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Bits and Pieces

November 14th, 2017 at 06:30 pm

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.

Spring Cleaning Bug

April 25th, 2017 at 06:55 am

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.

Organizing and Getting Rid of Things

April 2nd, 2017 at 02:13 am

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.

If It's Not One Thing

March 25th, 2017 at 08:06 am

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.

Yesterday was Our Anniversary

March 19th, 2017 at 07:40 am

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.

End of Week Catch-Up

January 23rd, 2017 at 02:42 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Using Stuff Up and Planning Canning

January 8th, 2017 at 08:40 am

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.

Well, That Should Help

April 11th, 2016 at 06:23 am

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.

Payday Report and Need to do Something about the Storage Units

April 9th, 2016 at 05:58 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Credit Card

April 4th, 2016 at 02:24 am

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.

Life in Limbo

April 2nd, 2016 at 04:29 am

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

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

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

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

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

Payday Report for 1/22/16

January 23rd, 2016 at 05:29 pm

$205.00 Storage
__36.87 X-rays
__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
$30.00 Pizza
$15 for Sundries

Payday Report

November 13th, 2015 at 07:39 pm

$2044.59 BOA Visa
___55.25 Garbage
__197.67 Christmas Fund
__300.00 Meat from the Farm
__200.00 Groceries
___50.00 Allowances
$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.

Payday Report

January 10th, 2015 at 06:37 am

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.

Payday Report:

$800.00 to Van Loan (including extra)
_400.00 to Mom's utilities
__24.28 Electricity (old house)
__75.65 Internet
__48.60 Phone (old house)
__46.00 Security Monitoring (old house)
__41.94 Garbage (two months)
__13.75 Medical
__29.85 Medical
__66.61 Medical
_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.

Menu Planning for the Week

October 5th, 2014 at 10:09 pm

I'll need to harvest 3 to 4 heads of broccoli this week so that will play into dinner plans. The zucchini has gone to baseball bat size, so I've just been cutting them open for the chickens and turkeys to eat. If I catch any of the smaller ones at the right size we'll have some of them this week, too.

I've also got quite a few tomatoes and a couple of peppers so those will also be accounted for in the planning.

I cleaned out the refrigerator today. It's my least favorite chore. But it needed to be done. Now all my leftovers are organized and on one shelf so it will be easy to see what needs to be eaten up. Those are generally for my lunches or DH's if he is home.

Spaghetti with Meatballs made with homemade tomato sauce

Pizza made with homemade tomato sauce, rabbit sausage, onions, bell peppers

Meatball sandwiches made with leftover meatballs, leftover sauce, and on garlic bread

Barbecue chicken wings
Fried potatoes
Green beans

Chicken Stir-fry with broccoli,, garlic, ginger, onions, carrots, green beans, and celery
Egg Fried Rice

Bacon rabbit cheeseburgers
Homemade French fries

Homemade Fish and Chips

Funds Update

March 29th, 2014 at 06:36 am

$500.00 Property Tax Fund
__38.00 HoA Dues Fund
_300.00 Vacation Fund
_300.00 Appliance Fund (New Fund, not counting freezer)
2267.00 January 2015 Money Fund
1130.00 College Fund
_300.00 Aquaponics Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Fund
_300.00 Christmas Fund
4007.00 Total in Temporary Funds

Payday Report

February 2nd, 2014 at 12:12 am

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

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

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

One More Week to Go

January 17th, 2014 at 07:23 pm

Well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have one more week without a paycheck and then finally next Friday DH gets paid again. I am so glad that I put so much money in savings and stayed on top of all the bills. It has been so helpful in stretching over the last 3 weeks and we'll be fine until the end of this.

I start this next week with $674.63 in the checking account and $75 in cash. The only thing I have to pay for is part of my dental visit on the 22nd. And give the kids allowances. I will have to buy some milk and some deli meat and veggies on Sunday, but other than that, I hope to end up next payday with $500 left to throw at the mortgage.

Since the new year has started DH's paychecks will be fully taxed again so the extra $700 I've been throwing at the mortgage each month will be reduced down to an extra $200 again. Our medical insurance year won't be up until May and then who knows how much things will go up then. So trying to do as much as possible while I still can and if I don't spend this week I can make one last big payment. I think I can get the mortgage under $6000 on payday.

