I took the turkey out of the freezer on Saturday and except for a bit in the center it is thawed out. So one more day and it should be fully defrosted. The ham is also thawed. I'll be making the picnic ham in the crock pot, 4 hours on low with one cup of water. It comes out perfect that way every time.
Tomorrow I will be tearing up bread for the stuffing and making it so that all I have to do on Thursday morning is put the stuffing in the bird.
DH and DS are on potato peeling and chopping duty. That is the hardest one for me to do with my hands the way they are.
I am going to do the green beans in the instant pot from fresh. They turn out beautifully that way and I can do them ahead of time and then just keep them on warm.
We are keeping it very simple this year. Ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, gravy, and sliced oranges. Normally I do corn, but last year there was a lot of corn left over and this year my biggest corn eater can no longer eat corn, so I'll just eliminate it and save myself the extra step. I need DH to find out if his mother wants a can of cranberry jelly. None of us eat it and I can't remember if it was her or FIL who liked it.
I haven't decided about desert yet. I might ask mom to make an apple or blueberry pie (she has home-canned pie filling on hand and I think I have TJ's frozen pie crusts in the freezer) or I might make pumpkin cheesecake. I have to get out to the store and see if I can find the right kind of graham crackers for crust. Trader Joe's is the safe brand (or Annie's graham cracker bunnies) but if I go, I have to go early as their parking lot is a nightmare after eleven on a normal day. I can't even imagine how bad it will be the day before Thanksgiving. I also need to get some Yukon gold organic potatoes there.
Then I have to go find the safe type of plain cream cheese, which is at the food co-op. Having kids with allergies is so much fun. At least there are versions of things I can use, though.
I need to go through the freezer and pull out all the bread heels I've been saving for the last six months and let them thaw out tonight for making the stuffing tomorrow and then see if I need to add anymore bread in. I have an extra loaf if needed since we buy two loaves at a time. I already have sage and poultry seasoning. I don't know when they stopped putting sage in poultry seasoning, but it irritates me that they quit. It's been at least four years now since I've been able to find a brand with sage in it.
I am going to make up frozen TV dinners again with the majority of the leftovers. They are very convenient to have during the winter. I have many days during the cold season when I don't feel like cooking, so if I can just whip these out we all have a good home-cooked meal anyway. I can do both turkey and ham dinners, too. We will be making an extra five pounds of potatoes so we will have plenty for these TV dinners, too.
Aside from that I also have planned a regular night of just leftovers, then leftover turkey casserole, turkey noodle soup with warm ham sandwiches, and some turkey enchiladas to use up leftovers. I might make loaded baked potato soup with ham instead of bacon as well. We'll see what is left. I will also dice up leftover ham to use in omelettes and egg bricks. I will freeze the diced ham and take it out as needed. I will dice up some turkey for salads, as well.
If I plan like this going in, then I don't waste and that is important when you are using an expensive organic turkey. Well, that is important period. No need to throw any food dollars out the window.
Viewing the 'Organize My Life' Category
I took the turkey out of the freezer on Saturday and except for a bit in the center it is thawed out. So one more day and it should be fully defrosted. The ham is also thawed. I'll be making the picnic ham in the crock pot, 4 hours on low with one cup of water. It comes out perfect that way every time.
Been a while since I felt well enough to do one of these, but things are improving with the rheumatoid arthritis this week after about three weeks in full inflamation mode and I am typing with relative ease again, which is why I've been posting this week at all.
We had some overtime this week, 10 hours. All of it went to DH's crown, because it turns out our dental insurance didn't cover any of it, even though it said it would when they did the preauthorization. DH is going to talk to HR at work, because the plan they say they have they don't. So that means we have to come up with another $700 or so out of pocket.
I was able to put $600 into the medical fund instead of the usual $400 this payday, but that means that all of that will have to go towards the crown. Fortunately with this deposit there is $961 in the medical fund. We won't have the breathing room I had hoped for, but we will be able to pay for the rest of the crown.
I have done the budget for December and I am including the extra paycheck for November 30th onto that budget and not the November budget, since it is paying for December things. So on 11/30 I can put $400 into the medical fund and on 12/14 I can put in $700, and on 12/28 I can put in $900.
DS has a sleep study on November 26th (at least if they don't reschedule again) and I am not sure how much that will cost us. The family deductible is $2000 and DD has met $1000 of it (her limit), and I know I have met some of it. I think maybe $500. I know DD has met her out of pocket max, but I think that has a per person as well as a per family, too.
So I don't know for sure whether or not we will have any money left for next year's deductible. That $1500 for the crown instead of $750 is blowing us out of the water. Plus DH wants to get new glasses. He's more than due. At least the vision is decent, but it'll still be around $200. He's getting cheap frames no matter what. Nothing fancy. He's already cost us too much medical money with that crown, even if half of it had been covered.
Here's what went out today:
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_600.00 Medical Fund
__75.00 Household Envelope
_596.31 DH's Crown (plus additional from last payday)
__61.74 DH Life Insurance
__60.46 Me Life Insurance
_100.00 Blow Money Adults
_100.00 Clothing Envelope
_100.00 Christmas Envelope
_172.84 Computer Fund
3051.38 Total Money Out
DH purchased his new computer online today, so the computer fund is now wiped out. I'll start over in December, but I think at only at $50 a month. We were doing $100 because DH's was on it's last legs and it really felt like a race to the finish line on whether or not it would last until we had the money. His was five years old.
We all have newish computers now. Mine is the oldest at barely two years old and it is still in excellent shape, so there is no urgency to build the fund back up. Still, I want to have something going in there, and it is possible a phone could go and have to be replaced, though it is doubtful. I don't think any of them are a year old yet. Maybe mine. But it is serviceable. Who knows what the status of my computer will be in another year and having the money sitting there to replace it if it goes kaput is always the better option.
I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.
I have quite a few ripening tomatoes I need to look at and I have got to pick green beans and check for zucchini and cucumbers. I have only gotten one cucumber so far, but I haven't checked for zucchini in a few days, so there are probably a dozen out there, hopefully not too large. I already have one that is larger than my forearm to deal with. I also need to water tonight.
I think there will be enough green beans that I can can them tomorrow. I will try to get it done early in the morning before it gets too hot.
I am thinking about buying a flatbread maker. It's a device that you put the dough on, close it and it flattens it, and then it cooks it. You have to turn it over partway through. But you can make all the flat breads on it and it sets it at the correct temperature, taking the guess work out of it. I can make pita bread on it, but also tortillas, chappati, and roti. It would make it a lot easier since I wouldn't have to roll out the dough.
So many of the flat breads contain soybean oil. I can find tortillas without it, but it is harder on the other flat breads, especially pita. They run the gamut from $32 to $99. Right now I am reading reviews.
I would probably only use it to make tortillas for fajitas and carnitas. I think I'd still buy the large packages for making my huge run of breakfast burritos. It's one thing to make 8 for dinner and another to make 48 in a row for burritos. But I would definitely make pita bread at least once a week. Does anyone have a flat bread maker? I'd be interested in your thoughts.
We still haven't managed to get 100% away from the credit card, so there was a small payment today to bring the balance back to zero. We are getting better at it though. I meant to go into the credit union today to order debit cards for our checking account, but the parking lot was packed and I ended up just going through drive thru, which only had one car in the lane I chose.
