but I can't even think about going to the doctor until I get through this week's current appointments.

After DD's appointment tomorrow I need to can the green beans. Fortunately green beans have a fairly short processing time and it won't take all day to do them. I hope to get some more planted this week for a second crop as well. I did finally get the cilantro out of the pots and into the garden. I hope it makes it. That leaves the celery and the onions to transplant. It is probably too late for them to do well, but I ought to get a little something.

Grocery Spending Tracking

July 13th, 2018 at 09:21 pm

I started off at Winco today. I am pretty much starting off at Winco every grocery shopping day now because the prices are so much cheaper. I spent $136.54 cents there. I made sure the hamburger patties were 100% beef this time. The cheaper ones I bought last time tasted awful and had soy added to them. The consistency was nasty. I didn't realize it has smoke flavoring in it, either. DD and I are allergic to soy so I have to remember not to be lazy about label reading, but the thing said beef patties on it, not soy and beef patties. Fortunately DD and DS had the last ones from the previous batch. It was only DH and me who had the bad ones. I paid the price, too. Here is what I bought at Winco:

2 bags of crispy chicken strips
1 20 count bag of hamburger patties
2 bags of shredded medium cheddar
1 bag of shredded Mexi-blend cheese
2 bags of pepperoni
1 package of uncured bacon
1 big strawberry yougurt
2 containers parmesan/romano blend
1 bag of Winco BBQ potato chips
2 bags of Winco tortilla chips
2 boxes of granola bars
2 potato bread
1 big box cheddar goldfish crackers
1 bottle Winco grape juice
1 bottle Winco apple juice
1 six pack Hansen's root beer
8 jars of Prego spaghetti sauce
2 large pineapples ($2.48 each!)
8 Walla Walla sweet onions (.68/lb!)
3 lbs of organic broccoli
8 ears of sweet corn
1 watermelon

I may or may not go to Safeway this weekend as well, but I'm going to see if I can make it through the week without.

FPU and ACTH Results

July 8th, 2018 at 03:47 pm

DH and I found a church website that has put up the Financial Peace University lessons and we have been watching those. We watched the first two on Friday night and the second two on Saturday night. We might get another one or two watched tonight. I wish we had money in the budget to purchase it, but we don't and we don't have time to go to a class together anyway with DH working so much overtime.

DH had to work a few hours yesterday and he's at work right now as well, just for 2 or 3 hours. They are finishing up a package that was wanted for Monday, but the stuff needed for it didn't get to him and the other guy until Friday at the end of the day. He will adjust his schedule this week accordingly, since they are only allowed 15 hours total of OT per week. The work week there ends on Friday so any work this weekend counts on this coming week. That seems weird to me since every where else he's ever worked or I ever worked started their payroll week on a Monday and went through the weekend.

This last paycheck had a few more dollars on it than the one before due to the change in insurance. It was a difference of $14 and some change. So that'll be $56 a month difference from the old insurance to the new one.

DD had a couple of prescriptions filled this week and they were $0. So I guess the company did carry over the fact that she'd hit her deductible and her out of pocket max like they said they would. That's good, because we still don't know what is coming up with medical expenses in her future.

She got her ACTH stim test results in her patient portal on Friday, but we never heard from the doctor. I am assuming he hasn't had time to look at it yet or wanted to consult with the endocrinologist first. From what we can interpret from the test, there is something wrong with both her adrenals and her pituitary.

I'm trying to get her to not jump to conclusions and to wait until we've spoken to the doctor and to not try and diagnose herself. Personally, I think she has Addison's disease and possibly Hashimoto's. Both are auto-immune diseases. We know she has an undiagnosed auto-immune disease due to blood work in the past.

I just hope we get actual answers this time. We have been chasing this thing for years now. I have wondered if the brain damage that happened when she cracked her skull and had the stage 3 concussion 8 years ago damaged the pituitary in some way. That is when all of these symptoms started and they have just become more aggressive as the years have gone by.

Hopefully we will hear from the doctor on Monday. If not, I will give them a call on Tuesday.

I did spend the rest of the grocery budget. I made a quick run to Trader Joe's and spent $52 there and then to Safeway and spent $17 in groceries there and an additional $4 plus tax out of the household envelope for a box of 100 count multi-sized bandages. I can't find where I put my receipts so I can't do a break down. Oh, well. The point is I got everything I needed this week and the budget envelopes are working as intended.

Grocery Spending Tracking

July 6th, 2018 at 11:09 pm

I went to Winco today and spent $129.32. I think I made it really well in the meat department. I am really just shocked at how much cheaper Winco is than anywhere else in town. I wish I'd started shopping there sooner. As Haggen has continued to get more and more expensive I've pretty much cut down to only buying one or two items there. And Safeway is consistently loss leaders and milk, but only because I buy organic milk and Winco doesn't carry that.

Anyway, here's what I bought today:

Hot dog buns
Hamburger buns
Strawberry waffles
2 bags crispy chicken strips
1 box Winco French fries
1 box granola bars
2 bags Winco tortilla chips
1 Winco whipped cream
1 chuck roast
2 lbs chicken sausage (1 lb chubs)
2 value packs bone in skin on chicken thighs
2 value packs chuck steak
1 box of 20 hamburger patties
2 bags Funyuns
1 seasoned salt
2 cucumbers
1 watermelon
1 case beef Nongshim noodles

We had some of the fries at dinner tonight and they are just as good as Ore Ida fries. Sometimes with store brands they really aren't, but I wouldn't be surprised if these weren't the same fries in a different package. The difference for a five pound bag is 94 cents, so quite a substantial savings for the store brand. So many times these days store brands are almost as expensive, if not as expensive, as the brand names. Not at Winco. By the way the whipped cream is fantastic. Can't tell the difference between it and the fancy kind at all.

I am going to take the chicken I bought and debone and skin it. I do it all the time when I get chicken breast on mark down, so the thighs should be dead easy. Then I will cut it up for use in fajitas and shawarma. It is so much cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken thighs.

I am cutting the larger chuck steaks down into smaller steaks as well. They are so big I can easily cut them all in thirds to get appropriate portion sizes. That will turn 4 steaks into 12, which is 3 meals for our family of 4.

I still need to buy bread and milk and hot dogs, but I have $70 left in the grocery envelope to do that with.