My coin jar was getting heavy and my ones envelope was getting fat, so I rolled coin and counted ones. Altogether I had $42 ready to be deposited.

$8043.19 Beginning EF Balance
+__42.00 Deposit Added
$8085.19 Ending EF Balance

My goal for the month is to get to $8205. I have $119.81 to go to reach that goal. I have 2 more $10 deposits coming this month and I will make my usual $100 monthly deposit when we get paid on Friday. So I will make that. I need to save $167 a month if I want to get to $10K by the end of the year. But I'm trying for $200 each month. I'm also on track for that.

Funds Update

December 16th, 2013 at 11:06 am

$200.00 Property Tax Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$400.00 Vacation Fund
$700.00 Appliance Fund
$400.00 Moving Fund
1000.00 College Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Fund
+_95.00 Dues Fund
1000.00 Laptop Fund
$4067.00 Total Funds Money

Funds Update

November 17th, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I am putting a copy of my Funds totals here in case something goes wrong transferring stuff between laptops. This is the first time in my life I've ever had so much money saved up. Almost $14K and it will be over that by month's end.

After our next mortgage payment on Friday we will have more money in the Emergency Fund than we owe on the mortgage. That feels incredible.

$2024.84 January Money Fund
$7687.86 Emergency Fund
___76.00 Dues Fund
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Fund
__300.00 Vacation Fund (Hawaii 2018)
__600.00 Appliance Fund
__300.00 Moving Fund
__900.00 College Fund
_1200.00 Laptop Fund (using to pay off same as cash)
__700.00 Christmas Fund
13988.70 Total in Savings

There Isn't Much Going On

July 21st, 2013 at 01:57 am

DH's paycycle is weird because of how he works, so we always have one week out of four that doesn't get a paycheck. And during that time it seems that there is nothing financial to do, because we budget accordingly.

Frugal things I've been doing:

1. Getting organized. The kitchen counters are clean, the cupboards are organized, and the floor is swept. The kitchen table is almost clutter free and will be by the end of the day. I found four bottles of ginger and three of garlic. Also plenty of mustard powder for making a new batch.

2. I've been pulling chunks of clover out of the cracked concrete pad where the old garage used to be many years ago. I've been feeding it to the rabbits who love it. They look at me like I am the bringer of all things wonderful when I give them piles of it to eat. So this is the sixth free food I am giving them, including grass, lemon balm, oregano, raspberry leaves, and blackberry leaves from the yard. Actually seventh if you count apple tree twigs.

3. I've sewn up the armpit seams of two shirts and one pair of my son's underwear where the hem was unraveling but was otherwise perfectly serviceable.

4. I've organized my canning supplies. Without a garden this year I am going to go out to an organic U-pick farm and pick 25 pounds of green beans. Not sure when, but sometime soon. Then I will can them. Then I will do it again. That should give me about a year's supply of green beans the way we eat them.

5. I have discovered that we have enough canned food to survive at least 3 weeks if disaster struck, but not near enough water. We have far more food than that in the freezer, but I am assuming if disaster strikes it will mean no electricity. I am going to can some rabbit meat next time we slaughter, because our stores of canned protein are pretty low. We'd have the chicken eggs of course, and if it came to it, the chickens. I'm not foreseeing a disaster, mind you, but neither are a lot of people and they get hit by them. Next payday I am going to buy a couple of cases of bottled water to put under the bed, just to be on the safe side.

That's really about it.

It's Been a Long Week

July 11th, 2013 at 07:52 am

Is it really only Thursday? Feels like I hit the ground running and never stopped. Just outdoor farm chores and indoor house cleaning and organizing and building rabbit tractors and moving rabbits outside in the morning and back inside in the evening and chicken care, etc.

We ate our first homegrown, home slaughtered, home butchered rabbit today. Took me almost a month before I was ready to take one out of the freezer and cook it, but now I know we can do this self-sufficiency thing.

I have been very busy picking berries. Because of the heat wave we have blackberries, raspberries and blueberries all ripe at once. This never happens. It is always staggered through the summer. So we are hustling to get as much picked as we can to freeze for the upcoming year.