I still have trouble standing for long periods of time. Walking is okay, but standing and waiting is very hard on my left knee and hip and my right ankle, so waiting in a long line inside is not appealing. Monday shouldn't be bad since it is not a payday for most of the town like today.
After I did the banking, I went and bought new glasses. I had put $500 into the medical fund and the glasses came to $460.80. I also paid the radiologist from DD's first ER visit. I know MIL said she would pay the medical bills for DD, but I think we can handle this one. That was out of the Medical Fund, not today's paycheck, though. There is now $203.66 left in the Medical Fund.
_600.00 Monster Mom Loan
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
__25.00 My Allowance
__25.00 DH's Allowance
__50.00 Animal Feed Envelope
__35.00 DS's Allowance
___5.00 DD's Allowance
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.
$1400.00 Citi Card
The paycheck plus what was left of the $1000 went towards finishing off the credit cards. AMEX is done and all auto pays have been transferred off it, so as soon as it clears I will be cutting up that card.
I will finish off the Citi card on next Friday and then it will only be used for the auto pays. We will take the credit cards out of our wallets. They can't be an option. Also next Friday I have car tabs due and a medical bill. There won't be a lot left over, enough to fund the grocery envelope and the household envelope. But then starting on the June 1st payday and continuing forward, we should be able to fund everything else with cash throughout the month.
Yesterday we opened a checking account for my son and then he set up his paypal account to hook into it, so he can now make online purchases directly out of his bank account and no one has to use a credit card. He needed a checking account anyway as he is going to get a job this summer and will need it for direct deposit. He's had a savings account since the year he was born.
He wants to read The Total Money Makeover after my husband is finished with it. He is very determined not to carry debt in his life except for possibly a mortgage. We've already talked about 10% of his income going into retirement from the start. He may not qualify for a 401K immediately, but he can do a Roth IRA until he does. He will also be saving 40% for college and 10% will go to tithing. Then he will need to put 20% into savings for a car and insurance and the remaining 20% will be what he can spend.
He wants to make a budget as soon as he gets his first paycheck, but before anything else he is going to save up $1000 for an emergency fund so he has it in place when he is able to afford a car. I guess we are rubbing off on him. Not so sure about our daughter. With her medical issues I despair of her ever being able to hold down a job.
I went to the credit union today and took out $475 in cash to fund 3 of my envelopes. I put $175 into the groceries envelope, $50 into the household envelope, and $250 into the medical envelope. For medical I am going to start using an old checking account at a different credit union. I took the $250 there this afternoon, deposited it, ordered a box of checks, and ordered debit cards. They even had some pretty checks that were the same cost as plain ones. I chose an American flag with the bald eagle soaring in front of it. I didn't think my husband would fancy the butterflies. So that took $16 out of the medical account right there, leaving a balance of $234.
I tend to write checks for medical except prescriptions. We have been using the credit card for that because we usually go through the drive-thru and it is easier than trying to write out a check on the steering wheel. So we will use the debit card for prescriptions once it arrives. That way DH can have a card, he usually picks up the medicine, and I will have the checkbook. That debit card will be used only for medical. It just makes it a little easier than playing with cash and not having a paper trail. I need a paper trail for medical if we need to deduct again.
I will be funding the medical account with $800 every month, with $200 coming out of each paycheck starting on June 1st. That should cover co-pays, prescriptions, and allow us to save for DD's surgeries. This does not include the amount for the chiropractor which is a monthly set amount for the entire family and I will just pay that out of regular checking. It has it's own budget category.
When the medical account reaches $1000 I will send any additional to the online bank and earmark it for medical on the spreadsheet. I'm not sure when they will let DD have her surgeries, not until her BMI is 40% however long that takes, so the extra will go to save up for that. But whenever the account drops below $1000 I will start adding money back into it. I am not sure how much we really need to set aside for medical. It varies so much in a month. This month alone has 6 co-pays, not to mention the numerous prescriptions.
Because we are switching over to mostly using cash and checks, I am not sure we will be able to make a payment on the loan to Mom until June 8th. I figure if I make the $500 payment towards the beginning of the month, then I will have to stick to the budget the rest of the month. If there is any extra at the end of the month of June I will tack it on to the July payment. If I treat it like a bill due the 2nd payday of the month, that should keep me on track.
I think I'm going to like this Gazelle intensity thing. Even if I can't do it 100% like Dave Ramsey, because we have to keep the EF at $6000 instead of $1000 for upcoming medical reasons, I am trying to focus in like we are. And really, we are. The EF is $1000, the medical fund is the rest of it. Once the surgeries are over than we can be fully doing it, but I don't know when that will be. I guess until then it will just have to be baby steps. Yeah, I saw it. Did it anyway.
I don't usually buy books, but I made a book purchase on Saturday. Yes, my library does have this book, but I was 13th on the waiting list. High demand books mean that people can only keep them out 2 weeks instead of 3, but that was still looking at a possibility of 26 weeks before I could read it, assuming people turned it in on time. Most people don't.
So I handed over my cash, $27.51, to the young man at B&N, who tried to sell me a membership card, but no. I don't buy books often enough to earn back and then benefit from the savings. What book did I buy, you may be asking by now? Well, I finally gave in and decided to read Dave Ramsey. I bought The Total Money Makeover.
I have been avoiding Dave Ramsey for the last 12 years, to be honest. Yes, I did do a debt snowball, but I didn't know about it from reading him. I just figured doing it like that would make me feel like I was making progress faster. Yes, I did build and keep a $1000 emergency fund before doing it, but that was on advice from people here, not based on his method. Although it probably was, since a lot of you have read him. But I wasn't going to.
It wasn't that I thought he was bad or anything. I just didn't want to give up my paid off credit cards. Well, I did give up some of them, but we still have 5. We pay them off in full each month. But...oh, and here's the big but, I've been feeling for a while that we weren't using them responsibly enough, because they are just too easy to use.
But my chiropractor's office plays Dave Ramsey and I kept hearing him on my visits. And then he came up in my suggested videos on youtube. God has been putting things in my path right now that I have been struggling to deal with. Dave is just the last in a line.
First I was struggling with tithing while still in debt to my mother and my internet preacher answered a question on tithing. Then I was concerned that I lacked motivation, but in getting the spending back under control and in doing my five times a week Bible study. Then I was struggling with forgiveness for DH's sister and nieces over the stuff they pulled at Thanksgiving.
Forgiveness was in the next lesson and in such a way that it heals the person who forgives, not the one who holds on to the anger. Doesn't mean I'm willing to have holidays with them, but I might be able to at least see them now. So I asked for help about the budget and in walks Dave Ramsey, so to speak.
So I just finished reading the book last night. It took me 3 days. And I figured out how come I felt that way about credit cards. It's because we just buy what we need with no thought to it. And because I know we will pay it off each month in full, I haven't really been sticking to a budget when it comes to groceries and household expenses or clothing or eating out.
And with these bad habits getting out of hand, things felt tight every month and I didn't feel like I could possibly make payments on the loan to Mom, the only debt we have left. So I sat down and made up a better budget and if we actually stick to it, then yes, I can start paying Mom at least $500 a month.
DH's mother just gave us $1000. We had thought to put it in the Emergency Fund, but I think instead, we will use it to get current. The next two paydays will pay off what we have left on the credit cards before they are due and then we will go down to simply charging the auto pays, which total $407.50. It might be a little lower, but I am allowing $50 for Ting. We don't always go that high, some months we are lower, but we have never been above it, so that is what I put in the budget. But we won't use the credit card for anything else. Nothing but the auto pays. And we will use paypal from our bank account for online purchases, but not until we've had a moratorium on online purchases for six months or so.