New Glasses Came

July 3rd, 2018 at 04:52 pm

I got a call last night that my new glasses arrived and so went in and picked them up today. I am already seeing so much better. I can read the tiny print on my nasal spray bottle. It is amazing. I might have to go back in and get the tightened up a bit more. They keep falling down my nose a little. And they came with magnetic snap on sunglasses which work really well.

I love the glasses. They are a sort of tortoise shell pattern with green, blue, yellow, brown and reddish brown. A little more fun and funky than my normal style, but I love them. They don't have nose pads, which is fine with me, because I don't like them. They always turn green inside and are hard to clean. I think I will be happy with these ones for a long time. I just need to not fall asleep in them like I kept doing with the old ones.

I also stopped in at the grocery store to use the restroom and they had marshmallows for sale on an end cap, 4 bags for $5. It was a great price and sure beat the more expensive brand that was 2 bags for $5, which was more prominently displayed. I think this gives us enough marshmallows for the rest of the summer.

Grocery Shopping Tracking

June 30th, 2018 at 08:02 pm

I did my weekly grocery shopping yesterday. The ads were not very good for most things, but Safeway had a great price on bone in, skin on chicken thighs so I stocked up on that, ending up with enough for four meals for four people. I also got a decent deal on round steak. I usually don't buy steak from the store, but we are out of steaks from our beef purchase except for beef heart steaks and I'm working up my courage to cook those. I've never made them before. There's not much left of our half a beef, mostly soup bones, a couple roasts, and some hamburger. I will likely order another half at the end of the summer.

A lot of my shopping was just stocking up. We started off at Costco where I got:

1 case of organic tomato sauce
1 case of organic diced tomatoes
3.15 pounds of carne asada
3 3pks of Kerrygold grassfed butter
1 package of Yangtze pork

I spent $77.01 there. Our next stop was a brief one, at Haggen where I spent $23.36. For that I got:

9 round steaks
1.29 pounds of Ranier cherries (@3.99/lb)

Then we went to Safeway where I spent $43.37 and got:

3 value packs of chicken thighs (a total of 30 thighs)
2 1/2 gallons of organic milk
1 Woman's World Magazine
2.2 pounds of red cherries (@ 1.88/lb)
1 bottle 1000 Island dressing

Altogether I spent $143.74 out of my $200 weekly budget. I might have to buy more milk before Friday, or some bread, and my daughter wants me to pick up some coffee creamer. But I should still have quite a bit left after that. I am debating going back and getting more chicken before the sale is up. I could spend $30 on it and still have money left for bread, milk, and creamer.

I did find a recipe for making bread in the Nuwave oven that I am going to try this week. If it turns out, then maybe I'll stop buying bread again and just go back to making it. My mother's oven is not reliable enough for making bread in the larger oven, and the smaller one is not big enough for the bread to have room to rise, but it still works fine for rolls and pizza.

Grocery Spending Tracking

June 15th, 2018 at 09:42 pm

I made it to Trader Joe's and to Winco today. I still need to go to Costco tomorrow, but what I need to get there is minimal: toilet paper, butter, eggs, fettucine noodles, and chicken sliders. I still have $91 left in my grocery envelope, some of which is left from last week, and there is $69 in my household envelope. I do need to get one bag of duck feed tomorrow and then next Friday I need to purchase two more.

I spent $71.21 at Trader Joe's and this is what I bought:

2 bottle olive oil spray
3 jars Alfredo pasta sauce
4 cans tuna fish
2 boxes fish nuggets
2 Strawberry Walks into a Bar bars
4 packs uncured beef hot dogs
3 sweet yellow onions
2 bags shredded cabbage
4 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 green)
1 box peanut butter granola bars
1 lb yellow summer squash
1 container of garlic powder

Hot dog prices were up 60 cents a pack.

At Winco I spent $65.15 and I bought:

8 small Zoi greek yogurts
1 bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 bag shredded medium cheddar cheese
7 Beef Nongshim noodles
6 Chicken Nongshim noodles
1 container shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package hamburger buns
1 container garlic salt
2 cucumbers
1 extra large bag of French fries
1 20 count pack of 1/4 pound hamburger patties
1 box of Zingers

Lots of cheese, but Winco has it $1.01 cheaper than anywhere else and I was low on those ones. We use a lot of cheese here.

Follow Up + Store + OT + New Sinking Funds

June 11th, 2018 at 02:55 pm

DD had her follow up this morning with the surgeon. I thought I was going to have to pay a $55 co-pay, but it was actually considered part of the cost of the surgery, so I didn't. Everything is healing well and DD is on track. He thinks the reason her body sent her to the ER the last time was that she was trying to do too much too soon.

I agree. I've made her stay in bed or in her computer chair for the most part in the last week and she hasn't had a return of those symptoms. If she wants to get up to talk to someone elsewhere then she has to sit down while talking and not just stand there. After another week has passed then she can start doing a little more. She's a bad rester, so I am having to be pretty strict about it.

She does get to walk the length of the house a couple of times a day for circulation, though. She's bored so I gave her my TBBT dvd's to watch. If she makes her way through the 10 seasons I have then I'll start her on Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Roswell, Lost, Farscape, or Fringe.

I did go to the store and pick up the oranges I forgot to buy on Friday and also some cherries that I impulse bought, but they were gorgeous. I bought less oranges so I could have the cherries, too. I still have enough money left to buy some Kerrygold butter, which DH will have to pick up on his way home from work since he goes right by Costco.

I had DH run the numbers for me and with the amount of overtime he worked last week, this week's paycheck will have an additional $590.83 give or take a penny. Most of that will go to the Monster Mom Loan, but I am going to put $100 of it aside to start funding a laptop fund. DH's laptop is giving him trouble and I'd like to have the money in place to replace it before it gives up the ghost. While we can do 18 months same as cash, that is still a debt and we don't want to do it that way anymore.

I'd also like to start funding a clothing envelope. DH needs new socks pretty soon. DS will need sweat pants in the fall and he still needs one more pair of regular pants then as well, since he only has 2 pairs of pants now and 1 pair of jeans that he doesn't like to wear. He's never been a jeans kid. So I will try to fund that up to $300 while DH has overtime available. I think I'll do $50 a week for that until it is funded, then switch to $50 a month.

I am considering whether or not I should try to start a Christmas Fund or not. While we have been paying back debt, Christmas has always been pretty limited, but I'm not sure I want to try to cash flow it at Christmas time or not. Maybe when I get the clothing fund funded I can switch to Christmas. I just really want to throw the majority of this at debt and get the Monster Mom Loan paid down as far as we can.