We have spent very little this week. Mostly for things like milk for us and fresh chard and carrots for the rabbits. We are sticking to the meal plan well and DS has stopped asking to go to the store and buy chicken pot pies, his weakness. I am determined to keep our spending down and I am feeling better with several home cooked meals under my belt again. When you get out of the habit, you really get out of the habit.

Slow Week

June 27th, 2013 at 09:53 pm

Today is the day of the auto deposit to savings, bringing the Emergency Fund to $5071.62.

I haven't spent any money in the past two days. We haven't gone anywhere, which makes it a lot easier to accomplish that.

I've been following my meal plans, so no eating out recently.

I'm still working on cleaning. It's taking a lot longer than I planned because I am organizing as well as just cleaning.

The rabbits are doing well. They love it when it is nice out and they can come outside in the rabbit tractors. The kits are growing well and will be 7 weeks old on Sunday. A couple of them were close to weighing 3 pounds last Sunday, so will probably top it when I weigh them again this Sunday.

Swagbucks is chugging along well, though I wish they'd fix the SBTV glitches. I've hit goal every day this week except the day it was 140. I will definitely get all five GC's this month as I am only a few points away from it right now.

Otherwise it's been pretty boring here at Casa de Robin.

The Actual Future Musings

June 22nd, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Last night (or early this a.m.) when I copy/pasted my entry, apparently I missed the second half of my post, where I was trying to figure out how much I thought I could get the Emergency Fund to by the end of the year.

In August there will be an extra payday for us. I should be able to save $1000 to the Emergency Fund from that. I have also been able to save at least $200 a month, so that should be another $1200. That should put me at $7300. In November there will be another extra paycheck, and I'd like to save $1000 from it, which should put me at $8300. So I think I will make my push goal be $8500 by the end of the year, which is, coincidentally, about one month's take home pay.

Most of the remainder of the money from those two extra payday's will go into the holiday shut down fund. Every Christmas things tend to shut down on the slope for two weeks at the least and up to four weeks at the most. So I will set aside at the least $3600 for that. That should leave me with about $1400 between the two.

I think I will try to just put it all into temporary savings. I'm not sure for what. Probably some of it for rabbit expenses. Or possibly moving expenses depending on how things go with selling our house. I guess we'll see when I get closer to that time. I may just want to shovel it all into the Emergency Fund regardless. Or maybe save it for next year's medical deductible.

Getting Organized Again

June 21st, 2013 at 03:30 am

Now that it is summer vacation and I am not homeschooling anymore, I am working on getting my home organized. I did the long hallway today, which had become a catch all for way too much junk. My husband has a habit of emptying his pockets into the rail. I find all sorts of things in it. Junk mail, credit card receipts, pens and pencils, tiny toys like my son's hex bug. I found a quarter and a dime so those went into the coin jar.

I had gotten so far behind on laundry that I had six baskets of clean laundry in the hallway, so those all got sorted and put away. Then all the random shoes got sent back to their home on the shoe rack by the back door. It's never a whole set of shoes it's always a single shoe from four or five sets. I don't even know.

Also got all the cloth grocery bags picked up and stuck inside the big one, ready to go out to the van the next time we leave the house. I've mentioned it before, but we are in a city that has made it illegal for stores to use plastic bags and it costs 5 cents a bag for paper ones. We have a ton of cloth bags instead. I would use them anyway and did before the law went into effect, but I have way more than I did back then.

I figure if I work on one room a day we can get things back on track in not too long a time frame. Tomorrow's goal is to get the kitchen straightened up. I'd like to use more than 1/2 my kitchen table and the counters need a deep clean. I also need to reorganize my canned goods, because my daughter has put things in willy-nilly just to get them put away and I like to have my cupboards a certain way so I'll go through and fix them after stuff is clean.

Saturday will be for the short hallway that leads from my son's room into the living room and ends at the computer table and the bathroom. Sunday will be for the living room. Monday I'll tackle my bedroom, while the kids start on theirs. That may take more than one day as I want to weed through all the outgrown clothing, throw out what is not donateable, and get the stuff that is ready to take to Goodwill. And honestly I'm sure nothing short of a bulldozer will get to the bottom of my daughter's bedroom floor. My son's room is not too bad. He's a much tidier person in his bedroom than my daughter.