I have also budgeted $1000 for groceries/household. I do think I can keep it lower than that, but I haven't been. Since I track my spending, more or less, I know I haven't. We are switching to cash for that. I will start with putting $250 in the groceries envelope. I figure $200 for groceries and $50 for household. Maybe I should break it down into two envelopes, except I usually buy household stuff when I go grocery shopping. We'll see. I know I need to get toilet paper, deodorant, and quart size Ziplocs, which will take up a good share of that $50.
I have transferred all the auto pays to one card, and as soon as the last little bit on the AMEX is paid off, I am going to cut it up and cancel it. I was just using it for Netflix and Hulu. I am also going to cancel my Best Buy card and no longer do any 18 or 12 month same as cash deals. I paid off the last one with part of our tax return. Instead I will be saving up money in a computer fund, though that won't start for a while.
I am not sure I am ready to cut the cord completely with credit cards, but I can't see having more than 3. One is the miles card, which DH will need if he starts working in Alaska again and has to fly all the time. He usually got 2 free flights a year, sometimes 3, so it definitely was worth it. Then there is the one my daughter is a signer on. Then there is the Costco Citi card, but I am not sure if that is going to be worth keeping yet. Without charging all of our groceries and gas, the amount of cash back will dramatically drop, and that was the only reason I got it in the first place.
My head knows that the best thing for us to do is to get rid of all but one card, but I am scared to do it. Mostly because the EF is not where I want it to be. I know you aren't supposed to use credit cards as a back up EF, but you know what 2016 and 2017 were like for us. If we had run out of money at least we would have had those cards to fall back on, which of course, is exactly that attitude I'm not supposed to have.
I knew Dave would let me have it over these ideas and I wasn't wrong. It sure has shown me what I need to work on and try to not rely so much on my security gland ruling what I do.
So next, I go back to an envelope, pay with cash system, except for those auto pays. I am looking into whether or not there are ways to pay them without paying by card. I think you can pay both Netflix and Hulu through paypal, but I'm not 100% sure. I think we can put storage on direct withdrawal, but I don't know about Ting. I haven't been able to find anything about Ting. But one of the reasons I really like doing auto pays on the credit card is so that I only have one due date to worry about, not an additional five. Right now I only have two to worry about and they come out on the same day.
So I will fund this coming payday's grocery/household envelope with $250.00 from the gift money, so all the money in the paycheck can go for the tithe and the Citi card.
I have already handed DH an envelope marked vending for the vending machines at work with $7 in ones that I had in my purse. He is to get $25 a month to use in the vending machines at work (he's been charging them). This gives him a little over $1 a day and the charge is 85 cents, so anything left at the end he can spend or set aside and save it for something he wants. Or he can save it all and quit using the vending machine altogether.
I will also have my own $25 envelope for something I want to do. I have no idea what I want to do with it, but sometimes just saving makes me happy.
I really would like to be able to squeeze out more than $500 a month to pay Mom. It might be $100, it might be $25, who knows? But whatever I can throw at it. She won't like getting weird amounts, but I don't care. It is not up to her how much I pay back at a time. It is up to DH and me.
As soon as we know what is going on in June with the job, I can decide what to do with the Emergency Fund. If I want to bump it down to $1000 and pay Mom with the rest or if we need to keep it there in case of possible job loss. It is scary to keep it at just $1000, but Dave says it keeps you more driven to pay off the debt so you can build the EF up to 3 to 6 months of expenses.
I get it. I get everything Dave says. I think I'm in the stage where I am not yet drinking the Kool-Aid, but I have read the ingredients and directions on the package and started preparing the beverage. He has his baby steps and I have mine. I do want to get there. And I want to get there fast, so time to put our heads down and start pushing that stone uphill.
I know I am not posting a ton right now, but the push to get the last town storage unit cleared out had been ongoing. We had until February 28th to be out and it went down to the wire due to snow.
One of the only fun things about it has been finding all the loose coins. I've found another $3.24 in American money bringing that balance to $5.92 and another Canadian dollar, bringing that to $2.60 Canadian.
We will still have a lot to go through in our out of city units, but at least we will only be paying $225 going forward and not almost double that each month. With the amount of boxes in the out of city units to go through, I believe we will be able to eventually downsize to the one larger unit, which will be $125.
We will be able to wait for nice days now that the last city unit is done. Having to work in the snow or below freezing temps has not been fun. DH did finally find our wedding album and it is fine. I never meant for that album to end up in storage to begin with so it is nice to have it home again.
DH is getting overtime again. He got 10 hours for the week ending last Friday and he has worked both Saturday and Sunday as well, but those will be on the following paycheck. He may get 70 hours this week. All of the money will be helpful as the washing machine is not working right and we will have to get it repaired.
We have been jollying it along, using a hose to fill it, since it was agitating before the water would go in. Originally, it was only doing this at the start, but now it is doing it on the rinse cycle, which means stopping the machine and filling it again for the rinse cycle. Filling it once is bad enough, but having to fill it twice is beyond annoying and means you can't leave the house while using the machine and it wastes a lot of time in the day.
Hopefully there will be a little money left afterwards to go back into rebuilding the emergency fund. DH did get asked to do some safety training for unnamed oil company so he can be the project lead on a project for them. So that one starts after his current project ends and will mean an additional 2 months of work. Which should get him to the end of the six months contract through the job recruiter so that he can be hired on directly with this company or find another job without having to buy out the remainder of the contract.
I am glad he has more work coming, but living in a constant state of not knowing when he will have a secure job is taking its toll on my stress levels. Security has always been my number one issue in life and I really want it back. I don't want to have to worry from month to month if DH will still have a job. I know that a lot of people deal with this situation or worse because they have no emergency fund, but up until a couple of years ago we never had.
It has been tough to go from a life that was always secure to one that is not. It was awful to lose all of the money from our house down payment fund and most of our emergency fund and to be sitting here on the brink of not having an emergency fund at all. It has sucked to have medical emergency after medical emergency with limited or no insurance. I hate having to live like this. It screws with my head.
And just when it feels like we will have a little extra money again, the washing machine breaks and the sun roof on the mini-van starts leaking again. Once we get the money together, I am having the sun roof sealed, since they obviously can't fix it so it actually stays fixed. It will lower resale value, but by the time we sell this thing, it will be 20 years old, so I doubt it will have much resale value anyway. And the second sun roof will still work, anyway.
I won't buy a car with a sun roof again. We seldom used it when it worked because half the time the angle of the sun coming in would shine in the rear view mirror and blind the driver. And with working AC there was no real need for it. Even sitting in the car waiting for someone on a hot day, with the sun roof open, the sun just beat down on us. It just isn't worth it.
If it wasn't leaking into the seat belt holder it wouldn't be so bad, but every time I pull the seat belt out to use it when it has been raining it is soaked. It would have to be on the driver's side. Speaking of the seat belt holder, the other day when I took my seat belt off, it took my hair with it into the seat belt holder. Fortunately the kids were in the car and could pull it back out, because I couldn't move to do it.