If DH gets 10 hours of OT a week through August we should be able to pay back $7000. If he gets the max, 15 hours a week, it'll be quite a bit more. I don't know if overtime will be available after that or not, but I certainly hope so. For example, if he has it through December we could pay off an additional $10,000, which would make our progress astronomical, cutting the debt almost in half. But there are no guarantees that it will last past August.

It really depends on which projects he ends up working on. Some have OT built into their budgets and others do not. Holiday weeks can throw things off as well. He will have enough paid time off to take off Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, but how that would affect overtime I'm not sure. He will likely just work on the 4th and Labor Day, though. We never do anything on those days, and the only thing we do at night on the 4th is take our chairs to the end of the driveway at 10:30 and watch the Blast Over the Bay fireworks show. We're still in bed by midnight.

So I guess I have two plans in place, one with OT and one without OT. And we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Grocery Spending Tracking

June 1st, 2018 at 05:49 pm

DS and I did the banking this morning and I funded my envelopes. I put $200 in the Grocery envelope and $50 in the Household envelope. I put $200 into the Medical checking account and took out $35 for DS's allowance. DD is not getting one as she is doing no chores while recovering from surgery.

After that DS and I went shopping. In the Household category I spent $19.54 on dishwasher soap. It was a very good sale. In the Grocery category I spent $159.66. I still need to buy tissues and body wash from the Household and yogurt and soup from the Grocery categories. I may get some butter, too, yet, but that depends on how fast we go through what we have. I am hoping to push the butter off another week.

Groceries I bought at Safeway:

4 Miracle Whip
2 lbs organic tomatoes
4 boxes organic spaghetti
2 boxes organic penne pasta
12 Chef Boyardee Mini-Ravioli
6 organic Nectarines
1 cantaloupe
2 Jif naturals creamy peanut butter
1 Justin's honey peanut butter (for DS)
4 organic ketchup
1 2 lb bag Mexi-Blend shredded cheese
2 potato bread
2 dynamite bread
1 Thousand Island dressing
4 jars Prego pasta sauce
3 1/2 gallons of milk

I spent $117.61 there. Almost everything I bought there was on sale. Only the milk, bread, and Jif peanut butter was full price.

What I bought at Haggen:

3 lbs organic grapes
1 organic cauliflower
5 lbs organic broccoli
1 bunch cilantro
1 yellow summer squash
1 container shredded Parmesan cheese

I spent $42.05 there. The only thing on sale was the grapes. The other items were cheaper at Haggen then at Safeway, though. Now I need to sit down and make up my meal plan.

Grocery and Household Planning

May 31st, 2018 at 02:16 pm

I went through my freezer to decide what kind of meats I want to build my meals around this pay period and checked on my levels of onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, and sweet potatoes (all still good), and then I sat down with my price book spreadsheet and the grocery ads and filled things in around what I already have plus any super sales for staples I want to get.

I wrote everything out on a master shopping list divided into different stores and I put the prices of everything down and added them up. I am under budget with enough left to get milk or bread if we run out later in the week.

Safeway is having a very good sale on Cascade dishwasher soap. I need some, but the sale is $5.49 each if you buy 4 or more, so I am going to go ahead and buy 4. I like having a stockpile and I have $12 left in the household budget, so with payday's $50 added, I'll have $62. I also need to buy my son's body wash and some Puffs tissues, likely a 6 pack. I went through a ton of tissues with this cold. How much body wash I buy will depend on the cost of the Puffs, but I would like to stock up a little.

With the extra $12 I can easily absorb the cost of the extra dishwasher soap into the Household envelope. Unlike with food, I have to account for sales tax of 8.7% in the Household budget. Next week I will be buying more toilet paper (I like to have 2 cases on hand) and deodorant. Something else may crop up, but so far the $50 a week seems to be covering it all.

Tracking our expenses so closely is making me feel an enormous amount of freedom. I know that we will meet all of our bills and have enough extra to pay some on the Monster Mom Loan. I don't feel nearly as overwhelmed now that I know where every dollar goes. I am looking forward to tomorrow when I can fund my envelopes. It is good to have focus again and realize there is a way out if we keep our eyes on our goals.

Making a Price Book + Request for Lentils Recipes

May 26th, 2018 at 05:00 pm

One of the things Amy Dazcyzan recommends in the Tightwad Gazette books is to make a price book. I have never done this and I really never considered doing it before today, but it would have really come in handy these last two weeks when making up the grocery list, so today I sat down with as many receipts as I could still find and started making a spreadsheet with the prices of everything that would fall under either groceries or household expenses.

This way when I make up my grocery list I will know approximately how much everything costs so I can make sure I am coming in under budget, give or take a sale or two. I will also know which store has the better price on what, though I pretty much have that in my head already. It will also let me know if I need to bump a staples purchase to a different week or if I have enough in the household budget for whatever purchase I want to make that week.

I always thought it would be a tedious process, and it probably would be if I were doing it by hand, but typing it into a spreadsheet is easy enough. I put everything in alphabetical order, and then if I need to add anything new I can just insert a sheet row in the appropriate spot and still keep it in order. I do love modern technology.

I think it may be time for me to put the Tightwad Gazette books on hold again at the library. I am in a way different place than when I've read them each time before, much more heavily focused on the food budget and budgeting more tightly in general. I've learned something new with each read and I think that was because I was open to something different each time.

Oh, also, I am going to venture into cooking with lentils. I am looking for some good recipes that do not have beef, lamb, or pork in them. Most of them seem to be made with ham and she can't eat that much fat. Chicken or turkey or fish are okay and so is vegetarian. Lentils are a protein my daughter can eat (and likes) without fear of it upsetting her gall bladder, or in the aftermath of having it taken out. I just found out that Thrive Life has lentils, too, so I added a #10 can to my monthly order. If she likes those ones, then I'll get a bucket.

Grocery Shopping And Sticking to the Budget

May 18th, 2018 at 07:29 pm

So I stuck successfully to my grocery list, with 2 exceptions. I bought a case of Nongshim noodles and 3 ears of corn. Everything else was on the list and I came in under budget. I spent $155.73, so I still have $19.27 left in my grocery envelope. I may buy 2 packages of the hot dogs DH likes still and even then I'd have enough left over if we run out of milk.

I bought mostly to fill in around the gaps of my meal plan and I think I will have some overrun into the next week with onions and potatoes, but I am not sure yet. We eat a lot of potatoes, but I usually only get two bags or six pounds a week. This week I got 15 pounds.