I find being disorganized often leads to spending money, either because I can't find something or I don't realize I already have what I just bought. Tired of that so the organization is a must. Plus I have lost a library book somewhere in the house and need to find it. Well, I'm not sure I lost it. I think I turned it in, but the library can't find it so they gave me a month to look for it without a fine. I don't even have a clue where it might be. There's just not that many places I would leave a book.

I am just really ready to have a clean home again. Tired of the clutter.

Processing Day

June 17th, 2013 at 07:47 am

We processed five rabbits today, so we now have a little over 18 pounds of meat and 1 pound of livers. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I will still miss them. They had good lives though and deaths as humane as we can make them. They should provide at least 54 meals for us or 13.5 servings per person. Considering what we spent on feed and hay to raise them to 17.5 weeks old, we are paying about $1.25 a pound for the healthiest, and pretty much the leanest, meat out there. In the future we will try to butcher at 14 weeks.

We froze the furs and when we do the next batch of kits when they grow up then we will tan them. I found a pretty simple way to do so using alum, salt, and water. It'll be about a two week process. I am thinking about making a bedspread with the furs. We want to use every part that we possibly can. The feet can be preserved, too, and sold in batches, and the heads go to the raptor rescue program for their hawks, owls, and eagles.

We kept one doe of that litter. I am not sure if we will use her as a breeder or grow her up and sell her as a breeder. She has good ears and a good body type. She seems to be far calmer now that she is not sharing a cage any longer. Her name is Lola.

I think it'll be a couple of weeks before we can eat one. We need to get a little bit further away from the process, but at least we know we can do it now and that we are one step closer to being sustainable.

I had made up a big payday post on Friday and even though I copy/saved the computer didn't so I lost it. Hopefully I'll get that reconstructed tomorrow and sent in for accountability.

I did get another $5 gift card from SB for Amazon and sent for another one. I am doing pretty good this month, though I've been too tired to get more than 40 to 50 points a day for the last couple of days. Tomorrow I have a lot of reading online to do so will probably hit goal as I will have SBTV running off to the side while I do.

DS needs to finish his compare and contrast literature essay and then he is done with home school for the summer. DD gets out of high school on the 19th at 10 or 11, I'm not sure. It will be nice to be free. We can get some real work done on the garden, turn the compost over, and do a bleach and rinse of all the rabbit cages while they are in the rabbit tractors (portable pens) on the lawn. We also need to get the grapes tied up. They are overtaking the rabbit shed door.

And housecleaning. It needs it.

Financial Housekeeping and Other Stuff

May 1st, 2013 at 11:08 am

I managed to get caught up on my slacking. The April Budget is now fully updated and closed out. The HSA tracking is fully updated for the month. The checkbook is updated and balanced.

I sent $4500 off to the BoA VISA and will send another $2000 on Friday. That'll leave us with about $1700 to pay off by the end of May and then our vacation will be paid for. I still think it was worth it to go, but man was it ever expensive to pay for seven people. I've already told DH we won't be able to afford to do that again.

I'm just glad there is an extra payday this month because of how the paydays fall. DH's pay is on a four week cycle so every once in a while he gets an extra paycheck in the year. This is that month so I can shift things about a bit and get the rest of that vacation paid off. Then we'll have a clean slate again.

The mortgage is under $13K now. I will pay about $61 in interest on this next payement. I love seeing it so low. I'm pushing to get it under $10K, but that'll take me to November, I think. Unless it sells of course. Assuming the remodellers are ever done. I don't believe them even when they give me an actual date, because they flew right past the last one. *sighs*

DH's bosses decided that they are caught up enough on redlines that he won't have to bring anything home with him and work this hitch. Last hitch was hard though the money was nice. But they said in a couple of months they may need to do that again. I'm of two minds on it. If he has to do OT I'd rather he do it on the slope. Then again, at least it's OT. It just interferes with doing absolutely anything if he has to bring it home.

I have still not been able to shake this sinus thing and I am starting to think I might be allergic to rabbit dander. I am allergic to cat dander and dog dander which is why we don't have pets. I'm hoping not. It could be the dogwood and the rhodies in bloom. I hate allergies. Allergies can go away and leave sunny days in their place.