So, it is time for a hair cut, I guess. Or I need to keep my hair in a braid when I'm driving. It's down to the bottom of my shoulder blades and it is starting to get caught under my arms when I put my arms down after having them raised. I am rolling over when I am sleeping to sometimes pull it as well if I don't sleep in a braid. I like having long hair, but geesh, it can be a pain sometimes.
I hate wearing a braid outside in the winter, though. It exposes my ears and the back of my neck and I chill so easily. It is long enough to donate if I decide to cut it to my shoulders, which will still keep my ears and the back of my neck warm, at least.
I have been considering getting it layered so it will work with my natural curl. It frizzes a lot when it is all one length and the weight pulls out a lot of the curl, but when it is layered it curls like crazy. It would also cut down on the heaviness since it is so thick. I probably should just bite the bullet and do it. I am getting too old for long hair, I think.
The last time my hair was this long I dithered for months and then got it cut so short I hated it. It wasn't an easy to care for cut, either, which is the main reason why I hated it. Plus it worked against my curls. I know if I layer it, I'd have to use product, which I don't care for much, but it would be nice to have a change. You can see why it takes me forever to decide, hmm? Seriously, does anyone else have this problem? I've been like this my whole life. Always wanting short hair when it was long and long hair when it was short.
Once I do get it cut, I'll make a decision on coloring then. I think most of what I will be left with will have heavy grey streaking. A lot of what is still auburn will be cut off, leaving mostly grey streaked auburn. They grey washes it out, though and makes it look duller. I am not one of those folks who can go blonde because it washes me out and the grey is doing the same. But I hate spending the time coloring my hair, even when it is my daughter applying it instead of me.
Well, enough time spent wasting my morning. I'm off to organize, toss, and donate. It will end some day.
Last week my husband worked 4 ten hour days so that he could have Friday off. We got a lot more done in storage, pulling out five large bags of trash and 2 bags full of recycled paper. We also pulled out another box of papers to shred. We donated another stack of books, probably only 15 this time, not a full box
We have reduced the amount in the larger unit so much that we should be able to get everything in there now. We have until the end of February to finish cleaning out the small 8 x 10 unit that is still here in town. Once that is in there we will just have the 10 x 18 and the 10 x 10 in the county. Then we will transfer what is in the county 10 x 10 into the county 10 x 18 as we go through it. Once we are done it will all fit in the 10 x 18 and our storage costs will be reduced significantly.
I found $0.79 this weekend bringing my found money this year to $3.47 American and $1.60 Canadian.
Monday morning I had to go and sit through a joint replacement class with my mother, as she is getting her hip replaced in March. It was 3 hours long and then of course my mother had to stay and talk for an additional 45 minutes, because she's never met a conversation she can leave. It was awful on my back and hips because their chairs were crap. Of course her care after the surgery will all fall on me again, because neither of my sisters will do anything.
I am very irritated with my mother because she refuses to go into a nursing home for the first week after she leaves the hospital. Medicare will cover it, but she refuses to go. She might be getting all her joints fixed, but mine are breaking down. She's just so selfish about it and I have to suck it up and do it. Last time I ended up on the verge of pneumonia and with so much pain in my joints I had to be on hydrocodone to function. If she would just go in for that first week when she needs round the clock care, I would be able to function so much better during the following five weeks when she will be able to sleep through the night and so will I.
Then in the afternoon I went to my rheumatologist for an appointment ($55 co-pay) and crossed off yet another drug I can't take. The sulfa affected my vision. Now she wants to do an MRI of my hands, but I can't afford it so that is on hold. She gave me some paperwork for an injectible drug, but one of the side effects is cancer, so no. I will just have to muddle along with the hydroxychloroquine.
So all in, yesterday was not one of my better birthdays, especially with the fact that I couldn't even have cake on this diet. But I have lost 13 pounds in two weeks, so it is kind of worth it. I miss sugar and flour though. A lot. I need to update the side bar to reflect my new age of 48.
We still haven't got taxes done, but we are working on it. It looks like we will be getting around $8000 back. I was hoping it was more, considering we spent around $30K in medical expenses last year. We'll need that money to pay for DD's surgery.
We spent the weekend working in storage again. I found 55 cents, bringing my total of found money this year to $2.68 American and $1.60 Canadian. We pulled out 5 big black garbage bags of stuff and filled an 18 gallon and a 25 gallon tote with paper to recycle. I also have another box we filled about 8 inches high with papers to be shredded. We donated two more boxes of books.
I paid off all of the medical bills from my daughter's ER visit. It was upwards of $8000. Our Emergency Fund is down to $5000 or so. I don't have the exact numbers. It is depressing and a little scary to have so little in savings, especially when we still don't know how long DH will actually have a job for.
We have no safety net now if he loses his job. DD still needs to have her sinus surgery, so we will use part of the tax refund for that. It really can't be put off any longer and who knows when we will have insurance again if DH gets laid off. The insurance is really good at least for however long we get to keep it, even if they are taking a boat load of money out of his paycheck for it.
It was nice to see the extra money in the paycheck this week from the tax cut. We'll only see it for this month, though, since in March it will go into the 401K. We really don't want to not put money in the 401K, so as soon as he qualifies it is going in even if it is only 2%.
I've been doing a low carb diet for a week now and lost 10 pounds. I am keeping my total carbs to 60 grams a day, which is what the bariatric specialist recommended last time. This time I am doing it without a weekly cheat day. I am really pushing the water. I feel better already, which is nice because last week I had that nasty stomach virus that's been going around.
The only thing that is bad about this diet is that my acne is acting up. It is supposed to be because when you lose fat the toxins that were locked in those cells come out whatever way they can. In my case it is through cystic acne. It hurts and I hate it, but I'm not going to give up, because I have to get this weight off my body. I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. It physically hurts too much.
There really hasn't been much going on. Well, other than we lost another rabbit and now I'm afraid there might be something going around the herd. We lost Bonfire, who was out of Firefly and Wildfire, who are both gone, too. But we have her daughter Sadie and we haven't yet sold or butchered her other three offspring so if we want to keep another one, we could.
Then again, I've been thinking of downsizing, so I don't know. But right now this puts us at only 3 breeding age does and I'd like 4. But I might like a doe out of Sadie and Vincent when I breed them, so I don't know. They might not even have a likely candidate in their first litter, either.
The garden is starting to put some volunteers up. There is spinach growing and sorrel. There are onions and garlic as well, that I did not plant in the fall, so maybe they seeded or maybe ones I planted early last spring that never came up, came up now. The kale overwintered and there are some beets, too. I am looking forward to spring and rebirth and growing things and green coming back to the trees and flowers. It always makes me feel better when the dreariness of winter lifts.
I found 13 cents today, bringing my found money this year to $1.26 American and $1.60 Canadian. We spent 2 hours in storage today, which isn't much, but all four of us went out. DD was able to last long enough to get through 3 of her totes. Most of it was either thrown away or put in the donate boxes. That clears a lot of space. I made it through 3 boxes of mostly paper. I had to sort it between keep, shred, and recycle. There was very little keep. I did find some old poetry I'd written, so that will get put into the computer and then that can be recycled.
We had so many manuals from products we haven't had in years. I had 3 fridge manuals, 2 stove manuals, a manual for every electronic gadget I have ever owned, including ones we haven't had in years. I found 3 parts of the pasta maker. I am still missing the bowl part and the attachments, but I am sure they are in one of the kitchen boxes we haven't sorted through yet.