Here's what I got at Haggen:

1 pot with 2 cucumber plants in it (yes, this counts as food or at least future food)
Baby spinach
4 red onions
15 pounds of potatoes (red, gold, and russet)
2 yellow bell peppers
Radishes
2 1 lb chubs of breakfast sausage
3 pounds ground chicken
2 pounds ground turkey
2 1 lb jars Jif Natural peanut butter
1 1 lb jar Jason honey peanut butter
1 bag of ice

And what I got at Safeway:

2 1/2 gallons of milk
1 2 lb bag of sharp cheddar cheese (same price as a brick)
2 bottles of ketchup
2 potato breads
1 dynamite bread
1 Thousand Island dressing

And what I got at Winco:

1 case of Nongshim beef noodle soup
1 bottle of Mirin (rice wine for recipes)
1 quart strawberry Zoi yogurt
2 red bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
3 ears of corn
2 cucumbers

I feel really good about this. I didn't get much in the way of convenience items. The noodles are (but they are the only version I've found outside of Trader Joe's that don't have MSG in them). The shredded cheese is, but it was the same price as the brick. So I definitely have to cook, but I've been doing a lot better lately so that hasn't been a problem. And we haven't even been tempted to eat out, but then I haven't had an RA flare for a few weeks, either. Everyone prefers my cooking anyway, even the Chinese dishes, which I am getting better and better at every time I make them.

I am already planning my next shopping trip for next Friday. I will have to get a couple items from Costco, some seasonings, eggs, cheese, ground turkey, sausage patties, and possibly butter. I will very strictly stick to that list, because I will still have to get regular groceries that week. Costco can be a money suck if you aren't very, very careful. If I stay on top of this, I really think I can do it. It just requires planning, and if there is one thing that I am good at, it is planning.

Big Grocery Stock Up

April 2nd, 2018 at 08:53 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farm Trip

March 24th, 2018 at 08:51 pm

DH and I drove down to the farm this afternoon. Their was a nasty accident in the I-5 north bound lanes. We could see the traffic backed up for miles. There were several ambulances, 2 or 3 police cars, and at least one fire truck. I said a quick prayer for the victims as we passed and I was very glad we were going south.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, bright and sunny, but cold. There was still snow on the foothills about 20 feet above ground level. Yet at the same time the forsythia and cherry trees are blooming. It was gorgeous.

At the farm I picked up 5 roasts for canning. I am out of canned beef. It is my preferred way of making beef stew, to used canned beef, and stew season will be over soon. I also got 8 packages of bacon (they have the best I have ever tasted), and 2 packages of beef stir-fry meat. They cut it really thin. I have a hard time getting it that thin myself, so on occasion I will get some.

We only had to pay for 4 of the roasts. The fifth one she gave us for free. They come vacuum sealed and sometimes the vacuum part will undo, but the package itself will still be sealed. They can't sell them that way, so they just give them away. I just use them or can them quickly.

I also sold them a rabbit for $82.20. That will pay for feed for about 3 to 4 months for the rabbits and ducks. I love it that they support themselves. I am going to try to sell a breeding trio soon. I have a really nice set of 2 broken blacks (male and female) and a broken red (female) that are just gorgeous and wonderfully proportioned.

Anyway, we took Chuckanut Drive on the way home to avoid the backup on the freeway. It is a beautiful drive, but unnerving. There are places where the cliffs jut out over the road, or right next to it with no shoulder. Although driving north on it is far more unsettling than driving south, because it always feels like you could tumble right off the edge of the road and down into the bay. It is such a narrow road. Still we survived it and we saw a lot of waterfalls from the snow melt.

Then DH and I went out to eat. I got a quesadilla with a side of rice and he had a burrito and a relleno. Just a small, cheap little lunch without the kids. It was nice. Probably unnecessary since we went out to eat last Saturday, too, but that was our 23rd anniversary and we used the money his mother gave us for a present to do it. I'll be tightening in again on the spending after this.

Picked up Our Pork Order--Breakdown on Cuts

October 20th, 2017 at 05:28 pm

We picked up the majority of our pork order today. The hanging weight on the hog (the amount after it has been gutted) was 245 pounds, so at $500 it worked out to $2.04 per pound. The bacon, ham, and sausage links will not be ready for another 7 to 10 days. Curing takes longer.

So anyone who has not purchased this way before can get an idea of what you get, this is what we have so far.

6 packages of spare ribs (at least 4 pounds each)
2 loin roasts (at least 2 pounds each)
3 shoulder roasts (at least 4 pounds each)
42 pounds ground pork
12 packages of pork chops (48 chops)
4 packages of pork steaks (16 steaks)

What is to come:

42 pounds of sausage links
I'm not sure how much bacon, but quite a bit
4 hams

Now they told me that each hog has 2 hams of about 17 to 18 pounds. I am having each ham cut in half, so they should be 8 to 9 pounds each. Every time we make up a ham, I will can the excess in cubes in pints and half-pints. Then on pizza night, a half-pint will be perfect and on ham and potato soup night a pint will be perfect.

Actually, come to think of it, I am supposed to be getting some shanks, too. They were not in what I got today. I thought I had told them not cure those, but I can't remember for sure and they might have done so, which would explain why I didn't get them today. Curing will make them ham-like, too. No big deal if they were cured, but I need to remember to make sure they are in the second half of the order.

I am going to be making jam and pie filling with a lot of the frozen berries that were in the freezer. I needed to get them out of the way for the pork. A lot of these berries are from last year. I plan to make strawberry jam, blueberry pie filling, blackberry jam, and maybe bumbleberry jam, too (which is a combo of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry). Or syrup. We'll see. And then if I can find the frozen plums, plum sauce and plum butter.

But strawberry is first up, because it is DH's favorite, we're out, and he keeps buying it. He won't have to do that if we make it at home and keeping him out of the grocery store is always beneficial to our budget.

Spendy Day

July 26th, 2017 at 10:50 pm

I spent $35.41 on gas today at the Safeway gas station. The van was running on fumes and that bought 16.712 gallons. I paid $2.12 a gallon. I got 10 cents per gallon off for paying in cash and then I had 4 points, so got an additional 40 cents a gallon off.

I end up getting a lot of points from my mother. She doesn't have her own club card, so she just gives them DH's phone number and what she buys counts towards our points. It really builds up fast that way.