Spring Cleaning

April 1st, 2013 at 06:39 am

I'm on a major cleaning binge. I spent a good portion of today cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. I still have to reorganize everything so that I can actually make use of my countertops. I had so much cluttering them up. A lot of it was canning equipment that just didn't get put away at the end of last summer, but there was a surprising number of chip bags with just crumbs and little pieces in the bottom. Mostly plain tortilla chips. My kids don't like it when there are no longer big chips. I don't mind so much, but they were stale. I crumbled them up and gave them to the chickens. I figured it was safe enough since the only ingredients were corn, oil, and salt.

I reorganized my recycle area, so now there is a bin each for soda cans, cardboard, tin cans, and plastic and they are neatly lined up and easily accessible. I keep the paper recycle bag in my room since that is where I look at the mail. I did over a year's worth of paper shredding. I filled five paper grocery bags stuffed full, and two of them were those oversize bags you get from restaurants with the fancy handles.

I did some extra cleaning in the rabbit shed. I swept the excess dropped hay up and the rogue droppings that don't always make it into the bins under the hutches. I spent about 10 minutes cuddling Phoebe. She's such a sweetheart. She is 12.5 weeks now and she's no longer afraid of me. I was hoping she'd settle after a few weeks. She is growing well. She's just a little beyond the age they recommend for butchering meat rabbits, but she doesn't seem big enough to me. Not that she will be butchered, she'll be a breeder, but I was just figuring based on the size.

We are going to wait until May to raise meat chickens. That'll get us through our first rabbit harvest and the birth of the next set of kits, before taking on any more responsibility. I really need to get some grow out cages soon. The current kits will need to be separated in about 3 weeks and I need to be set up well before then. Maybe I'll have time to run around to the different feed stores tomorrow and look at what they have. I can order what I need online, but if I can get it locally I'd prefer that. I like to support local businesses first.

Thank goodness it's spring break. I don't think I could get everything done this week that I want to get done if I were homeschooling this week.

My Goals for the Week

March 26th, 2013 at 03:04 am

1. To not set foot in the grocery store for any reason. I have all that I need. I might want bananas, but I have oranges and strawberries and canned pineapple and canned pears. Bananas are a want, not a need and they can wait a week.

2. To cook every meal and not go out to eat at all. I have lots of good food available here and an excellent meal plan. There is no reason not to follow it.

3. The only purchase I need to make is gas and that can wait until payday Friday. So no other purchases, period.

4. Set up the April Budget and remember to include the new insurance amounts. Both car insurance and DH's life insurance went up. Also the storage rate went up so make sure to change things accordingly.

5. Clean my bedroom. And clear off the kitchen table. It's for eating, not for storing everything I don't feel like putting away.


On the spending front I paid a medical bill of $1073.64. Ouch. Love that high $2500 deductible on the insurance. /sarcasm

I also bought 50 pounds of rabbit feed and a second water bottle for Piper and the kits. It cost $18.39 for the feed, $12.39 for the half gallon water bottle, and $1.69 for the Pepsi my husband snuck in. Tax was $2.82, so the total spent today was $35.29.

I picked up five holds from the library today. Two are on building a worm bin or raising worms. I think that may be the way to go for underneath the rabbit cages to keep the smell down (although there is not much of one), and to help with composting things faster. One was on raising rabbits because I still feel like I have a lot to learn. One is on small scale farming and the final one is a pleasure read, a teen sci-fi adventure novel called Ashfall that deals with the aftermath of the Yellowstone Volcano erupting in the near future. I do love the apocalyptic survival type of novel, so unless the author has a style I absolutely hate, it should be a good read.

Working on the Food Stamps Challenge

December 23rd, 2012 at 06:26 am

Just letting you know I am pulling together week 3 of the Food Stamps Challenge. I may not get it posted before Christmas though. Those posts require quite a bit of planning. I have been working on it though and also have my selections ready for one that will be $40 for 10 days in a situation where you have limited storage and cooking options, like just a microwave and a burner. I'm also comtemplating what one would do during a holiday or a birthday or an unexpected guest, so those might follow along eventually.

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