We came home early because it started to pour and the wind was whipping the rain into the unit. We brought home three boxes that I will sort through tomorrow. One is papers and I'm not sure what is in the second one. It might be kerosene lamps, in which case it just goes out to the garage in an easily accessible location for power failures. The paperwork will probably take me an two hours to sort and shred. I'll work on it while listening to Ben Shapiro's podcast tomorrow.
The other box I have already sorted. It was mostly shirts that my son could wear that used to belong to my husband back when he could fit into XL tops. 3 of them are lined flannel, which is perfect for winter farm chores. The box does have a few odds and ends in there, too, that I need to find homes for including my husband's professional baton from when he was a drum major. I told him he ought to put it in his golf bag so it is out of the way. There is also a marble chess set which will go with our games on the top of a book case.
My mother has been remodeling one of the rooms in her end of the house and when it is finished DS is going to move up into it. The room is 12' x 12' and will give him a lot more room than his current 8' x 12' room, which isn't even a bedroom, but a storage room. Once DS is out of there than DH will move a lot of his stuff out of the living room. We will also put one set of shelves in there for our long term food storage. He's going to build me a couple of shelving units as well for the living room, so that for once everything can actually be put away. I get so tired of living in 1000 square feet. Just having that extra 8' x 12' feet available to us with DS out of it will be amazing.
We found some laminated desk tops for free and he will use those for the shelves and attach them to 4" x 4"s to hold them together. The top of one will be at the right height for me to cook on. We will have space to put out our Nuwave oven, crockpot, electric skillet, air fryer, and rice cooker all in a row. That will make meal prep much easier. Cooking is difficult without a stove. We have enough appliances to do it, but not enough usable work space to have more than two out at once, which is limiting. Having even three out at once will change things dramatically. I will also have DH build a little section to store the lids while I am stirring things.
As cramped as things are, I have nowhere to set down lids while I stir and have to hold them and some of them are heavy. If I am having a day where I drop everything because of the RA, they end up on the floor. If I need to add anything in while stirring I have to call one of the kids to hold the lid while I do it or set it on the floor on a towel. It is really quite ridiculous. We don't even have room for a kitchen table, because the "almost" kitchen is so tiny.
The appliances go on the sewing table and a TV tray when I need to use them. The only counter space we have is taken up with the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, the microwave, the toaster, the coffee maker, the knife block, and a dish drainer.
I hate living this way. I know it could be so much worse, but I am ready to leave and find our own space. We just can't afford it. Not with the drain my daughter's medical stuff has on our finances.
Oh, well. I can't change anything right now. I'm not sure if we ever will. I'm so discouraged right now. It's been one thing after another for the past two years. Obamacare has almost bankrupted us. We will never be the same.
We went out to storage again today and spent 5 hours there. We packed a lunch this time and plenty to drink. It was nice to sit in the van with the heat on and get warmed up while we ate. The wind was blowing so hard today.
We got two more of the large black Hefty garbage bags full of trash and one of the large moving boxes as well, which is probably the equivalent of two more bags, ready to take to the dump. We sorted through over a dozen boxes and totes and reduced the contents significantly.
We have two medium size moving boxes and one paper bag full of paper to recycle. A lot of it was magazines. Of the 100 or so magazines we only kept 7. We also are tossing a bunch of old school papers, some from our college, some from the kids younger years. I found my old typing book, which was for an electric typewriter. Some of the keys are different from what a modern computer has now.
So far I have found $1.13 American in change and $1.60 Canadian in change. My son has found over $5 in change, but those were in his boxes, so that is his money.
We got the third bill from the hospital and this one is $6354. I've already gotten two others for $569 and $582, which is what I was expecting for the ultrasound and the doctor bill. I am going to call them on it, because I call BS. She had one urine test and they are charging $1312 for that. No blood draw. She got one bag of saline. And she had a CT scan (which runs anywhere from $1000 to $2000 outside of the hospital, depending on whether or not contrast is used).
She had almost the exact same stuff a year ago, and while we had insurance, I still have the bills that showed the total amount and it is almost triple that. The whole thing should be costing about $3000, since it was $2500 last time, allowing for inflation. At the very least I want to see if they have a discount for paying in cash. Most places do.
I will be so happy to have insurance again. We just have to get through 11 more days. I told my daughter she is just going to have to wrap herself in bubble wrap and not leave her room until February. And no one else is allowed to get hurt or so sick the have to go to the ER either.
Well, I better get to bed. We'll be spending another 5 or so hours at storage tomorrow.
We spent about 3 hours out at storage today. I went through 8 boxes of books and weeded out 4 boxes to donate. I used to think there was no such thing as having too many books, but dang, we have too many books. I purged mostly mystery novels and sci-fi/fantasy novels. Not the good sci-fi fantasy novels, just the mediocre ones.
I've only kept two mystery novels so far, Hacker and Murder on Peachtree Street. I didn't even keep the ones with the bishop and the Jewish guy who solved murder mysteries which I like, but my library has all of them if I want to read them again.
I weeded out about half of my teenage romance novels (you will pry the Sweet Valley High and First Love from Silhouette books out of my cold dead fingers), 90% of my teenage horror novels, all of my adult horror novels, and most of my adult romance novels. Well, I will reread the First Love books, but may not keep them all. I have a soft spot for teenage novels.
We went through 3 boxes of kitchen stuff and weeded out almost 2 full boxes. DH went through a couple of junk boxes and there is a lot to either be shredded or recycled.
My son went through about 6 boxes of toys, consolidating two into one, throwing out the contents of one (it turned out to have water damage from the other storage unit and the contents, which were baby toys, were molding), setting one aside for a better sort later, and then the other two were full of trains and stayed as is.
We pulled two bags of garbage, so we have four of the large black Hefty bags now ready to go to the dump. We will be going back out tomorrow to do some more work. I hope to get out there earlier in the day so we can stay longer. We didn't make it out until five as my mother needed some stuff done today. I'd like to spend at least a good 8 hours there tomorrow.
I am pretty sure now that by the time we are done we will be down to just one storage unit, a 10 x 18, which is good because that expense really needs to go down even further. It may take a few months to get there, since we can only work on it on weekends, but that is okay. It still is costing far less than it was before.
We are going to pick up some more Rubbermaid totes to replace some of the boxes that are not holding up to the weight of being stacked on. I prefer them anyway as they are waterproof. The ceiling looks good on this unit, but once burned, twice shy.
We need to find where we put them, but there are two more desktop computers we ran across that need to be recycled. I swear DH never threw out any computer between the 90's and now until we started purging storage. Well, I best get to bed. It is one a.m., though the time stamp on here is still several hours off and will not record the proper time.
Well, we got a ton accomplished today with the storage unit. We took five loads to the other storage place, but we also donated 15 more garbage bags of clothes. We have two bags of linens ready to be donated. There is enough for a dump load, which if the dump is open Sunday we will take out. There are also four desk top computers and 4 ancient laptops to be recycled. We have more laptops that need to be recycled, but two of them work and just need new cords so I want to make sure I get those pulled out. There are two more 13 inch TVs to be recycled and another computer monitor. Oh, we were such pack rats!
My ultimate goal is to reduce what we have in storage by 50%. There are boxes and boxes of toys and stuffed animals. And so many books. Now there are definitely some books I want to keep, but I think we can reduce what we have by 1/2, if not 2/3. I want to keep all the Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Terry Pratchett, Piers Anthony, Little House books, Narnia, Sweet Valley High (over 100), Animorphs, and some of the best loved stand alone books, as well as the majority of the cookbooks, but there are a lot of books we just read and kept for no reason other than we'd bought it and we had trouble letting go of books.