I also picked up two prescriptions at Walgreens for $21.08, then swung by the fruit stand and bought nectarines, corn, and watermelon, all from Eastern WA. He has someone who drives over the pass and brings back produce four times a week and he also sells local stuff, but our corn won't be ready until the end of August here, and nectarines and watermelon are not a crop in Western WA.

I also had a two hour session at P.T. today, so that was $120. She did some massage on my foot, because super klutz that I am, I dropped a glass Pyrex storage bowl on it yesterday. I still occasionally drop things randomly due to the nerve damage in my hand.

The medication the rheumatologist gave me seems to be working really well, so I hope it doesn't screw with my eyes. It's the first time I haven't has severe joint pain in ages. I still have it on the left side ankle, hip, and knee, but I don't feel it much on the right side anymore except just in my hand and wrist sometimes as opposed to all the time. I still get the random swelling, but it doesn't stick around for days, just usually 24 to 48 hours now. So a major improvement.

My FIL was in the hospital for four days and has now been moved to a nursing home. I don't think it is for good, just that he needs more care than MIL is capable of giving him. He ended up getting a blood transfusion and IV fluids, but they still couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It wasn't his heart (he's had a previous myocardial infarction), it wasn't his kidneys (one only has 4% function as a result of the heart thing), and it wasn't the cancer. His blood pressure was really low, he had a high fever, and chills that wouldn't stop. Prayers for him would be appreciated.

My daughter's new psychiatrist wants her to see a nutritional counselor, but the woman has a two month wait time for new patients. She has a partner that does the same stuff, but that woman doesn't take insurance, so she's out. We can't absorb the cost of anymore out of pocket stuff. The shrink won't see her if she isn't seeing a therapist. I thought the shrink was supposed to take the place of the therapist.

I mean, if she's just there to prescribe pills and not to help fix the underlying problems, she's not that much good to us. Although the new pill is making a major difference and I am glad to have her off the certraline. I've seen huge progress with her anxiety issues and she isn't acting depressed anymore, either. I just wish the medicine didn't make her so sleepy.

DS and I are doing low carb and heading towards the keto diet. It is nice to have someone to do things with. He is carrying an extra 20 pounds he wants to get rid of. He's been going out on 2 hour walks for the last week or so, but he's too self-conscious to go use the gym by himself. If I can stop hurting myself long enough with my clumsiness, we'll start going to the pool together again.

There's not that much else going on. We don't have any pregnant livestock so the youngest babies are coming up on ten weeks old. I don't breed for July or August delivery as it is too hard on the animals with the heat in those months. The garden continues to thrive and produce. So really nothing to speak of on the farm front, either.

I'll try to do a payday report for last Friday tomorrow. Or maybe I'll just wait until Friday and bundle them in one post.

Odds and Ends

July 18th, 2017 at 08:25 pm

I fell asleep at 1 a.m. and slept straight through until 10:30, got up long enough to make sure my son had taken care of the animals, drank a glass of water and went back to bed until 2:30. I slept hard. Apparently my body really needed it. I still feel tired, but hopefully I will sleep just as hard tonight and I'll get caught up on this sleep debt.

We weaned kits yesterday. Just Ella's and just the males. I was going to do Persephone's boys as well, but there is something wrong with the cage I was going to put them in, so I have to clean another cage before I can do that. I'll get it done tomorrow.

The garden is going crazy. I've never seen squash leaves this big before and the Brussels sprouts are huge. I am glad I gave them so much space. That is something that is hard for me, because they are so little when you plant them and you have to plant them based on how big they will be and not try to fill in all the space early on.

I spent $64 at Trader Joe's. I stocked up on chicken, lots of eggs (the birds are being slackers), rice, and picked up some Proscuitto.

For dinner tonight I made two new recipes. The first was a lazy version of chicken saltimbocca. I am not all for pounding the chicken out flat or browning or making a wine sauce. I just took the boneless skinless chicken thighs and seasoned them with salt and pepper, laid out a piece of prosciutto, put sage leaves down on it, put the chicken in the center and wrapped the prosciutto around it. The into the cast iron skillet for 30 minutes at 425 on the middle wrack of the oven. Came out perfect and everyone loved it.

Then I made a new version of Mexican rice. Almost everything in that recipe was from Thrive Life, so freeze dried. I used their chopped onions, chopped green chiles, and instant rice, then added fresh garlic, salt, and tomato paste. It was a big hit with my son and my daughter liked it well enough. I thought it was great and will make it again. I really love using the Thrive Life stuff. It is so nice not having to chop stuff up for recipes, just rehydrate however much you need and go to it.

I deposited the refund check from one of our medical bills. It was just $126.03. I haven't decided what I am going to do with it, yet. Probably put it aside for any incoming bills.

DD's appointment yesterday with the eye surgeon made him decide to send her to a neurologist. So we are waiting on a referral for that. The appointment was a $40 co-pay. He also gave her a new medication to try since Topiramate wasn't working for her migraines. I don't remember the cost on that as I bought it was a bunch of other things at the drug store that came to a total of $ 91.53.

I am trying not to be spendy, but sometimes you just have to buy things.

Pick a Title, Any Title

July 12th, 2017 at 11:28 pm

This morning I took my daughter to the sleep doctor so that was a $40 co-pay right out of the gate. It's better than the $50 co-pay for specialists on our old insurance. He's got some things he wants her to try, but he won't up her dosage on the sleeping pill to the same level as what I take, which is what she really needs, in my opinion.

After that I had an hour before I had to go to my physical therapy appointment. I found out my therapist's father probably had another stroke. He had been doing pretty well, but in the last few days it's all been downhill again, so they will probably lose him this week. It's sad. We are really good friends after all these years and I hate to see her hurting, especially since she lost one of her best friends a month ago.

He's not her bio-dad, but he is the one who raised her and she loves him more than she loves her bio-dad. She's going back home tomorrow as they think he'll die soon. He's not eating or drinking and not excreting, and it is clear he's shutting down. I hope she can stay strong for her mother and that her brother (it is his bio-dad) can stay strong for her.

It's hard and it is bringing back memories of when my dad died. Three years out I no longer feel the big hole he left. We've managed to fill it in as new babies come into the family. Now it's more of a small hole.

I went to the store to pick up some medicine and grabbed some marked down chicken. It's gmo free and free range chicken wings, that worked out to less than a dollar a pound with the mark down. I also got a flank steak as I've been in the mood for carnitas (made with beef, not pork). I may sub out something in meal plan to make this this week. I bought a couple of magazines as well and ended up spending a total of $61.93.