We got rid of 2 sets of Encyclopedias that we owned before you could get them on CDs or as digital downloads. That was six boxes.
There is so much kitchen stuff. I think I used to buy every gadget there was. I've found 3 mandolin sets. So much plastic storage that isn't Tupperware. I want to keep the Tupperware, but get rid of the other plastic. I still haven't found the pasta maker, which is the one thing I want to find. Found the rotisserie, though. But I don't think we need it anymore since the Nuwave oven can do basically the same thing with less energy usage and is far easier to clean. So that can be donated.
I still haven't found our wedding album, but that actually could be in my closet. I still have two boxes in there I haven't gone through. I think I have found all the other photo albums, though. We also have a bunch of duplicate photos in two photo boxes. I got them because I was going to do scrapbooking, but then I had a second kid and lost all my free time so it got back burnered.
Ay, yi, yi, I was such a spendthrift at one time. You would never know it from the last several years, but before that, yeah. And I could kick myself because we don't need it and we have been paying to store it. We are very motivated now to get it gone, though, and stop paying so much to keep stuff we have no place for in our 1000 square feet of living space.
I am joining some other youtubers in an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of December. My goal is to not go into the grocery store for the month of January except to buy dairy, greens, and bread. I think it is something we can accomplish quite easily based on our pantry and freezer stock. But just because we can doesn't mean it is something I want to do sometimes. However, we need to be saving up money for daughter's sinus surgery and taking a huge chunk out of the grocery budget to deposit into saving for that would be very helpful right now.
Of course this does not include the lamb we are getting at the end of January and which is mostly paid for anyway with the deposit we already put down. But that is December spending, not January spending.
I'd like to stay out of the stores as much as possible, but I know I will have to purchase prescriptions. I'll try to do that through drive-thru only. Though I may have to order some vitamins online. Still, if I can keep it to that I will be very happy. We have plenty of toiletries so I think it will go quite well.
I'll be detailing the challenge here on the blog as well as doing at least a weekly video for it on my channel. If anyone wants to join in with me for the month or even for a week or two, you are more than welcome to do so.
DH has a job interview Friday morning. It is for a local company, as in our city, so the commute would be short. He'd even be able to take the bus if he wanted to as it is on the bus route. Another company an hour away has expressed some interest as well, but aren't interviewing for another couple weeks. That company tends to be slow to move. Anyway, prayers that the interview goes well and DH is offered the job would be appreciated. I just hope it isn't one of those things where they have to interview so many people, but they have planned to hire in-house from the start. Those are so frustrating.
I am sick. First I had a horrible stomach bug that lasted about 10 days and now I have a sore throat, am completely stuffed up, and am running a fever. The lethargy is pretty bad. I can't seem to sleep well, so it is taking forever to get better. It may be a sinus infection. I hate to go to the doctor right now, though. The COBRA paperwork finally arrived, but who knows how long it will take for them to actually process it. So currently we have to pay out of pocket. COBRA is retroactive, so we'll be able to submit anything paid out of pocket eventually.
If DH is hired and the insurance starts after one month we may not do COBRA at all. We have 60 days to start it and we can do it on day 60, so even if something major happens along the way they will have to pay it. COBRA will be $1500 or thereabouts a month and that is with dropping vision and dental.
I really hope he is hired. Our remaining savings will not last long and we are still recovering from the last bout of unemployment and paying for our medical insurance for 9 months.
The funeral is on Wednesday. There will be a viewing followed by a short graveside service. I am afraid I am going to get even sicker standing outside in the cold, wind, and rain. After the graveside service, there will be an indoor memorial. Then after that a catered family get together. DH and I are taking separate vehicles. That way DD and I can come home when we need to since we are both so sick and DH can be there for MIL longer with DS, unless DS wants to come home, too. He is starting to get the cold.
I would love to visit with the extended family, but I am afraid I would get everyone really sick. As it is, I will barely be functional enough to attend the funeral. My head is so full of snot and it is hard to focus.
Earlier in the week when I was feeling somewhat better, I made some freezer meals. Instead of making one casserole for dinner, I made a triple batch and froze the extra two. So I now have two pans of enchiladas, two pans of baked ziti, and two pans of chicken and broccoli/cauliflower casserole in the freezer. I don't have the stamina or energy to do full on once a month freezer cooking, but it is close to the same amount of work to do 3 at a time than it is to do one.
I'm going to do some taco rice bakes, some lasagnas, some hamburger casseroles, some carnitas, and some pork fried rice when I feel a little better. Ideally, I'd like to have 15 days of frozen casseroles ready to go. I'll do some individual turkey dinners as well after Thanksgiving, but those never last long.
I have some days where cooking is just not an option, either due to rheumatoid arthritis or just being sick or just being exhausted, so being able to go to the freezer and pop something in the oven is wonderful. I get the aluminum pans at The Dollar Tree unless they go on sale elsewhere. I don't have enough casserole dishes to tie them up in the freezer for long amounts of time. It is an expense, but it beats the expense of take out easily.
If anyone has some casserole recipes that don't contain mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup and freeze well, I'd love for you to pass them on to me.
Yesterday I got hit by the spring cleaning bug. My son and I reorganized 4 out of 5 of our cupboards and it is so much better now. We took everything out and wiped down all the shelves and then moved some things around. It is much easier to get to all of the storage containers now, not to mention the cups. We have one more upper cupboard to organize and four lower ones. One of the bottom ones was reorganized about two months ago, so it was fine.
I also redid the washcloth drawer and cleaned out the junk drawer so it can hold hand towels now. We got the kitchen floor cleaned off. I had some boxes of things that needed to be dealt with that were at one end of the kitchen and so I dealt with them and then there were some empty boxes that needed to be broken down and taken outside and a couple bags of canned goods that had never been put away. That got taken care of, too. The floor get well swept, but it still needs to be mopped. Hopefully I will have enough energy for that in couple of days.
I cleared a lot of stuff off of the long counter and put it away. Most of it does not need to be out all the time as it doesn't get used that often. So now all that is on that counter is the Kitchen-Aid, the crockpot, the Keurig, a box of storage lids and my rabbit medical kit. That last thing could find another home, but not until I get an additional bookcase in my room.
I did a lot of little things, like combining 3 partial bags of panko into one container, two partial bags of brown sugar into the canister, combining two containers of salt together, that sort of thing. I found the package of bucatini that went missing 3 months ago in a place I'm pretty sure my husband had to have put it, so now I can make pasta carbonara if the ducks ever start laying eggs again.
I reorganized the spices and the teas and the jams, the storage bags, crockpot bags, and oven bags, the freezer tins for cook ahead meals, and the numerous boxes of Clif bars, granola bars, fruit walked into a bar bars, etc., that everyone but me eats.
After I do the remaining cupboards, that just leaves me with about four boxes currently stored under the kitchen table to go through, my bedroom closet to finish, and the stack of boxes next to my armoire to go through. There is also a small section of the laundry room left, and a couple boxes in the hallway but once that is done, then the house should well and truly be tidy and organized. Except the kids' rooms which are slightly chaotic, but way better than they used to be.
I would like to get it all done before DH gets home, but that will depend on my energy levels. I got my test results back from the doctor and I definitely have something. But that is a post for tomorrow.