I finished my Debbie Maccomber novel Starting Now so now have to decide between Rapture by Lauren Kate, which is third in a supernatural YA series I've been reading and Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde. I'll probably read Rapture first as it has bigger type. They are about the same length, but I'm sure Rapture has less words even though there is a 28 page difference.

Did some work on the novel but it was more timeline stuff and character development.

Well, I best toddle off to bed. Mom has physical therapy in the morning and I have to be up in time to drive her.

Caregiving Makes the Days Seem So Long

July 12th, 2017 at 12:10 am

I didn't sleep so well last night again. Sometimes these things only last a couple days and sometimes they last a week. I hope it isn't going to last a week. I was up early again to take care of the animals and then got a load of dishes going and did a couple loads of laundry. Then I went up and did the first session of physical therapy exercises with Mom, made sure she had breakfast, and got her set up for the morning.

Then I went out to the garden and harvested calendula, echinacea, hyssop, bee balm (bergamot, monarda) and basil. My echinacea is only in its second year so it is not going to be big enough to dig roots for medicinal use this year. Next year it will be, though. But if I use the seed heads it will have a similar effect to how roots work, just not as potent.

I filled the dehydrator with the herbs and got it going and it should be done by morning. With herbs and medicinal flowers you have to set it at the lowest setting to keep the medicinal properties as strong as possible.

I worked in the garden some more after that and then went up to take Mom to her physical therapist. We were there about an hour. Afterwards she wanted to go to Safeway for bread, but ended up walking out of there with a cantaloupe, a watermelon, cherries, nectarines, and apples. Then we finally crossed the store to get the bread and then she decided we needed to go back across the store to get juice. So a lot of walking back and forth and now my ankles and knees are badly swollen, because I was wearing flip flops and not shoes with support.

I managed not to spend anything and thought it would be a NSD for sure, but then kids came around selling chocolate door to door and they had World's Finest without nuts, which I am a goner for. I haven't seem them in years. They are half as big as the ones I had to sell for orchestra and choir were, but still the same old recipe. So I spent $5 for that.

The kid really cleaned up because Mom bought some and the sister formerly known as the Ice Queen happened to be here visiting Mom so she bought some, too. I've really got to come up with a new moniker for her. She has thawed considerably in the last two years.

Then my sister cut up the watermelon and cantaloupe for our mother. I was glad I didn't have to do it as it is hard on my hands due to the rheumatoid arthritis. Mom and I did her second batch of home exercises. We only did two today, because actually going to the physical therapist counts as one.

I did the necessary filming and editing for my next two vids and have uploaded them into the scheduler so they will post automatically at the times I want them to. I have the material for one more. And ideas on what I want to do next.

I am considering doing a 5 or 6 part vid series on What I Learned from Living without an Income for 9 months. I've written it all up in outline format, so I know I can do it, I just don't know if I will. If I do, I'll link to it.

I got a little reading done today and rolled yarn into balls from the skein. No work on the novel, though. It's been too much to add to my stress level.

Well, my eyes are closing in front of me so I better end this and go to bed now. I'll fix any spelling mistakes in the morning.

Another Long Day and New Dietbet

July 10th, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Today was another very long day. I woke up at 6 a.m. after only getting 4 hours of sleep. I tossed and turned for a bit, hoping to get back to sleep, but I couldn't, so at 7 I got up and let the chickens, ducks, and turkeys out, got them fed and watered and then went and took care of the rabbits.

After that I tried to go back to bed and despite taking a pill, I still couldn't fall back asleep. I listened to a few CreepyPastas on youtube as they usually put me to sleep. The one guy has such a soothing voice, even if they are supposed to be scary stories, that usually knocks me right out. They are more suspense/edge of horror than super freaky.

I did some work for my channel and spent a lot of time downloading all of my photos off photobucket. One of the albums would not download so I had to do all 255 photos in that one individually. Ugh. I spent some time looking for a new hosting service as well.

I wrote 1000 words on my novel, but minor characters keep trying to sneak in and take over the plot. I may have to give them their own novel if they keep this up.

I got some work done in the garden. I've been harvesting a lot of herbs and flower petals for teas, tinctures, syrups, and other medicinal items (I'll be making salve when I get enough calendula). And maybe one with a more creamy consistency as well. I'll have to tweak the ratio of oil to beeswax so it doesn't harden so much. I may try my hand at making lip balm as well.

I went grocery shopping and spent $181. I got some seafood (salmon, cod, shrimp) and stocked up on quite a few items that got really low. I got several cans of peanut butter as they were well below my price point of $2.50 a pound at $2 a pound. I got 4 bottles of ketchup, 20 cans of tuna, some mustard, and some cocktail sauce. I haven't quite gotten the hang of making homemade cocktail sauce yet. I've not used horseradish enough as an ingredient to know where the sweet spot is between not enough and way too much. Usually that comes rather intuitively, but not this time.

They had another 15 pound organic turkey and I was very tempted to get it. We don't currently have space for one in the freezer, though. I have too much ice in it for the chill tank. We butchered on Saturday, so it will be a few more days before they will come out of the chill tank and I cut them up and either package them or chunk them and can them. I'll have to check my canning shelves and see what is needed.

I am debating whether or not to plant string beans. It's late, but we generally have a long, lingering warm fall. Since the peas are done and I've pulled them, and most of the broccoli is done and I've pulled it, I have space to do it. I've got Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake, and Blue Coco Pole Beans as well as Provider Bush Beans, so I've got the seed. Pole beans are generally 65 days from sprouting and bush beans are a little faster, as soon as 55 days sometimes.

So if I get them in now I could have them from early to mid-September through October. And if we get anymore heatwaves it could take less time. The only thing that makes me hesitant is the weird summer we've had so far. I see indicators on several perennial plants that we are going to have an early winter. We generally don't get a hard frost until Halloween.

I also see it in the fact that the rabbits are blowing their coats right now. They usually blow them in early spring and in September, not July. The turkeys are also having an early molt.

I hope to get down to trade or sell some meat with my pastured pork lady this month. The ducks have not been producing enough eggs for egg sales, they are just managing to keep up with the family's needs. The rabbits still manage to pay for their own feed. I've got a gorgeous buck I'm going to put up for sale as a breeder buck soon. He is the sweetest love I have ever raised.

Since he is a broken black New Zealand, I can get $25 for him unproven, and $30 once he's been proven. More if he had a pedigree. Which he does, but I lost it and I've been trying for six months to get the rabbitry I bought the father from to send me the info in an email. He keeps sending it as a text picture to my phone which is incapable of downloading images because it is a dumb phone from 2008 or 2009. The guy is frustrating me.

I may just keep breeding the line long enough that I don't have to worry about it anymore. I just need 3 generations and I have two. This bunny will make 3, so his children can be pedigreed if he's bred with a pedigreed doe, which almost all of my does are. So if I keep a male or a female from those breedings they will have pedigrees.

I do have some rabbits coming up that might be good for 4-H kids for the fair. I've got identical whites for meat pens, of which you have three and they must match as closely as possible. I also have at least one show quality broken red buck, but I am keeping the best of the two to breed with Sadie when she grows up. I also have a show quality solid red buck that would be great for them as well.

Speaking of Sadie, she is doing really well. She's a well-proportioned junior doe, with super soft broken red fur. Any kits I get from her will be stunning, I'm sure. But first she has to grow up. She's only 14 weeks old and needs to be 6 months old for breeding. And the boy I want to breed her with is only 7 weeks old right now. So it'll be closer to her being 8 months old before he is ready to breed, so I may start her with one of the broken black bucks that are old enough. They both carry the possibility of broken reds, not just broken blacks.

Anyway, there has not been more than a month when the rabbits have not paid for themselves in the last 2 years, but then they made up for the missing month later on. Even if I sell to 4-HR's or FFA's at a discount, I'll still make money. Maybe enough that I will break even on the birds, too.

I got a refund check from one of the many medical places my DD has been lately. This was for $126.03. I know a lot of stuff crosses until whatever finishes off the deductible is finally cleared through. I hope we get some more and bigger ones, too. It'll all get shoved back into medical either way.

All right well, I'm about to ramble off to bed now, but wanted to mention I start a new 4 week dietbet tomorrow. If anyone wants to join me on that the link for it is here: http://dbet.me/oEpxBZ I have no idea if that is a referral link or not or if I get anything other than kudos if I get others to join. I just think it might be fun for some of us to do it together.

Sick and Exhausted

June 29th, 2017 at 03:31 am

I've come down with a stomach virus of some sort and it is really dragging my energy levels on the ground. DH has been back since Friday, so I am not taking care of Mom all by myself anymore, but there are some things I do have to do, even with a fever of 100 and the inability to keep my food down. Like help her shower, which is quite an ordeal, and help her change her clothes. Fortunately she is doing a lot better three weeks post surgery.

I got my daughter's ER visit bill yesterday. It is $2333.48. Ouch. That is really going to be a hit. I'll have to take money out of the Emergency Fund for that. DH will be working 4 extra days at the end of his next hitch, so all of that money will go to replace some of what I take out of savings. I am not sure it will replace all of it.

I saw the rheumatologist on Monday with a $50 co-pay. She is putting me on a medication that is supposed to help, but might not show any improvement for a couple of months. It can do damage to the retinas, though, in 30% of people. With my medical luck, I will be in that 30%.

I saw the eye doctor on Tuesday with a $50 co-pay. He said the retina has healed nicely and I will go back in 3 months and then he will take a baseline map reading of the retinas so that we can monitor whether the new medication is affecting my retinas. If he sees even the hint of damage I will stop the medicine. I can't have my eyes getting worse. I'd rather deal with the pain in my joints than my vision getting further damaged.

I just want to get past all this stuff and get back to feeling normal (for me, anyway). I have 3 weeks before Mom gets out of the sling and then starts full on physical therapy. The stuff we are doing now is pretty light as she is not allowed to move her shoulder away from her body. It takes about 10 minutes 3 times per day and DH has taken over the morning shift.

I went to Trader Joe's today to stock up on a few things and spent $128.97. I also went to my own physical therapy which cost $90. I probably shouldn't have done either thing with being so sick, but we really needed to pick up some food and the massage part of PT was sorely needed.

Grocery Prices on the Rise?

May 28th, 2017 at 05:35 pm

I am trying to decide if grocery prices are going up or not. I know that I can still walk out of Trader Joe's with a cart full of groceries, including meat, for around $120 to $150. And the grocery outlet seems pretty steady, but it has a different price point anyway. No, it's the regular stores that seem to be going up.

I have noticed it a lot on produce and on things that are in season in our state right now. Most of the greens have gone up, so I am grateful I don't need to buy them at this time of year because of the garden. Chicken prices seem to have gone up about 30 cents a pound and that's on sale.

Fish has definitely gone up a dollar a pound pretty much across the board. Even trout which is usually the cheapest fish you can buy since around here they are competing with people who go out and catch the fish themselves to eat and people who sell direct off their boats.

Beef prices, which I don't have to worry about for at least the next six months seem to have risen about a dollar a pound as well, except hamburger, which has gone up about 50 cents a pound. Hot dogs and hot dog buns have gone up and at this time of year, especially around holidays, it is usually down a lot. Bread has gone way up. Now that I am feeling better I need to go back to baking my own loaves.

Milk seems to be steady, but we don't buy enough of it for me to be sure. Eggs have gone up. Cheese's regular price has gone up, but its sale price has gone down. Frozen foods seem to be very cheap right now, or at least going on a lot of sales.

I think I will have to just do more shopping at Trader Joe's, the grocery outlet, and Winco and only do sale shopping at Safeway and Haggen. Costco seems to have had a slight bump in some prices and gone down in others. But Costco is the only place I can get a few items, so that one I'll just have to deal with whatever price is on those items.

Have you been noticing food prices going up a lot this year? Or is it just where I live that this is going on?

Picked Up Our Beef--Breakdown on Cuts

May 24th, 2017 at 08:41 pm

So our half a beef was ready and hanging weight came to 335 pounds. She had estimated hanging weight would be 300 with it's full hanging weight being 600, but it was bigger. It cost $1005 for the half and $250.64 for the cut and wrap fee, a total of $1255.64. So that works out to $3.75 per pound for a grass fed beef, which is pretty spectacular, considering grass fed hamburger alone is $8 a pound here. While she is not certified organic, they do not spray their hay fields and they still use organic practices.

She uses a different butcher than the one who lost our half a hog last year and then turned our plain ground pork into sausage when we specifically asked for it to not be sausage, but plain. I was glad she used someone else. I really don't want to deal with the other company again. 2 out of 3 times they've screwed up, so I have no faith in them, but unfortunately most farmers use them. I'll probably go with this lady again, though, since she uses the other place.