I've been spending a lot of time organizing today. I got all the medical receipts and statements with payment info on them entered into the January, February, and March budget spreadsheets, and then recorded all of the other expenses for the past three months. I usually do it as I go along, but I've been kind of lazy about it and allowed it all to pile up. After that, I got them all filed. Then I shredded anything I didn't need to keep.
It took a couple of hours, but at least I am caught up on current paperwork. I do have some stuff from last year I need to sort and file and then hopefully tomorrow I can start making a dent in one of the older boxes of paperwork. I think I still have three left to go through.
At least none of that has to be entered into the computer, it just needs to be sorted on whether it is a keep or a not keep, then sorted by year, then filed. I know there will be quite a bit that is just shredded as well. One of these days I will run out and be able to stay on top of things better. Each time I purge I get closer to that goal.
I have to get through the boxes before we can bring one of the bookcases in to the bedroom, since they are piled in the corner the bookcase will go into. I used to be such a packrat, but it feels really good to let go of all this stuff.
Once what is in the house is finished and in order, than we can start tackling the big storage unit. Whether we donate or get ready for a garage sale, I don't care. We need to get it down to one unit so we can lower our expenses. And if we can get it down to a smaller unit as well, that will drop the price significantly. We have lived without all of that stuff for so long now, I can't think that much of it is needed.
The books, the photos, of course, I want, but there is so much else that is in there. Excess kitchen stuff, though I do want my pasta maker and Tupperware and knives and the fancy silverware. There is a lot, though, that I know we just packed up to get it out of the house when we put it up for sale. I know there are tons of kids toys that they really cared about when we moved, but could care less about now at 17 and 20. I am sure there are all kinds of clothes, too, and children's bedding for toddler beds and cribs.
I think I'm just done with "stuff" in a way I never was before. It was hard to let go at one point, but it is so not needed or missed. Even some of the books could probably go.
I think it is infectious because my daughter and my husband seem to be going through a similar decluttering phase. My son doesn't have a ton of stuff in his room anymore, so he doesn't need to be hit by the bug. My daughter definitely did. She got 3 bags of old clothes out of her room.
There were a few shirts and sweatshirts my son took, since they were from my daughter's boy clothes phase. There were a couple of items that were mine and had been missing a while. And then a few other items that were too small for her, but that I can wear. I still have to try on two of the summer dresses to see if they fit, but if they do I will be happy because the sundresses I bought last summer are kind of baggy now.
I am losing weight well again now, so if I can wear a couple of these things and not have to buy new for a while until I lose more, that is helpful. DD is losing weight, but it is a bigger struggle for her and goes much slower. Maybe if she gets on the medication for whatever autoimmune disease it turns out she has, she will then have the energy to exercise and it won't be so painful on her joints when she does. It drops off her when she exercises daily.
Well, I guess I better get back to work now.
Something is wrong with my daughter's eyes to the point that she started losing vision in the lower half of one of them today. Called her regular eye doctor who, is only an optometrist and he said take her to the regular doctor, so we did, just managing to get the last appointment of the day.
The doctor their said he could tell something was wrong with it, but it wasn't anything he had ever seen before and that she needed to go see an opthamologist and managed to get her a late night appointment with one (he came back after dinner to see her).
The diagnoses is one of two things. Either a virus that sprang from nowhere or a virus that is caused by an auto-immune disease. So she'll be going back next week during regular office hours and having blood work done to test for auto-immune diseases. The hope is it is just a virus. If it is, you treat it, it goes away. If it is a virus caused by an auto-immune disease it will go away with treatment but will reoccur.
Auto-immune diseases most likely to cause this are rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. I've long suspected she had an auto-immune disease, but I figured it would be MS like Dad or fibromyalgia. I hope it isn't any of the above, though.
This could get expensive. Our insurance doesn't cover labs until you've met the deductible. Although she might be getting close on hers. Her prescriptions were $210.
In other news, I paid the 6 month premium on the car insurance of $436.01 today and a medical bill for my daughter of $130. Plus a regular co-pay of $30 and a specialists co-pay of $50. The car insurance was down about $50 from last time. Our car is over five years old now, so I think that may be why.
DH got his schedule for his drug test for work so that's moving along as expected. I really want to see the benefits packet. I do hope it comes on Monday as it is supposed to.
We spent some time putting the cabinet together. We still have to add two more shelves, the top, the back, and the earthquake guards and then it will be done. It shouldn't take more than an hour. Hopefully DH will get around to fixing the two garden bed corners that are coming apart as well.
22 days ago on the 18th, DH and I got married in a little church that is no longer there, because they sold it, became a mega warehouse church, and completely changed into something they were not before. But I digress.
The plan for our anniversary was to go see Beauty and the Beast. It was our movie when it came out in the 90's when we were engaged and going to college. He was working at the movie theater and he had several free passes a month. Sometimes it was the only time we got to spend together, since I went to class in the mornings, then worked Noon to 8 in the restaurant.
After I got off work I'd drive to the theater and hang out with him in the projection room and we watched Beauty and the Beast many times. So we were going to see the movie, but I woke up with those extreme muscle cramps you get in your calf muscles and I figured sitting still for 2 hours without being able to stretch them would be a nightmare. And DH was tired anyway. We may go for today or we may wait for the following weekend.
So instead we celebrated by building me a new corner desk out of pallet wood and presswood cubes that I have had since I was a kid. We had to sand them down to get all the scribble marks and stickers that my kids put on them over the years off. We did not paint it as it is too cold yet to be painting outside, but we will eventually paint the whole thing white.
Here's the set up:
It's on the short side of the L. It holds my cooking magazines that I sill need to transcribe recipes out of and some homeschool consumable activity books. Then my box of tools that others are not allowed to use because they never bring them back. Then my sewing box.
The next cube holds all the OTC cold and allergy medicines for me and the kids. Then a shelf of the granny squares I've completed so far. Finally the last shelf holds our firesafe lockbox. We don't actually lock it though because the idea behind it is that it is just there for if there is a fire. I can get all the documents again, but it would be very time-consuming. Then up on top I've got my basked full of tape, sticky notes, and staples, emergency goat milk replacer, and the coin jar.
This is the long area of the L where I will do my computer work and writing I won't have much else on this section. Maybe an inbox. I will put up a painting on the wall overhead, though.
This is the set up at the other end of the long part of the desk.
The area beneath the long side at the far end of the desk is set up for homeschool paperwork, tests, and quizzes.
The area beneath the short side holds my yarn for crochet and loom knitting and the file boxes that contain our medical information for the past five years that we need to retain for tax purposes.
All in all I'm very pleased.
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.
I got through the last of the turkey from Christmas that I had in the freezer. I chopped it all up and added it to some stir-fried rice I was making to use up the excess of eggs the ducks have been laying since the solstice. It's like mother nature flipped a switch and they know the days are getting longer and spring will be here before you know it.
For 10 cups of rice I used 3 cups of chopped turkey, 6 eggs, and an 8 oz package of mixed peas, corn, and carrots. I am going to make up some more stir-fried rice tomorrow to use up some of the leftover pork from the honey apricot pork I made the other night and some more duck eggs. I like to make it up and have a bunch of quart bags of it in the freezer so we always have it on hand. It makes it easier when I do a Chinese night, especially now that I can make black pepper chicken.