Here's what it breaks down to with all steaks in packages of 2 and cut 3/4 inch thick, the roasts around 2 pounds each except for the rump roasts which are 3, and the brisket which is 4 or 5:

Ground Beef: 54 l 1/2 pound packages
Heart: 1
Liver: 5 packages
Flank Steak: 1
Short Ribs: 5
Porterhouse: 2
Eye of Round: 2
Top Round Steak: 6
Sirloin: 6
Bottom Round Roasts: 3
Sirloin Tip Roasts: 4
Chuck Roasts: 6
Pot Roasts: 3
Rump Roasts: 2
Soup Bones: 4
Tri Tip: 1
T-bone Steak: 5
Brisket: 1
Tenderloin: 2
Rib Eye Steaks: 7

So it should last us quite some time, though not a year. Maybe half a year to 3/4 of a year. I reckon everything but the hamburger will be gone at the 1/2 year and the hamburger will last longer. I won't be afraid to get a full beef next time if I decide I want one. I was worried about space, but it only filled 3 1/3 compartments in my giant chest freezer. That will help me plan for a future order based on space.

I have to learn how to cook certain cuts that I've never made before as well as the heart and liver. I didn't get the tongue, because I didn't think I could handle that. If we like the heart and the liver, that's good, and if we don't, we will cut it up into little pieces and dole it out as treats to the birds, because despite what many people think, chickens, ducks, and turkeys are not vegetarians and in fact, being fed an all-vegetarian diet is not good for them.

It is easy enough to supplement them if they don't free range and get their own bugs and worms with packaged meal worms or whatever bits of meat you might have that they can eat, either raw or cooked. They don't need a lot, but they do need some. Even extra eggs if your layers are prolific, scrambled or hard boiled and diced, works, even if it feels slightly cannibalistic.

So the liver and heart will get used even if not by us. Actually, I'll see if the in-laws want some, too, if we don't like it. There's a lot and I know they eat one of them. Humans first, then animals.

Doing Much Better and Errands

May 12th, 2017 at 10:15 pm

I am doing much better today than I was on the tenth. That night I was able to sleep and got 8 hours and then last night I got 10 hours. The water pills (diuretics) have been doing their job and while my legs, ankles, and feet are still swollen, it isn't nearly so bad. I'm able to wear my regular shoes again, my socks don't feel like tourniquets, and I was able to put my ring back on my finger since my hands are back to normal. It was pretty scary there for a while.

I lost 15 pounds in the last two days, but it is all water weight that I gained very quickly. I'm back to what my weight was before this happened. I must have been exposed to or eaten something that caused massive inflammation and water retention, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it was because I did nothing out of the ordinary.

After two nights of good sleep, the discoloration under my eyes is almost gone and the discoloration on my eyelids is gone. I looked like I had a couple two day old shiners there for a while when I wasn't sleeping. Lack of sleep like that is kind of crazy-making. I wonder if lack of sleep contributed to the water retention or had the increasing water retention contributed to the lack of sleep? That's probably a chicken and the egg scenario.

DH got home last night at midnight and it is good to have him back. I was capable of doing a Costco run today so we went and spent a little over $250. Half of that was on household supplies and the rest on food.

We also went and closed out our account at Credit Union #3. That will streamline our banking. This was originally DH's childhood account that had his allowance direct deposited out of his dad's paycheck each week when he was a kid. We've barely used it at all in the last few years and haven't used it at all in the past 15 months and got a note that said if it was inactive for 3 more months they'd close. It seemed silly to keep it open, especially because when a bank or CU closes your account they send the money to a government holding account and not to you and that is a major hassle I didn't want to go through. I've been wanting to close it for a while anyway.

Now we just have CU #1 where we do our primary banking with a checking account and savings account and CU #2 where I keep short-term funds that I don't need right away, since it is out of the way to go there and they only have one location. I have to actually deliberately plan to go there to easily use that money or transfer it electronically to my online bank account and then from there to CU #1. I set it up to be difficult for me to dip into that money without serious intention.

We also have the C1-360 online savings account for the Emergency Fund. Again, it is without super easy access, though in a true emergency it would not take too long to transfer money from it. And I keep a $1000 baby EF at CU #1 for an immediate emergency situation, like an unexpected car repair or a five day power failure where we have to eat out or something.

While I am pretty disciplined these days, when I set things up, I wasn't. I think I could probably have all the money in one place now, but I'd rather avoid temptation. Does anyone else do this sort of thing or am I just uniquely weird with my banking?

Shaking it Off

April 22nd, 2017 at 11:41 am

I think I might actually be starting on the upswing now with this head cold. I woke up feeling less tired than when I went to bed, it took less time to clear the gunk out of my nose and throat because there was less of it, and I had just enough energy to get a load of dishes and a load of laundry going. Of course, then I had to sit down because I am still a bit light-headed. I'll pace myself today, but if I can manage to get one more load of laundry and one more load of dishes done after this, I should be caught up. Unless I decide to change the sheets, but I may wait and do that tomorrow. Baby steps.

I watched the first season of Back in Time for Dinner. It was really interesting how food, its availability, its method of preservation and production and preparation all impacted family life and especially the lives of women.

I would have been quite frustrated during rationing and I know my family would have felt hungry with such small amounts of meat. We would have had to grow a lot of potatoes in our garden to make up for the lack. Potatoes will fill you when meat is scarce. The lack of fat would have been difficult, too. As farmers we would have been better off than most, but still...if we had to live under their exact conditions, than potatoes it would be.

I came away from the series with a greater appreciation of the abundance of fresh food we have today and the ease with which we can prepare it. It made me grateful I live now, with refrigeration and microwaves and freezers and dehydrators.

I see there are a couple more seasons available, so since I still have to rest a lot while I finish getting over this cold, I will probably tuck into those. I am getting a lot of granny squares crocheted for my bedspread so at least I don't feel completely unproductive.

I do have to go out and buy eggs at some point today. The birds are molting so I'm not getting any duck eggs at all. Or else they are hiding them again. I'm too sick to brave Costco on a Saturday. They have the cheapest organic eggs. I'm not even sure I want to brave Safeway on a Saturday, but I'll have to since Haggens is way too expensive for eggs. Plus I like the doughnuts at Haggens and they are hard for me to resist when I am sick and I am doing so well with the diet it is not worth putting them in my path. Maybe I can sit in the parking lot and just send my son in with a $20. That might be the easiest solution all around.


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