Costco now has a 20 pound bag of organic white rice, so we always have rice on hand and with the rice cooker, it is easy to make up a pot then put it in the fridge and then make the stir-fried rice in a day or two. It always works better with cold rice that has set a day or two.
We are still working our way through the holiday ham. I diced it up and froze it and have been using it as one of our pizza toppings or throwing it in omelettes. It's nice not having to consume large amounts of ham in a week, but to be able to use it up over time.
I still have to make bone broth from the turkey bones, but I think I will tackle that tomorrow. They have been in the freezer, too, and I want to get them out as they are taking up a good chunk of space. So I'll make it on Sunday (technically today since it is after midnight) and can it on Monday.
I want to can some hamburger this week, too, and some more rabbit meat. I need to clear out some of the older stuff before it gets freezer burned and I tend to use the canned meat more often than the frozen in the winter. It's just faster and easier and lends itself to heartier fare like stews and chilis. Not that I can eat chili anymore, but the rest of the family can. Dang, but I miss eating peppers. I do not, however, miss my skin rashing up and splitting open on my hands whenever I do, so... *shrugs*
I dehydrated some ginger and need to do more. Costco had organic ginger for $5.79 for a container with 1.75 pounds in it. Organic ginger is usually $18 a pound so I was not going to pass that up. Mostly I am just dehydrating quarter-sized slivers, but I will grind some to powder as well. I also need to make more garlic powder. I grew a ton of garlic this summer and braided it, so I have plenty I can dehydrate and powder. I just need to get to it. It's not hard. I've already done onion powder and ended up with a full pint of it from onions I grew this summer.
I think it is a pretty ambitious week.
DH told me today that he got confirmed for an extra week of overtime, so that should really help me to stop stressing out over the Emergency Fund. I should be able to get it to $20K by the end of the year easily now, at least if the job continues. He also said that he should know the contract status by the end of the week. We've all heard that before, though. I am not holding my breath that they will not extend it again.
We had a big medical bill come in for my daughter yesterday. I thought we were done with big bills from the sleep doctor, but apparently not. Well, the overtime will cover it. I went ahead and paid it on the credit card, but will pay it off next Friday now that I know the income will be there for it. I would have just used the money allocated to go for the down payment fund if I'd had to. It would have been a bummer to not put money in that fund that month, but better than dipping into the EF.
DH finally got the numbers to me on what his new income will be and it was $97 more than I'd projected, so yay. I'm still resentful of the pay cut, mind you, but the extra almost $100 is going to make it a little easier and less stressful than I thought it would be on the new budget. I'm all for easier and less stressful.
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.
$150.00 Emergency Fund
$_47.86 Life Insurance DH
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$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)
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.
I applied for and was accepted by the AMEX Everyday Blue Cash Card since my AMEX Costco card is expiring soon and they won't exist anymore. It's the first time in years that I have opened a new credit card account I got my husband a card as well as I never did add him to the Costco AMEX card. He could use it at the gas pump regardless, so it didn't seem important.
His VISA miles reward card is just not that good anymore, plus it has a yearly fee, and he was only earning one plane ticket a year for using it. We'll come out ahead using the new AMEX card. He'll still have to use the a VISA card in some places as not everyone accepts AMEX, but not too much.
And I can start putting the groceries on there, too, to be paid off each month, of course. But then I can tell at a glance how much I've spent on groceries without having to add up receipts. It'll just make things a bit easier.
I will have to do the math to see if I get a greater benefit for using the card for gas, or getting the 10 cents off per gallon for using cash.
There is an up front amount for spending so much in the first 3 months, too, which we will easily get just through DH's work travel expenses. It said there was something else for spending on wireless phone. I'm not sure what that one was, but if it is as simple as just charging our monthly Verizon bill on it, then we'd be set, because I planned to do that anyway. I'll read through the paperwork thoroughly when it comes.
I'm not sure if I'm going to get the new Citi card for Costco when it comes out. We pretty much just pay by check there and since I don't buy gas there anymore since I can get it cheaper at Safeway with my grocery points, there isn't really a reason. Although, actually, maybe that would be a good VISA for him to use in place of the miles card since I believe it is the one with 1% cash back when you purchase and 1% cash back when you pay it off. We'll see.
No new news on the contract front, though DH did get his resume to one of the other two companies that are putting in bids. One of the guys there had requested it specifically.
I found out the other company is the one he used to work for way back when we were first married, that is actually based where we live. So he might still know someone from there as well and having a solid work history with that company can only be a benefit if they get the contract. Although it really looks like it will go to his current company or the second company at this point. But as usual, nothing is ever written in stone. Anyway, I'm cautiously less pessimistic at the moment, if one can be such a thing.
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.
__47.86 Life Insurance DH
__44.66 Life Insurance Me
__84.32 Car Insurance
__34.86 Medical Me
_146.36 Emergency Fund
_500.00 Down Payment Fund
__53.54 Prescriptions Me, DH
__86.91 Vitamins and a new cane
_165.00 Cash Out
$1405.38 Total Money Out
Cash Out includes:
$40 for DH for work needs
$25 for DD's allowance
$40 for movie tickets
$15 DD's food out with friends
$15 for Sundries
$2044.59 BOA Visa
__197.67 Christmas Fund
__300.00 Meat from the Farm
$2847.51 Total Out
I probably won't spend all of that $200 this week since I just bought groceries yesterday. I just have one or two things to pick up that weren't at the other store.
The Visa was high this month because I had DH purchase all of his holiday travel tickets last month. Waiting too close to his travel dates at this time of year would mean his plane tickets would cost double of normal. So he bought 3 tickets on that month's Visa instead of the usual 1. Fortunately we are at a place in the budget where I was able to absorb that without too much of a blip.
I misplaced the Comcast bill for out internet. I need to find it. It's not due until the 21st. If I can't find it by the 18th, we will go in person and pay it. It is out near the airport and I'll be picking DH up that day so it won't be an extra trip. Usually I pay it at the start of the month, but as I had to pay some doctor bills then, I decided to wait until closer to the due date.
I never set it up to pay online as they charged a fee for online payments. I don't know if they still do now that online paying is becoming a norm, but the last thing I wanted to do was give them extra money. Plus I really didn't want them having the ability to just take money out of my account or off my card. I've heard too many horror stories about that company to let them have carte blanche.
I'll get it figured out, though. And look some more for the bill. It's got to be around here somewhere.
It was good to finally get to payday. This year I am going to start much earlier on saving for the shut down that occurs every December at DH's work. As in, this paycheck. And in April when things cycle around so that we'll have an extra paycheck, I will put a good chunk of it into that fund as well. It was nice to be able to get through that time period without touching the Emergency Fund and I am glad we did not rely on the Christmas Bonus as that went to pay for the car roof repair and Christmas. There was nothing of it left for living expenses.
The paycheck is about $100 less for this pay period than it has been due to the new 401K withdrawal. Not too big of an amount to absorb easily. We'll see how it goes for the whole month before we decide to up it a percent, though.
$800.00 to Van Loan (including extra)
_400.00 to Mom's utilities
__24.28 Electricity (old house)
__48.60 Phone (old house)
__46.00 Security Monitoring (old house)
__41.94 Garbage (two months)
_100.00 Allowances (two weeks, 2 kids)
_100.00 Cash for Week
_178.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_100.00 December Money Fund
_100.00 Propane Fund (old house)
The Propane Fund now sits at $700. The December Money Fund is at $233.55.
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